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National Park Service Fires Highly Valued Superintendent For Refusing New Job

Jan 5th - 23:08pm | ecbuck

Who said superindent jobs were temporary? Is that some rule? If it is not a rule, it should be.  Any job should be based on performance.

Jan 5th - 22:09pm | Been There Seen That

Nice job Kurt.   Current and former SITK "aggreived" staff - there is a different forum for your concerns....when you cannot get on board, you can leave.  High school has, in fact, ended. Bottom line - performance problems have a process that must be followed if you value due process - NPS did not use that process to punish Ms. Miller.

Jan 5th - 21:27pm | SITK_Anonymous

Kurt Repanshek, you might get more information if you posted an email address or look for retirees to talk.

Jan 5th - 20:07pm | Ray Bane

Some respondants speculate that Superintendent Miller probably deserved her involuntary transfer and the Park Service had ample reason to fire her - even if her official performance evaluations were stellar.  I do not personally know Ms Miller, but I have read available reports of the case and am familiar with the process.

Jan 5th - 19:37pm | Another of thos...

Writing articles about personel issues within the government is going to be fraught with the inherent difficulty of only hearing part of the truth.  They should be avoided unless very thoughroughly researched.  There are layers to this story, the NPS is not without flaws on this issue but they are not what is highlighted.

Jan 5th - 19:28pm | MikeC

wrong.  they are not temporary assignments.

Jan 5th - 19:27pm | Alfred Runte

"In my opinion, repeated seasonals and term positions for permanent needs in NPS are abusive." I couldn't agree more, tomp2. But there it is--the new American workplace. 5 percent unemployment? Hah!

Jan 5th - 19:09pm | Kat M

Who said superindent jobs were temporary? Is that some rule?

Jan 5th - 19:09pm | Alfred Runte

I keep remembering when I was a "personnel problem" for the NPS. Good Lord! Did I not go through a week of "rehabilitation" for what I was saying in my talks? When Michael Frome got word of it, he wrote it up, much to the consternation of the brass. So did I. The book is called YOSEMITE: THE EMBATTLED WILDERNESS. What is the battle? For the integrity of the park.

Jan 5th - 19:01pm | SwampDoctor

You are hearing from staff with ties to Sitka. It would nice if there wasn't a need for anonymity, but the NPS can be vindictive. Firing a superintendent is carried out by regional director(s), deputy regional directors and the like, so challenging the official story risks the wrath of very high-level NPS managers.

Jan 5th - 18:56pm | Julie Northrip

A superintendent position is a permanent one. There are term positions that are usually for a year or two but I have never heard of a term superintendent. When a term position ends, s/he is out of a job unless another position opens up, s/he applies and is accepted. The NPS doesn't move people around. I've never heard of a situation like this one.

Jan 5th - 18:53pm | CJDillon

I do not know the specifics of this case, or persons involved, but I was an NPS employee for 35 years and a superintendent for 20 of those years. Lateral reassignments (lateral means no promotion or demotion) are legal and all federal employees are susceptible to such reassignment.  

Jan 5th - 18:39pm | ecbuck

While I tend to believe Rest of the Story et al (given the circumstances), I agree with Kurt.  If you are going to cast aspersions, you should at least back them up with facts.  Even if you don't want to identify yourself, it would lend more credibility to your accusations  

Jan 5th - 18:35pm | The Rest Of The...

Kurt-I see where you could be easily confused. The documents that you have read would make one think she was wrongfully removed.  However, following the typical NPS MO, they failed their leader up.  This is the way the NPS typical deals with poor senior managers. But Mary didn't play right and forced them to remove her. Which then got themselves into a pickle.

Jan 5th - 18:20pm | Kurt Repanshek

I guess the still-puzzling question is why the NPS management praised Superintendent Miller so highly if she was doing such a terrible job? As for "dropping the anonymity," why is that unjustified? Anonymity on the Internet is a huge problem, because it allows folks to cast aspersions without concern. That said, we realize there are times for anonymity. This from our Code of Conduct:

Jan 5th - 18:01pm | SwampDoctor

This is an extremely poorly researched article. It looks as though Mr. Repanshek just read the court documents and perhaps got the "official" NPS line from the national or regional office(s), which is CYA all the way. If he had bothered to consult with anyone who worked at Sitka during Ms. Miller's tenure, he could have provided some valuable insight into what happened there.

Jan 5th - 17:57pm | Sitka Park Ranger

I have a comment or two, first Kurt's comment to The Rest Of The Story about "drop the anonymity to bolster your comment" is very unjustified.  Just because Kurt does not know the full story is no reason to go after someone that may know a little more then he does.  I don't want my name out there also, because I still work the the NPS.

Jan 5th - 17:55pm | Whitney

Too many excellent NPS employees transferred, retired, or quit.  There is a lot more to the story, and I applaud the NPS for the more than 5 year saga to improve a languishing workforce.  Here are some other articles:

Jan 5th - 16:23pm | Kurt Repanshek

Perhaps you could provide some details, The Rest of the Story, and drop the anonymity to bolster your comment.

Jan 5th - 16:01pm | The Rest Of The...

There is a lot more to this story. "Reprehensible" actually applies to the conduct of the Superintendent while she was in charge in Sitka. Her removal played out all kinds of wrong.  Ultimately this is the outcome that should have happened from the beginning. 

Jan 5th - 14:49pm | Truth

Know the whole dtory before you write an article!  Things arent always as they seem!

Jan 5th - 12:20pm | ecbuck

So Ray, who complained about Miller and what were they complaining about?

Jan 5th - 12:04pm | Matt M

i'm really interested in learning more about this story. why did NPS want to railroad her out of there? was it really worth it to go through all this trouble? also, is being an NPS superintendent that different from being a USFS Forest Supervisor? Forest Supes aren't just moved from place to place. They apply for jobs and accept them if they want to.  

Jan 5th - 11:55am | Ray Bane

"If she was indeed "highly valued for her performance and skills". Why would they do that?" ecbuck.

Jan 5th - 11:04am | ecbuck

I agree with TwoCollie.  There must be more to this story.  The plaintiff is claiming the NPS intentionally set her up for failure.  If she was indeed "highly valued for her performance and skills". Why would they do that?

Jan 5th - 11:02am | Gila Monster

NPS posts - especially on Superintendet level - are usually temporary, right? A bit like in the diplomatic service - you serve your term, then head on to another job. If Mrs Miller can't accept to change her job then maybe she should quit the NPS - instead of suing them.

Jan 5th - 10:49am | Alfred Runte

This isn't just the National Park Service; it is now rife throughout the American workplace. In my field, university teaching, this is exactly how universities get rid of people who dare question the Administration. The Administration sets up some impossible standards and throws you out the door.

Jan 5th - 10:33am | TwoCollieTom

I wonder what the rest of this story is, and what reasoning NPS had.  My guess is that there is much more to this story than was mentioned in the article.  After all, there are always at least two sides to a situation such as this.

Jan 5th - 10:03am | tahoma

If NPS management treated a capable superintendent in this manner, imagine the hundreds of rank & file employees they have crucified. Is it any wonder NPS employee satisfaction scores are cratering?

Jan 5th - 06:58am | SmokiesBackpacker

You do what Jarvis tells you to do or we will Ranger Danno you.   Lockstep with the Fuhrer.

Musings From Mesa Verde National Park By Candlelight

Jan 5th - 22:39pm | Lee Dalton

NEWSFLASH! Just learned that the next Open House is scheduled December 8, 2016.

Op-Ed | New National Parks For The Next Century

Jan 5th - 21:53pm | drew hanson

The author's statement, "One of the highest priorities should be to create new national parks near major metropolitan areas and in regions of the country with few large national park units -- the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest" is one with which many would agree.

Jan 5th - 14:05pm | George Wuerthner

I'd like to respond to Alfred Runte's comments (hello Al love your books). I agree that a land ethic is desperately needed, and as you no doubt know, Aldo Leopold wrote numerous essays revolving around this idea. But how do we get to such a place? I believe that national parks help to foster such an enthic.

Jan 5th - 12:57pm | Michael Kellett

Hello all. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Just a couple of responses to clarify points that I was trying to make.

Jan 5th - 11:04am | tahoma

Dr Runte hits the nail on the head, as usual.

Jan 4th - 16:40pm | Alfred Runte

Oops! Forgot to log in. Anonymous above is me.

Jan 4th - 16:27pm | Anonymous

I am all for expanding the national park system. However, expansion can lead to dilution, too. More of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing in every instance, as I remind myself when eating a hot fudge sundae.

Former Effigy Mounds National Monument Superintendent Pleads Guilty To Theft Of Artifacts

Jan 5th - 19:28pm | Rick B.

Was he also in place when the desecration of the mounts occurred?

Jan 5th - 18:41pm | Katrina Monroe

Good Grief.....who ARE you?  Of course there  is more to the story.  What are you, like 12 years old?  Do you seriously believe every printed word?  If you are so interested in this case ( enough to comment "disgusting and pathetic" ) perhaps you should read more than one source.

Jan 4th - 21:15pm | Lee Dalton

Is it NPS or Justice Department?

Jan 4th - 19:25pm | Ray Bane

This is a sad report of the total failure of stewardship by a senior NPS management employee.  As virtually any park service employee will attest, NPS personnel must be held to the highest standards of resource protection and public service.  The parks and their resources are the property of the American public, both current and future.

Jan 4th - 19:03pm | Rick B.

Caught, prosecuted, convicted.

Jan 4th - 15:43pm | SmokiesBackpacker

This is just the one who got caught.  

"It Is Obvious We Need To Educate The Visitors"

Jan 5th - 17:56pm | Adair

i agree and it begins with parenting. Their parents have never said NO to these people and they continue their misbehavior which began when they were young. There are no boundaries and there is no respect for anything or anyone. Fines and penalties must be large and substantial. Make them pay!! That is what they understand and possibly some jail time as well.

Native American Tribes To Pursue Bear Ears National Monument With President Obama

Jan 5th - 00:28am | Francisco Romero

Good luck. I hope you are successful in this endeavor!

Jan 4th - 17:01pm | ***

It Was their land first regardless of what you think.

Jan 4th - 16:46pm | John Bochenek

Good luck in your efforts. Having talked to and learned of Navajo traditions while travelling this area, there is nothing better that could become of this land. It would preserve the spirit for all people.

Jan 4th - 14:48pm | Zan Zhin

Seems suspiciously large considering their proposed boundaries swallow an existing National Monument, a National Forest, a Federally protected wilderness, and encroaches on a designated National Recreation area. One only need travel extensively through northeastern Arizona and see what giving land over to tribal control does...

Jan 4th - 14:27pm | Jonathan Vandev...

That would be a great thing to accomplish in sich a strikingly beautiful part of your country.  I wish you all strength and good luck. Keep pushing!

Jan 4th - 14:00pm | Lee Dalton

Of course, Reps. Bishop and Chafetz tell a very different story.  But what's that they say about politicans and forked tongues?

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