By Leo Coughlin
As everyone knows, Pinellas County's only daily newspaper likes to be the hidden hand in all affairs of every government in the county, ranging from the County Commission to the tiny town of Belleair Shore.
To this end, the hicockalorums at the Big Paper like to vet all candidates for public office to see if those ambitious for office are up to snuff - i.e., meet with the approval of BP bigwigs.
The Big Paper has certain issues on its agenda that it assiduously pursues, whether or not they have viability or the public cares about them. You see, the BP does not report the news, it prefers to make the news.
Old man Poynter would be spinning in his grave if he knew what was going on. For example, Largo news is not even covered anymore. Folks who want to know what is going on read the mighty Gazette.
Not covered? Correct.
The BP has announced that its skimpy attempts at informing Largonians will appear only twice week. Well, that's twice as much as the Gazette does but it won't be 10 percent of content.
It is sad, and old hands shake their heads and wonder.
To illustrate where the BP's interest lies, one can check the questionnaire that went out to Largo candidates two weeks ago.
After brusquely ordering the recipients in the cover letter with the questionnaire to call the BP immediately upon receipt of this valuable mail so that an interview time could be arranged, candidates were advised to peruse the questions that BP sachems think are the key issues in Largo's November election.
One of the big things on the mind of the BP honchos is whether a memorial should be erected to Martin Luther King (the people of the fair city have already spoken with a very loud and emphatic "No!" but the issue persists).
The other issue that BP potentates are obsessed with is the question of whether Steve Stanton, who wanted, as city manager, to prance around City Hall in panties, girdle and a training bra, should have been fired.
Again, honest and hard working Largonians responded loudly and clearly, defying the trend setters at the Pointy-Headed Institute, publishers of the BP and its little counterpart, the wannabes tabloid, by saying "No way!"
"Imagine," one fellow said. "A guy dressed as a woman running our city and representing our city out there in America. It just wouldn't work." (He is so right and sensible people whose heads are not buried in the nether regions of their bodies know that.)
But you can tell the artsy-craftsy crowd at the Big Paper means business -
There is no doubt that the questions are designed to nail down once and for all who is against and who is for the agenda of the Big Paper. Intimidation, it is called. The trouble is, the issues raised are dead. D E A D.
There will be NO King memorial despite the kindness shown by Commissioner Andy Guyette to a colleague and Stanton is long gone, a nightmare normal folks want to forget.
But to the questions -
"Do you support a Martin Luther King memorial in Largo Central Park? If not, why not? If so, what would you do to make it happen?"
(This is one of those "When did you stop beating your wife?" questions. No matter the answer, the experts have you by the short hairs.)
Another one -
"What is your opinion of the City Commission's decision to fire City Manager Steve Stanton?"
Again, any possible answer is strewn with land mines.
Then there are the presumptuous questions -
"Stanton's firing was one of several controversial resignations and terminations in recent months. What do you think should be done to bring stability to the city's workforce?"
"Are you concerned about Largo's image following commission decisions to reject the human rights ordinance, fire Stanton and put the MLK memorial on the back burner, as well as incidents with racial overtones at a Largo school and past evidence of housing discrimination in the city?"
Really loaded. The questions assume facts that are not in evidence, make outright false claims, and lend nothing to the furtherance of the public good and deal with dead issues. Res judicata, as the lawyers would say.
Anyone answering this stuff is playing right into the hands of an outfit whose main design is to be their master. It's a sucker's game.