The Helena- West Helena City Council Tuesday voted to override Mayor Arnell Willis' veto of the council's motion to suspend the city parks and recreation director Anthony Banks without pay.
“Some cuts need to be made before I consider a budget to vote on. We got too many people making way too much money,” commented council member Christopher Franklin.
Franklin added that he found the suspension with pay unfair to the other employees who actually work for their paychecks.
Banks was arrested back in December and charged with two counts of sexual assault, abuse of authority and indecent exposure. Willis, who hired Banks as parks and recreation director back in 2011, suspended Banks with pay pending the outcome of the allegations against Banks.
In his veto, Willis argued that it was not within the powers of the city council to make personnel decisions regarding the reassignment or suspension of employees with or without pay.
Franklin produced documentation of an incident report that was filed against Banks dated back to 1998 of an alleged rape that occurred. Court documents indicated that then municipal judge Samuel Whitfield found probable cause existing for the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Banks.
According to circuit court records, the charge was dismissed.
“I would like the mayor to explain to the council why he claims that he isn't knowledgeable of the prior accounts against Banks and why he suspended him with pay and vetoed our opinion as this body,” commented Franklin.
“I stand on my decision to view every American's right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty and I know that there is a great visions of opinion when it comes to this body,” stated Willis.
New councilman John Huff asked when the council's opinion is going to be respected by the mayor. Franklin motioned that the council over ride Willis's veto of the suspension of Banks without pay.
The motion passed by a 2/3 vote.
The two sexual assault charges against Banks are Class C felonies. Abuse of Authority is a Class D felony and the indecent exposure charge is a misdemeanor.
Banks is free on $50,000 bond.
A hearing/arraignment is tentatively scheduled this month. A court date could be set as soon as three months.