Star Tribune: Minneapolis rehires Gurban to run parks

In an article subtitled “The park superintendent was given a new three-year contract. Some citizens and board members had concerns,” Star Tribune reporter Pam Louwagie wrote:

Three and a half years after hiring a superintendent who hadn’t applied or interviewed for the job, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted unanimously Wednesday evening to extend a new, three-year contract to him.

The vote authorized a three-member subcommittee to draft a contract that the board president will use to negotiate with Superintendent Jon Gurban.

After the meeting, Park Board President Jon Olson said that Gurban’s current salary is $114,500, … and that the board has authorized the maximum allowable under state law, or nearly $140,000.

Despite a non-sensical unanimous vote, there were some concerns about the loose-cannon style and communication with only select commissioners for which Gurban is known (to say nothing of his need for anger management and being unqualified in the first place):

Before the vote, discussion came with some cautions and direction that the committee include provisions that Gurban’s performance will be evaluated by the board every year and that the board will provide him with a “work plan” of priorities to accomplish.

Commissioner Annie Young said she wanted to include points in the contract about Gurban’s “relationship to the board and some of the communication issues that must go on here that are not happening. … I am very tired of waking up every morning or reading the paper every night and reading about a Park Board that I thought I was a part of and decisions that we’ve made.”

Autocratic and arrogant but dumb president Jon Olson did his best to quash any public notice of Gurban’s failings before pushing the vote to rehire his buddy and give him a fat raise:

The board hired Gurban in December 2003 on a bitter 5-4 vote amid shouting. Top candidates found in a national search had bowed out of the running days earlier, and he hadn’t applied or been interviewed.

Several members did not run for re-election, so the makeup of the board has changed.

His tenure has drawn criticism from some on the citizen group Minneapolis Park Watch. Member Arlene Fried spoke at the May 2 meeting criticizing Gurban’s leadership. She was cut off, and after a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union’s Minnesota chapter, she was allowed to speak again after Wednesday night’s vote.

Fried listed a host of reasons for considering a new superintendent, including circumventing procedures by attempting to bypass citizen committees on some issues and promoting plans for projects without board direction or approval.

Writer Louwagie grossly understates the level of criticism, above. She writes some members of Park Watch are critical of Gurban. In fact, all members are critical of Gurban.

Read the entire article at the Star Tribune website.