Bardin resigns as CAPC director

By Scott Loftis

Eureka Springs Times-Echo

Scott Bardin, director of the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission, has resigned from the position, CAPC chair Chris Clifton confirmed Thursday afternoon.

“He’s given me his notice,” Clifton said. “I don’t have a formal written notice in hand, but he’s leaving us, yes. It’s no secret. I would imagine the whole town should know by now.”

Clifton said Bardin’s final day as executive director will be Friday, Oct. 27.

Bardin was named the CAPC’s interim director in February. The commission selected Bardin as the permanent director in April. His salary is $80,000 per year.

“He’s moved the football down the field,” Clifton said of Bardin’s performance as director. “We were backed up on the half-yard line when we got the ball and I think he’s done a good job at moving the ball down the field.”

Bardin did not return a call seeking comment on Thursday.

Clifton also confirmed that Tommy Sisemore, executive director of Bikes, Blues and BBQ, is not joining the CAPC as director of The Auditorium. Bardin had offered that job to Sisemore in July, and Sisemore accepted the position.

At the CAPC’s most recent regular meeting, on Sept. 27, Bardin had a contentious exchange with David Avanzino, a Eureka Springs City Council member who also sits on the CAPC.

Avanzino and Steve Holifield, another commissioner and city council member, had pushed for the commission to be responsible for hiring employees rather than Bardin holding that authority.

The dispute appeared to stem from Bardin’s decision to hire Sisemore. The commission met in executive session and approved the hire, but Avanzino said later that he believed commissioners should have access to all applications.

“There have been times where positions have been filled that I don’t feel that I’ve had information on every single candidate that has applied,” Avanzino said at the Sept. 27 meeting. “And I think as a commission, and to be completely transparent with our stakeholders and our citizens, we should see these applicants. Not just the top five. We should see all of them, and as a group, we come to a decision of who is the top five. Then from there, top three, then who are we going to hire.” 

Later in the Sept. 27 meeting, commissioner Chris Jones asked Bardin for his input on the hiring process discussion.

“Contrary to what you think, I don’t play politics. I pick the right people to do the job and it’s evident so far,” Bardin said while looking and pointing at Avanzino. “… Contrary to what you might think, I pick the best people to do the job and the proof is in the pudding. I’ve got two good people. 

“If you’ll leave me alone I’ll have three or four more good people in here that you’ll be proud of, but if you want to micromanage you’re going to have a problem from this point out because you’re going to let politics enter a business situation. If you want to play politics, go out there and do it at the town council, but right here is a business and we represent Eureka in tourism. 

“If I’m not doing the right job, make a motion to fire me right now. Otherwise, let me run this business. And, if I do anything contrary to what you think I’m doing wrong, bring it right here to this table.” 

Avanzino responded: “And that’s what we’re doing.”

“That’s my challenge to you,” Bardin said. 

“Number one, you don’t point at me and you don’t challenge me in a commission meeting,” Avanzino responded. 

“I’ll do that when I think it’s necessary,” Bardin answered. 

Avanzino replied: “Scott, we as a commission are your boss. I have not challenged or questioned a single hire that you have brought on other than The Auditorium director. We are not trying to micromanage you. We’re just trying to get things… we’re trying to be transparent.” 

A few minutes later the commission voted 4-0 to table the issue.

Email communications between Sisemore and Bardin received by the Times-Echo in response to an open-records request indicate the two met on July 11. Sisemore’s application for the Aud director position was dated July 12. Bardin emailed Sisemore on July 18, offering Sisemore the job at a salary of $69,000 a year. Sisemore accepted the position in a July 24 email.

On Thursday, Clifton didn’t offer a timetable for filling the CAPC director’s position.

“We’ve got a meeting on Wednesday night (Oct. 25) and we’ll find out,” he said.