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Sebastian County Treasurer may sue County Judge over contract

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

The monthly meeting of the Sebastian County Quorum Court in Greenwood took an unexpected turn Tuesday (April 15) that could result in a lawsuit being filed against County Judge David Hudson.

At issue is a computer hardware maintenance contract Hudson has refused to sign for Treasurer/Collector Judith Miller. The contract, which totals about $18,000, was budgeted by the Quorum Court as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and would use automation funds collected by Miller's office.

Justice of the Peace Dickie Robertson brought the topic up, he said, following a conversation with Miller about problems in her office, namely the contract which has sat for about eight months without a signature from the judge.

"Judith approached me and asked if I would come to her office and talk to her about it, so I did. And I've only got her side of it and I brought it up tonight because I wanted to get the judge's side."

While addressing the issue during the meeting, Hudson said he was trying to save the county money by not duplicating costs for information technology services from the local vendor of Miller's choosing when he asserted that the county's own IT staff could perform the needed services. He also said he was trying to enforce the policies and ordinances passed by the Quorum Court and was not attempting to create a difficult working environment with MIller.

"County government ... to be in a contentious working relationship with elected officials is certainly not my goal and I will do everything I can to be a person of good will and to conduct myself with a cool head, in a professional manner dealing with Judith, (County Clerk) Sharon (Brooks), and every other county elected official and each member of this Quorum Court."

While Brooks did not want to bring her issues to the forefront at Tuesday's meeting, she did explain that she had also had difficulties in getting Hudson to sign contracts for her office. She will address those matters at the May meeting of the Quorum Court.

Miller said while Hudson is asserting he has attempted to work with her, it is simply not true.

"He has not talked to me since ... I don't remember when he's talked  to me. He don't darken my door anymore."

She said it has been at least several months since Hudson has attempted to work with her on the issue of the contract.

Asked to respond to her allegations, Hudson again asserted he would "be a person of good will and I will continue to work with Judith and all the other elected officials as a person of good will for the best interest of taxpayers of the county."

When asked how he is supposed to do that when Miller claims that the two of them do not speak, he said, "We do speak. We do communicate."

Miller said should Hudson continue to refuse to sign the contract for her office, which includes security and firewall hardware maintenance, she would explore legal action to force his hand.

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"How long before I do it? Well, the law says if it's a good contract, it's a legal contract, I can file I think a mandamus ... but I have the right to take him to circuit court over it."

A mandamus is a legal order that would force Hudson to do his constitutional duties as county judge, including signing the contract for Miller.

Presented with the information regarding a possible lawsuit against him, Hudson refused to address further questions posed by The City Wire, stating, "I don't have any comment to you."

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Comments

Speaking of Saving Taxpayer Money

maybe the silent Judge could explain why he is spending an extra 2 million taxpayer dollars with Flintco Construction of Tulsa who was investigated by the FBI and charged by the Attorney General with paying 2 million dollars in bribes in return for construction contracts when a local contractor stated that they could build a better Water Park that included 2 indoor pools for 2 million dollars less. Now it seems really strange that he is willing to go to court over an 18 thousand dollar computer dispute that would cost the taxpayers more in court costs than the computer system itself. Odd wasteful behavior coming from a County Judge who claims he is saving taxpayer money.

Maybe It Should be Judge Judy

Maybe its time for some good old common sense in our County Government and we should be talking to Judge Judy to watch over county money. Go girl!

No Comment

Maybe the Judge would like to explain why the Water Park is costing an extra 2 million dollars to build less????

Its Really Odd

We have a City Administrator that refuses to answer questions, a BOD that refuses to answer questions, and now a County Judge who refuses to answer questions on why he won't cooperate with his staff and answer questions for the news media. Does anyone else see a problem here?

Civics lesson

W.C. mentions Judge Hudson's staff and I think he means Ms. Miller who is the treasurer/collector. Neither She nor the circuit clerk, county clerk, or assessor are members of his staff nor are any of their employees. They are independently elected county officials. The Quorum Court is the legislative body for the county and approve the budget of the county but the county judge has no supervisory authority over these elected officials. He is, however, responsible for dispersement of county funds and the execution of documents obligating the county. In reading the article it seems that the county judge thinks that the county IT dept. can maintain the programs and equipment in the treasurer's office. The treasurer disagrees and is insisting that the county judge sign the contract for which money has been appropriated by the Quorum Court. This points out a problem with the system put in place in 1874 when our latest constitution was written. County government and state government for that matter has many heads and efficiency seems to demand the system change. The unnecessary offices are, on the state level, Lt. Gov., Sec. of State, Assessor, Auditor, Treasurer and Land Commissioner. The problem with these lesser state elected positions has been brought home with the foibles of Martha Shoffner the former treasurer and now convicted felon. These jobs are just not necessary and can be filled with qualified professionals and not low level political hacks. The same is true for county offices; circuit clerk, county clerk, treasurer/collector and assessor. These jobs should be filled by qualified people not some politician seeking attention. Both levels of government could then be run by the executive, like a business. The legislative body has to approve the budget and the other matters. But there should only be one executive. Others may disagree and feel that the present system disallows any one person from having full executive authority and this makes government weaker and less susceptible to too much authority being vested in one person. That is what has allowed this present situation to have developed as well as the situation with thankfully former circuit clerk Ken Blevins.
W.C. mentions Judge Hudson's staff and I think he means Ms. Miller who is the treasurer/collector. Neither She nor the circuit clerk, county clerk, or assessor are members of his staff nor are any of their employees. They are independently elected county officials. The Quorum Court is the legislative body for the county and approve the budget of the county but the county judge has no supervisory authority over these elected officials. He is, however, responsible for dispersement of county funds and the execution of documents obligating the county. In reading the article it seems that the county judge thinks that the county IT dept. can maintain the programs and ...>> Read the entire comment.

Sorry Observer, But We Are A Free & Liberty Loving Country

I beg to differ with Observer on eliminating elected people to some state, county and city offices. Allowing fewer people, more power and authority is certainly not the answer for a free and liberty loving country. Since we are only giving opinions here, most property owners today have computers, maybe we should eliminate the legislature branch and replace it with property owners who have a vested interest in the business of city, county, state and Federal governments.

Darr and Shoffner

Those positions have no real power and only serve to waste taxpayer money with crony deals and expense padding. The Lt. Gov. Office has been empty for some time since Darr resigned. Noticed a difference? Of course not.

Vested DisInterest

There are many property owners who don't even vote. Jack, are you saying that without property a citizen has no vested interest in freedom and liberty? What about the air we breathe? Is it free?

Free Air?

Lets not talk about free air because they may think that they can tax it like they tried with the prepared food tax.

Better Than Vested Power & Greed

Observer suggested replacing some elected offices with bureaucrats. I simply disagree with the concept of forfeiting over more freedoms and liberties to an expanding and crony centralized government. One only has to look at our situation in Fort Smith. Would an elected person, accountable to the people try and force taxation upon the people and then use police to deliver subpoenas to good decent folks who are only guilty of collecting names on petitions trying to overturn the forced tax. No, bad idea Observer

Bureaucrats

The Bureaucrats run Washington D.C. and look at that mess so agree that we don't need any more of those in Fort Smith.

Under Oath

Wouldn't it be an eye opener to put all these people under oath and require them all to answer questions about the Flintco deal? The ex-mayor of Bell, California was just given 12 years in prison on corruption charges so sometimes the chickens do come home to roost.

See The Problem

Too many buds that are stuck in the mud of hanging on to their power and enjoying their banquet feast on taxpayer dollars. The Judge claims he wants to save the taxpayers 18 thousand dollars but he and his buds blow a cool 2 million extra taxpayer dollars on the Water Park with a company that was investigated by the FBI and charged by the Attorney General with paying 2 million dollars in bribes.

Bully: A form of intimidation to discourage or frighten

A bully is someone who discourages or frightens with threats or a domineering manner, to intimidate. Is this what is going on at the county level? Both Judith Miller and Sharon Brooks serve the taxpayers well in their work and their spending. I have a suspicion, the top county leadership, like the top leadership in our city government, has grown a bit arrogant and loose in their spending habits. Thanks to JP Dickie Robertson for trying to be transparent and bringing up these issues. Maybe this is why Judith has an opponent this election? Stand your ground Judith!

The real reason for the 'Fort Mentality'.

They're now in power so they can do almost whatever they want to you since for almost all of our history there will be no questions asked and no way to get your story effectively told. Is delivering subpoenas by the FSPD all that different from sending out a code complaint in the 70's here that strongly alludes to the possibility of losing your property either right then or $50,000 dollars later if they so decide? Then after giving that enough time to soak in comes the knock on the door and it's not hardly the appraiser. Since the same group that would have benefited from the food tax still includes some of the same people who came up with that, none of this is all that surprising to me. Probably the same group also that pressured the city to do the $340k study and then dominated the responses. Something like 40 votes came in for the 3 choices which were actually 50% more than usual. Going with the 27 expected votes I come up with a cost of about $12,593 per person they thought would reply. Somebody needs to have the chutzpah to stop something like this whatever we call them.
They're now in power so they can do almost whatever they want to you since for almost all of our history there will be no questions asked and no way to get your story effectively told. Is delivering subpoenas by the FSPD all that different from sending out a code complaint in the 70's here that strongly alludes to the possibility of losing your property either right then or $50,000 dollars later if they so decide? Then after giving that enough time to soak in comes the knock on the door and it's not hardly the appraiser. Since the same group that would have benefited from the food tax still includes some of the same people who came up with that, none of this is all ...>> Read the entire comment.

KGB Mentality

The Krazy Goof Balls spent over 340,000 tax dollars to do a study that would probably end up with the millions of tax dollar studies already collecting mold in the City Hall Basement. Russian President Czar Putin would be so proud of these people that they may get invited to attend a party rally in Moscow.

Same Group Mentality

The Prepared Food Tax was rejected by a 70% voter margin so the "same group" is probably way under 30%. The Las Vegas boys would like those odds so the people can still control the goof balls if they just get out and vote. Go get em Gen4.