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Coalition of Communities 949 Main Street, P.O.

Box 374 Hattiesburg, MS 39402 -601-517-7707


MISSION: The Coalition of Communities seeks to provide open, transparent, fair, inclusive community involvement in existing and future environmental justice locations throughout the southeastern United States. We know that many communities lack the resources to investigate, document, advocate their environmental justice issues. We will assist any community, which seeks to become knowledgeable about their Environment.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To the Honorable Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming EPA Region 4 Administrator,

It was supposed to be a distinct pleasure to visit Hattiesburg on September 27, 20 11 for the Public Listening Session Hosted by Mobile Bouie Street Neighborhood Association and North Main Street Historic Association. The Guests were US ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, HERCULES INCORPORATION / ASHLAND , CITY OF HATTIESBURG/ FORREST COUNTY SUPERVISORS, MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY. The purpose of the meeting was: Listen to community issues and concerns Encourage a dialogue with the community to identify strengths, challenges and opportunities for future communication,

I arrived before 6pm with the intention of broadcasting the meeting via the internet. I brought my computer inside. I was not challenged at the door. I set up, logged on, and opened the

Coalition of Communities 949 Main Street, P.O. Box 374 Hattiesburg, MS 39402 -601-517-7707
broadcast. A Hattiesburg police officer approached me, requested that I cease my activities and shut down the video camera, which was recording, I did not. I did however have to leave my computer unattended. The moderator Mr. Melvin Williams, President of Mobile Bouie Street Neighborhood Association requested that non-press cease all activities and any photos taken and posted on the Website would result in the responsible party facing a lawsuit. No one from MDEQ Community Engagement neither Melissa Collier nor Gloria Tatum attempted to modify Mr. Williams directive. I believe that is because Gloria Tatum acting on orders from Director Fisher used the screen of Mr. Williams to attempt to exclude COCEJ from broadcasting or filming the Public Listening Session. I find this very disturbing: One because it is a blatant attempts to circumvent the Open Meeting laws of the State of Mississippi. Two because this meeting was conducted in a public venue not a private home. Three because none of the officials present attempted to correct this until it became clear that Sherri Jones would not be leaving nor would he stop filming unless he was handcuffed and removed. Mr. Jones was rescued by Hattiesburg City councilperson Delgado, who requested from the police present that they leave Mr. Jones alone.

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality garnered a black eye for open transparent community engagement. Attempts to hide behind organizations of six persons while pretending to be engaging a neighborhood association of six members is deplorable. How can MDEQ or its Community Engagement Team build trust with these sorts of machinations? MDEQs Community Engagement Team appears to lack a defined sense of justice or even a simple sense of right and wrong. Let us make this as clear as possible. It was wrong to attempt to exclude any person based on personality conflicts with any person present at a public listening session. It was wrong to attempt to involve police in a public listening session, which was decent, and in order. It was wrong of ranking officials in a public building to go along with any denial of open and transparent engagement with the public. It was wrong of the MDEQ and EPA to allow Mr. Melvin Williams to behave in such a destructive and petty manner. Any person with a sense of fairness, justice and strength of character would have requested that Mr. Williams not attempt to threatened people who were simply attempting to widen the audience that the meeting could reach. I am ashamed that I did not take pictures. I am ashamed that I felt compelled to walk away from my broadcast. I am ashamed that Mr. Pallas, Ms. Peurifoy and Ms. Collier, did not veto Mr. Williams ill-advised actions. Oh but I forget Ms. Tatum has a close personal relationship of long standing with Mr. Melvin Williams. It must be a good thing for MDEQ to have a puppet and a scapegoat. Neither the COCEJ nor the FCEST are interested in Mr. Williams. I am very interested in a State Agency receiving Federal Funds who refused to be responsive to people that they have placed in harms way for decades and would use a person mired in a closed box mentality to continue to disenfranchise the citizens still in harms way.

Coalition of Communities 949 Main Street, P.O. Box 374 Hattiesburg, MS 39402 -601-517-7707
Let me propose this solution. MDEQ should host their own public listening session. MDEQ paid for the refreshments, the venue and the flyers. It is not necessary that MDEQ attempt to hide behind a puppet. MDEQ and EPA should allow any person or persons who wish to take pictures, video or broadcast any such public meetings. MDEQ and EPA contact other Neighborhood associations, area churches, juke joints, McDonalds and radio stations with information concerning their next meeting. MDEQ and EPA bring DATA and ATSDR to their next Public Listening Session in response to the questions asked and not answered in this listening session. MDEQ and EPA learn from their mistakes and leave the puppets and scapegoats at home.
Tennie White, Technical Representative Coalition of Communities for Environmental Justice

Coalition of Communities Representatives from: Hattiesburg Deacon Ivory Walmon 112 Bellair Dr Hattiesburg, MS 39402 Home: 601-264-0471 Carolyn Jordan Petal, MS 39465 Home: 601-544-0341 Cell: 601-329-8247 Carolyn Reed 27 Harris Dr Petal, MS 39465 Home: 601-584-4125 Cell: 601-606-2089 Technical Representative Tennie White, TROUBLESHOOTERS, INC. 430 Bounds Street, Suite 19, Jackson, MS 39206 USA

Representatives from: Columbia Sherri Jones 444 E. Marion School Rd Columbia, MS 39429 Cell: 601-517-7707 Representatives from: Memphis Town Community Action Group Rev. Steve Jamison Maranatha Faith Center 716 Waterworks Rd Columbus, MS 39701 1-662-386-3383 sjam9653@bellsouth.net Mrs. Connie Davis Sherman 1507 North 26th Street Columbus, MS 39701 Council member: Kabir Karriem Ward 5 P.O. Box 1408 Columbus, MS 39703 columbusward5@gmail.com 1-662 549-4314 Representatives from: Copiah County Environmental Support Team P.O. Box 690 Crystal Springs, Mississippi 39059

Coalition of Communities 949 Main Street, P.O. Box 374 Hattiesburg, MS 39402 -601-517-7707
Charles Funchess, President 3058 Experimentation Road Crystal Springs, Mississippi 39059 Herman May, Vice President 132 Bankhead Lane Crystal Springs, Mississippi 39059 MAYHERMAN@aol.com Luke Funchess-Founder 124 Bankhead Lane Crystal Springs, MS 39059 funchess_l@bellsouth.net 601398-6029

Representatives from: Grenada County Environmental Support Team President, Richard Ellis, druw@cableone.net, 276 Salem Church Rd, Grenada, MS 38901 Vice-president, Bennie Taylor 342 Carver Circle, Grenada, MS Secretary, Kaye Hubbard 130 Oakwood Drive, Grenada, MS, kaye1219@yahoo.com Treasurer, Sandra Smith 554 Tie Plant Road, Grenada, MS Representative from: Hercules Steering Committee Darlene Hill-Chairperson-Hattiesburg, MS Alvin Watson-co-Chairperson-Hattiesburg, MS Annie Payton-Secretary- Hattiesburg, MS