A press release has arrived from Saline Prosecuting Attorney Ken Casady, who mounted an investigation after all into Bryant Mayor “Republican” Jill Dabbs unilateral decision to raise her pay and that of new City Clerk “Republican” Heather Kizer. (Background here on why Republican is part of the names of these new Bryant leaders.)
Casady, full release on the jump, said Dabbs committed no crime in increasing her pay. But …. he said he was “disturbed” by Dabbs’ decision to raise pay without consulting the city attorney or City Council. He said Dabbs’ excuse for the raise, a statute that I’d previously written doesn’t apply to her situation, seemed “misplaced.” He said the pay raise was “ill advised” and “wrong.” He notes discrepancies in accounts given by Dabbs and the human resources office, Shayne King, that she fired. He concludes:
Dabbs exercised poor judgment when she decided to increase her salary and the salary of Kizer. Whatever the merits of terminating King, Dabbs should have been prepared to correctly manage the human resources department until a replacement for King was found. As Mayor, Dabbs’s knowledge of the City’s policies is implied. If she was unsure or had doubts about changing her own salary, she should have sought guidance from the city attorney, Arkansas Municipal League or an experienced human resources professional. The evidence indicates that her decision to proceed without assistance was ill-advised and wrong, but not criminal.
I have to hand it to Casady, a Republican, who’d seemed to shy away from this at the first. It’s a full report. I’ve said from the start Dabbs ordered payment of money to herself and Kizer that she was not entitled to receive. If she hasn’t repaid the excess payments she drew in three pay periods, she should. (Confidential to Ricky Dale Tripp: where’s that alibi now?)
Next question: Will the mayor continue to seek special city subsidies for her daughter’s swim team, the Bryant Barracudas.
I’ve asked the mayor for reaction and answers to a couple of questions. She has declined to talk with me previously.
NOTED: Both Dabbs husband, Alan, and Kizer’s husband, Mark, are members of the Saline Quorum Court, the county governing body that has budget control over Casady’s office. Critics are already saying he has a conflict of interest to consider this case at all under the circumstances. I may have cause to reconsider, but I think this was a pretty thorough repudiation of Dabbs’ actions as high-handed and stupid. Which about captures her in a nutshell. Tis a tangled web down in Saline.
UPDATE: Those who prompted Casady’s review aren’t happy with Casady’s report because they think he avoided the hard fact that Dabbs was solely responsible for instigating the pay raises. They provide an e-mail produced under the FOI from a payroll employee that illustrates the mayor, not the city employee, started the discussion that her pay should be higher. Dabbs is a conniver, no doubt. She also clearly concluded she deserved to make as much as the previous mayor, no matter what ordinances said, and then found a statute to hang her case on, however inadequate. This does, however, seem to make proving criminal intent difficult. But she certainly seems guilty of an illegal exaction of taxpayer money. Lucky for Bryant it was discovered early before a lawyer could make a big payday on it.