After a two-hour executive session, the Little Rock Wastewater Sanitary Sewer Committee voted to fire embattled Little Rock Wastewater CEO Reggie Corbitt. All committee members voted to fire Corbitt save Patrick Miller, who voted present.
The committee said it would offer Corbitt three months of severance as long as he signed a waiver promising not to sue. He has until 5 p.m. Friday to accept or reject the offer.
Committee member Pete Hornibrook said it was “a sad day” because of all of Corbitt’s good works during his 30 years with LRW.
In its regular meeting, the committee didn’t discuss the release of a Little Rock Police Department investigation into recent activities by the utility. When it adjourned to a closed door session to consider what was described as a personnel issue, committee members took an internal audit they received just before the start of the meeting with them. After the executive session, they declined to make the audit public, according to the Times’ Leslie Peacock, who attended, because members said they had to review it to determine if it’s a personnel document (thus undermining the legality of discussing the audit in a closed, executive session, when only personnel matters are allowed to be discussed).
Leslie may have more shortly.
Tonight’s firing follows the report this morning by police to City Manager Bruce Moore that said state and city firearms laws may have been broken at LRWU’s Adams Field and Fourche Creek Treatment Plants, where utility Director of Operations Stan Miller, with Corbitt’s knowledge, lived off and on in his trailers. The utility footed the bill — around $25,000 total — to create pads and run utilities to the trailers, where Miller lived with his girlfriend, who was given access to the restricted site through a “proxy” pass. Employees told police they occasionally fired guns into a berm behind the Fourche Creek plant and that one employee had fired at a sign and street light on the property; vandalism had been given as a reason by the utility for Miller’s residence at the plants. Miller also allowed pipe owned by the utility but not planned for use to be hauled off for use by a company and a private individual rather than disposing of the pipe through a salvage sale. The police forwarded the report to the Pulaski County prosecutor.
The committee hired BKD CPAs and Advisors to conduct an internal audit of utility books after the use of public funds to provide Miller a place to live was discovered.
Utility lawyer Carolyn Witherspoon said she would review the audit in the next 24 hours to determine which part of it would constitute a personnel record. She said she would release parts of the record that do not constitute a personnel record, if they exist. Corbitt then has the right to ask the attorney general for an opinion if the record should be released, and the AG has three days to respond. It’s an absurd process, since Corbitt may ask, but the record is considered public except for information like a Social Security number or medical information, and will be released.
The problem here is that the board met in executive session to review the audit without first determining if part of it should have been discussed in public. It’s possible that the entire report addresses only Corbitt’s actions. We’ll find out at some point.
After the vote to terminate Corbitt, Hornibrook asked to make a statement, saying he wanted to “recognize the job that Reggie has done as CEO. When I drive in and look at it [headquarters] and look at the people who have served under Reggie, I know how they were brought up … and how well respected he is. It’s very sad. I wish him an dhis family well … “