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Harrison County Development Commission Responds to Allegations
Accuses Departing Commissioner of Trying to Disgrace Staff and Commissioners
Filed 5:24 p.m. 10/29/03

By Keith Burton - GCN

The President of Harrison County Development Commission is denouncing departing Commissioner Paige Gutierrez's allegations that the commission needs reform and is being mismanaged.

Gutierrez resigned from the Commission saying in her resignation letter that the agency is operating improperly and needs reform. Gutierrez authored several opinion articles over the last few months outlining what she saw as needed changes in the Harrison County Development Commission.

In a sharply worded prepared released, Bruce Nourse, President of the Development Commission said, Gutierrez's allegations are unfounded and are the opinion of just one member of the commission. However Gutierrez's latest article was co-authored by another board member Richard Bennett.

"This issue has been discussed beyond its merits and is the opinion of one commissioner. It should be noted that ten other commissioners charged with the responsibility of overseeing the commission are very comfortable with its operations and activities," Nourse said.

Nourse did not specifically address Gutierrez's allegations, or comment on the changes she feels are necessary for the commission that were outlined in her articles published on GulfCoastNews.com. Nourse defended the director Mike Olivier's management of the commission.

"The policies and procedures that she has repeatedly attacked have been in existence for much of the 44-year history of the commission, and have been reviewed and approved by some of the most well-respected business and community leaders on the Coast. During Mike Olivier's tenure, he has worked under 35 different commissioners and 12 different members of the Board of Supervisors.  I trust that the current and past commissioners and supervisors have overseen the commission in a professional and constructive manner. In my opinion, Mrs. Gutierrez has not," added Nourse.

Nourse made his comments in a statement sent to GCN and other Coast news media late Wednesday afternoon.

Nourse' complete statement is included below.


Received at GCN at 4:59 p.m.
10/29/03

 

HARRISON COUNTY DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION

RESPONSE TO GUTIERREZ RESIGNATION

This issue has been discussed beyond its merits and is the opinion of one commissioner. It should be noted that ten other commissioners charged with the responsibility of overseeing the commission are very comfortable with its operations and activities.

If you look closely at the record that Paige Gutierrez has compiled since her appointment to the Development Commission, it becomes clear that she has pursued an agenda that is focused on distracting and disgracing the commission and its staff. This is a commissioner who can make allegations on the one hand but, on the other hand, not fully participate in the position to which she was appointed. Mrs. Gutierrez has attended, in the past year, only 10% of her committee meetings and only 28% of all the meetings held by the commission.

The policies and procedures that she has repeatedly attacked have been in existence for much of the 44-year history of the commission, and have been reviewed and approved by some of the most well-respected business and community leaders on the Coast. During Mike Olivier's tenure, he has worked under 35 different commissioners and 12 different members of the Board of Supervisors.  I trust that the current and past commissioners and supervisors have overseen the commission in a professional and constructive manner. In my opinion, Mrs. Gutierrez has not.

The Harrison County Development Commission is an accredited and award- winning agency with a hard working, professional and qualified staff. The commissioners take pride in their oversight of the commission's activities and are always looking for ways to improve its operation. As such, the Development Commission is working closely with the State Auditor's Office on its current audit and has hired an independent consultant to review, analyze and recommend how the commission may be even more effective in the business of economic development. That report will be released to the public upon its completion in January.

Bruce Nourse
President
Harrison County Development Commission