Miss. court says city department heads subject to reconfirmation each term

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that re-elected mayors must submit the names of returning city department heads to the local governing board for confirmation.

Presiding Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr., writing today for the Supreme Court, said state law governing the mayor-council form of government requires that the mayor nominate the directors of the city departments, who can only serve if approved by the council.

The ruling stems from a case in the hub city.  Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree had appealed a 2006 decision by Forrest County Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich that appeared to settle a squabble between DuPree and the city council.

Several Hattiesburg council members sued DuPree over whether the mayor should submit the six directors who were holding over from his first term for council approval.

Diaz said allowing a mayor to shield his or her decisions with political longevity strips the council of valuable checks and balances that preserve the separation of powers.