Sunday, February 28, 2010

LEGISLATURE AND THE KDFWR: TIME TO GET BUSY AND DO YOUR JOB!

As you know I have been following closely the situation regarding the KDFWR and the lack of oversight, openness, transparency, and in my opinion corruption. In my article of February 16 I contacted the League of Kentucky Sportsmen and included their response. You can view that article here:

http://springston.blogspot.com/2010/02/kdfwr-updates-stalling-for-time.html

It would appear that indeed the legislature is stalling for time on the issues presented in SB 64 as it has NOT made it to the floor yet for discussion and a vote. Why would they intentionally stall this legislation? Apparently Senator Brandon Smith still does not get what his job is to do.

I will make it easy for him. His job is NOT to disregard legitimate legislation. It is to present the legislation and have a vote period.

I included the resolution provided to me by the LKS in the article linked above for your review. This pertained to SB 64 and now I am being told that HB 429, the House equivalent of SB 64, is being stalled as well. Senator Bob Damron's House Bill 429 goes above and beyond even the tenants of SB 64 and it is being held up as well.

Why are these issues being stalled is the real question. The real answer is the KDFWR has things to hide in my opinion.

When I contacted the LKS as a followup I was told that yes they do support SB 64 and most of HB 429, though not all. Additionally they provided me with the following information from their records. I cannot post all of it but below you will find many reasons why the KDFWR is on the hot seat.

It is a pathetic example of why oversight is needed within the KDFWR. Read below from LKS President Rick Allen.

From the League of Kentucky Sportsmen to all Directors
President Rick Allen 2/1/10

Why the Resolution:

November 2008 told there we would have a committee dealing with nuisance elk to work together with legislators, LKS and Department. Was to meet ASAP. Never happened.

January 2009 Meet with Commissioner. Agree that we work together and promised full compliments of each other. Department promises full credit to LKS for pushing bear season through Legislation process. Did not happen.

February 2009 When reasoning behind Department Bill is discovered and questioned. Chairman gets irate that I tell him Attorney General’s Office believes it violates prevailing wage laws.

February 2009 Told Legislators that Task force to deal with Constitutional discrepancies was being formed to look at options. Never happened.

ETHICS from February 6th, 2009 Committee meeting

Last legislative session KDFRW tried passing bill to allow dept employees to do administration work for F&W Foundation. Questioned why, they stated to take notes in meeting a few times a year. I questioned why we would need to change law to do something this simple since we probably were already and no one would really care. Jon Gassett then gave another scenario that for example if a tree went through a roof at one of the camps. They could then send some technicians over under the direction of F&W Foundation, do repairs, have items donated, etc. I stated I did not see it proper to have KDFWR employees working under direction of an outside entity not controlled by the Commission. I also stated that this in no way has any thing to do with administrative duties as asked for in the bill.

After the meeting the Bill was killed. I asked a representative to check on scenario to see if this was proper. The Attorney general's office said that it was not legal. I passed this info onto Commission Chairman, Dale Franklin who then immediately got upset that I even checked to see if legal. He became upset and stated that, “I should NOT have contacted the AG office”! I kept asking him why he had a problem because I asked if something was legal, all he said was I should not have done that. We ended conversation with me saying, “Dale, if you have a problem with this, we have a problem between us”.

March 2009 Asked LKS to quell crossbow issue that was coming around then released article saying Department employees saw this as management tool to use.

May 2009 Legislator still waiting on answer promised back in January.

July 2009 Department forms Review committee concerning Comprehensive License/Permit Review and places LKS President on it. Never heard from them again.

August 2009 Commissioner and Commission Chairman meet with LKS and Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus Co-Chair. Tell us that they will do things their way.

December 2009 When Chairman of Commission is asked about Commissioner running a company that appears in conflict of interest, his reply is, “I don’t have a problem with it”!

During the November meeting, it was agreed by all attending to set up a committee to deal with this issue.

The committee was formed of Dr. Gassett, Dr. Alexy, Rick Allen, Dale Franklin, Rep. Turner and 7th District LKS Director Mark Doss. Dr. Gassett told the group he would contact all members within the next few days and set a meeting to resolve the issue. No one from this group has been contacted


As you can see from the above there has been a history of the KDFWR under Gassett's leadership essentially full of lies, misdirection, and malfeasance. Folks if we ran a private business like this they would be out of business. It really is that simple.

Since the KDFWR is self funded and NOT Government funded it makes sense for sportsmen to begin asking what in the hell is going on within this Department. They fund it and they are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring their money is being used properly.

In order to avoid what everyone is worried about, and that is simply bringing the KDFWR under the control of the Commonwealth, it is imperative that the problems stop and that the reconciliation begins.

Gassett has been the leader of this travesty, the obstacle to progress, and he must go. Take Franklin with him. Get new leadership in the KDFWR, get new rules passed to avoid this repeat by any future Commissioner and get busy doing the job the Sportsmen pay for.

SB 64 and HB 429 should be reconciled and brought to a vote. It is the beginning of accountability and whether it is perfect or not, nothing ever is, it sends a message that this is unacceptable and lets Gassett and others know within the Department that they are accountable for their actions.

To continue this political manipulation by some so called elected "leaders" further illustrates the point of just exactly what is wrong today. Senator Brandon Smith are you listening? Get busy doing your job or you will be held accountable. Period.

For Representative Damron? Keep forcing the issue it has to be dealt with regardless of the hacks that stand in your way. If they won't do their job then I will do mine and see how it shakes out.

The time for political games is over. Accountability will now begin.

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Ed Springston

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