Trust in ADEM’s Glenn runs low – Birmingham News 2/3/08

Trust in ADEM’s Glenn runs low – Birmingham News 2/3/08

News staff writer

A Birmingham environmental group has released the responses to an online survey that scores the state’s top environmental regulator – 88 percent of them negative.

The 133 respondents are not a statistically accurate sample of the public, but a total of those who answered on the Web site of the group Conservation Alabama.

Trey Glenn, the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, is up for review by the Alabama Environmental Management Commission late this month. In advance of that, Conservation Alabama posted a questionnaire closely resembling the survey written by the commissioners who supervise Glenn.

Adam Snyder, executive director of the political environmental group, said it appeared about 10 percent of the surveys were returned by ADEM employees.

“I would say the theme through this survey is a lack of trust,” Snyder said. “Lack of trust between the staff and the director, lack of trust of the public with the director and the agency, this perceived unethical conduct.”

People who returned the survey criticized Glenn for his choice to use ADEM money to buy a $2.4 million plane he says is for surveillance of pollution, as well as his decision to take his family to a Montgomery Biscuits baseball game in the Alabama Power Co. box, with food and drink provided.

One respondent wrote: “I have observed a lack of ownership of mistakes and an intolerance in mistakes made by others.”

Regarding the survey, Glenn said in a written statement: “While I have not had an opportunity to review the comments that were submitted, I welcome any encouragement, feedback and constructive criticism regarding my efforts at ADEM.”

Laurel Gardner, vice chairwoman of the Environmental Management Commission, said she hadn’t decided whether to read and consider the evaluations.

“My biggest personal concern in doing so is that they have interaction with the department, but none of them actually work on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis with Mr. Glenn,” she said.

Snyder said Glenn could use the messages from the public. “I think the director can rebuild this trust,” Snyder said. “People will continue to trust agencies that fail if they admit it.”

He said a series of public forums Glenn is holding are an example of steps he has taken to regain public trust.

© 2008 The Birmingham News
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