Commentary

Former Alaska Fish Board member a Montanan?

Below is the Roland Maw story the ADN spiked on Feb. 23, 2015. The website instead ran an earlier, incoherent and now unavailable version of this story that left it unclear why Maw was in trouble in Montana. The first Facebook comment on the original story remains at the bottom of the link, and it says all that need be said: “Lee Baxter · Attorney at Holland & Knight LLP, “Total speculation, but this smells like a residency issue to me.”

The story that drew the comment from Baxter was later replaced by a version edited by Alaska Dispatch News Vice President Tony Hopfinger, who pulled rank over editors David Hulen and Richard Mauer, to at least make it clear Maw was under investigation for “possession of Montana resident licenses” while also claiming to be an Alaska resident.

The story that was spiked left no doubt as to the issues.

The Story No One Got To Read …

The surprise Friday decision by Roland Maw Jr. to withdraw from confirmation for a seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries appears to stem not from any issue related to Kenai River salmon, but instead from his claim to being a resident of Montana.

Larry Perkins, a licensing technician for Montana, Fish, Wildlife & Parks told Alaska Dispatch on Monday that Maw held resident hunting and fishing licenses in Montana from 2008 to 2014.

It is against the law in both Montana and Alaska to hold a resident hunting and fishing law in another state.

“I know that we have a case,” said Ron Aasheim, the communications director for Montana, Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “That is a violation of the law here.”

Holding a resident hunting and fishing license in two states simultaneously is potentially more of a problem in Alaska than Montana. Anyone claiming Alaska residency and filing for an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, the annual payments to Alaskans from the state’s oil wealth, must stipulate that he has not  claimed “residency in any other state or country or obtained a benefit as a result of a claim of residency in another state or country.”

Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said she could not comment on whether the state of Alaska is investigating Maw.

Maw filed for permanent fund dividends from 2008 to 2014, according to state records.

Maw has a home on Southwind Lane in Dillon, Montana, as well as a home in Kasilof on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Perkins said Maw was licensed as a Montana resident at the Southwind Lane address.

“‘We just have one person with that name,” Perkins added. “He did have a resident license last year. I’m just looking at last year. Let me go back a little further.”

The Montana computerized licensing system eventually showed Maw obtained resident Montana licenses in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008, Perkins said.

“Two-thousand-eight through last year he did have them,” Perkins said.

Maw has held an Alaska Department of Fish and Game personal identification card — a free, resident-only hunting, fishing and trapping license available to those over age 60 — since 2004, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

State regulations covering the identification card clearly state that “having a resident hunting/fishing license in another state…(disqualifies) applicants from receiving the PID.”

Dispatch asked Alaska State Troopers on Thursday about rumors that Maw was licensed to hunt and fish as a resident of both Montana and Alaska. Maw the next morning withdrew his nomination as a candidate for the Fish Board in a terse, hand written note.

A spokeswoman for Walker said Friday that she would be speculating to suggest why Maw withdrew. It is unclear whether Maw’s claims to residency in two states would have automatically disqualified his serving on the board.

Statutorily, the law says “the appointed members shall be residents of the state,” but there appears to be no specific definition of “resident” as it applies to the board. The state has varying definitions of who is a resident.

The voter requirement is the most lenient. It requires only an Alaska driver’s license or proof of employment in the state. The standards for PFDs, and hunting and fishing licenses, are higher.

Maw is commercial driftnet fishermen and former head of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, a lobbying group for driftnetters. He is a retired professor from Lethbridge Community College in Alberta, who first came to Alaska to fish commercially in the early 1980s.

He first claimed Alaska residency on a Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission form in 1990, according to state records. He first obtained a resident sport fishing license in 1996. He told a Dispatch reporter on Friday that he moved to Alaska after leaving Lethbridge in 2001.

State licensing regulations stipulate that to qualify as an Alaska resident for hunting and fishing purposes one must maintain a “domicile in Alaska for the 12 consecutive months immediately preceding this application for a license,” and not claim residency or benefits “in another state, territory, or country.”

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Categories: Commentary, News, Outdoors, Politics

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