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?
Posted by suvalley at 10:55 AM