Saturday, December 9, 2023

Argyle calls for investigation into Town Hall incident

The Argyle Town Council held a special meeting Monday night to authorize a third-party investigation into an alleged incident involving Mayor Bryan Livingston and some staff members last month.

On May 31, the majority of council voted to end Town Administrator Rich Olson’s contract, a decision with which Livingston strongly disagreed. Two days later, Argyle Councilman Ron Schmidt said he got a call from a town employee who was “distraught and crying in her office” along with two other female employees.

“There were some discussions between them and the mayor, and she said she couldn’t take it anymore,” Schmidt said last month.

Schmidt and Mayor Pro Tem Rick Bradford contacted the police department, and Chief Emmitt Jackson and other officers responded to Town Hall. The staff members declined offers to be escorted to their vehicles.

Within 48 hours of that incident, Assistant Town Secretary Bailey Love and Assistant Town Administrator/Town Secretary Laura Calcote resigned.

Livingston previously declined to comment on the incident on the advice of legal counsel.

Ron Schmidt

Schmidt, an outspoken critic of Livingston in recent months, said during the meeting that council wanted to have this special meeting sooner, but Livingston essentially told him they had to wait for him to return from a two-week trip.

“We thought there was a sense of urgency in having this meeting,” Schmidt said. “Life goes on, even when the mayor’s not in town. I know he doesn’t think that way, because he didn’t notify me that he was going out of town, but that’s why we have a mayor pro tem.”

The council then voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to make it easier to call a special meeting and schedule it for as soon as a quorum of council are available. Now, the mayor or three council members can quickly call such a meeting.

After that vote, the next item on the agenda was about an agreement between the town and Calcote to resolve a claim and request for reimbursement. The town attorney suggested the council go to executive session, but Livingston objected.

“The objection is based on comments made by members of this body that I’m engaged in a coverup,” Livingston said.

“And I consider it unethical to accuse us, unless you have good proof,” Schmidt said.

“What did I accuse you of?” Livingston asked.

“You accused one of us,” Schmidt said.

“Of what?” Livingston asked.

“Someone help me out here, please,” Schmidt said.

Most of the council then voted to go into executive session. After about 30 minutes, the council reconvened, and took no action on the agreement with Calcote. They then moved on to the final item on the agenda, to consider investigation of “staff morale and interactions with the mayor and council, including interactions occurring on or around June 2, 2022.”

Councilmember Cyndi Hermann motioned to formally request a third-party investigation into the Town Hall incident on June 2 “and any other incidents leading to the resignation of recent town employees.” Council unanimously passed the motion.

Neither Livingston nor Schmidt could be reached for additional comment on Tuesday evening.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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