Wolf Song of Alaska News

The Game Boards' Choice

Editorial / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / February 2, 2007

In Alaska the top position at the Department of Fish and Game is appointed by the governor, but that choice of commissioner is to be made from among a selection of qualified candidates forwarded jointly by the Board of Fish and Board of Game. The governor's choice then must be approved in a joint legislative session.

On Thursday the joint boards forwarded their choice for Commissioner of Fish and Game to Gov. Sarah Palin.

What's different this time is that the joint boards forwarded only a single name, that of Denby Lloyd, who has been serving as acting commissioner.

He seems a logical choice and we certainly have no disparaging words to share about our acting commissioner.

The problem is the boards are charged with giving the governor a choice, not a single candidate. No matter the qualifications of Mr. Lloyd, when the public sees a process where there is supposed to be a choice and only one name comes forward, well, talk and suspicion will no doubt ensue.

There have been immediate rumblings through the state's outdoor community and, justified or not, it appears the board has erred in this move and left the door open for people to talk as if they're watching a fixed contest.

Depending on your point of view the governor may have somehow coerced the board into "choosing her man," or perhaps some are thinking the Board of Fisheries (and people would assume fisheries since Mr. Lloyd is a commercial fish biologist with no wildlife management background) is attempting to usurp the governor's authority by offering her no choice.

Hopefully neither of those is the case. Maybe, this time around, Mr. Lloyd was just the clear front-runner among the pack.

But as the statute reads: "The governor shall appoint the commissioner of fish and game from a list of qualified persons nominated by the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game meeting in joint session, subject to the right of the governor to request additional nominations."

Whether people are justified in their worry about a single name being forwarded instead of qualified "persons" is beside the point. Some do seem to be troubled by the joint boards' choice of only one person, so the fix is easy. The governor should simply exercise her right to request additional nominations.

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