Federal Fishery Council Chair Snubs Alaska Governor-elect Sarah Palin

Kodiak, Alaska - Alaska's new governor-elect, Sarah Palin takes office on Monday, December 4, 2006 - just days before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council convenes to discuss Gulf of Alaska (GOA) rationalization of multi-species Groundfish. Nonetheless, federal regional fishery council chairwoman Stephanie Madsen - an Alaskan appointee - has already insulted the new governor in a disrespectful letter of November 29th, responding to Palin's letter from the day before.


What in the devil has gotten into Madsen this time? It's not a wise way to begin a cooperative relationship when this council is the only one in the Nation to be solely aligned with the 200nm-limit fisheries of a single adjacent state of the Union. And why start a tiff with its new governor whose campaign themes included ethics, accountability and responsibility, and a concern for adhering to Alaska's constitutional right of 'common use' of resources? At the heart of the GOA Ratz issues are the 'tragedy of the commons' and other pertinent concerns.

Yet, Madsen thinks playing semantics games is a starter. As one associate said, "Madsen has deliberately started a cat fight, and you can imagine what governor Palin is thinking right now." But as the song "Watching all the girls go by" says, "you can't go to jail for what you're thinking!" However, Palin has shown professionalism on such matters before, and will surely deal with this slight with equal reserve and appropriate action. For our part, the phones are ringing with outrage, so I'll do a little meowing too.

Stephanie Madsen

Madsen's wrangle comes just one week after the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and State of New Hampshire have sued the Secretary of Commerce, NOAA Fisheries, NMFS and the United States of America on an East Coast multi-species Groundfish amendment and requirements to restore overfished stocks through new measures. They ably apply the National Standards, such as being "fair and equitable."

Could it be that one of Governor Palin's first moves now (understanding how Madsen follows Ted Stevens' Japan before Alaska tune) will be for the State of Alaska to intervene or write an Amicus Curiae brief in that case? That's what Groundswell would suggest - because it seems that Madsen clearly delivered a power relationship message to the new governor. For if there is no other way to stop the racketeering of federal fishery privatizations without facing such disrespect, Palin would be wise to stand with the other states now rushing to protect their fish harvesters and communities from hegemony that is aided and abetted by a regulatory cabal that can't get things right - because it has no intention to avoid more harms to Alaskans.

Palin's next response letter could be simple, "Stephanie, my apologies, I forgot to say please. Please understand, child, what NO means, and that Alaska intends to implement the recommendations of the GAO report that outlined inadequacies in the policy process that overlooks the rights of small businesses, crews, skippers, and local businesses in favor of legislative end-runs. You know, the kind your uncle inserted in an Appropriations bill, so that your ilk can ignore its actual wording and try to make us believe the council is authorized to do any rationalization at all. Sincerely, your new boss."

It's deserved because, in effect, Madsen's letter said "hey little Valley girl, there are some things you don't understand about how things really work here in Alaska! Frank appointed me, and Uncle Ted runs this show, not you." Madsen cast aside the fact that, during the past year, the Council allowed outgoing governor Frank Murkowski to halt the GOA Ratz discussions for a comparable period of time. In Palin's case, she was simply being prudent, dutiful and responsive to those who elected her to clean up Alaska's crony system of granting public resources to private interests who are closely aligned with particular politicians and bureaucrats. You know, the well-known 'resource curse' that one world state gets embrowned with when Nature endows it with bountiful natural resources that are ripe for greed, cronyism, and rampant corruption.

Furthermore, Madsen was fully aware her current council term ends August 10, 2007, and that a postponement to October would put GOA Ratz outside of her watchful control - exercised surgically on behalf of her employers, the closed-class processors and large transnational corporations that hire her as a lobbyist for their Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA). And Madsen surely is well aware that many Alaskans are calling for a pink slip to adorn her privateering Ladyship the sooner the better.

Equally, Madsen offers further disrespect by ensuring the Council letter capitalized the sledge hammer words, "FEDERAL REGISTER." Did she forget Palin's the kind of Alaskan might face down a brown bear with rifle in hand, with nary a blink, just to enjoy a day out four-wheeling with the family? Does she expect Palin to rollover for another episode in the resource economic war her employing transnationals wage against Alaska? To give up state's rights when a federal bureaucracy punk tries to run over them?

Worse yet, she treats Palin as if she is stupid. Yes, Stephanie, you can't rewrite the Federal Register, yes many people are making plans to attend next week, and yes, your private little asylum has a bunch of crazies (and a few still sane) who approve the agenda, because this was all decided in prior meetings and staff tasking efforts. But, Palin knows you can embrace Robert's Rules and make a motion to postpone, and that the Council has removed items from the agenda before.

Take for instance the time, October 2002, that I revealed perjury involving Adak crab allocations and in the public's interests (or was it to get a handle on the lies from their team?) the Council chair (bed-and-breakfast co-cahooter Dave Benton, now at the processors' pseudo-conservationist group the "Marine Conservationist Alliance") and NOAA attorneys immediately cut off any further talk on that agenda item. Whoops, that led to the largest fine in NOAA history - one that co-cahooter Ben Stevens is jointly and severally liable for: a mere $3.44 million.

And take for instance the time, October 1998, when Ted Stevens and Stephanie's predecessor, PSPA lobbyist and council cahoots-chair Rick Lauber pulled the Pollock Ratz after people were standing ready to testify, in Seattle - a lot longer trip for Alaskans than to Anchorage (where they will attend the 30th anniversary of the Council and do a little Christmas shopping, no doubt). Ted and Trident and the big Japanese trading companies wanted to take it behind closed doors where processors could go to Washington DC and offer Lord knows what payoffs. Or many other instances of serving private interests over public ones.

Does Madsen think Palin doesn't know that sector splits means "cod splits" - as an article titled, "Chairman expects sector split talk at fish meeting," on the Kodiak Daily Mirror that "Madsen anticipates the council will request staff to provide discussion about sector split details, such as what species would be included. 'Sectors could be whatever we define the sector to be,' Madsen said." And is it even more foolish to presume that Palin doesn't know the Board of Fish and joint state and federal GOA ratz dog-and-pony show years ago outlined this game, and cod is indeed one of the major species in the GOA ocean complex?

But the height of hubris is when syndicate underboss Madsen states, "possible sector splits, which although not a part of rationalization, may be prudent to initiate." Holy geez! All along cod has been part of the GOA ratz scheme, now the chief fascist says it is not. O.K., let's say we accept that for a moment, and presume GOA ratz isn't on for action, but splits are. Then can you please show Governor Palin where you get the authority to do sector splits, choose the species involved, and what Amendment or FMP you are modifying, what Council motion led to this, and when it was staff tasked, what problem statement it addresses, and please don't forget to tell Alaskans the place in the Federal Register it was printed long ago, in order to be on the agenda separate from GOA ratz? Meow!

Or were you just presuming that little old crewmember Sarah from the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery (that your Japanese parent companies poach in Russian waters) had no idea how you big girls operate when it comes to the billion dollar fish? And that Palin would overlook that the history of any species engaged in a sector split would be a history-building precedent to be rolled into GOA ratz later on? Madsen, you have diddly-squat for brains when the greed pumps like spider venom through your veins!

Yes, this is written with a rather aroused style, but it wasn't your Red Queen beauty that got all of us going. It is the extreme arrogance that knows no limits, and the petulance that the racketeer influencers demonstrate when their larger sprockets have political wrenches thrown in them, and you rush to protect your smaller sprockets, which you intended all along to be the back up plan. If you couldn't take Alaska's precious ocean wealth one rationalization at a time, you'd resort to a second form of the one-species-at-a-time allocation racket: sector splits.

Readers, look at the PDFs and see it all for yourself. We included a McKie Campbell file on Murkowski's puff-piece prattle on the GOA fisheries, too. Here's some other news to consider. The U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear a timber industry case of Weyerhaeuser versus Ross-Simmons, that includes "predatory buying" and transfer pricing (product laundering) decisions. Groundswell has watched the case for years, and when Ross-Simmons first won in Oregon court, the attorney basically said that he believed the judge should release the transfer pricing documents to the public, because it would provide a shocking look into how these resource companies operate across national boundaries. Many of the case's arguments and elements apply directly to Alaskan fisheries. Palin's new Attorney General should immediately get familiar with this case, and ask for Groundswell's insights into how the new administration might apply it to fix the billions stolen from Alaska each year.

Because are about to get a major, directly applicable federal judicial ruling about whether or not this Nation will stand for anti-competitive behaviors that work to cartelize or monopolize an industry to the harm of other smaller manufacturers or processors. Given the appropriate outcome, this will likely put the Bristol Bay price-fixing case, cooperative linkages and crab arbitration, and a host of other fisheries price-making mechanisms right up on the table.

That's right, the Justice Department's operating table - where radical surgery will be scheduled in the near future. And given the DOJ's Public Integrity Section and IRS probe currently underway, and that its major targets include Alaska's errant federal delegates, were I in Madsen's position, I'd be joining Ben Stevens and the others who are spending a lot of quality time with their families, while they still can.

And with all due respect, were I in Palin's position, the next letter of response would be "Dear Stephanie, thank you for the resignation letter based on our irreconcilable differences that you so clearly outlined. I'll accept your immediate departure."

So much for being another tom on the Cartel Alley fence. We've got to go pack for the exciting Council meeting next week. We'll see all you cats and Groundfish there.

Goa Ratz

Stephen Taufen - Groundswell Fisheries Movement

A public watchdog and advocate for fishermen and their coastal communities. Taufen is an "insider" who blew the whistle on the international profit laundering between global affiliates of North Pacific seafood companies, who use illicit accounting to deny the USA the proper taxes on seafood trade. The same practices are used to lower ex-vessel prices to the fleets, and to bleed monies from our regional economy.
Contact Stephen Taufen