Canaveral Superintendent Kicked Upstairs to Non-Job
“Strategic Planning” Posting Highlights Park Service Accountability Blind Spot
Washington, DC — The scandal-plagued superintendent of Canaveral National Seashore has been abruptly reassigned to a high-ranking job with no apparent duties, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) which called for her removal in June. This latest failure by the National Park Service (NPS) to take any disciplinary action against its managers despite repeated findings of misconduct will likely renew calls for the ouster of Director Jon Jarvis.
In an email sent to Canaveral staff on the afternoon of Friday, September 16, Superintendent Myrna Palfrey wrote:
“I have been asked by Regional Director Stan Austin, to serve as Special Assistant to the Regional Director, assisting the regional office with Partnership Programs and Strategic Planning. This detail will be effective Sunday, September 18.”
This action comes after Palfrey and her top staff have been hit with –
- A series of three Inspector general reports detailing a wide variety of mismanagement, some of it repeated after previous warnings;
- A finding of whistleblower retaliation at the National Seashore and a judge’s finding that Palfrey’s denials could not be believed; and
- An ongoing sexual harassment case in which Palfrey took no corrective action.
“In today’s Park Service, superintendents are apparently fire-proof,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that Palfrey is still Canaveral’s superintendent; this temporary detail may be intended to move her aside until the heat dies down. “Among other things, this move underlines just how little the Park Service values Strategic Planning.”
At the same time, Jarvis is facing rising congressional and other calls for his resignation due not only to his own ethics violations but to his failure to hold his top managers answerable for misconduct. Jarvis recently stated that his top priority for the remainder of his tenure is addressing sexual harassment in NPS, after outbreaks at both Canaveral and Grand Canyon National Park. However, employees report little discernible change, although the Grand Canyon superintendent did resign while Palfrey remains in place.
“In our experience, the Park Service does not hesitate to take punitive action, including termination, against whistleblowers. The double standard favoring agency managers is one reason employee morale in the Park Service has been plummeting,” added Ruch, also pointing to growing staff shortages in field positions while management slots proliferate. “The Park Service is an agency that definitely needs less – not more – sinecure slots in its Headquarters and Regional Offices.”