As Usual, Largo's Procedures For Election Get All Messed Up
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - As has become standard procedure in Largo, the current election campaign has blown up into a flap through obvious mishandling and confusion at City Hall.
This time around it began last Wednesday when Curtis Holmes, a candidate for the seat being vacated by Gay Gentry, raised a question over content by another candidate (not his opponent) on the city's web site which is listing messages from the four candidates.
Holmes's opponent is Woody Brown who has been notable for his absence - from City Commission meetings (if in the unlikely event he should defeat Holmes, he will need someone to guide him to the commission meeting place) as well as other functions attendant to election.
For example, he was not at the candidates instructional meetings conducted by City Clerk Diane Bruner.
It is at those briefings that candidates learn the fine points of what can and cannot be done in the framework of campaigning.
Enter Holmes . . .
In a message September 12 to Bruner, who actually is an agent of the Supervisor of Elections for the purpose of conducting the rules and regulations in Largo, Holmes said this:
"(John) Mandujano is not my opponent but I must lodge this protest. During two campaign (instruction) meetings you were very precise (about) mandatory grammar content for the city web site, quoting, 'your message must be 100 words or less.' You stated, 'once it's posted that's it . . . you cannot change it.'
"No one objected to this. I've looked over what others have posted and I find one submission disturbing," Holmes said, pointing out that Mandujano, who is trying to oust Commissioner Harriet Crozier, did not follow the rules.
Then came the usual and typical stumbling around.
Crozier contacted Mac Craig, the city manager, about this turn of events and what her opponent was doing.
Of course, anyone who knows the slightest thing about governmental functions, lines of procedure - all of that stuff - knows that the city manager has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the election.
But Craig bit, himself totally in the dark obviously on what his proper role is and from on high, through Bruner, came the ruling that "City Management has determined that in the absence of provisions addressing links to web sites, these will not be allowed, however web site addresses may be included in your statements as part of your word count of 100 words or less."
And, of course, Holmes responded to this "make up the rules as you go along" procedure (very typical, by the way, in the Largo government) by saying that, "This is ridiculous. The difference between a link and web site address is that the link is active." That is, you can go directly to it by clicking on it.
"So," Holmes continued, "nothing has changed. It's not allowed but it's okay."
Holmes pointed out on Thursday that Craig was way out of line. "He has NO say in this matter. Diane is the extension of the Supervisor of Elections Office and she alone has the last word on procedures."
Of course, the supposed culprit in this whole mish-mash, Mandujano, checked in with his protest.
"I strongly disagree with the decision not to include a 'link' to my web site from the candidate page. It is clearly within the 100 word limit. The absence of a provision for linking to external web sites should NOT give the city manager or assistant city manager the authority to create new rules," he said.
So Craig, with his feet barely wet in the city manager job, now has at least two possible members of the commission - his bosses - dissatisfied with him.
The most amusing comment of all came from a highly placed source who must remain nameless who observed, referring to Crozier -
"She went to Mac because she goes to Mac for EVERYTHING. It is a very sorepoint with staff. There is a friendship that is being taken advantage of."
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition