Disagreement over Access to Civil Service Files

The hearing for four Civil Service commissioners has been set for April 3, but as that day grows closer, the city and Council are butting heads over how to get the necessary files for attorneys. The commissioners' attorney Bill Ready, Sr., says there are certain records he needs to defend his clients that, by law, can only be accessed through the Civil Service secretary. But secretary Gloria Kirby has been suspended.

"The law says that we cannot go into confidential files," Ready says. "Only one person can do that, and that is the representative of the Civil Service Commission. The commissioners themselves are volunteers. They don't keep those files Ms. Kirby's been keeping those files for 23 years."

Councilman Dustin Markham announced at Friday's Council meeting that an attorney general's opinion states Kirby has many of the same protections as the commissioners, which means she is to hold her position as secretary until she has written notification of her charges and is removed during an official hearing. The attorneys discussed the possibility of staying with her while she retrieves the files they need.

"We anticipate that she will be called upon to cooperate with the attorney for the Civil Service Commission to help locate the files that are necessary to help with the hearing on April 3," city attorney Michael Goggans says.

Mayor Percy Bland expressed his concern of allowing Kirby to get those records after the violations she has been charged with. But Ready's opinion remains "innocent until proven guilty."

"The mayor says there's been great wrong done. Well no, there hasn't until it has been proved at this trial that some great wrong has been done. They've got to assume everyone is innocent untiil the trial is over," Ready says.