City Commissioner Jack Porter accused Tallahassee City Manager Reese Goad of cronyism while criticizing the recent hiring of Thomas Whitley, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, as the Director of Strategic Innovation, during the city meeting on June 8th.
The hire was first reported by Tallahassee Reports.
Thomas Whitley has worked as the mayor’s chief of staff for four years. However, he began work this week as the new Director of Strategic Innovation. In this position, Whitley will oversee the lobbying efforts by the city at a state and federal level. Also, Whitley will direct and execute the city’s strategic plan and develop policy.
Porter condemned the city manager for hiring someone who has “no formal experience and no formal training, and no formal qualifications,” with the exception of his work in the mayor’s office. “This reeks of cronyism,” Porter said, “it’s a slap in the face to the city employees who have worked for decades to achieve this kind of raise and promotion.”
Whitley holds a doctorate in Religions of Western Antiquity from Florida State University. Prior to his four years assisting the mayor, Whitley served as the Assistant Director of the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards at FSU for just under two years.
Whitley received a $36,000 raise with his new position, making his new salary $130,000.
Goad stood by his decision to hire Whitely, stating he was the best candidate for the job. Mayor Dailey reminded the commissioners of the city’s non-interference clause that prohibits them from involving themselves in city employees’ hiring or firing practices.
Dailey wrapped up the meeting, remarking there wouldn’t be further public discussion about the hiring of any city employee.