Desperate times call for desperate measures.
What else could explain the choice of Randy Bates – former ADFG Habitat Division Director – as a prominent spokesman in folksy TV and video ads for the corporate campaign against Alaska salmon?
Inletkeeper had a front row seat for Mr. Bates’ government career, and what we saw explains a lot.
First, as staff, then Director, of the Division of Coastal & Ocean Management, Mr. Bates played a leading role in the demise of the Alaska Coastal Management Program. That program was widely heralded as a success, funneling much-needed resources to coastal communities so they could have a voice in decisions affecting their local fisheries and economies. But large oil and gas corporations didn’t like pesky Alaskans asking questions and wanting information. As a result, Mr. Bates helped weaken important provisions in the law, and cut Alaskans out of the decision making process, eventually helping to end the program altogether. Today, Alaska stands as the only state in the country without a coastal management program, despite the fact we have more coastline than all the Lower 48 states combined.
After his successful bidding on behalf of the oil and gas corporations, former oil-industry-lobbyist-turned Governor Sean Parnell rewarded Mr. Bates with the important job of Director of the Habitat Division at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. There, Bates presided over a series of decisions which damaged or destroyed salmon habitat. But perhaps more importantly, he spearheaded an effort to rollback basic safeguards and stifle public involvement around Alaska’s special habitat areas – our state wildlife sanctuaries, game refuges and critical habitat areas. Fortunately, ADFG staff grew so alarmed by Mr. Bates’ radical rollbacks they leaked documents that helped galvanize Alaskans to stop him.
Under Mr. Bates, a piece in National Fisherman Magazine opined “Is ADF&G pulling its own teeth?”
And in summer 2014, the Anchorage Daily News ran Inletkeeper’s op-ed decrying Mr. Bates’ attacks on our democracy.
The Stand for Salmon Ballot Measure 1 on November 6 will provide Alaskans with public notice and opportunity to comment on projects threatening our salmon habitat, and it will inject objective, scientific standards into our permitting system where none exist now.
And that’s why it’s no surprise Mr. Bates is the perfect spokesman to oppose it.