To summarize a special meeting Tuesday night, the Springer Board of Trustees approved advertising for a town clerk/treasurer as well as office help. And it also dismissed its attorney, Bob Pinkerton, and approved the hiring of David Blankenship.
But it was not a simple task to reach those conclusions.
The meeting, which lasted a little over an hour, was contentious in nature as the board chose not to dismiss its attorney in executive session, choosing instead to air its dirty laundry in public. Compounding the issues was the fact that Mayor Glenn Bond had Blankenship review the agenda rather than Pinkerton, despite the fact Pinkerton was the attorney of record entering the meeting.
Pinkerton raised questions about the agenda item described as "discuss and possible action relating to employing a part-time office help and a town/clerk treasurer." Pinkerton's concerns were there was not an individual to hire for the position.
"The wording is not what I'm questioning; the intent expressed is to actually hire someone," Pinkerton said. He also said he had not seen an application for the position, which had been posted at the town post office and City Hall. Vice Mayor Joyce South said there had been one applicant, but it was verbal. The motion was tabled after discussion about when the position had actually been advertised and in what meetings it had been discussed. The board did approve to advertise the position, and South brought up the subject of making the office an appointed rather than elected position. She said the issue would need to go before a vote of the people, and it was something smaller communities were doing.
The board also approved a motion to change the locks on City Hall, the community center and storm shelter. Approval was given because of community members having sets of keys despite not being authorized to have them.
"Someone has a full set of keys," South said. "They said they had two sets, one for her and one for her husband."
The agenda listed an item "relating to excepting the resignation of the town clerk/treasurer, PWA billing clerk on August 21 at 11:24 a.m., 2013."
PWA was struck, as it would call for a meeting of the Public Works Authority, and it was pointed out the word "excepting" would not allow the board to follow through on its intent. Bond pointed blame at Pinkerton, who said he had not been asked to approve the agenda, and he was merely faxed a copy.
"You said you did not want me to question items on the agenda," Pinkerton said. The attorney also added the item was moot, because the resignation was made effective Aug. 21.
No action was taken, leading to the item calling for the dismissal of Pinkerton. Trustee Terri Gilio questioned why the item was not addressed in an executive session. Bond said he and South had a conversation about it, and he had been notified by other trustees in regard to the situation with the attorney.
South offered an explanation for terminating Pinkerton. Before a prior meeting, she had placed an item on the agenda, which she described was legal according to statute. In its place, she said Pinkerton put three items. She said the items related to discussion regarding a city employee.
Pinkerton said he did not place the items on the agenda, and had been contacted by the former city clerk/treasurer for an opinion.
"It is my job to advise," Pinkerton said. "It is my job to advise all officials."
South said she was so upset, she took the three items off as well as her own. The board voted to dismiss Pinkerton by a 3-1 vote, with Bond, South and Louise Tovar voting for, and Gilio voting against.
The board moved on to the question of naming Blankenship as the town attorney, a position he had formerly held. In a letter to the board, Blankenship listed his financial demands and offered to fill the municipal judge position as an alternative. A copy of the letter was not available, and the meeting had to adjourn momentarily so South could go home and retrieve a copy.
Blankenship's hiring was approved by a 3-1 vote, with Gilio voting against after discussion about Blankenship's financial demands. Blankenship will be paid $400 a month and $175 an hour for additional work. The town will have to make a budget amendment, as Pinkerton was paid $300 a month and $100 for special meetings, which he said he only charged once in two years.
Bond said because Blankenship would charge for phone calls made, it would be a last resort only after he had contacted the Oklahoma Municipal League and looked it up in statutes. He said his office, the vice mayor and clerk/treasurer would be the only ones that could contact Blankenship. After Gilio inquired whether she could contact the attorney, Bond amended the statement to include every trustee. It was brought out and confirmed by each trustee that Pinkerton had never given the city an invoice for a phone call.
"So in other words, two people couldn't get along and so now, the city has to pay for it," one of the citizens at the meeting said during the discussion.