By Leo Coughlin
There's nothing like the voice of experience.
When Curtis Holmes, member of the Largo City Commissioner, requested certain information a couple of weeks ago from city files, a former commission member said, "They won't give it to him."
And then, double huh? Huh?
"Right," our informant said. "They will claim the whole commission needs to agree that it wants the information."
This person turned to be right on target when, at last week's City Commission meeting, Holmes was told he was not only not going to be given the information but further, he was not entitled to it.
Many shocking things are happening in Largo these days. So one should be surprised at nothing.
As a matter of law, on two counts, Holmes was and is absolutely entitled to the information.
First, the city Charter, the basic law of the city, explicitly says, without any doubt, that he is entitled, to wit -
"Sec. 2.07(b) Except for the purpose of inquiries and investigations, the city commission and its members shall deal with the city officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the city manager solely through the city manager."
Holmes's request, being in inquiry, ipso facto comes under the provision of the Charter section.
Holmes cited this to the city manager, Norton Craig, last week that immediately acquiesced and assured Holmes on Wednesday that the material would be in his hands the next day. It was (albeit a muddled, tangled fishnet of information, reportedly).
On the second count, under the public records law, he is entitled to the information. That is, putting aside his role as an elected official, he or any person from anywhere could walk into City Hall and request the information.
The public records law does not require the filling out of any form (except perhaps to describe what is sought); no name or addresses are required to be submitted, and no reason need be given for the request.
So, for the mayor of Largo to burst forth in a tirade of total misinformation, arrogating unto herself powers she does not have, is monstrous.
That mayor, Pat Gerard, obviously is not familiar with the Charter - neither her specific powers as mayor, nor the rights and privileges of commission members.
But to get back to our friend, the former commissioner, and the prediction on Holmes's quest.
The person knows because of experience.
Being a person of truthfulness, honesty and integrity this former commissioner imputed those qualities to others upon arriving on the commission.
As a commission member, the person was told or led to believe what Gerard blathered on about in her disquisition on procedures anent the City Commission - all absolutely totally wrong.
An example - "No one commissioner has the right to seek information the rest of us don't want."
Interpretation - "Listen, Holmes, you are a troublemaker and not a team player and the rest of us here are perfectly satisfied to not rock the boat."
Another example - "All requests for information have to go through the city manager…well, actually, through me and then to the city manager."
Absolute and total twaddle. And this is what our informant, the former commission member, was talking about in the make it up as you go along world that some Largo hicockalorums are living in.
A conclusion one could reach is that the other members of the commission sat silent while this parade of misinformation was set forth and thus were in agreement with Gerard in her ignorance.
Or they were afraid to speak out, as a matter of justice, for fear of retribution.
There is history of that, too.
Our friend, the former commissioner, was a victim of that, having been treated - to use the mildest form of the expression - shabbily in a most outrageous way.
Credit Holmes for his conduct last week. He suffered this outrageous abuse without lashing out. Had he done that, who could have blamed him?
But his goal is not personal ego and self-aggrandizement; that is obvious.
He is there to safeguard the public treasury and give the people a voice, which otherwise has been sadly lacking.
There is much wrong with Largo.
Time will out all of it.
Bet on it.
Return to Current Edition