LARGO - Steve Stanton is gone as city manager of Largo but the fallout continues with doubt whether he will wind up suing the city over the loss of his job and resentment on the part of elected officials over Stanton's behavior.
Chief among the resentment is the secretiveness participated in by the mayor and other city officials, who knew, well in advance, that Stanton had plans to turn himself into a woman.
According to the record, compiled in an eight page plan of action created by Stanton and his conspirators, Stanton informed Mayor Pat Gerard on January 1 - just a little more than three months ago - of his plans.
Then Stanton brought into what he called his "circle of confidence" other city employees, namely Susan Sinz, the director of Human Resources, Lester Aradi, the police chief, Jeff Bullock, the fire chief, and Alan Zimmet, the City Attorney.
Bringing Zimmet into the situation is probably understandable because his legal guidance would undoubtedly be needed.
Stanton's plan was to reveal his condition and plans in June. But the local daily newspaper got hold of the news and broke the story February 21. A subsequent firestorm of news then exploded that brought questionable publicity to Largo.
It also brought many alternative lifestyle creatures out of
the woodwork and Largo turned into a circus ground for about a month until the City Commission fired him on March 23.
Now in the aftermath, elected officials are looking at the situation and it is no secret that most of them are irked about the information kept secret from them.
Beyond that, the secretiveness has legal ramifications.
Since January 1, when Stanton informed Gerard about his transgender plans the mayor withheld the information from the commission.
Section 2.06, Paragraph (b) of the City Charter says that "The mayor of a city commissioner shall report to the city commission all violations or neglect of duty or any misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in office, or improper conduct on the part of any elected or appointed official that may come to his or her knowledge."
By the way, the eight-page plan described by Stanton himself was not available to the public. A request for it to the city's Custodian of Records brought the reply that it was not in the "city's possession."
Of course, the plan is a public document having been created by city employees on city time and involving city business of the most crucial nature.
After Stanton's announcement of his condition on February 21, it was subsequently reported that in facilitating his contemplated plan to convert to a female, Stanton said he dressed as a woman outside his residence on numerous occasions.
More significantly, Stanton dressed as a woman with the name tag of "Susan Stanton, Largo" while attending, in an official capacity, the National League of Cities meeting in Washington, D.C.
This is taken as evidence of malfeasance.
What is startling in light of that is that before the first vote February 27 on dismissing Stanton as city manager, Gerard emphatically stated that she wanted to clear up misinformation that citizens had been told.
She said, "Mr. Stanton has never represented the city of Largo as a woman, has not traveled out of town on city money as a woman, and has not traveled out of town on city money for anything but city business."
She seems to have been mistaken.
There is rumbling among commission members that Gerard violated Charter provisions by keeping vital information from the commission contrary to the Charter.
Obviously, commissioners are chagrined that employees of the city - the police chief, fire chief, human resources director - were aware of situation that was being kept from them.
To add salt to that wound, a citizen, Eric Gerard, a flack who owns a PR company, knew about the situation while they were kept in the dark.
Commissioners are also annoyed at the tone of duplicity used by Stanton. It is probably moot now because he is gone, but he said he told the mayor of his situation under what he said was a Charter requirement that he inform his immediate supervisor.
But as one commissioner said, "Apparently, this was done for public effect. A typical definition of a supervisor is one who actually supervises an employee, approves time off, vacation time and expense accounts, checks work schedules and work output. Gerard does none of these."
Another wrinkle in the Stanton story was that a former commissioner, Pat Burke, was present in Stanton's office when the news of his condition broke and he spoke with individual sitting commissioners.