16 thoughts on “Asper out at the Commission on Marine Resources”

  1. Doug, other than being one brick shy of a load, what was reported in the OIG report that made Asper resign? Nothing has been able to move him in the past. What was he guilty of…or should I say supposed to be guilty of?

    1. Asper’s employer was mentioned in that report too Mona. I think the DMR has become too hot a potato for USM to handle from an institutional risk standpoint.

  2. Here is my .02 on this resignation and why it was both necessary and long overdue.

    Comments Asper made such as in this in the story that appeared after William Walker was finally suspended from the DMR are illustrative of Asper’s problem in my opinion (emphasis added):

    If Chevron also wrote a check to DMR, as Walker once indicated, that check has not been found, Asper said

    He said the commissioners are frustrated because they were unaware of what, if anything, has been going on in the agency.

    After Chesnut announced the decision to suspend Walker, Asper said;

    “We considered a reasonable amount of information regarding the allegations that have been made against the agency and, after careful consideration, we feel that this decision is warranted, that we need more investigation, and that the agency would be best served if Dr. Walker stepped aside and allowed the investigation to proceed.

    “We all very much appreciate the work that Dr. Walker has done. We think the world of him. We think he’s just done a fantastic job with the agency and we hope that in a few weeks we are back here announcing that we were wrong and that there really was no wrongdoing whatsoever within the agency. But that’s something that will come out in the investigation.” Source: DMR’s Bill Walker suspended by Commission on Marine Resources in Biloxi

    A man in a figurehead position publicly states something to the effect that Walker has been giving the CMR the ‘prize mushroom treatment’ (keep them in the dark and feed them all the B.S. they can eat). He says the FBI are now involved, and what does Asper tell the media? That Walker has done a fantastic job and that he is concerned about the suspected culprit (coincidentally his long time friend and colleague) rather than the organization or the taxpayers who have been put at risk by Walker and his actions. Of course vindicating Walker would vindicate the CMR stewardship of Asper and crew, not that I think that is behind Asper’s wishes.

    Music suggestion: Eric Bogle & John Munro : If Wishes Were Fishes

    1. It was absolutely the right thing to do. The Provost using the IG report as cover for Asper’s resignation was a thoughtful gesture.

      The rest of them need to follow suit..

      1. I know it has been said by others both here and elsewhere; but the CMR has neither the tools nor the makeup to do much of anything. How this happened, and why this continues to be the situation, is as much a part of what has happened as the millions of taxpayer dollars in question. This is a setup to do not much of anything imo.

        MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972
        As Amended

        SEC. 49-15-301. Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources; powers and duties; membership; chairman; rules and regulations; marine resources technical advisory council; definitions.

        (1) The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources is hereby established and full power is vested in the commission to regulate all matters pertaining to all saltwater aquatic life and marine resources. The commission shall administer the Coastal Wetlands Protection law and the Public Trust Tidelands Act. The power and duties of the commission shall be exercised through the Department of Marine Resources. The commission shall not exercise any law enforcement powers.

        (2) The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources shall consist of seven (7) members to be appointed as follows:

        (a) The Governor shall appoint six (6) members who shall be residents of Jackson, Harrison and Hancock Counties with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor shall appoint two (2) members from each county. The members designated in subparagraphs (i), (ii), (iv) and (vi) must be a resident of the county where the business he is appointed to represent is located.

        (b) The commission shall be composed as follows:

        (i) One (1) member shall be a commercial seafood processor.

        (ii) One (1) member shall be a commercial fisherman.

        (iii) One (1) member shall be a recreational sports fisherman.

        (iv) One (1) member shall be a charter boat operator.

        (v) One (1) member shall be a member of an incorporated nonprofit environmental organization.

        (vi) One (1) member shall be from the nonseafood industry.

        (vii) The member of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks from the Fifth Congressional District.

        (c) Of the initial members appointed by the Governor, the members designated in subparagraphs (i),(ii) and (iii) shall serve for an initial term of two (2) years and one (1) member shall be appointed from each county. The members designated in subparagraphs (iv), (v) and (vi) shall serve an initial term of four (4) years and one (1) member shall be appointed from each county. All terms after the initial terms shall be for a period of four (4) years. The term of the member from the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall be coterminous with his term on the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

        (d) Any vacancy in the office of an appointed member of the commission shall be filled by appointment by the Governor for the balance of the unexpired term.

        (3) Each member shall have a demonstrated history of involvement in the matter of jurisdiction for which he is appointed to represent and his employment and activities must not conflict with the matter of jurisdiction represented. A member shall not have a record of conviction of violation of fish and game or seafood laws or regulations within the five (5) years preceding his appointment or a record of any felony conviction.

        (4) The commission shall elect a chairman who shall preside at all meetings of the commission, and the commission shall also elect a vice-chairman who shall serve in the absence or inability of the chairman. The member who is also a member of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall not be eligible to serve as chairman.

        (5) Each member shall be paid actual and necessary expenses incurred in attending meetings of the commission and in performing his duties away from his domicile under assignment by the commission. In addition, members shall receive the per diem authorized in Section 25-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972.

        (6) The commission shall adopt rules and regulations governing times and places of meetings and shall adopt bylaws governing the manner of conducting its business. Each member shall take the oath prescribed by Section 268 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 and shall, before assuming office, enter into bond in the amount of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00), to be approved by the Secretary of State conditioned according to law and payable to the State of Mississippi.

        (7) The commission shall not take any action, except by vote in meeting assembled, and such action shall be included in the minutes of the commission. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum of the commission.

        (8) The commission, through the Department of Marine Resources, shall devise a plan to make licenses available in each coastal county.

        (9)

        (a) There is hereby created a marine resources technical advisory council composed of the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Research Lab, or his designee; the Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, or his designee; and the Executive Director of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, or his designee.

        (b) The council shall give technical assistance to the commission.

        (10) For purposes of this section the following definitions apply:

        (a) “Charter boat operator” means an individual who operates a vessel for hire guiding sports fishermen for a fee and is duly licensed to engage in such activity in the State of Mississippi.

        (b) “Commercial fisherman” means a fisherman who sells, barters or exchanges any or all of his catch or who is paid for attempting to catch marine species.

        (c) “Commercial seafood processor” means an individual who engages in the business of purchasing seafood products and preparing them for resale and who is duly licensed to engage in such commercial activity in the State of Mississippi.

        (d) “Incorporated environmental non-profit organization” means an organization duly incorporated in any state as a non-profit organization and whose stated goals and purposes are the conservation of natural resources.

        (e) “Non-seafood industry” means an industry not involved in the catching, processing or packaging of marine species.

        (f) “Recreational sports fisherman” means an individual who catches or harvests marine species only for recreation or personal consumption and not for sale.

        SOURCES: Laws, 1994, ch. 578, Sec. 1, eff from and after July 1, 1994

  3. More details in the Mississippi Press about Asper’s resignation. Why it took so long for Asper to resign? They (USM) were “recommending” and not “requesting” as earlier reported.

    Asper clarified earlier reports which characterized his resignation as coming at the “request” of USM officials.

    “The provost just emphasized to me that it was a recommendation, not a request,” Asper said.

    Not to mention this:

    The auditor’s report indicated some wide-ranging issues with the DMR and I think that caught the university’s attention,” Asper said. “It’s imperative the interests of the university be protected.”

    He said the recent recommendation he step down from the MCMR was not the first from the university.

    “I have been talking to the university about this for several months,” he said. “They made the same recommendation several months ago, but this time the recommendation came from a little higher up.”

    I suppose it might be that if Dr. Asper had not taken the hint a “strongly worded instruction” might have been next from further up the chain of command. Once you go above the provost you begin to run into people with less patience for those who make a practice of misunderstanding what a “recommendation” actually is in a situation such as this.

    1. lol I saw that too.

      But in an abundance of caution I would say that someone is commenting under the screen name vasper who may or may not be Dr. Vernon Asper is commenting on the SunHerald website. But it’s a passable imitation if not the real Asper.

      1. He’s pretty approachable. I do not think he is dishonest. I do think he was blinded by cognitive bias. I think his Provost saw the Inherent Ethical Conflict involved with Dr. Asper serving on the CMR. And in case anyone missed that point the section of the IG report on Sharon Walker and IMMS provides the smoking gun and the message is clear, don’t play nice and we (The Walkers) will pick up their marbles and play elsewhere.

        The same is true of Judy Steckler and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain. Her own Cognitive Bias in maintaining a financial relationship with DMR lead to some very bad places.

        As Harry Truman famously said, “the buck stop here” and with DMR and the organizations that helped enable the Walker clan the buck must stop. Dr. Asper did what was right in the circumstances. I still think Ms. Steckler needs to step down for the same reason.

        As Ambrose Bierce once wrote in The Devils’ Dictionary, “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know” and that is certainly the case with the actors in the DMR spectacle. Here are some links that explain the failures in judgment, moral hazard and cognitive biases at play:

        Cognitive Bias and the Need for

  4. Dere’s only tree tings’ dat could spontaneously trigger an Egyptian Spring revolution in Miss/ La. and dat bees Patricia doin’ her infamous pole dance at Poydras/Camp flashin’ her fishnets, AROD shin’ her and da’ Eastern District office windows wit’ his Green Hornet laser ring immediately after an evening brown bag concert by Gate’ in Layette Square singin’ “Kiss My Country Ass” holdin’ his empty Rebel Yell bottle.

    1. Just kiddin’ NSA, da’ chances of dem tree tings happin’ greater den Prince Charming sayin’ sometin’ significant on Slabbed.

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