Pass Christian Residents: Mayor's Excuse Not Good Enough

Some Pass Christian residents say he may be the mayor, but at a meeting on Wednesday some citizens questioned why Billy McDonald hasn't taken a more active role in the city's recovery effort from Hurricane Katrina.

Pass residents wanted information about relief aid, debris pick up and city services. Almost every response came from city attorney Malcolm Jones. Then came a question from the crowd that Jones couldn't answer: Where had the mayor been since Hurricane Katrina struck?

"I was here during the hurricane and my wife got sick," said Mayor McDonald. "We went to Baton Rouge for a few days. She was ill."

For many, the Mayor's explanation wasn't enough.

Alderman Joe Piernas pushed the issue.

"Today is the first day you've taken a leadership role," he told McDonald. "I contact the media and the number one question I get is your status, where are you? Why you're not leading the meeting? I think you owe everybody in here an explanation more than what you just gave."

"I'm the mayor, Joe," responded McDonald. "If you call the secretary of state's office you'll find that out."

Some residents also raised concerns.

"Why he wasn't here?" asked Susan Ladner-Murray. "Why he hasn't participated? Actually he avoided that question from what I could hear. I don't think the answer was put forth, and I don't think he satisfied anybody here."

Aubrey Moore agrees.

"It seems like we were one of the hardest hit areas, but the less recognized. You need your city officials out there fighting to get people in here to help the people, and this guy hasn't been here. He's just been absent."

A few days after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of Pass Christian, the board of alderman appointed city attorney Malcolm Jones as chief administrative officer. Some residents say their concern is that Jones is not the man they elected to run the city.

"Because he's my elected official. And since he's my elected official, I would like to hear directly from the mayor who should be running the city at this particular time," said Roland Robinson.

In the end, it was the man some people say is doing the mayor's job who defended him.

Malcolm Jones explained that "the mayor does things too. Everybody is doing something. I'm working from 6am until 10pm at night. Every day, every day, every day."

During the meeting the board of alderman also voted to change the city's curfew from 8 p.m until 6 a.m.