Development Commissioner Abruptly Quits - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/29/03

Development Commissioner Abruptly Quits

A member of the Harrison County Development Commission abruptly quit on Wednesday. Paige Gutierrez says there's a lack of accountability.

Gutierrez was appointed to the Development Commission in 2000. In her resignation letter, she blasted the group for "disregard for lawful procedures, unnecessary secrecy, a disdain for public input and opinion and wasteful spending of taxpayers' money.

The other members of the commission answered the accusations quickly and harshly. Commission President Bruce Nourse says no laws have been broken and he says Gutierrez' behavior is simply "sour grapes."

"Paige Gutierrez came to the development commission with a personal, political agenda. She has failed in enacting that agenda. This is a lady that has attended 10 percent of her committee meetings and 28 percent the meetings that we've held this year," Nourse said.

In her resignation letter, Paige Gutierrez also urged Harrison County supervisors to change how the development commission is run. Supervisor Connie Rockco, who appointed Gutierrez, agrees.

"We have tried for a long time to get some information about accountability and the procedures that have taken place, as far as destroying records, and some of the expenditures we feel are not lawful and not in accordance with state statutes. So I think she was right on the money," Rockco said.

Gutierrez told WLOX News she also had a problem with the commission taking a secret vote during Tuesday's meeting. Bruce Nourse confirmed, members took what he called a "confidential" vote on hiring attorneys and accountants after getting the okay from the Development Commission.

We asked the Attorney General's office about "confidential" votes by public boards and were told that state law requires a record of how each member votes.

The Development commission is currently undergoing a state audit. No word yet on when the results will be released.

by Danielle Thomas

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