TRPA executive director search narrows to six candidates |

TRPA executive director search narrows to six candidates

In narrowing its search for a leader, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency identified six applicants Monday as top picks for the job, and two of those who made the cut are already familiar faces at Lake Tahoe.

John Marshall, TRPA’s acting executive director, and Juan Palma, who once served as forest supervisor for the Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe unit, ranked among the top applicants in the search for an executive director.

They join Peter Coppelman, of Virginia a principal deputy assistant attorney general; Richard Duprey, of Tennessee an owner of Phoenix Sim Air Services; Virginia resident Randall Scott, executive vice president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and Reno resident John Singlaub, Carson City district manager of the Bureau of Land Management.

About 65 people applied for the position through the Sacramento headhunting firm Wilcox, Miller and George, according to Dave Solaro, TRPA boardmember and chairman of the Executive Director Selection Committee.

“We were presented with a list of 10 top candidates and we selected six who we felt would be the most appropriate to interview next Monday,” he said. “They were all good candidates and well qualified but the six more closely met the qualifications we were looking for in an executive director.”

Juan Palma left Tahoe Basin’s forest supervisor position, a post he held for two and a half years, in 1999 to become district manager for 5 million acres of Bureau of Land Management property in eastern Oregon. He said he put his name in the hat because he misses Tahoe.

“I think the forest supervisor position was certainly a good training ground for me to learn the issues of Tahoe, the players of Tahoe and the institutions of Tahoe,” he said. “I am comfortable in that I understand all those pieces of it.”

At the top of his list of concerns is the implementation of the $908 million Environmental Improvement Plan – a local, state and federal effort to fix Tahoe’s most pressing environmental issues by 2007.

Marshall, who has served two years as the agency’s legal counsel and two months as interim director, also has his focus on the environmental plan.

He said during his time as the acting chief he realized a position as permanent director could maximize his efforts to further the goals of the TRPA.

“I think the past two months have been educational,” Marshall said. “There’s a big difference between an interim director versus being a director in a permanent capacity in that you have the opportunity to move the ship in the direction that is needed. As an interim director, you feel like you’ve maintained course and speed but you’re not there to implement new policy directions and significant changes.”

Looking forward to the next five years, Marshall’s plans would include “making the Environmental Improvement Plan a reality and that we make sure that we maintain a high level of customer service and relations with the various local government agencies while continuing to preserve and protect Lake Tahoe.”

The six applicants will interview Monday with the five-member selection committee made up of TRPA boardmembers Solaro, Brian Sandoval, Joanne Neft and Kay Bennett.

The selection committee hopes to trim the six applicants down to three or four to be interviewed by the governing board at its Aug. 23 meeting, Solaro said.

“The hope is to have the board make a decision at that meeting, then it would be a matter of going through the negotiations process,” he said. “It’s been a long process and hopefully this will be the conclusion that will allow the TRPA to move forward with an executive director.”

TRPA began its search for an executive director in January, when Jim Baetge, TRPA’s leader for five years, resigned for health reasons.

After an initial recruitment process that lasted months, the TRPA offered the chief position to attorney and Inyo County water director Greg James in May. James rejected the offer for personal reasons. Runner-up Pam Wilcox, a Nevada state lands administrator, also took herself out of the running for personal reasons.

In the second search for a leader, the bistate regulator bumped its salary range from the previously offered $80,000 to $90,000 per year to a more competitive rate of $95,000 to $110,000 per year.

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