BOUNCING IN BRYANT: This shot, from a Facebook video, is representative of what set off the local police chief and mayor. Facebook

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed in Saline Circuit Court today against Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs for the city’s failure to fully comply with request for records concerning employee complaints about the mayor.  The back story is rich, including a bouncing African-American dance party that angered the mayor and police chief.

The lawsuit itself was filed by Danny Steele, who Sept. 19 sought “all complaints” filed by city employees. Long story short: The city resisted compliance in a variety of ways and finally produced a single e-mail on Oct. 17. The lawsuit contends multiple other complaints have not been turned over.


Steele is a former alderman who’s complained in the past about Dabbs, who burst on the scene by trying to file for office initially as “Republican” Dabbs, the better to differentiate herself for the nonpartisan office in Republican-dominated Saline County.

As it happens, I’ve also received no response as yet from the mayor or City Attorney Chris Madison to my own FOI requests for records concerning complaints about Dabbs by the parks director, fire chief and planning and development director. I’ve also requested communications to and from the mayor and to and from the police chief, Mark Kizer, relative to a recent private party for which a city parks building was rented. UPDATE: I got a partial response, the park director’s complaint. Madison insists no other complaints are on file and he hasn’t gathered the e-mail yet.


Other media have received partial response to FOI complaints, including by Parks Director Chris Treat, about treatment by Dabbs. His complaint covers a lot of ground, but indicates the serious problems began in July over rental of a city parks building (illustrated in video above).

July 30, the building at Bishop Park Pool was rented to a group that Parks Director Treat believed was a Little Rock Central High School reunion. He learned later he’d been misled. It turned out to be a private party, with tickets sold to an entertainment event that included a DJ. The event was thrown by a Little Rock promoter. Video of the event circulated on social media and it created a hubbub in Bryant offices because of the dancing in revealing bikinis — twerking I believe the style of booty-shaking dancing is known. That they were African-American dancers contributed to the city official heartburn, most believe. Bryant has been a white flight suburban haven for years, though it has grown to include many black residents.


No laws were broken by the dance party. No violence was committed. The party people paid the rent and even helped clean up afterward. But, the mayor called Treat into a meeting with the police chief and insisted that he issue no statements in defense of the event.

Dabbs said the dancing was pornographic and she demanded that the facility not be rented to this group again.

Dabbs wrote Treat in an e-mail:


For the second time this summer a group of individuals has rented our pools, brought their own security detail, charged admission for an adult party, and then posted pornographic video on social media indicating that this pornographic behavior is happening in our facilities. There is debate whether this crude and nude dancing was actually in our park or just made to look like it was. But none the less I am demanding we do not rent to these individuals again. 

Treat talks about that episode, along with many others, in the complaint against Dabbs that has been released. It has been partially redacted to remove a reference to her divorce.


He recounted in the complaint about many aspects of Dabbs’ supervision to the city human resources office, but the dance party was a key issue:

The Mayor refused to allow me to make any positive statement about the event. She would not allow me to comment on the fact that no policies were violated, no incidents occured, and that overall it was under control. I felt coerced into making a statement that met the Mayor, Police Chief, and, Staff Attorneys version of the events not my own. In my opinion they over responded to the event because the event was attended by African Americans. The Mayor is working on adding Parks Department Policies to keep these kind of events from happening again. I’m concerned that her new policies will be discriminatory in nature

Here’s his full complaint. It was redacted for a reference to Dabbs’ divorce.

Treat is not commenting on the ruckus. Dabbs has not responded to my e-mail.

Dabbs is in a race with Council member Allen Scott for election to a third term. The Saline Courier has a rundown, which you’ll see includes some of the financial management issues raised by Treat’s complaint.

UPDATE: The Saline Courier drew some comments from Dabbs on the issue later. Among others, she said the dance part was “not OK.”