The Department of Archives and History has withdrawn its request for an opinion from Attorney General Jim Hood to determine if the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board should be designated as a state agency.
"After discussion with the Attorney General's office and our Archives and Records Services Division, it became evident no opinion was needed, and I chose the best option for the management of the records," H.T. Holmes, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History told the Jackson Free Press today.
Jackson attorney Sam Begley said he may have prompted the department to engage in the inquiry: "I just made a request to the Department of Archives for research purposes, to review the records of the levee board, and I assumed because of the way the statute was written, their records would be archived with the department. I think it prompted Archives to try to determine if the levee board were covered by statute or not to submit records to the state," said Begley, who is a director of the Two Lakes of Mississippi Foundation alongside Hosemann.
Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board attorney Trudy Allen informed the board at last Monday's meeting that she believed the Department of Archives and History took an interest because of the secretary of state.
"My understanding is Archives and History picked it up because (Secretary of State) Delbert Hosemann listed us as a state agency in the blue book," Allen told the board.
However, Pamela Weaver, a spokeswoman for Hosemann, said the secretary of state did not represent the levee board as a state agency in the book.
"The (Blue Book) has a multitude of information, a great number of our elected officials. One of its divisions is agencies, boards and commissions. The levee board is a board, and has been designated as a board. The secretary of state's office is not calling that board a state agency. It's listed under agencies, boards and commissions in the blue book because it is a board," Weaver said yesterday.
Allen told the Jackson Free Press this morning that since then she has since learned the secretary of state had nothing to do with Archives' opinion request to Hood, but added that "as of Monday, that was my understanding."
Monday, members of the Levee Board did not approve of the potential designation when Allen approached the board. Richland Mayor Mark Scarborough warned that the board would have to "follow all the guidelines and budgetary processes," of a state agency if it got a new designation, including the possibility of having to get its budget approved by legislators.
Read the previous story about the issue or visit the Pearl River Archive for complete Two Lakes coverage.
It's good to say that this one at least looks like it was a tempest in a teapot. So now that this one has calmed down, and the legislative attempts to take over the Levee Board have failed, hopefully we can focus and get down to business. Also, it is potentially pertinent to this story that Mr. Begley is a director of the Two Lakes of Mississippi Foundation, which Adam left out of this story. I've added it in above. Mr. Hosemann is also listed in paperwork as a long-time director of the foundation and its secretary-treasurer.