Senate Bill 2579 a small step forward for a deeply troubled DMR but is Miller Time a good time for the agency

Jamie Miller came to the Executive Director’s job at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources with a reputation as a no nonsense hatchet man and he has lived up the PR in his first 10 months on the job. In true Mississippi political fashion the surviving, politically connected finalist was also hired on with the agency as well so as to minimize blowback potential, Joe Cloyd got another do nothing sweetheart state contract and all was declared well with the world.

Mistake not the fact that Miller was Phil Bryant’s man from the start as there was never really any competition for the Executive Director job in the wake of Bill Walker’s departure from the agency. Miller Time reigns supreme at DMR and so it is natural the local legislative delegation would be pushing reforms that give even more power to the executive director and that is exactly what Senate Bill 2579 does.

Like most legislation it contains things that people would judge to be good and bad.  I personally like the fact the agency will be required to have an annual audit performed.  That said on these pages commenters have decried giving the Executive Director even more power and when I read the bill I wondered why there is even such a thing as a Commission on Marine Resources given the Executive Director’s sweeping power to hire the top positions with no oversight. More on that in a bit.

The problem with all of this is what the legislation is incapable of fixing in employee morale at DMR, which several sources with knowledge of the Bolton building landscape indicate to Slabbed is very low.  One place the problem is manifest is in finding people to staff professional positions such as Director of Fisheries. Paul Hampton inadvertently explains for the Sun Herald:

Dale Diaz, who retired in October as director of fisheries at the Department of Marine Resources, is coming back as a contract employee.

Diaz will represent the DMR at the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council at a cost of $25,000 in a five-month contract. The money, which will cover his salary and travel expenses, will come from the council, Miller said.

“Dale was my designee to represent DMR’s management and policy positions,” Miller said. “In order to maintain continuity with our agency positions I’m requesting the commission authorize me to contract with Dale beginning Jan. 31. That would run through June 30.”

Sources with knowledge of the vacancy that are not authorized to speak with the media indicate to Slabbed that DMR has had trouble attracting qualified applicants to replace Diaz, whose position is an “at will” type of job within the DMR.  In this instance Miller’s rep as a hatchet man is working against him.  My experience moderating Slabbed covering the DMR scandal is those circles literally span the nation but are still a universe where everyone seemingly knows everyone. It will be interesting to see if Miller can replace Mr. Diaz by June 30 with a qualified applicant that is not:

  1. A politically connected sex offender that received a Haley Barbour pardon.
  2. A relative of a politician.

Finally I found the answer to my rhetorical question as to the function of the Commission on Marine Resources. Paul Hampton inadvertently answered it too:

The Commission on Marine Resources, against the recommendation of its Shellfish Bureau, voted 3-0 Tuesday to keep oyster dredging season open for 30 days more.

Richard Gollott, a CMR commissioner who’s also vice president of the shrimp-packing firm Golden Gulf Coast Packing Co., pushed for the longer season during a presentation on the oyster reefs by the DMR’s Fisheries Division.

He said he went on a trip to the oyster reefs Thursday and those oysters he saw were quite large and that was reason enough to keep the reefs open to dredging.

“As big as my hand,” he said.

Stay tuned.

18 thoughts on “Senate Bill 2579 a small step forward for a deeply troubled DMR but is Miller Time a good time for the agency”

  1. My observation is that the DMR really doesn’t need a fisheries director especially when the uneducated Commission members’ votes override the expertise of highly educated and experienced biologists. I have seen the CMR’s vote override staff recommendations on wetlands permits, fish size and possession limits, i.e. Spotted Seatrout, and a push to open oyster reefs in areas with poor water quality. How do you think that helps morale? A biologist who has spent most of his life studying marine life who wants to do his best to preserve our resources is told his opinion doesn’t mean anything. This is nothing new. This has been going on for years through several executive directors and governors. The only commissioner who had any sense was always elected president so he wouldn’t have a vote, and now because he had enough integrity to resign his post, what we have left are a group of self-serving bureaucrats looking to line their pockets at the expense of the future of our marine resources.

    1. Welcome. For those who have been actively following the DMR strories, you may have seen that I have made many references to inside operators. Eye-Know is a close ally and is actually an active inside operator. Eye-Know has wealth of knowledge and will be a valuable asset to Slabbed nation.

  2. My Fellow Americans

    For those of you who have been following Slabbed, you already have a good idea of my unfavorable opinion of Miller so I will not go into much detail on that aspect.

    According to intelligence supplied from the operators, the subject of lifting the state employee protection has been a highlight since Millers political appointment when he stepped aboard. I for one think this is the pinnical of the bill itself and it may have not been drafted without that literature contained within.

    I also believe Miller is the prime source to the moral issues with the DMR employees. Now, if one is on aboard with “Team Jamie” and was hired through political means or shifty hiring practices, they probably have nothing to worry about. But for the others, there is probably a lot to be concerned about. More especially if one is the target of a witch hunt.

    I cannot personally vouch for the fisheries director position, but the marine patrol chief position still remains extremely questionable and shady. I also beleive since it remains technically vacant it speaks volumes of Millers opinion of the current marine patrol force. This is a large department and there should be a good pool of qualified candidates to assume the helm of chief.

    All in all, I think we have received a good taste of Miller Time and I think its more like a warm can of Milwaukees Best.

  3. This corruption has permeated the entire state of Mississippi. The CMR and DMR should be disbanded in order to cut this cancer of corruption out of this state. An audit of all state, county, city offices should have been accomplished every year and should be a state law to weed out this corruption from the inside. Sad the state legislature cannot or will not accept this action as necessary.

  4. I find it amusing that Sen. Wiggins is wanting to stamp out all corruption and misspending at DMR. I heard that DMR helped fund his father’s wild goose chase for a lost canon with heritage funds given to the Jackson Co historical society. How is that wild canon hunt coming, Mr. Wiggins?

  5. Sen. Wiggins should step up to the podium with a check in hand and give the public a sincere apology for taking advantage of the last DMR regime before paying his fair share of the expenses for how ever many chartered fishing trips he participated in. If he had a conscience at all he would have included something in Senate Bill 2579 that would prevent this type of misuse of the public’s money from ever happening again. Inside operators tell me Miller Time has taken his show on the road to Jackson this week to try and help convince the state politicians that these types of changes are needed and that he must be given sole power at the DMR to hire and fire at will. While he may have the support of the Coast delegation there is still a very strong push to do away with this agency. Hard to blame people in other parts of the state for wanting this drastic action when they see pictures of politicians like Sen. Wiggins posing with the “samplings” he collected at the reefs built with the hard earned tax dollars that the general public never gets to see.

  6. .This picture should be used on a poster titled “WANTED- FOR THE MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS” Of course I do not accuse those in this picture of anything but it is a good example of a group of politicians, public servants, CONsultants and lobbyist that are on a chartered fishing trip paid for with public money. As on of these samplers said “I had no idea the DMR paid for this. I did not know who paid for it.” Did anybody believe that politician?

    1. In my opinion, I still think the most absolute and fair thing to do is have all public officials and state employees indicted on misuse of public funds for those who rode on the boats.

      Indict them and have them prove to a jury and the public they are innocent.

      1. Let’s not forget the girl in accounts payable that the former business office director let go out on the yacht with Mr Cuevas on day trips…. Accounting has nothing to do with fisheries but a very reliabe source told me they had something going on.

        1. Queen,

          I will not confirm or deny your comment but I do know from extensive intelligence that there are a number of solid rumors that have circulated regarding “something is going on between two people” on multiple occasions involving different “couples” around the DMR and outsiders. Some of it is old news, some of it at the very present, and some even involve locals within the radical regime.

    2. Great image, Senator Wiggins what a stand out individual you are. Jamie Miller was put in the Director’s position because he is a mere puppet in the land of Phil Bryant. Miller has no knowledge of anything related to our waters, wetlands, etc on this Coast. He will however use this position to further his political career and hire his buddies on big budget contracts (Frontier Strategies) while the goal was to be transparent and cut some of the spending.

      The Commissioners are no better, using those foundation boats for their own benefit, Jimmy Taylor specifically, who had no problem going out on it for fishing tournaments here and there. Then again they didn’t know who was paying for anything and as long as it wasn’t coming from their pockets then what does it matter? I’m not going to say Bill Walker was perfect but at least the man had a PhD unlike Mr. Miller who is still learning the jargon of the DMR.

      Good luck, Director Miller, I would be tormented if my staff thought I was unsuited too.

  7. What I find shocking and rather disgusting is the fact that not one of the fishing trip participants has come forward with an offer to pay the expenses for god only knows how many trips on the private charter boats. Eye-Spy you are right about each and everyone of those that went should be indicted and each trip should be a separate count. This will be the only way we, the people who paid, will find out who was involved in the misuse of public money. I, at one time, would have been satisfied with a humble apology and reimbursement of the monies spent. I hope they remember come election time because we will not forget. I will personally take this photograph and make a post card mailer with my own money when the time comes and send it mass mail to all voters in the area of each politician trying to slither back in office.

    1. Hey Pond. That’s the problem…only the grand jury, Billy Walker, that lawyer Bob Byrd, and those other two guys know how much money in that Foundation was private and how much was stolen or coerced from donors who thought (wink-wink) that they were donating to an arm of a state agency or a legitimate charity so they could take a tax deduction. Walker and his lawyers made the name so similar that it was easy to fool donors and businesses, like oil companies who want to drill in the Sound. Since it was organized as a private corporation, none of us will get to see where the money in it came from until the trials. One thing that’s certain: David Harris, his bogus charity, and that corrupt YMCA in Ocean Springs got a lot of the vig…millions of it.

      A better question, and one that involves Sen. Wiggins, is which politicians got illegal campaign donations from it and who paid it back or kept the money. Did Sen. Wiggins get any donations from it? Did John McKay? How about other Republican politicos? Miller in his power play to the Legislature has his marching orders to get rid of anyone who would remember those trips and who would remember which officials and their families wallowed in the gravy, eating gourmet food from Desportes and sucking up the free booze and gas while fishing offshore at no cost. Above all, let’s all forget that Steven Palazzo’s daddy was in on the CIAP ripoff, as a business partner with Harris on a wiped-out condo lot in Ocean Springs, to the tune of $800,000 profit.

      And, while we’re at it, what about Horne? Did or didn’t Horne horn in recently for about another $150,000 in addition to the original $150,000…and more…maybe up to $400,000 for Horne & Co.? And, what exactly IS Horne doing for the DMR? The push to deprive those remaining employees of their state protections can only be seen in one light when the evidence is that these cronies of Hayley got hired with absolutely no clue as to anything related to marine biology and no qualifications whatsoever other than blind obedience to their masters.

  8. Just saw on WLOX Aaron Russell has been charged with fraud and document tampering that’s all it said do these charges have anything to do with his years at the DMR as business office director or perhaps he received some of the walker con profit funds ?

    1. Most people have heard the term “Here is the million dollar question” or something similar. With the DMR these days, it seems there are multiple million dollar questions in the publics eye.

      Here are my million dollar questions:

      In the past year or so, we have seen DMR employees fired, resign, quit, retire and so on. According to inside sources and what has been in the news, all employees who have been accused of crimes and/or issued a civil demand letter do not work at the DMR any longer except one individual. According to inside sources, a person by the name of Kerry Endris is still employed at the DMR.

      From the information I gathered on the Internet, Kerry Endris was issued a civil demand letter for the amount of 13,020.66. I am no Eisenstein, but I thought civil demand letters were issued because it is believed that a person owes money they obtained that was not authorized. I find it very strange that he may still be employed at the DMR under these circumstances when all others have departed in one way or another. If he is, then why?

      Another question that has been on my mind pertains to land acquisitions. At the start of all the DMR mess, there were numerous questionable land purchases made by the DMR that made the news. As of late, it appears almost all have fell off the radar except Scott Walkers land deal. For those who have followed the story, you may recall another questionable land purchase that involved Tina Shoemates parents. It seems this has also fallen off the radar and I am not sure if this was listed as a charge against her. If not, why?

      Any answers or insight to these concerns would be appreciated.

  9. To Eye Spy and others who contribute to this news, remember it took 5 years before Ray Nagin was found guilty on 20 out of 21 charges.

    This morning I watched WLOX TV with one segment of the ‘water boy’ Jamie Miller being interviewed by Eliot & Walker. He claimed he answered to CMR. What a boondoggle! Answering to a bunch of cronies with limited education and of questionable character. What chance does the good workers at DMR have? Who in their right mind would want employment at this agency? Oh, yes, if you are in the click; it would be a great agency. But McDonald would be a better place to be employed than DMR at this time.

    1. Is there a link to view the video anywhere? If not, what was the topic and the types of questions and answers?

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