Favorite

Republican branding in Bryant City Hall 

Mayor Jill Dabbs keeps the political hubbubs coming.

I thought it nutty when Jill Dabbs, a candidate for Bryant mayor, and Heather Kizer, candidate for Bryant clerk, filed suit last year to have their names listed on the ballot as Republican Jill Dabbs and Republican Heather Kizer.

They lost the lawsuit, but they won elections to the non-partisan offices. And maybe it wasn't so nutty. Bryant is a growing Republican enclave and they wanted the partisan branding. The lawsuit was cheap publicity to achieve it.

What Dabbs and Kizer have done to the Republican brand since then is another matter. The latest controversy was Dabbs' decision that she and Kizer weren't paid enough. Bryant has a somewhat curious pay policy that provides up to 15 percent in pay enhancement for the mayor and clerk based on education and experience in elective office. Dabbs was informed of this after election by the city's human resources employee. Her pay began at the level she'd been told to expect. When Dabbs realized this was less than that paid the previous mayor (who'd served many years in the legislature), she wasn't happy about it. She ordered a new payroll employee (Dabbs fired the human resources employee shortly after taking office) to increase her and Kizer's pay. That was worth an extra $400 a month for Dabbs, whose base pay should have been $65,604 annual, and an extra $140 a month for Kizer, whose base pay should have been $39,312.

Dabbs didn't inform the City Council of this decision. She didn't seek an attorney general's opinion. She just did it. Then Bryant Alderman Danny Steele, acting on tips, began making FOI requests. Dabbs had second thoughts. She rolled back the raises after three rounds of increased paychecks. She then issued a news release saying the pay reduction was unfair and not allowed by a state law that she contends prohibits reductions in city official pay. She said she'd seek an attorney general's opinion. Rear-covering, in other words.

Steele thought the record was clear. Dabbs had authorized pay for herself and her friend Kizer not authorized by the City Council. He complained to Ken Casady, the Saline County prosecutor, another Republican. Casady wasn't interested, Steele said.

It's only the latest political hubbub. Dabbs had already been cautioned by the state Ethics Commission for improperly using campaign funds for 1) a lawsuit she filed over city water rates and 2) the lawsuit to get her name on the ballot as Republican Dabbs. She paid the money back.

The politics are incestuous, too. Dabbs' husband and Kizer's husband are both members of the Saline County Quorum Court. Dabbs has hired Kizer's husband as the interim Bryant police chief. The previous chief was one of at least seven high Bryant officials who either resigned expecting trouble or were fired by Dabbs. City employees, by the way, include Dabbs' daughter, hired as a lifeguard at the city aquatics center.

Speaking of swimming: The Bryant Council recently received a batch of proposals from high school and club swim teams to use the aquatics center. A sharp-eyed Council member noticed a significant difference in the proposal for the Bryant Barracudas. Under it, the city would provide three paid swimming instructors for the team. The mayor's daughter swims on the team. The mayor is a former president of the club.

Bryant has no community newspaper. It needs one. I could barely stay off the phone after a blog post last weekend on muscle-flexing Mayor Republican Dabbs. Something tells me she's not through building her brand. From what I hear, some Bryant Republicans wish she'd pick a different nickname.

Favorite

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • City Board discovers LRSD

    An article in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" exhorting frat brothers to rally against a dean's effort to put them out of business. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Supremely disappointing

    The Arkansas Supreme Court last week delivered a blow to civil rights in Arkansas. It was another results-oriented decision that gives a clue to how far the justices likely will go to appease the legislature.
    • Mar 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Worse than N.C.'s bathroom bill

    SB 774 extends birth certificate requirement to bathrooms in all public facilities, and that's an original birth certificate, too.
  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Attack the poor

    If there is a unifying motif to the labors of Congress and the Arkansas legislature this spring it is to make life harder and existence more intolerable for the poor.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    • The South hasn't quit fighting. No, but Robert E Lee did and he could have…

    • on March 23, 2017
  • Re: City Board discovers LRSD

    • You reap what you sow, the seeds were planted when the Max Brantley's of LR,…

    • on March 20, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Diane, as noted above, this is a *column* not a news piece. So yes, it's…

    • on March 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation