LARGO - Politics is an animal that will not be denied.
Such was the case Tuesday night at the Largo City Commission meeting when Mayor Robert Jackson interrupted Rodney Woods who was speaking as a citizen on one of the issues before the commission.
Woods had been up and down all night like a jumping jack. He is a candidate for the commission and is obviously using every possible chance to sound off and, apparently, to electioneer.
Jackson pointed this out. Woods then got into an argumentative colloquy with Jackson that bordered on rudeness.
Jackson - "You are taking advantage as a candidate with all this talking."
Woods - "You are, too, Mr. Mayor."
Jackson set Woods straight in no uncertain terms. "Commissioner Gerard, Commissioner Halvorsen and I are sitting up here as elected officials making decisions, not as candidates," he said.
No candidate other than Woods was up before the TV camera seeking exposure. Ernie Bach and Gigi Arntzen obeyed the convention of not taking undue advantage of citizen comment as an opportunity to electioneer.
Once again, homelessness took up much of the commission's discussion Tuesday. The county is trying to vitalize a homeless project and is seeking backing from municipalities.
Still not defined is who the "homeless" are. Are the people categorized as such ordinary people who have had a personal catastrophe? Are they chronic alcoholics? Are they drug addicts? Are they feeble minded? Are they folks who have chosen a vagabond existence? Are they people who those of a certain age used to know as "bums"?
The history of anti-poverty efforts in America in the past 40 years, over which time a ton of taxpayer money has been spent, shows the rate unchanged.
Cautionary words against the plan were sounded by citizens Curtis Holmes and John Atanasio. They cited the unknown cost to the city. This factor has also been cited by City Manager Steve Stanton.
The county has put a $33 million price tag on the project over the next five years, a cost that most certainly will go up, witness the pie in the sky plan for Gulf Board beautification which has zoomed from $30 million a couple years ago to something way over $60 million now.
As expected, Commissioner Pat Gerard pursued her ultra liberal program of supporting anything with tax money and pointed out that all the commission was being asked to do was join the idea at no cost.
Most observers recognized this as the "camel's nose under the tent" approach - give approval, then the city is on record for favoring whatever program is formulated when the time comes to ante up.
In the end, the commission approved the plan, with Commissioners Mary Black and Halvorsen opposed.
A late breaking development on the election front came with the news of a violation charged against Pat Gerard, trying to unseat Mayor Bob Jackson, with the Florida Elections Commission.
Gerard already has a pending charge against her with the Florida Ethics Commission and many voters recall her violations of the city election laws a year ago.
The complaint with the Election Commission reportedly concerns her campaign literature. According to expert sources, Florida law requires that a non-incumbent spell out explicitly in campaign literature that he or she is running "for" the position.
The word "for" must be used. This is emphasized strongly in briefings that candidates get before the election season and the Elections Commission, according to one highly informed source, enforces the rule very strictly.
Prior to the main business of Tuesday's meeting, Robert Lee, the city manager of Naples appeared to express thanks on behalf of his city for the assistance Largo gave his city last October in connection with Hurricane Wilma.
Largo received a request for assistance October 26 from Naples and two days later the city sent 11 employees from the Public Works Department along with eight pieces of equipment and support tools and the Parks Division sent two employees with their equipment.
They were part of a team that also included 12 employees from Environmental Services who went to Naples to assist with sewer line repairs and restore the city's water system.
Sworn in before the meeting were a new district fire chief, a fire lieutenant and two firefighters.
Michael Mitchell, a 21 year veteran of Largo Fire Rescue, is the new district chief; Warren Cargill, with Largo since 1988, is the new lieutenant and the fire fighters are Robert Ferguson and Michael Ledford.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition