Pennsylvania fishermen don’t seem to have many friends in state government

John Arway, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission executive director, with a steelhead.

A few weeks ago, during the House Game and Fisheries Committee’s meeting to discuss the Fish & Boat Commission‘s annual report, etiquette, custom and just plain good manners were tossed aside because a couple of elected officials took offense to what they perceived as a threat from the agency’s executive director, John Arway. They believed Arway implied that he would reduce stocked trout numbers in districts the committee members represented if his demand for a license fee increase was not approved.

Instead, in retaliation to the perceived stocking threat, the assembled group of elected officials chose to pursue a bill that would limit the term for commission executive directors to eight years — a direct volley at Arway since he has been at the helm for slightly more than eight years.

Committee Chairman Rep. Keith Gillespie summed up lawmaker dissatisfaction with Arway, saying  “even if there was a cure for cancer attached to the license fee increase bill, there would not be enough committee motivation to pass it.”

Are you kidding me? What an absurd declaration.

And if that wasn’t enough, Sen. Pat Stefano, majority chair for the state Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, wrote that even though the Senate has been making progress over the past couple of years to grant a license fee increase, he believes that Arway has derailed that progress because he has made cuts to hatcheries and stocked fish numbers — even after being warned not to do so. Stefano indicated Arway has thus crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed, no matter what apologies he now offers and whatever planned actions he withdraws.

So there you have it. Fishermen — who foot the bills for the Fish & Boat Commission with license fees and also contribute to the salaries and any other costs elected officials incur — are not important enough to the legislators they elected to have them move beyond their dislike for a Fish & Boat Commission leader and deal with a badly needed license fee increase.

What ever happened to common courtesy? And even more important, what happened to common sense?

As the late Will Rodgers said, “When ignorance gets started, it knows no bounds.”

Categories: Blog Content, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe