Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TOP STORY > >Police called to candidates forum

Leader staff writer

The forum for Cabot mayoral candidates on Monday night ended with blue lights and police reports after punches were thrown by a candidate for county office and two others.

Jack McNally, 53, a Republican candidate for Lonoke County assessor, is listed as the suspect in the report filed Monday night. Former Cabot Alderman Odis Waymack, 77, and H.L. Lang, 63, a member of the Lonoke County Quorum Court, are listed as the victims.

But McNally said in his written statement that he was attacked, and he wasn’t the attacker.

Sgt. Brent Lucas, spokesman for the Cabot Police Department, described the incident as a shoving match and said unless the men involved pursue it, no charges will be filed.

The disturbance happened at about 8:20 p.m. inside the community center at 508 N. Lincoln St. 

Waymack and Lang told police that McNally approached Waymack and rebuffed McNally, telling him to stop talking to Waymack in that manner. McNally asked Lang if he “wanted some of this” and punched Lang in the chest and then punched Waymack in the shoulder.

Waymack, who is legally blind, said in a later interview with The Leader that he swung at McNally, who had apparently turned, and the blow hit his back.

A crowd gathered and Stubby Stumbaugh, a candidate for mayor, took McNally away.

McNally, who was gone when the police arrived, went to the police station later to make a statement. He told police that he approached Waymack and told him that he was “a piece of dirt.” He said Lang told him to stop talking to Waymack that way, so he told Lang to “shut up and mind his own business” and then turned to leave. When he turned, someone hit him in the back of the head, McNally said.

McNally would not talk to this reporter as he waited for the police to read his written statement. But he told the officers who took the report that he left the community center “to defuse the situation.”

“They’re both old men. They don’t need this hassle,” McNally said.

Waymack told The Leader that McNally had taunted him about a week earlier outside the city annex, where Waymack and several others were holding signs for candidates.

Waymack said McNally called to him. Waymack said he didn’t respond and didn’t look in McNally’s direction because he couldn’t have seen him anyway. But when his wife, Barbara, looked, McNally turned around, bent over and slapped his buttocks, saying what sounded like “kiss this.”

The bad blood between Waymack and McNally goes back about four years, when McNally, Stumbaugh’s campaign manager during his successful race for mayor eight years ago, was working for the city as a code-enforcement officer.

In September 2006, Waymack, who was a member of the city council, pushed for a police investigation into property being taken from two vacant homes in Cabot.

Then Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain said that although the three-week long investigation produced hundreds of pages for her to read and evidence that could be used for civil suits, there was no evidence that McNally had done anything criminal.

In July 2006, Waymon Overton, who lived in Hot Springs but owned a house at 12 Chad Court in Cabot, told police that McNally, under the guise of cleaning his yard so he could mow, removed several items from his backyard, including tools, lawn mowers, grills and a swing set. Some of the items were in his backyard shed, he said.

At about that same time, Mary Smith, who lived in Jacksonville but owned a house at 13 St. John Street in Cabot, told police that someone removed from her property a bass boat, Oldsmobile car, freezer, two tool boxes, two dryers, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, five-piece bedroom suite and mattress and spring set.

Based on information she received from Jewell Pepper and one of his family members, Smith told police she believed McNally was involved with the theft. Pepper hauls junk and reportedly hauled off Smith’s boat and car.

Cabot has an ordinance against tall grass and clutter, but there are no provisions in the ordinance for hauling off anyone’s possessions so the grass can be mowed.

Waymack got the reports from the police by asking, under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, for all documents pertaining to McNally. Among those documents was a report from March 2005 in which McNally admitted to taking two chainsaws from the back of a pickup truck.

Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis said in 2006 that the case of the stolen chainsaws was closed because the victim, who reported the chainsaws stolen, would not come back to the station to sign the complaint.