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Tarpon review makes an unsettling start

The politics of exclusion continue to be practiced in Tarpon Springs. The city's recent debate over appointment of a charter review committee is another example.

The city is obligated to regularly review the city charter, which is like a local constitution that sets forth how local government will operate. That is the customary practice in most cities. And when the time rolls around for a charter review, a group of local residents usually is appointed to go through the document line by line and recommend changes for the community to consider. The charter can't be changed without a referendum.

Cities usually take the review seriously and try to find a way to include a cross section of residents in the review process.

But not in Tarpon Springs. When time came to appoint the committee, the five city commissioners submitted the name of one person each. All were white. Only one was female. Most were older than 50.

That committee did not represent the diversity that is Tarpon Springs. Some residents were offended. So was at least one member of the City Commission, Cindy Domino. Domino urged the commission to expand the committee to nine members so its membership could be more diverse.

Her fellow commissioners finally agreed to a seven-member committee. The two additional members they appointed included a black person and a member of the Greek community.

That's better, but residents of Tarpon Springs should take note that it is primarily two members of the City Commission, Domino and Commissioner Frank DiDonato, who keep having to stand up for the interests of residents of Tarpon Springs. They were the two who fought their colleagues over the abrupt demand for City Manager Carey Smith's resignation. They seem to be the ones most concerned about keeping residents fully informed on the business of local government.

The charter review process is an important one. The Charter Review Committee that will begin its work later this month should do all it can to gather input from a wide spectrum of Tarpon Springs residents and to make sure the public is informed of its meetings.