Director Unsworth: This Just Doesn't Work For Us!
Mar 11, 2017 — In a recent WDFW News Release, the Department and Director Unsworth once again attempted to focus attention on the left hand, while the right hand is still locking the door in our face.
In the release, they try to draw the focus off the secret meetings by saying:
“The public meetings are opportunities for anglers, commercial fishers and others interested in salmon to discuss regional and statewide fisheries issues with representatives from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).”
"I strongly encourage people to get involved and share their thoughts," Unsworth said. "Whether it's at one of the public meetings, through our online tool or in discussions with our many Advisory Group members, the public's input is essential in developing fisheries. As fisheries managers develop this year's salmon seasons, public participation is vital.”
Yet, he continues to justify the secret meetings by saying:
"These government-to-government meetings must occur for fishing seasons to be set," Unsworth said. "Refusing to meet with the tribes because they will not allow the public to attend these negotiations would be very unproductive for everyone involved.”
He then adds:
"State and tribal co-managers are far more effective when we work together at recovering and protecting fish and wildlife in Washington," Unsworth said. "I'm committed to working with the tribes to improve the process, make it as open and transparent as possible, and ensure our state's resources are sustainable for future generations.”
MR. UNSWORTH, THAT SIMPLY DOSEN’T WORK FOR US, AND HERE’S WHY.
The public meetings, slide shows and power point presentations. All the public recommendations, requests and suggestions, everything in the “public participation” process is ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS once the doors of these secret meetings are closed and locked to the public! Why? Because the Tribes have a huge advantage in these negotiations. The State MUST agree with the Tribes or risk not getting permits in time to have any seasons at all. Why do you think the Tribes and WDFW are fighting so hard to keep these meetings out of the public eye? They offer many excuses, but they don’t want the public to know how one sided and dysfunctional this process is!
Instead of making excuses why these meetings must remain closed, or fighting the citizens to keep secrets, why not work with us in fixing this unfair permitting process? Why has WDFW made no effort to request Federal guidance and direction to counter the overwhelming Tribal leverage? Why not Federal intervention in the form of arbitration? In the grand scheme of things, upholding and defending the civil liberties of ALL AMERICANS has the same priority, and is just as important as doing so for the Native Americans! Federal Law as set forth by the Boldt Decision has been superseded by a misconception of the dual citizenship principle. Don’t Tribal citizens vote in our elections? Don’t they have Bills drafted in our legislature to become State laws? Do they not contribute large sums of money to campaigns here in our State. All the privileges of State Citizens, yet they get to pick and choose which laws pertain to them?
This Gov’t to Gov’t meeting excuse needs to be looked into. After all, they are not negotiating National Security, nor are they discussing classified intelligence. They are negotiating the peoples Natural Resources! Why does that have to be kept secret?
Director Unsworth knows we are not asking for an open auditorium full of people. We want a live video feed, un-edited with no off camera negotiations. Simple. There is no reason this should interfere with any negotiations, and certainly is a low cost, effective method to allow public oversight!
So, Director Unsworth, we ask you again. If these negotiations are being conducted fairly to all parties, and you and the Tribal representatives are proud of the work you’re doing to preserve and protect our fish in these meetings, why are you fighting so hard to keep these meetings SECRET?
I URGE ALL OF YOU TO SEND AN EMAIL TO DIRECTOR UNSWORTH AND THE COMMISSION, right now, and let them know we are not going away, we are not backing down and we are simply not buying their party line! Tell them to press the Tribes to open these meetings as they should be. It is the way WE DO GOVERNMENT IN THIS COUNTRY! Work on fixing the unfair leverage the Tribes have in the permitting process, and COME CLEAN WITH THE CITIZENS!