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Date of Issue: May 26, 2010

FISH absentee ballots questioned

Backlash spilling from more than 100 absentee ballots at the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage’s annual meeting led to a meeting scheduled for place May 24, after The Islander press deadline, to discuss the election.

At the May 4 annual meeting, Kim McVey, who works at Cortez Bait & Seafood and was a FISH board member, was slated to be the new president. She received 98 votes to incumbent Richard Culbreath’s 65.

Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino was unopposed for the vice president seat and received 143 votes. Sheila Mora (131 votes) retained her secretarial position. Joe Kane (66) filled another secretarial position. Jane von Hahmann (109) replaced Karen Bell (58) as treasurer.

Bell, Culbreath, Kane and Richard Estabrook retained board seats.

But Bell said she heard someone went to Cortez Kitchen and signed up dozens of new FISH members, who then voted for von Hahmann.

“I think it’s sleazy,” Bell said.

Bell said last week she hoped the absentee ballots would not count because of the sudden memberships. She said those absentee ballots were the reason she lost the office of treasurer.

Indeed, there was controversy at the May 4 meeting regarding an influx of absentee ballots, but, in the end, the absentee ballots were counted.

In the FISH bylaws approved by membership at a 2005 annual meeting, absentee ballots are addressed.

The bylaws state, “Signed and dated absentee ballots will be accepted for any issue at any meeting of the membership or board of directors.”

Another section states, “All absentee ballots must be presented to the president prior to the relevant meeting being called to order.”

McVey, meanwhile, is disappointed in the controversy.

“I think it’s a sad thing going on,” McVey said. “I don’t think there was anything done wrong. I think this is shedding a bad light on FISH.”

Barring changes, McVey will take over as president June 1.