There is an employment posting on the city's website for a new position titled Economic Development Coordinator. It is at the same pay grade as an Urban Planner in the Planning Department. It seems Economic Czar Smith continues to build an economic development empire at City Hall at the expense of the Planning Department. The new economic development director already took two planners from the planning department when he was appointed to replace ousted Community Development director Randy Bartunek.
I read the job description and it is an entry management support staff position. Really, why not just add an Urban Planner to the department instead of creating another job description that is similar in education, experience and training requirements. But that is not the real issue.
When Bartunek was fired from his appointive position, he exercised his civil service rights by bumping back into civil service. He didn't bump anyone out of their position. His bumping back created a surplus position in the CD department. When he resigned a month or so ago that surplus position should have just gone away. This is really a new position when he is not adding new staff. I thought the mayor implemented a hiring freeze of city employees. If the mayor is so committed to keeping costs down, he should have let Bartunek's surplus position go away when he resigned..
The Economic Czar must need this position to help him create the huge economic development that is going to appear out at that fabulous Event Center/Arena/Convention Center site. What is really sad about all this is the neutering of the Planning Department. If a new business comes to town, where does that CEO go to talk about the potential entry into the business community. I would bet there isn't a consensus answer between the city and the business community.
The Planning Department used to be a major department in driving planning and economic development in this city. Now, we have a department lead by someone with no experience whatsoever in economic development and planning leading the charge at city hall. Community Development as it relates to housing and revitalization of neighborhoods has basically disappeared and Planning officials have all but disappeared from public view. It makes you wonder where the Development Foundation fits within this new "economic" vision of the mayor and his pretend "chief of staff."
How nice for Darrin Smith to be the new favorite son in his friend's (the mayor) favorite newly redesigned department.