December 16, 2018

SAM Sets Record Straight

*Editor’s Note* – Below I have posted an article found on the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s (SAM) Facebook page. SAM’s director, David Trahan, expresses his concern for the need to clarify certain statements made by former SAM director George Smith, in his article in the Bangor Daily News, i.e. Anti-Bear Hunters’ Lawsuit Fizzles at the Maine Supreme Court.

I have heard and read several comments about differences and issues between George Smith and SAM. Many of those comments are about what some perceive as Smith’s improper usage of claims to his previous leadership role at SAM. I think that it is unfair for anyone to think that a person should be censored from informing his readers of his previous positions. For those who read Smith, they should know that he is proud of his accomplishments while at SAM. Not all agree that his accomplishments were always in the best interest of Maine sportsmen but that is not a reason to deny a person from recalling his work and position while executive director of SAM. Let the readers decide for themselves. If Smith is intentionally trying to mislead readers to think he is still a person of authority within the SAM organization, then that is wrong and should be corrected.

According to the new executive director, David Trahan, Smith made inaccurate statements in an article written in the Bangor Daily News. It is common practice to use the Media to clarify such mistakes. This is represented by the setting straight of the record listed below.

In addition to the divide between Smith and SAM, I’m also hearing that there is bickering among the Maine sportsmen over exactly how the sportsmen should proceed in dealing with efforts to resist lawsuits and ballot referendums that are opposed to hunting, trapping, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. As of yet, I see no “bickering.” I see a learning curve – the same learning curve that I’ve witnessed in many states across the nation. What transpires and how the posturing and building of resources manifests itself into the near future, will determine a united front or a divided front.

With posturing for power and control, always come disagreements. Politics creates strange bedfellows. The will to succeed, to stop the onslaught against a way of life, needs to be strong enough to rationally work through differences, keeping the focus on the bigger picture.

Can it happen? Let’s hope.

From the SAM Facebook page:

Important-Please read and share

SAM Statement-George Smith’s Blog-Setting the Record Straight

On February 11, 2016, George Smith blogged this piece: Anti-bear hunters’ Lawsuit Fizzles at the Maine Supreme Court, in which he made false and inaccurate statements about the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and our role in the pending lawsuit. In addition, by not allowing our organization an opportunity to present our concerns about the MWCC before writing his one sided blog gave readers an unflattering impression of our organization as well as, mischaracterized our absence from the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council. In the future, we would ask him to follow the basic and professional journalism principles of presenting all facts, before writing blogs that reflect poorly on any organization.

Updated-Statement

Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine statement regarding the MWCC:

We have fielded several calls from people confused by the George Smith Blog about the pending HSUS lawsuit (Anti-bear Hunters’ Lawsuit Fizzles at the Maine Supreme Court) and the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council’s role, as well as SAM’s absence from this organization.

As you all know, the outdoor community won a major victory when we defeated the bear referendum a little over a year ago. In response to the grave threat from the Humane Society of the United States, SAM worked with several of our outdoor partners, including the Maine Professional Guides Association (MPGA), the Maine Trapper’s Association (MTA), the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), and others to create the Ballot Question Committee titled “The Maine Wildlife Conservation Council (MWCC).” SAM was responsible for completing the IRS paperwork and registering the MWCC with the Maine Ethic’s Commission. Our staff completed the necessary forms to establish the committee, created an independent Employer ID Number (EIN), and helped establish the name: Maine Wildlife Conservation Council.

When the lawsuit was filed by HSUS, SAM was fully involved in the MWCC and during that time, we raised money from SAM members that later paid bills related to the lawsuit. After the referendum was defeated, SAM agreed to release the remaining MWCC funds (several thousand dollars), and those funds were used to pay the lawyers involved in defending the lawsuit. Smith’s statement about SAM not helping with the lawsuit is completely false!

After the referendum was successfully defeated, we had a fundamental difference of opinion/disagreement with the MPGA, MTA and USSA organizations regarding whether it was necessary to continue raising money for the MWCC, as SAM is already an established organization that defends the rights of Sportsmen and Women in our state. The SAM Board felt that a continuation of the MWCC as envisioned by the MPGA, the MTA, and the USSA would be a duplication of SAM’s efforts, and the cost of hiring additional staff for MWCC would consume too many resources.

In addition, we were told by USSA’s representatives that because of the HSUS lawsuit, they would have over $100,000.00 in new legal fees and they expected the new MWCC to pay them. Given that USSA was acting as intervenors and IF&W was actually defended by the Attorney General’s Office we questioned the need to pay lawyers for work that was already being done by the AG’s office.

At that time, MWCC was proposing hiring two staffers and expenses that combined, totaled nearly $2000.00 per week, (over $100,000.00 per year) and their intention to pay anticipated additional legal fees of over $100,000.00. SAM’s priority at the time was passing a Constitutional Amendment to stop these attacks once and for all, and saving money for any new referendum that might come forward. We were also concerned that contributors to MWCC were not aware that the new MWCC was planning to use most of the money raised from contributors to pay these new legal fees and staff.

SAM’s Alternative Proposal to the MWCC Plan – Flatly Rejected

What is unknown to the public is that SAM offered our partners an alternative that would have allowed us and many other groups to participate in the MWCC or an alternative group. The alternative we proposed would have allowed each organization equal representation on an Outdoor Council, would have retained staff on a very limited basis, and used existing staff to raise money and place it in rainy day funds. The proposal as it was sent to the current MWCC leadership is at the end of this statement. The current MWCC leadership rejected this SAM proposal and decided to move forward without SAM. We will not speak to their motives, they can address why they didn’t want to accept our compromise.

Since we were unable to come to a consensus with these organizations, the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council and SAM parted ways and have continued to work together at the Legislature. Many people correctly viewed SAM as one of the key leaders of the MWCC during the referendum fight, and since very few people are aware of the fact that the MWCC is no longer associated with SAM, we want to clarify the relationship. We also feel it is important that people donating money understand who they are donating to, and how those donations will be spent.

SAM Concerns are Reflected in New MWCC Ethics Report

? According to the MWCC 2015 Campaign Finance Report, filed in January, 2016 the MWCC has raised around $120,000.00 and spent nearly $100,000.00. According to Don Kleiner, MPGA Director and leader of the MWCC, they also have an outstanding legal bill of $30,000.00. This is the link to the report:
https://secure.mainecampaignfinance.com/…/FilingAmendmentSe…
There are many Guides, sportsmen, businesses and others that want to raise money to protect hunting in the future; SAM does as well. We would gladly support an effort that uses our resources wisely and efficiently. To Accomplish this goal, we have created our own defense fund called the Friends of Maine Sportsmen and will continue to raise money for a future battle without a huge overhead.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine remains ready to face any future referendum battles, and we are committed to working with all of our partner organizations. We appreciate all of the support we continue to receive from clubs, our members, and the public, and hope this explanation clarifies our position. Any questions should be sent to: David Trahan David.Trahan@SportsmansAllianceofMaine.org
This SAM proposal, (below) was presented to the current leaders of the MWCC just after the referendum and they rejected it.

SAM Proposal Moving Forward-Council of Outdoor Leaders

Priority-One

Hold a meeting of coalition leaders to determine whether there is support to create an entity whose sole purpose is to prepare for the next referendum or other significant threats that if successful could affect all outdoor groups. The next step would be to agree to the basic outline of the new entity, mission and structure.

Priority-Two

If it is decided to create the new entity, each organization would choose a representative and a non-profit would be formed whose role was to raise money each year and in rare cases, expend resources on issues like referendums. They would agree to a meeting schedule, (twice a year or as necessary).

Priority-Three

Each organization, represented in the non-profit would create a rainy day fund specifically designed to pay for referendums or other unique circumstances. The goal would be for each organization to commit to raising $5000 (or an amount determined by the coalition) per year for 5 years. Each account would remain under the control of the organizations, (SAM, Bow hunters, etc.). Best case scenario, within five years, each organization would have a dedicated rainy day fund for referendums. If the coalition had five members, there would be $125,000.00 in reserve held by each organization. Each year, at one of the two annual meetings, each organization would report on their fund status.

Non-Profit Role

The new non-profit would meet twice a year and their role would be simple, create a fund that accepted money to defend us against the next referendum and write by-laws to guide the new non-profit. They would create a fundraising plan with a set, yearly target determined by the leaders. For example, if they determined $50,000 per year was the goal, (or an amount determined by the coalition) within 5 years the non-profit would be in possession of $250,000.00.

In total, the member organizations would hold $125,000 in reserve and the non-profit, $250,000, for a combined total of $375,000. This amount would be easier to reach if the coalition was larger than 5 participant organizations. Pretty good start on the next referendum campaign.

I could see the non-profit hiring someone for limited work organizing fundraising activity like a summer fundraising event, (for example, golf tournament), I could also see this person responsible for calling the two yearly meetings and put together a communications plan for the non-profit members, if not, SAM can perform this role.

Below is the Structure Plan:

Non-profit-Leadership Structure-Financial Goals Five Members or More-Goal- Raise $50,000 per year-5 year plan-$250,000.00 kept in trust.

Organizational Outline

Council of Outdoor Leaders

• At least five organizations, preferably 10.
• Fundraising Goal in the Rainy Day Funds–$2,500.00-$5000.00 each year, per organization

• 5-year goal-$125,000.00.

Membership

Organizations choose representatives to serve on non-profit.
All utilization of non-profit resources would be decision of the non-profit representatives on a case by case basis and super-majority vote.
By-laws could be written to state: if the non-profit is dissolved all funds would be dispersed equally among coalition members.

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George Smith: A Hero….(in his own mind)

You ought to read Smith’s latest on his Bangor Daily News blog. Let me see if I understand what he wrote:

He dumps on the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, I guess because it seems the board there understands that the Humane Society of the United States, will never stop with their harassment until they have done away with all consumptive outdoor sports, and George doesn’t.

Then he props up the Humane Society of the United States, I suppose because he thinks like they do that trapping and hounding sucks. If we just give up a little, they will go away. Memories are too short I guess. It was after the last HSUS attack that everyone tiptoed around out of fear that HSUS and other would come back with lawsuits and another referendum. How did that work out anyway?

This is followed by a general looking down the nose at all hunters because, well, I think because they don’t think and act like he does.

If that isn’t enough, he substantiates his position that he doesn’t have a position, by relating an incident in which hounding ended up in a bad light. Therefore all hounding and all trapping is bad. I wonder if we should ban all journalism because some or most of it sucks?

And then, true to form, paints himself as a hero because, “I succeeded in convincing the woman to vote No.”

I’m not exactly sure as to whose side Smith is on. Can’t he just let his anti hunter/hunting ways lie dormant long enough to put this referendum to rest. Or is it that he hopes it does fail then he can become another hero in his own mind because “I told you so?”

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Maine’s George Smith Under Scrutiny Over His Rant About Gov. LePage and Claims Made About Political Intentions

For me, it began sort of innocently enough when George Smith, writer, blogger, activist, and former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), published a not very nice blog in his Bangor Daily News safe haven. Smith stated that sportsmen in Maine should not support or vote for incumbent Governor Paul LePage mostly because he says LePage failed in his promises to sportsmen in the last election.

Nothing that Smith wrote took me by surprise. Smith typically writes about himself, reliving his days at SAM and wishing to perpetuate the thoughts that these were his glory days. Many have not been able to understand why, after having been absent from his job at SAM for several years, he continues to present himself as a mouth piece for the organization. However, Smith has made no bones about the fact that he dislikes LePage and perhaps it is only coincidental that it appears his dislike for the Governor grew when his sister was fired from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). Smith has in subsequent writings denied that any love lost with the governor has anything to do with that incident.

Therefore, Smith’s rant in the Bangor Daily News really should not have come as any big surprise. Personally, I thought the article was a lot of whining and what credibility Smith might have had with Maine sportsmen in his perspectives and positions on Gov. Paul LePage, were caught up in the swirl as the toilet bowl emptied into the septic tank.

But one thing that caught my eye appeared in the comments section when a reader wrote:

George, You should probably disclose that you and your sister are advising LePage’s opponents in this race. This is pretty dishonest.

I have not been able to confirm whether this statement was true and have decided up to this point to remain quiet on this issue because, one, I don’t really care what George Smith thinks about Paul LePage, and two, until I can find confirmation that Smith is working, for pay, for Eliot Cutler and/or Mike Michaud, then I would continue to remain silent. If this is true, not only is Smith wrong to not reveal this but the Bangor Daily News is culpable as well.

To the criticisms Smith received from his first rant, he rebuts many of the claims on his own website and does very little to smooth the water or add back any sort of credibility. I wonder if anyone has ever told Smith that readers, generally, don’t find much interest in reading a person so full of himself?

Today, the Maine Wire provides evidence, from emails, that Smith is working as an adviser to Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler.

In the July email exchange provided by SAM, Smith attempted to procure LePage’s SAM survey for use in a blog post. The survey would have provided Smith with LePage’s positions on various sportsman’s issues.

Cherly[SIC] C. Timberlake, the chair of SAM’s board of directors, declined to provide Smith with the information and raised questions about his work on behalf of candidates for statewide offices.

“I am helping both Michaud and Cutler and have made no secret of it,” Smith wrote in response.

In Smith’s I-am-the-greatest-of-all-time rebuttal, he states that he is not getting paid to advise either Michaud or Cutler:

I have given free advice (not paid as some charged) to Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler and any other politician who asked…

If Smith is “advising” without pay, it lessens the degree of dishonesty in not disclosing his agenda, but it still appears dishonest and heaps troubles on a man who may be suffering from the lack of credibility, at least credibility when it comes to Paul LePage issues.

Some have asked why SAM allows, if that would be the correct terminology, Smith to continue falling back on and presenting himself as a representative of SAM. To that question I have no idea the answer. There is no need to make enemies between Smith and SAM but when certain claims by Smith go unanswered by SAM, people begin to assume that SAM must agree. It would best handled, in my opinion, if Smith would move beyond his SAM “glory days” and let the present personality of SAM do its thing.

I’m not sure that we have heard the end of this issue. However, now that a few Maine sportsmen have woken up, Gov. LePage would benefit by stepping up to the batters box and taking a swing. He’s gotten a sign, now he should swing away and see if he can drive in some runs for the Maine sportsmen. If not, perhaps Michaud and Cutler will do his pinch hitting.

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Maine Gubernatorial Candidates Receive SAM Survey

*Editor’s Note* – The below is information found on George Smith’s blog at Bangor Daily News. This editor’s views to the questions highlighted in this article are as follows:

1. Do you support efforts to maximize the deer population’s potential and to also make use of hunting and trapping opportunities to control predators like the Eastern coyote? – My answer: Absolutely. Maine’s deer population will never be sustainable without continued and more predator control. In short, Maine must stop predator protection.

2. Will you support funding the Land for Maine’s Future Program and vote to maintain this important habitat protection and investment provision? Answer: This is a difficult question to answer in an easy yes or no format. Taking land out of the tax rolls and putting it in the control of government is never a good thing. Demanding private land owners lose property rights for the purpose of managing a deer herd, or any other wildlife, is never a good thing. Any funding for Land for Maine’s Future Program must be carefully considered on a case by case basis.

3. Do you support efforts to enhance sporting opportunities on public lands? Answer: Smith says that without any specific information about such a plan, it would be difficult to answer this question and I agree. Public lands should always remain open to all taxpayers for multi-use.

4. If they would sign a bill to expand background checks to private firearm sales? Answer: Never. The U.S. and Maine constitutions do not include the right to keep and bear arms provided an individual passes a government derived background check. The Second Amendment acknowledges the right to keep and bear arms and is NOT granted to the people by government…..with restrictions.

5. There are also questions about reverse posting, the introduction of wolves, and the establishment of a new national park. Answers: Reverse posting (assuming that to mean if you post your land you cannot hunt on other people’s land.) Ridiculous, when you stop and think about it. A land owner has limited rights as it is. This is just another form of Totalitarianism.

Introducing wolves would be the biggest mistake Maine could ever make, but I suspect, like the rest of the nation, fully controlled by the commu-fascist environmentalists, Maine will have “introduced” wolves, if they don’t already.

And a National Park should be off the radar screen. The Federal Government cannot manage the land it has, and have proven that what they do with such lands is not in the best interest of anyone except corporate fascists in government. Any effort to create a National Park on Roxanne Quimby land is nothing more than political cronyism because Quimby sits on the Board of Directors for the National Park system.

6. If they would support a constitutional amendment to dedicate a portion of the sales tax to fund outdoor conservation. Answer: This should NEVER happen. Environmentalist, who are historically opposed to hunting and resource consumption, have enough power and control over game management now. Giving them monetary power, entitling them to a higher degree of a position as a “stake holder” would be nearly as big a mistake as it would to “introduce” wolves to the Pine Tree State.

“Maine’s three candidates for governor recently received their 2014 Questionnaire from the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine. There are also questions about reverse posting, the introduction of wolves, and the establishment of a new national park. The most important question, in my mind, asks if they would support a constitutional amendment to dedicate a portion of the sales tax to fund outdoor conservation. Given that he broke the most important promise he made to SAM four years ago, I don’t see how SAM can give any credibility to Governor LePage’s 2014 Questionnaire answers.”<<<Read More>>>

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Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Got a New Direction?

According to George Smith, three members of the board of directors for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) have resigned; two of them being long time members. As a matter of fact, Smith says Jim Gorman quit because, “Gorman cited SAM’s transition “in a new direction” for his resignation.” A new direction? One can only hope it’s the right direction.

I have heard from a very reliable source that at one time, say around the time that the Maine Moose Lottery was challenged by referendum around about 1982ish, SAM’s membership stood at around 18,000. Presently, I’ve heard the number 9,000 bantered around as being the current membership at SAM. I’ll spare readers the details as to how members are counted.

Evidently it was not until the recent emotional debates on anti rights and anti gun legislation proposals, membership at SAM was headed for the cellar or was already there. SAM’s new executive director, David Trahan, says that since he took over at the helm in early 2012, he’s jacked up membership by 1,700; guessing most of that due to anti gun hype.

It will be difficult to tell in the short term whether SAM’s claim “new direction” by former board member Jim Gorman, will generate new interest and bring back members. Maine, like many other states, are still dealing with the rhetoric and emotions of gun rights and in addition to that it appears that the Humane Society of the United States is prepared to spend $3-4 million on an anti hunting, anti bear hunting/trapping referendum again in 2014. This will, more than likely, spike SAM’s membership.

So, what is this “new direction” that former board member Jim Gorman doesn’t like? I can only guess.

I am not a member of SAM. I never have been and probably never will be. However, I spend a great deal of time following the actions of SAM and listening to those voicing opinions about the organization and how SAM relates to issues involving fisheries management, deer and moose management and game species management, along with gun rights and other outdoor interests.

It was no secret that at least during the latter stages of George Smith’s tenure as executive director for SAM, membership was declining and it appeared the level of discontent was on the rise. But why?

From my perspective it surely appeared that Smith and his board of directors were selling out to the environmentalist groups, I suppose somehow believing that even though historically these groups spend millions of dollars nationwide to put a stop to fishing, hunting, trapping and other “consumptive” outdoor sports, they would treat activities in Maine differently and be the sportsman’s friend.

The bottom line has always been the driving force behind many decisions and actions taken by human beings. Outdoor sportsmen have for several years seen their hunting, trapping and fishing opportunities seriously diminished. Most sportsmen blame poor management on the part of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), for the loss of those opportunities. If SAM appears to be in full support of the efforts of MDIFW and we continue to get the same results, members become disgruntled and want a different approach. Is this the change in direction being spoken of here? Perhaps, or at least a part of it.

Another example of what might be a direction change that Gorman and others aren’t liking, showed itself during the recent debate on guns, gun rights and anti rights legislation bombarding the Maine Legislature. For the most part, David Trahan, SAM ED, took a very staunch stand in protecting the Second Amendment rights of all Maine citizens. While this was happening, former executive director at SAM, George Smith, was, for the most part, being wishy-washy, suggesting compromise. For the record Smith spoke out and presented legislation to get rid of Maine’s requirement for a permit to carry concealed. I applaud that move. Overall, Smith’s attitude and approach isn’t what the majority of Maine’s sportsmen want. Is that the change of direction being talked about?

Recently the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sponsored legislation to ban bear trapping, as well as hunting bears in the Spring and with hounds. HSUS threatened that if Maine rejected their bill proposal, they would come back with a referendum the following year asking that even bear baiting be banned. Smith intimated in his writings that Maine might want to consider giving up trapping and hunting bears with dogs in order to save baiting. SAM’s current leadership fought hard against the anti bear hunting bill and saw it defeated and vowed they would battle viciously against HSUS. Is this the change of direction being referred to here?

Yes, I know, George Smith is not SAM any longer, but much of what he was instrumental in creating over his near 20-year reign, doesn’t seem to be meshing well with the new leadership at SAM. Membership has gone to the dogs, predators are running uncontrolled, the deer herd has all but disappeared in many places and some are trying to further reduce fishing opportunities in many of Maine’s bodies of water.

It appears to me this isn’t working and if Maine sportsmen really want to see changes, perhaps the best tool would be to make SAM a powerful force, actually fighting for the interests of the sportsmen and not special interest groups. I don’t know if that is the direction David Trahan intends to take SAM and perhaps only time will tell.

Jim Gorman and others gave of their time at SAM and for that we should be appreciative of and respectful. Times they are a changing and it appears Mr. Gorman and others need to move on and let SAM take a new direction. Sportsmen should get involved and make this change go in the right direction and ensure it doesn’t end up as another pal of environmental groups and pays attention to the interests of the members.

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Gun Control/People Control Drivel

On one hand, half of George Smith’s article today in the Morning Sentinel, makes sense. On the other hand, the other half is absolutely illogical.

George Smith, outdoor writer and political activist in Maine, often eager to team up with environmentalist groups, presents himself as a supporter of the Second Amendment. Whether he is or isn’t leaves one always scratching his head due to the fact that Smith, on one hand, makes good sense and yet in the same article sounds more like a representative of the Brady bunch who hate guns and people, always wishing to squash their rights and put more authority into the hands of government to force regulations upon us.

Smith’s title to his article reads like a good one: “Smart laws can limit damage firearms do in the wrong hands.” By the way, what’s a “smart law?” Any law that takes away my inalienable rights for no good reason is a law that isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

The activist reveals from his writing that to prevent gun violence, such as the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, the shooting in Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary, we need to figure out how to stop these mentally deranged people from getting guns. Brilliant!

Smith suggests that Maine should take better care of the mentally ill, forgetting to remind readers it was other mentally deranged people who threw the other mentally deranged people out on the street several years ago. How did that work out anyway? But that’s water under the bridge isn’t it.

There exists one common denominator in all of these violent gun crimes mentioned and for many years previous – they were all mentally ill and/or on some kind of drugs for mental illness and/or depression. And yet we insist on attacking the guns and not the real problems.

However, while I applaud Smith for at least addressing the mental health issue, which few others before have done, I can’t say that his suggestions are the best. Smith wants to make sure that all mentally ill people are included on the NICS background check list to ensure they can’t purchase a gun. Smith writes:

We also should submit, to the federal background check system, the names of those mentally ill individuals who were prohibited — beginning six years ago — from possessing guns. Immediately.

I’m not sure exactly what Smith is thinking here. Preceding this statement is a very disturbing comment in which Smith says he likes the idea. It reads:

A friend suggested an idea I also like: We should create a system that will provide families who think a member is mentally ill a way to receive quick, comprehensive help and remove guns from the home until the weapons can be returned safely.

What could possibly go wrong with this? Now we are going to suggest that non qualified individuals make a determination as to whether or not a family member (or neighbor or acquaintance?) is mentally unfit to own a gun? Here’s a novel idea. If you think a layperson is qualified to determine the mental capacity of another, then shouldn’t that same family member have enough brain matter to realize that they better make sure all guns are out of the reach of someone they think is mentally ill? Why does anybody have to bring in government to remove the guns? This kind of irrational thinking, that a person is capable of being cerebral about one issue and not another, is typical irrational poppycock by shallow thinking people.

There exists standards that President Obama has created concerning mental illness, that if they were fully implemented, most Americans would not like. For instance, returning military veterans who seek psychiatric treatment to cope with and reenter the world the rest of us enjoy after many months on the battlefield, should not be allowed to posses a gun. Really?

The point is, and this has been discussed often, there already exists the tools to determine mental health issues. The problem is all the names aren’t making the NICS background checklist. So do we further give up rights to somehow offset incompetency? Doesn’t it make more sense to fix that broken spoke rather than having family members committing their own blood to a list declaring them incompetent and mentally deranged, while inviting in government opening us up for further governmental overreach?

But the terribly disconnected statement comes after all this. Smith writes:

While extending the background check requirement to all private sales will be inconvenient and unnecessary for many Mainers, it is something we gun owners should be willing to support to stop the sale of guns to the bad guys.

This is wrong on several levels. It wouldn’t be “inconvenient and unnecessary” for “many” Mainers. It would be so for all Mainers and for what real purpose? And when you consider the final statement, “to stop the sale of guns to the bad guys”, tells us that Smith actually believes that “bad guys” obey the law.

Smith certainly leaves me scratching my head when it comes to people control issues like guns. On the one hand he has for some time supported the idea of getting rid of Concealed Carry Permits, stating, “concealed carry permits waste money and time and are useless in fighting crime and violence.” I couldn’t agree more, but his nonsense of expanding background checks because it will catch the bad guys, is unproven prattle.

Why do free Americans always seem to be pressured into giving up their rights, mostly because incompetent people can’t do their jobs? And in continuation of that question, why do we give in? We’ve turned into non thinking sheep.

Even consider the latest event in Boston. It doesn’t take a degree in criminology to determine that the FBI failed in keeping a watch on a person that should have been a high profile target. People died and consequently the police, disregarding our constitutional rights, illegally invaded homes and forced people onto the streets, where a real armed murderer was still at large. Who have considered the risk these lawful citizens were subjected to? Why?

We know what happened to the suspect but the aftermath rhetoric is very disturbing and I hope it will be for millions of other Americans. People like New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is saying that we need to reinterpret what the constitution says about privacy and rights. And this is because why? BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCY!

NO! NO! NO! The answer should be NO! Fix the damned problem and the problem isn’t that I have too many rights.

When someone makes a statement or something similar to it that, “it is something we gun owners should be willing to support”, I say no way. I balk whenever I am told by anyone that I should be willing to give up and compromise and be reasonable about my God-given rights, and that includes self protection.

We shouldn’t be willing to give up anything when the problem doesn’t involve you and your rights. Have you considered that it might possibly be that one of the reasons we are seeing what appears to be more of this kind of heinous violence is because we have “reasonably” given up our rights and been “willing to support” the effort to chisel away at our rights?

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An Act to Abolish the Maine Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council

LD 128, An Act to Abolish the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council, is the brainchild of George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and present writer/activist in outdoor affairs in the State of Maine. He got Senator Anne Haskell to sponsor the bill.

On Smith’s blog he publishes his testimony before the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Smith’s attempt in his testimony is to point out the reasons why the Advisory Council should be abolished but I think what he should be doing is giving good reasons as to why it’s authority and function should change in order to make it more effective. More on that in a second.

Disturbing to me in Smith’s testimony is he says the following:

And there are two other problems. There has never been a nonsportsman on the advisory council, even though the department serves all the people of Maine, not just those who purchase hunting and fishing licenses and permits.

Smith has a history of giving away the power that license-buying sportsmen need to continue a department that will manage game species for surplus harvest. That power struggle is already weighted heavily on the side of environmentalists and giving them more power will do absolutely no good for fish and game issues. While it may be easy to state that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife works for everyone, everyone doesn’t pay the bills. Therefore, “nonsportsmen” do no deserve a spot on the Advisory Council, nor should we be seeking tax revenue in order to make this happen.

But back to the restructuring of the Advisory Council (AC). I will agree with many of the things Smith says about how the current structure of the AC is working or not working. Restructuring it, rather than abolishing it would be better, I think, for sportsmen.

It is my opinion that the worse thing that can happen for fish and game departments is to establish what would be a dictatorship. The commissioner should not have complete or too much control over the aspects of operating the department; neither should he or she have all authority stripped away.

advisorycouncilThis same dynamic can and does exist in other states where the commissioner is hamstrung and can’t do anything without legislative approval. This hinders timely wildlife management. There needs to be a balance of power between the fish and game commissioner, the Legislature and the Advisory Council.

If the commissioner holds the majority of the power to make all decisions related to fish and wildlife management, then any person, lobbyist, non governmental agency, etc. can focus all their efforts on a single commissioner to achieve their personal agendas. This same can occur if a legislature has all the control. All one need do is have an audience with the ranking member(s) and I’ll guarantee the results will not be in the best interest of all sportsmen. We need checks and balances….unfortunately.

And of course this same dynamic can exist within the Advisory Council if that board is given too much power. The key here is to keep a healthy division of power without hamstringing the commissioner, that will insure that all sportsmen, from all corners of the state can be heard and represented. Members of the Advisory Council should have enough influence that when sportsmen contact them on issues, those council members will be heard.

It is for these reasons, mostly, that I would suggest keeping the Advisory Council but change the power structure in order to make them effective and worthwhile. The separation of powers is essential.

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Maine Sen. Saviello Will Sponsor George Smith’s Turkey Hunting Bill

George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, now writer and activist, has evidently convinced Maine Senator Tom Saviello to sponsor a turkey hunting bill he has crafted.

First, we should commend Smith for his efforts to increase turkey hunting opportunities for Maine hunters, while finding ways to keep or cut costs to encourage more participation in the sport.

Briefly, Smith’s bill proposes to eliminate an extra fee to hunt turkeys. A big or small game license will allow for hunting turkeys.

Registering of turkeys will be done Online or by telephone.

Bag limits suggested are for two Toms (males) in the spring hunt and expand the fall hunt to two turkeys of either sex for the entire month of October; also an expansion.

Smith’s bill would allow spring shooting all day, as is done in the fall.

Most of this bill I can support except perhaps for two items. First I have some concerns that this bill sets bag limits while circumventing the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). I would hope that such a bill would not take away the fish and game department’s authority to adjust season lengths and bag limits according to need for sustainable yield.

Smith indicated that he is of the opinion that Maine has far more turkeys than the 50,000 estimated by MDIFW. If that is the case, then I understand the need perhaps to increase opportunities in order to decrease or slow down the growth rate of wild turkeys. This is all a management issue that shouldn’t have to come back to the Legislature to get changed, I wouldn’t think. My concern here is the proper management of turkeys and setting season dates, bag limits and shooting times are major concerns.

The second issue goes along with this and that is the shooting in the afternoons during the spring hunt. Generally, it is believed that protecting nesting hens during spring hunts helps to sustain the population. This is why, as Smith proposes in his bill, that harvest in spring will be two male turkeys only. Depending upon the exact timing of the spring hunt and the mating/nesting season of turkeys, hens do not leave their nests until after noon. With this, it is believed that hens would become more susceptible to being killed if shooting is allowed after noon. Not only would the hen run the risk of being killed but a dead hen means dead poults.

If Smith’s bill to allow shooting all day during the spring hunt is for the purpose of reducing growth and/or populations of turkeys, then I understand the intent (aside from providing more shooting time.) However, I still have concerns about taking away the authority of MDIFW to regulate this activity. Otherwise, it appears to me that each season there may be a need to go to the Legislature to change the items that would be enacted in this bill.

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When MDIFW Stopped Managing Whitetail Deer, the Herd Began to Die Off

In a recent report filed by George Smith on his blog, he stated that Wildlife Management Section Supervisor from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), John Pratt, “encouraged me to write something positive about the program” [speaking in reference to the miserably and embarrassingly failed Maine Land Owner Relations Project].

What a joke! Pratt’s comment states that, “when tools and/or funding is provided for the deer effort, good things do happen”. Perhaps sportsmen like myself could muster up something positive to say had MDIFW actually been managing the deer herd over the past 30 years or so instead of stroking the golden goose and hoping against all hope that magic, a dash of global warming and continued lawsuits filed by environmentalists and animal perverts, would take care of any problems that might show up before anyone realized all the time and money, of which MDIFW claims they have no more of, was spent on search and rescue, non-game programs, piping plovers, studying and protecting bears, bowing down to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and permitting a non endangered or non threatened Canada lynx to take away the only tool left to control coyotes from killing deer. Alas, but to MDIFW, that’s really not a problem is it? Nor is the fact that there are an ungodly number of black bears and so many moose they’ve all been infected with disease and are dying off. Evidently dragging bears out of their dens in the winter does nothing to help know how many there are and that they are contributing to the absent deer herd.

Gasp! Had actual deer management been taking place, MDIFW would know that wouldn’t they? Somebody tell me they would.

So, now that MDIFW has failed miserably in their jobs to manage whitetail deer in Maine, it has become the fault of “there is no money”, “the economy is in really tough shape”, “those evil landowners cut down trees”, and/or “it’s not my fault” (equivalent to the dog ate my homework.)

I think George Smith is trying to write something positive and somehow justify fantasy, hands-off deer management by saying that he thinks it’s “disappointing” that in trying to strong arm landowners to stop cutting a hunter’s favorite hunting ground to save the deer herd, “sportsmen are unable or unwilling to put up the money necessary to get the job done.” Really, George? I think me and about a few hundred thousand other license buyers have been footing the damned bill for decades and decades believing actual deer management was taking place. Now that the proverbial excrement has hit the fan, some believe it’s a shame that sportsmen can’t enable the drunken sailors and give the dysfunctional department more money.

If MDIFW needs money to put up some kind of charade they are trying to convince Maine citizens is necessary to save the deer herd, being they aren’t using any biologists and resources to manage deer and haven’t for a long time, perhaps it’s time to cut the MDIFW staff and budget by the same percentage as all other game species hunting and fishing activities contribute to the economy of the state of Maine?

MIDFW, needs to give it a rest on the pity partying of “we ain’t got no money!”

Please give us something good to write about and don’t ask me to lie to do it!

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Perhaps Maine Approaches Game Management as a Hobby

There’s an old expression that I learned perhaps 55 years ago about doing something in a pot or getting off it. I’m beginning to wonder if the State of Maine, specifically the office of governor and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) approaches the entire functional aspect of fish and wildlife management as nothing more than a hobby. The present governor promised to rebuild the deer herd. The present commissioner at MDIFW promised to rebuild the deer herd. Maine government devised a plan to rebuild the deer herd and nothing has been done to rebuild the deer herd. I think it’s time to do something in that pot or get off it and put the pot away.

We are in tough times. There’s no doubt about it. Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, is doing what he thinks is best to reduce wasteful spending, something that must be done, and so it’s a big pill to swallow in any attempts to convince the taxpayers that borrowing and spending more money is in the best interest of all. So, the question for deer hunters becomes: Is spending money now or in the immediate future a good investment for all of Maine?

George Smith, a journalist, blogger and former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, beats a steady drum. Agree with him or not, when he latches onto an issue he remains persistent until the issue is dead……and then some more. His latest attack has to do with funding Land for Maine’s Future(LMF), a governmental program that, “seeks to conserve lands that have exceptional recreational or ecological value along with working lands for farms, forests, tourism, and working waterfronts.”

Smith says the Land for Maine’s Future program is broke and he has a problem with the governor’s dislike of spending money by saying, “Governor Paul LePage’s antipathy to bonding is well known”. Smith sees this as a problem because he wants money to fund LMF in order to buy up and protect deer wintering forest areas.

In Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, one of the many things identified that contributed to the demise of the whitetail deer herd, is the loss of habitat, specifically deer wintering areas (DWA). Smith wants the $5 million bond issue to pass to fund LMF in order to buy up DWAs to protect deer.

This is probably a good idea but I am not aware of anyone, at least with any position of legislative authority or otherwise, who has come up with a plan of just how we are going to convince private land owners to sell off a deer yard that happens to sit in the middle of their property? Smith even says, “No landowner is going to sell the state a stand-alone deeryard.” Not to be accused of taking Smith out of context, he also stated that the habitat surrounding a deer yard is important as well, implying all of the land, inside and out, of the deer yard areas need protecting.

With a deer management plan, that contains no specific information about how it is going to protect deer habitat, is it then prudent to bond out $5 million to LMF, with the target goal for that expenditure deer yards in Maine?

Personally, I would like to see two things happen. One, I want to see a viable plan worked out between the State of Maine and private landowners about how a program could function that would, hopefully, provide for the needs of both parties. Once a workable plan is in place, that is one that isn’t Marxist by nature, strong-arming landowners to give up land or else, then let’s proceed with the funding. The only way money should be appropriated for this action is only AFTER a majority of private landowners, i.e. those who own the deer yards needing protection, have agreed to such a plan.

Secondly, I think there are things that can be done right now that will have an immediate effect on the deer herd, if and when the governor’s office and MDFIW makes a real commitment to it. So far, the people, even though they were promised during those dreadful campaign days, have seen nothing. Should I put that in all capitals? NOTHING!

Here’s the deal, in case you really haven’t caught on yet. Campaign rhetoric is cheap. Anyone can spew it and all do. Why we insist in getting caught up in it is a lesson that might never be learned. The only thing any of us can ever get out of it is to throw it back in the politician’s face that he or she lied. Big deal! They all do it because we let them. These days the end always justifies the means.

So the governor, in this case Mr. LePage, gets elected and as is the usual case, promises are forgotten and he hires an expert to make excuses for his lack of action. But this case puzzles me a bit. Governor LePage pushed for this Game Plan for Maine’s Deer. Why? Is this a double entendre? Perhaps political naivete to offer twice a broken promise? A lack of a commitment brought on by the absence of understanding money would be needed? Or perhaps the governor and his cohorts didn’t fully examine the deer hunting industry and whether it was an investment worth the money and the commitment? Or, maybe something else.

I’ve written a few times about this lack of engagement at all levels of the State of Maine; HERE, HERE, HERE. I am assuming, which might be a mistake, that before the Governor and MDIFW made a public announcement of their commitment to rebuild Maine’s deer herd, they crunched some numbers and explored all aspects of the hunting industry in order to decide whether or not declaring “all in” was an investment that was responsible and in the best interest of the people of Maine. Why would you do it anyway?

If it has been determined, again I’m assuming here, that it was a worthy investment and the Governor made a public announcement, twice actually, of his “commitment” to rebuild the deer herd, then where is this commitment? It’s not like the economic difficulties that Maine and the rest of the nation experience crept up on us overnight.

If there is no concentration of effort, including funding, then either the Governor and MDIFW knowingly misled the voters and hunters because they knew, specifically the Governor, that he would not fund any effort to save the deer herd. In other words, he was placating the voters and again the sportsmen with his hollow promises.

Therefore, without any further explanation available that I am aware of from MDIFW or the Governor’s office, I am left believing that the MDIFW is an expensive hobby and is promoted as such from the Governor’s office. The only commitment that I see is to keep enough funding going to pay a lot of salaries, the most of which have nothing to do with management of game species. This is an expensive hobby. I have contributed a lot of money over the years, as have hundreds of thousands of others, to support this hobby.

It is time to get off the pot because obviously nothing is being put into the pot. If the Governor and MDIFW cannot see the deer hunting industry as viable enough to warrant investment, surely my money should not fund a department in which I no longer have a vested interest. The governor and MDIFW can go play with their wildlife on their own time and money.

Tom Remington

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