1. Archive

Largo should take steps to correct misperceptions

Re: Congrats with a caveat to 3 Largo incumbents, editorial, March 6.

The Times is correct in saying that the Largo City Commission is responsive to input from residents and acts responsibly in discharging its duties; however, during the last year, a perceptual/communications problem has arisen that has caused the commission to be seen in a bad light.

Perception is sometimes mistaken for reality. The Times is correct in saying the commission needs to work to overcome this problem. Broadcasting work sessions would go a long way toward clearing up misunderstandings and helping the public keep abreast of issues. But it would not fix the entire problem.

A part of the problem has been the format of commission meetings. Traditionally, the commission does not respond to comments made during the open "citizen comment" section of a commission meeting. The practice has been for the city manager to respond in writing directly to the person who raised an issue. Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation has been presented during citizen comments to which the commission could not respond. The viewing public was left with the impression that the misinformation was correct and that the commission was acting inappropriately.

To correct this problem, the city could broadcast a cable program dedicated to answering concerns and questions raised during citizen comment. For instance, they could rebroadcast citizen comment and then have the city manager, mayor or other knowledgeable people respond. They could broadcast this segment either before or after the repeat broadcasts of the commission meetings.

Philipp Michel "Mike" Reichold, Largo

Former candidate disputes

meaning of mayor's victory

Re: Getting back to the facts in Largo, column by Diane Steinle, March 2, and Largo voters reward experience; incumbents sweep races, story, March 5.

Regarding the Largo mayor's "affirmation" of victory and that of the other Largo incumbents, I would offer this reality check on what the biased Diane Steinle wrote.

Largo officials love to use 70,000 when referring to the population of the third largest city in Pinellas. However, the way I see it, it isn't. Mayor, you and your ticket received 57 percent of the vote, which translates to 43 percent opposition voters who saw the need for change. On a chart, the two lines are almost identical lengths.

Rather than crowing about victory, consider using your office to mediate and convert almost half the voters strongly opposing you into a plus, rather than further provoking them in the process. And please face the hardest truth about Largo voters: Only 14 percent showed up, which means 86 percent are so disgusted that they don't even bother using that wonderful and powerful tool at their disposal, the vote.

As the Times knows, I know you know, and as anyone involved in politics knows, the overwhelming number of those non-voters are not doing so because they are satisfied. That's perpetuating another myth. It is truly because they are sick and tired of our shambles of a political system and what its political hirelings have made of it.

My intent was to totally open up my office to improve this embarrassing Largo fact, and here is a challenge for your legacy: Do what I intended, and indeed make Largo a better place _ not of mortar and bricks, but of people.

On to a more pleasant subject: To all the wonderful supporters and contributors to my campaign, to all the wonderful people I met during this short time and of course to the great, creative and good-hearted volunteers who did so much because of their concern, their passion and their hope for a better tomorrow, my undying gratitude and appreciation for everything you did. It was my privilege to meet and get to know you, and I hope that in that group will be someone who will take up the baton and one day take the responsibility of running for office.

Ernie Bach, Largo

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ernie Bach was an unsuccessful candidate for Largo City Commission in the March 4 city election.

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