Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Editorials

June 19, 2013

Does Kentucky’s top sportsman have a boss?

June 19, 2013 —     Like some other media organizations in the state, we’re troubled about recent developments in the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).

    The agency is unique in state government because it receives no general fund support and operates entirely on revenue from fishing and hunting licenses, other fees and federal grants.

    KDFWR is a state agency with an annual budget of about $40 million, upwards of 500 employees, enforcement authority for the state’s wildlife laws, and management responsibility for about a million acres of public lands.

    The most troubling question to come to light recently is exactly who is responsible for this state agency?

    It has a major impact on the lives of our citizens but it apparently does not answer directly to any elected public official.

    Some legislators were shocked at a recent committee meeting when, for the first time, they got to see the lucrative employment contract of Commissioner Jonathan Gassett, KDFWR’s chief executive officer.

    His base pay is $134,000 annually. He gets another $50,000 in benefits. Other rewards cannot take his total compensation above $218,000.

    If you’re curious, Gassett’s compensation package is close to what we pay Gov. Steve Beshear, who is responsible for all of state government and about 30,000 state employees.

    Recent legislative and media scrutiny apparently resulted from complaints that his current salary deal was approved only by the chair of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission and not by the full, nine-member panel.

    The commission, by the way, is appointed by the governor from sportsmen nominated by fish and game organizations in nine regions of the state.

    The plain truth is that KDFWR is overseen by this appointed board and not by anyone who must answer to voters and taxpayers.

    Why is oversight important?

    It was widely reported last year that Gassett had $71,000 in travel expenses between 2008 and 2012, more than any other individual in state government.

Members of the fish and wildlife commission now are limited to two, four-year terms. Earlier, many served as long as 20 years.

    Some in the General Assembly want to confirm the governor’s appointments to the commission, as they do for other key boards and commissions.

    This situation clearly is a disconnect between the executive and legislative branches of state government.

    In our view, hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who buy hunting and fishing licenses and use public lands are entitled to the best management of those resources.

    As the politicians like to say, this old dog just won’t hunt.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Five years and counting on Saturday mail

    It was five years ago when that marvel of fiscal management, the U. S. Postal Service (USPS), announced it would end Saturday mail delivery within six months.

    July 23, 2014

  • Yes, girls can become scientists, engineers

    We applaud the television commercials sponsored by Verizon which gently but effectively rebuke those among us who discourage girls and young women from careers in science, technology and mathematics.

    July 16, 2014

  • High court right on mobile phone ruling

    We don’t always agree with the rulings of the U. S. Supreme Court which is often divided with multiple opinions. But, for the moment, we feel better about the high court because of its recent ruling on searching mobile phones.

    July 9, 2014

  • Would we pay the same high price today?

    As we Americans take a day off from work on Friday to mark the 238th birthday of our country, can we find a few moments to reflect on those who made it happen?

    July 2, 2014

  • Trading Saturday mail for roads is a hoax

    Just when we thought all of the idiotic ideas had emerged from the current Congress, along came another doozy. A Republican leader in the U.S. House of Representatives proposed that Saturday mail delivery be ended and the resulting savings be used to fix roads and bridges across America.

    June 25, 2014

  • Is history repeating itself in Iraq?

    If last week’s news from Iraq left you with a sense of déjà vu, you are not alone. “Déjà vu” is defined as “disagreeable familiarity or sameness” and that certainly fits what appears to be the emergence of another Islamic militant group which took control of two major cities in Iraq.

    June 18, 2014

  • Technology bringing closure to MIA families

    After 58 years in an unmarked grave in a military cemetery in Hawaii, a Kentucky soldier came home last Saturday to his family and a final resting place in his native soil.

    June 11, 2014

  • New state veterans leader a great choice

    Some may criticize Gov. Steve Beshear for appointing former Miss America Heather French Henry as commissioner of Kentucky's Department of Veterans Affairs.

    June 4, 2014

  • As is, Rupp Arena project not worth saving

    When the General Assembly decided last month not to allow state bonds to be used to help fund the Rupp Arena renovation, we said it was unfair because Louisville got state money for the KFC Yum Center four years earlier.

    May 28, 2014

  • Cockfighting is more than animal cruelty

    A recent political issue arose over the visit to a cockfight by U. S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin. The resulting publicity brought cockfighting, which is illegal in Kentucky, back into the public eye.

    May 14, 2014

Poll