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Posts Tagged → career

John Arway gone away, but not forgotten

Beyond nailing down and putting the finishing touches on some epic large land conservation transactions, my summer and Fall of 2003 were spent politicking and angling for the executive director position at the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. After ten years, the last ED had recently left as most EDs leave these posts – everyone involved all too happy to not see one another again.

The door was wide open for a fresh newcomer, someone not from within the agency, for the first time in as long as anyone could recall. I knew I had a shot, and so did my supporters. I was excited.

As I met with elected officials and conservation leaders, presenting my own “impressive” credentials and qualifications for the job, and trying to amass my support from people who mattered, a single name kept coming up: John Arway.

Who was this faceless John Arway guy, who so many of the active conservationists mentioned? I had never seen him at a meeting, or at a land dedication ceremony, nor had we testified at the same legislative hearing. But many in-the-know conservationists knew him, or of him, and they were quietly supporting him for the ED job, increasingly so as we got closer to the interview process in December.

Many other ED candidates were emerging, some really impressive, and some less so. My own self-promotion continued up to the beginning of deer season, and then I sat back for the following couple of weeks to see how it would all play out.

I was granted an interview with the PFBC board of commissioners, and in fact I ended up being the very last one interviewed out of six candidates. But as soon as the interview process began the back channel scuttlebutt was that the real contest was already well under way, the board split evenly between wanting Arway, or the agency’s long-time legal counsel, Dennis Guise, as the alternative.

Raging through and beneath the calm surface of the rote, officially procedural, professional interview process, the two main candidates fought each other tooth and nail, each calling up bigger, better, more powerful allies. In the end, it was not a question of qualifications, but of ….well, one of those simple things guys fall back on when measuring up an opponent. “Size.”

So to say. Because both guys were equally competent, just  each differently endowed with important skills the agency needed. It was an impossible choice between the two of them.

This battle royale ended the day before I was interviewed, with the board hopelessly deadlocked between the policy weenie Arway, and lawyer Guise. With the two accomplished men set aside, the board was now looking for a “dark horse” candidate without war baggage, who could salvage the situation and bring peace and unity unto the bruised agency’s divided ranks and leadership factions.

In the end, Doug Austen, PhD, was selected over me to run the agency. The chairman and several of my advocates on the board took me aside and explained that Doug had beaten me by 3/100’s of a point, and that the ED decision had come down to that: How many points did the next best candidate have. It was a very close decision, as close as any decision could ever be.

Austen went on to run PFBC for about four years, and as he has a PhD in fisheries biology, he eventually begged off for less political drama and more biology and went on to his next neat job with the US Fish & Widlife Service. Today Doug happily runs the American Fisheries Society, I happily run my own small conservation-driven small business, and boy, did John Arway end up running PFBC.

When Austen left PFBC, Arway was better positioned to take the helm, and immediately take it by storm did he ever. From deep within the agency’s rubber-meets-the-road programs, Arway brought to light and into implementation long simmering policy addressing natural gas fracking, combined sewage overflows from too much rain overrunning sewage plants, trout stocking, non-native invasive plants and fish, the sustainable economics of fishing, and many many more big and important policy questions that had sat dormant for way too long.

Arway’s personal style is easy, smiling, genuine, with a natural affability that helps him slide the medicine in. The medicine being those long-put-off policies that no one had the balls to deal with, and which John knew to be too important to ignore any longer.

Fact is, the Pennsylvania legislature is full of career politicians who refuse to make difficult decisions, for fear of upsetting the voters and possibly losing their artificially cushy jobs. And so Arway made those tough and necessary decisions for them.

The legislature did not like that.

True to form, the careerist politicians wanted to both hinder Arway and second-guess him, without ever providing alternative decisions that would save or protect our state’s incredible natural resources. At the end of all this bad government on full display to we taxpayers who underwrite it, Arway was ironically held up by the dithering careerist politicians as an example of a careerist bureaucrat long past his own use-by date. And so the legislature began to ever increasingly squeeze PFBC, financially, politically.

John Arway fought as only the honestly passionate can fight, with everything he had, without regard for his own personal longevity. Like Neo, the hero in The Matrix movie, John magically dodged every bullet fired at him, every knife stabbed at his back, and every rug pulled out from under his feet. And through it all he maintained that affable personality and firm determination to “do the right thing.”

If you didn’t know John Arway before he became PFBC ED, you knew soon after that he was one of the last of the conservation warriors cut from an old die that has long corroded and may now be broken and long lost. It is tough to imagine that any Pennsylvania resource agency will find and also choose again a tough leader and fearless resource advocate like Arway.

John recently retired from PFBC. Though he had every right to do so, he did not whine, he did not take shots at his enemies or opponents, he did not complain. Rather, ever the real pro, he listed the many natural resource conservation achievements he wished he had time to win and which he hopes the next generation will pick up and carry over the goal line.

The board was loathe to let him go. His many, many supporters are sad to see him step down. If you like to fish or drink clean water, you are sad to see John go. Both Austen and I talk about what might have happened had Arway simply been selected as ED back in 2003 and gotten his conservation agenda under way earlier. I do not always agree with John Arway on policy, but I will always agree that John Arway should be in the policy driver’s seat.

We will miss you, John. Thank you for your service and for being the champion for the voiceless fish and the splashing mountain streams whose language we hear but do not understand.

 

Ryan’s NobamaCare Plan

RINO Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House, is unveiling a complicated “reform” of ObamaCare as I write these words.

To say his plan is complicated is a gross understatement. The fact that it requires so many charts and graphs tells us everything we need to know: No.

The main problem with Ryan’s NobamaCare plan is that it becomes part and parcel of an already clunky and complicated federal tax code.

We don’t need no more stinkin’ federal tax code stuff, unless it is a total overhaul. Like elimination and replacement.

Ryan’s plan just makes it all worse, both the health care part and the federal tax part.

Only elimination will suffice.

One of the issues with political careerists like Ryan is that they are unwilling to think or act outside the box. They accept certain premises handed down by previous elected officials, instead of questioning why and how they did what they did.

I mean, look at federal and state pension problems alone. What on earth motivated previous elected officials to create these monstrosities? It sure wasn’t a careful and judicious use of limited taxpayer funds! Why, you could be led to believe that those former politicians had used taxpayer money to create largess and thus buy votes, so they could stay in office….

Career politicians like Ryan are terrified of making a mistake, because they are terrified of losing their cozy job and benefits. He refuses to make a principled stand when it can count. So he\they stick to what is politically safe, ie palatable to the special interests that control him\them and then those interests that control the opposition party.

The concerns of us citizens factor in way last, if at all in their calculations.

So, ObamaCare must go, as it is the Unaffordable Care Act, and no, you could not keep your health plan, and no, you could not keep your doctor. It was a disaster. You cannot fix a disaster. You get rid of a disaster.

And while we are at it, can we get rid of RINO Ryan, too? America needs a principles-focused person, man or woman, in that congressional seat. Ryan ain’t gettin it done. In fact, as we see this morning, Ryan is making it a lot worse than it already is.

If I couldn’t keep my doctor, then why do I have to keep Ryan?

Say bye to both problems.

Reflection on national versus local elections

My career started in Washington, DC, and included seven years there of national and international work. After returning home to Pennsylvania, my focus turned to the region and state.
Now, my focus increasingly stays on local elections. It’s where we get officials who support concealed carry, or not, and who have the most impact on individual citizens.
Career is a funny concept. For me, it has been about enjoying satisfaction where I find it.