Fayetteville Alderman Responds To Petition Calling For His Resignation
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A Fayetteville city council member told 5NEWS an incident at a local restaurant that prompted an online petition for his resignation was a misunderstanding.
John La Tour, Ward 4, Position 1, spoke with 5NEWS Monday morning (March 21) before meeting with Cary Arsaga, the owner of Arsaga’s at the Depot on Dickson Street in Fayetteville where the alleged incident happened Friday morning.
A post on Facebook made by Gavin Smith claims La Tour singled out a waitress at the restaurant when he told her he didn’t know if she was a man or woman and then said he could prove he’s a man by exposing himself, but La Tour told 5NEWS that’s not what happened.
La Tour said he was at Arsaga’s early Friday morning for a meeting with a group of friends, but since the music was louder than usual he jokingly wanted to ask the waitress to dance. He said he asked the waitress if she was a woman, which upset her.
La Tour said he did tell staff that he could prove his gender, but told 5NEWS he never said he would do it by exposing himself in the restaurant. He said the manager asked him to leave, which he did. La Tour also said he apologized to the waitress and felt like they had resolved the situation.
The incident at Arsaga’s started gaining attention on social media Saturday after La Tour posted a status about the restaurant at about 12:30 p.m. on his John La Tour for City Council page. The status read: “Everyone who lives in Fayetteville, AR should never eat or treat themselves at any of Cary Arsaga’s establishments. I will never go to any of these again.”
La Tour said Monday he deleted the post Sunday after realizing that was not the appropriate venue for his comment about Arsaga’s, but by then the post had garnered hundreds of comments, shares, and sparked an online petition on Change.org calling for his resignation from the Fayetteville City Council. So far, the petition has more than 2,350 signatures.
The Arsagas told 5NEWS on Sunday they would not make any statements about the incident publicly until Cary Arsaga had a chance to speak with La Tour privately.
La Tour said that while he and Arsaga don’t always agree, they are friends and he has held his meetings with friends at Arsaga’s for several weeks before the incident on Friday.
La Tour told 5NEWS that he and Arsaga planned to hold a joint media conference on Monday, but a private meeting between them went well, so they decided to cancel the press conference.
La Tour also replaced his post urging people to not patronize Arsaga’s with a more positive message that reads: “I have often stated that the best economic development plan we have as a City is to get out of the way and let entrepreneurs chase their dreams. I stand by this statement. Cary Arsaga is one of those entrepreneurs. I am glad to cheer him on, and I wish him well.”
The next Fayetteville City Council meeting will be held April 5.