New Executive Staff at Kentucky Fish & Wildlife!


There is a new face in town at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.  Without fanfare (or so much as a press release that I can find), Charles Booker was hired recently as the Administrative Services Director for the Department.  The person in this position is ostensibly in charge of personnel, budget, grant management, accounting, and other fiscal and administrative needs of the agency.  Incidentally, the individual holding this position also functioned as the Chief of Staff during my tenure as Commissioner, making it arguably one of the most powerful roles in the Department.  I’m not sure if that job description has changed or not, but I will acknowledge that they do from time to time.  While I am more than willing to give Mr. Booker the benefit of the doubt that he is qualified for the job, there are several issues that warrant questioning about the process by the people that pay the bills, namely the sportsmen and women of the Commonwealth.  

First, it is my understanding that no Department personnel participated or were asked to participate in the interview process.  Granted it is a non-merit position, and as such, does not have to go through any formal process.  However, wouldn’t you think that an executive staff position of this level of importance in an agency with an 80 million dollar budget and almost 500 employees, that doesn’t take one dime of general fund dollars, would merit the consideration of a few upper level staff that know HOW the agency operates and WHY they do things the way they do?  To my knowledge, there was not even an interview process, although other seemingly qualified candidates likely applied.  My understanding is that the position was considered and hired by the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, to which the agency is administratively attached, in consultation with the person (also with no experience running a fish & wildlife agency) that is now temporarily warming the seat in the corner office until the Commission  selects a new Commissioner.  Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be wise for the new Commissioner to have some input into who his or her chief administrative officer is?  

Second on my list of issues is the apparent secrecy under which Mr. Booker was hired.  Aside from no input from Department executive staff, was the Commission kept in the loop of this action, or were they simply informed after the selection was already made?   Are personnel decisions now being made at a higher level by folks that have little idea about what it takes to run our complex agency, which functions like no other agency in state government?  Not only did very few people know about it, to my knowledge, there has been no press release or other notification that Mr. Booker is now on board.  Nothing that identifies his credentials, applauds his work ethic, details his recent accomplishments in Kentucky government, or anything of that nature, as was typical in the past when a high level employee was selected.  

Finally, there is the issue of background and history of the new Administrative Director.  Having had some experience with my background, education, culture, upbringing, ethics, parental guidance, decision-making, and pretty much everything that I did for the past eight years called in to question, I have a little experience here.  As I said above, he may be the best thing to happen at KDFWR, but we just don’t know him yet.  What I suggest is that I the sportsmen and women of the Commonwealth  do a little research and make their own decisions.  Google searches are a good place to start.  What are his bona fides?  What does his resume look like? Is he qualified to run an Division like this?  What is his experience level?  What is his past work experience?  Just several questions that beg answering, since we apparently are destined to struggle through an information drought from the folks up the food chain that are calling the shots.