by Max Brantley
Here's a copy of a lawsuit by Sheffield Nelson over the governance scheme at the state Game and Fish Commission. The Democrat-Gazette wrote at some length about it recently.
It's simple, really. The Commission has established a committee system for rules changes — much like the legislature or county governing bodies. The net effect is that three members of key committees effectively set policy for the whole eight-member commission.
Nelson, a former member and chairman of the Commission, has been an outspoken critic of the practice and has named Craig Campbell, Emon Mahony and Rick Watkins as effective Game and Fish czars.
A side note: It's been interesting to me that reporting on this issue has delved hardly at all into the fact that it is the latest iteration of one of the most momentous political feuds in Arkansas history. Sheffield Nelson was a protege of financial baron Witt Stephens, but they split over Nelson's running of Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company. The split has been evident in all manner of political controversies, notably the Sheffield Nelson-Tommy Robinson race for the gubernatorial nomination in 1990. Campbell is Witt Stephens' son-in-law. Emon Mahony, it happens, once ran a gas company owned by the Stephens family. What goes around keeps coming around.
Don Eilbott is representing Nelson. Does a committee system so limit the power of some commissioners that it is unconstitutional? Interesting theory.