DCR names new hires in shakeup
By Stephanie Ebbert Globe Staff October 07, 2016
After scandals that ejected four state employees from their jobs, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy announced new hires Friday.
Nick Gove was promoted to deputy commissioner for recreation and operations, a position that puts him in charge of the agency’s daily operations, including park and infrastructure operations and public safety.
He is also a supporter of Charlie Baker, having donated $50 to the governor in March, according to state campaign finance data.
Priscilla Geigis was named deputy commissioner for conservation and resource stewardship, overseeing strategic planning, as well as water supply protection, forestry and fire control, land acquisition, natural resource protection, resource management planning, cultural resources, and interpretive services
Geigis has supported Democratic candidates for office, according to state campaign finance data.
The new appointees won praise from former DCR commissioner Katherine F. Abbott, who now works as president and CEO of Boston Harbor Now.
“Priscilla Geigis is one of the brightest, creative park leaders in the country, and sets the standards for ethics and professionalism nationally,” Abbott said in the state’s press release. “Additionally, Nick Gove has been doing great work internally and externally for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for years.”
The current commissioner, Roy, called the two “proven professionals in parks and infrastructure management.”
Jay Cincotti, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said: “Maybe the Department of Crafty Republicans will finally have a staff with some clue about conservation and recreation. Charlie’s lack of immediate action shows that unless the spotlight is shining on a problem, he is happy to let politics come before public service.”
Roy himself was among those implicated in the first of several damaging stories about his department, having cohosted a pre-Fourth of July party at a condo owned by Republican National Committee member Ron Kaufman that chauffeured guests to the nearby Hatch Shell celebration in taxpayer-funded golf carts.
The party’s guest list reportedly included top Baker aides. Roy and his cohost, DCR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Matthew Sisk, were suspended without pay for a week after WCVB-TV aired footage of the event in August.
But Sisk was forced to resign last week after allegations that he used a siren and flashing lights on his state-issued vehicle to get through Boston traffic. The agency’s director of fleet operations also resigned.
And two politically connected cousins were removed at the agency this week after an inquiry into political intimidation.
According to the investigation, DCR personnel officer Jared Valanzola tried to coerce a coworker to persuade her fiance, a Democrat, to drop a political challenge to a Republican state senator.
The woman was also reassigned, though the inquiry found “no conclusive evidence that the transfer was politically motivated, but found other evidence of inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.”
Michael Valanzola was removed from his post as chief operating officer of the Environmental Affairs office and a third official, program manager Tim Sullivan, received a warning from management after an allegation by Lewis that he “invaded her personal space” while discussing the transfer with her.
Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at Stephanie.Ebbert@globe.com. Follow
courtesy Boston globe