Maynard residents back mayor at specially called meeting - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Maynard residents back mayor at specially called meeting

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Many supporters of Mayor Hart at Maynard City Hall Tuesday night Many supporters of Mayor Hart at Maynard City Hall Tuesday night

MAYNARD, AR (KAIT) - Maynard residents gathered at the city hall Tuesday night for an announced special meeting.

Many in the crowd speculated it regarded Mayor Gary Hart's future as mayor of that Randolph County town.

However, the meeting was never called to order. 

What did happen was a large showing of support for the mayor who was caught on camera by the town's police chief making derogatory remarks about women.

The meeting was set to start at 6 o'clock Tuesday night but, Councilwoman Ida May Weatherford told those in attendance she still needed to speak with the municipal lawyer regarding whatever it was she had planned to say at the meeting.

"I'm sorry for everybody's inconvenience tonight but we will carry on with this but after I get more advice from him," Weatherford said. "So I'm sorry but you've all wasted your time."

According to those in attendance, their time wasn't wasted, as they were able to show their support of Mayor Hart.

"I feel like he has the whole support of the community except for a very small minority," Sherry Ray told Region 8 News.

Many of Hart's supporters believed the meeting was called to start the process to remove him from office. Something they said shouldn't happen.

"Gary Hart may have made a politically incorrect statement...but I do not believe in any way that he sexually harassed or discriminated against anyone," Ray said. "He's done more for the community in the short amount of time that he's been here than many of the mayors in the past and everyone wants that good change and they're here to support him," she explained.

"Gary Hart, he's been the best mayor we've ever had. I've been here for 33 years and he's cleaned up this town," Margaret Soles said. 

When asked if Soles felt the show of support made for Hart Tuesday night might change the mind of some citizens in Maynard, she responded; "I don't think they've got sense enough to change their mind!"

"All it was him making that stupid comment, which I'm sure he's sorry about it. I mean, we've all said stuff we wish we could take back," Jim Wallace, who was also at city hall in support of Hart told Region 8 News. "So I think it's time to quit trying to pursue him and hang him out to dry for one stupid comment."

Again, as the meeting was never called to order, there's no official record of what the meeting was going to be about.

Councilwoman Weatherford did say she does plan to carry on with this meeting in the future.

Region 8 News did ask Mayor Hart how he felt about the support he had Tuesday night at city hall. He had no comment.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.

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MAYNARD, AR (KAIT) - A former Maynard police officer says the town Mayor made sexist comments against women and it was all caught on tape by the police chief. 

Some believe the Mayor needs to be removed from office.  "I was in total shock.  I was just totally shocked that people still think that way.  And a Mayor acting in official capacity still thinks this way," said Connie Cline, who is a former part-time police officer with the Maynard Police Department.

On video Mayor Gary Hart appears to say, "If it's got tits, you got problems.  You know what I'm staying? At my house, maybe not yours, but at my house, if you got tits, you got problems.  (laughing)."

Those comments were made by Mayor Hart on a video during an official meeting between he and Maynard Police Chief Lonnie Cline on March 18th. 

The meeting was held to discuss what the mayor expected from the police chief and the future vote on employment involving the four part-time officers. According to the police chief, the statement was aimed at the three women who sit on the city council.

After the meeting with the Mayor, the police chief showed his wife Connie Cline the video.  Connie was the only female officer with the Maynard Police Department, and a month later, she was let go along with three other part-time city police officers. 

The termination prompted her to file a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Connie Cline believes her discharge was due to her being a female.

Connie Cline says she felt the termination wasn't  justifiable saying, "Absolutely not.  It wouldn't be anywhere.  Not anywhere."

Region 8 News went to Maynard City Hall to ask the Mayor about the accusations and if he made the statement caught on video to the police chief, in which he replied, "No, I said if it's got tires and wheels it's got problems."

Police Chief Lonnie Cline recorded the meeting with his camera clip worn while on duty.  It is considered standard operating procedures for officers to wear and record using the clip-on cameras at all times during duty.

Chief Cline is married to former officer Connie Cline and feels like the mayor should leave office. "We don't need somebody with that attitude and that outlook in any office.  It's a situation that's going to just keep growing and snowball if something is not done.   I'm sure if the mayor stays in, I won't be (working as police chief), but I don't want to work with somebody like that anyway," said Chief Cline.

Connie Cline is fed up, and hopes the investigation by EEOC will bring justice saying, "I don't care who you are.  I don't care where you work.  It's wrong.  It's illegal!"

Currently, Connie is working as a reserve officer for the city of Maynard without pay, meaning she's a volunteer but, can drive a patrol car and issue tickets.

As for the investigation by EEOC, the video was just one of many documents sent to investigators. 

Connie says it went to the mediation stage, but investigators never could get a response from Maynard city officials, sending it back to the investigation stage.

Chief Cline, told Region 8 News after we interviewed him on Monday, three city council members went to City Hall and demanded Mayor Hart's resignation. He refused. 

Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce says his office is looking into the matter to determine whether or not an investigation would be warranted.

We will continue to track this story and update you with any new information as soon as it becomes available.

If you have a story you would like to see investigated, let us know.  Just send an e-mail to 8investigates@kait8.com.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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