This paper, the Clearwater Gazette, is a little paper, a weekly, that lacks the zip and panache, perhaps, of Pinellas County's only daily, but it is a courageous publication.
It was blown off not long ago by one elected local official as "not a newspaper."
But she is well known to be a giggling ditz, so when the source like that is considered, the words don't carry any weight.
In fact, this newspaper has carried news in recent times on two cities in this county when not a line of such news appeared in the Big Bust. . .er, Paper.
Very serious news emanated from Indian Rocks Beach where some very serious stuff took place.
It was reported by this agent, fully documented, and faithfully published in this newspaper. That credit for courage and the truth goes to the publishers of the Clearwater Gazette.
Of less magnitude of the moment, but with information still being developed, is what is going on in Largo. Again, it has been faithfully reported.
At the same time, not a paragraph, not a line, not a word in the Big Paper. For shame.
And the little tabloid (owned by the BP, by the way), heavy with editors (all amateurs) and more interested in piling up advertising dollars and to H-E-and two sticks with the news, is totally in the dark.
It is a funny thing about people, especially people in the public spotlight, like elected officials and their hirelings.
They don't like to be exposed.
So a patch in the pants newspaperman like I merely writes down what they do and say and they D O N ' T L I K E T H A T.
Or I get into documents which constitute pretty good proof. And what those documents contain are examined and then told to the people, the taxpayers, the owners.
Oh, they don't like it. The first knee jerk response is to call the boss of the writer and get the guy shut up, muzzled.
That happened last summer when some IRB officials did not like what was being reported. It did no good. Chuck and Sandy Pollick, the owners of this newspaper, have integrity.
It was proven when investigations and probing a few years ago ran one clown out of office in a local burg, and it was proven again when the voters woke up in one local city and wouldn't allow back into office a particular individual.
The same integrity was shown a couple years ago when it appeared this newspaper was being thrown away and kept out of the hands of taxpayers in Belleair Beach because unfavorable news was being reported.
The Pollicks and their lawyer, Bob Walker, went through the tiresome, but necessary exercise of a lawsuit to demonstrate, in principal, that you can't shut down the press in this country. You cannot deprive the citizens of what they have a right to know.
So the IRB attempt last summer to mug and gag this agent went nowhere. Integrity again won out.
Indian Rocks Beach has just had a sad experience with a city manager.
To be charitable, maybe the officials there were too kind, too trusting, too gullible or something like that. But they got took.
I mean, would you question the payment of more than $13,000 to Al Grieshaber, the city manager, without any proper substantiation of that?
One of the fundamental principles of contract law is that what is contained within the four corners (so to speak) of a written contract cannot - repeat cannot - be changed or modified for convenience sake or for any other reason.
This is particularly true when the contract involves public funds. But this is apparently what happened in Indian Rocks Beach and the onus for that falls, it would seem, on the city's lawyer.
No one was looking, either, as Grieshaber compiled on a city vehicle monthly mileages of 3,650; 3,660; 2,942; 2,885; 3,035; 3,651; 2,841; 4,342; 3,689. Strange, huh?
No one was checking what purported to be gasoline receipts from all over central Florida, and places in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Then, when it was all coming down over the past couple of weeks (and not only l'affaire Grieshaber but the mysterious doings with Villa Rosa) what one would think would be responsible parties stayed mum, but then, apparently terrified of looming consequences, tried an end run.
The motive - shut up that guy who is writing about us.
And it didn't work.
And it didn't work because integrity, at least in some quarters, is not dead yet.
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