Those of you that followed the Slabbed Twitter feed last night were treated to some fireworks as I live blogged the City Council meeting. Outgoing City Attorney / Harrison County resident Donald Rafferty had a bit of a meltdown over the residency requirement now in effect for the City Attorney position as he repeatedly clashed with the City Council on Mayor Fillingame’s behalf. I thought Mayor Fillingame and Mr. Rafferty stooped particularly low when the newly enacted SB2587 and its applicability to Bay St Louis’ perpetually interim Chief Building Official Charles Oliver was discussed when both accused the Council of conducting a personal vendetta against Oliver, who has never been able to pass the basic test to gain certification as a Municipal Building Official.
More interesting to me was Mr. Rafferty terming the new state law a “knee jerk reaction” while essentially advising the Council to ignore it for now. Mr. Rafferty and the Mayor couched the new law as ambiguous predicting the Attorney General will interpret it in such a way as to make it effectively meaningless. What is clear is the intent of the law is to stop Mayors in Mayor-Council forms of government from placing their unqualified political cronies in crucial positions such as Police Chief, Fire Chief, Chief Building Official on a perpetually interim basis and stems from an epic battle between Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree and the Hattiesburg City Council which Mayor Dupree lost.1
But as the Council went over how Oliver was hired into the position for which he is not qualified, replacing a highly qualified individual, there was an attempt to revise history by the Mayor, who steadfastly denied last night that he fired Oliver’s certificated predecessor so we need to start with Hizzoner’s favorite media outlet, WLOX and his main man Al Showers, who was MIA last night. As per normal Mayor Fillingame couched the maneuver in terms of cost savings:
The mayor estimates the cuts will save the city between $150,000 and $160,000 a year in salaries and benefits. There are now five employees left in the building department: three inspectors and two clerical workers.
“The majority of the activity in Bay St. Louis is residential construction. And the staffing that remains can very adequately handle all of the residential side of the construction process.”
Building Official Ronald Jones was the second highest paid employee in the city, with a $65,000 salary. Only the mayor made more, at $80,000 a year.
Charles Oliver, the man who oversees residential construction projects for the city, has been named the city’s interim Building Official.
As for whether or not Fillingame fired Oliver’s predecessor Ronald Jones the Seacoast Echo was pretty clear on that when the event occurred: Continue reading “Last night’s Bay St Louis Council Meeting Saw both Fur and Mookie Stinks Fly. Slabbed adds James Carville to the fun.”