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Cottonwood Shores mayor reprimanded

Cottonwood Shores Mayor Donald Orr (left) and City Administrator J.C. Hughes

Cottonwood Shores Mayor Donald Orr (left) and City Administrator J.C. Hughes at a June 30 budget meeting in City Hall. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Cottonwood Shores Mayor Donald Orr was issued an admonishment during a regular meeting of the City Council on Aug. 4 for previous behavior toward police Sgt. Shawn Scarborough. 

Orr was reprimanded for words he exchanged with Scarborough in a staff meeting on May 31 concerning a complaint the sergeant had filed against City Administrator J.C. Hughes earlier in the month. Orr acted as an arbitrator between the feuding parties.

DailyTrib.com received access to a recording of the meeting. 

During the May 31 staff meeting, Scarborough attempted to read witness statements describing Hughes’ alleged conduct. While in the process of reading the statements, Orr interrupted Scarborough.

“Shawn, shut up for a minute,” Orr exclaimed. “Tell me who this is from. I have no context of what it all means.”

As Scarborough attempted to continue to read the statements through the mayor’s interruptions, Orr snatched the paper from Scarborough’s hands. Scarborough then asked the mayor to return the document. 

“I’m not grabbing it from you,” Scarborough told him.

After the confrontation, Orr sat down and Scarborough continued to read the witness statements. He told those attending the meeting, which were Police Chief Johnny Liendo, Hughes, and Orr, that he had more but didn’t want to continue because he feared retaliation against the people who had written them. 

“After the mayor’s extreme, aggressive behavior, I am done with my statements,” Scarborough said at the meeting. “This is unsafe and unprofessional.”

Scarborough left the meeting shortly after.

The officer’s complaint against Hughes originated after a tense discussion between the two following a May 19 council meeting about a proposed parking ordinance. The ordinance would restrict resident parking to at least 10 feet off of the road with a $500 fine for offenders.

According to a document obtained by DailyTrib.com, certain members of the Cottonwood Shores Police Department disagreed with the necessity of the ordinance, citing a pre-existing state law the department could use to make vehicles obstructing roadways move.

After the meeting, Scarborough and Hughes had a discussion about the ordinance and the issue of chalking tires to measure how long they have been parked in a certain location.

“In my 40-plus years of doing this, all my departments have chalked tires on vehicles for parking violations,” Hughes allegedly said.

Scarborough responded that he would refuse to chalk tires and issue citations for on-street parking.

“I stated to (Hughes) that I believed officers of the department could better spend their time addressing other issues like drugs and drunks,” Scarborough said in the document.

Hughes allegedly responded aggressively.

“You will do it if I tell you to,” he is quoted as saying in the document. 

Scarborough reiterated to Hughes that he would not comply nor would his fellow officers and encouraged Hughes to fire him over the matter if he deemed it necessary. Hughes walked away laughing, leaving Scarborough confused.

Scarborough then handed his gun and badge to Liendo, stating he believed he might have been fired. Liendo refused to take his gun or badge and walked over to Hughes to ask him if he had fired the sergeant. 

“No,” Hughes said. “I just don’t want to talk to a smartass.”

According to the document obtained by DailyTrib.com, Orr found all three participants, Hughes, Liendo, and Scarborough, culpable in the dispute.

“The incident during and after the council meeting finds all three participants about equally guilty of starting, continuing, fueling, and enflaming the disagreement and not stepping back and de-escalating the situation,” Orr wrote. “This discussion should have NEVER taken place in public.”

Orr continued.

“I believe that the solution to this specific complaint is that ALL participants owe the others a sincere apology for the statements made in public during this incident,” he wrote.

All parties involved, including Orr, Hughes, and Scarborough, refused to comment for this story.

nathan@thepicayune.com

3 thoughts on “Cottonwood Shores mayor reprimanded

  1. I believe it is Orr and Hughes who owe OFFICER Scarborough the apology. Their conduct towards the officer was unprofessional and juvenile. Officer Scarborough owes them NOTHING.
    Officer, thank you for taking a stand against this ridiculous ordinance that is only going to hurt the citizens of Cottonwood Shores with over inflated fines simply for parking on the side of the road.
    Shameful behavior from Orr and Hughes.

    1. You should dig further into what you are talking about. I know that you have grown up knowing that there are 2 sides to every story. Strange that a man that carries a gun felt like he was a victim. You should talk to those that have his signature on their citations. You should also look into why there is a story on a closed executive session meeting. Not legal at all. Who broke the law to get this one sided story out? And why was the other meeting being recorded unless there was a hidden agenda behind it? Where was all of this drama before that officer was hired? It didn’t exist! You are only getting one side because the other side knows that they are not legally allowed to comment. Guess who else knows that? Look further than what is right in front of your face!

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