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Code enforcement officer appealing termination

By Ed Brock

Anthony Butler is still waiting to learn if he will be allowed to return to his job as Jonesboro's code enforcement officer.

Butler was fired in early April after a confrontation in court between Butler and the attorney for a man Butler had cited for code violations. A hearing was held on April 20 to allow Butler to appeal that termination, his attorney Charles Pekor said, and he hopes the appeals officer, attorney Ross Burris, will have an answer by next week.

During a March 24 hearing in Jonesboro Municipal Court attorney Steve Frey was representing Jonesboro businessman Jack Branon on a request by Butler to revoke Branon's probation on several citations because according to Butler Branon was not yet in compliance. Frey said Butler was evading his questions during cross examination, and at one point the two men had an exchange after Frey, according to an official transcript, told Butler "Don't get in my face."

"Don't you get in my face. And don't you be arguing with me. Don't be talking to me like I'm a little boy. You understand," Butler said.

"I know what I'm talking to," Frey said.

"I know what I'm talking to, too. You put your hands on me if you want to. We'll go scrap," Butler said.

At that point Municipal Court Judge William West halted the hearing.

Pekor said the city apparently considered Butler's statement and actions in court to be threatening and a violation of regulations against violence in the work place, but Butler told him he was provoked by Frey saying "I know what I'm talking to."

"He took that as being racist," Pekor said. "I don't think it's totally unreasonable for him to interpret it that way."

Frey denied any racist implications in his statement.

"I thought he was a bully," Frey said. "As far as I was concerned I was talking to a bully."

Pekor said Butler would not comment personally until after the decision was made on his appeal. Jonesboro City Manager Jon Walker said previously he couldn't discuss the details of Butler's termination because of the pending appeal.