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Wanted: NPS Traveling Secretary


    It's tough trying to visit parks when you're the director of the National Park Service. I mean, even though you have all the resources of the National Park Service at your service, scheduling and organizing visits can be awfully tricky and time-consuming. At least it appears so for Fran Mainella.
    According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Mainella is searching for a scheduling and advance coordinator. Duties tied to that position include analyzing "key or critical issues confronting the director's scope of travel and mission needs...." and advising "the director as to potential impacts, media opportunities, relevant park issues, and events planning associated with travel and event participation. Prepares detailed, minute-by-minute itineraries for the director's travel."
    Phew! That's one key position. So key, in fact, that Mainella is willing to pay as much as $62,209 a year for that person. But wouldn't you think that as director of the park service for the past four years that Mainella would already have a pretty good grip on "relevant park issues"? Why does she need someone pointing them out to her?
    Of course, being a reporter I can understand why she wants someone to help her with media opportunities. We can be pretty testy creatures when it comes to putting public officials on the spot.
    Beyond that, couldn't that salary be better spent out in the parks doing some good? Jeff Ruch, the executive director of PEER, certainly thinks so. His reaction to Mainella's need for an assistant? Here's what he said:
     "Apparently, it is more important for the director to have a 'minute-by-minute' itinerary than it is to have an additional ranger at the volatile Organ Pipe National Monument, where run-ins with drug smugglers have become common. All the other National Park Service employees are being asked to do more with less except the director."
     How long ago was it that Mainella was talking about outsourcing park service jobs? Perhaps someone could put her in touch with a good travel agent and save the agency some money.

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