By Leo Coughlin
The idea that safeguarding and enforcing the Charter of the City of Largo is not part of the real work of the Largo City Commission is a monstrous idea, indeed.
In recent days, that Charter has been violated in two serious ways.
The elected officials of Largo have decided to do nothing about these transgressions of the city's basic legal document, but prefer to "move on."
In so doing, individual commissioners violated their oath of office, it would seem, and have abrogated their responsibility.
Apparently there is a school of thought that adopts the idea that rules and the law make no difference if they pose a problem to one or two individuals.
Therefore, the rule of law is then abandoned in favor of "moving on." Would that the ordinary citizen who violates the law were allowed to "move on" rather than face the consequences of some action.
In fact, there are no rules in Largo. The record demonstrates that. The recent history of the city is replete with nepotism, cronyism, self dealing, conflict of interest.
This stuff is so common that it has become acceptable and to protest against it makes the protestors outsiders, troublemakers, as it were.
And then, to support this outrageous conduct, the county's only daily newspaper, which obviously has turned into a propaganda sheet and an advocate for the bizarre and deviancy, gives full endorsement to the abandonment of the rule of law.
"Oh, forget all that technical stuff," this sheet says, to put it in the popular vernacular. "Get back to your real business."
This overlooks, of course, that the main business of any elected body is maintenance of order and rule of law.
Nelson Poynter must be spinning in his grave; it is hard to believe Gene Patterson would have anything to do with this paper. The Big Paper is a monopoly enterprise and most amazing of all it is a liberal voice in an area predominantly conservative; that is, it does not meet its market.
The mayor of Largo, Pat Gerard, was in, early on, on the former city manager's plans to supposedly change his gender to female. Most amazing in this bizarre episode is that he and she thought this would go down like soft ice cream on a hot day.
They thought, obviously, that this business would not create a major stir, disrupt a city, lead to a situation that made the manager's continuance totally impossible because the operation of the City of Largo would become dysfunctional.
Evidently when one is convinced of his or her own firm self righteousness anything - no matter how nuts - is viewed as routine and acceptable.
They found out differently.
In the course of it, Gerard was constrained by the rules of the Charter to share this information with the City Commission. This was not done.
Because citizens presented a petition demanding an investigation, this was executed with the sheriff designated as the investigator. Anyone should know he had no jurisdiction. No investigation was needed; the facts spoke for themselves and all the commission had to do was act on its own initiative.
But they are all so ingrown there is an atmosphere of political incest. Harriet Crozier and Andy Guyette are so ambitious for the title of mayor they will risk no adverse situation and, as a result, integrity suffers.
The political incest continued with the case of Commissioner Rodney Woods who transgressed against a specific rule of the Charter - that no elected official deal with a city employee directly.
That was neatly swept under the carpet, too.
It's getting pretty filthy under there.
Even on a lesser level, the rules are ignored - depending, obviously, on the politics of the moment.
Gerard lays the law down at every meeting prior to the citizens comments portion. Very serious rule here - no personal attacks. Will not - repeat not - be tolerated.
But as recently as nine days ago a citizen who is a well known blowhard made a vitriolic attack on a fellow citizen.
It was allowed to continue for three bloviating minutes.
The person being attacked is regarded as an enemy by Gerard so if a stooge is willing to make the attack she cannot, how much better can it get?
A house cleaning is necessary in Largo.
Commissioner Gay Gentry's seat will be open in November. Crozier faces re-election. She has been there long enough.
Time for new blood.
Time to clean house.
Time to bring back the rule of law.