Governor Walker is in a tough spot now regarding the whole Board of Fish debacle. But if he caves now to the demands of the Kenai River Sport Fish Association (KRSA) he will loose the respect and support of many of his strongest backers from all corners of the Kenai Peninsula. Robert Ruffner was the right choice for the vacant seat and as a sport and personal use fishermen would not have upset the so called balance on the seven member BOF. But along comes KRSA who after their initial support of Mr. Ruffner found that they could not control this outstanding individual in the manner that they controlled his predecessor. So what did they do? Launched a campaign full of inaccuracies and outright lies and dispensed this information to not only the Legislature but also to several of the statewide user groups that had initially supported Mr. Ruffner. Then with a strong lobbying effort they were able to gain the votes to deny his confirmation.
So now comes rumor out of Juneau that Governor Walker is about to name a KRSA Bob Penny disciple to the vacant BOF seat. Are you kidding me? This would be absolutely the worse thing he could do. The Governor’s reputation and respect will fall to the bottom of the barrel in this corner of Alaska where he received some of his strongest support. The individual being considered may be a fine person and fully qualified to serve the administration in other capacities, but not on the BOF. Any association with KRSA will taint the person, the process, the BOF, and the Governor personally. He should not let himself be controlled by powerful well funded individuals or groups who represent self-interests bent on destroying a competing industry and the livelihoods of thousands of lifelong Alaskans.
Governor Walker represents all the citizens of Alaska and we would hope he has the moral fiber to stand up against a group that would divide us all. He needs to look at other well qualified candidates for this important seat. A strong sport fish/personal use advocate is fine, but one that has an open mind to all user groups and is not affiliated with the group hell bent on annihilation of Cook Inlet commercial fishers — KRSA.