Saturday, August 6, 2016

Blow-up in Bay St. Louis

It appears the new law that limits the use of interim appointments by Mayors created a volcanic eruption in Bay St. Louis only twelve days after it took effect.  The Mayor appointed a friend to the position of building inspector on an interim basis - over six years ago.   SB #2587 bars a municipality from paying the salary of an interim appointee after six months.  Unfortunately for our building inspector, the bill did not include a grandfather clause.  Thus any interim appointments who were serving for at least six months on July 1 suddenly found their pay checks cut off.  However, the Mayor and the City Attorney had a few things to say about the new law.  Things didn't go the way they planned as the city attorney found himself out of a job. attended the meeting and reported on the whole fiasco on its blog and Twitter:

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 Rest of article.

The new law states:

 SECTION 1. (1) No person shall serve in an interim or hold-over capacity for longer than one hundred eighty (180) days after the expiration of the term to which he or she was appointed in a position that is required by law to be filled by appointment of the governing body of a municipality, or by mayoral appointment with the advice and consent of the council or aldermen, including positions on boards, commissions or authorities.

(2) If such position is not filled within one hundred eighty (180) days after the expiration of the term, no municipal funds may be expended to compensate any person serving in the position.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2016.
 Slabbed tweeted the following messages from the meeting.  See if the law is what the Mayor and his mouthpiece claim it is:

 Mayor Fillingame now claims new state law SB2587 is not in effect for Bay St Louis. The idiocy is getting deep folks.

 Mayor calls Council questioning unqualified building official "irresponsible"

 Mayor Fillingame now claims the new law does not apply to Municipal Employees, forgets Hattiesburg Council winning on this issue in court.

 Council now discussing new law (SB2587) which prohibits the endless use of interim appointments, a popular Mayor Fillingame tactic. (1/2)

 Councilman Falgout reading the new law, which applies to Interim Bay Building Official Charles Oliver, a personal friend of the Mayor

 Council now discussing hiring interim City Attorney. Both Trent Favre (Jones Walker) and Heather Ladner (Butler Snow) have offered to assist

The Seacoast Echo provided some more details:

A new state law has some city leaders questioning the legality of employment for Bay building department chief Charles Oliver, who has yet to be certified since taking over the department.

Mississippi Senate Bill 2587 became law on July 1. The law states that no person shall serve in an interim or hold-over capacity for longer than 180 days after the expiration of the term to which he or she was appointed in certain positions on municipal boards.

Although Oliver has been employed by the city for years, since he was never actually certified, he is considered the city's "interim" building official. Falgout read aloud an inter-office memo that he penned and sent to the mayor regarding the issue. According to the memo, dated July 7, "When (SB 2587) takes effect July , 2016, anyone holding over since December 31, 2015, will have been holding over more than 180 days and may not be paid any more.

"Per last night's city council meeting, you were once again made aware of Senate Bill 2587 that was passed into law," Falgout said in the memo. "Any compensation given to Charles Oliver, Bay St. Louis building official interim, from July 1, 2016 ... is a direct violation of this law." “The only reason we are reading this into the record is because you haven't responded,” Falgout told Fillingame Tuesday. “So could we get your response now?”

“Didn't respond or didn't respond the way you wanted?” Fillingame asked. “I think everybody has been aware of SB 2587. Obviously, you're too impatient to wait for the AG's opinion on this.”

Fillingame said that he has already reached out to the AG's office and had gotten "clear indications" that the new law does not relate to municipal employees. “They're not even sure that it relates to department heads and those appointments," Fillingame said. "The bill was somewhat erroneously worded. I'm gonna tell you, Mr. Falgout, just like I've told you every time that you've asked, I don't think this applies to any of our municipal employees. I think that your inner office memo is inappropriate on every level. I think that you have obviously targeted an employee that is a very valuable employee to the city.”

 Fillingame said Falgout's interpretation of SB 2587 was “very liberal” and “irresponsible,” accusing council members of targeting an employee for personal reasons. Rafferty agreed.

“It's not about the individual,” said Falgout, “it's about the pay. You're trying to make it about the individual, but it's about the pay! Just like it's about the DOJ money, just like it's about you moving money from one account to another.”

“I think we are breaking the law if we do not do something about this,” Boudin said. “We all got it and had plenty of time to seek an opinion."

Rafferty agreed that the new state law was a matter of opinion. He also agreed with Fillingame that Oliver had been targeted. He referred to the new law as as a “ knee-jerk reaction” and advised council to wait on an AG opinion before considering Oliver's termination. 

“There's no way this law could reach back to Jan. 1," he said. "There's not one letter in there (SB 2587) that says this is retroactive for the last 180 days. My professional opinion, and it may not be as good as y'all's, is it takes effect July 1. That means that once the 180 days runs from July 1, then you would have a good argument on that, but to sit up here saying it reaches back to Jan. 1, that's nuts! That's crazy and you're doing it for one reason, because you're picking out an employee and you want him out!”  The controversy continued after council tabled its decision about Oliver's employment. Rest of article.

Kingfish note:  Mayors Johnny Dupree, Frank Melton, Chokwe Lumumba and especially Les Fillingane all appointed department heads on an interim basis whom they knew would face confirmation problems.  Checks and balances can be such a nasty thing but are a fundamental part of representative government.  It is also tempting for Mayors to find any means possible to avoid answering to anyone on anything.  The city council apparently had enough of the foolishness and put an end to some of it.  

Rafferty can argue all he wants BUT department heads are municipal employees.  There are some department heads who are subject to confirmation votes by the city council.  Thus the law applies to them as well. 


Inspeck Dis said...

Couldn't they at least spell their mayor's name correctly?

"Ignore the law as it is essentially meaningless." Sounds a bit like a D.C. comment.

Anonymous said...

This law has both good and bad applications. Employees do not always want to move into positions requiring confirmation because it means losing one's Civil Service Status. Without the option to have an Interim longer than 180 days it may result in unqualified persons being placed in positions.

Anonymous said...

Good spin 7:59 but pure shit nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Sure hope the Clarion-Ledger runs an entire special section on Felix Vail tomorrow. Vail's story very well could be the most important one in the history of Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Update: Bay official released without bond after wreck, DUI arrest

"BAY ST. LOUIS -- A city official was arrested on a DUI charge late Friday following a multi-vehicle wreck that left two people injured, officials said."

Bay official pleads ‘no contest’ to DUI charge
By Echo Staff
May 24, 2016, 19:00

"Bay St. Louis Building Official Charles Oliver on Tuesday pled "no contest" to a DUI charge in Hancock County Justice Court, Court Clerk Lisa Guidry said."


"Oliver is being represented by attorney Damian Holcomb, who shares a law office with Bay St. Louis city attorney Donald Rafferty."


"Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame has said that even if Oliver is found guilty, it will not affect his job since he was not working when the accident occurred."

Anonymous said...

"Bay Council cancels counsel’s contract
By Stacey Cato
Aug 5, 2016, 19:42

The Bay ST. Louis City Council on Tuesday informed city attorney Donald Rafferty his contract has expired and would not be renewed.

The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday told long-time counsel Donald Rafferty that since his contract had expired and was not renewed, he was no longer the city attorney. However, Mayor Les Fillingame said this week that he has not "un-appointed" Rafferty, so he still technically holds the title as city attorney, he just isn't being compensated currently because the council did not renew his contract."

Kingfish said...

This law only applies to an interim staying in a position longer than six months. Any employee who moves up to interim dept. head such as an Assistant Police Chief or Deputy Director does not require a confirmation vote. The law just says the city can not pay him or her as dept. head after six months. It is an incentive to the Mayor to submit someone for confirmation. There is no reason a Mayor can not do so within six months.

Calls B.S... said...

It is indeed bullshit to suggest these positions can't be filled due to lack of qualified people who might lose their 'civil service status'.

That was not even a 'good try'.

Anonymous said...

"Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame has said that even if Oliver is found guilty, it will not affect his job since he was not working when the accident occurred."

What if he had exposed himself to a neighbor lady while 'not working'?

Anonymous said...

It is all just a way to give your friend a job that they are not qualified for. Nothing new. Politicians have been doing that ever since the first election. They will continue to do it as we keep electing crooks.

Anonymous said...

Senate bill will prevail. Period.

Kang, you like this bill don't you!!!

Anonymous said...

Have politicians always been this crooked or is it something recent? In the last 20 years it seems as they do not even try to hide how crooked they are. Guess that might be because the people tend to elect crooks pretty often.

Anonymous said...

The law has always been just a suggestion to Filingame and Rafferty. They thumb their nose at everyone but now the Top Cop in the County, Ricky Adams, is on the case. Les and Raff have no pull there. That is unfamiliar territory for them. No Quid Pro Quo for the joker to the left and the clown to the right!!!!!!!

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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