Last Spring, the Kenai River Professional Guides Assn. (KRPGA) noted in their newsletter, regarding the Kenai/Soldotna Advisory Committee elections, “We were able to get Robert Crowell, Bill Tappan, Joe Conors and Gary Turner elected to this AC to join Mel Erickson, Joe Hardy and Jim Kuhnsman. Still they outnumber us 8-7 on most issues but hopefully at the next election that they have we can get a couple more folks on this AC so we can start to turn this thing around.”
Well, the AC held their elections (Jan. 11) and KRPGA guides and Kenai River Sport Fishing Assn. (KRSA) members showed up in force to elect their nominees to the committee. After the smoke cleared, these organizations combined to now seat 10 of their “appointees” on this 17 member committee. What this all means as far as future deliberations by this committee remains to be seen, however, we should assume that any fisheries proposals would probably be guide friendly.
A bigger question begs to be asked. Why do these organizations, that already possess all of the money, power and influence to steer the governor, Department of Fish and Game and the Board of Fish, need to exert their power over an AC? Especially when an AC is designed to be comprised of a well rounded group of the public to give grass-roots feedback to the Boards of Fish and Game on issues affecting their area.
I’m sure the founders of the Advisory Committee process did not envision this process being so skewed and open to misuse by special interest groups to further their agenda. In this case it is an issue of economic incentive exerting their power over public process. This completely subverts the process and the ability of the public to participate in good faith. This type of system will also discourage people from trusting this arena to provide fairness in addressing their needs.
I know, Gary Dawkins, the committee chair, is an honorable person and will do his best to discourage a slanted committee. The gentlemen elected to carry the water of these organizations are also fine people, in their own right, but they have to know they were put there because their agenda parallels that of the organizations that got them elected and for that reason they will be expected to follow suit on issues important to these organizations.
I wish Gary and the committee the best in their endeavor, however, until more individuals from the public at large, without ties to powerful organizations, are allowed to make up the majority of its membership, public doubt will over shadow the AC’s effectiveness.
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