Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs goes on the defensive
On Jan. 5 the Bryant City Council voted unanimously to overturn the resignation of the city's finance manager, Gary Hollis, which had been requested by Mayor Jill Dabbs.
The following day, Dabbs hit the airwaves of Central Arkansas to make her case during an interview at a Little Rock radio station.
In addition to Hollis' resignation, Dabbs had asked for and received the resignation of City Attorney Nga Mauhfouz.
Both tendered the resignations on Dec. 30, 2010.
On Thursday night, the council determined that since Hollis was given the option to resign or be terminated, the action taken by Dabbs created a forced resignation and, as such, the council was within its authority to overturn the decision.
Earlier in the week, Dabbs appointed Doyle Webb as interim city attorney. Webb, a former state senator, is chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas and a resident of Benton.
During her radio interview, Dabbs spoke openly about the Bryant council, reacted to talk of an effort to recall her from position as mayor and her efforts to move Bryant forward.
In particular, Dabbs singled out Alderman Adrian Henley in her radio comments. Later, when contacted by the Courier, Dabbs expanded on her comments about Henley by saying, "I wish Alderman Henley would spend as much time working for the betterment of Bryant and less time on being an obstructionist to what the citizens have elected me to accomplish. His energy is misplaced for what he has been elected to do."
In her radio comments, Dabbs said that "Henley acts like he speaks on behalf of the whole council. I hope this isn't so."
Members of the Bryant council were contacted for a response to this statement. Alderman Rob Roedel stated, "The only person that speaks for me is Rob Roedel." At press time, no other alderman had responded.
In regard to Hollis, Dabbs tells the Courier, "I have been apprised by the state legislative audit based on the findings of the 2010 audit, for the year prior to my taking office, that a referral has been made to the prosecuting attorney's office for an investigation."
When asked if this information factored into her decision to ask for Hollis' resignation, Dabbs responded, "It was a factor because trust is the most valued commodity between any CEO/Mayor and CFO."
In response to Dabbs' comments, Hollis told the Courier, "I'm not aware of any infraction in the audit report that directly or indirectly involves me. There were one or two minor issues with IT (information technology)."
Speaking from his office on Friday, Hollis said that his return has not caused issues with Dabbs. "She seems to be making an attempt to be professional, and I appreciate that."
In the radio interview, Dabbs expressed her concern for the city of Bryant and said the negative publicity the town has received "is not good for the city." She went on to state that the majority of issues are being raised by "three or four individuals. We are better than this."
The Courier will continue to follow the story and report additional information as it becomes available.