“As committee member Lee Kleinman put it during last week’s meeting, “If something floats in here, I’m not going to turn it away, but I’m not looking to do a national search.”
But Kleinman spun the committee’s recommendations a little differently today. Rather than not turning away outside applicants, Kleinman today said that the committee had agreed to be “very receptive” to them.”
The Dallas park board this morning unanimously agreed to look nationally for a new park director, but without hiring an executive search firm.
The decision came a week after a park board committee recommended keeping the search in-house,signaling that they already had strong internal candidates in mind. That decision was soon challenged by City Council member Dwaine Caraway, who said a city as big as Dallas deserves a nationwide search for its park director.
“With the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department leading the nation with our first class system, we deserve the best and brightest director that this nation has to offer,” said Caraway in a news release Monday, a few days after the committee meeting.
Today, the board bowed to Caraway’s pressure. Several committee members attempted minor revisions of history, talking as if the agreement they came to last week had envisioned encouraging national candidates all along.
“One of the questions we had that we spent a lot of time discussing was how wide a search we should make,” said Max Wells, park board president and a member of the committee. “We said that the search would be primarily in the city, but that it would be open to anyone, and that we would notify different organizations around the country that are in touch with park board people.”
That last part, the one about notifying groups around the country, was not part of the recommendations unanimously approved by the committee. The committee agreed to recommend posting the job internally, while not prohibiting outside applicants.
As committee member Lee Kleinman put it during last week’s meeting, “If something floats in here, I’m not going to turn it away, but I’m not looking to do a national search.”
But Kleinman spun the committee’s recommendations a little differently today. Rather than not turning away outside applicants, Kleinman today said that the committee had agreed to be “very receptive” to them.
“We did make it very clear that we would be receiving and very receptive to applications that came in,” he said.
Whatever the case, the park board agreed today to actively encourage outside candidates. Outgoing park Director Paul Dyer, who has announced his retirement, said he would call people and organizations nationwide to let them know the city is looking.
But they agreed to save time and expense by not hiring an executive search firm. It’s not clear whether that will satisfy Caraway.
Meanwhile, park board member Wayne Smith made it know he was offended by “interference” from a certain “individual.”
“I kind of took something personal that was floating around out there that perhaps the park board or this committee was not capable of making this search and making this decision,” Smith said. “And I had a real problem with that. I have a lot of respect for people on this board and people on this committee, and I take real exception to someone floating a letter around out there that goes to every council member, the mayor, every director of this building and half of North Texas, and not one person on this park board or the park board president was ever notified about any concerns that this individual might have.”
By this point, Smith’s angry delivery had risen to a yell.
“I have a real problem with that. I don’t want to anticipate any interference coming from anyone outside this park board. We’re doing a very thoughtful process her. We have a very well run well-organized, well-staffed department. And we didn’t get to where we are today across the country with a bunch of yahoo assistants and a bunch of yahoo park board that couldn’t tell what was going on. So I think we need to think long and hard about what we have here in front of us. Questions are fine, but running the horse around the back of the barn is no way to get any resolution to any concerns we might have.”