Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Representatives blast agency on Boop ouster

By Jeff
Mulhollem

Editor

Harrisburg – Key lawmakers responded angrily to the 4-2 vote of
Pennsylvania game commissioners taking the board presidency away
from Tom Boop.

The commission action on May 1 apparently came in response to
statements made by Boop at the commission’s recent quarterly
meeting, calling the agency’s deer-management program fatally
flawed.

Boop, of Sunbury, also angered other commissioners by asking a
lawmaker if the Legislature would fund an independent audit of the
commission’s deer program.

In a letter to the four commissioners who voted to oust Boop –
Russ Schleiden, Dan Hill, Greg Isabella and Roxane Palone – Rep. Ed
Staback, D-Lackawanna County, called the action an &#8220ugly
display of punitive power” that set an unacceptable precedent for
the board and the way it deals with dissent.

&#8220If the commissioners treat one of their own this way,
what chance does a hunter, or for that matter, does anyone have to
get the board to adapt its policies when they are in error or just
in need of improvement?” asked Staback, majority chairman of the
House Game and Fisheries Committee.

Staback noted that the board’s legal counsel warned against
taking the vote to remove Boop from his position, protesting the
move as one that denied Boop due process guaranteed by law and in
violation of his rights under procedural law and the constitution.
The board voted anyway.

&#8220When told that they couldn’t do what they were doing,
the board did it anyway, over the protests of their own lawyers who
knew an injustice was occurring,” Staback added. &#8220I
believe the four members who voted to oust Commissioner Boop in
this way, each individually exhibited behavior unbecoming of a
public official.”

Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-Berks County, said in a statement that the
attempted removal of President Boop unfortunately confirms the
fears of thousands of hunters across the commonwealth regarding the
condescending nature and arrogance that characterizes the
management philosophy of a majority of the board of
commissioners

&#8220This unprecedented attempt by the board to exact
retribution against a fellow game commissioner who has the courage
to publicly express an opposing view is not only unacceptable, but
totally out of line,” said the minority chairman of the House Game
and Fisheries Committee. Rohrer called the action &#8220a gag
order” against Boop.

Boop announced shortly after the session, called specially to
dump him as president, that he had retained two well-known
attorneys to represent him in the matter. &#8220I have engaged
the counsel of former state Attorney General Leroy Zimmerman, and
former Superior Court Judge Robert Gracey of the Harrisburg firm of
Eckert Seamans, who are representing me as a team,” he said.

In a statement, Boop – who represents Bradford, Columbia,
Lycoming, Montour, Northum-berland, Sullivan, Tioga and Union
counties – noted that the vote to oust him as president followed
exactly two weeks after he publicly criticized the deer-management
plan promoted by the four commissioners who voted to sack him.

&#8220In serving as a commissioner for approximately four
years, I have become increasingly frustrated by the majority’s
unwillingness to even consider minor changes to the current deer
management plan,” he said.

Boop promised to request in writing, a formal listing of the
charges that the four commissioners believe warranted his removal
from the board presidency, and he vowed to fully defend
himself.

&#8220What bothers me, and frankly should bother everyone
interested in fairness and Constitutional freedoms, is the heavy
handed attempt to censor me for the voicing of my criticism,” he
said. &#8220What the board did, by overriding legal advice from
their own agency’s lawyers and then removing me as president, is a
clear message to those who disagree with them and have the temerity
to voice their dissenting opinions.”

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