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Thread: Question on BOF process - "Committee of the Whole"

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Question on BOF process - "Committee of the Whole"

    I mostly deal with the game side of things, BOG and BGCSB and AC meetings and such. I've been participating in the Fbks BOF meeting last few days. My last BOF meeting before this was at a UCI meeting 8 or 10 years ago (don't recall), and as much as I think BOG meetings are contentious, that was a bit much for me on the fish side.

    Anywho, I was surprised to learn of this "committee of the whole" or whatever it is whereby the public is again allowed to give comments on proposals after the formal comment period. I took the mic today on a proposal I was interested in.

    So when exactly did this process happen? Why isn't it done on the BOG side? (This meeting on Kusko/Yukon/NW Arctic is likely much smaller in scale that others, so the Board allowed 3 of their members to conduct the regional committee meetings on the record without breaking them up into smaller groups etc. So it was all on the record on the internet.)

    I'm not sure I really support it or not, the same people speak on numerous proposals and the Board is implying this allows a more thorough expression from the public, i.e. help us make the decisions based on your further input. Which is all well and good, I heard some great thoughts today during these comment periods. But still ... if we only give 3 minutes to testify as a member of the public, and 10 min. for ACs, then we give unlimited time during these committee sub-group comments to further expound on positions, well what is the real rationale in doing this?

    I'd say a couple AC reps today during this comment period spent 10-15 minutes further each (and again) explaining the AC's position. This is along with RCs and AC comments they also had submitted.

    Thoughts?

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    My experience is the opposite from yours, Bushrat. I first experienced BOF meetings, and am now learning more about the BOG side. They indeed do things a lot different. I personally liked the committee process, and felt it was more effective at providing public input than the public testimony. Pretty hard to cover every proposal you care about in 3 minutes at the start of the meeting. I participated in smaller committees, and in the committee of the whole process. I think I liked the committee of the whole better, and specifically liked that the committee of the whole was on record, whereas the smaller committees were not.

    Also interesting how different the two boards treat the Board Generated Proposal process. The BOG seems to do a much better job at respecting the right of the public to comment on proposals before they are passed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    I mostly deal with the game side of things, BOG and BGCSB and AC meetings and such. I've been participating in the Fbks BOF meeting last few days. My last BOF meeting before this was at a UCI meeting 8 or 10 years ago (don't recall), and as much as I think BOG meetings are contentious, that was a bit much for me on the fish side.

    Anywho, I was surprised to learn of this "committee of the whole" or whatever it is whereby the public is again allowed to give comments on proposals after the formal comment period. I took the mic today on a proposal I was interested in.

    So when exactly did this process happen? Why isn't it done on the BOG side? (This meeting on Kusko/Yukon/NW Arctic is likely much smaller in scale that others, so the Board allowed 3 of their members to conduct the regional committee meetings on the record without breaking them up into smaller groups etc. So it was all on the record on the internet.)

    I'm not sure I really support it or not, the same people speak on numerous proposals and the Board is implying this allows a more thorough expression from the public, i.e. help us make the decisions based on your further input. Which is all well and good, I heard some great thoughts today during these comment periods. But still ... if we only give 3 minutes to testify as a member of the public, and 10 min. for ACs, then we give unlimited time during these committee sub-group comments to further expound on positions, well what is the real rationale in doing this?

    I'd say a couple AC reps today during this comment period spent 10-15 minutes further each (and again) explaining the AC's position. This is along with RCs and AC comments they also had submitted.

    Thoughts?
    from what I remember the BOF used to break off into off the record small committees where only three board members heard what was said by the public attending. Then a brief and sometimes inaccurate summary of the meeting would be generated by the Dept and released to the other Board members and the public. The Committee of the whole was created by the last chairman in order that all board members could hear the same information and not have to depend on a summary. And since in order to supposedly save time
    there were always two smaller committees going on at the same time, members of the public had to choose which one to attend.As a result some were not able to get their points across in both. So with the committee of the whole, everyone, the public, staff, and all board members hear the same info. And it is all on the record. It sounds like an improvement on past procedure. But that is just my opinion

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    Quest I'm pretty sure you are correct and I agree with you.

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    The committee process needs serious review and I frankly do not like it. First, not all Board members attend, in some cases the information is not recorded or on the record, and the report back to the full Board is inaccurate. But my main concern is that one has to get appointed to the committee and that means selective testimony. Organizations tend to have preferences as opposed to individuals. I was not appointed to a committee at one meeting because I was an individual who signed up. Yet when I applied as a member of an organization I was appointed. On another committee I was not called on to testify even when I had raised my hand. The committee chairman decided he did not want to hear from me. I left the Board meeting after that and have not returned. If the subject is very complex the Board should allow longer public testimony for everyone and then meet as a full Board to discuss it. The committee process in UCI is not fair to all parties.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Nerka, how/by whom are the business rules established, which allow what you just described?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    The committee process needs serious review and I frankly do not like it. First, not all Board members attend, in some cases the information is not recorded or on the record, and the report back to the full Board is inaccurate. But my main concern is that one has to get appointed to the committee and that means selective testimony. Organizations tend to have preferences as opposed to individuals. I was not appointed to a committee at one meeting because I was an individual who signed up. Yet when I applied as a member of an organization I was appointed. On another committee I was not called on to testify even when I had raised my hand. The committee chairman decided he did not want to hear from me. I left the Board meeting after that and have not returned. If the subject is very complex the Board should allow longer public testimony for everyone and then meet as a full Board to discuss it. The committee process in UCI is not fair to all parties.
    Nerka, the last board meeting had a mix of both types of committees. I liked the committee of the whole, but don't know how there would be time to do this for every proposal. Unless maybe they scrapped public testimony in favor of committee of the whole for everything? I feel like the public testimony was super repetative and went on for way too long, but I do think public input is very necessary.

    One idea I heard recently was aimed at reducing the number of proposals. It was to have proposals vetted by the AC'S before they were sent to the boards. Basically, people would have to present their proposal to an AC, and an AC would have to majority vote on a proposal for it to go forward. It would definately make AC's more relevant, and since anyone can be on an AC, it is not exclusive. Anyone have thoughts on that? Ideas of what negative consequences this might have?
    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Nerka, how/by whom are the business rules established, which allow what you just described?
    There are no rules, only prior precedent set by the board. That's what the Dept. Of Law told me when I inquired about a blatant error in procedure by a former chairman. One of many "how can he do that???" moments...

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    There are no rules, only prior precedent set by the board. That's what the Dept. Of Law told me when I inquired about a blatant error in procedure by a former chairman. One of many "how can he do that???" moments...
    Are you serious? I'm dumbfounded by this. The Board doesn't have an established, published, set of procedural rules of conduct? The Chairman can basically do whatever strikes his fancy; pick and choose who gets to testify? WTH? Is this Alaska...or North Korea?
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
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    To be specific, I asked what rules of order the meetings followed. He said there were none, only precedent. My response was similar to yours.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    IMHO, that needs FIXED. Before I would even see any point in attempting to conduct any business before the Board. That's ridiculous.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It
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    tbsmith, the AC is not the answer. Having served on the AC they just are not up to speed to deal with the complexity of today's fisheries. I would suggest that the Board be restructured and given a scientific staff first. Then the Board can review the proposals and if three Board members want to discuss the proposal then it comes to the table. If not then it is dead. Something akin to the court system on appeal. They do not take up every appeal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    IMHO, that needs FIXED. Before I would even see any point in attempting to conduct any business before the Board. That's ridiculous.
    I am no lawyer like some on this forum. But I have either attended once in awhile or listened in on many BOF meetings for well over three decades. To say there is no consistent procedures that are followed is very inaccurate. I recall that the board makes sure that they are not making a mistake by getting approval from their lawyers who work for the State. Then they make sure again by asking someone from law enforcement and from the Commissioner of ADf & G. I have listened to how these meetings go and there is a set formality that sounds like Roberts rules of order. If there is a problem I have heard them go to the lawyers or others to help solve it.
    Smithtb may have had problem with a chairman and that is understandable. Chairmen run the show differently. Some are stronger than others. Dr White ran the meeting smoothly while the man who ran for Mayor Dan C controlled the meeting to his liking as did the last chairman. It is this way with almost all public policy regulatory agencies. They are required to follow a set of rules., it is not like being in North Korea as was said. Can the thing be improved? Of course. If you think it is bad now you should have been around in the early years of the board. It was almost a dictatorship, with the result of any proposal known well before it got to a vote. Today the users have far more say in these meetings and frankly more influence. When the meeting is attended heavily by one user group when a proposal is discussed the board will very often go the way the majority wants. That is why it is good to have a good turn out from all sides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Questairtoo View Post
    I am no lawyer like some on this forum. But I have either attended once in awhile or listened in on many BOF meetings for well over three decades. To say there is no consistent procedures that are followed is very inaccurate. I recall that the board makes sure that they are not making a mistake by getting approval from their lawyers who work for the State. Then they make sure again by asking someone from law enforcement and from the Commissioner of ADf & G. I have listened to how these meetings go and there is a set formality that sounds like Roberts rules of order. If there is a problem I have heard them go to the lawyers or others to help solve it.
    Smithtb may have had problem with a chairman and that is understandable. Chairmen run the show differently. Some are stronger than others. Dr White ran the meeting smoothly while the man who ran for Mayor Dan C controlled the meeting to his liking as did the last chairman. It is this way with almost all public policy regulatory agencies. They are required to follow a set of rules., it is not like being in North Korea as was said. Can the thing be improved? Of course. If you think it is bad now you should have been around in the early years of the board. It was almost a dictatorship, with the result of any proposal known well before it got to a vote. Today the users have far more say in these meetings and frankly more influence. When the meeting is attended heavily by one user group when a proposal is discussed the board will very often go the way the majority wants. That is why it is good to have a good turn out from all sides.
    I did not say there are no consistent procedures followed. There are - those established by boards prior. There are no rules of order followed. I assumed Robert's rules, and when I observed a clear departure from Robert's rules, I asked and that was what I was told. I also observed the board ask the Dept of law for approval on procedures, and I saw the Dept. of Law cut in and say, "uhhh, you can't do that". I did not mean to suggest that there are NO rules, and that is why I clarified. But the chairman has A LOT of leeway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    I did not say there are no consistent procedures followed. There are - those established by boards prior. There are no rules of order followed. I assumed Robert's rules, and when I observed a clear departure from Robert's rules, I asked and that was what I was told. I also observed the board ask the Dept of law for approval on procedures, and I saw the Dept. of Law cut in and say, "uhhh, you can't do that". I did not mean to suggest that there are NO rules, and that is why I clarified. But the chairman has A LOT of leeway.
    Don't take everything so personal Smithtb. I wasn't finding fault with anything you said, but merely offering my perspective. Lo was concerned that there were no 'established ' rules or procedures. I believe there are and even though the board does not strictly follow Roberts rules it consistently follows them for the most part. From what I recall the board also has policies that it establishes by voting and that they are listed and used in subsequent meetings. When there is a clear departure from a legal point of view the lawyers step in. As they should. I completely agree that the chairman has a lot if leeway and can through various means get things done as he desires. They are elected by their fellow members to the position with full knowledge of their authority. Probably just as is done by most similar bodies. Not perfect, and Nerka's suggestion of having an expert panel to help makes a great deal of sense. The current expertise is provided by the dept and often at odds with what might be the be in the best interests. And a preliminary screening sounds like a good idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    tbsmith, the AC is not the answer. Having served on the AC they just are not up to speed to deal with the complexity of today's fisheries. I would suggest that the Board be restructured and given a scientific staff first. Then the Board can review the proposals and if three Board members want to discuss the proposal then it comes to the table. If not then it is dead. Something akin to the court system on appeal. They do not take up every appeal.
    No one is up to speed to deal with the complexities of today's fisheries. I've seen a lot of professionals engage in these issues, and they are just as biased and self-interested as the rest of the population. The makeup of local AC's change over time so to make a blanket statement that they are not up to speed is presumptive. Many AC members are likely more knowledgeable about fish/game issues in their area than many BOF/BOG members. Maybe this idea isn't the answer, maybe it's not a perfect fix, but it sounded affordable and practical to me, and might be an effective way to whittle hundreds of proposals down into a handful of them which really deserve the board's full attention. IDK.

    Quote Originally Posted by Questairtoo View Post
    Don't take everything so personal Smithtb. I wasn't finding fault with anything you said, but merely offering my perspective. Lo was concerned that there were no 'established ' rules or procedures. I believe there are and even though the board does not strictly follow Roberts rules it consistently follows them for the most part. From what I recall the board also has policies that it establishes by voting and that they are listed and used in subsequent meetings. When there is a clear departure from a legal point of view the lawyers step in. As they should. I completely agree that the chairman has a lot if leeway and can through various means get things done as he desires. They are elected by their fellow members to the position with full knowledge of their authority. Probably just as is done by most similar bodies. Not perfect, and Nerka's suggestion of having an expert panel to help makes a great deal of sense. The current expertise is provided by the dept and often at odds with what might be the be in the best interests. And a preliminary screening sounds like a good idea.
    For the most part, until they don't, and everyone looks at each other and says "what just happened?".

    An expert panel sounds great, but who would those experts be? Interest groups bring "experts" before the board all the time, and some of their statements are the most controversial. I do like the idea of an expert panel during deliberation, but not to determine which proposals should go before the board.

    I think the lack of clear rules and procedure is best exemplified by the difference in the way the BOF and the BOG prosecutes board generated proposals. The joint board chairmen established guidelines for BGP's, but clearly it was viewed as a loose set of rules, with the BOF not respecting consideration #4, IMO.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/re...ngs/1334jb.pdf

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input, guys. At this Fbks meeting, the Chair pretty much asked everyone who testified during the public comment period if they would be around for the committee-of-the-whole discussions. So everyone as far as I saw was able to participate, to raise their hand and speak. I'll try to get with Kluberton and ask him what the process is overall.

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    Interesting thread...
    Nerka would an SSC type committee and an AP type system work better for the BOF, or a more similar system to the NPFMC set up? What do you think?

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