Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

PGC president fight settled: Boop stays

By Jeff
Mulhollem

Editor

Harrisburg – When the Pennsylvania Game Commission meeting
opened June 25, President Commissioner Tom Boop held the gavel and
he read a statement that commissioners said resolved the crisis
over board leadership, but a state lawmaker suggested that the
&#8220fiasco” should cost several of them their seats.

&#8220It would seem that some of the members of the current
PGC board have lost sight of their mission and have chosen to
display their petty, dictatorial attitude through the removal of
Mr. Boop,” said Rep. Merle Phillips, R-Northumberland and Snyder
counties, in a prepared statement to the commissioners.
&#8220The sports enthusiasts of this commonwealth deserve
better, and some of you should consider resigning in disgrace.

&#8220Ladies and gentleman of the board, please know that
the eyes of the sporting community, our citizenry and the General
Assembly are upon you,” Phillips added, &#8220and we surely are
not happy with what we see.”

Ironically – although it supported him – Boop would not let
Charles Bolgiano, legislative liaison of the Unified Sportsmen of
Pennsylvania, read Phillips’ statement at the meeting. And he
gaveled down a Pittsburgh man, Randy Santucci, when he wanted to
use part of his five minutes of public commentary time to chastise
the commissioners for &#8220sweeping the issue under the
rug.”

&#8220Even if a board does a 180-degree reversal as it did
today, that doesn’t erase the stain,” Santucci said later.
&#8220These guys are totally out of control and
irresponsible.”

The statement that was read and signed by Boop – which was
characterized by Commissioner Greg Isabella, of Philadelphia, as an
&#8220apology,” although Boop didn’t say he was sorry for
anything – explained that the board just wanted to put the issue
behind it. The statement conceded what some commissioners and
attorneys on both sides of the struggle had maintained all along —
that the vote taken at a special meeting to remove Boop from the
board presidency was not valid.

&#8220Agency counsel has advised us that the votes taken on
May 1 are not final and that I still remain the president of the
Board of the Pennsylvania Game Commis-sion,” said Boop, of
Northum-berland County. &#8220No further action is required or
will be taken in that regard.”

Four commissioners – Isabella, Russ Schleiden, of Centre County,
Roxane Palone, of Fayette County, and Dan Hill, of Erie – voted to
strip Boop of the board presidency after he called the agency’s
deer-management program &#8220fatally flawed” at a meeting
April 17. He also abruptly asked a state lawmaker whether the
Legislature would fund an independent audit of the commission’s
deer-management policies.

&#8220None of us should ever engage in making personal
attacks on our peers or staff because we differ on issues before
the commission,” Boop said. &#8220I regret it if anyone
considered my comments to have been anything other than my personal
views on agency policy.”

The struggle over leadership of the Game Commission had
attracted a tremendous amount of attention from hunters and
legislators already upset with the agency and its deer
herd-reduction program, and commissioners indicated they just
wanted to put the squabble behind them. &#8220What happened
over the last 60 days was very unpleasant for all of us, but we’re
past that now,” said Commissioner Schleiden. &#8220It’s time to
move on.”

Commissioner Hill, who seemed to drive the deposing of Boop as
president, appeared to be satisfied with the outcome. &#8220I
think what is important is the shift in the nature of the
discussion from rights to responsibilities,” he said. &#8220Any
discussion of leadership must begin with responsibility.” When
asked later to elaborate, Hill refused.

The struggle over the board presidency seemed to be headed
toward the courts and some sort of a &#8220trial” until Boop
arranged to have former state Superior Court Judge Robert Graci and
former Attorney General Leroy General Leroy Zimmerman represent
him.

Those attorneys sent a letter to the commissioners who voted to
depose Boop, that commissioners said threatened them with a
lawsuit. In a press conference after the meeting, commissioners
refused to answer questions about what changed their minds, whether
they regretted the huge public relations gaffe the struggle over
board leadership caused or what they were trying to accomplish.

&#8220It’s time to move on,” said Commissioner Isabella.
&#8220We have more important business to take care of.”

&#8220The issue has been resolved,” said Schleiden.
&#8220There was a healing process and it is over.”

&#8220We are not going to throw blame around to anybody,”
said Commissioner Dave Shreffler, of Bedford County. &#8220The
commission had a problem and we solved it. We committed ourselves
to work as a team now.”

For his part, Rep. Phillips seemed satisfied with the outcome,
too. But he believes the Game Commission’s reputation was damaged.
&#8220I think it was the right way to do it,” he said of Boop
retaining the Game Commission presidency. &#8220That was the
way they should have resolved it. Just because they disagreed,
somebody should not be penalized.

&#8220But it didn’t do anybody any good and it upset a lot
of sportsmen who agree with Boop on the deer issue,” Phillips
added.

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