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HCDC Director on His Way Out Quickly

by Keith Burton - GCN      Filed 6/24/04

Harrison County Development Commission Director Michael Olivier is leaving quickly now that his appointment as Louisiana's new economic director has been set.

Olivier will take over his new position July 1, well within two weeks from the announcement Wednesday, June 24.

Olivier was coming under increasing pressure over his management of the HCDC by the Harrison County Board of Supervisors and others. This pressure was made evident in documents obtained by GCN where the Board of Supervisors questioned the existing contract with Olivier.

In those documents, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors have ordered the Harrison County Development Commission to produce a contract for the Director of the Harrison County Development Commission, as well as other records.

The request was made in a letter to Elmer Williams dated June 15, 2004, the current President of the HCDC, by Supervisor Bobby Eleuterius, president of the Board of Supervisors. The letter orders the documents to be produced by June 28.

The letter indicates that the HCDC Director Michael Olivier may not have an official contract with the county.

Quoting the letter:

"The minutes of the current Board of Supervisors do not reflect a recommendation to the Board from the Development Commission with regard to the employment of the executive director of the Development Commission, nor do they reflect the current Board's approval of the employment of the Executive Director," reads the letter.

The letter also orders the HCDC to provide the latest employment contract and in the event that no written contract exist, the HCDC is to provide; "a copy of the minutes indicating his employment and the terms of same."

The letter also asks for a copy of the HCDC's operating budget for 2003-2004.

The Sun Herald reported in their 6/24/04 edition that Olivier's support on the Board of Supervisors had withered to the point that it was unlikely he would be reappointed and his new job may have come just in time.

The departure of Olivier is not likely to end the inquiry into the HCDC by the State Auditors, who have been investigation the HCDC's operations for over a year. Officials with the auditors still remain silent over their investigation, declining to comment Wednesday, June 24 to GCN, on what impact would Olivier's departure have on their inquiry.

The auditors are expected to issue a report on their findings within three to five weeks.

The future of the HCDC without Olivier is up in the air. Olivier's departure may just be the beginning of changes for an agency that has been the focus of reformers for several years. New appointments to the HCDC board of directors is likely as the political climate changes to the new conditions.

The HCDC's 12-member  board of directors is appointed by the mayors of the five Harrison County cities, the five supervisors, and two appointments by the governor.


Links to Photographs of Supervisor's Letter to HCDC requesting documents.
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"Slippery Business" series of stories on HCDC - GCN Archive

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