LARGO - Maybe it is the years of business experience. Or perhaps the rejuvenated mindset of having escaped death so often one becomes enlightened.
Wherever the talent comes from, John Atanasio, Largo citizen and veteran during World War II of some 50 missions over Europe as a bomber pilot, is well worth listening to.
As was proven once again this past week.
Among the delirium from which opponents of the crematorium on Wilcox were thrown into when the City Commission denied that project by the Moss-Feaster funeral parlor, it will be remembered that it was Atanasio who stood before that commission some weeks ago and warned that an expense they were approving would grow and expand into, well, big money.
His prophecy was proven correct last week with the issuance of City Manager's Weekly Report, Number 703, the division of which number will reveal to you that Steve Stanton's regime is now 13 ½ years long.
There it was, on page 2, Item A-5 - a recitation of the status of the Pinellas cities lawsuit against the county's attempt to grab all power in the county, in the last sentence thereto: "Because of all of the activity in this case . . . it is likely that the fees and costs for pursuing this matter will exceed $30,000, the amount staff advised the commission it was probably going to cost."
Now reel back those many weeks when - not the staff, but Alan Zimmet, the city's $2,000-plus a week lawyer, said "Due to time constraints I don't see the legal bill hitting $30,000," a statement quickly joined by Stanton.
This was in response to Atanasio's question, "What is it really going to cost?"
Atanasio followed this with the observation that "I've seen these things before. If the city is going to legally challenge the county you might as well approve $100,000 right now because that is what you'll spend."
Then with the attitude of "what could a citizen like Atanasio know," Stanton and Zimmet pooh-poohed Atanasio forecast and cited the $30,000 figure.
As one observer points out, "Once again, the Zimmet money machine is engaged," recalling the coup when Zimmet raked in a whopping 18 grand last year for sitting in with the Charter Review Committee.
That, all reports and evidence indicate, was never a sum approved by the City Commission, despite the manager's protestations to the contrary.
In fact, commission members at the time emphatically declare that it was never discussed, let alone approved, and moreso, the then mayor, Bob Jackson, declared that if any kind of expense was involved an outside lawyer should get the job.
During the colloquy between Atanasio, who is literally at every public meeting of the commission, the mayor and commissioners sat silent, never questioning the expenditure.
What the final tab will be is not known.
What is known is that Zimmet continues to suck money out of the city, both as a contract lawyer for professional services and for referring tons of business to his own law firm.
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