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Port Richey recall effort runs out of time

A group of residents who tried to organize the recall of three City Council members has called off its efforts, saying it was unable to meet a deadline to turn in petitions.

The group, called the Due Process Committee, said in a news release that it had come close to getting the 248 signatures of Port Richey voters needed to continue with the recall process.

But the time required by law to process the petitions and call a vote meant that a recall election would come only after the regular elections April 12.

Two of the three targeted council members, Pat Guttman and Madolyn Salzillo, are up for re-election. (The third, Jack England, is in his first year.)

Since supporters did not act quickly enough to hold a vote before the election, the issue essentially became moot: Either Guttman and Salzillo will be voted out, or the timing of the recall vote would be inappropriate, since state law allows recalls only after officials have served at least one quarter of their terms.

The Due Process Committee was established last summer during a tumultuous period in city history that saw council member William Wilson removed from his post, then restored after he took his fellow council members to court.

The city was ordered to pay Wilson's legal costs, and the matter cost the city $13,500.

Wilson, who is not running for re-election, was ousted because of his alleged interference with city workers. Under the current city charter, each council member heads a different city department.

The proposed charter, which voters will consider in April, is designed to help avoid such struggles. The charter would change city government to a system in which the council set policy and left the day-to-day decisions to a city manager.

The recall committee was founded by Bob Gipson, the former city parliamentarian and a current candidate for City Council. The committee's treasurer, Lynn Poligo, also is a candidate for the council.