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Lorene Johnson (left), president of the North Little Rock Chapter of the NAACP, and Bettye Jackson, spokesperson for North Little Rock Citizens Association for Progress, led a press conference outside City Hall May 24 demanding the reinstatement of Civil Service Commissioner Calvin Muldrow.

   A controversial issue has come to the forefront for the May 24 City Council meeting.

   Mayor Pat Hays on May 13 vetoed the reappointment of Calvin Muldrow to a fourth term on the Civil Service Commission. Muldrow has served on the commission since 1975.

   At the May 10 City Council meeting, Muldrow was unanimously re-appointed to the commission for a six-year term. His last term expired April 30.

   The commission is responsible for hearings, hiring practices, disciplinary actions, investigations, promotions and terminations concerning city personnel.

   Hays said in a May 18 interview that he vetoed Muldrow’s reappointment because of a “roadblock” in communication between the two, which hampered the effectiveness of the commission and the mayor’s office.

   Muldrow said in a May 17 telephone interview that Hays had more responsibility for any lack of communication. Muldrow said he believed the veto stemmed from the Ward 2 aldermanic race in which he was Alderman Ira Scoggins’ campaign chairman.

   Muldrow said the veto was a retaliatory measure to “punish us” for electing Scoggins instead of the Rev. J.W. Johnson, whom Hays had been known to support.

   Scoggins said in a May 17 interview that he was unaware of a problem between Hays and Muldrow. He said he planned to re-nominate Muldrow for the position and hopes to receive the required six votes to override Hays’ veto.

   “Mr. Muldrow is a good man who served the Civil Service Commission well,” Scoggins said. “When you have good people on a commission, you need to keep them there. I’d be ashamed not to utilize Mr. Muldrow on the commission.”

   Hays said the veto had nothing to do with the aldermanic race. In addition to the communication problems, Hays indicated he believes there may be a conflict of interest with Muldrow’s job as a bail bondsman when dealing with police officers.

   Muldrow, who owns Muldrow Bonding Co., said a 1983 legal opinion by then-City Attorney Jim Hamilton said there was no conflict in serving in both capacities.

   Assistant City Attorney Tim Fox said in a May 19 telephone interview that City Attorney Randy Morley and he have been unable to find the 1983 decision. Fox said he believes the issue should be decided by a state Attorney General’s office opinion since the commission is governed by state law.

   Alderman Olen Thomas in a May 18 telephone interview questioned whether Hays has the power to veto the appointment of a commissioner since the mayor cannot appoint anyone to the commission.

   Thomas said the appointment belongs with the aldermen and the mayor would have “too much power” if he can veto the appointment.

   “I think we definitely need someone with (Muldrow’s) experience and a black on the Civil Service Commission,” Thomas said. “We’ll never get out from under the consent decree if we keep kicking people out.”

   Fox said the city had been under a federal consent decree concerning its hiring practices for approximately a decade. He said the mayor has the authority to veto legislation, which would include the legislation passed to reappoint Muldrow, but the City Council also has the authority to override the mayor’s veto if it so chooses.

   John Webb, chairman of the Civil Service Commission, said the commission was told prior to its May 13 meeting of Hays’ decision.

   “It’s up to the City Council to do what they want to,” Webb said. “I’ve had (no problems) with (Muldrow) personally. I’ve always gotten along with him.”

   In other action on the council agenda:

  • Hays said he will ask the council to approve a contract with the firefighter’s union which will allow for a 1 percent increase in salaries at a cost to the city of $40,000.   Hays said two police contracts, one for officers and one for rank-and-file Police Department employees, should be ready for approval by the next council meeting.
  • Hays will ask the council to allocate $250,000 from Electric Department funds to help pay for the Industrial Park to be located off Interstate 440.
  • Scoggins will ask for $103,000 for sewer improvements on Chiquito Road.

This city council preview appeared in The North Little Rock Times on May 20, 1993.

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