Executive session vote makes fire chief decision unclear

A vote made in executive session by the El Dorado Civil Service Commission to hire Chad Mosby, of the El Dorado Fire Department, as the new fire chief may not have been a legal decision in accordance with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

On Monday, the ECSC met at the El Dorado Police Department to discuss regular business and decide upon a new fire chief to replace outgoing Chief Floyd McAdoo whose retirement will be effective Feb. 1. Nine candidates were in the running following interviews on Jan. 20, said ECSC Chairman Scott Ellen.

Ellen said after discussing regular business, the commissioners went into executive session to bat around names for the new chief only to realize that all five agreed that Mosby was the most qualified. A vote was taken during executive session and announced when the commissioners exited the room.

However, according to the state FOIA, “No resolution, ordinance, rule, contract, regulation, or motion considered or arrived at in executive session will be legal unless, following the executive session, the public body reconvenes in public session and presents and votes on the resolution, ordinance, rule, contract, regulation, or motion.”

Ellen said Tuesday that he wasn’t aware of the law beforehand but it’s a moot point as all five were in agreement to hire Mosby — the candidate with the highest test scores and education.

“If you’re saying we’re supposed to have our discussion and then close our executive session and then come out and vote, that’s simply my fault as the chairperson,” he said. “So I did that backwards.”

He added that he understands the rationale for the law when discussing more controversial issues in the public eye, however, added that the decision to hire Mosby was unanimous.

“We want to do things right, we’re not intentionally going into executive session to avoid things,” he said. “We want to be transparent.”

El Dorado City Attorney Henry Kinslow said Wednesday because the vote was unanimous and there was no controversy, there’s no need to go back and vote again in public so long as the vote is reflected in the commission’s minutes.

The News-Times is continuing to gather information on the issue.

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This entry was posted in By Allison Gatlin, Fires, News. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Executive session vote makes fire chief decision unclear

  1. The lone reader says:

    The fix to this is easy and I’m amazed and disappointed that our city attorney has said it isn’t necessary. Simply get them members of the ECSC into a meeting place and hold the public vote.

    He says it isn’t needed because the vote was unanimous. How do we know that, the vote wasn’t made in public as required by law? It is like a person saying that speeding is OK because there were no other cars on the road at the time. Our city leaders should follow the law if they expect us to do the same.

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