Orange City Council discusses Arnold litigation, approves Acadian extension

Orange City Council discusses Arnold litigation, approves Acadian extension

The Orange City Council approved a three-year extension to the city’s contract with Acadian Ambulance Service and discussed pending litigation regarding former Orange Police Captain Robert Arnold at its regular meeting Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 22.

Deputy Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Jerald Ziller from the Orange Fire Department recommended a three-year extension to the existing contract the city of Orange has with Acadian. The agreement gives Acadian exclusive rights to provide emergency and non-emergency ambulance service in Orange and other cities and municipalities participating in interlocal agreements with the city. The council accepted the measure unanimously.

At-large councilman Bill Mello commented, “I’ve never heard a complaint … about (Acadian).”

In a phone interview, Orange County Pct. 4 Commissioner Jody Crump expressed some concern regarding the exclusivity clause in Acadian’s contract with the city of Orange. He feels the provision allows the company to operate without competition and worries that could cause higher prices or reduced quality in services to Orange and other cities participating in interlocal agreements.

“To me, the idea of competition breeds a different type of environment, whether that be quality or cost or anything else,” Crump explained. “We have no leverage (in the contract). I am not saying that Acadian is doing a bad job.”

The council later moved into executive session to discuss matters including ongoing litigation involving the Robert Arnold case. Arnold is the former Orange Police Department captain who was dismissed after he shot and killed 28-year-old Marine veteran James Whitehead at close range during a heated verbal exchange at O’Reilly Auto Parts in Orange on July 26, 2010. Arnold is suing the city to get reinstated as a police officer, but the city is fighting. Arbitrator Leroy Bartman previously ruled in 2011 that Arnold should be put back on the payroll because he was unaware he was being investigated for the shooting. Late last year, Judge Elizabeth Ray threw out Bartman’s ruling and remanded the case for a new hearing, sending it back to the American Arbitration Association for the designation of a new fact-finder to replace the arbitrator. On Tuesday, the council took no action regarding the case, but city attorney John C. Smith said Arnold has appealed Judge Ray’s ruling reversing Bartman’s decision. Smith said it would be months before the court of appeals makes a decision.

“All they can get now is another hearing,” Smith said. “There’s going to be a complete and total new trial. … Mr. Arnold is back to square one. He has, so far, gotten nowhere, and my job is to keep him from getting anywhere. And I have been pretty successful so far.”


Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.