LARGO - Curtis Holmes, a citizen who is active and follows closely the government affairs in Largo, proposed at Tuesday night's City Commission meeting that city leaders, "as an example of leadership," undergo drug testing.
Implying that there probably was no conceivable chance that elected and top city officials would be embarrassed by any results, Holmes said that such a move could prove a "powerful example" for other cities in Pinellas County and throughout the state.
Largo emphasizes that it is a drug free workplace with signs placed prominently throughout work spaces in the city.
Other cities and the county itself follow the same policy.
Holmes emphasized that, of course, submitting to thorough drug testing by the leadership should be voluntary.
By putting the onus on the leadership in this way, the possible implication of refusing the tests could lead observers to an adverse conclusion.
Holmes'suggestion embraced the mayor, commissioners, acting city manager, assistant city manager, city attorney and department heads.
One former elected official said after Holmes'suggestion that if he were still in office he would go to the head of the line for testing to set an example for city employees, other cities and all citizens.
The thinking is, among those who advocate drug testing of the leadership, that those who elected officials and who respect the top appointed officials, "need this information as your ultimate employer."
Holmes said, "This is a wonderful opportunity to show leadership and lead by example. It can have a great effect on other cities and the public."
In order to be hired by the City of Largo a person must undergo a drug test. Random drug testing of employees are conducted from time to time.
It would seem implausible that the leadership of Largo would make fish of others and fowl of themselves. Just plain fairness and equity seem to dictate that the elected and top appointed officials would not hesitate to be tested.
One amusing interlude at the meeting came with the comments of a citizen named J.B. Butler, who, in his usual orotund and faux highly educated style, pledged his undying devotion to the county's only daily newspaper and what it reports.
He launched a vitriolic attack on Holmes and what was amusing is that Mayor Pat Gerard sat there primly allowing Butler to spew out his poison. Amusing, because Gerard prefaces the citizen comments with an advisory that personal attacks will not be tolerated.
This is obviously a rule observed in the breach when the message being whooped up attacks a Gerard enemy.
Butler, showing all the symptoms,as usual, of being in love with the sound of his own voice, said he believed everything that Commissioner Rodney Woods had charged in saying that he was threatened by Holmes, because he read it in the Big Paper.
Butler, a bloviator of the first water, said he totally
believed in fact what a police investigation totally dismissed as a "he said, he said" case with no substantial evidence.
While he rested all his knowledge on what the Big Paper reported, accounts of the Wood affair that were printed were apparently incomplete, never having mentioned what the accused, Holmes, said in rebuttal to Woods'charges.
During the police probe, Holmes told the investigating officer, according to the official report, that Woods was "inebriated" when he met with him in March and this made him uncomfortable that an elected official would appear to be in this condition.
Holmes was totally exonerated by the police report.