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Fish and Game Commission gets new executive director with zero experience; now more discrimination i


The downward government spiral of all things formerly known as “Fish and Game” continued this past week with the hiring of a new executive director of the Fish and Game Commission who has zero experience with fishing and hunting, which make up the bulk of the Commission’s regulatory decision-making. There were also two appointments to the Fish and Game Commission which also appear to have furthered this decline.

Valerie Termini as the new executive director of the Commission. She was chosen by the Governor’s office to fill the seat vacated by Sonke Mastrup, a Fish and Game biologist, supervisor, and administrator with a long career dedicated to the state’s wildlife resources. Termini comes to the job from the California Ocean Protective Council where she was a fisheries policy advisor. Her entire limited resume is in ocean resources and she has virtually no field experience, no connection to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and arguably no working knowledge of the bulk of the Fish and Game Code and wildlife laws outside of ocean resources. It doesn’t appear she hunts or fishes.

The executive director of the Commission has the responsibility to guide and direct the politically-appointed Commission members within the framework of the complex laws and regulations. It is the executive director’s job to be the Commissions liaison between the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s scientific professionals and managers and Commission members. Historically, the job has been filled by someone who moves over from the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s upper management staff who has a long career and experience in the process.

Nothing against Termini, but she’s totally unqualified for the position, in spite of the all the political-speak from the Fish and Game Commission president, Eric Sklar (who was appointed just last August), and the director of the Department of Fish and Game, Chuck Bonham, the latest politically-appointed director, who the vast majority of his staff think is taking the DFW in the wrong direction.

The governor also appointed two new Commissioners recently to fill vacancies left by Commissioners who have resigned and had their terms end. Those leaving joined two who left the Commission last year. Two of the four who’ve exited the Commission in the past year are still being investigated for gross conflict of interest while serving on the body.

The two newest commissioners are Russell Burns, 55, a Napa resident and business manager for a labor union and reportedly a hunter and fisherman, and Peter Silva, 63, who is president of an international food purveyor in Chula Vista near San Diego. More importantly, Silva was an assistant administrator with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2009 to 2011, a senior policy advisor at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from 2005 to 2009, and vice chair at the State Water Resources Control Board from 2000 to 2005. There is no indication he hunts or fishes, but his roots are in the Latino community in the Imperial Valley, so there may be a little hope here.

These two newest Commissioners join two members appointed just last August, Commission president Erik Sklar of St. Helena, who supposedly hunts turkey but abandoned science-based decisions in his recent votes on the body, and Anthony C. Williams of Huntington Beach, who neither hunts or fishes and will vote however directed by the Governor’s office. The four new Commissioners join Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, the only member who has more than a year on the body.

The Fish and Game Commission now has its full complement of Commissioners, and now with Termini’s appointment, a complete staff.

It is comical, in a gallows sort of way, that this last vacancy was filled by someone named Termini, which is plural for “terminus” or the “final goal.” These last appointments indeed represent a complete transformation of the Fish and Game Commission under Governor Jerry Brown.

Even though the bulk of the Commission’s responsibility is still to set fishing and hunting seasons and regulations based on the science provided by the professional biologists with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Commission has never been made up of appointees who have so little knowledge or interest in these activities. The recent changes assure that science will take a backseat to politics, emotion, and political correctness.

The Commission arguably violated state law when it banned bobcat trapping last year. It didn’t ban trapping on any science that bobcat numbers were being endangered by trapping. It banned trapping because it offended them (and the animal rights people who were lobbying the Governor). It may offend you, too. The number of people impacted by the ban was minuscule – probably less than 250 statewide.

So why do we care? We care because it’s discrimination.

As a society, we have and continue to offend Christians and Muslims, infringing on their beliefs, by forcing them to accept that gays have equal rights and their “normalcy.” Society is being asked to allow transgender men in the same restrooms with its daughters whether or not those girls’ parents believe that is acceptable. We are doing those things so we don’t discriminate against small minorities.

And yet, the same government, the same politically-correct crowd, is turning around and discriminating against trappers, hunters, and fishermen – even though the science proves our activities are not harming wildlife populations. They do this simply because they are offended by these activities.

You might not believe in those traditional hunter-gatherer activities, but you don’t have the right to cut off the heads of those who still trap, hunt, and fish. California is poised to metaphorically do just that, and the chopping has begun. Bobcat trappers were on the block last year. This year? All hunting and trapping of furbearers will be likely banned. Next year, you will be told you can’t own dogs or cats. The year after, we will all be forced to stop eating all meat. All those things are offensive to the politically-correct.

Yet, it’s all discrimination and this discrimination is government-sanctioned and directed. The “new” Fish and Game Commission is an embarrassing cog in that runaway wheel.


[Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.]

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