For an administration enamored with performance measures like “practicing responsible stewardship of city resources,” here’s one for the mayor’s action tracker:
Last year, Reginald Moore, director of Recreation and Parks, took himself and six staffers to the National Recreation and Park Association convention in Nashville, Tennessee, for $12,000.
This year, Moore is bringing 15 staffers and himself to the NRPA convention in Phoenix at triple the price – $33,387 in travel, food, hotel and registration expenses.
Today the Board of Estimates approved the expenditure without comment or objection by City Administrator Chris Shorter (who subbed for an absent Mayor Brandon Scott) and the board’s self-described spending watchdogs, Comptroller Bill Henry and Council President Nick Mosby.
The four-day trip to Arizona (September 19-22) comes during a time when city agencies were asked to cut their budgets by 10%, and Director Moore came under fire for hiring a convicted felon to serve as a youth athletic recreation supervisor without notification to Human Resources officials.
Hired in 2017 from the Macon, Ga., Parks Department, Moore is known for taking staff and himself to sometimes unconventional places, which he has said is critical to improving the agency.
“I made it a point when I became director to prioritize CEUs (continuing education units) and staff training,” he told The Brew, adding that better staff “raises the quality of services we provide.”
In the case of NRPA, the 2022 convention has gone hybrid in response to Covid-19.
Organizers have devised “300 inspirational and innovative educational sessions and workshops” that can be attended in-person or livestreamed into offices or homes around the country.
Twenty-minute “speed sessions,” sponsored by playground equipment maker PlayCore, can best be accessed virtually, with an optional in-person component.
There are also virtual training sessions on equity and inclusion, leadership and sports programming, revenue development and customer service.
Association members can earn up to 1.4 CEUs by attending the “virtual conference” that will run parallel to classes held at the Phoenix Convention Center.
CEU-accredited sessions can be viewed on demand through March 2023, according to on-line NRPA literature.
If accessing educational courses is not a key reason for physically attending the convention, the travel request that Moore’s office submitted to the BOE hints at another.
It notes that the Baltimore team (which excludes Quinton Matthews) will get to see Director Moore “inducted in the prestigious American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration.”
A grand banquet will be held at the Phoenix Sheraton on the convention’s third night, sponsored by Landscape Structures and Davey Tree Expert Co.
In addition, Moore’s chief of staff, Jacia Smith, will be “one of this year’s honored speakers,” the BOE was told.