Tuesday, September 11, 2007

let the Matheson mine commission do its job

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. did the right thing by appointing the guy he beat-- Scott Matheson, Jr.-- to head the commission to look into Utah's mine safety.
"You're talking to a lot of people about a lot of things that are often relevant to what we need," Matheson told James Crawford, a senior trial attorney at MSHA and legal advisor to the agency investigation team headed by Richard Gates.
Crawford said he would like to satisfy Matheson's desire for more information but added that there are limitations on what MSHA should disclose before its probe is complete.
"I hope you are sensitive to our need to protect our investigative process," he said, maintaining that releases of bits and pieces of information before the big picture is assembled can lead to premature conclusions that later turn out to be wrong. "We want to do a good job here . . . To do that, we have to respect the investigative process."
In other words, MSHA needs to make sure it doesn't give Matheson's commission anything that will make MSHA look bad, like how they never did anything in March after the first mini-cave in.

Good thing Matheson isn't going to be sitting around waiting for MSHA to hand him the information he needs.
"If we're not getting [information], we're going to push for it," vowed Matheson, former U.S. Attorney and past dean of the University of Utah Law School. "I'd like the [state commission] to make relevancy determinations [on information] and not rely on MSHA. I'd like a commitment of a good faith effort to work this out."
Matheson said he already has met once with some survivors of disaster victims and would be talking with their representatives again Monday to ensure the families are kept abreast of the state commission's activities.
That's something Murray wouldn't do. The next time Murray will talk with their attorneys is when he get subpoenaed for the litigation that is sure to follow.
Matheson fired back that since the state does not have the resources to conduct its own probe, the commission relies on MSHA for pertinent information.

"There's no interest (by our commission) in compromising your investigation," Matheson said. "Our interest is in doing our work consistent with an investigation that you feel is thorough and meets all the confidentiality needs that it needs to meet.

"But at the same time, we'd like to have access to information that would help us in doing our work. And periodic updates and giving us information that you're going to give to the public, at least in my view, is not sufficient."
Scott Matheson is fighting for miner's safety, and he won't let MSHA or anyone else cut corners or whitewash over the truth.

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