The website www.improvingbryant.com has been in operation for several monthsm but the people behind the scenes posting the information have been in the background â€” until now.
The Saline Courier has learned that Bryant Alderman Adrian Henley is one of six individuals involved with the gathering and posting of information on the site that focuses primarily on Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs. The mission statement, as noted on the website, is put together by a group called "Citizens for a Better Bryant". It states: "We understand that most people have a very busy lifestyle and are not able to keep up with the day-to-day issues in their local government. That is why we have created this website. Our purpose is to shed some light on the current administrationâ€™s policyâ€™s so voters can be more informed at the ballot box. It is our belief that the current administrationâ€™s policies are not in the best interest of Bryant residents. That is why this group has endorsed, and sought for the 'petition for removal' of the current mayor. We believe this step should send a message to the current, and any future mayor, that they are elected to serve the citizens of Bryant and not themselves."
When questioned about the website, Henley said it was created as a means to collect funds for the effort to recall Dabbs. "We put the site together so that citizens would know where to find information about the recall effort and the issues."
Henley said that he is an elected official and, as such, could "be at the forefront," but feels the other members of the group should decide for themselves if they were comfortable making their names public.
"We have had personal attacks and comments on our website. We take them down," he said, noting this as the reason others may not be comfortable going public with their involvement with the site.
"Some are concerned about harassment at their workplace and comments about their family. We believe the message of the site is more important than the people involved," he said.
A message was sent to the other Bryant City Council members (Scott Curtis, Danny Steele, Mike Chandler, Chris Tipton, Rob Roedel, Brenda Miller and Steve Gladden) asking if any are involved with the site as well. As of press time, no responses have been received.
Citizens for a Better Bryant meets on a regular basis to consider content and what is posted to the website. Henley says no one in particular is responsible for writing the blog posts and the members decide as a group what ends up on the site. He also maintains that all the information posted on the site is available to residents through a Freedom of Information Act request to the city of Bryant.
Upon learning of Henley's involvement with improvingbryant.com, Dabbs said, "I believe the efforts to undermine my credibility, my administration and my ability to govern effectively as mayor of Bryant are the efforts of a vocal minority and do not reflect the wishes or desires of the majority of voters in Bryant. I encourage any resident or business owner who would like a one-on-one meeting with me to discuss any concerns pertaining to my leadership or the unfounded accusations that have been made against me by three of your aldermen (Danny Steele, Brenda Miller and Adrian Henley) since I took office in January 2011 to call my office and ask my assistant, Gayle Watson ( 501-847-5559), to put you on my calendar. I will also gladly meet with any group or organization to discuss these matters and others if requested. I would also like to encourage residents to contact these alderman and remind them you elected them to serve the needs of their ward, not to be an obstructionist to the mayor."
Dabbs went on to state she feels she was elected to make the necessary changes at the local government level to operate a more efficient city government. She ended her statement by saying, "It is my desire that we all work together for the best interest of our great city. It is time to stop looking back and move forward."
Dabbs encouraged residents to contact her via email at email@example.com.
Henley said he does not have a firm count on the number of signatures gathered thus far in the group's effort to recall Dabbs. He said the group is "quietly going about gathering the signatures and if the numbers are there, then we will see what happens."
He said and the ultimate goal of Citizens for a Better Bryant is to build a "good image for the city."