July 11, 2010; Source: New York Daily News | Here’s a longtime concern about executive compensation: Executive directors who collect salaries at two or more organizations, usually one nonprofit and one for-profit, while claiming to work full time or more at both. In New York City, the Daily News has discovered a number of dual job-holders earning salaries at nonprofits and at the City Parks Department.
Examples include John Herrold running Riverside Park while simultaneously working for the Riverside Park Fund, Tupper Thomas working for the Prospect Park Alliance and the Parks Department, and Aimee Boden in charge of Randalls Island for the Parks Department while she ran the Randalls Island Sports Foundation.
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While it’s typical for smart city agencies to recruit people with professional skills and experience in their field, such as these people recruited from parks-oriented nonprofits, we see three problems here: (1) dual job holding for full-time jobs isn’t credible; (2) there are obvious potential conflicts of interest with these dual job-holders, particularly in trying to figure out which “hat” these employees are wearing; and (3) most of these dual Parks Department job holders are affiliated with parks in affluent neighborhoods, making it appear that the city is particularly interested in playing up to and buying influence with the more vocal and wealthier neighborhoods interested in parks.
When cities hire parks advocates to work for parks departments, it makes complete sense. When the advocates continue to work for outside agencies with overlapping interests and overlapping job hours, it seems like a budding problem of accountability and conflict of interest.—Rick Cohen