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Our View: Search far and wide, not just close to home




Change is afoot, and Columbus is facing some critical decisions that promise to shape the city, for better or worse, for years to come. 


At the top of our to-do list is hiring a new superintendent for the Columbus Municipal School District. Dr. Del Phillips is leaving the district after four years to take over the top schools post in Sumner County, Tenn. 


To say Phillips was a transformative force is an understatement. He led the charge for a bond issue that culminated in the opening of the new Columbus Middle School earlier this year. He consolidated and transformed the district''s elementary schools into magnet schools. He began the process to bring year-round learning to the district, now in place at some elementary schools. He introduced the prestigious International Baccalaureate program to Columbus High School. 


Phillips'' successor has big shoes to fill. And the district''s interim superintendent, Dr. Martha Liddell, wants to do just that -- she even jokingly compared Phillips'' shoe size to her own at a Monday reception in Phillips'' honor. 


Liddell has made no secret about her intentions to replace Phillips permanently. Despite her overtures, we urge the city school board to remain focused on a professionally run, nationwide search for a new superintendent. 


Likewise, the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau is in a state of transition. The board is yet to return to full speed -- only seven of the revamped board''s nine members have been appointed -- and the bureau is without an executive director, following the departure of James Tsismanakis to DeKalb County, Ga. 


In the interim, Nancy Carpenter is serving as director. She, like Liddell, is interested in the permanent job. (The board has yet to begin its search as it waits for all its new members to be seated by the city and county.) 


In a perfect world, these boards would have appointed interim leaders with no interest in the permanent jobs. That way, the field would remain level for all who apply.  


It very well may be that Liddell and Carpenter are the best candidates for these jobs. But we''d like to find that out after each board does its due diligence and searches far and wide for the best candidates out there. 


These boards owe it to all of us, including the interim directors, to conduct thorough searches. We want the best possible people to lead our schools and our tourism efforts into the future.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment columbus concerned commented at 5/25/2011 2:40:00 PM:

Nancy Carpenter should not be allowed to apply for the permanent position.

Prior to her appointment as interim director, the CVB bylaws did not allow an interim director to apply for the permanent position. However, after she got appointed interim director, for some un-explained reason (that's how the CVB works), the CVB board voted to change the rules to allow an interim director to apply for the permanent position. This DIRECTLY benefits Mrs. Carpenter and gives her an unfair advantage in applying for the position, which is probably why the board made that rule.

This type of changing the rules, ad-hoc decision making is why people are starting to think the CVB has been corrupted. It seems to be a weird, incestuous situation, where relationships and power matter more than getting the city tourists.


Article Comment iam4columbus commented at 5/26/2011 11:03:00 AM:

I applaud The Dispatch for calling for a national search to name a permanent Executive Director for the Columbus CVB.

In a city so rich in history and culture, it is crucial that a national search be conducted to ensure that the best person possible is found and secured. The CVB is too important to the future of Columbus to allow politics to enter into the decision-making process. That is why I urge the CVB Board of Directors to engage the services of a search firm to oversee the process of hiring a permanent Executive Director. Like many Columbians, I am painfully aware (and embarrassed) by the factional sniping that the CVB'S Board has devolved into. I submit that it is this very state of divisiveness that renders the Board incapable of making a rational decision, free of politics. A national search firm, located outside of the Golden Triangle, would, hopefully, have no political debts to repay, and no "dog in this hunt", except to ensure that they recommend the very best candidate to the Board.

Furthermore, I would hope that the search firm would focus on candidates outside of this area, for the very reasons stated above. Although there may be qualified candidates residing in this area, they almost certainly would be impacted, in one way or another, by personal alliances. The future of Columbus' tourism efforts is too important to allow it to be affected by where someone went to high school or what garden club they are a member of.

In summation, we must be cognizant of all that Columbus has given us, throughout the years. We owe her nothing less than to ensure that we select the best steward to not only preserve that legacy, but to lead this southern gem into the future.


Article Comment hammersticksjohnny commented at 5/26/2011 3:36:00 PM:

I like Nancy Carpenter. She seems like the right person


Article Comment whitehall1843 commented at 5/27/2011 9:34:00 AM:

Columbus concerned wrote that Nancy Carpenter should not be allowed to apply for the position of director of CVB. How insane is that? She is undoubtedly the hardest working person the city has ever had working for us. Anyone involved with the CVB knows she is perfect for the job. The writer critical of being appointed interim director is no doubt wanting the job and is just jealous. Nancy deserves the chance to prove herself in the capacity of director. Native Son


Article Comment columbus concerned commented at 5/27/2011 7:25:00 PM:

I do not want the position as director of the CVB. And I don't have any personal issue with Nancy Carpenter at all. If you actually read my post, which is based on facts, I stated that Nancy Carpenter took the interim job when the charter said the interim director could not apply for the permanent position. So SHE took the job knowing it meant she could not apply for it permanently. If she wanted the job permanently, she should not have taken the interim position. Then, the CVB voted to change the rules and allow the interim director to apply. That's called changing the rules in the middle of the game. These are facts. Your opinion about Nancy Carpenter being the hardest working person the city has ever had working for us is laughable. What evidence can you present to support such a bold claim? She hasn't even been at the job long enough to make that statement possibly true...I do know Nancy Carpenter presented the lowndes county board of supervisors an appraisal that valued a property the CVB was purchasing as less than the contract purchase price, and when she was asked why, she said she didn't know, and would have to ask the former director. Then the project languished for a month while the CVB got a new appraisal and this delay cost the taxpayers more money than even the original contract price. In the private, free market world, this is called poor leadership that waste useful business dollars. At the CVB, that's called business as usual. The city of Columbus cannot afford more leadership like this.


Article Comment ckirby commented at 5/28/2011 9:12:00 PM:

Why do a national search for the best leader we can get for this one job when we won't do it for something like chief of police or school superintendent? I know we've done national searches for those positions before, but now the city council has changed and the idea of looking nationwide for the best individuals we can hire for our money is no longer a priority. Now it's promoting whatever person is next in line and can simply do the job.
It makes me wonder, if one of our council member's child gets seriously sick, if they would look for the best physician and hospital for the illness (such as cancer) or just go to the nearest emergency room and anybody with a medical degree? Hiring a person because they can do the job, not because they're the best that can be hired for the pay, makes no sense to me. In fact, I'm getting sick or hearing that old they can do the job line.
Buying a vehicle, buying food for the family, whatever it is, it should always be the best you can get for the money spent. It makes me ill when I see the council look to spend public money on anything mediocre or just acceptable. It validates the opinion I have that that's exactly what we did when we voted for this council in the last election. We settled for barely good enough and mediocre. We need to remedy that in the next election.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 5/29/2011 4:46:00 AM:

Kirby, unless you're new to the area, you should know it doesn't much matter who you put where here, the end results will always be the same: minimal results, maximum nothing.

I can't tell you how many times I run into people here who don't have a clue about their job, have no idea what the "deal" is, and are just as likely to tell you something wrong as they are to tell you right. I don't know what it is, but it is very hard to find good help around here. You'll get the same for local government.

It doesn't seem to matter much, you put these boobs in office, or those boobs in office... you'll just end up with a pair of boobs.


Article Comment columbusadvocate commented at 5/31/2011 10:12:00 AM:

The ordinance that created the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau does not address the issue of an interim director, nor does the CVB have by-laws.

There are countless people in Columbus and across the state and country who have first-hand knowledge of Mrs. Nancy Carpenter's expertise and effective, untiring efforts in marketing Columbus. Her strong commitment to making things better in Columbus benefits each of us.


Article Comment nokiag commented at 6/1/2011 12:12:00 PM:

Tourism office allow Ms Carpenter to drive the SUV home and use it at taxpayers' expense. It seems that driving to and from work ought to be at employee's expense. Well, surely the Board of Commissioners keep a log of gas purchases unless this is how we, oops! she benefits from her commitment, expertise and boasted by columbusadvocate. And we complain about first responders who take their vehicles home. That interim director needs to park that gas guzzler too.


Article Comment iam4columbus commented at 6/3/2011 1:55:00 AM:

Nokiag, I agree with you, wholeheartedly! This is the taxpayers' money that is being spent on the gas-guzzling SUV. How many people in the business world have their transportation subsidized by their employer? Very few, I would think. Plus, Ms. Carpenter can well afford to provide her own transportation. From what I have heard, she makes over $60,000 per year, not counting any additional amount that she may be receiving for being the "interim director".

However, I believe that we should take this a step further. Unnecessary use of the CVB vehicle may only be the tip of the iceberg. Stories of lavish spending on the part of the CVB are common knowledge around town. Attend just about any event or have lunch at any of our more popular restaurants, and you are likely to hear accounts of this nature.

Since the Board of Supervisors and the City Council/Mayor control the CVB Board of Directors (through their authority to appoint and remove Board members) and the CVB Board of Directors controls the CVB Director and staff (through their authority to hire and fire staff), the Board of Supervisors and the City Council/Mayor should demand a comprehensive, INDEPENDENT audit of CVB finances, which should then be made public.


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