Democrat governor ‘whiffs’ again, says Kretz

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Democrat governor ‘whiffs’ again, says Kretz

Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire has continued her streak of a nearly perfect track record to never miss an opportunity to insult the people of Eastern Washington with her appointments to various boards and commissions, according to Rep. Joel Kretz. He said her recent Eastern Washington appointment to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (F&W) is proof positive of her record of misunderstanding the needs of rural Washingtonians.

“Her choice of Jay Kehne to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to be an Eastern Washington representative is a slap in the face to the entire east side of the state as well as the rest of the rural residents in the state. As the Okanogan County Organizer for Conservation Northwest, Mister Kehne's main qualification for the Commission, according to the Spokesman-Review newspaper, is likely as a 'wolf advocate.' This is a clear contrast to the Okanogan County Commissioners' position on wolves,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “The choice is also insult to hunters who foot much of the bill for wildlife management. Let me be clear, this is not an attack on Mister Kehne. He's a nice man with a lot to offer, but his appointment would make better sense if he were representing Olympia or Seattle regions on the Commission, but not Eastern Washington.”

As background, Kretz explained F&W is charged with setting policy for wildlife management in the state of Washington. Statute requires three of the nine members be from Eastern Washington. Kehne will fill one of those east side positions.

“Part of the goal of regional designees on the Commission is to provide some diversity, rather than a lockstep rubber stamp for Seattle values,” Kretz said. “This is where I have real issue with the governor's appointment to the Commission. The fact that the governor is relying on a Western Washington environmental group to advise her on who the best person is to represent Eastern Washington on the Commission shows a lack of responsiveness to the varied views of each part of the state.”

“No offense and nothing personal against Mister Kehne, but putting someone with King County values and ideas on a commission to represent Okanogan County values and ideas doesn't make any sense,” said Jim DeTro, Okanogan County Commissioner. “The governor's action is incredibly insensitive and disappointing.”

Kretz said he's also concerned about Kehne working as the leader on a state commission that approves grants to non-profit environmental groups, such as Conservation Northwest, to buy land and easements while also working for the Conservation Northwest operation.

“It seems like a clear conflict of interest and has the potential to lead to dealings that do not serve Eastern Washington and taxpayers well,” Kretz said. “While the money trail is convoluted, I have a real concern that a person can be both awarding grant money taken from taxpayers and be the one applying for the grant money, or at least suggesting to the non-profit where they should attempt to acquire land. It's just not a good situation and, in my mind, even the potential for impropriety should raise a red flag.”

The dialogue about land decisions needs to be diverse, Kretz said.

“While the three Eastern Washington commissioners will clearly not dominate the policy decisions of a nine-member board, it is important the Eastern and rural Washington perspective be heard. The governor's recent designee would clearly fail in that regard,” Kretz explained. “By removing one opportunity for rural citizens to be at the table through this appointment, our Democrat governor seemingly doesn't care to hear what we really think about wolf management.”

Kretz shared his concerns with the governor in a recent meeting with her to discuss the state budget.

“In my part of the state, the top wildlife concern is wolf recovery, yet our Democrat governor appoints the fellow leading the pro-wolf charge and hosting pro-wolf workshops around the state,” Kretz said. “It's akin to putting a wolf in the henhouse.”

While the governor has appointed Kehne to the Commission, the state Senate must confirm his appointment.

Constituents can read the Yakima Herald-Republic story regarding the Okanogan County Commissioners' resolution regarding delisting wolves from the list of endangered animals as well as Kehne's comments on how “fear and misunderstanding” of wolves is the main force behind the opposition to the wolf management plan here: http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2011/08/27/wolf-management-plan-has-many-howling-over-state-s-efforts-to-control-population/.

For more information, contact Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov