tampabay.com

Stanton appeals his firing

Early Edition: The city of Largo began the firing process a week after Stanton acknowledged he planned to become a woman.

By LORRI HELFAND
Published March 8, 2007


LARGO - City Manager Steve Stanton appealed his firing this morning.

Commissioners voted 5-2 to place Stanton on paid leave and begin the firing process a week after Stanton acknowledged he planned to become a woman.

"I'm trying to do what I have to do to be a full person and get my job back," said Stanton, who makes $140,234 annually.

Stanton, 48, who has been Largo's city manager for 14 years, said he plans to request a hearing about 30 days from now. He said he will need the time to put on a thorough presentation, which will take up to three hours and will feature national experts in medicine, psychology and the workplace transition process for transsexuals.

He is receiving help from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a legal organization that advocates rights for gay and transgender people.

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the American Civil Liberities Union have also offered assistance, he said.

"I think this will certainly give the commission a good basis of information to make an informed decision," Stanton said. "I'm realistic enough to know its going to require an extraordinary step to stop the train going down track with a certain degree of speed and to confront some of the folks back in the commission chambers who will be talking about what Jesus would do."

If an appeal during a public hearing fails, Stanton hasn't said whether he would sue the city, but he doesn't relish the thought.

"I do not feel this is a legal argument," he said. "It's not a matter of hiring an attorney to threaten to sue the city. That is not the argument I want to make."

The city must schedule the public hearing to be held between March 23 and April 9. The date for the hearing will be set at the March 20 regular commission meeting; the city commission has indicated that the hearing will not be held on the same night as a regularly scheduled commission meeting or work session.

The commission may not limit the number of speakers, nor may they place restrictions on who is permitted to speak; however, they may limit the amount of time each speaker is permitted to speak. 

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.