Learning curve in selection

Members of the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority Board of Commissioners are scheduled to make their decision today as a seven-member search committee presents one recommendation from a trio of finalists. Either Thad Chambers, Bill Rodier or Stephen Vassallo is expected to be named as the new CEO to lead the parish’s primary business relations agency.

TEDA members hit some learning bumps in their decision-making procedures during the past six months, since the CEO search began.

It all started with an emergency meeting on Dec. 8, 2010, when first-ever TEDA CEO Mike Ferdinand was fired under uncertain circumstances, for unspecified reasons, that were less than transparent and which left an impression that decisions were being made before the entire board became involved in open forum.

Since then, periods of internal strife and personality conflicts have slowed the process. This includes forgetting to check bylaws before exercising otherwise well intended actions, including serving alcohol – an explicit rules violation – on May 19, when a pool of three CEO candidates were brought to Houma for interviews. Those details left us wondering what this otherwise talented board seemed to be missing.

The 14 commissioners were selected to serve because of their business experience and understanding of the regional market and its needs. However, they have in the past demonstrated a lack of understanding regarding decision making as a public body and how it does not necessarily match methods appropriately utilized in private industry.

However, in the spirit of wanting to give credit where credit is due, we have witnessed the TEDA board learning from its mistakes. This includes checking candidate backgrounds before being publically embarrassed by overlooking details of financial troubles of a person recommended to be put in charge of managing public funds.

We trust that they have also learned the significance of, before making a final decision, allowing time for a recommended candidate to meet the public in an open setting.

We trust they have learned to not decide on a candidate because he is the one that can be secured for the least amount of money.

We trust too that the TEDA board has learned what might look attractive on paper does not necessarily make it advantageous over years of real working experience.

We believe the TEDA board has learned from past errors. For that we give it credit. With that we anticipate today’s decision.