Craig's Heavy Hand Continues in Follow to Jackson Foul Up
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - The very first act by Norton "Mac" Craig when he was appointed city manager following the Stanton imbroglio was to fire Brenda Francisco, a long-time city employee, who had been Steve Stanton's secretary.
That was before the Craig program of awarding big bonuses to "select" city employees was discovered and other matters that have followed.
Of course, a new top executive would want his own secretary, that is understood. But Francisco, with her long service to the city, could have been transferred to another job. Instead, she was dumped.
By firing Francisco abruptly and outright, Craig set down a marker - i.e., he was not to be trifled with. He is the big guy in the room. Get out of line and he smacks you.
It's the old Army game, learned by Craig in an undistinguished military career in which he was able, after 30 years, only to attain O-5 level.
Anyone who has actually served in the military and is not one of those who themselves have never spent a day under arms but are constantly thanking servicemen for their "service" know the deal.
Craig not long ago got himself involved in Police Department matters.
Yes, he is the supreme executive in Largo, but he did not belong meddling in the administration of a super-competent police chief, Lester Aradi, who very clearly knows what he is doing and is highly honored and respected by the men and women under his command.
Aradi's department is still seething with anger against Craig with Aradi tempering the situation and not standing for any outward criticism of the city manager. Aradi believes in respect, despite having been disrespected.
The same cannot be said for Craig. Yet, inexperienced as a city manager with a not a day of professionalism in a highly professional job, Craig goes on in a city that is drifting and leaderless.
The latest flap in Largo was the mistake made by candidate Bob Jackson in filing his papers. This was seized on, obviously, as an opportunity to keep Jackson off the ballot.
To make the summary and peremptory act conclusive, the part time city lawyer, Alan Zimmet, who gets paid $2,266 a week and was the only person on the Largo payroll to get a raise, immediately took off on vacation so that no legal avenues could be pursued. And Zimmet left word that all communication in the matter must go through him. But he was absent. Voila!
Now comes follow-up to the Jackson matter.
One of the participants, a city employee who is also a Notary Public, notarized, improperly, one of Jackson's documents.
The City Clerk participated in the activity through non-performance of her duties.
So in l'affaire Jackson there are three miscreants. The Notary Public and the City Clerk unwittingly helped Jackson to undo his chances at candidacy.
Jackson has been punished. He is off the ballot.
The Notary Public, Donna Givens, was punished. Craig had her suspended her for three days, even though his authority, based on jurisdiction, to do so is questionable. As a notary, she is a state official, appointed by the governor. But, nevertheless, Craig, through one of his employees, Henry Schubert, had her set down.
But, lo and behold, no punishment for Bruner.
This from Craig - "Henry Schubert (an assistant city manager) is Diane's direct supervisor. He has discussed this issue with Diane. She has admitted that she reviewed the documents of all four candidates prior to sending them to the Supervisor of Elections office and just overlooked the one signature. Henry is confident that such an occurrence will not happen again. His decision was that no disciplinary action is warranted for Diane."
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