- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - A judge has found Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree in civil contempt for failing to submit in an appropriate fashion the names of administration appointees requiring City Council approval.

The Hattiesburg American reports (https://hatne.ws/1EUqqHG) that Judge L. Breland Hilburn on Thursday ordered DuPree to be in court May 21 to say why the order shouldn’t be enforced. Should DuPree not be able to do so, Hilburn said the mayor could be turned over to the Forrest County sheriff.

Hilburn’s order is the latest action in what has been a 19-month feud between DuPree and the council over appointees to positions such as municipal court, police chief, city clerk and others.

In November, Councilmen Carter Carroll and Kim Bradley asked the court require DuPree to bring appropriate, legally-qualified nominees forward for approval.

Hilburn granted the request in January. He amended his original order in February to add a specific time frame. On Thursday, Hilburn was told a final appointee requiring approval remained unconfirmed.

Hilburn said his order “directed this specific mayor as to exactly what he was required to do, and for some reason, that has not been done.”

DuPree has said during the 19-month period since his re-election, he has submitted candidates for each of the 17 positions requiring approval, that the council had rejected nine submissions and that 16 of the 17 positions have been confirmed and filled.

Two positions, city attorney and city clerk, have been filled in the past three weeks, and DuPree said he interviewed four candidates last week for the final opening, police chief.

DuPree said the tension between the administration and council has narrowed the pool of potential candidates, as has the possibility of a short stint serving out the final two years of DuPree’s term.

“You know, it sounds easy to go out here and say, ‘OK, you come and be whatever position,’ but those people have to determine whether they want to be there for two years and then possibly be out of a job or stay where they are,” he said.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com


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