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Diamond City gives its mayor heave-ho in Tuesday election

by Bill Bowden | November 8, 2020 at 5:09 a.m.
"I Voted" stickers sit on a table, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at the Cambridge City Hall annex, on the first morning of early voting in Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Diamond City voters have recalled Linda Miracle.

Miracle had been mayor since January 2019.

On Tuesday, voters ousted her from office.

The unofficial recall vote was 282-91.

Miracle has been a controversial figure in the small Boone County town, which has had a long history of political infighting.

Last year, Miracle sued most of the City Council for having a meeting without her and taking a number of actions in her absence.

Troy Burleson of Lead Hill, a former Diamond City mayor, said the council mutinied because the mayor had missed several meetings, and "the city was grinding to a halt."

The lawsuit is still pending in Boone County Circuit Court.

According to an amended complaint in the lawsuit, the actions taken by the council when Miracle was absent include appointing a new council member and a treasurer, reinstating the Diamond City Community Center board members and overriding three of the mayor's vetoes on other ordinances.

"As there was not a lawful quorum established, all actions approved during the July 9, 2019, meeting should be stricken from the city records, set aside and held for naught," wrote Samuel Pasthing, a Flippin lawyer representing Miracle.

[RELATED: Full coverage of elections in Arkansas » arkansasonline.com/elections/]

Any subsequent meetings/actions of the City Council should be "set aside and held for naught pending a final hearing in the case," according to the lawsuit.

The mayor and two council members skipped that meeting thinking there wouldn't be a quorum to do business, according to a motion to dismiss and counterclaim filed by attorney Robert A. Ginnaven III of Jasper on behalf of Sharlene Blair, one of the defendants in Miracle's lawsuit.

But Miracle was misinformed, wrote Ginnaven. City Recorder Tina Jackson stepped into the mayor's role that night, and Blair served as recorder for that meeting, according to the motion.

Miracle had made a "political miscalculation," wrote Ginnaven.

Miracle exercised her veto power, but it was overridden by two-thirds of the City Council, according to the motion.

"Mayor Miracle's complaint must be dismissed as a case of sour political grapes," wrote Ginnaven.

"It has been well publicized and this court may take judicial notice that Mayor Miracle has been AWOL since her election as mayor of Diamond City by unlawfully refusing to attend and unlawfully cancelling scheduled council meetings," according to the counterclaim. "Mayor Miracle was caught on video removing a public notice of a council meeting from a bulletin board at city hall, after which she lied that she did not attend the meeting because public notice had not been properly posted."

Efforts to interview Miracle last week were unsuccessful.

Blair started the petition drive to recall Miracle. Blair said the last straw was when Miracle closed the community center, which provided free meals to veterans and others.

Blair said Thursday that Diamond City's future was sparkling a little brighter since the election.

"I have very high hopes for Diamond City," she said. "We have several new council members coming in in January. They're all concerned about the city. They want to see the city move forward. ... I think we have an opportunity for a reset and to get the city moving in the right direction."

Diamond City, population about 790, is about 3 miles south of the Missouri state line on a peninsula that juts into Bull Shoals Lake. Diamond City was incorporated in 1960, eight years after Bull Shoals Dam was finished, making the lake a budding tourist destination.

Blair said a new mayor may be appointed by the City Council at its next meeting on Nov. 17.

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