Saline Sheriff Pennington says he'll quit Oct. 1; Quorum Court to meet Saturday to declare vacancy in office | Arkansas Blog

Saline Sheriff Pennington says he'll quit Oct. 1; Quorum Court to meet Saturday to declare vacancy in office


GOING, GOING....: Is Bruce Pennington about to be gone?
  • GOING, GOING....: Is Bruce Pennington about to be gone?
Shelli Russell at keeps her ear to the ground of roiling Saline County. So note:

Judge Lanny Fite has called a Special Quorum Court meeting for tomorrow, Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the Saline County Courthouse in Courtroom #1.

I'm waiting on official confirmation that Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington has turned in a resignation (not retirement?) letter for October 1, 2013.

Is the Saline Republican Party's long nightmare just about over? It would end some political entertainment, that's for sure.

You'll recall Pennington announced an Oct. 1 "retirement" once previously, then said he wouldn't quit and would run again.

UPDATE: County Judge Lanny Fite said he received a letter from Pennington about 1:30 p.m. today announcing his intention to leave office Oct. 1. It was accompanied by a copy of an application by Pennington to the state Public Employees Retirement System to begin drawing retirement.

Fite has called a special Quorum Court meeting Saturday, not just to accept the letter, but Fite said, to "declare a vacancy" in the office, effective Oct. 1. Can you declare a vacancy in an office not yet vacated?

"This has been so bizarre .... We're not going to miss an opportunity to act on it," Fite said. The declaration of vacancy has nothing to do with Pennington's ability to serve.

Fite said Pennington's remaining an office another month will give the Quorum Court time to figure out how to choose a successor. Fite said he'd recommend taking applications. He said several names have surfaced as potential candidates next year including a Benton police officer, Rodney Wright and Saline Deputy Kevin Cooper.

So. It would appear matters are drawing to a close. But, as a famous person once said, "It's not over until it's over." For one thing, questions were raised late Friday about whether the Quorum Court could meet until a notice of the intention to declare a vacancy had been published. It's all irrelevant if Pennington follows through with his latest expressed intention.

NOTED: Pennington's call to Fite came about a half-hour after Circuit Judge Robert Herzfeld appointed a special prosecutor, again Cody Hiland, to review matters that local Prosecutor Ken Casady has said needed reviewed in Pennington's case. Because he works with the sheriff, Casady had stepped aside for Hiland who eventually worked out the plea deal with Pennington on intoxication and resisting arrest charges in an altercation with Benton police that began when they tried to stop him from driving home from a nightclub. See related PDF Here's the order.  Casady had announced last night that he thought a special prosecutor was in order to determine if Pennington could be removed under a constitutional provision allowing removal of a county official for "criminal conduct." He cited no cases brought under that provision.  Here's that letter.

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