Schubert, Wife Get Big Largo Bucks; Nepotism Suggested
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Henry Schubert and wife could paraphrase a storied quote from some years ago by a Latin American ball player - "Largo has been very, very good to us."
Schubert, an assistant city manager, is one of the highest paid public officials in the area, with compensation package of $171,593 - $647 more than his boss, City Manager Norton Craig makes.
On top of that, Schubert's wife, Dorothy, is on the Largo payroll with a yearly salary of $71,385.
Family income (in a city that has a median household income of $40,662) for the Schuberts totals at least $242,978 - which leaves the average Largo taxpayer in the dust.
Dorothy Schubert, who went to work for the city in March, 1987, works in information technology as an analyst and data base administrator, according to Susan Sinz, Largo's Human Resources director.
On the city's website, which has a city staff directory, Dorothy Schubert is not named among the 100 or so employees listed. Sinz could give no reason for that.
The husband-wife element of employment by the city (Henry Schubert is a top executive who helps prepare the budget and rules ultimately on pay raises for employees in all departments) raises the question of nepotism.
That can be tricky. The common, everyday understanding is that someone with power working for a tax-supported entity hires a relative.
The dictionary definition of nepotism is simply "Favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship." (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.)
A more telling definition is found in Black's Law Dictionary (6th ed.) - "Bestowal of patronage by public officers in appointing others to positions by reason of blood or marital relationship to appointing authority."
Like many things legal, nepotism is not a cut and dried proposition.
Florida has an anti-nepotism law (F.S. 112.3135), which, as part of its provisions, prohibits a public official from "appointing, employing, promoting, advancing or advocating for advancement, employment, promotion, or advancement in or to a position in the agency in which he serves or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative…"
A Florida Attorney General's Opinion from 1974 (AGO-074-255) makes clear that the statute was "clearly not intended to prevent relatives from working together in public employment. The statute simply prohibits one who has the authority to employ, appoint, promote, advance, or recommend same from using that authority with respect to his or her own relatives."
The authority elements might apply to Schubert given his status as an assistant city manager.
Another well-known case some years ago was that of Harriet Crozier, a commission member, whose husband worked for the city. Crozier is currently seeking re-election after 17 years on the City Commission.
The reporting in this newspaper last week of the exorbitant compensation paid by taxpayers to Largo city officials has hit City Hall like an alpha strike.
Officials immediately went into defensive mode trying to downplay the big money.
Unknown parties even went so far as to try to take copies of this newspaper from usually accessible locations where readers are accustomed to picking them up.
One citizen reported -
"You might be interested in knowing that you hit a nerve with some people at City Hall (with the story on the big pay). Today (Monday) at the Community Center a lady in my class reported that there were no Gazettes available. After she inquired about it, she found out that they hid them under the desk."
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