Gould recorder sues mayor

STAR CITY — Gould City Recorder-treasurer Pamela Barley-Gibson filed a petition Thursday in Lincoln County Circuit Court seeking to have Gould Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. held in contempt and removed from office.

Barley-Gibson told The Pine Bluff Commercial Thursday that Nash continues to bar her entry into the recorder-treasurer’s office at Gould City Hall.

Hank Bates of Little Rock, one of Nash’s two criminal defense attorneys, told a Lincoln County Circuit Court jury last week that Nash had sent Barley-Gibson a letter indicating she would have access to the office.

Barley-Gibson said the she had not received the letter as of Thursday and does not believe Nash ever mailed a letter. She said she went to City Hall Tuesday with Alderman Veronica Tensley and could not access the office.

“When I called Mayor Nash on his cell phone, he told him to read the letter, and I told him there was no letter to read,” she added. “He said to read the letter and it would tell me that I had to be appointed recorder-treasurer.

“That’s when I told him again that I had already been appointed the recorder-treasurer in January.”

The Commercial attempted to contact Nash for comment using a cell number he has utilized in the past, but reached a recording that the number had been disconnected.

Attorney Gene McKissic of Pine Bluff, who also represented Nash in last week’s criminal trial which ended in a mistrial, said steps are “being taken” to allow Barley-Gibson access to an office. He noted any arrangement would require that the mayor and recorder/treasure not “encounter each other.”

The mistrial halted Nash’s trial on one count of obstruction of governmental operations, two counts of nonfeasance in office and one count of second-degree forgery brought by Prosecutor Kyle Hunter. Nash could be removed from office if convicted of the felony and misdemeanor charges.

Nash was convicted in July in Lincoln County District Court of one count of battery in the third-degree in an incident where Barley-Gibson had a locksmith come to Gould City Hall to open the office in question.

Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt of White Hall held in a Sept. 18 order that Barley-Gibson was lawfully appointed recorder-treasurer in January.

The petition filed Thursday by Howard M. “Corky” Holthoff, a Dumas attorney, contended Nash’s actions “constitutes willful disobedience of the order of this court and nonfeasance in office.”

Holthoff stated in the petition “an emergency exists because of Mayor Nash’s refusal to allow such access dates back to her appointment in January 2012, and as a result, none of the accounts or employees of the city have been paid and creditors have threatened legal action and repossession of city equipment and termination of utilities.”

“If he (Nash) is so worried about the employees and keeping the utilities on, why does he not let me in the office so I can do my job that I was appointed to by the Gould City Council?” Barley-Gibson stated. “This proves he does not care about the people of Gould.”