DIAMOND CITY — When the Diamond City City Council met last week, aldermen and some audience members had a lengthy discussion of Mayor Linda Miracle’s performance and how to handle potential problems.
The mayor was absent from the meeting, as were Aldermen Don Bennett and Cheryl Guthire. Council members Charles Grimes, Cristy Olcott and Greg Wilson were present and Victoria French was named to the council to replace Rick Van Dyke, who resigned. City recorder Tina Jackson oversaw the meeting and Sharlene Hudson filled in for Jackson as recorder.
Olcott said she submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for expenses charged to the budget line item that covers expenses for training and education for city officials.
“Linda has been pulling money out of there for reimbursement for travel fees also,” Olcott said.
She explained that the line item was for $5,000, but it’s now $337 in the red. She said she had turned that information over to city attorney Steven Grady and he was to turn it over to Prosecuting Attorney David Ethredge.
Grimes said records indicate the mayor was reimbursed for the trip to Little Rock for an Arkansas Municipal League training session, but there was no record she had attended the training.
Hudson asked if there was a way the council could meet with the mayor and explain what has to be done. She asked if it might be possible for the council to issue the mayor a formal reprimand.
Olcott said Ethredge, although a very busy man, has been asked to look into Diamond City matters. She wondered aloud if there might be a need for a special investigator.
Kenny Bollinger, who ran against Guthrie for her position but was defeated in a runoff election in 2018, was in the audience and he asked about the status of a mayoral recall petition. Hudson suggested it would be best to talk about that outside the public meeting.
As aldermen discussed potential other solutions, one man in the crowd spoke up. He declined to give his name to the Daily Times after the meeting, but newspaper archives identified him as Jacob Powell, who was sworn in as a council member in October 2017 to replace an alderman who resigned.
“The council has all the power in city government, period,” Powell said. “It’s what you choose to do with it that matters.”
He suggested the council meet with the mayor and explain what has to be done by law and iron out all current problems.
If that doesn’t work, Powell said, the council has the option, by ordinance or resolution, to strip the mayor of all governing powers, then ask that she relinquish her keys and vacate the office.
“She’ll still be the mayor of Diamond City and drawing a paycheck, but she’ll be out of your hair,” he said.
Jackson asked Powell what the next recourse would be if the mayor refuses. He said the matter could then be turned over to the Municipal League.
Grimes jokingly suggested that the city could still offer her an office by moving her desk into the room next to it, which is a public bathroom.
Wilson said the council must document every move going forward. In speaking to the crowd, Wilson said, “As citizens, each one of you, the more pressure you can put on Don, Cheryl and the mayor to grow up, show up and be a part of things …” will help to resolve issues.
Bollinger publicly thanked the council for the professionalism displayed Tuesday night. He said it seemed city government had been moving backward for several months.
“I feel like tonight you’ve taken a giant leap forward,” Bollinger said. That was met with applause from the rest of the crowd.