Forced Out Of Yellowstone/Mountain Journal ~ muy típico

DESPITE YELLOWSTONE SUPERINTENDENT DAN WENK’S DESIRE TO END HIS 42-YEAR-CAREER IN AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL PARK, RYAN ZINKE’S INTERIOR DEPARTMENT STILL DEMANDS HE LEAVE

Against his will, in violation of an informal “gentleman’s agreement,” and amid public outrage, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk has received notification from the U.S. Interior Department informing him that he is being forcibly re-assigned to a regional director post with the National Park Service in Washington D.C.

In the order issued Monday, June 4 by acting National Park Service Director Danny Smith and approved by David L. Bernhardt, second in command to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Wenk was told he must vacate Yellowstone and re-report to the nation’s capital by early August. Read all of the memos at the bottom of this story.
Wenk told Mountain Journal Thursday he finds the actions heavy-handed and untenable. Instead, he will step down from government service in the coming weeks.
“It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the Park Service and places like Yellowstone but that’s how these guys are,” Wenk said, referring to Zinke’s Interior Department. “Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.”

“It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the Park Service and places like Yellowstone but that’s how these guys are,” Wenk said, referring to Zinke’s Interior Department. “Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.”

Last week in an attempt to forestall the unwelcomed transfer after spending 42.5 years with the Park Service, Wenk make a counterproposal to retire from the top job in Yellowstone next March, providing a period of transition for both he and his successor. That proposal was rejected.
The events bring a startling end to a long and distinguished career for Wenk, who is 66.
Never in the modern history of America’s oldest national park has a Yellowstone superintendent essentially been forced out at the climax of a brilliant career. Most of Wenk’s recent predecessors voluntarily retired from Yellowstone because it is considered the premiere field position in the Park Service and a job of high honor.
Wenk’s compromise offer was seen as a gambit, a test of Zinke’s Interior Department. Would it allow a widely-respected public servant like Wenk to retire with dignity and complete the key tasks he was assigned by Zinke himself?
Or would Zinke and his political appointees, as a demonstration of their unchecked power, punish Wenk ostensibly because of his outspoken support for conservation that riled some in Republican circles?
Since late winter, Wenk has known that he was the target of a forced transfer, though no one at Interior offered him a rationale for it, he said. Initially, it came to him only as a rumor.
Soon after Zinke’s appointment to his cabinet post was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2017, he moved forward with nearly three dozen controversial transfers of top executive level civil servants, vowing that it would result in better management.
Critics claimed it was a thinly-veiled attempt to undermine a number of agencies that have a mission of environmental protection at their core.
Acting Park Service Director Danny Smith, a subject in two Inspector General investigations, promised Wenk he had his back covered, but didn't, Wenk says.
Acting Park Service Director Danny Smith, a subject in two Inspector General investigations, promised Wenk he had his back covered, but didn’t, Wenk says.

 

This move, insiders say, appears to have been spearheaded by Smith and Bernhardt, the latter who, through his role with the Executive Resources Board, oversees all high-ranking career employees who are part of the Senior Executive Service. Wenk is at the highest level of the SES and while the classification allows Interior Secretaries to move elite managers around with only a 60-day notice, it is seldom done in a punitive way.

The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General found that the proposed moves had no obvious justification or rationale and that they were made merely at the whim of Zinke and staff. Here is what investigators with the Inspector General concluded:
“The Executive Resources Board reassigned 27 senior executives without a written plan or clear criteria, and without consulting with the departmental leadership who oversaw the affected senior executives or with the affected SES members. With no documented action plan for the reassignments and inconsistent statements from the ERB regarding its rationale, we were prevented from making a clear determination whether or not the DOI met the legal requirements. The [board’s] failure to document its decisions and to adhere to [government code] guidance…resulted in the perception by a majority of the affected SES members that the reassignments were prompted by political or punitive reasons, or were related to their proximity to retirement.”

One thought on “Forced Out Of Yellowstone/Mountain Journal ~ muy típico

  1. Dan Wenk is one of the finest people I’ve ever worked with. Zinke is another matter.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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