Pine Bluff mayor fires city collector, not the first time she fired him

PINE BLUFF (KATV) - Mayor Debe Hollingsworth dismissed Pine Bluff City Collector Albert Ridgell early Tuesday morning, claiming employee "insubordination." Ridgell was already fired and reinstated once before in 2013.

Hollingsworth claims Tuesday's decision wasn't made in haste, and "regrettably" they decided to, "terminate his services with the city."

According to Pine Bluff city ordinance, Ridgell has five days to appeal his termination and according to Hollingsworth, he wasted no time in appealing that decision. The mayor cites his appeal as reason for why she can't go into detail regarding his dismissal.

"Because he had already appealed it, I received the appeal after lunch, I'm not at liberty to talk about any of the acts that went into the insubordination," said Hollingsworth.

But Hollingsworth didn't hold back on why she fired the city's collector the first time. She says it was poor job performance initially. Hollingsworth specifies a lack of progress being made on converting the city collector's office to a new computer system as his poor job performance.

"His department was the only one that had not completed the conversion," said Hollingsworth.

The mayor added that the computer software conversion still hadn't been completed in over two and a half years. Hollingsworth said she addressed it when she came on as mayor by creating a completion timeline with Ridgell which she says wasn't met.

In a 6-0 vote back in August however, city council members overrode the mayor's decision in an executive session meeting. Aldermen George Stepps, Glen Brown, Charles Boyd, Thelma Walker, Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and Steven Mays all voted for Ridgell to be reinstated. The decision this time again will land with them.

Pine Bluff ordinance gives city council 30 days to render a decision on an employee's termination appeal before the disciplinary action is deemed final.

Phone calls from KATV to Ridgell went unanswered.

The city council members who voted to reinstate Ridgell said they wouldn't comment on why they voted to reinstate citing they can't discuss what goes on in executive session.

But Alderman Glen Brown said, "I want to know what the malfunctioning relationship between the mayor and that office is all about."

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