There is no underestimating the role played by two Largo citizens in the affairs of their city.
But you can bet that John Atanasio and Curtis Holmes are underappreciated because their fellow citizens probably do not fully realize what these two men are doing for them.
Their names are listed here alphabetically because that is the fairest way to do it. They are of equal weight in what they do for their city.
In short, they are the watch dogs for the public. When the commissioners see either one approach the citizens' podium their collective breath is held.
Atanasio has the courtly manners of an old world Don, very exact and urbane - and friendly - in his courteous words to the commission.
His points are usually well taken. He does not indulge in bombast. His approach is pleasant, smiling. He is a man of the world, a been there, down that sort of guy.
Maybe having taken a B-24 on 50 or so missions over Europe during World War 2 and surviving gives a man a certain polish that no other activity could come close to doing.
Holmes, on the other hand, is fiery, exuberant, passionate.
Maybe these two fellows play a good-guy, bad-guy role.
In any event, what they have to say has merit and is usually right on target and very telling.
Take last week, for example, when the Largo City Commission held a scheduled work session. But it was really more than a work session because sandwiched between a private meeting on fire union negotiations and the actual work session was a special meeting.
Prior to the meeting, Holmes and Atanasio discussed the subject of the special meeting, namely the awarding of a contract to run the food and beverage concession at the city golf course which the city is trying to pep up.
In short, Holmes pointed out that "we ought to talk about this."
"But it's a work session," Atanasio said.
"Nope," Holmes said. "It's a special meeting and they have to get citizen comment."
So the stage was set.
At the special meeting things rocked along for about 17 minutes with all indications that this last-minute, rushed-up, gotta do it now project was going to slide down the greased ways to approval like a previous smoke and mirrors deal did.
But then up came Citizen Atanasio and threw a stink bomb into the garden party. "I strongly recommend you disapprove this," he said. "As of 1 p.m. today, the corporation you are supposedly dealing with did not exist."
Seems like there always has to be a spoiler who comes along with facts and upsets a lovely little scheme to ease something by the commission.
Citizen Holmes then arrived at the microphone and reiterated Atanasio's point about a non-existent corporation and then questioned, significantly, whether the staff had done its homework.
After all, Holmes said, "you are contemplating getting into a five-year contract with someone unproven, unknown to anyone on this body."
Commissioner Andy Guyette, after about a half-hour of his colleagues chewing over what Atanasio had startled them with, came up with this - "We are having a special meeting with limited information, we have seen no contract, and I don't understand why."
Backstairs dope had it that City Manager Steve Stanton did not know about this deal killer until the very last moment. Strange for a guy who proclaims he is responsible for every sparrow that falls within the city limits of Largo.
But the bottom line is this - from a close observer of Largo happenings -
"When a few of the commissioners woke up the next day they might have wondered what happened. We know what happened. Two very good citizens had the courage to stand up and be counted and tell the truth."
Kudos to John and Curtis.
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