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Citizens lawyer quits, then rejoins, mine rules talks

Attorney Doug Bevins Tuesday portrayed himself as a little fish who had become exhausted trying to swim against the currents of mining money and political influence.

Bevins, the attorney representing the Citizens Alliance for a Responsible Mining Ordinance, sent a scathing letter to the County Commission on Oct. 2 announcing his resignation from discussions to draft a new mining ordinance.

Tuesday, he was called in to defend that decision, and eventually he agreed to rejoin the discussions.

Commission Chairman John Richardson, who said he was "blindsided" by Bevins' decision, led the questioning.

If anyone had a problem with the meeting, he or she should have brought the matter to his attention, Richardson said, "rather than pick up their marbles and go home."

Before the two-hour discussion was finished, Bevins agreed to keep the commission better informed. But first, he went over in detail the reasons for his decision to resign.

The mines do not really want more stringent regulation, he said, because it will cost a great deal of money. The commissioners do not really want to make a decision, especially so near to an election, because it could cost them politically, Bevins said.

He had been appointed by the commission in July to meet with lawyer Jake Varn, representing the mines, and Grant Tolbert, the manager of the county's Development Department.

The formation of this committee came after more than eight months of workshops and meetings on the ordinance.

That was one of the main indications the commission did not want to make a decision, he said.

The last straw, Bevins said, was the appearance of Charlie Price, the plant manager of the Vulcan/ICA Distribution Corp. plant in Brooksville, at a meeting last month.

It had already been agreed that the ordinance would address issues on a site-by-site basis. Price, he said, acted as though he was unaware of such an agreement.

Both Tolbert and Varn said they were surprised by Bevins' perception that no progress was being made. Varn also said he objected to Bevins' attempts to divine the mines' intentions.

He told the commission he would advise Bevins "not to go into the mind-reading business because he's lousy at it."