By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – State Sen. Dan Feltes, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, filed a right-to-know request Thursday seeking the sealed meeting minutes and other documents related to the ouster of Fish and Game Director Glenn Normandeau.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu said it was the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission’s call to oust its long-time executive director, not his.
Normandeau blasted commissioners on Wednesday at their monthly meeting at the Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness after learning they voted in executive session not to reappoint him the month before and sealed the minutes of the meeting.
Normandeau, who has been head of Fish and Game for almost 12 years, told the commissioners that he was not pleased that he had to hear from Sununu that they opposed his reappointment.
What upset him most was not having the opportunity to discuss with the commissioners any reservations they may have had, he said.
Normandeau said he was blindsided.
“I am well aware these jobs have a shelf life and I have been fortunate to have been on a lot longer than others in the country, but I think I earned that. I think I earned that, not a lie,” Normandeau said, accusing the commission of being unprofessional, disrespectful and of lying to him.
On Thursday, Sen. Feltes’ campaign submitted a right-to-know request to Phillipson and the governor requesting the minutes from the non-public session in September and other related documents.
“It’s troubling that Governor Sununu, behind closed doors, continues to push out good people to stack agencies with personal, well-connected friends. We need transparency from our elected leaders, whether it’s nominations and commissions or campaign finance and out-of-state travel, Granite Staters deserve to know what’s going on,” Feltes said
InDepthNH.org also filed a similar request to Sununu and Phillipson under the state’s Right-to-Know Law, RSA 91-A, and the New Hampshire Constitution, for all documents related to Normandeau not being reappointed.
Gov. Sununu released the following statement Thursday:
“Glenn and I have maintained a great relationship for the last nine years, and I conveyed that to the Fish and Game Commission when they met to discuss Glenn’s reappointment.
“It was conveyed to me following our meeting that the Commission unilaterally decided to go in a different direction, as laid out in statute, and we must respect their process. I wish Glenn nothing but the best and know he’ll bring the same energy and passion to his next endeavor that he did to the State of New Hampshire.”
At the monthly meeting, Commission Chairman Robert “Moose” Phillipson of Cheshire County, said Sununu had requested that they not talk to Normandeau about the matter until “it was all over” and that the decision to let him leave at the end of his term in March was made when Normandeau met with the governor.
The commission set up a search committee for a new executive director headed by Commissioner Eric Stohl of Coos County to find a replacement. Normandeau’s third, four-year term ends in March, 2020.
Normandeau, who once was a Seacoast commissioner before taking the post in 2008, said he was told the commission wants to go “in another direction” by Sununu. Asked what that direction might be, he replied “Who knows?”
His ouster comes at a time when the department is facing intense budget issues, declining hunter registrations, and a number of long-time employees in both the wildlife biology department and law enforcement are leaving.
In his statement, Sununu included a copy of the statute, RSA 206:8, which says the Fish and Game Commission “following a comprehensive and equitable search, shall nominate, and the governor and council shall appoint an executive director of the Fish and Game Department. If the governor and council fail to appoint the nominee, the commission shall nominate another person.”
It also states that each nominee shall be a person with knowledge of, and experience in, the requirements for the protection, conservation and restoration of the wildlife resources of the state and shall be a competent administrator.
The commissioners are Paul Debow of Grafton County, Bruce
Temple of Sullivan County, Fred Bird of Strafford County, Paul McInnis, of the
Seacoast, Christopher Hodgdon of Merrimack County, Christina Luppi of
Rockingham County, David Patch of Carroll County, Eric Stohl of Coos County,
Ray Green of Hillsborough County, Marc LaChance of Belknap County and Robert
Phillipson of Cheshire County who is serving now as chairman.