Game & Fish di­rec­tor says time to re­sign

El Dorado News-Times - - Opinion - By Bryan Hen­dricks Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette

Cit­ing the stress and pres­sure of lead­ing a large or­ga­ni­za­tion with a di­verse, far-flung con­stituency, Jeff Crow of Bis­marck an­nounced Tues­day that he will re­sign as di­rec­tor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion ef­fec­tive Feb. 28.

Crow be­came di­rec­tor of the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion on July 1, 2016. He suc­ceeded for­mer di­rec­tor Mike Knoedl, un­der whose ad­min­is­tra­tion Crow served as chief of law en­force­ment, deputy di­rec­tor and chief of staff. His salary is $132,728.96.

Steve Cook of Malvern, the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion’s chair­man, said Crow will not re­ceive a sev­er­ance pack­age. Crow, who re­tired from the Arkansas State Po­lice, can­not draw ad­di­tional re­tire­ment ben­e­fits from the Game and Fish Com­mis­sion.

Crow said there was no pre­cip­i­tat­ing fac­tor or con­flict that prompted him to make such a sud­den de­ci­sion.

“When­ever an agency head re­tires abruptly, it makes peo­ple take no­tice,” Crow said. “There’s no al­le­ga­tion or scan­dal or any­thing like that. It’s just time.”

De­spite serv­ing in mul­ti­ple high-level po­si­tions in the agency, Crow said he some­times strug­gled with the com­plex­i­ties of man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple de­part­ments with di­verse mis­sions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“See­ing what Mike [Knoedl] went through, I thought I had a good idea about the pres­sures that went along with that,” Crow said. “Ev­ery­body gets to a point in their ca­reer where they ask, ‘How ef­fec­tive are you go­ing to be?’ It just may not be in the cards for you to go for­ward.”

Cook said the sud­den­ness of Crow’s de­ci­sion sur­prised com­mis­sion mem­bers but he be­lieves it was in­evitable.

“I think it’s just the stress of what that po­si­tion holds, the ev­ery­day ins and outs,” Cook said. “I get enough phone calls and emails, but I’m sure his pile of re­turn phone calls, emails, voice mails and text mes­sages is prob­a­bly twice as much as I can fathom.”

Cook said the tim­ing and man­ner of Crow’s res­ig­na­tion should dis­pel ru­mors that it was forced.

“Do­ing it the way he did, there won’t be any talk that we went into ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion and gave him a choice to re­sign or be dis­missed,” Cook said. “It was a de­ci­sion he came to on his own.”

Crow served 25 years in the Marine Corps. His wrist­watch is set to mil­i­tary time. His terse, pre­cise bear­ing and his au­ton­o­mous man­age­ment style some­times caught the com­mis­sion off guard.

Crow ac­knowl­edged that lim­it­ing his com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the com­mis­sion was a chronic short­com­ing.

“One of the big chal­lenges for the di­rec­tor is ad­e­quately in­form­ing the com­mis­sion about what’s go­ing on, and per­haps one of the big­gest chal­lenges I had was keep­ing that line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open,” Crow said. “No mat­ter how much you do, it’s never go­ing to be enough. Vice Chair­man Ford Over­ton said you need to over-com­mu­ni­cate. My ad­vice to my suc­ces­sor would be to make that a pri­or­ity.”

Crow said a ma­jor com­mu­ni­ca­tions break­down oc­curred in the sum­mer when the agency in­tro­duced its new hunt­ing and fish­ing li­cense sys­tem. Hun­ters and an­glers scorned and lam­pooned the new sys­tem on which li­censes and game trans­porta­tion tags are printed on 8½-by-11 printer pa­per.

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