Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Special Called Meeting
Wednesday, December 5, 2007, 10:30 a.m.
Norris Conference Center, Pecan Room
4522 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas
BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 5th day of December 2007, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, in the Pecan Room of the Norris Conference Center, San Antonio, Texas, beginning at 10:35 a.m., to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas
- Antonio Falcon, M.D., Rio Grande City, Texas
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
- Karen Hixon, San Antonio, Texas
- Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas (Absent)
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
- Robert L. Cook, Executive Director
- Other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
CHAIRMAN HOLT: This meeting is called to order, before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Cook has a statement to make.
MR. COOK: Thank you Mr. Chairman. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the record of the meeting. Thank you sir.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Okay, thank you Mr. Cook. Commission Agenda Item No. 2 — To deliberate the appointment, employment and duties of the Executive Director will be discussed in Executive Session. We will now recess for Executive Session. Therefore, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time to deliberate the appointment, employment and duties of the Executive Director under Personnel Section 551.074, Government Code.
At this time, I will ask that any members of the public or any TPW staff not part of this Executive Session to please leave the room so we may begin our discussion. Thank you.
(Recessed to Executive Session at 10:40 a.m.)
CHAIRMAN HOLT: At this time, we will reconvene the regular session of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. (Reconvened at 12:25 p.m.)
Next is Commission Agenda Item No. 3 — Action — Selection of Executive Director. As you all know, Bob Cook, TPWD Executive Director announced in June his plan to retire from state government. As a result, the Commission began a search for a new Executive Director. A search committee was formed consisting of Vice-Chairman Dan Friedkin, Commissioner Mark Bivins, former Chairman Joseph Fitzsimons, and Chairman-Emeritus Lee Bass. I guess I was on that too, wasn’t I? We received a number of applicants — no comments from the peanut gallery — for this position. This search committee has concluded its work, is now prepared to recommend that the Commission offer the job of TPWD Executive Director to Carter Smith. The search committee obviously, I’m going to ask a couple of others to speak to this, I will speak to it first. We had gone out; Bob had given us plenty of warning, Bob Cook that he was going to retire. So we put the search committee together, we’ve hired Dorothy Drummer who is an individual who has helped the Department in the past, whose expertise is these kinds of searches. We did a national search, we spent the time and effort to do that national search and went through I think at least 30 to 40 candidates on a national basis. Of course, including not only national but state of Texas and also from within the department — people applied and/or expressed an interest. Dorothy talked to everyone of those individuals personally. Then as people bailed out for all the different reasons, we narrowed it down to a fairly select group and then had various meetings and interviews with those individuals. Got it down to four individuals, two from within the Department, two outside the Department, one outside the state, one from within the state who ended up being Carter Smith.
We’ve had a great discussion this morning in Executive Committee, but certainly the search committee’s recommendation is that Carter is the man for the job. His background is such that he’s a Texas Tech boy so we do have a Red Raider on this Commission who says that alone should give him the job. But we did go a little more in-depth then that. Carter was sum cum laude graduate from Texas Tech in Wildlife Biology. Did I say that right Carter, biology or conservation?
MR. SMITH: Wildlife Management
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Wildlife Management, excuse me. Then came to work for Texas Parks and Wildlife. His goal always, as he said going to back to when he was a kid and his interaction, he and his family have been landowners in Texas for seven generations and hunt and fish and had been very involved with Texas Parks and Wildlife both from the biology side and from the game warden side ever since Carter was a young child. So he always had a desire to work for this Department. So he actually did go to work for this Department coming out of Texas Tech back when he was a very young man. While he was here as he said, he had lots of jobs, but no title and I think he was essentially a grunt as we used to call it in the military. Is that right Bob Cook?
MR. COOK: Yes
CHAIRMAN HOLT: But anyway, after a couple of years had decided he wanted to go back to school in wildlife management, conservation and looked at Texas A&M but then got an offer from Yale. I think a full load, relative scholarship and everything else. Really he and Bob Cook had known each other at that time and others recommended that Carter go onto Yale, we won’t hold that against him, and Carter went to Yale and did as well up there as he did --. Then Carter went on and did very, very well at Yale, and then came back to the state of Texas. So we’re glad we didn’t lose him to any place, we want Texas to come back to Texas and had ended up doing various jobs working in the Valley, working over in Katy doing that conservation work his whole career. Then went to work for Nature Conservancy, ended up being the, what’s the title, President?
MR. SMITH: Texas State Director
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Texas State Director of the Nature Conservancy. Did a terrific job over there, kind of turning them around in the sense, I think Conservancy was going fine but the image the Conservancy had amongst private landowners in the state of Texas probably wasn’t as strong as it needed to be and I feel and I think a lot of people feel, now the Conservancy’s become much more of a partner with the private landowners and with this Department in an appropriate manner. So it’s been a great relationship over the last four or five years and Carter’s been a big part of that. So we kind have all known Carter in different ways on this Commission because of his conservation work. With Carter obviously one of the things that we’ll talk a little bit about probably today is that just as an age and experience thing, but he has the big picture. We felt strongly that we needed that kind of futuristic look that will look into the 21st century for this Department. This Department is a very diverse Department. Obviously, Texas Parks and Wildlife. So you have the parks part of it, you have the wildlife, but when you think about it, we have a tremendous law enforcement, it’s almost a forth or more of our employees are in law enforcement. We have of course the parks side of the business, the agency, excuse me. We have the wildlife, we have scientists, we have biologists, we’re very much on the science side of wildlife and conservation. And so it is a very diverse department with 3100 employees and so we needed somebody we felt that would be inclusive in the way they dealt with the department and the way they dealt with the legislators and particularly with the constituents those legislators represent, which is the 22, 23 million people in this state. As this state is changing from a rural to an urban state has changed, it’s definitely changed. We have to do more and more outreach into those urban areas in education and outreach and implementation and we think Carter’s the man who’s going to be able to do all that and lead us forward. So I’m very strong on Carter and the search committee is very strong on Carter and so that is our recommendation to this Commission. With that I’d like to ask for some discussion, we had a great discussion in Executive Committee, as you know we were in there two hours and most of the commissioners have either met with Carter one-on-one or certainly, most have had long phone conversations with Carter, and or both. So there is a good knowledge of Carter and his background and what his philosophies are and those kinds of things, but then we had a two hour Executive Session, lots of conversation, Carter came in at the end of it and lots of questions for him. But I would like to add just a bit of conversation, discussion relative to this before we go to vote. Would anybody like to kind of speak to this?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Well, I’d just like to, I think it would be nice to hear from Carter a little bit in open session, but certainly it was my pleasure getting to know you through the interview process. I think the search committee was really thorough and I want to compliment Dorothy as well for her efforts and leadership of that process. But Carter is a, he’s a visionary and he’s a leader, he’s demonstrated that through his career and I think he’ll do a great job as Executive Director of Parks and Wildlife.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Carter, you want to get up and give us a couple of moments of thought.
MR. SMITH: I’d love to, thank you.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: That would be great.
MR. SMITH: For those of you who know me, you know that I’m usually not without words. This is a privilege beyond words. It’s humbling, it’s an honor and it’s an enormous privilege and I’m not sure I can think of a greater privilege than to serve the state of Texas, our hunters, our anglers, our outdoor enthusiasts, our private landowners in this regard. One of the things that attracted me to this Department was the people. As you all know that I had the privilege of working for the Department 13 or 14 years ago and they are some of the finest and most talented, most dedicated professionals in all the state. By that I mean our game wardens, our park rangers, our wildlife biologists, our fisheries biologists, our administrative folks. This is an amazing group of folks and they make sacrifices everyday for the future of the state of Texas and being part of that is an enormous privilege. You’ve heard me say before that I think the future in this state and the future of our natural resources is very bright and that I think as we look ahead to our economic hill, the future of our heritage in this state and also our quality of life, it is all inextricably linked to the help and work of this agency. What a pleasure it is to be a part of that, so thank you.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Carter while he is up here.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I wanted to just, if you could say a few words on the education and outreach to the youth in the urban as well in the rural communities. If you could give a few words on, your thoughts on reaching out towards them.
MR. SMITH: Yes, absolutely Commissioner, thank you. Because I think it is one of the biggest charges that this agency has and when we look at the underpinnings of the department’s land and water plan, it’s all about engaging the youth and the residents of both urban and rural communities and the work of this department and making it relevant to them. We’ve got to figure out new ways to engage them; we’ve got to figure out new ways to make our public lands and our private lands accessible and affordable for them to be able to access. We need to find new ways to help encourage the youth of our urban and rural communities to be involved in the out of doors, to be exposed to issues associated with our water, our fish, our wildlife, our parks, our open spaces, our property rights. We have to instill in our youth of tomorrow a healthy understanding and respect for that or else we’ve lost the war. What a great charge for us. I’m not sure there’s a greater one in the state of Texas and I look forward to being a part of that and working with you all. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Thank you
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Our work is cut out for us.
MR. SMITH: It is indeed.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Any other questions or comments for Carter? Ok, thank you my friend. Any other discussion? Like I said, we had a great discussion in the Executive group and --
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Chairman?
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Yes sir, Mr. Parker
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Just for the record, I want everyone to know that Carter was selected by former Chairman Joseph Fitzsimons to serve on our State Parks Advisory Committee and he was very active in that committee. I sat in on several of the meetings, he brought to the table new ideas, fresh ideas and I believe the search committee has done a marvelous job.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Thank you sir, I appreciate that. But you make a good point, I think as you all know we had to go to session this last session, the parks and I’ll fault myself as part of the leadership, we had not done as good a job in getting in the resources that the parks needed and they’d fallen behind and gotten behind and the state parks advisory group that Joe Fitzsimons put, our former chairman, put together was a big help in helping educate our legislators so that they would understand the needs of the parks and because of that we were able to not only get some help out of the legislature directly, but also were able to pass with the good help of our constituency, the citizens of the state of Texas, Proposition 4. So that’s going to be some dollars and some resources that the new director and this commission are going to have going forward and improve our parks dramatically. I take that as a big part of my job to do that in a correct and appropriate manner, so good point and Carter was a big part of that. I remember going before the Editorial Board here in San Antonio and we had one individual on the Editorial Board, he’s a great guy and he is very passionate, it wasn’t Carter it was somebody else, about the parks so he kind of blurted out that we haven’t had the leadership, we needed more help and all that kind of stuff and Carter spoke up and kind of got everybody calmed down and then let them know in a very appropriate manner that, you know, what needed to be done. Because of that, we got the support of San Antonio Express News and ended up getting support, I think literally from every newspaper in the state, which was a big part of what the advisory board did so good point John.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Mr. Chairman?
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Yes sir
COMMISSIONER FALCON: I would also like to thank the search committee for all of the work that you all put into this because I know it was enormous. I’d like to thank you for all of you, Dorothy for the work that you did and also to thank Mr. Cook for making yourself available to make this a seamless transition from the previous leadership to the new leadership. Thank you Mr. Cook.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Good point Tony and kind of maybe end with that from that point of view is we want to thank Bob Cook again. I think kudos to Bob, not only the leadership for the department over the last six plus years, but his service to the state of Texas and the great people in the state of Texas. So Bob, thank you again very much. And so you all will know, Bob is going to help us through this transition period, which will probably be at least another six to eight weeks. We want to thank you for doing that also, Bob.
We will now hear from any that signed up to speak, but to my knowledge nobody has signed up to speak, remember this is a public meeting. So with that, are there any other comments from the Commission? Ok, then is there a motion on this item?
COMMISSIONER BROWN: I’ll move
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I second
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Ok, Robert Brown made the motion and Dan Friedkin second. No, I’ve got something here I need to read, stay to script I better be careful. I move that the Commission offer the position of TPWD Executive Director to Carter Smith at a salary of $130,000 a year. I guess I have to do that, by law.
Motion again by Robert Brown, second by Commissioner Friedkin, I’m sorry. All in favor, please say aye.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Any opposed, ok wonderful. Hearing none, motion carries. Have I done everything I’m supposed to do, back there? Ok, I want to make sure I get this right. Is there any other business to be brought before this Commission, Mr. Cook.
MR. COOK: No sir, there is not.
CHAIRMAN HOLT: Ok, and with that, hearing none this Commission has completed its business, I declare us adjourned. Thank you all very much. (Meeting adjourned at 12:42 p.m.)
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
December 5, 2007
In official recognition hereof, we hereby affix our signatures as approved this
5th day of December 2007.
Peter M. Holt, Chairman
T. Dan Friedkin, Vice-Chairman
Mark E. Bivins, Member
J. Robert Brown, Member
Antonio Falcon, M.D., Member
Karen J. Hixon, Member
Margaret Martin, Member
Philip Montgomery, Member
John D. Parker, Member