Procedure Clash on Largo Election Gets a Solution
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - The clash of an irresistible force and an immovable object is often a subject of discussion, and something akin to it arose at Tuesday's City Commission meeting.
It came up under the agenda item concerning the city's contract with the Supervisor of Elections for the conduct of November's voting.
The issue - the SOE has included a new provision in the contract that requires the city to do no annexations from August 11 to November 2.
Deborah Clark, the Supervisor of Elections, explained to the commission that annexations in that time period can disenfranchise and confuse voters who are involved in the annexation.
But then the rub.
Alan Zimmet, Largo's legal officer, explained that Largo cannot abdicate its police power of annexation and that state law forbids the city from doing so.
Along with that, such a provision in the agreement would be legally unenforceable.
At the same time, there is no legal requirement that the Supervisor of Elections Office conduct a municipal election, in this case Largo's.
Thus the dilemma.
It was cured by an extralegal solution. The city merely will not do annexations in that period and the election will proceed, without any written agreement.
The discussion of the problem went on much longer than it takes to read the explanation here and many extraneous items were thrown in.
Basic to the problem is that the legal level of the city and the Supervisor of Elections are not on the same plane. The only way out is to agree to accommodate one another.
The commission also moved ahead on the language that will be on the ballot in November for a referendum suggesting that commission terms be increased from the current three years to four years.
Again, Zimmet was the man of the hour because he has to devise language within the legal limits of a referendum that will present the choice to voters.
The commission voted, 5-2 (Mayor Pat Gerard and Commissioner Mary Black opposed), to approve language that would not extend any terms of present commission members.
Final language is yet to be approved.
One big reason for the change in terms is to bring city elections in line with the larger county balloting. In an off year it costs the city $70,000 for a solo election.
The commission also approved an ordinance to ease restrictions on signage for businesses in Largo to help businesses in the tough financial times. Businesses can display other kinds of signs outside those now allowed for 45 days once every three months.
A new lineup of top leadership under Police Chief John Carroll was sworn in Tuesday night.
Capt. Jeffrey Undestad was promoted to deputy chief, Lt. Brian Browne was promoted to captain, Sgt. Timothy Block was promoted to lieutenant and Officers Randall Chaney, Christopher Burke and Joseph Coyle were promoted to sergeant.
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