During the public comment's portion of the Bauxite City Council's regular meeting, there was a disturbance after a local resident and former alderman made a claim that one of the alderman was not eligible for his seat.
Resident Debbie Purifoy told the council she had a copy of Ordinance 1 of 2019 which the council passed permitting Council Member Ron Parsons to be paid as both an employee of the city while working as a Bauxite police officer and as an alderman. It specified he is an at-will employee.
Purifoy claims that an Arkansas law prevents city employees from even running for office.
She cited Arkansas Statute 14-42-107 (b) (1) "No alderman, council member, official or municipal employee shall be interested, directly or indirectly, in the profits of any contract for furnishing supplies, equipment, or services to the municipality unless the governing body of the city has enacted an ordinance specifically permitting aldermen, council members, officials, or municipal employees to conduct business with the city and prescribing the extent of this authority."
She went on to say that the Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled employment by the city constitutes a contract. Volunteers can seek election, but not employees.
She said because the police department is not a volunteer department she believes he was not even eligible to run for the position.
Purifoy told the council neither ordinance one or Parsons resigning from the police department would satisfy the statute and Parsons should resign his position. She said one of the two other people who ran for council positions should be appointed in his place.
Mayor Eddie Jones said he would not ask Parsons to resign adding that he would address the issue to City Attorney Chris Madison, who had to leave the meeting early because he had to attend another meeting.
Jones believes the issue has already been addressed, but the council would discuss it at the next council meeting when Madison was present.
When Purifoy said if necessary she would file a lawsuit, Jones became upset and told her the door was behind her. He said he was tired of people threatening to sue him. He said both the city attorney and Arkansas Municipal League have addressed this issue.
He told her to either leave the building or she would be escorted out.
When Purifoy and a man who was with her went to leave the man mumbled something.
Police Chief Jamie Barlow stood up and asked "Did you just threaten somebody?" as he moved toward the man.
Barlow then stated "You just threatened somebody" to the man with Purifoy. Barlow said he heard the man say he was going to hurt somebody. Barlow then asked the others in the audience if they also heard the threat, with many saying they had.
Barlow said he would arrest the man for disorderly conduct for the threat. He was going to take the man to the Saline County Detention Center, but Jones asked if he and Parsons could speak to the man privately. After the conversation, Purifoy and the man left.
The meeting resumed, but there were no other public comments made.
A full story on the rest of the council's business will run in an upcoming edition of The Saline Courier.