Palma’s replacement may come from within |

Palma’s replacement may come from within

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Finding a replacement for a new executive director for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is a process that should not be rushed, said members of the agency’s Governing Board on Wednesday.

Juan Palma, 47, announced his resignation as executive director of the TRPA, at a meeting Wednesday at the Horizon Casino Resort. He cited a need to be closer to his family living in Alpine, Utah.

“You have a strong showing of support from the board,” said James Galloway, an outspoken member of the Governing Board and commissioner of Washoe County. “You didn’t have to do this. I take your word it’s a personal choice. There were really a number of contentious matters you had to deal with and I felt you were a moderating (influence). I want to thank you for that.”

The TRPA Governing Board plans to meet next month behind closed doors to discuss the strategy it will take in hiring a new executive director. Palma set April 30 as his final work day, but on Wednesday he said he would be willing to consider staying a longer or shorter length of time at the job that pays $110,000 a year.

“I feel very strongly there are a lot of unfinished items Juan would be helpful in resolving,” said Larry Sevison, who represents Placer County and has been a member of the Governing Board since 1980. “I encourage this board to consider finding a way to keep Juan aboard for some period of time.”

Palma has been commuting to Utah, where his wife of 27 years and three children live, for almost a year. He plans to look for a job in Utah but hasn’t started job hunting.

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“I don’t have a job,” Palma said. “My recommendation is April 30, but I’m open to a shorter time or a little longer.”

Dave Solaro, chairman of the Governing Board, said the board’s search for candidates will include staff who work at the agency.

“When we do make the decision, we don’t want to make it in haste,” Solaro said. “We have some ideas and we’ll be discussing them next month. Whether we go in the internal direction — that’s a possibility.”

TRPA Deputy Director Jerry Wells is someone the board should consider, said George Yount, who lives at Incline Village and is the presidential appointee to the Governing Board. Wells worked at the TRPA since 1985, except when he left for a job in Oregon from 2000 to 2002, and served as an interim executive director for about five months during the board’s nearly yearlong job search that ended in the hiring of Palma.

Wells was rehired in April as a deputy director, giving the agency two deputy directors. Carl Hasty was promoted to the position of a deputy director in 2000.

“I’d be willing to serve on an interim basis,” Wells said. “But as far as a permanent, it’s too preliminary to say. I’d have to find out … what the board would be looking for.”

Hasty said he is also willing to be considered for the job of executive director.

“I think it would be a privilege,” said Hasty, who has worked at the TRPA for nearly 13 years. “We’ve invested a lot in the basin, accomplished a lot and I think I have additional contributions to make to that effort.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at