Gov. Dunleavy picks second ex-talk radio host for lucrative fish job after first rejected

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

In May, the Alaska Legislature narrowly rejected a conservative talk radio host’s appointment to a highly paid position regulating the state’s commercial fisheries.

Now, after the failure of that pick, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has chosen a new appointee with a similar — though not identical — background for the six-figure job at the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, or CFEC.

In an unannounced decision, Dunleavy selected Rick Green last month, according to a letter to Green that the governor’s office released Wednesday as part of a response to a Northern Journal public records request.

Green’s first day on the job is July 1, according to the commission’s chair, Glenn Haight; Green will serve at least through the Alaska Legislature’s next round of confirmation votes in the spring of 2025.

On the airwaves for more than 15 years, Green was known as Rick Rydell during a colorful career as a talk host. His on-air character was that of an “unabashed redneck,” according to one of the books he wrote.

One of those books also chronicled how, with two other hunting enthusiasts, Rydell once attempted to shoot, legally, 30 bears in a single long weekend.

But since 2018, Green has ditched his talk show persona and worked as a low-profile special assistant to Alaska’s fish and game commissioner, Doug Vincent-Lang.

That government service may make his chances of confirmation greater than those of Dunleavy’s previous appointee, Mike Porcaro. Porcaro had no experience as a commercial fisherman and was still working as a conservative advertising consultant and talk radio host when the governor appointed him last year.

“Green has some experience in the Department of Fish and Game, which will give him more standing with the Legislature,” said Dillingham independent Rep. Bryce Edgmon, who represents Alaska’s salmon-rich Bristol Bay region and voted against Porcaro’s confirmation. “It’s an important appointment, and I hope it works out this time.”

The fishery commission, with some 20 employees, does largely low-key bureaucratic work — including issuing annual commercial fishing permits, granting and denying permit transfers in the event of illnesses and deaths, and publishing fisheries reports and statistics.

But it has drawn attention from policymakers in recent years for what critics say is a small workload and yearly commissioner salaries that can exceed $135,000.

A spokesman for Dunleavy, Grant Robinson, described Green as a good fit for the job, saying he gained “considerable understanding of fisheries” in his work at the fish and game department.

“He’s been an avid outdoorsman for the past 40 years, served three years on the Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory Committee, and has a background as a project manager for environmental and engineering firms,” Robinson said. “Rick’s professional background and experience in public engagement make him a valuable asset to the CFEC. We are confident that his contributions will benefit the commission and the sustainable management of Alaska’s fisheries.”

Robinson declined to specify Green’s exact compensation, referring to salary guidelines that are tied to the number of years an employee has previously worked in state government jobs. Haight, the commission’s chair, said that Green would be in the same range as Porcaro, who was paid at a $136,000-a-year salary rate before lawmakers rejected his appointment.

In an email, Green said his work for the state, combined with his personal fishing experience and the time he spent on the Anchorage advisory committee, make the CFEC job a “natural extension.”

“I’m grateful to the governor for the faith he placed in me,” Green said in his email, sent from an account that identified him as “Rick Rydell.” The commission, he added, works with the commercial fishing industry “to optimize the development of our natural resources and annually contribute billions of dollars to the economy of Alaska.”

“I already have a great relationship with Commissioner Glenn Haight,” he added. “And I’m eager to meet, and work with, the rest of the staff on this important mission.”

Nathaniel Herz welcomes tips at [email protected] or (907) 793-0312. This article was originally published in Northern Journal, a newsletter from Herz. Subscribe at this link.

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