by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
For at least the second time in six months. Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball called Pass Christian Mayor Jimmy Rafferty out for violating a Mississippi State Law as it pertains to the Board of Alderman (BOA) agenda process.
As reported in the February 11, 2022 edition of The Gazebo Gazette, Alderman Kimball read from a Mississippi Attorney General’s opinion which referenced Mississippi Code 21-3-15.
According to the Ward 3 Alderman; the code states, “A mayor holds no authority to unilaterally remove an item from the agenda, nor may he control the manner in which the agenda is developed.”
At this time, Mayor Rafferty responded, “I support this and apologize for my past error.”
Fast forward to the May 17, 2022 Board of Alderment meeting whereby once again agenda item submitted by both Alderman Kimball and Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich was changed.
Their initial agenda item simply read, “Consider adopting an ordinance to repeal Ordinance No 683 on October 5, 2021, to allow golf carts and low-speed vehicles to cross Highway 90 at the Market Street intersection only under certain conditions as requested by Alderman Kimball and Alderman Pickich.”
Without consent from either Board member that submitted an agenda item regarding golf carts crossing Highway 90, the Mayor unilaterally tacked on a lot of items to the golf cart agenda item.
The Mayor added 43 signs at a cost of over $5.3k and also wants additional changes be made to the current ramp that leads into the west side of the harbor.
Furthermore, Kimball explained that he made 3 attempts to get the administration to use the original agenda item but was unsuccessful in doing so.
Alderman Pickich commented, “I will not be threatened by you Mr. Mayor.”
The Ward 4 Alderman went on to express his frustration with City Attorney Malcolm Jones inability to tell the Board whether or not the City could allow golf carts to cross Highway 90.
Pickich added that the simple act of allowing golf carts to cross Highway 90 was being unnecessarily delayed because of the “pork added by the Mayor.”
During this very passionate and raucous debate, the Mayor directed Pass Christian Police Chief Daren Freeman to remove two citizens from the facility. In the end, the matter passed.
In spite of the recent Harbormaster position being advertised just last week and is still up on the City’s website as being open, the mayor went ahead and made a recommendation to the Board.
Historically, the Board has reserved the right to interview top candidates for Department Heads but, the Board accepted the Mayor’s recommendation without even looking at the resumes from all of the candidates, who filled out the applications.
The only person that even questioned this matter was Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot. She didn’t question the individual but she did question the process.
In what’s now become a tradition at public city meetings in Pass Christian, local resident Mariah Furzee took to the podium and peppered the Mayor and the Board of Alderman with an assortment of questions.
Before leaving the podium she asked Rafferty about his non verbal communication which comes across as being negative. She noted that he often rolled his eyes when responding to questions from the Board and the public.
The Mayor’s response, “that’s my nature.”