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Just Can't Shake That Nazi Party Hangover

Don't Do Any Environment Stuff

Loop Fans know to be highly skeptical of those political announcements that a top administration official is resigning "to spend more time with the family," or maybe to "return to his first love," coin collecting or weight lifting. These phrases are almost always euphemisms for getting the boot or being squeezed out.

But there was even greater skepticism Thursday at the Environmental Protection Agency when deputy administrator Marcus Peacock circulated this e-mail to senior officials at 5:06 p.m. about the resignation of EPA's administrator in the Chicago region.

Subject: Region 5 Personnel Announcement

As of this afternoon, Thursday, May 1, 2008, Mary Gade has resigned her position as Regional Administrator for EPA Region 5. I want to thank Mary for her many years of service to the people and the mission of EPA.

She has worked hard to help protect human health and our environment.

Mary plans to return to private life and spend time with her family.

Bharat Mathur, the Deputy Regional Administrator, will assume the responsibilities of Acting Regional Administrator. I thank Bharat for his continued service and leadership.

Problem was, the e-mail came 1 1/2 hours after the Chicago Tribune posted a story online quoting Gade, who said she had been forced out of her job because of her aggressive stand on dioxin flowing from Dow Chemical's Midland, Mich., plant into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.

Gade said two political appointees at headquarters told her to quit or be fired by June 1. The EPA confirmed she was leaving but declined to discuss a personnel matter.

Gade, appointed by President Bush 18 months ago, told the Tribune: "There is no question this is about Dow. I stand behind what I did and what my staff did. I'm proud of what we did."

Gade had been trying to force Dow to clean up several inland hot spots contaminated by the cancer-causing chemical. She told the Tribune that top aides to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson repeatedly questioned her actions against the chemical giant.

Next thing you know, she "plans to return to private life and spend time with her family."

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