Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

TOP STORY >>Cabot City Council moves to shut down business

Leader staff writer

That Cabot’s old city council is winding down in readiness for the new one that will take over in January was clear from the number of proposed ordinances and resolutions that were not acted upon Monday night, but the council did take decisive action to close down Tec Boys, a local business accused of defrauding its Internet customers.

A 1992 ordinance gave the city clerk authority to license businesses inside the city. The amended version approved unanimously by the seven members present gives the city clerk the authority to take it away. Alderman David Polantz did not attend the meeting. Polantz, one of the two council members who lost their race for mayor, is one of six council members who will not be returning next year. Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh did not quibble about the catalyst for amending the 14-year-old ordinance. “They’re still open, still conducting business,” he said.

Business owners Eddie and Connie Williams have been charged with one count each of felony theft by deception. Cabot police say they have evidence the couple took money for scooters ordered through Ebay or the business Website and didn’t place the orders with their overseas supplier for 90 to 120 days. City Clerk Marva Verkler urged the council to pass the ordinance saying they would understand the need if they had been the ones taking phone calls from customers saying the business had defrauded them.

“There’s nothing I can do. Call the police,” Verkler said she told Tecboys’ customers. Eddie Williams says he’s done nothing illegal, that any complaints from his customers should have been handled in a civil court not criminal. Furthermore, he said, he heard about the new ordinance and tried to attend the council meeting but was turned away. “They stopped me physically from going into a public meeting last night,” Williams said on Tuesday. “A man I didn’t even know told me I’d better not go in there. We have done a doggone thing wrong in this state or in Cabot.”

Williams says it’s possible his problems are the result of a conspiracy by competitors, intent on putting him out of business because his grossed $1.5 million in sales last year. “I’ve got a medal of honor and two bronze stars and I’m a retired fireman (from Jacksonville, Florida),” Williams said. “I’ve never done anything wrong. I couldn’t even sleep at night if I thought I had.”
Lt. Scott Steely, head of investigations for the Cabot Police Department, said none of the Techboys customers who have complained were from Cabot or even from Arkansas.

Williams said if the city is successful in shutting him down, he can still run his internet business. In other business, the council approved paying $14,220 to build a sidewalk from the new community center to Locust Street so the residents who use the senior citizen center will be able to walk to the community center. The council also approved paying $11,504 to pour 150 feet of sidewalk near Junior High South and Middle School South. Alderman Eddie Cook was opposed to the expenditures because the city has only $20,000 in the street fund. However, Finance Director Dale Walker said he expects $70,000 from the state.

The council did not approve the new personnel handbook, a bid for extending West Elm Street, an ordinance establishing minimum standards for property maintenance, an ordinance regulating peddlers and solicitors, a resolution requiring that council meetings be conducted using Robert’s Rules of Order or an ordinance establishing a procedure for design projects.