Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ethics panel says Largo commissioner did nothing wrong

Largo City Commissioner Rodney Woods was not found to have acted in self-interest in planning the King memorial.

Largo City Commissioner Rodney Woods was not found to have acted in self-interest in planning the King memorial.

The Florida Commission on Ethics has dismissed a complaint filed against Commissioner Rodney Woods by one of his biggest critics.

Curtis Holmes filed the complaint in January, claiming Woods misused his office because he tried to raise money for a memorial to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while framing it as a city project.

Holmes said the project was a private venture with no participation from the city whatsoever.

But in a report filed Wednesday, the ethics commission said Holmes' complaint was legally insufficient because it was clear the city had an interest in the project. The report also said materials Holmes submitted along with his complaint contradict his allegations.

"I always knew this was a frivolous charge that Curtis Holmes was making," Woods said. "What I'm working on is much bigger than me and the city of Largo."

Last year, the city earmarked $15,000 in public funds to help pay for the project.

The complaint said Woods violated the provisions in the Florida Statutes that say no public officer "shall corruptly use" his position to secure a special privilege or benefit for himself or others.

But the commission met Feb. 29 and found nothing in the complaint suggesting Woods or anyone would obtain any personal benefit as a result of Woods' efforts.

"To the contrary, the complaint itself indicates that the creation of the memorial was part of the platform on which the respondent was elected," the commission said in a report signed by ethics commission chair Albert P. Massey III.

Furthermore, the report stated that the violation also requires a corrupt intent.

"While the complaint contends that memorial is a strictly private affair, minutes of City Commission meetings and workshops indicate otherwise," the report said.

The ethics commission cited minutes from an October 2007 city work session that said it was the consensus of the City Commission to pursue a memorial in Largo Central Park using the design prepared by staff.

The ethics commission also found that materials accompanying Holmes' complaint said Commissioner Andy Guyette had encouraged contributions and the city manager had said the city would build the memorial if fundraising was successful.

The ethics commission closed its report saying, "It is clear that the city has an interest in the project and has in fact retained a degree of control over it."

Holmes ran unsuccessfully for City Commission last year and clashed repeatedly with Woods before filing the complaint. He did not return a call for comment Friday.

Ethics panel says Largo commissioner did nothing wrong 03/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates


    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Romano: One person, one vote is not really accurate when it comes to Florida


    Imagine this:

    Your mail-in ballot for the St. Petersburg mayoral election has just arrived. According to the fine print, if you live on the west side of the city, your ballot will count as one vote. Meanwhile, a ballot in St. Pete's northeast section counts for three votes.

    Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter Sept. 22 at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
  3. St. Petersburg will hold first budget hearing tonight

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Sunshine City's new property tax rate looks exactly like its current rate. For the second year in a row, Mayor Rick Kriseman does not plan to ask City Council for a tax hike or a tax cut.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman talks about the state of the city on Tuesday, two days after Hiurricane Irma passed through the state. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. 'We were lucky': Zephyrhills, Dade City get back to normal after Irma


    Two weeks after Hurricane Irma struck Florida, residents and city officials in eastern Pasco — hit harder than other areas of the county — are moving forward to regain normalcy.

    Edward F. Wood, 70, tugs at a branch to unload a pile of debris he and his wife picked up in their neighborhood, Lakeview in the Hills in Dade City.