Saturday 30 August 2014

Former Arcola City Administrator Said He Felt ‘Unsafe’ At City Hall

Prior to being terminated by the Arcola City Council, former City Administrator Arnold Brown complained he felt unsafe coming to Arcola City Hall.

 

In a rambling message to Mayor Mary Etta Anderson filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, Brown accused unnamed city officials of subjecting him to harassment, slander and profanity.

BROWN

BROWN

 

He also said he would not return to his office “until I can resolve the issued (sic) stated in the e-mail received from Maryetta (sic) Anderson, mayor, as described in this correspondence.”

 

Brown, who was terminated by a unanimous vote of the city council on May 12, said in the message that Anderson had informed him there were four council members in favor of dismissing him.

 

The message was dated May 11 and faxed to Arcola City Hall from a public FedEx office store.

 

“I received an e-mail from Mayetta (sic) Anderson dated May 8, 2009 stating that she had four council members (sic) votes to terminate my employment with the City of Arcola as city administrator,” Brown wrote.

 

He identified those council members as James DeVoge, Tom Tuffly, Tom Hilton and Greg Abarr.

 

“The e-mail also stated I had 30 minutes to defend my position and papers at the city council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, 2009. I will be attend (sic),” Brown noted.

 

During the meeting, time had been set aside for Brown to enter testimony and other evidence on why he should not be terminated. He did not, however, appear at the meeting.

 

In the message, Brown went on to insinuate he feared for his own safety.

 

“I have continued to work in a hustle (sic) environment, experiencing harassment, slander, false acquisition (sic), job stress, exposed to profanity and now I feel unsafe,” Brown wrote.

 

During the termination proceedings, which were held in public session at the end of the May 12 Arcola City Council meeting, council members indicated they had lost faith in Brown’s ability to fill the city’s top administrative spot.

 

Brown served as Arcola’s city administrator for just under 17 months, having been appointed to post on Dec. 17, 2007.

 

Arcola had been without a city administrator for almost three years prior to Brown’s hiring.

 

In moving to terminate Brown, Councilman Greg Abarr noted the council’s lack of confidence.

 

“The city council has really lost confidence in our current city administrator and we’ve identified someone else who can do the job at a lower cost,” Abarr said. “It’s this council’s duty to save money when we can and we need someone who can be effective as our city administrator.”

 

Abarr then introduced a resolution that formally stated the council’s lack of confidence and terminated Brown.

 

“This resolution expresses our lack of confidence in the city administrator and terminates him from office effectively immediately,” Abarr said.

 

He added the city would pay Brown the equivalent of two week’s salary as a severance payment.

 

No other council member spoke on the matter and the resolution was unanimously approved without further discussion.

 

The council agenda included an “opportunity for the city administrator to address council, present witnesses, offer written materials, etc.” Nothing other than the resolution was introduced into the public record.

 

Although no member of the public spoke while Brown’s employment was being deliberated, one local resident talked about Brown during the public comments portion of the meeting.

 

Virginia Hernandez said Brown did not listen to residents.

 

“The people of Arcola may be dumb, but we aren’t stupid. The people are tired of hearing about the airport, the airport, the airport; all Mr. Brown talks about is the airport,” Hernandez told the council. “We don’t want to hear about the airport; we want businesses coming to Arcola.”

 

Hernandez also said Brown was out of touch with the needs of Arcola.

 

“Mr. Brown doesn’t seem to know nothing about Arcola. He came in roaring like a lion and he’s done nothing.”

 

Following the dismissal vote, one city hall insider who asked not to be identified said Brown lost the council’s confidence over a number of gaffes and poor communication.

 

“He didn’t communicate very well and when something went wrong, the first thing he tried to do was blame somebody else,” the source said. “Over time, just about every council member got burned and they were just fed up. That, coupled with the fact that he never seemed to make any real progress on the critical needs of Arcola, cost him his job.”

 

Before coming to Arcola, Brown worked for the Texas Cooperative Extension Service for 31 years before retiring. He spent 20 of those years working with various cities in a community development role.

 

After retirement, Brown worked for four years with a nonprofit agency in the Acres Homes area to develop affordable housing before taking the Arcola position.

 

Efforts to reach Brown for comment were unsuccessful.

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