Dwaine Caraway Thinks Dallas is Bungling its Search for a New Park Director

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The city's Park and Recreation Board is looking for someone to replace Paul Dyer, who is retiring after two decades at the helm of the parks department. Last week, a seven-member search committee, comprised of park board president Max Wells and a half dozen other board members, decided to keep the search in-house rather than conduct a national search.

Committee member Lee Kleinman said the reason was simple: a national search would cost considerable time and money. (A typical executive search in the private sector typically runs 25 to 30 percent of the first-year salary, which for the parks director will be between $145,000 and $180,000). Plus, he said, the city has enough talent in-house to do the job.

The committee's decision was unanimous and is scheduled to go before the full park board tomorrow. But first, Councilman Dwaine Caraway has something to say.

"I am calling for the mayor and the entire Dallas City Council to urge their Park Board appointees to not rush the process and to undergo a nationwide search for the strongest qualified candidate, as the City of Dallas has done in the past. This is the only way to get the quality candidate that the citizens of Dallas deserve," Caraway said in a statement released last night.

One of the park board appointees who will need a talking to is C.W. Whitaker, who represents Caraway's district. He sits on the search committee that made the unanimous recommendation. I have a call into him to discuss his vote and see whether it might change.

Kleinman's won't. The parks department, he believes, is chock full of talented administrators who would probably do a fine job as director. And it's not like the board's going to reject external applications. He figures word of the vacancy will spread just fine without paying a search firm tens of thousands of dollars.

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