Thursday, September 25, 2008

Help wanted: Figurehead

Previously on this Blog, I've discussed how Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's penchant for grandstanding took a fragile child welfare agency and plunged it into chaos, after he fired anyone who had come anywhere near a high-profile tragedy – without regard for whether they actually were at fault. I also noted how, months later, when the head of the child welfare agency finally showed signs of standing up to the Mayor she was promptly fired – and all trace of her existence was removed from the agency website.

Of course, that means D.C. needs to hire a replacement. Get a load of the ad they've posted on the Child Welfare League of America website. The most interesting part is the first paragraph, which reads as follows:

Working as the Director of the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) is an opportunity to work in one of the most rewarding and challenging posts in District government. The Director of CFSA will fulfill Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's commitment to improving outcomes for the District's most vulnerable children and families. Mayor Fenty is looking for an exceptional leader, characterized by innovation and "outside the box" thinking, to motivate and support frontline workers, supervisors and senior management within the agency. The Fenty administration employs individuals who combine energy, enthusiasm, achievement, and an ability to attract and motivate other exceptional people. The administration is less focused on people in similar positions in other cities and more focused on pure talent. Backgrounds in either the public or private sector, characterized by innovation, uncompromised vision, and imagination set candidates apart. The Fenty administration will hold its agency heads accountable in achieving targeted results. Respect for the public trust and the commensurate integrity are mandatory prerequisites. Years of experience will be considered alongside responsiveness, aptitude and adaptability.

I count two uses of the word "child" or "children" (including the name of the agency) and five uses of the word "Fenty" It looks like the primary job responsibility is remaining under the mayor's thumb and saying "how high?" when the mayor says "jump."

Granted, I've seen very few ads for child welfare agency chiefs – but the descriptions of the two comparable jobs advertised on the CWLA site, one running a private agency and one leading the state-run child welfare agency in Georgia, are not drenched in political ego like the D.C. ad. The Georgia ad touts the benefits of living in Georgia, as one might expect, but it doesn't even mention the governor. Granted, too, that politicians are not known for their humility. But does anyone really think the best candidates are going to be attracted to a job like this?

For all previous posts about the D.C. child welfare mess, you can use the search function on this Blog. I'm sure the mayor would be pleased to know you can find them just by typing in "Fenty." "Fenty."