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T.J. Miller Named Interim Parks Director For Fresno

Fresno City Hall

T.J. Miller Named Interim Parks Director For Fresno

The City announced an interim Parks Director in T.J. Miller who has proven leadership skills and considerable expertise in organization and solving complex problems.

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Parvin Neloms Jr. is no longer Fresno’s Parks director. T.J. Miller is Parks’ new director, but with the “interim” tag.

City Hall on Wednesday announced the change in a news release. The announcement didn’t mention Neloms by name or even hint that he had ever been a city employee.

Miller is the city’s director of customer relations and analytics. She will continue in that job even as she takes on the duties of Parks.

Said City Manager Wilma Quan in the news release:

“T.J. is one of the most respected members of our Administration, with proven leadership skills and considerable expertise in organization and solving complex problems. We’re fortunate to have someone of her capability to continue the City’s efforts to improve the quality of life for our residents.”

Miller is a former human resources manager at City Hall. She has a master’s degree in business administration from Fresno State.

Near as I can tell from his contract posted online, Neloms had been Parks director for all of 16 months. His salary was $150,000 a year.

Parks is a hard gig in Fresno, and has been for decades. Three quick thoughts:

1.) Parks policy is land-use policy. More specifically, Parks policy is public space policy. City Hall in Fresno, as with city halls throughout America, has lost much control over what happens in its public spaces. The result: Social restraints on people’s public behavior have been dramatically loosened, if not entirely abandoned. This has been encouraged (demanded) in a variety of ways by powerful and well-funded special interest groups. Fresno’s parks face the same pressures as Fresno’s street corners. Many consumers react in predictable ways.

2.) Sixteen months probably isn’t long enough for a Parks director to build an identifiable institutional culture. But one event does make me wonder what it was like to work in Parks during the Neloms era.

I refer to Mayor Lee Brand’s news conference late last June in front of City Hall. He pitched a half-cent sales tax to fund public safety and parks reforms. The idea never got off the ground, but the issues raised by Brand (plus Police Chief Jerry Dyer and Fire Chief Kerri Donis) were as serious as they get in a city government.

Off to one side of the speaker’s podium was a group of Parks employees. They were there to support the Mayor and his proposal. They were dressed like pirates.

3.) Maybe it’s time to ask Bruce Rudd to come out of retirement. Just some temporary duty, Bruce – long enough to stabilize Parks.

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George Hostetter

George Hostetter is a contributor to CVObserver.

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