The city of Moss Point is in turmoil, as first-term Mayor Mario King is facing two lawsuits that allege widespread misconduct, abuse, financial mismanagement plus racial and age discrimination.
The most recent one was filed on July 1 by 11 Moss Point residents — most of whom were former city employees — that paints a picture of a dictatorial mayor who created a hostile work environment for older employees he deemed expendable and utilized city property for non-official purposes.
The most salacious allegation is that King used the fire station as a place for an illicit rendezvous with a woman that the lawsuit alleges was not his wife. Despite having a no-weapon policy in city hall for employees, the lawsuit says that King still carried his firearm in the building and brandished it in an attempt to intimidate an employee.
On September 12, 2017, the lawsuit says that the mayor emailed city workers a statement that said “If you are in a place where you are no longer able to perform, you are getting angry, taking medication because of work, developed high blood pressure, or your job is a burden to you, it is time to make a tough decision.”
The lawsuit makes repeated references to the mayor demoting or harassing employees age 40 or older, especially white employees.
King is also described by the lawsuit as:
- Requiring city employees to work on private events while being paid by taxpayers.
- Using city employees and interns as personal drivers.
- Using city vehicles for personal use.
- Taxpayer-funded trips for personal gain.
- Expansion of contracts and city projects based on benefits received from private companies.
- Misuse of grants that have resulted in the suspension and revocation of the grants.
On Tuesday in response to the lawsuit, Alderman Sherwood Bradford proposed a new administrative policy that included cutting Mayor King’s pay by 15 percent, according to a story by WLOX.
The administrative policies proposed by Bradford include:
- Banning the mayor or any other city employees, except for the police department, from carrying weapons in city hall.
- No media releases concerning city business without board approval.
- Any travel in city vehicles 50 miles outside city limits or more would require board approval.
- City vehicles would have to be parked in the city lot by 5 p.m. each working day unless being used for official business.
- Any travel in city vehicles on the weekend except for public works, police and fire departments would require board approval.
- Summer interns are not allowed to drive city vehicles without board approval.
- City employees are forbidden from transporting anyone to the airport.
In January, Alderman Ennit Morris filed a $500,000 lawsuit against King, claiming that the mayor assaulted and threatened him during an executive session at a board meeting in December 2018. The lawsuit claims that King ordered a police officer to remove him from the meeting.