Saturday, May 6, 2017

Alaska Ag....The (bad) Public Servant

Many Alaskan residents have that warm fuzzy feeling when they think of our public servants. After all, the state is small enough that they are likely family, friends, neighbors, classmates, or the people we know through work or our varied leisure pursuits.  Current political buffoonery in Juneau aside, most of our public servants are hardworking, committed individuals, performing needed services for us all.

And then, then, there is the Division of Agriculture (the DOA as its called on this platform) This tiny department, with its minuscule budget and staff, has at its helm, a public servant of the worst sort.

Director Keyes, the young man with the gilded pedigree, who schmoozes with the Governor and power elites in Juneau, exhibits every trait of the CBC of Ag/Palmer Mafia, in spades. Attaining his position through nepotism and connections, he is the poster boy for photo ops,  hobnobbing with power brokers, and making sure that his vision of Ag, is fully funded, staffed, and relevant-no matter the cost to anyone else.

That's the public side of the Director.  But behind the doors of the Division of Ag, matters are are not so......nice.  Particularly when it comes to our livestock producers. The following should raise red flags, and in other governments, would lead to censure, or the forced resignation of Director Keyes. But here in Alaska? Why, it's just business as usual, because they've always done it that way.

In December and January, an experienced, professional, enterprising individual imported a number of cattle from Canada. This is a common occurrence, as import records will show.  When the individual attempted to take the cattle to MMM&S for slaughter, Director Keyes himself (and Shannon at the plant) refused to accept the animals. They insisted they were illegally imported, which was not true. They also insisted on the individual proving where the animals came from, and were eventually forced to provide a copy of the *bank draft* that was used to purchase them. And they still refused to process. Takeaway: The Director himself demanded personal, private financial records from a livestock producer. This is so far beyond acceptable actions of a public servant, words fail.

The owner was understandably irate, and it took ten days to climb up the chain to reach the Governor's office. The reaction was: Oh, they can't do that!  In 24 hours, Director Keyes and Shannon called the owner, and apologized. They sang quite a different tune, no doubt at the direction of the Governor's office. The cattle were subsequently processed, and nothing would be known about it all, except that...........

Roughly six weeks ago, someone again, attempted to process cattle, and were refused. Director Keyes/Shannon grilled the individual: Is that beef from Pt MacKenzie? Where did it come from? Who did you buy it from? What feed are you using? In stunned disbelief, the owner refused to provide this unnecessary information and the beef was eventually processed at MMM&S.

This was followed by yet *another* individual trying to process a steer. In this second instance, the owner was subjected to grilling on where it came from, who bred it, and so forth. The owner gave Director Keyes the name of the person he bought the steer from....and the Director *called that third party person* to verify, and attempt to gain more information! Takeaway: Director Keyes is adamant that a specific person conduct no business whatsoever, at the state owned slaughter facility. Again, words fail.

This is just a snapshot of what's going on at MMM&S, with Director Keyes taking a leading role in micromanaging, and asking question that are literally none of his business, and Shannon, the interim manager hired after Mr. Huffman was forced out. Director Keyes and Shannon have both stated that they refuse to process any cattle arising from a specific individual and his company, for any reason. There are actual recordings that exist to prove all of the above, and these statements made by Director Keyes. During these, he is heard to proclaim "I know the Governor, I can do anything I want!"

And now you know.

These are facts. Not rumors, not fiction, not "garbage" as one local loudmouth likes to proclaim.

Director Keyes is picking winners and losers in Alaska agriculture, at will.  He is the much publicized and traveled face of Alaska agriculture. Yet it has taken going to the Governor's office to force Director Keyes to provide the public service they are *required* to provide to Alaskans. This is the heavy hand of the CBC of Ag, hard at work representing our community and state.

When you are blackballed by the local government mafia (aka the CBC of Ag) sometimes you give in, sell out, and leave the state, having broken your spirit and your pocketbook attempting to farm here. Or you do the unthinkable:

You succeed in spite of Director Keyes.

Right on their webpage, the Division of Agriculture states:

 The mission of the Division of Agriculture is to promote and encourage development of an agriculture industry in the State.

How is the above, serving to "promote and encourage" agriculture in Alaska?


Anonymous said...

That's what happens when you hire a family friend, with no higher education, who doesn't even know how to use email or even write his own letters. It's a big fake sham. We all know who is really driving this bus. Covering up his mistakes and doing his job for him, and they aren't even qualified.

His only experience is being a produce manager for a grocery store and his father in law helped him start a farm market.

He knows how to grow stuff, that's it. Hardly qualified for the position.

The board needs new members too. Clean house.

Anonymous said...

Smh, are they trying to promote agriculture in the state or make it even more difficult? Seems that they are setting MMMS up for failure so their cronies don't have competition.

Anonymous said...

Memoirs of a misunderstood director

Part 1: Application for the Job of Director at the Division of Agriculture

Dear Mr Walker,

You may know me as the only business man in agriculture capable of turning around our State agricultural economy. As you know my step daddy owns the BAC. Daddy told me that I already have the Directors job I just need to go through this government process of eliminating all the best candidates before I accept the position. So I will play along and explain how I will change State agriculture.

I will use secretary and guide, Amy. Who quit the Division of Agriculture because her travel budget was being cut. This is appalling, and a classic example of government overreach, to think that my government people are no longer able to travel monthly to international friend making events! This, I will fix first. I pledge now that no-one before me nor after me will get to travel on grant, state and federal monies like I will once I am appointed – for this I will be your champion.

Amy (my friend) has lots of friends and knows stuff about agriculture. She also vouches for me and invites you and I to shindigs so that we can talk about a future of sweet vegetables and pipes together. I also know people and sell sweet onions during what I like to call “the Alaskan growing season”. I call my unique sweet vegetable growing and selling skills "entrepreneurial" you should use that word when hiring me to replace that Director milk lady - she's bad for Alaska’s sweet vegetables, and milks cows outside of that “growing season”!

I would also like to quickly complain about your DNR commissioner. During my first interview Commissioner Myers was mean to me, he said that I wasn't fit to run the Division of agriculture and explained that all the other candidates were “more qualified”. I know this but he didn't need to say it. If we hired people based of qualifications then why know people? What a waist of a cliche. He then tried to hire some guy called Knowles! This guy deals in facts and science and has a firm grasp on government and a proven track record in developing agricultural businesses. These educated types will ruin Alaska. "Mean Myers" - that's my name for him. I can't work for a guy that follows them Alaska Statutes! What nonsense, I guarantee I won't follow them. You just wait until that FSMA gets passed and the Fed offers money, ill be shooting off at the mouth like I owns it. Ill earn myself a new gangsta name “Half-a-Locks”, I know its cleaver.

Sir, I know that with your ambitious pipes and my sweet vegetables we will make Alaska great again. Because once those pipes are built and all of those feasibility reports are proved right. You can still make a profit by firing my sweet vegetables through the pipeline and onto boats destined for theater loving folks outside of this great state.

Yes really,

Arthur "you've got my" Keys.

Anonymous said...

........Except your enterprise hard working farmer is a liar and and a conman who owes thousands in back kill fees and processing fees. Maybe if he paid his bills mmm would consider killing his Canadian cows. It's interesting how that tad bit of factual information did make it into this blog. Could be the 'loudmouth' you refer to actually might have a point.

Anonymous said...

You must be the loud mouth! As of Good Friday the enterprising farmer settled his Bill! With MMM&S. The conman is the one running the plant with the ankle moniter on everyday! I'm pretty sure the Canadian cattle will be processed in Pt. Mackenzie starting this week! In the new portable USDA plant there. One should check facts before one spouts off there big mouth! But as expected from typical BOA cronies one doesn't know what there talking about! Typical Arthur Keys!

Anonymous said...

That enterprising farmer is still here and he has accomplished more in the beef industry in Alaska in the last 3.5 years then BOA/DOA has in the last 20 years. Sounds like to me there are a lot of people extremely jealous.

Anonymous said...

Nah, just callin it as I see it. It's a small state when it comes to ag, you can only screw and deceive so many people before it catches up to you and your run off. Sounds like that's been your M.O. before you came up here.

Anonymous said...

Silly facts, you know facts don't apply here.

suvalley said...

Blow Owner here-

A few points to add to this discussion.

1. What makes everyone presume that the "enterprising individual" quoted above, is the same person as the "conman" cited in these comments? Not the same person!

2. How is it that details about bills with MMM&S are common knowledge? Will you be so quick to share, when it's YOUR activity that is being spread all over the Valley and state? Everyone is okay with Director Keyes/Shannon sharing that? Whose business benefits from this...anyone think of that?

3. Did you all miss that Director Keyes *refuses* to process cattle belonging to an individual? You all are okay with that too, even though it's a state owned asset?

4. Director Keyes is personally choosing who can succeed here, and who cannot. Better think long and hard about what that means for the future. Got kids?

5. If it's all good, whatever Director Keyes does to protect the CBC of Ag, be sure you get a new set of knee pads, you are going to need them.

And do tell how *any* of this, serves to "promote and encourage agriculture" here in Alaska.

Anonymous said...

Your both are wrong the blog writer is referring to JHJ Meat Co. I am the person who tried to take the steer in for processing. I purchased from the farmer in Pt. MacKenzie who is going out of business and leased it his hay farm. This actually happened to me. Arthur Keys doesn't like that farmer either and I know for a fact they don't do business with MMM. I was treated like crap after 1 hour of repeated questioning and a phone call to the gentleman that I purchased the steer from and Arthur and Shannon on speaker phone with him repeatedly questioning him then me waiting another hour and providing them with a carbon copy of the check from my check book then another 15 minutes of questioning from Shannon. They took the steer. I don't know if this happens to everyone who goes in as it was my first time and last. I have never seen anybody conduct business like this anywhere and had never gone thru this much craziness just to get a beef killed. I still think about that daily and wonder how they are in business to the public treating people this way.

suvalley said...


I think I have figured out why Director Keyes and Shannon are so biased against Pt. MacKenzie farms, and everyone connected to cattle out there. Why they give everyone the third, fourth and nth degree, why they insist on paper trails that no one from Palmer ever has to supply........

(You're gonna love this, I promise!)

'Cuz there's rustlers out there. Real, live, cattle rustlers!


Just waiting for all the little minions to chime in, rally in defense of the indefensible, and tell us all how we have it so wrong and are so stupid. Not a one will address what wrongs DOA/Director Keyes/Shannon have actually performed. No, no, that would never happen.

Because that's the way it's done, because that's the way it's always been done.

Even truth reads like fiction, when it comes to this Valley.

Anonymous said...

Silly Truth..... You know the truth doesn't apply here. We sure do like a good yarn tho, boy oh boy I can't wait for the next juicy gossip that comes out. Please Ms. Blog writer give us a hint of the next rant and ramble you will write. I'm on pins and needles to know what the all powerful Keyes has done next!
I heard he's so powerful that if he walks thru your fields or green House the plants literally jump to attention and bare fruit right there in front of his gaze.

Anonymous said...

We've all heard about Man made Global warming right? Well, what you didn't know is that it was just One man that created it. That's right, none other then Keys himself! Rumor has it he needed a longer growing season for his carrots. So what the all powerful Keys needs he gets. Not even the atmosphere will fuck with the mighty Director of Ag!

Anonymous said...

LOLOLOL Blow Owner is the right term alrighty!! Freudian slip there Tiani?? You know you're full of shit and your fingers typed the truth! hahahahahaha!

suvalley said...

What are you, in high school? Glad a single typo send you over the moon with laughter. I'm sure you are impressing all your buddies with your wit.

Now run along, whoever you are, and polish up those knee pads! It's dirty down there in the row crops, and someone is probably doing your laundry for you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Blow owner, keep Blowin more "Truth" out your Blow Hole.... we are all waiting in anticipation to know what the all powerful Director is up to next, don't keep us waiting, surely he must be responsible for a volcano erupting or maybe all these earthquakes we are having, i bet Keyes has to have some deviant hand in those!

Anonymous said...

And everyone wonders why nobody wants to farm in Alaska! It's Asshole's like you that constantly run there mouth because they only own a few acres or a few pigs and bitch because they can't run with the BIG boys. SMH! Get OFF the porch and stop pissing on the post. Truth is Arthur Keys is in over his head facts are facts! If your that ignorant then your a complete Dumbass!

Anonymous said...

Silly Truth.... You know the Truth doesn't apply here.... It's just more rants and rambles concocted by the Blow hole.... er I mean Blog Writer, aka Tiani Heider.
Move along, it's farming season. Or, maybe that's the problem, you justify your inability to farm by 'blaming' government and of course The All Powerful DOA...... Rants and Rambles....... whiners need not apply.

suvalley said...

Oh look, it's a minion!

Isn't that cute?

Never anything but ad hominem prattling, likely fueled by.....well, most of the Valley knows.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of the people defending him actually know him. Have they ever worked with him? I have and he does not have my support. Unqualified, ignorant, arrogant, and certainly not last, deceptive.