The complaint: Largo Mayor Bob Jackson didn't let people have their say at a public meeting.
By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2002
LARGO -- A Largo man unhappy with the city for moving ahead with plans for a $21-million library without first holding a public referendum has filed an ethics complaint against the city's top politician.
Mayor Bob Jackson said he received a letter from the Florida Commission on Ethics this month saying it would look into a complaint against him filed by Curtis Holmes.
Holmes has complained that Jackson interfered with the public comment portion of the June 18 meeting on the library by instructing the city clerk to allow those in favor of the library to speak before those who wanted the referendum.
At the meeting, commissioner Marty Shelby called for the referendum. He took out ads in a local newspaper, wrote letters to the editor and appeared on television to rally more than 200 people to the meeting that lasted more than five hours.
About 30 people came to the lectern that night to say they supported the referendum. At least 12 said the commission should move forward.
Citing city rules, Jackson moved to end the public comment after 30 minutes. He was supported by five of the six other commissioners and called for a show of hands to count those in favor of the referendum. Two-thirds said they would favor a referendum.
Holmes has complained that Jackson cut off people who wanted to have their say on the referendum.
Kaye Starling, a complaint coordinator for the Florida Commission on Ethics, said a complaint must meet the commission's legal jurisdiction before an investigation can be authorized. Determining that can take weeks, and if the commission has jurisdiction, an investigation could take up to a year.
Should Jackson be found to have committed an ethical violation, he could be fined up to $10,000, receive a letter of reprimand and be subject to removal from office.