Gulfport's city attorney survives vote

Jeff Bruni
Jeff Bruni

By Jeff Lawson - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Embattled Gulfport City Attorney Jeff Bruni will keep his job. Bruni recently came under heavy criticism after a conversation with a local newspaper reporter.

In that phone call, Bruni called council president, Ella Holmes-Hines an "idiot and a bald faced liar." Bruni claimed he was misquoted, but the paper released an audio recording of Bruni's comments.

Tuesday, at the regular council meeting, Ella Holmes-Hines asked council members to vote on a measure to stop funding the job of city attorney. Had they chosen to do that, it essentially would have eliminated Bruni's job.

When the council got around to discussing the issue, Bruni apologized for his comments.

"In my zeal to defend the city, and in response to claims about the media, the words I chose were not appropriate. For this, I apologize," Bruni told the council and a packed room of spectators.

Bruni said his motive was right, but the manner was not.

Holmes-Hines called him a good man, and said she sincerely accepts his apology. However, she went on to say, this issue goes beyond that.

"The accountability is, sir, that we hold each director to a higher standard than regular employees. They are held to higher standards," she said.

After the discussion, three council members voted in favor of eliminating funding, three were against the idea. Those in favor, along with Holmes-Hines, were Neil Resh and Barbara Nalley. Councilman Brian Carriere was not at the meeting.

Before the vote, Chief Administrative Officer Dr. John Kelley said Bruni has already been disciplined by the city administration. Kelley added that since it was a personnel matter, he could not say what that punishment involved.

A number of people in the audience were not pleased with the vote. It remains to be seen if the fate of Jeff Bruni will come up again when the new administration takes office next month.

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