Debe Hollingsworth’s first action as Pine Bluff’s mayor — firing Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones — was not as well-received by some aldermen as it apparently was by voters who put her into office.
Within hours of being publicly sworn in late Tuesday morning, Hollingsworth made good on a campaign pledge to terminate Davis-Jones. No one should have been surprised, least of all Davis-Jones.
Hollingsworth said she believes most citizens have already learned that she’s not one to waste time.
“I believe in making informed decisions, but I don’t tarry,” she said. “We know what you want and we will act on it.”
The thumb down is for aldermen who wished to be consulted before the chief was fired. They should spend more time consulting with their constituents about how safe they feel behind bars on the windows and doors of their homes.
When credibility is questioned, you have a problem.
Hollingsworth was elected with a mandate to fire the police chief. Crime has been at the top of citizen complaints for too many years.
Third Ward Alderman Glen Brown wanted Davis-Jones to have a probationary period. Brown, who had twice opposed council no-confidence votes against Davis-Jones, speculated the mayor didn’t trust the chief’s crime statistics.
“I just don’t think everybody understands how those crime stats work,” Brown stated. We would move him to the bottom of the class on crime statistics.
Second Ward Alderman Charles Boyd wanted the mayor to have been “more open” with him on the firing. Boyd and Brown might ask members of the Pine Bluff Police Department how they assessed the firing. They might have to wait a bit as the officers are still cheering.
The pink iPad2 and iPhone4 purchased by the City of Pine Bluff for the former police chief are no longer in Brenda Davis-Jones’ possession.
The two items, which cost taxpayers $1,555, were approved by former Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., who appointed Davis-Jones. The devices allowed Davis-Jones to tie into the department’s computer server and 13-unit camera survelliance system, we were told.
We know the iPhone was not used to return many calls.
Criticism of panel
Mayor Hollingsworth wants to abolish the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Commission, which has encountered increasing public criticism since the Dec. 27 firing of Director Angela Parker. Again, it is a credibility issue.
“Let your aldermen know how you feel about that situation,” Hollingsworth told a civic club Thursday. Dissolving the commission would require six of the city’s eight aldermen.
The commission’s three-member Personnel Committee voted unanimously to give Parker and Community Centers Director Laura Hildreth the option to resign or be fired in the wake of a $117,000 department shortfall.
City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott has declared that the recent terminations of Parker and Hildreth were invalid. The personnel committee came up with the options.
In a Wednesday letter to commissioners, Hadden-Scott wrote: “The personnel committee cannot independently make the decision to terminate any employee. The committee may make its recommendation to the full Parks and Recreation Commission, which will allow all members present to weigh in and ask questions regarding the committee’s recommendation.”
Well said, counselor.