The DMR has been in the news lately concerning the tendency for connected, influential people to get special treatment or special opportunities. After extensive federal and state investigations there have been turnovers of some personnel and the promise that things would change for the better.
The recent rule changes that the Commission on Marine Resources and that the DMR staff have worked on lately to put more fish in the hands of fewer people, suggest that the DMR is still looking to make marine resources more available to some and to make the resource less available to unconnected, “little” people.
Increasing the speckled trout quota so that more speckled trout are funneled into the sea food markets which are better-connected and more influential than the “little” people who go out on public piers to try to catch something or go out in boats on weekends is funneling the resource into fewer hands.
Changing the hook and line license so that those who can’t or won’t produce at least 10% of their income off the sale of fish is cutting out those struggling to live on retirements and who appreciated supplementing their income by 5% or even 9%. Leaving the hook and line rule so that anyone who is determined enough, skilled enough or desperate enough to catch hundreds of pounds of speckled trout, for example, in a single day while others are limited to 15 per person or in the case of redfish 3 per person, is seeing to it that those more favored individuals get a bigger piece of the pie than the average “little” person. If the DMR had changed, they would have fixed the bad rule that said recreational people have daily limits while the hook and line license holder can catch the entire yearly allotment of a species in a single day if a rod and reel had that capability. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
I’m not sure where to start on today’s performance by Stacey Pickering in the contempt hearing being held in Chancery Court Judge Jennifer Schloegel’s courtroom in Gulfport but this snippet from the latest Sun Herald update seems a logical starting point:
Pickering’s chief of investigations, David Huggins, admitted under oath at the contempt hearing Wednesday that Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy subpoenaed records from the Department of Marine Resources to avoid making them public.
Since we don’t have a transcript the above raises some serious questions and it plays into something I heard from the mean streets of Jackson. The question is whether Huggins actively worked with Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy to deprive the Mississippi public of access to their own records. This much is clear, if we take that snippet at face value then Dowdy was complicit on some level and this goes back to what I heard. This twitter exchange explains it.
Now who is Joel Smith one might ask? (And asked I was by a reader from Central Mississippi) He is the District Attorney for Harrison, Hancock and Stone Counties and the guy in charge of the indictments of the former DMR employees charged with padding their travel by a few thousand dollars. The Federal Grand Jury subpoena of the DMR records went down in close time proximity to the state and federal indictments so this relationship is salient. Continue reading →
If my best source on this is right and I think the person likely is correct on the assertion that the public records in question contain no smoking guns, this makes the actions of State Auditor Pickering and Attorney General Jim Hood all the more perplexing. That said the prevailing viewpoint and the one the sequence of events leading to the Federal subpoena of those records lends the most credibility is Pickering and Hood are covering for politically connected good ol’ boys that were looting out DMR’s artificial reef program etc. Like I said, I’m sticking with the Pickering and Hood = Beavis and Butthead theory for now.
I’ve been having some technical difficulties but finally knocked those out yesterday afternoon. I’ve also spent some time lately improving technical back office issues here at Slabbed including a better security perimeter as Slabbed has been subject to at least one denial of service attack in the past 6 weeks. The streets of information dissemination aka the news biz are mean indeed.
That has worked out OK though since the local news cycle has been slow but today the dam has broken and we have links galore. In the interest of time I’ll do this in one post so let’s start with Margie Seemann of the Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government. Margie, her sister and the gang at CFGG are true public servants and today the issues with campaign finance so often highlighted by CFGG go front and center in the NOLA.com series Louisiana Purchased. Let’s start with a video interview of Margie:
While the Op-Ed makes some good points the gang loses me very early in the piece. Here it is:
Zimmerman’s presidency of the nonprofit Coastal Conservation Association’s Bay St. Louis chapter and his membership in the Mississippi Wildlife Federation are pluses, but there is an important question that needs further examination: Does Zimmerman meet the conditions of state law that this seat is to be filled by a member of a nonporfit (sic) environmental organization?
Are they actually suggesting being an active member of the Coastal Conservation Association and MWF aren’t “nonporfit” enough to meet the plain language of the CMR’s enabling statute? It smacks of elitism folks and that is exactly what it is. Fact is the average bubba down here much more identifies with environmental groups like the CCA and MWF than Sierra Club or The Audubon Society and I believe it is from those circles the criticisms above are emanating. They are very misguided.
Slabbed will not hold the fact that Ernie likes to be in a relatively pristine outdoor coastal environment where he can hunt and fish and then eat what he hunts and fishes against him. As I said yesterday he is a fine appointment to the CMR. Ernie is honest, motivated and active in the community. He comes from a family of such people.
Editorially Slabbed is against any form of fossil fuel extraction in the Mississippi sound. That said you can’t hold the fact Ernie has not formed an opinion on this issue against him, mainly because he is brand new and certainly has much to learn. I’d submit that an open mind is a good thing in fact as I’ll remind everyone of Nowdy’s classic post circa December 2009, A mind is like a parachute. If it doesn’t open, you’re f#@%*d! because it applies here. Continue reading →