Fort Smith di­rec­tor’s bid to al­ter agenda fails

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAVE HUGHES

FORT SMITH — Dis­cussing re­moval of the Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion chair­man will cre­ate an­other up­roar Fort Smith doesn’t need, a city di­rec­tor said Thurs­day in his un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt to re­move the ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion item from Tues­day’s meet­ing agenda.

Ge­orge Cat­savis con­tacted City Clerk Sherri Gard on Thurs­day af­ter­noon and re­quested the dis­cus­sion over re­mov­ing com­mis­sion Chair­man Chip Sex­ton be dropped from the agenda, Gard wrote in an email she sent out at 4:18 p.m. Thurs­day.

“I think it’s ridicu­lous to even con­sider re­mov­ing Chip Sex­ton,” Cat­savis said.

He said Sex­ton did a good job on the com­mis­sion and is well-re­spected within the city. Cat­savis also said the di­rec­tors just weath­ered a con­tro­versy over re­cy­cling and they need to move on with the work of the city and not cre­ate an­other dis­pute.

Gard wrote city or­di­nances re­quire con­sent of four di­rec­tors to add or re­move an agenda item. She con­tacted all but one of the other di­rec­tors, Kevin Set­tle. Of the others, she wrote, City Di­rec­tor Don Hutch­ings wanted the ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion item re­moved, but City Di­rec­tors Keith Lau, An­dre Good, Mike Lorenz

and Tracy Pen­nartz wanted the item to re­main on the agenda.

Tues­day’s meet­ing is sched­uled for 6 p.m. at the Fort Smith Pub­lic Schools Ser­vice Cen­ter at 3205 Jenny Lind Road.

Lau re­quested at the June 27 meet­ing the item be on Tues­day’s agenda. He said he wanted to dis­cuss whether it

was a con­flict of in­ter­est for Sex­ton to re­main on the com­mis­sion when his law part­ner Joey McCutchen is su­ing the city.

McCutchen is rep­re­sent­ing Bruce Wade in a Se­bas­tian County Cir­cuit Court law­suit charg­ing di­rec­tors vi­o­lated the Arkansas Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act by cir­cu­lat­ing email among them­selves call­ing for the dis­so­lu­tion of the com­mis­sion be­cause it failed to act on a re­quest from Po­lice Chief Nathaniel Clark to change the com­mis­sion rules to al­low people from out­side the depart­ment to ap­ply for su­per­vi­sory po­si­tions on the force.

Sex­ton has said he didn’t be­lieve there was a con­flict of in­ter­est to jus­tify his re­moval, and the di­rec­tors wouldn’t muster the five votes to re­move him.

He also said he wasn’t McCutchen’s law part­ner but they shared of­fices as a cost-sav­ing mea­sure.

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