OTHER OPINION: Hope for the best with DMR selection

By Sun Herald, Biloxi/Gulfport

Jamie Miller said Tuesday he was “excited about being part of the solution” at the troubled Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. As Gov. Phil Bryant’s nominee to be the DMR’s next executive director, Miller said fixing the agency “begins and ends with being transparent and accountable to the public.”
The public should welcome transparency and accountability at the DMR, which has not undergone a state audit in more than 10 years and which is now under investigation by state and federal officials.
We wish Miller every success if he is confirmed by the state Senate.
We had urged the Commission on Marine Resources, which oversees the DMR, to recommend to Bryant a candidate with hefty credentials to lead the DMR out of the wilderness.
We had hoped the CMR’s search would be far removed from the state’s good old boy network of politically connected folk, and that specifically the search committee would place emphasis on a person with a good scientific mind informed by the areas that are touched by the DMR’s work.
We also hoped the person selected would have demonstrated a record of excellence in the management of people and budgets, and that he or she would be someone dedicated to the spirit and the letter of the laws that govern the agency.
Miller, a 40-year-old native of Gulfport, does hold a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology from the University of Southern Mississippi and worked as a coastal ecologist with DMR from 1997 to 1999.
But those scientific credentials pale beside his political connections at the municipal, state and federal levels of government.
Now he may oversee the DMR, which has grown to be a powerful state agency since it was formed in 1994.
Of the 17 unnamed people who wanted the DMR job, three were selected by the members of the CMR and their undisclosed names were submitted to Bryant.
The governor chose Miller, and now the state Senate must judge that selection.