At Port Richey council meeting, a standoff but no action on vacancy

The meeting began with tense moments, but at the end nothing was done to appoint a new member.
Port Richey City Manager Vincent Lupo, center, makes a rebuttal to a comment by Councilman Richard Bloom, left, while attending a City Council meeting on Tuesday at City Hall in Port Richey. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times.
Port Richey City Manager Vincent Lupo, center, makes a rebuttal to a comment by Councilman Richard Bloom, left, while attending a City Council meeting on Tuesday at City Hall in Port Richey. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times.
Published April 23

PORT RICHEY — Call it the Port Richey Missile Crisis.

City Councilman Richard Bloom told his colleagues at Tuesday's council meeting that he would refuse to second any consent agenda put forward by City Manager Vincent Lupo, unless Lupo ensured that several items the council previously approved are completed.

Consent agendas typically group together routine actions that are approved all at once before council members start debating other topics. When the motion came to approve Tuesday night's consent agenda, Bloom declined to second it.

But Bloom reached a detente with Lupo.

The manager said he'd bring the council a list of timelines for the projects — which included the relocation of a playground and of a dog park — so long as Bloom acknowledged that city administrators can do only so much with so few employees and that outside agencies have a say, too.

Bloom relented.

The scene seeped tension. Recently minted acting Mayor Will Dittmer glared at Bloom when, instead of seconding, he simply drummed his fingers. Bloom, who is running for mayor, drew a heated retort from one of his opponents after he detailed an apparent spat between his foe, Todd Maklary, and a neighbor. Maklary and his wife, Sherry, told Bloom that he was slandering them.

That was all the action to see, however, as council members failed for a third time to appoint a citizen to fill a council vacancy left in the wake of former mayor Dale Massad's arrest on charges of attempted murder and practicing medicine without a license.

Massad resigned Feb. 22, the day after he was arrested in a showdown with Pasco County Sheriff's Office deputies that ended with him firing two rounds from a handgun. That opened up a seat on the council. Then-vice mayor Terry Rowe took over Massad's role.

But Rowe was arrested, too, on March 13, because authorities say he conspired with his predecessor over a recorded jail phone to target a city officer police involved in a state investigation into Massad.

Rowe was suspended from his duties by the governor, but did not resign. So his seat remains occupied, and the council effectively is down another member.

At the council’s April 4 meeting, no member would second any nomination of a replacement.

And the March 26 meeting ended shortly after it began because Bloom called in sick minutes before it was to start, and the council didn't have quorum.

Along with Bloom and Maklary, an engineer, three other people are running for the June 18 mayoral election. They are: Bill Columbo, a former member of the council; Gregory Smithwick, who hosts a local podcast; and Scott Tremblay, an attorney.

Contact Justin Trombly at [email protected] . Follow @JustinTrombly.

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