Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

TOP STORY >> Clerk in Cabot settles lawsuit


Cabot Clerk-Treasurer Marva Verkler has dropped her federal lawsuit against the city and Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh.
Verkler said this week that continuing the lawsuit and carrying hatred for the mayor for stripping her of most of her duties as treasurer was interfering with her relationship with God.

“Carrying that hatred and revenge in my heart was getting in my way,” Verkler said. “It took two and a half years of praying to get to this point.

“I can forgive anything they may have done to me,” she said. “And I’ve asked the mayor to forgive me for anything I might have done to hurt him. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But he said he would and asked me to forgive him.”

City Attorney Ken Williams, who was still waiting for a faxed copy of the motion to dismiss from Verkler’s attorney, Ed Adcock, said if the motion said what he expected it to say, “the case is over.”
“It takes a big person to make peace, and I respect Marva’s decision,” Williams said.

Depositions in the case were supposed to begin this week. The city council set aside $20,000 in the 2005 budget to defend the city against the federal lawsuit filed in 2003. The city was represented by Steven Jones with the Little Rock law firm Jack Lyon & Jones.

So far, the case has cost the city about half that amount.
Verkler claimed in her suit that she was discriminated against because she is a woman and because she supported former Mayor Joe Allman in the last mayoral race. She was asking for monetary damages and for the court to return the duties taken from her at the urging of Stumbaugh, including her bookkeeping and check writing duties.

Those duties and most of Verkler’s staff were reassigned to Dale Walker, who was hired as the city’s first finance director after Stumbaugh took office in 2003.

In April the city council turned down an offer to settle the case for $25,000. Contacted Tuesday afternoon, Stumbaugh confirmed that he had spoken to Verkler a week earlier and that he had indeed apologized for anything he said or did after she filed her lawsuit that might have offended her.

He said he told Verkler he would forgive her for filing the suit, but he maintains that the suit was unjustified.
“I had done nothing wrong,” he said. “If they had had a lawsuit, they would have continued with it.”
“I’m glad the lawsuit is gone,” the mayor said. “But I stand where I stand; neither I nor the city did anything wrong.
“I’m glad it’s over and things have been better for the last week,” he said.