by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
Since the current administration took office in July 2021 battles have erupted inside and outside of Pass Christian’s City administration. At some point in time during his tenure as mayor, Jimmy Rafferty has appeared to battle with just about everyone on the Board of Alderman, with the exception of Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman.
Most of these “fights” have been chronicled in The Gazebo Gazette. Instead of creating a collegial and positive working relationship with the BOA, many believe the mayor has fostered a nasty and mean spirited relationship between him and his fellow elected officials.
The latest controversy stems from Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball’s allegations made at the May 17, 2022 Board meeting regarding the mayor’s violation of Mississippi law that governs how BOA agendas are to be completed. Alderman Kimball eloquently laid out which law was allegedly broken and his actions towards trying to prevent the law violation from occurring.
In response to the latest allegation made by Alderman Kimball, Mayor Rafferty or perhaps his designee, took to the City of Pass Christian’s official Facebook page and offered the following, in its entirety:
“An important message from City Hall: Alderman Kimball claimed that Mayor Rafferty unlawfully changed his agenda item request for the last Board meeting; however, according to Mayor Rafferty that is not true. In fact, after Alderman Kimball submitted his request to allow golf carts to cross Highway 90 at Market Street Street the Mayor consulted with the City Attorney (Malcolm Jones) and determined that the Board could not lawfully approve the request because the City Attorney would need to prepare an amendment to the City’s ordinances which currently prohibited golf carts crossing Highway at any point. More importantly after a site visit by the City Engineer (Bob Escher) and City Attorney the Mayor was informed that it was necessary that safety concerns must also be addressed as there were no(t) safe and adequate ramps available for golf carts to access the North parking lot of the West Harbor, particularly given the request was to become effective immediately. The City Attorney advised that to avoid subjecting the City to exposure to unnecessary liability, appropriate signage had to be installed at other highway crossings and ramps needed to be repaired and installed to allow golf carts to safely travel to these locations. As a result, the Mayor did not remove Alderman Kimball’s agenda item but keeping the safety of the community at the forefront and protecting the City from liability the Mayor simply and correctly added items to this agenda item for consideration from the Board of Alderman that had to be addressed at the same time. Had Alderman Kimball cooperated with the Mayor as he requested prior to the Board meeting when the agenda was being finalized this matter could have been handled more appropriately and efficiently.”
Alderman Kimball’s response, in its entirety: “This Friday night, with sunburn on my face from being at the harbor all day, I continue to diligently work on The Blessing of the Fleet. I posted about the celebration we plan tomorrow for our great Pass Harbor and the people and industry surrounding it. This entire week, I’ve been extremely busy working alongside Public Works, Beautification, the Harbor Master, Harbor Maintenance, Pass Christian Police Dept., Pass Christian Fire Dept., Pass City Attorney, Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept., fishermen, charter boat captains, media, etc., to coordinate logistics and to make the Blessing a success. I’ve asked Mayor Rafferty to open up the festivities and have discussed all the plans with him. I am doing what I can to create enthusiasm for this event. My focus is creating a positive light on my beloved city of Pass Christian. Instead of moving forward from Tuesday, Mayor Rafferty decided to create a Facebook post tonight. I do have a copy of Mayor Rafferty’s admission of what he did. Illegal conduct doesn’t disappear just because someone on Facebook claims he did not do it. The citizens of Pass Christian can make their own judgment.”
Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich offered this statement: “It is universally inappropriate for the Mayor to use the City Facebook page to air his grievances or try to correct any embarrassment he feels he may have incurred at the Board of Alderman meetings. It’s shameful and reflects poorly on not only him, but the City as a whole.”
What will become of this ongoing saga of mistrust and animus between the Pass Christian Mayor and Board of Alderman! At some point the Mississippi Attorney General’s office or another entity may get involved to referee between the bodies of this small yet active municipal government.
Perhaps the only solution will be come about during 2025’s municipal elections?
Until then residents will be paying the price for what’s going on in the once peaceful City of Pass Christian.