Largo Still Silent On Questions About Gambling Bus Program
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Fifteen days and still no answers to the complete picture of Largo furnishing bus transportation to the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa for gamblers.
What was revealed at the City Commission's February 16 meeting is still the talk of the town with one citizen chipping in with a facetious email to the city.
One source (third hand) said that the city manager, Norton Craig, was under the impression that the gambling bus was being done by private enterprise under contract to the city. Otherwise, by his own testimony February 16, he knew nothing about the gambling bus.
But the city's expensive publication, "Play," put out by the Parks, Recreation and Arts Department, offered a clue with a listing of "Trips and Excursions" in a recent issue.
Besides trips to the gambling casino, excursions to the Ringling Museum, Florida State Fair, Homosassa Springs, and Sea World are offered, among others. It is not clear that is the full extent of the gambling bus program.
One Largo citizen, who styled himself "Anonymous," sent the city this e-mail -
"My buddies and I are big fans of exotic dance clubs and after hours massage parlors. Considering the fact that alcohol and perhaps other potential driving impairments might be consumed during the course of the evening, I was wondering if the city's Parks and Recreations Department would (at taxpayers expense) be willing to subsidized transportation to and from the various venues in other cities and counties. I suggest pick up and drop off be made at the soon to be built and desperately needed community center."
City officials (read city manager) still refuse to answer questions pertaining to the gambling bus. Queries sent to the city were these -
What is the bus schedule? Does it run every day? Is there just one trip? What is the departure time(s)? What is the return time(s)? What is the round trip cost? When and how were the transporting bus(es) purchased? What was the cost? What is the payroll cost of the driver(s)? Is there liability insurance coverage? How long has this service been in operation? Why did the city manager not know anything about this service?
In other developments, the city has declared an impasse, which was expected, in negotiations with the fire fighters union.
Henry Schubert, an assistant city manager, informed the Public Relations Commission, and the union's top officials by letter February 22 that agreement had not been reached on key provisions in the contract.
Union members rejected the city's "best and final offer" in a vote in mid-February.
Schubert officially declared an impasse and requested that a special magistrate be appointed.
If the recommendations of the special magistrate are not accepted, the contract issues will go to the City Commission for final resolution.
Return to Current Edition