The appointment of Bob Mumford to the open Board of Fisheries seat concludes yet another contentious chapter in fish board politics.
Mumford is Gov. Bill Walker’s third pick to fill the seat left vacant with the resignation of Karl Johnstone in January. His first pick for the seat, Roland Maw, withdrew during the confirmation process just before he was charged with improperly receiving resident hunting and fishing benefits in Montana. The Legislature narrowly rejected Walker’s second pick, Robert Ruffner of Soldotna, during a joint session in April.
Mumford’s appointment came with its own controversy — in that it was unclear whether the governor had actually made the appointment by Tuesday’s deadline. The appointment was not shared with the public until Wednesday. In fact, when asked by the Clarion, the administration declined to disclose the appointment — while insisting that one had been made — in addition to declining to release the list of applicants being considered — while acknowledging that list is a public document.
Further complicating the matter, a week before the deadline for filling the seat, the governor’s director of boards and commissions abruptly resigned. In an interview with the Alaska Journal of Commerce following Mumford’s appointment, Karen Gillis said she resigned after she was told that the governor’s pick for the seat was Roberta “Bobbi” Quintavell. Gillis said she was never consulted on the selection, and that she was told the governor’s decision was final.
A spokesperson for the administration insisted that appointment was never made.
House Speaker Mike Chenault of Nikiski said the usual procedure for the governor after making an appointment is to transmit it the chief legislative clerk. According to Chenault, as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, no names had been forwarded to the Legislature.
A spokesperson for the administration said the governor is not required to follow that procedure when the Legislature is not in regular session (legislators were in special session on Tuesday).
Quite frankly, this “take our word for it” attitude from the administration on crucial board appointments is more than a bit disconcerting. Fish board appointments require careful thought and consideration, not knee-jerk reactions or last-minute decisions.
And we expect the administration to be forthcoming with its appointments — especially appointments it claims to have already made.
We know the governor has a lot on his plate, but we hope that next time around, board appointments are given the attention they deserve.