Two on Largo Commission Show Ignorance of How Government Works
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Veteran observers were shocked last week at another demonstration of complete ignorance by some Largo elected officials on how government operates.
At issue was the failure - voted down, 3-4 - by the City Commission of the city to support participation in a program that is designed to keep businesses in place.
In this case it was an enterprise identified only by a number for the purpose of confidentiality. Failure to keep the business in the city will apparently result in the loss of 100 jobs locally.
Chagrined that the commission would not go along with supporting the Qualified Target Industry tax refund program, designed to keep a business in place, Mayor Pat Gerard, saying that the action sends the message that Largo "is not business friendly," said she would chip in her own funds to support the program.
Commissioner Andy Guyette quickly joined in that sentiment, saying that he would participate with her in doing so.
Of course, anyone who has completed Civics 101 in the ninth grade knows that elected officials should not make government issues a personal matter and, under no circumstances, would an elected official use his or her own funds in such a way that Gerard and Guyette propose.
Gerard's ignorance in government matters was illustrated in the notorious case of the former city manager who planned to supposedly turn himself into a "woman."
Involved in the early planning by Steve Stanton to facilitate his gender change, Gerard was improperly involved on two counts -
This is exactly what happened. It was as if a sitting judge were pre-involved in a case that was to come before him. Gerard was apparently ignorant of this aspect.
The latest gaffe last week illustrates the amateurism displayed by members of the commission, with one exception - Commissioner Mary Black who has a grasp of how government operates. Others appear to act on a personal basis. It is like an elderly ladies sewing circle.
Charlie Harper, a former member of the commission, was appalled at Gerard's action last week.
"It's the difference between knowledgeable and quality political leadership and very poor leadership," Harper said.
Then he related an anecdote out of his own experience when he was on the commission.
"When I was on the commission I got upset about something we were talking about and in a moment of silliness I said something to the effect of 'I'll pay for it, just do it.' With that, Mayor (Bob) Jackson stopped the meeting, turned toward me and dressed me down saying, 'Commissioner Harper, don't you ever say anything like that again.' He was right," Harper said.
The whole idea of our system of government, another observer pointed out, certainly as a truism, is that decisions are taken and implemented on a majority basis. An individual does not substitute his or her own judgment, as Gerard and Guyette did.
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