By Leo Coughlin
And now, with a new full-time city manager, Largo has a chance to get on the right path, overcome the amateurism of the City Commission and become a viable government.
Maybe now, with a new day, and with the presumption (careful there, Mr. Around Here) that Mac Craig doesn't owe anybody anything, cronyism, nepotism, self-dealing and conflicts of interest can be put aside.
While Craig's predecessor, Steve Stanton, had many good qualities as a manager, a review of the record shows many things to be avoided.
Whether it is a matter of contract, in the Charter or an ordinance, resolution or policy, any fired city employee should have the right of appeal to the City Commission.
It must be made clear to Craig that he is an instrument of the City Commission (bumblers that they are) and not vice versa. In being such an instrument, Craig needs to know that his power is limited and only viable through commission supervision.
One of the big troubles before is that Stanton was not properly supervised. Consequently, he got out of control even up to and including the events of early this year when he inappropriately drew elected and appointed officials into his plan for a change in lifestyle.
The very orchestrations of that lead one to the obvious conclusion is that the lifestyle change would be acceptable to the good burgers of Largo and the only problem was how to implement it.
A slam dunk, in other words.
Because Stanton was not properly supervised and because the
City Commission did not exercise its powers properly these sorts of things happened -
- Without commission approval, Stanton had the city attorney act as counsel to the Charter Review Committee.
- A contract for the coffee shop at the new library was contrived by Stanton to be given to a close friend of a former commissioner (and premier friend of Stanton's).
- Stanton, against the expressed order of the commission not to do so, had a new fence constructed along Central Park Drive. This is the same area where the former commissioner and Stanton friend lived.
- A contract for an individual to run a coffee shop at the revamped golf course was brought to the commission for approval when the listed corporation did not even exist.
- A proposal, again with no proper research backing it up, was brought to the City Commission for the purchase of property on West Bay Drive. One of the renters there had a long-term release, apparently unknown to the city (!), and the whole deal went kaput.
- The projected town center at Roosevelt and U.S. 19 went into confusion, disappointment, and much controversy because of the lack of leadership and wily maneuvering by Stanton. The commission appears to not have known what was really going on.
- Stanton brought much embarrassment to the city and the commission when he objected to a member of the Armed Forces appearing before the commission dressed in a military uniform.
- Stanton overrode the intent of the City Commission on the matter of a memorial to Martin Luther King. The commission earmarked $15,000 for the project. Against the wishes of the commission, Stanton bumped the cost up to $250,000 for the memorial. The project is still a controversial subject in the city.
Those are just recent happenings.
In the past, Stanton -
- Moved the Feaster Funeral Home without commission direction at a cost of $154,000.
- Backed a questionable "music fest" that was supposed to make money but cost the city more than $50,000.
- Was a spender of championship caliber and constantly sought tax increases which the commission wisely rejected.
There's more, but that's quite enough.
Take heed, Mac.
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