IFW on LePage's Back Burner

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Apparently the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will simmer a while on Governor-elect Paul LePage’s back burner before he turns up the heat and starts looking for new leadership for this beleaguered state agency.

Transition teams are already at work on the state budget, energy, economic development, education, health care, workforce pensions, and regulatory reform. But nothing is happening for fish and wildlife.

Insiders tell me that it will be a couple of weeks before members of the Transition Advisory Team area asked to interview candidates for IFW Commissioner.

While the Governor-elect promised, “the most transparent transition in history,” he is falling short of that standard so far. I have asked repeatedly for a list of Transition Advisory Team members who are responsible for natural resource agencies, for notices and agendas of that team’s meetings, and for the opportunity to attend those meetings. I’ve gotten none of it.

Because Maine’s Freedom of Information Act doesn’t apply to the transition team, all I can do is cajole and complain. And talk to my own contacts inside the LePage team, of course. Here’s what I learned today, in addition to the fact that Bill Beardsley will be announced today as LePage’s choice for Conservation Commissioner.

On Thursday, December 2, four Advisory Team members joined two members of LePage’s staff to interview four candidates for the position of Agriculture Commissioner. Interviewed were current Commissioner Seth Bradstreet, John Harker who works at the agency and is a commercial cranberry grower, Nancy Ricker (I think she’s a farmer), and Steve Buck, Caribou town manager. More candidates will be interviewed sometime in the future, including three recommended by the agricultural community.

LePage expects the interview team to submit two to four names to him for each commissioner position. The interview team was called to Augusta to interview candidates already selected by LePage’s staff that is sorting through over a thousand applications to choose those of most interest to the Governor-elect.

Supporters of various applicants are lobbying advisory Team members fairly heavily, although one Team member told me he hadn’t heard from enough people and had started soliciting opinions in the agriculture community for the Ag Department position.

Advisory Team members were told that the application process was open, “until the Governor picks his commissioner.”

I guess we’ll be waiting a while for him to do that for the IFW Department. So there’s still time to submit your application.

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