Susan Thornton: Unfired

The details surrounding the Susan Thornton saga have been murky
since the Monday before Christmas. That’s the day word of her
termination was leaked to the press.

Thornton since 2008 has been head of the Legislative-Citizen
Commission on Minnesota Resources, which recommends about $50
million in spending each biennium from the Environment and Natural
Resources Trust Fund.

Now, Thornton – in a letter from House Speaker Kurt Zellers,
R-Maple Grove, and Senate President Michelle Fischbach – has been
told her termination has been suspended.

What does that mean? Is the suspension of termination
indefinite? Is it pending a performance review? Who knows. The
standard response when anyone’s asked for information is “no
comment” because it’s a personnel matter.

Thornton’s lawyer doesn’t believe there was cause to fire
Thornton in the first place. He and several members of the LCCMR
believe it’s that commission’s responsibility to hire and fire
executive directors.

It will be interesting to see how the matter plays out in coming
weeks. There’s a distinct possibility it will wind up as a legal
matter, though the LCCMR’s next meeting may provide an opportunity
for members to discuss the topic, too.

Deer hearings

Though the total deer kill during the 2011 season was down just 7
percent from the previous year, the reaction to it has been
striking. Whereas there were few complaints after 2010, everyone
and their brother, it seems, had trouble finding deer in 2011.

It’s true – deer populations probably are lower than they should
be (though the goals were set between 2005 and 2007 as part of a
public process). And the DNR has pledged to revisit them
immediately. But I’m amazed by how many people I’ve talked to and
heard about who in 2011 spent entire weeks without seeing a deer.
Maybe that’s the truth. Maybe they’re exaggerating a little. Who
knows.

But beware the legislator who went deer hunting, saw few deer,
and plans hearings on it during the coming session, which begins
Jan. 24. That’s exactly what Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, plans
to do. He chairs the environment committee in the House.

Looks and smells like legislative muddling to me.

Categories: Joe Albert

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