Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

TOP STORY >>Fired worker makes plea

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Latoya Scott, the daughter of a Lonoke alderman, told the city council Monday that she was falsely accused of providing drugs and contraband to prisoners and was fired from her job at the Lonoke Police Department in retaliation for “statements my father made” about other city employees.

On the heels of her statement, Alderman Efrem Jones—her father—made a successful motion to go into executive session, which in the case of personnel is permissible only for the purposes of hiring, firing or disciplining an employee.

When the council emerged from an hour-long executive session, it took no action. No one, including Jones, his daughter or Mayor Wayne McGee would say whether the council discussed disciplining Police Chief Mike Wilson, rehiring Scott or both.
Neither Scott nor her father would say whether or not she would file a grievance.

Jones and Brown have been contentious at more than once council meeting. In reading her statement, Scott said the police department had dragged her name through the mud and that although allegations against her had been dropped, she has suffered unnecessary stress and heartache.

She said she’s no longer able to get work in her chosen profession of law enforcement, and that as a 28-year-old single mother, the “big lie” has forced her to move back into her parents’ home.

“Even though charges have been dropped, no one called to apologize,” she said.

Another resident, Mike Dill, told the council that his son had been issued a $125 ticket for playing his car radio too loud—disturbing the peace—after leaving a pep rally at Lonoke High School.

Dill said that unlike a speeding ticket, where radar could calibrate a person’s speed, “too loud” is a judgment call. Jones, a former policeman and deputy sheriff, said it is a discretionary call for an officer.

City Attorney Randy Grice said the council could change the ordinance if it wished.

Dill said he would challenge the ticket in court. He said police should issue a written warning before charging someone with such an expensive infraction. In other action, the council increased franchise fees paid by local utility providers.

The franchise fee paid by Centerpoint Energy Arkla was increased from $2 per meter to 4.25 percent of the gross annual revenues.

The Southwestern Bell Telephone franchise fee was increased to 4.25 percent of the gross annual revenue from the previous assessment of $1.57 per telephone.

The franchise fee assessed First Electric Cooperative Corp. was increased from 3 percent to 4.25 percent of the gross revenues.