Editorial In the Orlando Sentinel Critical of Largo Commission

March 11, 2007

Sex change as firing offense doesn’t add up

Darryl E. Owens

March 10, 2007

Heck no, he won’t go.

That’s the latest word from sleepy Largo, a rather tame headline in the sensational tale involving embattled City Manager Steve Stanton.

To recap:

In February, the St. Petersburg Times confronted Stanton with rumors about his private life. He confirmed he was undergoing hormone therapy and that a sex change operation was in the offing.

After a special meeting, the Largo City Commission voted 5-2 to boot Stanton from the $140,000-a-year job he’s held for 14 years.

But he gave city officials notice Thursday that he has no intention of being sent packing without a fight.

His employment contract specifies that the city can fire him at any time without cause. However, Largo officials and inflamed residents have offered various justifications for his ouster:

“I don’t think we should be paying him $150,000 a year when he’s not been truthful,” one lady told the Times.

A Baptist pastor concluded: “Mr. Stanton is not a role model. . . . If Jesus was here tonight, I can guarantee you he’d want him terminated. Make no mistake about it.”

Added Commissioner Gay Gentry: “His brain is the same today as it was last week . . . but I sense that he’s lost his standing as a leader among the employees of the city.”

It’s so much disingenuous bunk.

The Stanton saga does not largely turn on tolerance, sexuality, transparent honesty or pedestal virtue.

It hinges on consistency.

Jesus admonished against flawed folks casting stones. Given the stable of 2008 presidential hopefuls, we’d need a quarry to meet demand.

Take Rudy Giuliani. As New York mayor, Giuliani clamped down on unnerving crime, attained mythical status in shepherding America through 9-11, and cheated on his wife.

Then, there’s Newt Gingrich, who’ll decide by September whether to pursue the presidency. As Speaker of the House during Monica-gate, he dogged President Clinton even as he, too, was stepping out on his missus. He copped to the peccadillo this week during an interview on the Focus on the Family radio broadcast.

Both have a legitimate shot at the White House and remain wildly popular: The Washington Times reported that Gingrich trailed only Giuliani in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s recent combined first- and second-choice straw poll.

Is the message that we condone certain non-traditional sexual scenarios and not others?

Another thing: Did Stanton dissemble by not disclosing the demons with which he wrestles?

In an age of celebrity outings, where book deals are struck by former NBA journeyman John Amaechi and ‘N Sync singer Lance Bass to chronicle lives formerly in the closet, we’ve lost sight that we’re not owed a peek into our neighbor’s boudoir.

I’m no advocate or apologist for transgenders — what God has plumbed no man should re-pipe.

And it goes without saying that employing a transgender city manager has media circus stamped all over it.

Yet, our track record with politicians appears to be this: Forgive all sins if they can do the job.

Stanton boasts a history of “generally good reviews,” according to the Times, for his managerial performance that includes Largo’s $130 million budget and about 1,200 employees. Though few of us will ever walk a mile in his Jimmy Choo shoes, evidently he can do the job. Restoring his job on that merit alone may not be most politically expedient or even the best thing to do.

But it would be consistent.

Darryl E. Owens can be reached at dowens@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5095. Copyright © 2007, Orlando Sentinel | Get home delivery – up to 50% off


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: