Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

TOP STORY >> Alderman sues to get information

Leader staff writer

Cabot Alderman Odis Waymack filed suit in circuit court Monday afternoon against the mayor and three city employees over access to a survey of First Street, where seven one-lane bridges need to be replaced.

Waymack is alleging a violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and is asking that a judge decide within seven days if he should have been denied the documents he requested of staff at Cabot Public Works on April 21.

Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh says Waymack had not been denied anything because he didn’t request it of him as he was instructed and as other council members do.

“If you want something, you call the mayor’s office,” Stumbaugh said.

Furthermore, Stumbaugh says, Waymack didn’t request the survey under the Freedom of Information Act. He never actually said the words, which he says would have made the request official and required that it be honored within three days. Since he didn’t request anything, either of his office or under the FOIA, he couldn’t have been turned down, the mayor insisted.

Named in the suit are the city of Cabot, Stumbaugh, Public Works Director Jim Towe, City Engineer Gayle Maynard and Norma Naquin, another public works employee.

Stumbaugh had not seen the suit Tuesday morning when he talked to The Leader, and he said that fact was evidence that the suit is politically motivated.

“Odis is just a troublemaker,” the mayor said. “If he spent half as much time working for the city as he does harassing me, the city would be a whole lot better place. The man has some problems. I just hope he gets right before he goes.”

Waymack says he needed the survey to save money on a water-flow study for the First Street bridges that he is paying an engineer to conduct. Some members of the council who are reluctant to support the city/county partnership say they need evidence that the round culverts Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman wants to install would be large enough for the water that would flow through them.

Waymack said the flow study would hopefully resolve that issue, but when the staff at Public Works refused to give him the survey, he turned his attention instead toward what he says is a flagrant violation of freedom of information.

“Stubby is not the custodian of the records,” Waymack said. “I think he believes he is, but is the court going to say that? The state statute doesn’t require you to go to the mayor.”

Meanwhile, an ordinance before the city council that would have the city and county working together to replace the bridges and build two roads that proponents say would ease traffic congestion was held for a second time Monday night, because although it presumably has the votes needed to pass, it doesn’t have the votes needed to override a mayoral veto.