LARGO - News of the extra $18,000 paid Largo's city lawyer for sitting in on meetings last year of the Charter Review Committee rolled through the city, astounding the citizens and leaving members of the CRC alarmed and consternated.
Such a bonanza to Alan Zimmet, who ordinarily gets more than $2,000 a week for being on call as the city's lawyer, came as a total surprise to members of the Charter Review Committee.
In fact, it is believed that members of the City Commission did not know Zimmet was collecting big extra bucks for attending the CRC meetings.
As it is, Zimmet & Co. collect more than half a million dollars a year from Largo, which has become a cash cow for the city lawyer.
City Manager Steve Stanton at last week's commission meeting asserted that the extra boondoggle for Zimmet was discussed by the commission.
The record shows Stanton to be woefully mistaken.
When the charter committee was put together at the June 7, 2005 meeting of the commission, Pat Gerard, then a commissioner and now the mayor, asked where the committee would meet and what staff would be present at the meetings.
For some reason, Zimmet - not Stanton - answered that question and said, "We (unspecified as to whom 'we' were) and decided that myself, Diane Bruner (the city clerk) and Steve Ross (than an assistant to Stanton) would work with the committee and we would meet in the community room."
Looking back, some observers wonder why such a decision was made by a mysterious "we" and not the commission.
In any event, no mention whatsoever was made of providing extra handsome sums or money for Zimmet.
As far as can be determined from city records, neither Bruner nor Ross got any extra pay for attending the Charter Review Committee meetings.
Some folks in the city wonder if Zimmet ought not to go around dressed in a suit festooned with dollar signs like that guy on TV peddling the book of how to get freebies from the government.
Leaving onlookers of the City Commission meeting equally astounded was Gerard's comments in the last minutes of the July 18 meeting that the city has an independent audit done every year and Largo passes with flying colors.
This was in response to the call by one citizen, Curtis Holmes, that the commission have an internal auditor reporting to the commission itself.
That kind of auditor is nothing like the one described by Gerard. An internal auditor monitors all city functions in relation to the charter and ordinances and checks to see that aims of the elected officials are carried out.
Gerard, by her comments last week, demonstrated that she has no notion whatever of what Holmes was advocating. Knowledge is not one of the requirements of holding public office.
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