LARGO - A Largo city commissioner made charges against an unnamed person at the commission's work session meeting Tuesday night.
Rodney Woods said that he "met with a gentleman in Largo City Hall who said he was a messenger for the powers that be," and that this person told him that there was unhappiness with Woods and he was "given a week to resign."
Woods went on to say that this unnamed person had been tracking him and that he, Woods, "was going to be discredited."
"There are statutes against this," Woods said, saying that threats against public officials are against the law.
He said he has engaged a lawyer and has or will file a report with the Largo Police Department.
"That's all I'm going to say for now," he said. "But I will not be intimidated and I will continue to represent all citizens."
Commissioner Gay Gentry put in a few words what the theme of Tuesday night's meeting was - "We are not going to spend any money now."
Action on several items, including a homeless program, a job evaluation survey and establishment of an independent internal auditor were all put on the back burner until the city finds out what the Legislature's tax reform will mean.
As to the independent internal auditor, city staff has recommended against this. Obviously, beginning at the top down, they don't want an independent interloper who reports solely to the commission looking over their collective shoulders.
It was the perceived lack of power flowing away from the commission and settling too heavily into the city manager's office that prompted the idea - almost a year ago - for an independent internal auditor.
There were numerous examples of staff work being incomplete, seemingly hidden that led many observers to believe that there were attempts to keep the commission from knowing fully what was going on.
An independent internal auditor would give the elected officials greater control in terms of information. By reporting directly to the commission such an auditor would not be filtered by a middleman and would give the commission more of a hands-on role rather than the current double arms length relationship between the commission and day to day city operations.
One revelation that came to light in the past week was the amount paid to the city attorney, Alan Zimmet, for his work on the legal jousting with the county in connection with the referendum questions.
Commissioner Gigi Arntzen prompted the release of the information with an e-mail question to Zimmet - "In your March 20, 2007 report . . . there is a charge for $53,688 regarding the suit filed by the 21 cities (in the county). Is this charge the amount to be divided among the 21 cities? If so, have we received each city's share?"
Zimmet's answer - "There was no agreement to share the fees and costs incurred amongst the 21 cities. A number of cities paid their own attorneys to assist in the handling of this case, so this is the amount paid by Largo."
What is interesting about the subject is that when it first came up, there were assurances from the then city manager, Steve Stanton, that the $30,000 requested for the litigation would be more than enough.
Zimmet, at the time, quickly endorsed that view saying in effect that he doubted the cost would even go to $30,000 - "there's simply not enough time."
At the meeting where this colloquy occurred, John Atanasio, a citizen who never misses a meeting, advised the commission to earmark $100,000 for the matter.
"I guarantee you it will be closer to that than $30,000," Atanasio said.
He was right.