Meeting Set To Discuss Removal Of Civil Service Commission Chairman

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- An executive session meeting will be held during the July 11 board of directors meeting to discuss the removal of Chip Sexton from his position as chairman of the civil service commission.

The item was added to the meeting on Tuesday (June 27) on the suggestion of director Keith Lau and seconded by director Mike Lorenz.

"The reason I called for that meeting is because I think there is cause with Chip Sexton to potentially be removed from that civil service commission," Lau said. "The reason being is because he is a law partner with McCutchen and Sexton Law firm and that law firm, specifically Joey McCutchen  has filed suit against the city and the board of directors pertaining to a civil service issue, which Chip is the head of that commission because of that I think that's a conflict of interest."

The lawsuit filed by McCutchen and client, alleges city directors violated Arkansas Freedom of Information Act when they discussed doing away with the civil service commission in emails.

Sexton said he disagrees.

"I am not involved in the lawsuit. I don't make a dime if Joey wins that lawsuit. I don't lose a dime if Joey loses that lawsuit. I'm not in any way involved in the lawsuit," Sexton said. "I do feel that the attempt to remove me from the civil service commission is directly related to my recent support for the police department. I have been a strong supporter of both the police and fire departments for many years. The actions that I have taken on the civil service commission have been what I considered to be in the best interest of the people of Fort Smith."

Sexton is referring to Fort Smith Police Chief Nathaniel Clark's proposal. Clark put before the Civil Service Commission in May 2107 a proposal that would allow him to hire outside police officers of rank sergeant or higher. The department currently promotes those positions from within.

After enough support was not given by the civil service commission to put the Clark's proposal to a vote, it stalled. Fort Smith city directors then passed a non-binding resolution - a formal request asking the civil service commission to reconsider their decision.

The discussion of possible removal of Sexton will be held in July. If a motion is made in that closed meeting, it will then become a public discussion.

"The intent is to discuss the conflict of interest and to see if other board members feel the same way," Lau said.