story by Ryan Saylor
The monthly meeting of the Sebastian County Quorum Court in Greenwood took an unexpected turn Tuesday (April 15) that could result in a lawsuit being filed against County Judge David Hudson.
At issue is a computer hardware maintenance contract Hudson has refused to sign for Treasurer/Collector Judith Miller. The contract, which totals about $18,000, was budgeted by the Quorum Court as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and would use automation funds collected by Miller's office.
Justice of the Peace Dickie Robertson brought the topic up, he said, following a conversation with Miller about problems in her office, namely the contract which has sat for about eight months without a signature from the judge.
"Judith approached me and asked if I would come to her office and talk to her about it, so I did. And I've only got her side of it and I brought it up tonight because I wanted to get the judge's side."
While addressing the issue during the meeting, Hudson said he was trying to save the county money by not duplicating costs for information technology services from the local vendor of Miller's choosing when he asserted that the county's own IT staff could perform the needed services. He also said he was trying to enforce the policies and ordinances passed by the Quorum Court and was not attempting to create a difficult working environment with MIller.
"County government … to be in a contentious working relationship with elected officials is certainly not my goal and I will do everything I can to be a person of good will and to conduct myself with a cool head, in a professional manner dealing with Judith, (County Clerk) Sharon (Brooks), and every other county elected official and each member of this Quorum Court."
While Brooks did not want to bring her issues to the forefront at Tuesday's meeting, she did explain that she had also had difficulties in getting Hudson to sign contracts for her office. She will address those matters at the May meeting of the Quorum Court.
Miller said while Hudson is asserting he has attempted to work with her, it is simply not true.
"He has not talked to me since … I don't remember when he's talked to me. He don't darken my door anymore."
She said it has been at least several months since Hudson has attempted to work with her on the issue of the contract.
Asked to respond to her allegations, Hudson again asserted he would "be a person of good will and I will continue to work with Judith and all the other elected officials as a person of good will for the best interest of taxpayers of the county."
When asked how he is supposed to do that when Miller claims that the two of them do not speak, he said, "We do speak. We do communicate."
Miller said should Hudson continue to refuse to sign the contract for her office, which includes security and firewall hardware maintenance, she would explore legal action to force his hand.
"How long before I do it? Well, the law says if it's a good contract, it's a legal contract, I can file I think a mandamus … but I have the right to take him to circuit court over it."
A mandamus is a legal order that would force Hudson to do his constitutional duties as county judge, including signing the contract for Miller.
Presented with the information regarding a possible lawsuit against him, Hudson refused to address further questions posed by The City Wire, stating, "I don't have any comment to you."