With no more excuses, Martin should resign

Published January 17, 2008

Four times in the past 10 months, Pasco School Board member Cathi Martin has promised to tackle her job duties with renewed vigor, dedication and commitment. That she keeps repeating that pledge is an indication of her continued failure to fulfill it.

Martin's chronic absenteeism continued Tuesday when she missed a School Board workshop on concurrency - the state laws tying school space to growth. Martin failed to appear at the meeting in Land O'Lakes, and offered no explanation otherwise, after telling colleagues she would attend. She previously announced she would return to work in January after breaking an ankle at home and missing three meetings due to doctor-ordered bed rest.

Sadly, we've come to expect her empty chair and her lack of commitment to represent the public in setting the policies and procedures guiding the district and the education of more than 63,000 children.

In April 2007, she offered an eight-minute explanation to her fellow board members for her string of missed meetings. The reasons included a litany of personal and family health issues and bad luck: dealing with a family suicide, shoulder and knee surgeries, physical therapy, the unexplained illness of her son, a car accident and death of her pet dog. Martin followed up by missing the next two meetings and reported afterward she had been hospitalized for a seizure and anemia.

Here's a sample of her attendance record since: came late to a concurrency meeting with county commissioners, July 30; missed a workshop with state legislators Aug. 16; missed a workshop on school impact fees, Oct. 30; missed a School Board meeting and an executive session on bargaining with employees to attend her son's wedding, Nov. 6; missed a meeting because of illness, Nov. 7; then missed three regularly scheduled meetings, two workshops dealing with affordable housing and rewriting the board's policies, and a town hall meeting to devise a long-term strategic plan for the district because of the broken ankle.

Martin previously missed nine of 17 School Board meetings between September 2006 and May 2007. She was re-elected to a third four-year term in November 2006 after a campaign in which her role in updating the county's land use plan was called into question because she missed six of 10 meetings of a district subcommittee upon which she served as vice chairman.

It has gone on long enough. Martin's poor attendance record is a distraction for other board members and an inconvenience for the staff to keep her updated on relevant information. Her absences deny the public representation from an elected officeholder who still collects her $37,615 annual salary and the accompanying benefits accorded to full-time district employees. She should be embarrassed to accept those paychecks.

Nobody wishes Martin or her family ill health, but she has an obligation to the citizenry of Pasco County. She is not fulfilling that obligation and it is time for her to recognize that. More broken promises for a new commitment won't solve anything.

Martin needs to resign her position as Pasco School Board member and allow an able replacement to fill the rest of her term. The public deserves better than an empty chair.