PORT RICHEY, Fla. (FOX 13) - Not only has Port Richey seen two mayors suspended over the last two months, their efforts to replace one of them failed Tuesday evening.
Tuesday’s setback was because City Council didn't have enough members to meet a quorum, thereby not satisfying the legal requirement to hold the public meeting.
City manager Vincent Lupo announced that Councilor Richard Bloom called 19 minutes before the meeting's scheduled start time of 7:30 p.m. to say he had food poisoning. Because two councilors are already suspended, the two councilors in attendance weren't enough to meet a quorum of three.
"We will not be able to proceed. We are done here tonight. I am sorry," Lupo said to the crowd.
Residents attending the meeting took it as a gut punch.
"This is staged," one resident murmured.
"We don't believe any of this,” said another.
The council was scheduled to hear from residents applying for the open council position.
After being arrested in February for allegedly shooting at deputies who had responded to his home, Mayor Dale Massad resigned.
Following his resignation, the governor suspended the acting mayor, Terrance Rowe, after he, too, was arrested for allegedly conspiring with Massad to take retribution against an investigating officer.
Massad's position was the one up for grabs tonight.
"Who really knows? I do not want to speculate," said Joseph Del Sardo, a Port Richey resident.
Del Sardo came to Tuesday’s meeting to ask council to appoint him.
"It is what it is. It is politics. It is a sketchy arena,” he said.
The political paranoia has spread through the city of 2,800, with some simply unwilling to believe that the sick call wasn't a trick to delay the council selection.
"I know he is not sick," said resident Kenneth Burke. "If you are getting food poisoning, you know you are going to be sick way before the last minute."
The city manager said he was disappointed this is dragging on, but rejected suspicion of Bloom.
"Who killed John Kennedy? You can suspect all you want. You can say anything you want. The facts are the facts."
Some continued to have faith that eventually, these trying chapters would end in dignified fashion.
"Yup, I really do," said resident Matt Todd.
FOX 13 made contact with a member of Bloom's family who reiterated he was sick.
There is no date as to when the selection process will pick back up.