Tuesday night’s highly-awaited Port Richey City Council meeting was canceled last minute due to council member Dr. Richard Bloom’s absence.
City Manager Vincent Lupo announced to the crowd that he received a phone call at 7:11 p.m. ahead of the scheduled 7:30 meeting from Bloom, stating he was sick with food poisoning and could not attend.
Bloom’s absence, coupled with suspended vice mayor Terry Rowe’s absence and former mayor Dale Massad’s seat vacancy meant only two council members were present: Jennie Sorrell and William Dittmer.
Lupo said the meeting could not continue with only two council members present because they lacked a quorum.
Tuesday night’s meeting brought a standing room only crowd with the appointment of an interim council member on the agenda. Council was also slated to discuss how to proceed with Rowe’s suspension.
Many in the crowd were angered and disappointed that the meeting could not continue. Some, like Kenneth Burke, even accused Bloom of staging his illness.
“You don’t get food poisoning at the last minute,“ Burke said. He called Bloom’s absence a continuance of dirty politics in Port Richey. “These people up here should be for the city, and for the city only.“
An interim council member is necessary to fill the vacancy created by Dale Massad’s resignation. The former mayor is charged with attempted homicide and practicing medicine without a license. He was arrested in February.
Vice Mayor Terry Rowe is still technically on the council, but was suspended by the governor after his arrest March 13th for alleged interference in the Massad investigation.
Janet Eckermann called Tuesday night’s lack of action disappointing. She had planned to make her pitch to the remaining council members as to why she should serve on council.
She’s giving Bloom the benefit of the doubt that his illness is real but also thinks the sooner the city can move on, the better.
“Better for the city, better for the residents, less drama,“ she said. “I’d like to see the city move on, on a positive note.“
Lupo said city administrators are still sorting out when Tuesday’s postponed meeting may happen. The next scheduled city council meeting is in two weeks.