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Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Graves defends decision to pay dual secretaries ––— Parks and Wildlife position filled by two people at same time

October 17, 2001

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Steve Williams is the current secretary and is up for a high-level federal job in the Bush administration.

While Williams is awaiting confirmation of his appointment, Graves has hired former Kansas Gov. Mike Hayden as the secretary-designee.

Both Williams and Hayden are drawing the same $92,222 annual salary at a time when many state programs have announced potential budget cuts because of dwindling revenues.

House Democratic Leader Jim Garner of Coffeyville said having both Hayden and Williams on the payroll "doesn't sound very prudent. I don't think it's common to pay two people for the same job."

Graves' spokesman Don Brown said Graves made the decision to bring Hayden on board before Williams left because it would help in the transition between the two chiefs.

Brown said Williams' exit is happening during a busy time at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The agency is getting its budget details in order in preparation for Graves' budget recommendation in January, and as hunting season heats up.

"It made sense in the governor's mind" to have Hayden in position to take over the moment Williams left, Brown said.

Williams was scheduled today to be in Washington, D.C., for a Senate subcommittee confirmation hearing on his appointment by Bush to head the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Graves, Williams and others have said they are assured that Williams will be confirmed by the full Senate.

Chad Luce, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, said there was no timetable on Williams' confirmation, but it was expected soon.

Meanwhile, Hayden has been traveling across the state to meet with Wildlife and Parks officials. "He's meeting the troops and saying hello," Luce said.

Hayden is familiar with the agency. One of his first actions when taking office as governor in 1987 was combining two outdoors agencies to create a Cabinet-level post in charge of parks and wildlife.

The Wildlife and Parks agency includes about 400 employees and has about a $40 million annual budget.

Hayden, an Atwood native and former Kansas House speaker, served one term as governor before being defeated by Joan Finney, a Democrat. Hayden then served in the federal Interior Department during the first Bush administration and later went to work as president of the American Sportsfishing Assn., a job he left in May. Hayden has said he plans to live in Lawrence.

-- Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at (785) 354-4222.

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