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UPDATE: Mobile Attorney Cleared By State Bar Association

UPDATE 11/3: An update to a story we first brought you exclusively on Local 15 News last month. The Alabama State Bar Commission has cleared local attorney Doug Anderson of any wrongdoing.

In September, Semmes resident Thayer Dodd filed an ethics complaint against Anderson on conflict of interest allegations, claiming he represented both the City Planning Commission and ARC Terminals, which is a petrochemical storage operator in Mobile.

The investigator with the state bar said they found no reason to take action.

Dodd also filed a similar complaint against Planning Commission Chairman Jay Watkins with the Alabama Ethics Commission. No word yet on the status of that investigation.

Anderson's response:

"This is, of course, the result I expected, and I am grateful to the State Bar Association for their prompt attention to this matter. I expect Jay Watkins to receive a similar result from the State Ethics Commission. I have spent the last thirty years building a law practice in my hometown, and my reputation is of upmost importance to me. It is sad that a group of citizens with an agenda that includes trying to shut down all industry in the Port of Mobile will stoop to filing complaints against people involved in the process simply to achieve their goal. What is worse is that all this is being orchestrated by an out-of-town environmental activist who goes around the country encouraging this type of behavior. Hopefully, we will be able to put this behind us and get back to the business at hand, which is discussing the issues and passing an ordinance that is best for all of Mobile."

Here is the response from the woman who filed the complaint:

"The process is over. I respect the State Bar's Association's decision. I hope we can all move forward to make sure that the new zoning regulations governing above ground oil storage tanks focus on the health, safety and general welfare of all Mobile's citizens. I hope that as many people as possible will participate in the Planning Commission public hearings this Thursday and Nov 19th and Dec 1st. "

ORIGINAL STORY

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) The State Ethics Commission and State Bar Association are investigating Mobile's Assistant City Attorney and the Chairman of the Planning Commission, after a group of citizens filed a complaint against the them.

The citizens behind the complaints believe the Chairman and the Commission's legal advisor should have recused themselves from Planning Commission dealings that have to do with oil storage tanks along Mobile River, because of business relationships both men are alleged to have had with oil companies.

As the Planning Commission works to re-write the zoning laws on above ground petroleum storage tanks in Mobile, Mobile County resident Thayer Dodd and others are concerned about the who's making those decisions that will affect downtown living.

"I believe in fair, open, honest, transparent government and there is a process going on with developing new zoning ordinances by the Planning Commission that are being written by a subcommittee. And two of the four people involved have had oil industry clients and I find that very concerning," said Dodd.

Dodd has now filed a formal complaint with the State Ethics Commission against James Watkins, The Planning Commission Chairman, claiming a conflict of interest because of dealings he's had with Blakeley Logistics, a subsidiary of ARC Terminals Holdings.

"I think the new laws are being written by industry for industry," said Dodd.

Dodd filed another complaint, this time with the Alabama State Bar Association, against Doug Anderson, an assistant city attorney who advises the Planning Commission. She did so because of business relationships he's alleged to have had with ARC Terminals Mobile Holdings and its subsidiary, Gulf Coast Asphalt Company.

"Gulf Coast Asphalt Company was a client of this firm in 2012. It is a Houston based company that had some operations here in Mobile. They were in the process of selling their Mobile operations and assets to one of the ARC Terminal companies. I wasn't involved in any of the negotiations. They hired me to form a new entity, which I think based on this information was called ARC Terminals Mobile Holdings. I filed the paperwork with the Secretary of State's office to form that company, listed myself, as most lawyers do when they file for an out of state company, a new corporation, as a registered agent. I did that in late 2012 and other than preparing the deeds for the completion of the transfer of GCAC's assets to the ARC entity, I have had no dealings with GCAC since," said Anderson, an attorney with Burr and Forman. "In my opinion it is a sad attempt by the environmental activists to discredit my name and reputation and that of Mr. Watkins to win on their side their battle at all costs, at any cost."

According to him, there's no basis to the complaints.

"What they are failing to recognize, she and her activist friends are failing to recognize, is that Ricardo Woods, my partner and I filed for injunctive relief against ARC Terminals about 6 weeks ago because of the sulfuric acid they were illegally storing on their facility across the(Mobile) River. So how ludicrous is it for me to sue my own client if in fact ARC were my client? I can't do that. I wouldn't have any clients left," said Anderson.

Watkins responded to Local 15 News by email and said the complaints have no merit and he's working with the Ethics Commission to clear things up.

The documents filed are linked below:

http://www.local15tv.com//images/DOUGLAS%20ANDERSON-COVER%20LETTER.pdf

http://www.local15tv.com//images/DOUGLAS ANDERSON-COMPLAINT.pdfhttp://www.local15tv.com//images/DOUGLAS ANDERSON-DOCUMENTS.pdf

http://www.local15tv.com//images/JAMES%20F%20WATKINS-COVER%20LETTER.pdf
http://www.local15tv.com//images/JAMES F WATKINS-COMPLAINT.pdf
http://www.local15tv.com//images/JAMES F WATKINS-DOCUMENTS.pdf

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