Director fired from commission that oversees environmental spendingby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The director of the committee that oversees spending of lottery money on the environment has reportedly been fired.
Susan Thornton is out as the director of the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources, according to Nancy Gibson, the co-chair of the commission.
Gibson said she was informed that Thornton had been fired. Gibson says the citizen members of the LCCMR are in shock. Thornton is regarded as a good director, but was told the group is going in a new direction, Gibson said.
"For them to say we're going in a new direction without any discussion is a great shock," Gibson said.
The unexpected firing on Monday doesn't match the LCCMR's typical way of operating. Meetings and decision-making were open to the public, Gibson said.
"We've always prided ourselves on a transparent process. It's always vigorous, we deliberate vote by consensus, it's all in front of the public, and this is a new trend that's very, very uncomfortable," Gibson said.
Gibson says the LCCMR itself appointed Thornton as director, and it should be up to the group to decide whether or not to fire her.
Thornton's attorney, Vincent Louwagie, said he does not believe Thornton can be fired without a vote by the LCCMR. He said he hasn't been provided with any legal authority indicating the firing is effective.
Calls to Thornton and the agency that oversees the LCCMR have not been returned.
The LCCMR consists of five state senators, five representatives, and eight citizens. This year it recommended environmental projects costing $50 million. For the first time, the legislature made significant changes in the recommendations.