Thursday, 27 October 2005 07:59

Ten people who have screwed up hunting in Nevada

Written by Bud Sonnentag
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Currently there is a best-selling book by Bernard Goldberg titled One Hundred People who are Screwing up America. The book names these people and the destruction they have done. Playing on this theme, it occurred to me, why not let all Nevadans, especially sportsmen, know who screwed up this state’s wonderful deer herd by exposing the corrupt public officials who were and are responsible. Through research and investigation I have settled on these following ten as the most notorious culprits of destruction.

Along with a group of my friends and fellow sportsmen, I attended the last legislative session in the spring of 2005. Believe me, it was a real eye-opener for all of us. Carl Worthington, Ron Jones and I were shocked into reality to see how legislators and public officials so readily do the bidding of NDOW. I guess this is because it is sportsmen who fund this agency, not general taxpayers. For the most part, the majority of legislators could care less about sportsmen, with one very outstanding exception, Assemblyman Jerry Claborn. We all found him to be a true sportsmen’s representative.

A good example of this care-less attitude by legislators was NDOW’s leaw enforcement bill, SB397. One part of this bill would have allowed game wardens to search your house without a warrant. Every senator, all twenty-one of them let this bill pass without questioning this part of the bill. There are some very good senators who are supportive of hunting. Good grief, you would think that at least one of these senators would jump up and scream that this is a violation of your Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and that that part of the bill should have never been considered. Remember now, their first duty is to represent all Nevadans, not NDOW or themselves. 

When the bill reached the assembly side, some concerned sportsmen’s groups alerted the assembly members and this part of the bill was struck from NDOW’s proposal. Fortunately there are some good sportsmen’s group looking out for hunters in this state. Was your sportsmen’s organization the one who stopped this? Or even cared about this terrible proposal?

My group took time from work, paid our own way to Carson City and everyone felt it was a waste of time. We were there supporting AB3 which was requesting a state audit for NDOW. We wanted to ensure that sportsmen’s money was being spent wisely. Basically what we got was excuses and double talk. The exception was Assemblyman Jerry Claborn who is a hunter and realizes how badly deer hunting has deteriorated in this state. Nevada has lost the majority of its deer and sage grouse and the ten people listed below are the reason. Hunters need to know who is responsible.

Number One: Willie Molini--Willie was in charge of NDOW for twenty years. Without a doubt, he sent the agency in the wrong direction and we can see this by taking a close look at what he did do and did not do. His interests were more in women and booze than fish and game. There is not enough paper or ink to print all of Willie’s failures but here are a few good examples. He had two lawsuits for sexual discrimination that cost the sportsmen $291,000. He failed numerous state audits, had numerous over-expenditures of his budgets. Willie lied to an audit committee about the license inventory sales accounting system (LISA). Willie did not adequately monitor the cost to develop the LISA system. His original estimated of $46,000 turned out to be $340,000 or seven times the original amount, all public record.

In 1989 Willie failed another audit, this time on the big game tag draw system. Under Willie’s direction the tag draw system was rigged, flawed and manipulated. One of the principal findings of this audit was “there is virtually no control over adjustments or changes made to the draw system records. This results in a very high risk that someone could change the results of the draw.” Another principal finding, “Due to the poor control environment we were unable to obtain sufficient documents and evidence to allow us to conclude that the exceptions and errors we discovered were, in fact, instances of abuse or illegal acts.” The last straw was when Willie Molini drew the last Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tag before the area became a national park. The legislators had seen enough of his manipulation and removed the big game tag draw from his jurisdiction and put it out to private enterprise when in fact they would probably have done all Nevada sportsmen a greater service if they would have had the power to remove Willie.

He took an agency with over $1 million surplus, doubling its yearly expenditures in a five year period. This created a need to borrow from the state’s general fund to keep his agency afloat. He set up one of his own employees which cost the sportsmen $100,000 plus numerous court costs. He purchased $20,000 worth of books from anti-hunting Defenders of Wildlife using sportsmen‘s funds.

In 1976 Willie was a biologist and he stated at that time, “I would hate to see us get in the position where we have to control lions for the benefit of deer…it looks like the lions are taking considerably more deer per year than our hunters have harvested, at least in the last year or two.” This statement by Molini was made at the time the Department’s 1976 Annual Report estimated the state mountain lion population was between 375 and 400 lions. In January 1994 Willie stated “We have over 2000 mountain lions in our state but we do not have a predator problem.” Can you believe this? As a biologist, 375 lions are a problem but when he becomes the director and can do something about it, 2000 lions are not a problem. Willie failed to address or do anything about this serious problem and Nevada’s deer herds have suffered because of this inaction. Willie may well be known as the first in Nevada to bring about the deer herd destruction.

Number Two: Governor Bob Miller. Bob Miller was the governor for ten years which in itself raises questions when Nevada has term limits of two four-year terms. When Willie was doing all of his damage, Bob Miller was the one who could have put a stop to it. All of Willie’s corruption and more were condoned by Bob Miller because he did nothing to reprimand Willie. To illustrate how bad Bob Miller was, in 1996 Willie Molini was driving a state vehicle, drinking at a cocktail party, then drove to a bar, continuing to drink and got into a fight. As a result, he had some of his ribs broken. All of this is public record. What did Governor Bob Miller do? He stated that he would put a letter in his file. At the very least, Willie should have been terminated but Bob Miller did not have the leadership qualities to do this.

Number Three: Terry Crawforth has been in charge of NDOW for the past seven years and he is no better than Willie Molini and in some areas, a lot worse. During the seven years, the records reflect that he hasn’t done much to enhance game numbers, especially deer. His agenda has been law enforcement (just look at all the recent Report Poacher signs all over Nevada state highways), along with harassment, penalizing sportsmen with higher fees and following in his predecessor’s footsteps, he is also a prolific party attendee.

Not one sportsmen’s organization endorsed him for the position. Politics picked him as the director. Shortly after his appointment, three sportsmen’s groups wanted some questions answered about his direction for the agency. Terry Crawforth failed to answer any of these questions. He was asked if he could help to increase deer numbers without doing any predator control. His reply was no. He hasn’t done any predator control on his own. This alone shows he cares little or nothing about Nevada‘s once renowned deer population. Another question he failed to answer was “Do you plan to run the agency or run all over the country?” Since he became director, he has run all over the country at sportsmen’s expense. No wonder he didn’t want to answer sportsmen’s questions!

One of his employees was called into full time National Guard service. Terry kept him on the payroll stating he was working at home. In one year, the employee racked up eleven hundred hours overtime at sportsmen’s expense. This was a flagrant act on Crawforth’s part and there has been no punishment much less investigation for this piece of corruption. In one bogus case, Terry Crawforth managed to violate both a court order and a federal law. NDOW wanted to play tough guy with an old desert rat friend of mine, Bob Eddy, a guy just trying to scratch out a living in the middle of the desert.

Bob was raising and selling Australian crayfish. NDOW decided to put him out of business and obtained a court order to chill Bob’s ponds to kill the crayfish. NDOW chose to disregard the court order and use poison to kill them. In doing so, they killed a federally threatened fish, the Railroad Valley springfish. Once again, no investigation so no punishment. NDOW’s double standards mean that they can violate state laws and federal laws and apparently it is okay. However they can lie and circumvent laws so they can obtain convictions on wildlife matters.

I feel the destruction by Willie Molini and Terry Crawforth as NDOW directors may not be reversible when it comes to the Nevada mule deer situation. If their mentality as directors sets a precedent and is passed on to the next director--God help the deer and the sportsmen of Nevada!

Number Four: Governor Kenny Guinn has been governor for seven years. While running for governor, he loved to attend sportsmen’s banquets telling all of the sportsmen present, “If I’m elected governor, I will straighten out NDOW.” Well, NDOW hasn’t changed its ways and the corruption continues. So does that mean that Kenny Guinn told the truth? Oh, but Kenny did do something! As of July 3, 2003 he gave Terry Crawforth a 17 percent pay raise which lets Terry make $107,000 a year. Can you believe that? Obviously, an incompetent department head being rewarded with that kind of salary? Terry is subject to retire with a $100,000 a year pension. Currently there are two audits that should reflect the malfeasance and mismanagement during his tenure. It would be my hope that Nevada sportsmen do not let him retire gracefully in 2006. Once again, the governor could have put Terry Crawforth out to pasture but instead chose to support his corruption. Corrupt people keep corrupt people around them.

In the last legislative session, a bill, AB152 was proposed to have the county advisory boards submit names for appointments to the Wildlife Commission. Kenny Guinn nixed the idea of having people with wildlife experience considered for appointment. The governor likes the old fashioned way: big fat political contributions. Recently I heard about a sportsman who expressed a sincere interest in being considered for appointment to the Wildlife Commission. A reply came back that a donation of $30,000 would not guarantee a seat. Is that corrupt government at its worst? But then…that’s government all over Nevada!

Number Five: State Senator Bill Raggio. A lobbyist with many, many years of experience once stated, “If you look up the word ‘evil’ in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Bill Raggio.” Oh sure, if the good senator is doling out money to you,( he is in charge of the senate finance committee) you would think he is a nice guy. Raggio will tell you how good he has been to sportsmen. Translated this means every time Willie Molini, former NDOW director, needed money, the senator was there to bail him out in spite of his mismanagement of the agency.

The senator doesn’t like certain sportsmen’s groups for exposing his misdeeds. To retaliate, he has killed many bills that would have benefited sportsmen and you sportsmen watch and see…Raggio will become the archnemesis of your very good friend, Jerry Claborn.. Now, that’s really caring for sportsmen! Here are just a few of the bills that Raggio saw fit to kill. In the 1995 legislative session, Bill Raggio was the only republican to vote against AB 307. This bill added another sportsman to the Wildlife Commission and made sportsmen’s representatives have a hunting or fishing license in three of the four years prior to the appointment. In the 1997 session, he convinced Governor Miller to veto SB127. This bill would have let the county advisory boards submit names to the governor for appointments to the Wildlife Commission. In other words, the wildlife commissioners would have some idea about wildlife issues not just a fat wallet to get appointed. In the 1999 session, he gutted SB211. This bill had the same language which would have let the advisory boards submit names to the governor. In addition, an accountant would be on the Wildlife Commission and sportsmen’s money would only be used for sportsmen’s projects. In the 2001 legislative session, there was a bill to make the mountain lion like a coyote, a predator. In my opinion, this would have helped bring back Nevada’s deer. Another part was to have the Wildlife Commissioners approve NDOW’s budget. Raggio didn’t want this because NDOW openly expressed that they didn’t want it. So much for caring about where sportsmen’s money is being spent. There are many other bills where Raggio went behind the scenes to kill sportsmen’s bills. It appears as though this was his way of getting even with the sportsmen’s groups who exposed his disgraceful acts which is the usual way of corrupt politicians or public officials. What Bill Raggio didn’t want anyone to know is what happened on August 21 and 22, 1991. Bill Raggio, Wildlife administrator Willie Molini and John Sande, a lobbyist and law firm associate of Raggio decided to use the helicopter on a hunting trip. They were not using guns but they were looking for chukar. In layman’s terms, they were looking for the chukar before the season began. The hunters in the state of Nevada do not get this privilege as helicopter flight time costs the sportsmen in the state $350 per hour in that year. Raggio covered it up by saying he was “doing a bird count”. Okay sportsmen, who do you want to believe?

Whenever a bird survey is done, it is done by a biologist and the gathered information is done on a proper form. An investigator went to NDOW requesting this form. However there was never a form made out for this trip. Does this make the senator a liar? But the outrageous slime had not yet occurred on the trip. According to court records, during this trip the pilot was contacted by the Bureau of Land Management smoke jumper plane requesting assistance for immediate evacuation of injured personnel on a fire line. The total time for this operation would have been less than one half hour. Molini refused and ordered the pilot to proceed to the Kings River Ranch where Raggio has a trailer for his use during the hunting season. Can it get any slimier than this? In other words, just let the fireman die (fortunately, he didn’t). So the scam and the cover-up goes on and on to deceive you Nevada sportsmen into thinking these guys are your heroes and how wonderful a job they are doing for you.

Another injustice was done when Molini fired the helicopter pilot for telling the truth about this terrible incident. In 1995 the pilot filed a lawsuit and Raggio was subpoenaed but was not called to testify. How convenient. Too bad, for once in his life he may have been committed to tell the truth. The mentality of corrupt public servants when cornered like Raggio is to strike out at the people who stand for the truth and expose corruption. So what does he do? He goes after the bad guys with his power. You can make up your own mind as to who the bad guys are. Was it Raggio and Molini who did the dirty deeds or the sportsmen who exposed him? In Alaska, they name airports and bridges after these guys!

Number Six: Wildlife Commissioner Bill Bradley was on the Wildlife Commission for ten years in which he was supposed to represent sportsmen. As near as my research and investigation goes, he didn’t. He had never attended a Wildlife Commission or county game board meeting before his appointment. It would appear that without any wildlife expertise, he did whatever NDOW wanted him to do. That is certainly not representing sportsmen. During his tenure, he was instrumental in having some very costly surveys done. However, he never listened to the sportsmen’s requests from these surveys. In all of the surveys, sportsmen overwhelmingly wanted something done about predators. Bill Bradley did nothing.

What Bill Bradley did was to help bills get passed to harass hunters and to increase license and tag fees. He was indeed a waste of sportsmen’s representation for ten years on the Wildlife Commission. His actions will hurt sportsmen for many years to come.

Number Seven: Wildlife Commissioner Jelindo Tiberti for lack of a better way to say it, was stuck on “stupid” for his ten years as a sportsmen’s representative on the Wildlife Commission. He was another appointment who had never attended a county advisory board or Commission meeting before his appointment. Two thousand letters and postcards were sent to the Wildlife Commission to do something about predators. There has never been such a response for the Wildlife Commission to act on something. What was Jelindo’s response? He stated many times that there was no documented proof that a predator problem existed. I guess thousands of Nevada sportsmen are liars. He thought a zero power scope on muzzleloaders would decimate our herds. His biggest blunder was when he remarked about a sheep augmentation. He believed the mountain lions were good for augmentation because the lions “dispersed” the sheep. Get real, Jelindo. The wolves disperse moose and caribou in Alaska. This is definitely not augmentation!

Number Eight: Larry Johnson: As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, a pros-ti-tute is a person who sells his services for low or unworthy purposes. While listening to the testimony for AB3 in the 2005 legislative session, Larry Johnson testified against this bill. It was at that moment that I realized the word “prostitute” fits him perfectly. He claims to represent all sorts of sportsmen’s groups. It’s hard to believe that these sportsmen’s groups really don’t care where their money is being spent. Larry’s feeble excuse for not having AB3, the NDOW audit bill passed was that he didn’t want the Department to incur any financial burden since they didn’t have any money. This is not even close to being the truth and shows his ignorance about wildlife issues. The legislative auditor testified that his records show NDOW has paid no expenses for the last audit. The auditor stated this audit could be performed with the funding that has already been requested by the Audit Division in its budget. This means the money is already in place now. Yet the Wildlife Commissioners and their puppets from the so-called Wildlife Coalition who Larry Johnson controls, testified against the bill again, stating the Department couldn’t afford an audit.

The estimated cost of the audit would be $125,000. The billing for this audit couldn’t even start until 2009 and the audit would be billed over a seven year period after that. That is $17,000 per year from an agency that has a $21 million budget and the cost of the audit won’t start for four more years!

Perhaps the so-called “Larry’s Coalition” members who are funded by the Nevada Bighorns Unlimited of Reno would not get the big game heritage bid tags for their auction if they went against NDOW! Come on now, Nevada sportsmen, this is how corrupt people play the game to screw you. It appears they don’t really care what’s best for Nevada’s sportsmen, only themselves and they are against cleaner government! An audit shows where sportsmen’s funds are being spent--this is good government and any sportsmen‘s organization should want this. If they have no money, why did Terry Crawforth propose a huge fee increase for his game wardens only and not the biologists which will cost him around one million dollars. This has created a huge morale split in his agency and morale is so low you could hear a mouse squeak. Now that’s another story with a coverup.

Number Nine: Wildlife Commissioner Clint Bentley replaced Jelindo Tiberti and he is no better. This is another person appointed to the Wildlife Commission to represent sportsmen but hasn’t. Are you getting the picture here? People appointed to the Wildlife Commission who are supposed to represent sportsmen have literally sold them out! Clint Bentley was selling out sportsmen prior to his appointment to the Commission while he was representing sportsmen during the Wilderness hearings in Clark County.

The BLM had recommended approximately one hundred three thousand acres they deemed suitable for wilderness inclusion in Clark County. What did the sportsmen wind up with after having Clint Bentley represent them? Two hundred thirty two thousand acres! Twice the amount of recommended acreage. Take note that this land will not allow any motorized vehicles. Nice going, Clint. You not only hurt the Nevada hunters but the handicapped and other multiple land users as well. Another area where he failed sportsmen before his appointment was when he testified against having the mountain lion become a predator in the same status as the coyote.

He has only gotten worse since being appointed to the Wildlife Commission. Washoe County had a petition which would have increased harvest numbers (not quota) on mountain lion. Clint Bentley cast the deciding vote against this. And for what reason? He thought NDOW might lose a few dollars on the sale of mountain lion tags. How is that for stupidity? Because of lions, we are losing millions of dollars on our loss of deer tags but Clint Bentley is concerned about a miniscule loss of revenue on lion tags!

There are many other areas where he failed sportsmen. However, the real hurt for sportsmen will be felt for years to come. As a member of the Legislative Committee on April 5, 2005, Clint Bentley made the motion to support NDOW’s law enforcement bill, SB397. This bill contained thirteen pages of new measures that would harass sportsmen in the future. One part of this bill would enable a warden to search a residence without a warrant. That alone should show you how bad Clint Bentley has been as a sportsmen’s representative on the Wildlife Commission. But how does someone this bad get appointed anyway? Just keep on reading.

Number Ten: Wildlife Commissioners Tommy Ford and John Moran. I combined these two because they could have changed NDOW’s direction. However, they chose not to. There were three positions due for appointment to the Wildlife Commission in 2002. Governor Kenny Guinn asked the above two commissioners who they would recommend for these open appointments. Here was a chance to appoint people who want NDOW to focus on more game, not more law enforcement. This required replacing Terry Crawforth as the director of NDOW. In order for this to be done, the majority of the Wildlife Commissioners must send a vote of no confidence to the governor. Obviously this didn’t happen. But why?

Tommy Ford and John Moran thought it was more important to get their buddy, Clint Bentley on the Wildlife Commission than bring back your deer. Can these guys get any lower than this? Sell out every hunter in the state just so your buddy could be a part of the party after the Commission meetings. For years to come, many deer hunters will not draw a tag. The reason for this is that there have been no changes made in Terry Crawforth’s direction for NDOW, and they continue to promote the “Big Boy Club.“ Tommy Ford and John Moran are directly responsible for this as they chose a “stay the course” direction. I went to Carson City on March 30, 2005 to testify before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee that Jerry Claborn chairs. I testified in favor of Assembly Bill 226 which would have put a two term limit on Wildlife Commission members. Assemblyman Joe Hogan asked me why I was in favor of only a two term limit. I stated because any more than this sets up a potential for a “Big Boy Club.” This is exactly what Ford and Moran established by getting Clint Bentley on the Commission. I issue a challenge to Mr. Ford and Mr. Moran. I will pay for lie detector tests to see if both of you have violated a serious game law while on the Board of the Wildlife Commission. Come on, boys. Step up, be a man, take the test. It won’t cost you anything except your reputations.

When you put together all of NDOW’s mismanagement, bad appointments to the Wildlife Commission and unconcerned governors, it’s easy to see why the Nevada sportsmen have lost their deer and ended up in such a big mess. Oh sure, if you ask the eleven mentioned people, they will have many feeble excuses for you to believe. However, if you believe them, you risk becoming as gullible as some of the governor’s appointments to the Wildlife Commission. But the fact remains Nevada has a mess and someone has to take responsibility for it. The easy way out for the eleven is to blame Mother Nature (habitat) and that’s what they’ve been doing nearly every day for fifteen years. Real standup guys, huh!

 

Reprinted from U.S. Observer Newspaper
By Bud Sonnentag

 

Editor’s note: Bud Sonnentag knows first hand about Nevada’s corrupt officials. He was falsely charged on many serious counts only to find out that it was the people bringing the charges, the Nye County police, attorneys and judges along with other Nevada officials who were the corrupt ones. The last that THE OBSERVER has heard from the Bud Sonnentag drama that unfolded three years ago and ended on 4/15/05 is that Bud is currently pursuing a civil rights suit against all those listed in the March, 2004 tort claim notices. He was informed by two federal attorneys that the statute of limitations doesn’t run out on these tort claims for three years effective April 15, 2005 because of legal and judicial blackmail on Nye County’s part. THE OBSERVER has gotten wind that Bud is going to bring a defamation suit against the Kepharts but we don’t know why he has remained reticent about this. We hope to hear from him. I know firsthand that all corruption gives off a foul odor to Bud Sonnentag and from the looks of this article it appears as though Bud’s going to be in Nevada’s face for a long time to come. Good luck in whatever you do and wherever you go, Bud.

Bud Sonnentag can be reached at P.O. Box 72, Gabbs, NV 89409

Last modified on Monday, 19 April 2010 15:37
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