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Cathi Martin must refocus on Pasco schools' issues

By all accounts, Cathi Martin's return to the Pasco School Board this week was uneventful. Tuesday evening, she attended a regularly scheduled board meeting, chatted with journalists and audience members, asked a question or two during discussions and, most importantly, voted on pending issues as the representative from District 3 in southwest Pasco.

Less than 48 hours later, she attended the meeting of a committee overseeing the employee assistance program.

Such routine matters are worthy of attention because Martin, prior to Tuesday's public appearance, missed two board meetings, announced her resignation due to health reasons then changed her mind amid feverish political manipulations over a possible successor.

Tuesday, Martin released an April 16 letter to the governor rescinding her e-mailed March 12 resignation and offered an explanation for her more than two-year record of spotty attendance. She included a list of 12 surgical procedures, injuries and other ailments that she said were triggered by improperly administered medications.

She did not mention a flat tire, the initial reason she gave for spurring her March 3 absence from workshops, a board meeting and scheduled administrative appeal from a teacher recommended for firing. That no-show touched off deserved public criticism and a request from three state legislators asking Crist to remove her from office.

What is disappointing about Martin's return is the attempt to resurrect her ill-advised idea of telecommuting to board meetings and a suggestion others should have accommodated her frequent absences.

"I had suggested to our district and School Board members to try and come up with some type of telecommunications so I could be kept abreast of what was doing on in our district, but only to be turned down,'' Martin wrote to the governor. "I still believe something could have been arranged. I will work for this during my remaining term.''

Twice during extended absences, Martin floated the idea of attending meetings by telephone. But other board members, in November 2007, instead opted correctly for greater accountability. They clarified their own rules to say a member must be physically present to be considered part of a quorum.

Martin should put her attention elsewhere. District finances, potential budget cuts, staffing levels, curriculum and other concerns are worthy of her focus. The Pasco School District won't need new policies and rearranged communications equipment to cater to an absent board member if she just keeps coming to the meetings and properly doing the job voters entrusted to her.

Cathi Martin must refocus on Pasco schools' issues 04/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 23, 2009 8:16pm]
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