By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The controversy surrounding Rep. Alan Harper (R-Northport) continues to grow after the Alabama Political Reporter obtained a letter in which he was appointed to “assist in the day to day operations of the City of Northpoint.
The letter, signed by interim City Administrator, Charles Swann, states that Harper is an unpaid volunteer. But, insiders at City Hall say this is a fallback position, after a failed attempt by three council members to install Harper as City Administrator, without the full council’s consent.
Swann is Harper’s cousin.
Sources within City Hall say Harper’s appointment to serve as City Administrator is coming in the very near future. According to Mayor Bobby Herndon, the post became vacant when Jay Logan, Bart Harper and Rodney Sullivan met privately outside of the presence of the Council, to devise a plan to eliminate City Administrator, Scott Collins, as the Alabama Political Reporter discovered in July.
Bart Harper is Alan Harper’s brother.
Logan, Harper and Sullivan negotiated Collin’s resignation by offering him a year’s salary with benefits, which he accepted.
At the City Council meeting following this publication’s report, Bart Harper gave a 26-minute diatribe in which he claimed the Mayor was lying, and all the council members were aware of the decision to negotiate Collin’s departure. “The Mayor and all Council members were aware and involved in the entire process,” said Harper. Further stating, “I called Council members Logan, Simms, and Rodney Sullivan during this process. President Logan called Judy Hayes.” Harper said he couldn’t remember why he didn’t call Councilwoman Hayes.
Hayes told the Alabama Political Reporter in July that she was unaware of the move to replace Collins and that she believed actions taken by the trio Logan, Harper and Sullivan, violated the open meetings act. Mayor Herndon also denied prior knowledge of plans to remove Collins and replace him with Harper.
Harper, near the end of his rant said, “Do you think I wanted all of this? Wanted to stir up all this mess and get the Harpers in charge of the city of Northport? I’m going off the Council and as soon as I get off, I don’t want to have anything to do with politics anymore.”
This is what the Harper brothers’ critics have charged all along.
The latest dust-up is just one in a series of the Harper’s butting heads with city officials, especially Collins. Alan Harper’s relationship with Collins became rocky when Harper was rehired to promote economic development for Northport around 2012. Harper previously held that post from roughly 2003-2006.
Individuals with knowledge of the relationship who spoke off the record for fear of retribution alleged, the trouble stemmed from Harper’s not showing up for work. According to these sources, Harper would, on certain weeks, announce on Monday that he would be too sick to work the coming Friday. Reportedly Collins unlike others, didn’t turn a blind eye to Harper’s behavior. Reportedly, Harper resigned some months later citing a back injury that resulted in his filing for medical retirement from the State of Alabama Retirement Systems. RSA could not confirm these allegations.
After repeatedly saying he was leaving office, Bart Collins said, “And this is what keeps good people off politics, is this kind of crap right here.”