Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arbitrary Hiring Standards Have Helped Some Favored Candidates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arbitrary Hiring Standards Have Helped Some Favored Candidates

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

So Mayor John Peyton believes that his acting planning director, Brad Thoburn, has the stuff to take on the permanent job. Never mind that he doesn't even have the stuff to take on the deputy director's job.

Well, either one or two things have happened here.

Either marriage and fatherhood have mellowed the mayor over the years, or maybe - with no viable challenger to his throne thus far - he just feels freer to let loose of any good ol' boy inhibitions that he might have been holding back.

I'm betting it's the latter.

Peyton's plans to ask the City Council to waive educational and experience requirements so that Thoburn can direct how the city grows is some kind of switch. Back in 2001, when he was leading the board of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and not the whole city, he was more persnickety about standards.

In fact, he and three other JTA board members stubbornly stood their ground after whipping up a storm of anger in the black community and charges of racism when they chose Derek Morse, a transportation executive from Reno, Nev., over the authority's deputy executive director Michael Blaylock. Morse is white. Blaylock is black.

At that time, Peyton told me that the reason he couldn't pick Blaylock - who did become JTA executive director when Morse quit a year later - for the top job was because he had no experience in building roads.

Never mind that Blaylock had, for nearly two decades, managed the city's struggling bus system. Or that his strong administrative touch, as the board members who favored him argued, was all that was needed to get the roads built.

Peyton wasn't having it. Too many billions in the Better Jacksonville Plan were at stake.

Now here it is, seven years later.

And Peyton, for all his concerns about trusting the JTA to a black guy whose resume was shy of one area of experience, now wants to entrust the planning department to a white guy who has worked in that department for only eight months, and whose resume falls far short of the education and experience that is legally required not only for that top job, but for the job beneath it.

This only makes sense in the world of good ol' boyism. …

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