110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Fellow council member says Garcia missing too many meeting
By Pat Andrews
posted Jan 10, 2013 - 6:23:49am
Mayor Bob Garcia wasn’t there to convene the DeBary City Council meeting, or bring the meeting to a close with a bang of the gavel Jan. 2.
Vice Mayor Chris Carson chaired the meeting. He and other council members were unsure about how to handle the absence.
During the Dec. 5 meeting, which Garcia also missed with a previously excused absence, the City Council passed an ordinance establishing a process for excusing absences following a missed meeting.
The DeBary City Charter states that a member may forfeit his or her office if the member misses three regularly scheduled council meetings during his or her term without being excused by the council. There was no process in place, however, for excusing or not excusing absences.
During that Nov. 7 meeting, Council Member Dan Hunt made a motion that all future absences be determined as excused or unexcused by a vote of the City Council. Hunt said Garcia missed three meetings in recent months, then “chastised” the council for votes they took, when Garcia could have participated.
Garcia said he missed a meeting when his grandmother died; he missed two more for medical reasons. He’d called to say he would be absent.
In December, the City Council took up Hunt's suggestion and passed a resolution requiring a formal written request for an excused absence.
When Garcia missed the Jan. 2 meeting, Hunt made a motion that the mayor’s absence be unexcused. Hunt said Garcia had missed “something like five regularly scheduled City Council meetings in the past 13 months.”
The meetings take place one night a month, and members should make an effort to attend most all of them, Hunt said. He acknowledged that sometimes there’s a good reason to miss a meeting, but, “This is too much,” he said.
Council Member Nick Koval said he understood Garcia had said he would be on vacation Dec. 19 until Jan. 2.
“I don’t know if that constitutes an excuse,” Koval said.
Garcia sent an e-mail to City Manager Dan Parrott stating that Garcia would be on vacation from Dec. 19 until Jan. 2. Carson said he was unsure whether sending an email would make an absence excused.
City Attorney Kurt Ardaman responded that it would be up to the council to grant or deny an excuse. The council didn’t have to vote on it that night, he said.
Koval said he’d rather see some research first.
Hunt’s motion failed on a 3-1 vote; the matter will be revisited during the Wednesday, Feb. 6, meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at DeBary City Hall, at 16 Colomba Road.
The Beacon has been unable to contact Garcia for comment.
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