Redondo Beach City Councilwoman Marcia Martin has missed 14 of 25 meetings since March 3, according to council minutes. She has arrived late for four other meetings and has left six of them early.
Martin, who was reelected March 3 by only five votes, said her attendance has been poor because she is in training to be a deputy for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, which often requires 12-hour days that start at 6 or 7 a.m.
No Apologies or Excuses
"It's all I can do right now," Martin said, "because this is going to be my career. . . . It's something I'm not going to make excuses or apologies for. . . . Four months does not make a good or bad council person."
Martin, 36, said she has wanted to be a law enforcement officer for years but could not qualify until last fall, when she had eye surgery that greatly improved her vision.
Martin worked for the Redondo Beach Police Department from 1975 until she was elected to her 3rd District City Council seat in 1983. She was a dispatcher, an animal-control officer, a crime prevention specialist, a communications specialist and a police services specialist in the records division.
Most recently, she was a security services specialist for TRW but resigned when she entered training.
Martin said her attendance at meetings will improve at the end of the month after she completes her training. Then, she said, she will work only eight-hour days and expects to be off on Tuesdays, when regular council meetings are held.
Martin has never missed two consecutive regular meetings, and no council members have complained about her attendance record. The City Charter says that the City Council can declare a seat vacant if a member misses four consecutive regularly scheduled meetings without permission from the council.
Council members Kay Horrell, John Chapman and Archie Snow said Martin has not missed any crucial meetings or discussions and commended her for pursuing her career goals.
Mayor Barbara J. Doerr also commended Martin for pursuing her career, but said District 3 residents are not being adequately represented because of it. Councilman Ronald Cawdrey could not be reached for comment.
Martin had not missed any meetings between Jan. 6 and March 3. From the beginning of the year through June 2, Doerr has missed one meeting; Chapman, three; Horrell, one; Snow, four; Cawdrey, six; City Atty. Gordon Phillips, two and City Clerk John Oliver, 11.
The City Council usually meets only twice a month but has met more frequently in recent months, partly to discuss the budget and redevelopment issues. The council votes unanimously on most issues.
The three meetings that Martin attended for the duration in the past four months were a 14-minute swearing-in ceremony for her and two other reelected officials and two meetings on March 17, the first of which, an adjourned meeting, lasted 15 minutes and the second, the council's regular meeting, 6 1/2 hours.
At a meeting on March 10, which lasted nearly two hours, Martin showed up just three minutes before the council adjourned. She was in time, however, to vote on the last matter before the council that evening.
Martin said she did not find out until near the end of her reelection campaign that she had been admitted to the academy. She said she considered taking a four-month leave of absence from the City Council while she was in training but decided she could do both.
'Behind the Scenes'
She said she talks to City Manager Tim Casey and other city employees and officials regularly, responds to constituents' calls and takes care of city business "behind the scenes."
"Most of the meetings are a bunch of arguing, and I don't think I need to be privy to a bunch of arguing," Martin said, referring to frequent bickering between City Council members and Mayor Barbara J. Doerr, who does not vote but holds veto power.
Casey was out of town and could not be reached for comment, but Asst. City Manager Ray Griest said Martin calls him as often as the other council members do. He said she also calls Casey, but he does not know how often.
Martin, who receives $525 a month as a council member, said she watches videotapes of the meetings every weekend.
"I give my heart, and that's all I can give," she said.
Martin said she is worried about graduating from the police academy because her shooting scores have been low. She said she plans to stay in Redondo Beach, even though she expects to be working in Orange County.
"I get homesick when I'm in Orange County," she said. "As soon as I cross the line that says, 'Welcome to L. A. County,' at night, I feel a lot better."
Record Shows Late Arrivals, Early Exits and Absences