City Hall

Dallas City Employees Are Too Fat, So City Hall Now Has a "Chief Wellness Officer"

It's been six months, 11 days, and, oh, about three-and-a-half hours since City Manager A.C. Gonzalez was voted into office on a promise to shake things up at City Hall, and it's finally happened. The city announced today that Gonzalez has injected new blood into upper management by bringing in two fresh faces: Eric Campbell, an assistant city manager in Charlotte, N.C., and Mark McDaniel, the city manager in Tyler.

Kudos to them. Kudos also to Ryan Evans, who has been permanently placed in Gonzalez's former perch as first assistant city manager. But where there are winners, there are also losers.

Theresa O'Donnell, far too upstanding and attentive to public concerns to last in the city manager's office, is now the "chief planning officer" for the newly created "Department of Planning and Neighborhood Vitality," which sounds a lot like her old position as head of the city's department of sustainable development and construction but isn't because that job still exists.

See also: A.C. Gonzalez is Dallas' New City Manager

And poor, bow-tied Forest Turner. Six years after Mary Suhm stuck him in his assistant city manager post, he's being demoted in rather spectacular fashion. Turner, the city announced, will become Dallas' first Chief Wellness Officer.

What's a Chief Wellness Officer? Basically, it's City Hall's version of Michelle Obama, or perhaps Richard Simmons. From the city's official announcement:

Dallas has a high incidence of employees who are overweight or obese. The co-morbidities associated with excess weight (diabetes, heart disease, and muscular-skeletal problems) are significant and projections for future health-care costs to address these conditions are frightening. Improving employee health will not only help mitigate future health care cost increases, it will also improve the quality of life for our employees. Mr. Turner will look at nationwide best practices to implement at the City to move toward a healthier employee population.

Turner is no doubt imminently qualified for the post. He put such a system in place in the street services department, and he is quite trim himself. But it's got to be a gut punch to have one's authority over several city departments -- and the tens of millions of dollars that flow through them -- stripped and replaced by a bunch of fat people.

So, as you go forth in a few hours to celebrate the weekend, make sure to pour one out for Turner. He needs your moral support.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson