In a letter dated Friday, June 13, Mayor Johnny McMahan contends that three Bauxite aldermen are "meeting, discussing and making decisions of Bauxite affairs before an official meeting, which is contrary to state law."
The alderman accused of the violation are Karen Brooks, Paula Matthews and Mona Struble.
McMahan claims that on Tuesday, May 27, Brooks, Matthews and Struble met at City Hall and rode together to and from a settlement conference held at the federal courthouse in downtown Little Rock to consider a settlement in the Purifoy v. Bauxite lawsuit.
McMahan goes on to claim that the three were "on the same page" in agreement to the figures outlined in the settlement. Matthews recommended $1,500, increasing to $3,000 with the final agreement of $6,000 to be paid to Purifoy in installments of $2,000 in consecutive months if the lawsuit were settled.
McMahan states, "I believe on the ride to the conference, the three council members made a mutual agreement on the possible amount of a settlement figure and how it would be approached even though we had not been given any indication beforehand of any figures until we met with the magistrate." Brooks said in an email, "Our attorney from Municipal League, Mike Mosley, is the one who came up with the $3,000 settlement and then during our lunch break Mr. Mosley asked if we would be willing to settle for up to $6,000. We were all present when both of these amounts were brought up." Matthews added, "During our ride to the conference (if it must be publicly known), we talked about makeup, kids, school, and how to get to where we were going."
McMahan further claimed that he believes the three aldermen, on the drive back from the settlement meeting, "concocted a scheme to call a 'special' meeting for the next day, Wednesday, May 28, at 6 p.m. to fill the vacant council member position necessitated by the recent resignation of Allison Cain on April 30."
McMahan contended that the council members had agreed to take the matter up at the next regular council meeting on June 16 during a May 19 regular council meeting.
Struble said that this May 28 meeting never happened.
Matthews said, "We requested a meeting the day after the conference because we were already going to be there for a workshop anyway. To no surprise, McMahan not only ignored the special meeting request, but he canceled our workshop all together, which was very important regarding water/sewer paperwork. He also told city employees not to unlock the doors for the council to be able to have the workshop."
However, a special meeting did occur on June 6.
On June 5, Struble called for an "emergency" meeting. Matthews and Brooks agreed, receiving the three requests necessary to call a special meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to fill the position vacated by Allison Cain.
Struble said she felt this was necessary saying they were already out of order for not filling the vacant position during the May 19 meeting.
McMahan states that he believes both special meetings, May 28 and June 6, "were already decided" before they were to be held and were "set up" to "game the system."
In the letter he said: "I believe you three illegally planned this meeting and you three had already made up your mind of how it was going to go down."
Struble stated, "No, that's not true. We did not previously agree."
Brooks stated, "Our 'special meeting' was not illegal, Mayor was in attendance and also Brenda Haney."
Brooks continued by saying, "We have had no secret meetings to discuss city business. If Mayor wants to accuse 'Karen, Paula and Mona' of having secret meetings, then he needs to add himself to illegal activity, for he come to my place of business numerous times to talk city business. The first time I went against his wishes, he stopped coming by. When I first was elected to the council, Paula Matthews was the only council member from the previous administration. Mayor would leave Paula out of emails concerning city business, then first time I voted against his wishes he treated me the same. "When I called him out on it a couple months ago, he changed the way he sent emails. I am totally embarrassed to be a part of the City of Bauxite Administration. The first email he (McMahan) sent to me as a new alderman was 'Welcome to the circus.' Now I understand what he was saying."
During the special meeting, the council members voted to select Adam Kampbell to fill the council seat previously held by Cain. McMahan vetoed this action on Monday, June 9. McMahan said that he vetoed the decision because, "I do not believe that Adam Kampbell is a 'fit and proper person' to fulfill this position.
"Part of this belief is based on his attendance pattern and his actions while previously serving as a council member and his lack of sound financial expertise. I believe the appointment of a vacant position must be held in a regular council meeting, not a special or an emergency meeting."
Matthews said, "I talked to Don Zimmerman from the Municipal League. It was in his opinion that we could go forth with a special meeting to fill the vacant seat since it was not done at the regular meeting the month before, like it was supposed to be done."
Struble claims that McMahan told her and the other council members that he would veto anyone who was appointed to the council seat who wasn't the specific person that he wanted.
Matthews added, "We was very adamant about Lora Billingsley being appointed to the vacant seat who was not even a registered voter in the city of Bauxite until the morning of that regular meeting, yet she put her name in as a nomination three days before that."
She added, "Why veto every choice that the council makes just because it is not who or what you personally want?"
Struble said, "I want to move forward. Once you lose trust and respect, you never get it back."
Struble denies all of the allegations set against her by McMahan, saying that she and the other council members in no way conspired during secret meetings. Matthews and Brooks also deny the allegations.
Struble claims that McMahan has "kept information from us."
McMahan sent a letter to ADEQ dated May 21 requesting additional time to get the wastewater treatment plant in compliance with permit requirements. In the letter, McMahan stated that the failure to pass the half-cent sales tax on May 20 indicated "the lack of support by the citizens of Bauxite to have a wastewater treatment plant that is in compliance with ADEQ rules and regulations."
Struble said she never received a copy of that letter; however, she accidentally discovered it after sitting in Brenda Haney's seat during a meeting.
Struble said, "He (McMahan) has got one 'yes' man and that's Brenda." She added, "You should trust your leader."
"There is no way to agree to disagree with him," Struble said.
"We are there for the citizens, not for Johnny."
Brooks said, "Bauxite has numerous issues at hand which are being put on hold due to Mayor McMahan."