Political infighting continued in Gould this week when a city alderman and the city’s treasurer claimed the mayor assaulted them. The mayor denies the allegations.
Gould Alderman Harry Hall and Pam Barley-Gibson, the city’s appointed treasurer, said Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. assaulted them Tuesday morning at City Hall. Barley-Gibson claims Nash grabbed and twisted her wrist and shoved her out of the treasurer’s office and Hall said Nash shoved him.
Nash and one eye-witness say the allegations are not true. Another eye-witness says the allegations are true.
The Gould City Council has appointed Barley-Gibson three times to serve as the city’s recorder-treasurer following former treasurer Mary Prewett’s December resignation but Nash vetoed the appointments, saying Barley-Gibson is not a Gould resident.
Barley-Gibson, however, says that she lives in a trailer on a lot in Gould where her home was located before it burned nearly two years ago. She claims her home was allowed to burn while Nash was involved in a dispute with the fire chief and had the fire station door locks changed.
Meanwhile, Nash and three other employees are not receiving paychecks. Nash says City Council members who are authorized to sign the checks refuse to do so.
The allegations are the latest in a series of events that keep the tiny Lincoln County town in the news.
Political dramas in Gould have always been front page news in Arkansas but one event last summer was so unusual that the New York Times covered it.
Friction between the City Council and Nash over how to repay a $300,000 tax debt to the IRS and a perception by the City Council that a local citizens’ advisory group, of which Nash is a member, was seeking too much influence, led to a pair of unusual ordinances.
One required the Gould Citizens Advisory Council to “cease to exist” and made it illegal for the mayor to meet with “any organization in any location” either “inside or outside Gould city limits” without the City Council’s permission. The other ordinance made it illegal to form any group or organization without city council approval.
Nash vetoed the ordinances and the City Council overrode the vetoes.
Less than a month later, on July 28, Nash said he was attacked by a relative of a Gould City Council in the presence of other council members, following months of harassment and threats.
Prior to the alleged attack, the Gould Citizens Advisory Council filed a lawsuit against Gould aldermen Harry Hall and Rosieanna Smith, claiming that they are not eligible to serve on the city council because Hall allegedly has a criminal record and Smith allegedly doesn’t live in the Ward she represents.