Bob Tuck among 4 removed from fish and wildlife panel
Arpril 7, 2005
Olympia, WA - Bob Tuck of Selah found out his seven-year stint on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission had ended — but he didn't get any official notification.
Rather, he found out from a chagrined commission secretary stammering into the telephone, essentially: Oh, no ... you don't know?
Tuck was one of seven members on the nine-person board whose nominations by then-Gov. Gary Locke had never been officially confirmed by the state Senate. Three weeks ago, Gov. Christine Gregoire replaced four of those seven, withdrawing their nominations and replacing them with four new appointees.
Neither Tuck nor the other three who were replaced — John Hunter of Cashmere, Pete Schroeder of Sequim and Holly Ledgerwood of Pomeroy — knew it was coming, Tuck said. Tuck didn't know it when he called the commission secretary to find out why he hadn't received his background information on an upcoming meeting.
"She was a little embarrassed," Tuck recalled of the mid-March conversation. "I said, 'Don't be embarrassed, it's not your fault.'
"I hadn't seen anything about it in the media. I didn't know what was going on. I still don't. I haven't even heard any good rumors. It happened and then there was just silence.
"I talked to all three of the others and they were just as surprised as I was."
It was just as out-of-nowhere for some members of the Legislature, including at least one member of the Senate's Natural Resources Committee.
"It was (surprising) for me," said Sen. Harriet Spanel, D-Bellingham. "These are strictly gubernatorial appointments — the governor has the discretion of making them. The appointments were already in the Senate, and we were asked to give (the four) back to the governor."
That seven of the nine Locke appointees had gone unconfirmed, Spanel said, had been "very political." They were held up in committee by Senate Republicans, she said, who had expected in 2004 to put a Republican in the governor's office who would make appointments of his or her own.
With the new appointees — Jerry Gutzwiler of Wenatchee, Miranda Wecker of Naselle, Shirley Solomon of Mount Vernon and Charles Perry of Moses Lake — the commission's geographical balance shifts slightly to the west. Only three of the commission's nine members reside east of the Cascades. There had been four.
The commission's seven unconfirmed appointees were among 300 appointments made by then-Gov. Gary Locke that had yet to be confirmed, said Elliot Marks, Gregoire's policy adviser on natural-resource issues.
"We were looking at a large number of boards and commissions, and we didn't have much time, of course, because of the way the election happened," Marks said.
Had Gregoire simply resubmitted all of the unconfirmed appointees, Marks said, it would have been at least two years before she could appoint commissioners of her own choosing.
"Of the folks who were not renominated," Marks said, "it was not about them or their performance. It was simply the governor's desire to put her own stamp on the commission."
And it's an interesting stamp, to say the least.
Perry, who spent three decades with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, was all but handpicked by the Washington Cattlemen's Association. His was one of three names the Ellensburg-based group offered to Gregoire as candidates who would best represent cattle interests.
Gutzwiler is a former environmental project manager for Weyerhaeuser. Solomon helped found and still works as a project director for Long Live the Kings, a nonprofit organization focused on wild salmon restoration. And Wecker, an attorney, is a program manager for the University of Washington's Olympic Natural Resources Center.
"I think there's some good people on there, and hopefully they'll be quick learners," Spanel said. "Because they have major issues to deal with."
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