LARGO - The Largo Charter Review Committee continued its internal battle October 12 on how many votes it should take to fire a city manager.
Leading the charge on re-considering what had already been decided was Shirley Craig, a committee member. This is called the “lets-keep-voting-until-it-comes-out-my-way” approach.
Craig had sent a memo to her colleagues (never mentioned at the October 12 meeting) on the committee lobbying them to re-consider their previous decision to allow a simple majority (four votes) to fire a city manager.
The October 10 memo mentioned four issues that she said needed further discussion, but it is transparent that the main thrust of the memo was to bring up, once again, the voting issue on the city manager.
Craig has consistently in two previous meetings insisted that the question be re-visited she wants a super majority required (five votes) in order to fire a manager.
Apart from the merits of the question itself, what is inappropriate is that Craig has a direct conflict of interest on the subject.
Craig’s husband, Norton, known as “Mac,” is an assistant city manager, so Shirley Craig obviously has a vital interest in the question, a glaring reason why a person with such an obvious conflict of interest should never have been named, in the first place, to the disaster known as the Charter Review Committee.
Obviously, if the current city manager, Steve Stanton, were to be dismissed this would most likely have an immediate effect on her husband under the new brooms sweep cleanly theory.
Also, talk in Largo is that if Stanton does go Mac Craig would make himself a candidate to succeed him. If, by some stroke of fortune, he were to get the job, a super majority is obviously a higher and more comfortable level than a simple majority.
A retired military man, Craig is not a professional and experienced city manager.
Desperate, when it appeared she was losing the battle, Craig wanted an amendment excluding the present city manager from the new provisions of requiring only a majority vote to remove the city manager. In arguing for this, she used every trick in the book, demonstrating chutzpah rarely seen in these rural precincts.
To add to the confusion, Howard Smith amended Craig’s change to limiting the exclusion to one year or at such time that Stanton might leave the city.
Her motion and Smith’s fix lost overwhelmingly, proving that some semblance of sense does exist among the 15.
The battle over the city manager vote has been raging for weeks on the committee. One reason for bringing it up again, Craig has said, is because the vote on the committee was so close.
Chester Rowe pointed out that the committee at the beginning had agreed that majority rule within the group would prevail. J.B. Butler, on the other hand, who has demonstrated during the committee sessions a colossal ignorance of how government works, said he thought everything should be determined by consensus.
Of course, if majority votes are not the rule, the committee has crippled itself, far beyond the crippling effect already felt by the amateurism of several members.
Deferring, as usual, to Alan Zimmet, the city’s lawyer who inappropriately is acting as counsel to the committee, to fix up the language (making Zimmet the true author of the revised charter), Arnold Johnson, the chairman, made a Freudian slip.
“We’ll ask the city manager to fix up the language,” he said.
He may have been more accurate than he realized, slip or not.
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