Tuesday, October 9, 2012

PVOA endorses Rep. Thomas for another term, but chides him for salmon fishery 'conflict of interest'

The Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, a top Southeast Alaska commercial fishing group, has endorsed a slate of candidates for the upcoming election.

Among these is state Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, a commercial salmon drift gillnetter and one of the Legislature's most powerful members as co-chair of the House Finance Committee.

PVOA's endorsement of Thomas comes with an admonishment. Some members of the organization believe the lawmaker has displayed a "conflict of interest" in apparently trying to influence state salmon fishery managers.

So indicates a recent email to PVOA members from the group's executive director, Julianne Curry. Here it is:

From: Julianne Curry -PVOA-
Date: October 1, 2012 11:37:21 AM PDT
To: Petersburg Vessel Owners
Subject: General Election November 6th, 2012

PVOA members,

Please check your email filters, we have had several problems lately in getting emails to our membership.

At a recent PVOA meeting the membership endorsed candidates for the upcoming general election to be held on November 6th, 2012. Based on experience with the fishing industry, leadership positions, and years of dedicated service to the region, PVOA supported the full slate of incumbent candidates for Southeast and for the U.S. House. Since the last census, Southeast lost more residents than any other region in the State. Due to census-based redistricting, Southeast is losing a Senator and a Representative from the Alaska State Legislature. In order for Southeast to continue to have a voice in the State legislature, be sure to vote on November 6th, 2012 and encourage others to do the same.

Senate District Q: Bert Stedman
House District 31: Cathy Munoz
House District 32: Beth Kerttula
House District 33: Peggy Wilson
House District 34: Bill Thomas
U.S. House of Representatives: Don Young

In response to concerns from PVOA members the following letter was sent to Representative Thomas:

Representative Thomas,

Attached you will find a letter of endorsement from PVOA for the upcoming general election. As the Co-Chair of the House Finance Committee, your work to fund the ADF&G budget has had a major impact on projects in Southeast that are important to our membership. In the 2012 session alone, you established annual funding items including: Southeast Alaska sockeye and Chinook salmon stock assessment at $550,000 a year, a Southeast Alaska pot shrimp fishery in-season management project at $70,000 a year, and a Hugh Smith Lake sockeye and coho adult enumeration project at $120,000 a year. You also helped attain a demersal shelf rockfish and lingcod stock assessment at $340,000 a year and you were instrumental in attaining four years of funding for genetic stock work to determine sockeye stock of origin in the Chatham and Icy Straight corridor for $300,000. It is imperative that the fishing industry has someone to fund important ADF&G projects as well as our ports and harbors and hatcheries. As the only remaining commercial fisherman in the State Legislature, you provide a strong voice for our region.

As a multi-gear multi-species fishing organization, PVOA currently represents over 100 vessels and businesses operating primarily in Southeast Alaska. Of our 85 vessels, 42 of them are Southeast seiners who depend on sustainable management of our salmon resource to ensure a healthy future. Some of our members have expressed concern regarding your interaction with ADF&G’s in-season salmon management. PVOA’s endorsement was made possible by your long list contributions to Southeast and the fishing industry, but also by your willingness to reconsider your approach to how you participate in the management and allocation process of the Northern salmon districts. While we respect any individual’s right to offer potential knowledge and opinion to ADF&G personnel, we feel your service in the Legislature makes in-season interaction with ADF&G a conflict of interest. Salmon management and allocation issues should be addressed in the appropriate forums and through the proper channels, allowing due process to take its course. In the future, we would like to sit down with you and other regional fishing associations to discuss concerns we share regarding Northern salmon management and allocation.

We thank you for your years of service in the Legislature. We look forward to continuing to work with you on common goals and issues that are important to the fishing industry and Alaska. Please feel free to contact myself of any member of the PVOA Board of Directors with any questions or comments you may have. Each of the Board members have been CC’d on this email for your convenience and I would be happy to provide you with their phone numbers if you wish to speak with them in person.

Julianne Curry
Petersburg Vessel Owners Association


Anonymous said...

Isn't Petersburg outside Thomas district
And hasn't it been these past 8 years
What a great help, andorkement from Petersburg and a conflict of interest allegation. Thomas wouldve been better off without either. Who's the other guy running against him.

Thomas is an unethical legislator and he has gone over the line not only for ethics but illegal activities as well. Seen him in action where he threatens ADFG officials and managers with his legislative posotion, this is not only unethical it is illegal and must be stopped

Anonymous said...

Nice work Julianne. A bunch of guys who can't vote for Thomas. Hey Angoon Hoonah and Hydaburg, wonder what Thomas was doing while serving your district? Now you know- hanging out with the Petersburg guys and hey, mrs Thomas, wonder why he had to go to see the Petersburg guys- it wasn't the guys he was seeing, what about the gal at the power company that he got the 150k job for

Anonymous said...

Pburg sure knows how to pick em

Anonymous said...

This guy is a thug
He deserves a jail sentence for the stories I've herd about
You can't threaten public officials as a state legislature when you own a salmon license, let the fish scientists do their job

Anonymous said...

Petersburg cronyism? Didn't he vote to give $2 bill to Exxon. Yup. Time to retire bill Thomas

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins is a 23 year old Yale grad from Sitka who is running against Thomas. He listens about as much as Thomas bellows. He's gone door to door in each and every community in the district.

He didn't bother going door to footrest in Petersburg though as Petersburg is not in the district.

According to APOC, Kreiss-Tomkins raised $47,000 so far, including around $10,000 from commercial fishermen.

Time to retire the old guy and get the new guy his first post-Yale job

Anonymous said...

Good grief, I've known "Willie T" my whole life, he is a good honest man who cares about fishery managment for the entire state of Alaska. Most PVOA board members are owners/shareholders of SBS, ADF&G was not doing in season testing during 2011 salmon season in the Icy Strait, Southern Lynn Canal corridor. The 2011 pink returns were huge, the seiners got to fish this corridor in doing so they also caught many lynn canal sockeye roughly 50,000 reds that never made it back to their spawning streams. The funding Bill got is to make sure the testing happens to avoid gillnet seine confilicts in the future. Commercial fisherman in general need to unite behind this guy as he is the last one in office who actually represents the fisherman because he is one of them. Electing a 23 year old yale graduate who has never had a job is a joke!

Anonymous said...

Look at the numbers

If 50,000 sockeyes never got back it is because they were caught in 115- Lynn canal gillnet fishery

Seiners caught 178 pinks per sockeye

And those sockeyes were Chatham taku chillat and chillkoot

Thomas is a bully who is down to his last month of official hsrrassing and conflict of interest

Anonymous said...

I worked for adfg for years but am now retired

Bill Thomas threatened, bullied and cajoled me and others at adfg

He should just retire

I don't know if it was illegal but it certainly was inappropriate

I'm just surprised there has not been a conflict of interest allegation sooner

Anonymous said...

To poster @752am

Name 1 sbs shareholder who is a pvoa board member

There is 1

And that petersburger gave bill Thomas 500

Look it up on apoc

Anonymous said...

Bill Thomas has done more for commercial fishing while in the Legislature than most Legislators I have experiences in 17 years.

Included in his list of accomplishments for commercial fishing (that most people don't talk about):

1) Thomas has tempered Rep. Bill Stolze as Thomas is his equal as co-chairs of the House Finance Committee. Stolze comes from a district that is very adversarial to commercial fishing. Plus, Stolze is a cantankerous individual who has an axe to grind over commercial fishing. Thomas has been able to deal with Stolze as an equal and this is VERY valuable to the industry, not only in funding, but also in blocking other types of legislation due to the working relationship they must have on the Finance Committee.

2) Thomas has stuck up for commercial fishing in the face of unreasonable Native subsistence claims. Because Thomas is both a commercial fisherman and Alaska Native, his ability to work with both groups to work out problems is important. I have heard Thomas shut down unreasonable statements about commercial fishing by subsistence users in public meetings, set the record straight, and also offer reasonable solutions that help both user groups get to their ultimate goal - ensuring healthy returns for all users.

3) Thomas has helped to increase ADF&G operating budget and ASMI's budget - the two single largest state agencies on which the health of commercial fishing depends. If fishermen remember, there was a time when ADF&G would refuse to do new projects/fisheries, because every year their budget was being cut. This happened for well over a decade. It stymied the development of many smaller fisheries around the region and state. Thomas has helped turn that around.

I don't fault the 23 year-old for running. In fact, I think it's admirable and I wish more young people would step up and run. But I don't think it's a good idea for our region and our industry to throw out someone as effective as Thomas, no matter what the profile of the opponent.

Anonymous said...

Effective at bullying adfg

Keep the money

Lose the bully

Anonymous said...

Subsistence- a no show last spring at ETJ

Developing small fisheries-name one

Stoltze friendship? So is bobbyt - let's elect him instead

Thomas -- bad for region-- bad for trollers -- bad for seiners -- even bad for gillnrtters unless you age from Haines

Most of his support is from fatcats-- look it up-- he says it's cuz his neighbors are poor!!!!

Great job at finance-- helps out Cordova but leaves Haines in the dust

Too bad Cordova can't vote this time around

And too bad The Kid from Sitka has raised $50,000 and is going to win

Poster at. 1133 is Ian Fisk -- former Thonas staffer who works for the Pacific Seafood Processors Association

Of course he wants Thomas to win

Anonymous said...

sounds like Thomas might end up in the Brig soon. he'll be lucky to not be implicated in a corruption scandal of his own makeing.

Anonymous said...

word has it that he has a file on his inappropriate, unethical and illegal calls to the adfg managers

Anonymous said...

when is that file being released? and why has it been held up so long?

Anonymous said...

These comments are almost funny, sounds as if some people dont like Bill. So they put forth accusations that are baseless against him. A resonable person reads these comments and comes to the determination that some state of AK personnal have hard feelings for Bill because they dont want to be held accountable for their actions or lack there of.
Now on to the topic of the election, why would anyone elect a 23 year old who has no adult work experience (I think the kid still lives with his mom & dad in Sitka) for a legislative office? Did our country not do that in 2008 and it hasn't worked out too well. Bill brings years of private sector experience, years worth of commercial fishing experience/knowledge, and a proven track record in leadership. I support Bill in his re-election quest!