BACKROOM POLITICS, PAID FACILITATOR, NO AUTHORITY
BY CRAIG MEDRED
With the fishing season beginning in the 49th state, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has been holding private meetings to forge an agreement between commercial, sport and other fishing interests on how to manage salmon in Cook Inlet.
The reason why is unclear.
By law, the regulation of state fisheries falls solely under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Board of Fisheries. One of the first acts of the Alaska Legislature after Statehood in 1959 was to establish a Board of Fish and Game – later split into the separate boards for fish and wildlife management – to insulate resource decisions from backroom politicking.
“Under the Alaska Constitution, the Board of Fish and Game was founded in 1960 to provide for public discussion (of) the state’s fish and wildlife management,” according to a legislative history. “Public involvement is one of the most essential aspects of the board process.”
Alaska Outdoor Council executive director Rod Arno on Friday accused Walker of playing politics with Inlet fisheries in direct violation of the intent of the state’s founders. The AOC is the state’s largest fishing and hunting organization.
Were Walker’s secret dealings not enough, Arno added, what the governor and a state-paid facilitator are doing makes no sense given that Walker has no authority to alter fishing regulations. Even if Walker could broker a deal on management of Inlet salmon in secretive, closed-door meetings, Arno noted, the deal would need the approval of the seven-member Board of Fish.
The board members are appointed by the governor, but must be approved by the Legislature. The board is not scheduled to consider Cook Inlet salmon issues until the 2019-2020 session. The state votes on a new governor this fall.
Walker is running for re-election. Arno and others have speculated that what is really going on is an effort by the governor to craft something he can claim has brought peace between warring fishery factions in Upper Cook Inlet (UCI) in the hopes this could win him some votes.
But even if Walker could broker such a deal, which seems unlikely, Arno said, it would set a bad precedent.
“It gets right back down to the (fish and game) advisory committees,” he said. “They feel they’ve been disenfranchised.”
Commercial fishing organizations and their members raised a lot of money for Walker during his campaign four years ago. He has been paying them back ever since. First with his, often failed, Board of Fisheries appointments, followed by his one on one meetings with Board members persuading them or threatening them into making decisions favoring the UCI commercial fishers. These new meetings arranged by Walker are simply a cover to do more to favor his commercial fishing friends. Then, what ever he comes up with will be used to convince his Board appointees to pass regulations that surely will “disenfranchise” the process and the many Alaskans that depend on putting salmon on their tables or in their freezers. Thankfully we will soon have a new Governor.
Walker is skilled at maneuvering laws and regulations to reach his goals. His election, the PFD, oil, gas, and now this. He seems only to fail recognizing the will of the people.
One doubts our stalwart Board of Fisheries were disenfranchised.
Rather, the process simply reflects the exemplary teamwork required to enact the wishes of the 21 registered lobbyists who represent Alaska’s fishing industry.
The “disenfranchised” are productive Alaskans who don’t have a similar lobbyist-legislator-governor-Board team to represent them with similar efficiency.
After we drain our swamp, maybe productive Alaskans will have such a team, no?
As a former member of the Board of Fisheries (1996-2002), I am troubled by Governor Walkers “behind closed doors) approach. One of the many benefits of an open process is the opportunity to be heard and for the Board members to learn about the fisheries and competing interests among gear types and between sport and commercial fishers.
Provided fair and open minded people are put on the Board by the Governor and confirmed by the legislature, with a balance among the competing interests, our fisheries resources have been and can continue to be managed for all Alaskans and most importantly preserved and protected for future generations of Alaskans.
Unfortunately for our fisheries, Governor Walker has made one sided appointments to the Board which, I believe, have been made for political purposes. All user groups from sport, commercial subsistence and personal use need representation on the Board of Fisheries.
Finally, when I was fortunate enough to serve a Board that listened to all interested stakeholders. While our motto was “The Fish Come First”.to insure that we had abundant fish in our waters, the allocation regulations allowed harvest by all stakeholders. When we had shortfalls, we reduced all fisheries.
It appears to me that Governor Walker has ignored all but commercial fishers which, in the long run, will destroy both our fisheries and our well working managment and allocation systems.
What a shame.
Well Dan, can you explain how it is that Walker is able to get his “one sided appointments” confirmed by Legislature?
Granted that lobbyists can influence some of them but it just doesn’t compute that Walker is able to keep putting these unfair folks on the Board.
If you want an idea of our lobbyist-legislator team works, download Alaska’s 2018 Lobbyist Directory, save it in Excel, then do a control-F search on the word “fish”.
You’ll quickly see who’s bought whom and get a sense of what they want for their money.
Looking at the document as a whole, you’ll get a sense of why the governor seems able to what he wants, apparently with no worries about legislative intervention.
Looks like we have a swamp to drain…
Go ahead and give us the sense of why gov. gets what he wants. Legislature gives him what he wants and you and Dan Coffey blame Walker?
I’d say you need to drain something or quit whining!
Oops! Must have hit a nerve…
You didn’t hit a nerve but are evasive!
Gave you a tool, showed you how to use it…
Now, see what can you do with it…
Good news: no right or wrong answer…
Other news: you have to do it for yourself…
OK Morrigan, I asked Mr. Coffee and you responded with a bunch of BS about “apparently with no worries about legislative intervention.”
That goes without saying IMO, but I asked why is this possible? You have no answer so stoop to gibberish.
Lobbyists-legislator connections make “this” possible.
The 2018 Lobbyist Directory reveals more than a dozen “fish”-specific lobbyists and their clients.
Don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes to figure “this” out; do have to show a bit of initiative, no?
Well I see you still have no answer but, of course, the blame is on Walker for what?? Perhaps he has taken the winning side in your lobbyist-legislative connection and he should be blamed for this.
Like I said earlier, either drain that swamp you so dread or quit whining!
Seems like my new BFF might be: (a) the Governor’s stalwart friend, (b) the Governor, (c) a bot, or (d) someone unburdened by critical thinking or inductive reasoning processes.
(a) is good, nothing wrong with loyalty…
(b) uh-oh, I’m so (fill in the blank)…
(c) beware the Turing test…
(d) nothing wrong with that, always time to learn…
Have a good one…
Another nice non-answer Morrigan. Remember here that it was you who originally answered me uninvited. With mostly gibberish, too.
You honestly think the Governor might be wasting his time responding to you about this subject?? Heheh!
You have a good one, too.
Dump Walker! He has no clue what Alaskans want! He is completely under the control of all the out side groups who have funded him and his campaigns! Alaskans have to elect people who are not owned by lobbyists and other big money groups from out of state!
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