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Despite law, they want a recall

Republicans want a School Board member ousted, but a state law doesn't allow it.

By DAVID DECAMP
Published May 19, 2007


LAND O'LAKES - Emotions were roused, supporters were aboard, and Pasco County School Board member Cathi Martin was about to face a fight to recall her from office.

Unless a little thing called Florida law is followed.

Angered by Martin's sparse attendance record at board meetings, Pasco Republican Party state committeewoman Shari Kotsch made a promise to a crowd of 75 party activists Thursday night. Kotsch would launch a petition drive to recall Martin, who missed nine of 17 meetings recently.

"This is a woman who doesn't do her job," Kotsch told the crowd.

This also is a woman who cannot be recalled.

Florida allows recalls only for municipalities and counties governed by charters, which Pasco is not.

Only the governor can remove a school board member, and only for certain misdeeds that do not include spotty attendance.

Or being a Democrat in a nonpartisan post. Local Republicans supported Michele Chamberlin, a Republican, against Martin in last November's election.

For her part, Martin apologized at Tuesday's School Board meeting for missing so many meetings, promising to keep her obligations the rest of her term. She has blamed personal and family health problems and other misfortunes for wrecking her ability to attend.

"I hope I am on the right track, because I have totally missed my job," Martin said.

Kotsch, who had contacted the school district Thursday for information on recalls, said her request took its own new path Friday. A school district secretary directed Kotsch to seek out legislators for help.

Message: Get a new law.

However, Kotsch said she would be happy with a new law mandating attendance. She plans to speak next week to a lawmaker, perhaps state Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey.

County GOP Chairman Bill Bunting is not giving up either. At his behest, nearly every hand rose to show support for Kotsch's recall effort at Thursday's GOP gathering. He also promised Friday to back a recall effort using party money and GOP volunteers to help distribute petitions.

Even if he has no law behind him to actually do it.

"Maybe there should be," he said.

Times staff writer Jeffrey S. Solochek contributed to this report. David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or 727 869-6232.