By Leo Coughlin
A story the other day caught my eye and I thought I was caught in a time warp, captured and being whirled back days and weeks.
The tale in the local daily (such as it is) spoke of a change in terms of length of office in Largo purportedly to save money.
If it looked familiar that's because you read the story here a couple of months ago. Nothing new. (In the trade, it's called a "catch-up" story, a feat that manqué reporters at the Big Paper excel at, except when the "catch-up" job is a muddle of information.)
Maybe next week we will read a story of the wheel being invented.
Now to turn our attention to more current things (while still pondering, what do they do at the BP?).
Something may be afoot in Belleair Beach.
The folks there are talking about some radical changes in the government of the village size "city."
And, before we go on and get to the main theme, a sidelong glance to all the whooping and gnashing of teeth over candidates' signs disappearing, being torn up, destroyed, whatever in this election season.
It is a phenomenon as old as elections themselves. In fact, that kind of bickering and thefting is mild now compared to the early days in the Republic.
When the Belleair Beach City Council met September 20 there was a welter of ideas proposed on the agenda that would get the attention of the most blasé among us.
Item - increasing the term of elected officials from two to three years.
Item - decreasing the number of councilmembers from seven to five.
Item - term limits for the elected officials.
That meeting 17 days ago was a work session; that is, no official votes are taken and it all boils down to talk.
A special meeting Monday went over all this stuff and the only item that seems to have survived and is scheduled to go to referendum is the term of office (three years instead of two) for the mayor and council members.
The others seem to have been lost in the shuffle, but Belleair Beach voters will likely have a mass of referendums to consider and vote on in March.
Other than expanding terms of the electeds there are nine others, including duties and powers of the city manager, appeals to the City Council from decisions by the Board of Adjustment, changing the status of the city clerk and city treasurer vis-à-vis the city manager.
Looks like the Charter is being re-written, including, some think significantly, that work product of the Charter Review Committee will be submitted directly to the voters without council review or approval.
Discussion of the council taking appeals from Board of Adjustment decisions produced some heat September 20.
The predication of voiding any decision by the board is where it is shown that the board acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
That is hard stuff to document and prove, it would seem, and might turn City Hall into a semblance of the Supreme Court with intricate and arcane arguments from learned sounding council members. (None is a lawyer; even Paul Marino, the city's lawyer, might be overwhelmed by that test language.)
The Board of Adjustment itself, as you well might suppose, was in high dudgeon over the idea that their judicial pronouncements would be subject to council review.
Of course, there is a process for review, but it goes from the board to the Circuit Court, where in the minds of many, some legal talent is extant.
Five of the seven members of the Board of Adjustment were on hand to yowl their disapproval and among them, Mike Kelly, former mayor and a long-term chairman of the board, whose time and service on that board is a testament to civil responsibility and duty.
Return to Current Edition