City attorney: Council gives final approval for A&P Commission appointments

Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission member William Lyle will have to wait a few more days for confirmation on his appointment to a second term.

That news might not come as a surprise to those familiar with the intricacies of state law, but those in attendance at Monday’s regular A&P meeting might be a little confused to hear that Lyle’s seat on the commission is not yet sealed.

Following a closed-door, executive session discussion about which of the six applicants vying for the open position should have the seat, the Commission voted unanimously to approve Lyle for a second term. There were even a few informal congratulations to Lyle from commissioners after the meeting was adjourned.

Count us among those who left the meeting thinking Lyle’s appointment was official and complete. We even mentioned it in our most recent A&P recap.

According to city attorney Kit Williams, however, Monday’s vote was just the first in a required three-step process.

“The statute says that the Commission basically nominates an applicant,” said Williams.

Their role is to talk to at least the person that was recommended by the A&P Commission…but the City Council cannot say “We
want this person instead
of that person.”

— City Attorney Kit Williams

The next step, he said, is for the A&P-approved applicant to interview with the council’s board and commission Nominating Committee who then forwards recommended approval (or denial) of that applicant to the City Council. “They’re only finally approved if the City Council agrees,” Williams said.

The details of that second step weren’t exactly clear at Monday’s A&P meeting.

“Why do I have to interview with the city Wednesday evening?” Lyle asked after being appointed.

“They always interview everybody,” said Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who also sits on the commission. “They’ve got to approve everything.”

Commissioner Bob Davis wasn’t so sure. “With the A&P, I don’t think that’s the case, Mayor,” he said. “We’re a separate committee from that standpoint.”

“I’m just telling you what the Assistant City Clerk told me,” said Jordan.

Indeed there were others who went to City Hall Wednesday night and were subsequently interviewed by the committee.

“We had five wonderful applicants show up today just for that one position,” said Adella Gray, a Ward 1 City Council member who also serves on the Nominating Committee.

When asked what role, if any, the Nominating Committee has in regards to interviewing the applicants who were not selected by the A&P, Williams said they may interview as many as they’d like, but only one person is actually up for approval.

“Their role is to talk to at least the person that was recommended by the A&P Commission to see whether or not they want to recommend to the Council that he or she be approved,” said Williams, “but the City Council cannot say ‘We want this person instead of that person.'”

A&P documents indicate applications were received from Commissioner Lyle, as well as from restaurant owners Ching Mong and Hannah Withers, catering company owner Lea Ann Van Winkle-Gisler, antique store owner Renee Hunt and advertising firm owner Sandra Hubbard.

According to state law, Hunt and Hubbard do not qualify for the seat as they’re not owners or managers of a hotel, motel or restaurant-type business.

Van Winkle-Gisler was qualified, but did not show up to be interviewed. She was one of a few audience members at Monday’s A&P meeting and said she left with similar impression to ours.

“It seemed like a done deal,” she told us on Thursday. “I thought it would be strange to interview for a position that had already been filled.”

The City Council is expected to consider all board and commission nominees at its next regular meeting on March 20 and while there’s always a chance that the aldermen will veto the A&P’s choice, Williams said he can’t remember such an instance ever occurring.

“Normally the Council approves them,” he said. “If they did say ‘no’ to that applicant, I would assume that the A&P would then recommend somebody else.” But, he reiterated, “There’s only one person in the running right now.”

If all this seems confusing, don’t feel bad. You certainly aren’t the only one. From what’s taken place over the past few days, we’re left to believe that besides Van Winkle-Gisler, there are A&P Commissioners, City Council members, and possibly other applicants who aren’t familiar with the process.

In their defense, it’s been a while since a decision had to be made. The three most recently filled positions which brought in Lyle, Hannah Mills, and re-appointed Brandon Karn, were decision-free as those individuals were the only qualified applicants at the time.

Still, it’s a little discomforting that there was any confusion at all about the basics of appointing commissioners who are in charge of over $2 million in taxpayer money each year.

If Williams is correct in his interpretation of the Arkansas Code, at least we’re all on the same page now.

Current A&P Commission

William Lyle – Aug. 30, 2010 through March 31, 2012 – HMR owner/manager seat, Ella’s Restaurant
Bob Davis – April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2013 – Citizen at-large seat
Maudie Schmitt – Nov. 16, 2004 through March 31, 2013 – HMR owner/manager seat, Cafe Rue Orleans
Brandon Karn – Sept. 1, 2009 through March 31, 2014 – HMR owner/manager seat, Jammin’ Java
Hannah Mills – April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2015 – HMR owner/manager seat, Dickson Street Inn
Mayor Lioneld Jordan – Jan. 1, 2009 through Indefinitely – City Council seat
Alderman Justin Tennant – Jan. 4, 2011 through Indefinitely – City Council seat

Current City Council

Alderwoman Brenda Boudreax – Jan. 1, 2001 through Dec. 31, 2012 – Ward 1, Position 2
Alderman Bobby Ferrell – Jan. 1, 2005 through Dec. 31, 2012 – Ward 3, Position 2
Alderwoman Sarah Lewis – Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2012 – Ward 4, Position 2
Alderman Matthew Petty – Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2012 – Ward 2, Position 2
Mayor Lioneld Jordan – Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2012 – Mayor
Alderwoman Rhonda Adams – Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014 – Ward 4, Position 1
Alderwoman Adella Gray – Jan. 1, 2007 through Dec. 31, 2014 – Ward 1, Position 1
Alderman Mark Kinion – Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014 – Ward 2, Position 1
Alderman Justin Tennant – Jan. 4, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014 – Ward 3, Position 1

Current City Council Nominating Committee

Alderman Bobby Ferrell
Alderwoman Rhonda Adams
Alderwoman Adella Gray
Alderman Mark Kinion