by Calvin Ishee

New Orleans lawyer Henry W. Kinney (Tut) rose to speak during Public Comments and laid out reasons why he felt the Mayor and Board had made a bad decision hiring the law firm of Balch & Bingham to handle BP related issues. Kinney stated that the Board hired Balch & Bingham at a “blended” rate which made the contract more expensive than it needed to be and that the City had been “ripped off”.

Additionally, Kinney expressed that the Mayor had not returned his phone calls whereby McDermott retorted,  “and I don’t intend to talk to you regarding this matter and you don’t even live in the Pass”.  Although other “specifics” were unavailable by press time, Pass Christian City Attorney Malcolm Jones added, “he is (Tut) incorrect in what he said”.

In what can be only explained by a government bureaucrat, in this case that would mean someone from either the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (FEMA/MEMA), the mobile Sea Level food venue is being forced to move for an unspecified period of time.

According to Pass Christian City Attorney Jones, new FEMA/MEMA rules requires the City to make vendors in mobile structures periodically move them to demonstrate they can in fact be moved.

Furthermore, MEMA doesn’t even specify how long they must be moved nor do they give the vendor credit for recently removing the temporary trailer due to potential flooding or severe weather. Sea Level could potentially move for a couple of months, then move back to it’s former location and then do it all over again in 180 days.

The BOA approved a job description as well as the proposed pay scale for four full time and two part time dispatcher positions associated with the Pass Christian Public Safety Dispatch system. As previously reported the City will reopen its own 911 dispatch service sometime in 2020. Board members expressed their desires to make sure these were civil service positions that require competitive testing.

In financial matters the Board unanimously approved a $150 donation/sponsorship to Pass Christian School’s Read, Write and Run for Renaissance Annual 5k and 1 mile Fun Run on March 5th 2020; $16,169.25 for 25 new Dell computers; $125 for a 15 gallon Magnolia tree from Pine Hills Nursery and $100 for a plaque for a dedication to Renee Brooks; $25,106 for a 60 inch side rotary mower; $15,225 for a Big Tex Trailer from Lewis Trailer Sales; a $6,460.28 refund to Mississippi Marine Services for overcharges resulting from multiple water leaks as well as auto draft bill paying for exorbitant water charges;  and $178,574.65 Claims Docket.

The agenda included two executive sessions. The first session was to hear from Skip Negrotto, special counsel for the City for prospective litigation regarding a claim against Delta Directional Drilling for damage to the City’s sewer main on West North Street.

Although nothing specific was offered after the session, the agenda stated this session included strategy sessions that “would have detrimental effect on the City’s litigating positions if discussed in open session”.

The second session resulted in the City announcing that on January 1st 2020, the City would be taking control of all utility and water billing functions. The City estimates it will save approximately $35,000 per year by taking current functions being performed by WPSCO back in-house. To make that happen the City will have to hire 2 meter readers as well as purchase two trucks to support their duties.

Mayor McDermott used part of the Public comments portion of the meeting to thank all City Departments for their outstanding support of this year’s Cruisin’ the Coast.

The next Board meeting is scheduled for November 5th, 6 p.m. at the PC Courtroom.