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Jefferson County is dysfunctional due to a dispute between the judge and justices



Little Rock, Arkansas – The justices of the peace in Jefferson County convened in committee on Wednesday night to go over the agenda items for next Monday’s Quorum Court session. The issues on the table included recent payroll delays and a tense relationship with the County Judge that may potentially cloud the proceedings.

The Quorum Court now has two sets of committee meetings, one run by Judge Gerald Robinson’s allies and the other by his detractors, a sign of how split the county government is in Jefferson.

“I guess you would call it a total dictatorship when it comes to the County Judge,” said Lloyd Franklin Jr., justice of the peace for District 5.

A deeper conflict within Jefferson County government is negatively affecting the county; one example is the deterioration of county roads, which has many county residents incensed. The inability of the county government to approve a payroll on time one week ago was only the tip of the iceberg.

“They keep telling me they don’t have any money allocated for the roads anymore and here it is, I’ve been calling since February and she told me the money’s allocated in January and they’re already out of money, so I want to know why they’re out of money and why we can’t get our roads fixed,” said Robert Hill, a concerned county resident who came to the courthouse Wednesday seeking answers.

Judge Robinson rose from his chair at the Wednesday committee meeting of the Quorum Court in response to a challenge from a justice of the peace.

The justices of the peace have started organizing committee meetings to decide on Quorum Court agendas other than those that are usually arranged with the judge because the Quorum Court’s relationship with Robinson and his allies is so terrible. The judge’s opponents claim that this is because the judge has nominated a disproportionate number of JPs who are in favor of him to committees, despite the fact that these JPs really represent the minority on the Quorum Court.

There are two sets of agendas for committee meetings, one for the judges and one for the Quorum Court. This implies that two sessions of the Quorum Court are convened, one for each agenda.

“The Sheriff’s Department—if we didn’t have a second meeting, he would not get heard, he would never get on the agenda. The Treasurer, the County Clerk, they would not get on the agenda. The only things that are on the County Judge’s agenda are the items that he wants. So as a legislator, if I told him ‘hey I need this piece of legislation put on there,’ he would just ignore it,” Franklin said.

Some claim that since the justices of the peace’s second round of meetings and Quorum Court sessions are essentially unlawful, their decisions and agenda items shouldn’t be enforceable.

“They attempt to host a second Quorum Court meeting. I think that’s the most misleading part of really what’s going on. And everything else flows from that, because what that meeting dictates is nothing,” said Garland Trice, who ran and lost last election against District 1 Justice of the Peace Alfred Carroll.

Employees in Jefferson County are currently wondering if, in contrast to the last two pay periods, they would get paid on May 15.

“In thinking in the mind of a madman…I have no clue. You’re dealing with someone who’s a narcissist, so what he decides to do, I don’t know. I think he’s already committed political suicide. He’s trying to find a way to spin this to push it back on the County Clerk or anyone else that he can—but for him to hold up payroll again?” Franklin said.

Until then, it appears that all parties are in agreement that next Monday’s Quorum Court session will be heated, with several justices of the peace preparing to abstain from voting on any matter until the judge responds to their inquiries.



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