1. Archive

Largo's commission the culprit, not manager

Re: City leadership's vision is unaffordable, letter by William Beasley, Jan. 10.

Far be it from me to disagree with most of the points Mr. Beasley mentioned, but I think blaming City Manager Steve Stanton for all of the "Largo follies" is somewhat misdirected.

The budget: Largo's spending is 100 percent the bailiwick of the elected City Commission. Commissioners approve or nix any budget item they wish and have the ultimate tool: line-item veto power. I, too, have major problems with their spending foolishness, elaborated below.

Annexation: The cities-county annexation wars must end. Taxpayers are paying all the bills for both sides. Cities sue the county, county sues the cities, and for what? Turf, power, influence _ what? I don't know, but do know it must end, and now. Increased tax base arguments are absurd. They're cutting one end off the stick and gluing it to the other and telling us it's longer. Both sides are wrong.

The soon-to-be Largo "Taj," a.k.a. new library: It was not the city manager's idea to build a new library. I opposed the construction for the same reasons: We can't afford it and the rationale is somewhat to mostly dubious, but the deed is done. In case anyone's interested, we're paying more than $500,000 per year to subsidize the "cultural arts center," the "it'll pay for itself' center. Hey, what's a couple hundred grand more among friends?

My opinion: The problem is with the commission. Specifics:

+ Last commission meeting I suggested the Parks Department Play Magazine should pay for itself. How? Accept advertisements. Quoting Commissioner Pat Burke, "I personally am glad it doesn't have any ads." She is happy the department doesn't have an additional income, that no local businesses wish to participate with the department and that Largo taxpayers are forking out $40,000 per year printing and distributing this guide. Idiotic!

+ Selling the existing library. Rather than erecting a for-sale sign to see what, if any, interest there is in the old library, the commission approved the expenditure of $30,000 to hire a consultant to figure out what we should do with it. Mayor Bob Jackson and Commissioner Charlie Harper say this study will lead to another study because it doesn't include a traffic survey, so I'm confident this figure will easily double. But ask yourself: What if a year from now, when this consultant report is too dated to use and we don't have a buyer, what then? Another consultant? Common sense would have dictated a free real estate listing, see who-what is interested, then have the studies performed. But this is not the thinking of our beloved, and frugal, commission.

+ Finally, and I still gag on this one, in 2003 the county decided to erect city markers on the Pinellas Trail. If you want to see the curved, painted, artsy pipes with their city signs attached, just ask the county where it put them. After seeing the neato Largo sign, Commissioner Jean Halvorsen piped up, "Oh, this is so marvelous. I just love what they did on Largo's sign." (News, Jean, they're all the same). My problem is these signs cost the taxpayers $11,111 each. There is no plumbing or electrical run to them _ just a curved, decorated pipe with a city sign attached. The county erected nine at a cost to us of $100,000, but Commissioner Halvorsen thinks "they're marvelous."

This is the problem in Largo. It's the thinking process of our elected officials.

Curtis A. Holmes, Largo

Parents should observe mall scene

We have a problem brewing in Oldsmar that is going to happen just like what happened in St. Petersburg's BayWalk this last weekend. We have a small mall on Tampa Road: Woodlands Square. It contains several large and small shops plus the AMC 20 theater. On Friday and Saturday evenings a large gathering of teenagers and young adults take over the parking lot and cause a lot of problems for anyone who wants to shop.

Every weekend the crowd seems to grow larger and larger. Sooner or later there has to be an altercation between the different groups. When I have to enter the mall area I can't help but wonder where are the parents or what kind of parents allow their kids to behave that way? I don't consider myself a stick in the mud or out of date with teenagers, but I know one thing. If I had seen my teenager behaving like what I see on the weekend, I'd be pulling on their ears all the way home. All some of these parents have to do is sit in the parking lot some Friday evening to see what I'm talking about.

Robert Murray, Oldsmar