Mayor: Questioned email on Ridgell firing was sent to department chiefs

An email announcing the Oct. 15 firing of Pine Bluff City Collector Albert Ridgell was sent to department heads as well as city council members, Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said Wednesday.

After Monday night’s council meeting, in which a motion to override the termination failed when it received only five of six required nods, Hollingsworth said the email was dispatched only to council members. Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr., who voted against Ridgell’s reinstatement, criticized the mayor for including department leaders in the communication’s distribution, an action he felt was improper.

Hollingsworth said she learned Tuesday morning from an aide that Holcomb had been correct and department chiefs had received the one-sentence announcement.

“I owe Mr. Holcomb an apology,” said the mayor. “He was right in his statement and I was wrong in mine, but I don’t necessarily agree that it’s bad practice to keep department heads informed of such developments. In fact, if I had thought about it, I probably would have given instructions to include the department heads as recipients for that email. My staff member who dispatched the memo assumed that they should be, and I can certainly understand why.

“Department heads are part of the city’s management team, and as mayor, I need to be in close communication with each member of that team,” Hollingsworth said. “A personnel matter like this can have an impact on the team, individually and collectively. The department heads need to know what’s happening with each department.”

Holcomb indicated Thursday night that he’s satisfied with a discussion he and the mayor have since held on the matter.

“We had a conversation and that issue has been settled,” said the freshman alderman.