SES and the Super

   Thanks so much for the piles of letters you’ve sent to Washington on the Superintendent issue here at Grand Canyon. We’ve heard that we’re already generating a fair amount of heat back there. Let’s turn it up.

   For those of you who haven’t heard, the position of Superintendent at Grand Canyon is vacant again, for the third time in five years. This is due, in a large part, to a program called the Senior Executive Service (SES); a high level, highly paid corps of professional managers who are moved from one government position to the next. It’s a two edged sword–on the one hand, we get very high level people in the Superintendent’s office, but on the other hand, they don’t stay long enough to accomplish much of anything.

   Here is what’s happening at South Rim. After Superintendent Chandler left, Assistant Superintendent Gary Cummins (a great guy) took over the position as Acting Superintendent, until a new Super was chosen. We had all hoped for a prompt search and replacement, but that does not seem to be happening.

   In late January, Gary Cummins went back to being Assistant Superintendent and a new Acting Superintendent, Boyd Evison, was brought in to hold down the fort.

   Rumors come down to us from on high that perhaps it will be a political appointee, someone to fill a quota… or perhaps the position will be announced for people to apply for. No urgency on the government’s part to get Grand Canyon functioning again has been detected. Designation of the position as officially an SES position, however, was announced in last week’s High Country News. It’s discouraging.

   On a somewhat lower level, the Park’s position of Chief of Resource Management, vacant since George Nusehanger left last summer, has been filled temporarily by an SES trainee, Mike Strump, who will be there for six weeks. No one is scheduled to replace him, and resources, as well as the park in general, continue to drift. It's very, very discouraging.

   The team of good people at the Park deserves better. So do we. And the country. And most especially, the Canyon.If you haven’t written yet, please do so. Demand professionalism and continuity at the Grand Canyon. Demand some respect. And send us a copy of your letters.