Pursuant to a request from the City of Largo with regard to printing a retraction of portions of the articles written by former part-time Gazette reporter Leo Coughlin on November 19 and December 3, 2009. Having been informed that public records existed at the time to illuminate the City's financing of a community center, and that certain conclusions and allegations leveled by Mr. Coughlin with regard to the integrity, honesty, loyalty and fidelity of the City's elected officials were misguided. If in fact, Leo's allegations were contradicted by published and known facts, then the Gazette apologizes for any representation that was in error.
The Gazette stands behind its public duty to report the truth, unadorned by mere, unsupported opinion or-worse-a predetermined position presented as fact. We note that Mr. Coughlin's report of the City of Largo being "corrupt" was directed at no particular individual or official, and the context had to do with the failure of the City to properly undertake its legal obligation to ensure that candidates for office (e.g., Bob Jackson, seeking to run for mayor) are accorded the proper supervision and inspection of their submitted applications for public office.
Mr. Coughlin's "Around Here" column in the Gazette, was in the vein of an editorial, in which he regularly stated his opinion about the activities in local communities, including Largo. As such, it was no different than Howard Troxler's column in the St. Pete Times, and other similar critical attacks on governments both large and small. It is the duty and obligation of a Free Press to hold public officials' feet to the fire. That is the price of public office, and those who cannot take the heat should stay out of the kitchen.
By Sandy Pollick, Editor
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