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Last updated 7:07AM ET
February 28, 2021
ADEM Urged To Form Policy On Employee Gifts
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A conservation group urged the state's environmental agency to adopt a policy on accepting gifts.

The Environmental Management Commission discussed a gift policy at its meeting Friday. One commission member said a committee might take up the proposal, while two asked for specific details on such a proposal.

Alabama Department of Environmental Management Director Trey Glenn this summer accepted food and tickets to a Montgomery Biscuits game from Alabama Power Co.

Adam Snyder, director of Birmingham-based Conservation Alabama, said that made it clear Glenn and the entire department need a strict rule on accepting gifts from those regulated by the ADEM.

"Gifts provided by any entity are intended to influence decisions, actions, or inactions of the receiver," Snyder said. "It is rare that lobbyists give gifts out of the goodness of their heart."

Snyder proposed that the commission consider at a future meeting adopting a gifts policy like Gov. Bob Riley's, which requires his staff and those in departments under his purview to publicly disclose all gifts. That is stricter than the state ethics law.

Glenn said the attendance at Friday's meeting, letters and e-mails to the department and a recent spate of news articles and editorials about ADEM were proof the department is having growing pains.

"There is a tremendous increase in interest in the department now," he said. "This type of unrest and anxiety is very common when you're on the cusp of major changes for an organization like ours that has done business for fairly the same way for so many years. So this is not a surprise, and allows us to address a lot of these issues more effectively."

Glenn has refused to discuss one of the controversial issues, a $2.4-million Cessna the department bought last year. A spokesman said the plane is used for spotting pollution, unpermitted sites and other environmental problems.

Glenn also told the commission Friday that he is expecting a $3 million shortfall in the department's budget for the upcoming year, which begins Oct. 1. It's unclear how that will be replaced.

"The year brings with it some challenges," Glenn said, "one of them being a $3 million challenge."

He said the department will get an increase of about $700,000 from the state's General Fund, which will help, and he hopes changes in business processes will result in staffers being able to more efficiently do their jobs.


Information from: The Birmingham News

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