Mayfield violates ethics law
Although it did not seem to affect the city adversely, Marion Mayor David Mayfield violated the city’s ethics code by insisting on negotiating personally with the sheriff’s department to sell the city’s drug-sniffing dog, Blue.
As part-time employee of the department, paid $1,311.51 in 2022, Mayfield’s participation in the discussion is forbidden by city code section 1-208. It states no city officer shall “discuss in any capacity” or “otherwise participate in” any agreement with any entity from which he receives $1,000 or more in remuneration. Violation is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 90 days imprisonment.
The drug dog went with officer Aaron Slater when he quit the Marion police force, and went back to the sheriff’s office Nov. 27.
After negotiating with Mayfield, Sheriff Jeff Soyez agreed to pay the city $6,679.01 for the dog and specialized equipment transferred with the dog at Slater’s request.
The items include an electronic collar, a collapsible dog crate, and an impact crate for Blue’s protection.
Slater’s vest also was transferred to the county, but at no additional cost.
County commissioners approved the check Friday and it was mailed to the city Saturday.
The city likely received the check Tuesday even though the council has not formally approved the rate.
When the Record called the city office Tuesday to ask if the check had been received and deposited, office employees deferred the question to Mayfield for an answer. Mayfield did not return a call.
The city paid $7,600 for Blue in 2018. Trained drug dogs now cost $12,000 to $15,000, Soyez said.
Because a typical working life for a drug dog is about eight years, Soyez expected to offer roughly half the cost of a new drug dog.
When city council members considered the sheriff’s original offer of $6,000 for Blue, the offer was tabled so Mayfield could negotiate further with the sheriff about Blue’s availability to help with city cases.
Council members did not question his conflict of interest until after a Dec. 23 meeting at which action was delayed pending his additional negotiations.
“He’s a voting member of the council,” council member Ruth Herbel said. “Mayfield thinks he can do things on his own. I think he should have asked permission, and the council could have given him permission on it or turned him down. He didn’t have any right to do this.”
The council could have waived the conflict of interest policy only by passing and publishing an ordinance. City code specifically forbids suspending rules.
Disagreement between Herbel and Mayfield has been ongoing since both took office.
A sharp exchange took place Friday between Herbel and Mayfield’s wife, Jami, after Herbel posted on social media, without comment, an image of a T-shirt that read: “Most snakes crawl on the ground, but there are some snakes that walk upright and speak English.”
In an apparent reference to Herbel having told the Record about an before city administrator Mark Skiles was fired, Jami Mayfield posted: “They sure do. Straight to the press to ruin people’s lives. Disgraceful!!!!”
Herbel responded that it was not disgraceful to tell the truth, and council members did not get the truth in executive session.
“The council should have been able to view the complaints,” Herbel wrote. “Instead all we got was hearsay and untruths. That’s what is disgraceful. The council terminated a man without proof.”
Several comments went back and forth between Jamie Mayfield and Herbel.
Mayfield accused Herbel of “making everything public” and added: “So much for being a rule follower. You don’t respect anything. Especially people.”
Herbel said she told what people needed to know. Jami Mayfield then accused Herbel of being “unethical.”
“I wish you understood the definition of the word respect,” Jami Mayfield wrote.