Emails reveal Wright vowed to oust Moon from CAPC as early as 2019

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of reports about the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission. Emails quoted in this report have not been edited for punctuation or spelling.

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission considered a motion to vacate the seat held by Greg Moon at its Jan. 27 meeting. Although then-commission chair Carol Wright declared the seat vacant after a roll call vote on the motion, she never actually voted yes or no. That left the vote count at 3-2-1 in favor of vacating the seat and left Moon’s status on the commission in question.

In explaining her reasons for bringing the issue to the commission’s attention, Wright explained that she had waited for some time out of respect for Moon, who she said was no longer employed by the Rowdy Beaver restaurant.

“Basically the commission is able to vacate the position for any reason, but in this case because we have waited considering this was a furlough just out of respect that we have done this for quite a few months now,” Wright said.

Emails and other public records obtained through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests tell a different story. In fact, Wright wrote in an email that Moon “is a problem” and vowed to seek his removal from the commission more than 18 months ago. Wright also made multiple inquiries in recent months about the process to have him removed from the commission, as well as filing a report with the Eureka Springs Police Department alleging that Moon threatened her at a meeting last month.

‘He is a problem’

Moon was appointed to the commission in February 2018, filling one of the four seats reserved for owners or managers of businesses in the tourism industry. Wright, who was appointed to the CAPC’s single at-large seat in June 2017, was elected chair of the commission in January 2019.

As early as July 2019, Wright discussed the idea of having Moon removed from the commission with Mayor Butch Berry.

“I suddenly realized that Greg moon position is coming up for vacacy,” Berry wrote in an email to Wright on July 11, 2019. “Would you please double check and make sure he's qualified as an owner/manager of a restaurant. I was told that he's not the manager and I believe state law requires that position to be an owner or Manager[.]”

Wright responded a week later, writing: “He was voted back in at our last meeting; however, I will follow up and if he is NOT the manager of the Rowdy Beaver, I will move to have him removed. If/when his place closes/goes under, I will move that he be removed from the Commission. He is a problem.”

Berry responded within an hour: “he has not been voted on by the council yet. so technically, he has not been reappointed .”

The same day, Wright emailed CAPC finance director Rick Bright to ask about Moon’s employment.

“Does Greg have anything with his name/title on it? I got an inquiry as to his title,” Wright asks. “There is a Wes King listed as the GM of the Rowdy Beaver. Will need to answer back the person who inquired.”

“Yes he has a business card, or they can just call the owner Sharon Miner,” Bright responded.

More recently, Wright emailed Berry’s assistant, Kim Stryker, on Oct. 26, 2020, regarding Moon’s status as a commissioner.

“Could you check with either the City Attorney and/or those who regulate the A&Ps to find out about an issue that has come up with Greg Moon, CAPC Commissioner,” Wright’s email to Stryker says. “When you call the Rowdy Beaver they say Greg no longer works for them and that there is a new GM. When I asked Rick to check with Greg about his statue, we received a letter from his employer saying he had been furloughed. He is NOT currently a GM/owner of a collector in Eureka Springs.

“Can I:

“1. Remove him from the Commission?

“2. Not allow him to vote until he is reinstated as a GM at the Rowdy Beaver or elsewhere?”

On Dec. 7, Wright emailed Berry, indicating she’d had a conversation with city attorney Tim Weaver about Moon.

“Thank you for having Mr. Weaver be in contact re: my question regarding Greg Moon and his being furloughed from his Managerial job at the Rowdy Beaver,” Wright writes. “I have a follow up question for him.

“Since Mr. Moon is furloughed (through Jan. or Feb. as I am told), and a new Manager has been put in place at his former position, should Mr. Moon abstain from voting, but still be allowed to attend meetings and give his opinions?”

Moon wasn’t the first commissioner whose status came under question. At a commission meeting in July 2020, commissioner James DeVito alleged that unnamed individuals had tried to have him removed from the commission after he closed his downtown restaurant, DeVito’s of Eureka Springs, at the end of 2019 and planned to open Take 5 Bistro in 2020. DeVito said at the July meeting that the new restaurant required multiple inspections and costly renovations. City clerk Ann Armstrong later confirmed that DeVito had obtained a business license for the new restaurant the same week as the July meeting, although he actually paid for the license in March 2020.

Bright confirmed that an item addressing DeVito's position on the commission was placed on the agenda and removed before the July meeting took place.

Council representatives

In January, the Eureka Springs City Council appointed its two representatives to the CAPC for 2021. Those seats had been held in 2020 by council members Terry McClung and Susan Harman, but Harman was defeated in her re-election bid in November.

On Jan. 6, Wright emailed Stryker to ask about the possibility of holding a special CAPC meeting before the council appointed its new representatives to the commission. Wright also made it clear which council member she wanted to serve on the CAPC.

“CAPC may need to have Special Meeting (hiring, firing, furloughs) before new Councilperson elected,” Wright says in her email to Stryker. “I assume we'll just be one Councilperson short (Susan's position). Susan could not be called back...correct? Would Butch need to appoint an Interim? If so, Melissa best.”

Five days later, on Jan. 11, Berry cast the tie-breaking vote to appoint Greene to the CAPC. He then cast the final vote to appoint council member Harry Meyer to the commission as well. At the Jan. 27 meeting, Meyer voted to vacate Moon’s seat, while Greene abstained.

Municipal League opinion

On Jan. 7, Bright emailed Berry, saying the CAPC has “a couple of commissioners that hold a seat on our commission but are not currently employed/open.”

“I am getting some push back for them sitting on the commission while temporarily unemployed/closed,” Bright’s email says. “Could we maybe get an opinion from municipal league on the question?”

Berry then apparently sought an opinion from Lanny Richmond, legal counsel for the Arkansas Municipal League.

“I believe an individual serving a ‘food or restaurant’ position who no longer serves in that capacity could be replaced by the Commission,” Richmond says in an Jan. 8 email to Berry, “but that the commissioner would continue to serve until replaced per:

“Whether resulting from expiration of a regular term or otherwise, a vacancy on the commission in any of the four (4) tourism industry positions provided for in subdivision (a)(1) of this section or in the at-large position provided for in subdivision (a)(3) of this section shall be filled by appointment made by the remaining members of the commission, with the approval of the governing body of the city. … I know we discussed earlier this year how long a business can be shuttered before a person is no longer validly operating under this statute.  I cannot make this determination only a court would be able to make that call.”

Alleged threats

On Jan. 13, the commission held a workshop at The Auditorium where it was revealed that special events coordinator Tracy Johnson was not being paid because of a dispute over her employment status. That night, Wright emailed Stryker to say that Moon had threatened her before the workshop, and that the conversation was also heard by commissioner Jeff Carter, who is now the CAPC chair.

“I was very busy getting materials out to Commissioners, and it was just before a pretty tense meeting,” Wright’s email to Stryker says, “but to the best of my recollection I heard Greg threaten me with words like:

“1. We're going to get you.

“2. I'm going to sue you and the CAPC.

“That was when I first warned him that he was threatening me. I also advised him that I'd asked that the sound/video be turned on - hoping that he'd quit.

“He continued to harass me and said something like:

“1. No one likes you.

“2. We're going to get you.

“I again said, Greg, the sound is on and I'm asking you again to stop threatening me. Jeff also witnessed this.”

Wright goes on to write that she’s heard about Moon’s “bad temper at restaurants.”

“I am afraid of him. Afraid enough that I've asked my husband to accompany me when I go in for meetings. I was really shaky leaving the AUD at 4:50pm (I recorded my in and out time on the AUD log),” Wright’s email says. “At this time, I want to merely register this incident with you and the Mayor. I don't want to cause any additional drama, but I want to feel safe.

“I’m also worried that Greg might have been trying to gin-up my fear/reaction to support his ‘threatened’ lawsuit against the CAPC.”

Later, Wright says she has “really tried to be kind to Greg.”

“Losing a job at any time is tough, and especially now, with Covid,” she writes.

Wright also writes that another commissioner, whom she does not identify, has “received a written threat from Greg.”

The following day, Jan. 14, Berry forwarded Wright’s email to Weaver and police chief Brian Young.

“I recognize that the threat of ‘sueing’ is not a criminal offense and maybe even the remark ‘I’m going to get you’.” Berry writes. “As noted below, these comments are making the Chair person afraid for her safety.

“At this point Greg is still a member of the CAPC and has not been voted off.

“Thanks for any suggestions that you may have.”

Also on Jan. 14, Wright emailed Carter and copied Stryker under the subject line “Suggestions.”

In that email Wright suggests the commission:

“1. Go back to Zoom Meetings - or allow those who are concerned to Zoom in to a meeting of others.

“2. Firmly apply the Governor's gathering's policy (which I think is 10 - 7 Commissioners, Ron, the video man, security          guard (ONLY) - lock down the building and have an armed guard available to watch over parking until all  Commissioners are gone.”

Later in the email, Wright appears to refer to Moon.

“Obviously, this Commissioner has some anger issues,” she writes. “it has been my training that people like this tend to escalate (which is apparently happening) if they are not stopped.

“I prefer moving forward, with safety in mind. 

“I think we can handle this problem next Wed. if we can find a way forward.”

That night, Wright emailed Stryker to review her plans for a Jan 20 special meeting.

“Waiting to hear back about the possibility of having policy or security at this meeting - has been requested by one Commissioner,” Wright’s email says.

Police presence

On Jan. 15, Cpl. Tim Holm of the Eureka Springs Police Department emailed Wright to say he was “conducting a report on your behalf of the threat from Greg Moon.”

Later that day, Wright replied to Holm’s email.

“Thank you Corporal Holm,” Wright writes. “I appreciate your follow up and that you are SUCH a good listener. I also appreciate your opinion and advice. As the Chair of the CAPC and a Commissioner for several years, I am grateful for the excellent job you and our force do for our tourist community as well as for our citizens.”

In an “Offense/Incident Report” dated Jan. 15, Holm describes Wright’s allegations about threats from Moon.

"When speaking to Carol, Cpl. Holm could clearly ascertain that Carol was afraid of Greg and her personal safety,” Holm writes, adding that Wright does not want Holm to contact Moon. “Again, Carol is afraid of Greg and does not want any further threats made her way.”

At the Jan. 20 special meeting at the Auditorium, two Eureka Springs police officers were present in the lobby just outside the theater. On Jan. 21, Bright emailed Stryker, requesting “some clarity on the CAPC meeting security.”

“Because I use the off duty PD officers for security at auditorium events the guys, working security last night at the CAPC meeting came to me to get paid. There rate is $35per hour with a minimum of 2 hours. I did not request there service I am assuming the mayors office did, where they just supposed to be on-duty stand by at the Aud or were they off duty needing further compensation?”

Stryker replied: “To my knowledge, the Mayor’s office did not request PD to the CAPC meeting yesterday. So no idea what to tell you about compensation.”

Wright responded about an hour later, on an email to Bright that was copied to Stryker: “I ordered them as 2 Commissioners requested. They will also be there Wed night. I told them IF there was a fee to direct bill to you.”

Earlier that day, Wright had emailed Holm to say the CAPC might call a special meeting at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22.

“Might you be available to help us in the same way as you kindly did on Wed.?” Wright’s email says. “We would need you there by 3:40, Meeting at 4pm. This should be a short meeting, over by 5pm at the latest. Again, feel free to bill the CAPC if there are charges.”

Although no special meeting was held on Jan. 22, two police officers were present for the commission’s regular meeting on Jan. 27.

Two officers at each meeting, each being paid $35 an hour for a minimum of two hours, would be a total cost of $280 to the CAPC. The commission has never voted to pay for police presence at its meetings, although “Safety/Security and Police Presence at meetings” was listed as an agenda item for the commission’s meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10. That meeting was postponed Wednesday morning because of inclement weather. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Auditorium, following a workshop at 5 p.m.

Moon responds

Moon said Wright has wanted him off the commission since he voted against hiring former executive director Lacey Ekberg at a special meeting in July 2019.

Moon said he arrived at the meeting late because he wasn’t properly notified.

“So you're voting on one of the most important things for this commission and not everybody's here,” he said.

Moon said Wright told him he could still vote and he voted no because he was concerned that Ekberg might not stay in Eureka Springs long-term.

“She got mad because I voted no,” Moon said. “And ever since then, anything I vote on usually goes against the grain with her. And apparently I go against the grain with the mayor's office now.”

Moon said he informed the CAPC staff last October that he was going on a leave of absence from the Rowdy Beaver and offered to give up his seat on the commission.

“Everybody was fine with it,” he said. “Maybe Carol wasn’t fine with it, but back then she was outnumbered by everybody. Now she’s not outnumbered. She’s got her little friends on there. If you’ll watch, it’s like watching a play being played out. It’s like ‘OK, now it’s your turn to talk.' … It’s just a s***show.”

Moon denied threatening Wright before the Jan. 13 workshop and said he was unaware that Wright had spoken with police about the alleged threat.

“I said, ‘we're going to flame you over all this. Don't you worry about it,’ ” Moon said. “So I guess that's the threat. It was more like ‘you're going to get told off on this.’ And it wasn’t a physical threat.”

Moon pointed out that the commission has never voted to pay police officers for being present at their meetings.

“That has to be voted on, too, or Rick’s not supposed to write the check for it,” Moon said.

Moon said Wright has called the Rowdy Beaver multiple times to ask about his employment status and has even contacted his neighbors to ask questions about him.

“I call it harassment and I call it stalking,” he said.

Wright did not respond to an email message seeking comment.

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  • The CAPC has outlived it's usefulness. They have gotten totally out of control. As I've often said for the past 15 years or longer...shut the **** door! Might as well just "moon the buses" wait...there aren't any buses anymore. Still think shiny sprinkles in the asphalt on Spring was the way to go. Better than plank sidewalks

    -- Posted by Two6pac on Thu, Feb 11, 2021, at 7:58 PM
  • Great reporting here.

    Wright needs to go. Immediately. I’ve witnessed and heard from CAPC staff and close friends of staff that she micromanaged and bullies them often, neither of which is part of the duties of a CAPC member. The behavior described above is an outrageous abuse of power at a minimum. No wonder we’ve had so much turnover and fewer success stories with the CAPC dollars being spent on promoting tourism!

    -- Posted by Kstar on Sun, Feb 14, 2021, at 1:45 AM
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