July 1, 2002
In response to Commissioner Marcus Gibbs´ Reader´s View, the proposed Fish and Game initiative only failed to gather enough qualified signatures because of a lack of time and no other reason.
Trying to gather 43,000 qualified signatures in 54 days with all volunteers is a daunting task. The goal of the initiative was to empower ordinary sportsmen and citizens to have a role in the commission selection process, which they don´t have now. I believe that sportsmen will file again this November and will have 16 months next time to gather signatures.
Gibbs fails to mention the meeting held with former Director Rod Sando the night before his forced resignation. Commissioner Gibbs, Commissioner John Burns and I met with Sando, and Gibbs offered a deal to Sando. He could be fired or he could resign and receive six months salary, approximately $50,000, as a severance package. Sando told us he didn´t want to leave and wanted a chance to visit with the governor´s staff to see if he could work this out.
Sando left the meeting thinking he still had some options. The next day he was told by Gibbs he had until noon to accept the $50,000 severance package or it would be withdrawn and he could be fired. Now if Sando was going to leave anyway, why was he offered $50,000 to go?
Regarding executive sessions, there are only three reasons to go into executive session and they are for legal matters, land purchases and personnel actions.
Many executive sessions were begun for legal matters and then other topics were discussed that were not matters that can be legally discussed in executive session. Usually only the chairman, the director and our legal counsel knew exactly what the specific issues were that required an executive session. Making motions to go into executive sessions are required and the chairman initiates all executive sessions by asking someone to make such a motion.
Making the motion doesn´t signify any approval of decisions to be made, it is only to start the meeting.
All of the predator programs and the changes made in Region 3 were approved by the commission before we proceeded and all were by 100 percent vote. The use of electronic calls for lions is also allowed in Unit 12, which is in Region 2, and that was approved by a 100 percent vote. The problem with the predator program in Region 6 is it wasn´t approved by the commission until after the fact.
The money, $300,000, was allocated in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee without prior knowledge by the commission. This program has no written plan or goal yet and there has been no measuring system put into place to measure the results. It is a very open-ended program that is extremely costly and seems to mirror an existing study we have going on in Southeast Idaho for the past four years. The Hurley study has been measuring the effectiveness of predator control on deer and antelope recruitment with a well thought-out scientific study method being used. Those results are a matter of public record.
As far as the Grizzly Plan, all of the commissioners were critical of some of the items in the plan. But I understand how consensus committees function and I know the state needs a plan before delisting can occur and I support having such a document even though I may disagree with parts of the plan. I doubt if anyone is 100 percent happy with the plan. That is how consensus plans work.
I think if anyone takes the time to go back three years and look at the voting record of this commission you will find that this commission has voted 100 percent in over 75 percent of our votes. That seems to me to be quite a statement about working toward the same goals. I doubt if many seven-member boards or commissions could make this claim.
There should only be one reason to want to serve on the Fish and Game Commission and that is to be an advocate for wildlife and sportsmen of Idaho and to ensure a healthy Fish and Game Department. That is the only reason I do it. Maybe Chairman Gibbs should be more concerned about commissioners who circumvent the rules than those that oppose his political position.