HCDC Continues Appeal of Lawsuit
it Lost to Conceal Records
by Keith Burton - GCN Filed 8/11/05
The Harrison County Development Commission is continuing to appeal a
lawsuit it lost in an effort to block revealing financial documents. This
is despite a request by the Harrison County Board of supervisors to end
the appeal to the State Supreme Court.
The case involves a lawsuit the HCDC lost against Henry "Tut" Kinney
who sought the records over a year ago. Kinney is now a commissioner with
the HCDC. The board of supervisors is concerned over the cost of the
appeal and that it continues to generate ill feelings toward the HCDC, the
county's chief economic development agency.
A letter from a frequent visitor to the HCDC's meetings, Pass Christian
resident Dr. Frank Schmidt, was published recently in the Sun Herald. Dr.
Schmidt has provided GCN his letter and it sums up the situation:
Aug. 10, 2005
Re: HCDC vs Kinney
Five years ago Harrison County Development Commission sued a local
in stead of complying with his legal and reasonable request for public
records concerning the rock plant on Espy Avenue in the Long Beach
Despite a ruling in Chancery Court on February 10, 2004 in favor of Mr.
Kinney and a reconsideration of the case by the same Chancery Judge on
April 9 also in Kinney's favor, the case is still alive today and costing
the county ever more money in legal fees.
HCDC complied with the Court order to produce the records but is appealing
the order to pay Kinney's legal expenses of $8,160 and civil penalty of
$100. HCDC has incurred its own legal costs of $50,000 plus so far in
pressing this case. Remember that all expenses are borne by the county,
any Commissoner or officer of HCDC.
Who is profiting from this ill-advised action? Harrison County through
HCDC could face a total of $75,000 or much more when the Court of Appeals
rules in this matter.
The only person gaining financially is their attorney; everyone else
Why has HCDC persisted in this misbegotten law suit? Could it be spite
jealousy directed at Kinney, the defendant? Is this arrogant
in the use of taxpayer's money proper? I think not!
There are new Commissioners who seem forthright and dedicated to their
duties. New blood is definitely good. The old timers (years on the
Commission, not age) should resign at once and give our industrial
development a chance to turn into a county asset rather than an
embarrassment. Many of the group have said they want to start anew.
is the time for action. They should resign now.
Frank L. Schmidt
Pass Christian, Ms.
ask HCDC to Drop Appeal - Sun Herald - 8/7/05
New HCDC Director Close to
Being Hired - GulfCoastNews
Slippery Business IV - Judge Rules HCDC Violated Open
Records Laws - GulfCoastnews.com