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F&G official should be allowed to have his say

Last month, the Magic Valley's regional Fish and Game supervisor, David Parrish, spoke his mind about how a proposed wind farm might injure wildlife. Parrish got demoted and transferred to Fish and Game's headquarters in Boise. But the real victim is the political independence of Idaho's wildlife agency and its staffers. ...He ran afoul of three Republican lawmakers - Rep. Stephen Hartgen of Twin Falls, who worked as a consultant on the project; Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson, whose nephew owns land on which part of the wind farm could be built; and Assistant House Republican Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley -- who complained to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Last month, the Magic Valley's regional Fish and Game supervisor, David Parrish, spoke his mind about how a proposed wind farm might injure wildlife.

Parrish got demoted and transferred to Fish and Game's headquarters in Boise.

But the real victim is the political independence of Idaho's wildlife agency and its staffers.

Parrish's letter to the Twin Falls Times-News questioned how the 185-turbine China Mountain wind farm might damage habitat for "sage grouse, mule deer, antelope and other sagebrush dependent species."

He ran afoul of three Republican lawmakers - Rep. Stephen Hartgen of Twin Falls, who worked as a consultant on the project; Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson, whose nephew owns land on which part of the wind farm could be built; and Assistant House Republican Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley -- who complained to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Parrish crossed the line by referring to "our" - as in Fish and Game's - concerns and signed the letter with his job title. And, as Bedke pointed out, he failed to follow the Warbis Manifesto. Earlier this year, gubernatorial spokesman Mark Warbis decreed state workers notify his shop before they speak out.

Unfortunately for Parrish, he's got some demerits in his... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Last month, the Magic Valley's regional Fish and Game supervisor, David Parrish, spoke his mind about how a proposed wind farm might injure wildlife.

Parrish got demoted and transferred to Fish and Game's headquarters in Boise.

But the real victim is the political independence of Idaho's wildlife agency and its staffers.

Parrish's letter to the Twin Falls Times-News questioned how the 185-turbine China Mountain wind farm might damage habitat for "sage grouse, mule deer, antelope and other sagebrush dependent species."

He ran afoul of three Republican lawmakers - Rep. Stephen Hartgen of Twin Falls, who worked as a consultant on the project; Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson, whose nephew owns land on which part of the wind farm could be built; and Assistant House Republican Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley -- who complained to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Parrish crossed the line by referring to "our" - as in Fish and Game's - concerns and signed the letter with his job title. And, as Bedke pointed out, he failed to follow the Warbis Manifesto. Earlier this year, gubernatorial spokesman Mark Warbis decreed state workers notify his shop before they speak out.

Unfortunately for Parrish, he's got some demerits in his confidential personnel file - enough that this latest mishap triggered the demotion.

Certainly, requiring Parrish to publicly correct the record by stating he was speaking for himself would have been fair. But Fish and Game Director Cal Groen's decision was disproportionate to the crime. He hurt Fish and Game more than Parrish.

There's a long tradition of Fish and Game employees sharing their professional perspectives on wildlife and environmental issues with their neighbors and friends. Some have done so in these pages through the years.

How will that tradition continue under these rules:

  • Make sure there's nothing in your personnel record that could come back to haunt you.
  • Don't stumble into hyperbole and suggest you're speaking for others in the department.
  • Clear everything with Otter's press office.

Who's going to do that?

Since 1938, Idaho Fish and Game has been politically independent. No other group in Idaho has the scientific resources and the credibility to speak on wildlife issues in this state.

Republican rule has politicized the Fish and Game Commission -- and ideologically filtered or downplayed some of its biological findings.

For the first time, however, individual staffers have been muzzled. By refusing to tolerate dissent within his administration, Otter deserves some blame.

What the situation demanded, however, was leadership at the top of Fish and Game. Only Groen could have defended Idaho's refreshing tradition of permitting Fish and Game professionals to get engaged on issues, regardless of the governor's ideological bent.

Not doing so has sent a chilling message throughout Fish and Game.

- This view is from the Post Register editorial board in Idaho Falls.


Source: http://www.idahopress.com/?...

AUG 19 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16611-f-g-official-should-be-allowed-to-have-his-say
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