Mike Miles is a Dead Boss Walking
OK, business-community school reformers. I believe you mean well. But your guy is toast. You recruited a school superintendent who cannot and will not make it in the big city.
You can get all stubborn about it and defend him to the last ditch. If I had to bet, I'd bet that's what you will do, mainly because you're human beings and human beings are assholes. But the last ditch is exactly where you and your asshole buddy will wind up.
Dallas' new school superintendent isn't toast already because he got slapped by a bad audit. He's toast because he called the audit a witch hunt. He called the audit a witch hunt because he's thin-skinned and arrogant as hell.
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Instead of taking it, squaring his shoulders, putting his head down and publically eating some crow, he threw his head back and started barking like a dog. The audit castigated Miles for bending rules on a bunch of hurried-up hires as he came into office last July. Five days ago, an executive involved in an allegation of expense account fakery resigned suddenly.
Think about this. In a very public office like this one where you are scoured by public scrutiny 24/7, you get accused in an audit of handing out public money under fishy circumstances. One of your fishy new hires takes a powder. Are you really in a good position to shoot your mouth off?
It would be one thing if Miles' reaction to the bad audit were a one-off. But it's not. In fact he's been like this from the start.
When he brought his PR lady here from Colorado Spring at double what she was making at her old job, he tried to make it sound to reporters like he barely knew her, as if this were an arms-length hire after a national search or something. Miles also suggested his PR lady was being discriminated against because she was so good-looking.
Oh, there's a great cause to fight. Equal rights for hotties.
Tim Rogers at D Magazine wrote what was probably the best analysis of that stupid chapter. He quoted a writer in Colorado Springs who suggested Miles may have gotten his head screwed on wrong because of the fawning coverage he received from some local media in that bastion of right-wing nutballery.
Look, let's not go on ad nauseum here. C'mon. You know who you are. You're the well-meaning business leaders who brought Miles here in what I have always believed was a well-intentioned and resourceful attempt to rescue our beleaguered school system. You have been absolutely right to approach this problem as a matter of true urgency. We should all be shocked and appalled, as I believe you are, by the number of poor minority kids dumped out of DISD every year as functional illiterates cruelly condemned to lives of crime and punishment.
But you found the wrong guy. You looked for outcomes. I get that. But this is public office and public theater. You have to look for temperament, too. An arrogant son of a bitch who shoots all his messengers may work fine in corporate climes. But this isn't corporate. It's public. It's on TV every day and every night. If he can't control his mouth, the same guy who may look tough and decisive in a board room will wind up looking like a lunatic clown on TV.
Miles can't control his mouth. He shows nothing but disdain for public process and public sensibility. You have to know that's not going to work. Ever.
So drag it out if you want to. Prolong your agony. But you know in your hearts you're better off cutting your losses. That does not mean you should go away. The urgency that a new generation of business leaders brings to this table is a breath of hope. Just try again.
This time, when you're meeting your candidates, try some tricks like they use on candidates for medical residencies. At lunch, say something like, "I hope if you come here you'll dress a little sharper." See if the candidate hurls a fistful of pasta salad in your face or says something like, "You hate me because I'm hot."
Yeah. Those are red flags. Red red red.
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