CAPC votes for third time to re-appoint Carter
The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission voted for a third time to reappoint chairman Jeff Carter to Position 1 at a special called meeting on Thursday, July 8.
The commission previously voted on June 30 to reappoint Carter, the second vote on the same issue. The original vote to reappoint Carter took place at the commission’s May 26 meeting, where commissioners James DeVito, Harry Meyer, Melissa Greene, Carol Wright and Patrick Burnett agreed to keep Carter on the commission. Carter did not vote.
Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jackson ruled May 26 that commissioner Greg Moon was illegally removed from the commission in January, but the commissioners refused to allow Moon to sit at the table during that night’s meeting. Burnett, who was appointed to Moon’s position in February, voted on all the agenda items.
On June 30, Carter said the commission would have to take a revote on every decision made at the May 26 meeting, including his reappointment.
Greene moved to reappoint Carter and commissioner Bobbie Foster, who was not present at the May 26 meeting, said she was “highly disappointed” in where the commission has found itself.
“I don’t hold anything personal against anybody. That’s just my means of doing business. I never have and never will,” Foster said. “I feel like we’re in the place that we are right now, Jeff, because of some of the things that were done by you and it’s going to be a struggle for me to say I want to put you back on here after all that we’ve been through.”
Foster said she knew it didn’t matter if she voted no, because the commission would vote to reappoint Carter regardless.
“I think you’re a great guy in a lot of ways … but I’m very disappointed where we find ourselves with this commission right now in this lawsuit,” Foster said.
Carter said he respected Foster and her opinion, and Greene said the commission’s situation is a “two-way street.”
“From the moment Harry and I were elected, the things done to us have been horrible,” Greene said. “We have a lawsuit, yes, but we are innocent until we are proving something else. I’m a little angry at a lot of people that … they don’t hear our side because we’ve kept it quiet.”
Greene continued, “I’m not going to say Jeff didn’t do stuff wrong or Carol didn’t do stuff wrong. I’ve done stuff wrong, but it is a two-way street. They have been just as victimized as the other ones that feel they’re victimized.”
Greene said Carter has done a “really, really good job” and the commission should let the courts make a decision.
“I will just say going back to when we accused some of our staff of the things we accused them of … they also had the right to be proven innocent,” Foster said.
“We kept that quiet. It was leaked. It was put into the newspaper,” Greene said. “We have not talked about that, nor were we going to talk about it. I so hope anything that was in that investigation isn’t true and it was unfortunate it was leaked out and spread all over.”
At the commission’s Feb. 24 meeting, Carter directly addressed the investigation. Carter said he met with Eureka Springs Police Chief Brian Young on Feb. 8, “through the advice of private counsel … to discuss the possibility of misconduct within the CAPC.” Also at the Feb. 24 meeting, Carter read a complaint against former interim director Gina Rambo and the commission voted to terminate Rambo.
“It has come to my attention that Gina Rambo attacked me personally through a series of phone calls, messages, around town to local merchants, tax collectors and citizens in the days leading up to the Jan. 27 meeting,” Carter said. “It is my belief that these comments and messages sent out were an effort to discredit me, my business and the work of the commission. These accusations that were made are completely fabricated and false. As the weeks have progressed, I have continued to receive more confirmations that this negative campaign took place. I will cooperate in whatever manner with the commission to provide full transparency to bring this matter to a quick resolution. I appreciate your attention to this issue. It is my belief that this is the type of behavior that is very detrimental to the work of the commission and tourism in Eureka Springs. This is not a time for us to be working against each other, but a time for us to come together as a community for the best benefit of our town.”
On June 30, Moon asked if anyone else applied for Carter’s position. Greene said no one applied and finance director Rick Bright said there were applications from Bill King and Rodney Slane when Moon was removed from the commission in January. Meyer said those applications weren’t for Carter’s position.
“I think it should be out there for others to apply for before we vote,” Moon said.
“We’ve already made a nomination,” Greene said.
The commission then voted 4-2 to reappoint Carter, with Wright, Meyer and Greene voting yes and Foster and Moon voting no. Carter voted for himself to create a majority. According to the 2019 Arkansas Code Title 26-75-605, a vacancy on the commission “resulting from expiration of a regular term or otherwise … shall be filled by appointment made by the remaining members of the commission, with the approval of the governing body of the city.”
Mayor Butch Berry said you shouldn’t vote for yourself if you’ve got a financial interest in the matter.
“I don’t think legally there’s anything wrong with voting for yourself,” Berry said. “It’s just always better not to, and there’s no state law that you can’t.”
Berry said that even though the city council hasn’t voted to reappoint Carter, whose term ended on June 30, Carter can continue to serve until the seat is filled.
“That’s what we’ve always gotten from our attorneys … until someone’s appointed, they stay on,” Berry said. “They don’t go off automatically just because their term expires. Somebody else can replace them, they can resign and, of course, then there’s a vacancy. If they don’t resign or step down, they can continue to be in that position.”
The special called meeting on July 8 took place during a workshop that was scheduled a week in advance. Notification for the special called meeting was sent by the mayor’s assistant Kim Stryker at 3:38 p.m. on July 8, two hours and 22 minutes before the meeting took place.
“There’s a meeting?” Foster asked when she arrived for the workshop a little before 5 p.m.
“The mayor’s office requested that we revote if everyone’s in attendance, that everyone gets the chance to vote,” Carter told Foster.
Moon confirmed that he was notified of the meeting via email a few hours before it took place. He was not present for the meeting.
The meeting lasted only 54 seconds, with Greene asking if Moon would be in attendance.
“Greg is supposed to be here,” Carter said. “He messaged me.”
Bright then informed the commission that Moon had taken a friend to the hospital in Fayetteville and was on his way back. Greene said it was “no big deal” and that she “just wanted wanted to make sure because I don’t want to pull something.”
“That’s OK,” Meyer said. “We have quorum.”
DeVito then nominated Carter for Seat 1 and the commission voted 4-1 to approve the nomination. Foster was the lone dissenting vote.