Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Mayor Gets Stuffed

At the first meeting of the Tontitown City Council this month, the City Attorney was directed to prepare an ordinance on nonfeasance, a step that eventually could lead to removal from office of Mayor Joe Edgmon or any other local official not doing their jobs. Alderman Scott McNair brought up the ordinance after an argument between Edgmon and Building Official Shane Harrison. Apparently Mayor Edgmon wanted to terminate Harrison, who said, "I just want to come do my job to the best of my ability and not have to worry about the knives being thrown at my back.”

Last Friday, Mayor Edgmon fired Code Enforcement Officer Harrison because he said it had become difficult for the two men to continue working together. “It got to the point where we were at an impasse,” Edgmon said. “It’s too difficult for us to work together on things. He feels like he’s being harassed and just his overall demeanor with my office... I felt like it was time.” The Mayor's action came as quite a surprise to everyone, including City Attorney Mark Dossett who said the mayor could under Arkansas law terminate an employee and the City Council could override the mayor’s decision. “I did not know anything about it, ” Dossett said. “He didn’t get advice from the city attorney on how to do it in a way to best protect the city or prevent any potential problems. I hope he got some legal advice somewhere.”

It wasn't really a legal issue, it was a political one, and The Decider met the Over Riders. The City Council voted unanimously to reverse the firing and rehire Harrison at a special meeting Monday, and he was back at work on Tuesday. Alderman McNair said it was a management issue. “The mayor has no leadership skills, no managerial skills.” Alderman Becky Alston requested that the council consider a vote of no confidence on the Mayor next Tuesday. “It will let him know that the council either has confidence in him or they don’t,” she said. “If he cares about the city, he will change his attitude and change his ways, ...but I don't have any confidence that he's willing to put aside his personal grievances."

The smart money is not betting on Mayor Edgmon. He seems to think he can run the city unilaterally without the trust, confidence, support, and cooperation of the City Council. Whether he is lacking in management skills or political sense, the result will always be the same if the Council is committed to fulfilling its role and doing its job.

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