Opinion requested for Mayor to vote on School Board appointment

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The appointment of a member to the Picayune School District’s Board of Trustees met with some contention after one Councilor learned the Mayor would vote on the matter.

When the agenda item came up for discussion, Councilor Wayne Gouguet made a motion to appoint Picayune High School alumni David Mooneyhan to replace outgoing Dr. Lori Blackmer. Mooneyhan is employed with the University of Southern Mississippi.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After Councilor Tammy Valente seconded Gouguet’s motion, Councilor Larry Breland began the discussion by asking Mayor Ed Pinero if he intended to vote on the matter.

Pinero said he did intend to vote, as he had with previous School Board appointments.

Breland then asked the Council to table the matter until the next month so an opinion could be sought from the Attorney General and the Mississippi Ethics Commission due to the fact that Pinero’s wife holds a supervisory position within the School District.

Pinero said he has already discussed that fact with the city’s attorney Nathan Farmer, and feels confident that he would not create an ethical violation due to the fact he nor his family would profit from the vote.

Pinero said his wife has been an employee of the School District for the past 26 years, and that she was in a supervisory position prior to him being elected Mayor. Additionally, Pinero said he voted when a previous member was appointed to that Board, Frank Feeley, and that Breland was present for that meeting.

“I feel perfectly comfortable in my ethics,” Pinero said.

When the Council again tried to move forward with the vote, Breland asked that his comments be added to the minutes.

With all members of the Council present, only Breland voted against Mooneyhan’s appointment to the School Board.

In other business, the Council approved a motion to enter into a lease agreement with Southern Regional Corporation concerning property located at 306 Magnolia Street in Picayune. Public Works Director Eric Morris said that the city plans to use the property to store equipment that would assist in the maintenance of Crosby Commons. As part of the agreement, the city will demolish and remove a doublewide trailer on the property and cut the grass at the property in exchange for three years of free rent, Morris said.

The Council also:

— Accepted a $1,000 donation from Walmart to be deposited into the Picayune Police Department’s summer camp fund.

— Accepted the donation of a bench for installation at the Eighth Street cemetery.

— Accepted a $1,000 donation from Walmart for the purchase of public safety material for senior citizens and children to be distributed by the Picayune Fire Department.

— Recognized McDonald Funeral Home for its 100 years operating and contributing to the betterment of the city of Picayune.

The next Council meeting will be Jan. 16 at 5 p.m. in City Hall.