The Sebastian County prosecuting attorney determined that city officials violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) through email exchanges in May and August, according to a letter from the prosecuting attorney to the Board of Directors.
Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen had filed two FOIA lawsuits on behalf of Fort Smith resident Bruce Wade — one against the city and one against City Directors Keith Lau, Andre Good and Mike Lorenz.
In May, some of the directors discussed via email potential actions the board could take regarding the Civil Service Commission after the commission did not approve Police Chief Nathaniel Clark’s request to to accept applications from external applicants for positions above patrol officers instead of keeping the policy requires that higher positions be filled from internal applicants through promotion, as detailed in a June 22 Times Record story.
In August, Lau, Good and Lorenz sent emails expressing their opinions on a settlement offer from McCutchen about the initial FOIA lawsuit, as detailed in an Aug. 25 Times Record story.
“Most any interested member of the public would appreciate some of the discussion, but only if the public had known about it. As I have stated before, I appreciate very much the valuable service performed by the Mayor, the Fort Smith City Administrator and the Fort Smith Board of Directors; however, no violation like the ones that have occurred should be allowed to occur in the future. The public deserves to be privy to all of the Board’s hard work, not just some of it,” the letter from Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue states.
The letter does not state whether Shue intends to prosecute. Shue did not immediately respond to a request for comment.