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Friday, May 30, 2014
Environment - "Head of Miss. environmental agency to resign"
Fascinating public records story Wednesday by Emily Le Coz and Geoff Pender, of The Clarion-Ledger. Some quotes:
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality chief Trudy Fisher announced in an email to employees Wednesday she will resign her position later this summer after eight years on the job. * * *Here is the earlier story, headed "DEQ defends redacting turned-over invoices."
Fisher's surprise decision comes one week after a Hinds County Chancery Court hearing during which her agency's wholesale redaction of public records came under fire. DEQ blacked out hundreds of pages of invoices totaling roughly $6 million.
Among the purchases were first-class airfare for Fisher and a private contractor, Amy Whitten. The reason for and destination of their trip was redacted.
DEQ attorneys argued the invoices were protected by attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine. Judge Denise Owens has yet to decide the matter.
It's unclear whether that case had any bearing on Fisher's decision to resign, but plaintiff attorney Matt Eichelberger said it likely didn't help.
"While we cannot speculate on the reasons for Ms. Fisher's decision to resign as director of the Department of Environmental Quality," Eichelberger said, "her decision certainly doesn't change my client's position that the documents he's requested are public record and should be released."
Eichelberger represents journalist and consultant Michael Rejebian. * * *
Fisher, who was first appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour in January 2007, led the agency as Mississippi recovered from two major disasters – first Hurricane Katrina and then the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.