So-Called Friends of Largo
Curtis Holmes summitted a petition with 28 names to the Largo City Commission. The petition claimed that Largo City officials hid misconduct from the public. A few angry residents are claiming Steve Stanton's (now Susan) plans for a sex change was an ethics violation. The petition also claims Largo official who knew violated section 2.06 of the city charter.
The petition names Gerard and Commissioner Gay Gentry, along with Stanton, police Chief Lester Aradi, outgoing fire Chief Jeff Bullock, City Attorney Alan Zimmet, and director of human resources Susan Sinz. It also lists Gerard's husband, Eric, and former City Commissioner Pat Burke as individuals whose actions should be scrutinized.
Section 2.06 General Powers and Duties
(b) The mayor or a city commissioner shall report to the city commission all violations or neglect of duty or any misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in office, or improper conduct on the part of any elected or appointed official that may come to his or her knowledge.
Holmes and his supporters believe "dressing as a woman on city time and conspiring with city employees to keep vital information from the commission." Stanson wanted to wait until his son before coming out. Someone leaked the story to The St. Petersburg Times. Stanton begged the newspaper to hold to story to no avail. He was concerned of how her son would be treated by classmates.
The Largo City Commission voted to start an investigation. Mayor Gerald casted the only dissenting vote. Gentry was extremely emotional during the vote. The Pinellas County Sheriff's office will head the inquiry.
Gentry then emotionally told other commissioners “if you all don’t like that then you don’t need me up here (on the dais.)”
Gentry voted for the investigation.
"I have nothing to hide. You all know it all already," Gentry said.
Curtis Holmes has a history with Mayor Gerald.
One speaker, Curtis Holmes, accused Mayor Pat Gerard of seeking financial gain from the issue. He angrily objected to allegedly being called a “bigot” by Gerard because he had called for Stanton to be fired.
“I said I don’t care if he changes species,” Holmes said. “I made it perfectly clear that I don’t care. I said he should be fired because he kept this a secret. The only issue is what he is doing and whether it is good for the city of Largo.”
Holmes claimed Gerard’s husband, Eric, who runs an advertising agency, was now handling Stanton’s public relations and “I’ve heard there are going to be book deals. There is a chance of profit here.”
Gerard and her husband emphatically denied that they are doing any work for Stanton.
“We don’t do public relations,” Eric Gerard said, pointing out his company handles advertising for large companies throughout the United States.
Things get more interesting. Holmes is the founder of the 527 group Friends of Largo. Pinch-A-Penny founder Fred Thomas gave $20,000 to FOL. Before Stanton announced he was transgender; Thomas tried to get Stanton fired in early 2006.
Pinch-A-Penny founder Fred Thomas pointed at Largo's city manager during a City Commission meeting last August and made a prediction: "You're not going to win."
The millionaire businessman was promoting a plan to relocate his pool supply headquarters to a site near the old Crossroads Mall. City staff was cool to the idea.
Grinning, he told City Manager Steve Stanton, "I'm still in the ring."
Thomas also has different addresses for him homestead exception and voter registration.
But longtime Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning said the scenario doesn't add up. Asked Browning: How can Thomas claim the homestead exemption and vote in Largo? "The fact remains you get your homestead on your homestead - where you live," said Browning, past president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. "Two and two are not equaling four here."
Thomas flew then Largo Mayor Bob Jackson to lobby on his companies behave. He contributed $27,500 to Jackson's campaign. Friends of Largo sent out campaign flyers for Jackson. The winner of the election was Pat Gerald. She opposed land use change deal to expand Thomas's Pinch-A-Penny facility.
What a tangled web we weave...