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Sunday, Jan 20, 2019
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What quorum? Pat Kemp left TBARTA meeting, scuttling planned vote

TAMPA — The regional transit authority will schedule an emergency board meeting after a member, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, said she fell ill and abruptly left Friday’s meeting.

The problem with that is Kemp’s sudden departure left the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority board without a quorum. That means there weren’t enough members to legally vote on the matters before it that day.

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Kemp said she started to feel sick Thursday night but hoped to make it through Friday’s TBARTA meeting. There were already six members with excused absences from the 13-member board, so it just barely had a quorum when it met Friday morning at the Florida Department of Transportation.But Kemp said she started to feel worse and worse as the meeting went on. So she decided to leave before the board was scheduled to vote on action items.Kemp also did not tell the chair or the board members next to her that she needed to leave.“We’re up on the dais and I didn’t want to make a big deal about it or disrupt the meeting,” Kemp said.When Kemp didn’t return, chairman Jim Holton called a recess and staff members searched the building for Kemp but couldn’t find her.TBARTA executive director Ray Chairamonte eventually got a message from Kemp’s office that she was ill and had to leave, Holton said.“It was odd that she didn’t notify anyone,” Holton said. “In the absence of a quorum, we weren’t able to vote on some of these important issues.”

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The board was scheduled to vote on some financial decisions as well as start the process of finding a new executive director.Holton and others said they were caught off guard by Kemp’s abrupt departure.“We were really worried about her,” board member and Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long said. “Who does that without telling the chair?”Long said she ran into Kemp later that evening at Tropicana Field, where the Tampa Bay Rays were hosting the Seattle Mariners. Kemp said she was feeling better after resting that afternoon and had a friend visiting from out of town who wanted to attend the game. Kemp said she didn’t want to upset those plans.Kemp said she’s missed “very few votes” in her entire career, but did not intentionally skip out on any of Friday’s votes.“If I wanted to do that,” Kemp said, “I could’ve just not gone to the meeting to begin with.”Holton said a special meeting is scheduled for June 29 to approve financial decisions and complete other unfinished business.“We’re tasked with doing important things, and we all have an obligation to take time from our schedules to show up,” Holton said. “I think public officials who are elected, if they don’t want to be on this board, they should remove themselves and ask to be replaced.”

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