Baton Rouge’s mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome, dogged in her determination to make the worst first impression possible on the city and parish she now governs, took over 100 days to hire a chief administrative officer and when she did, it was a fired deputy city manager from the backwater burg of Walla Walla, Washington, who had been canned twice before losing his job in that sleepy Pacific Northwest locale.
That was lackluster enough, but there was more, as there always is.
Chief Administrative Officer Troy Bell resigned late Friday after questions were raised about whether he had lied in his application to become the top deputy at Baton Rouge’s City Hall.
The resignation of the new CAO, who had been named by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome just five days earlier, came hours after The Advocate reported that he lied on his resume about holding a master’s degree in public administration. The story also raised other questions about Bell’s work history.
Bell’s application touted him as having extensive experience running government agencies and noted that he was what he called a “continuing guest lecturer” at Purdue University. The Advocate revealed that Bell never received the master’s degree he claimed, that he was fired from at least three previous government jobs and that his name was not in Purdue’s faculty records.
When initially asked to respond to the findings early Friday morning, Broome released a statement through her spokeswoman saying she would review them. Shortly before 6 p.m. on Friday, her office announced that she had accepted Bell’s resignation.
“I am disappointed that he chose to withhold information about his background while interviewing for and subsequently accepting the position of chief administrative officer,” Broome said in a statement. “I will not let this be a distraction to the commitment I have made to the people of the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish. The mayor-president’s office will continue to serve our fellow residents in an efficient manner as we have since the beginning of my tenure.”
Broome did not return messages on Friday.
In an interview shortly after the announcement, Bell defended the assertions on his resume, saying he did not think his job application material was “deliberately inaccurate.”
And here’s something almost too delicious for consumption…
His resume says he received a 2011 degree, noting that this included a concentration in city management and he was at the top of his class in the School of Public Affairs. But Bell never completed the necessary coursework to receive his MPA and never received a degree, according to a university spokeswoman.
“He owes money and, second, his coursework — he has not completed,” said Neftalie Danier, the school’s assistant director of alumni relations, after conferring with the university’s registrar’s office.
What’s more, Bell’s claim that he’d voluntarily left a couple of jobs he’d held in Florida didn’t hold up either.
Bell acknowledged being fired in Walla Walla. But he emphatically said Monday — and maintained again Friday after his resignation was announced — that he voluntarily left jobs at the South Florida Water Management District and the real estate division of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Termination letters obtained by The Advocate confirm he was fired, in one case following a paid suspension while he was placed under investigation. The letters are addressed to Darryl Bell; the former chief administrative officer’s full name is Darryl LeTroy Bell.
“This letter is to confirm your separation from the District effective as of August 12, 2003. … You may also submit a written response to the charges and circumstances surrounding your termination for inclusion in your personnel file,” wrote Water Management District Human Resources Director Sandra Close-Turnquest.
A second letter by Real Estate Division Director Michael Murphy said, “This letter is to officially notify you that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation has determined that your services … are no longer needed, effective 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 18 2006.” The real estate division is a branch of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Hey, here’s a thought – Broome wants to hire a police chief! Hopefully she can do a little better than Lucas Hood for the job, but we don’t want to go overboard with expectations and standards.
Or maybe we should stick with the chief we have. As Broome seems to be showing, things can always get worse.