Jackson County

‘Innocent until proven guilty.’ Mario King to veto policy passed that reduced his salary

Moss Point Mayor Mario King said Tuesday he will veto an administrative policy approved by the Board of Aldermen that would reduce the mayor’s salary by 15%, saying the board “truly let me down.”

The policy, passed last week by a 5-2 vote, would also ban weapons in public buildings, place restrictions on the use of city-owned vehicles and place restrictions on vendors that provide donations to the city. A performance review would also be completed to determine King’s salary in the future.

The policy was adopted after a lawsuit against King was filed on behalf of 11 current or former city employees and the wife of a firefighter. The suit accused King of age discrimination, harassment and other charges. It also claims the mayor used a fire station as a “personal motel” for sex.

King, with wife Natasha at his side, told media at a press conference Tuesday that the board’s action was not in good faith.

“In this country, we are all innocent until proven guilty,” King said. “It’s asking me to lay down and say that these accusations against me are true. ...That’s not something I’ll do.”

King waved a 2-inch black binder filled with sheets of white paper as the reasoning behind his veto. He did not share specifics from inside the binder, but he said it was “full of facts, history of this city,” and acknowledgments of his numerous awards and successes since he was elected mayor.

King said he hopes the board will rethink their decision after seeing the veto.

King also will soon present his own administrative policy to the board. He’s invited media and the public, as well as city officials and vendors, to hear about it at 6 p.m. Thursday at Pelican Landing.

Here are a few key points from King’s proposed policy that he read aloud Tuesday:

  • Day to day requests from the Board of Aldermen should be submitted through the city clerk’s office.
  • Board of Aldermen are not to interfere with day-to-day operations in the city.
  • Board of Aldermen are subject to a 3% pay reduction for missing two board meetings in a row with no “legitimate” excuse.
  • Board of Aldermen are subject to a 15% pay reduction for using a racial slur.
  • Board of Aldermen will not “talk down to city employees, myself or each other.”
  • The Board of Alderman will be responsible to make sure water bills are paid on time.
  • The Board of Alderman and other city employees with notify the city attorney of any complaints about King.
  • The city will follow local, state and federal laws regarding nepotism.

The Board of Aldermen would vote to approve or decline to authorize King’s policy.

The plaintiffs are former City Clerk Stephanie Coleman; former Grant Writer, Felicia Yearwood; retired Fire Chief Tommy Posey; former Human Resources employee, Windell Ashford; Building Inspector Willie Nettles; former Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, Chad Smith; Main Street Director, Shirley Joseph; employee Jacqulyn Davis; firefighters David Eaker, Franklin Vance and Scott Montague; and Eaker’s wife, Tamara “Misti” Eaker.

It’s the second lawsuit filed against King in the last two months.

Sun Herald reporter Margaret Baker contributed to this report.

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Justin Mitchell is the southern regional growth editor for the Biloxi Sun Herald, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and Macon Telegraph. He also reports on LGBTQ issues in the Deep South, particularly focusing on Mississippi.