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Job ad’s bogus pay figure for new JRA chief creates confusion

By TED CARTER

A fraudulent Internet job posting that listed the annual pay for the next executive director of the Jackson Redevelopment Authority at $160,000 may have confused the final two candidates but won’t force a restart of the effort to fill the job.

That’s the assessment the chairwoman of the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and the head of a search firm hired to help find suitable candidates gave after a pessimistic report on the search from the chair of the JRA’s personnel committee, Langford Porter.

Porter said the finalists –reported to be Gary Williams, head of economic development for Carbondale, Ill.; and Howard Ways, head of the Prince George County (Md.) Redevelopment Authority – left Jackson disappointed after a full day of interviews with the personnel committee July 21.

The reason: A mysterious ad on the Web that specified a yearly salary of $160,000 to head the Jackson Redevelopment Authority.

The job will pay the right candidate six figures but won’t come close to $160,000, Jennifer Johnson, JRA chairwoman, said.

The JRA paid previous executive directors in the $55,000 to $65,000 range. The new and expanded responsibilities of the post merit higher pay for the next Authority head, Johnson said.

The last executive director, Willie Mott, received $65,000 a year but no employment benefits. The JRA fired Mott in the spring after hiring him as permanent director in July 2014. He had been serving as interim chief.

In a report to JRA board members the day after the interviews, Porter said he thinks the job search may have to start again from “scratch” after having narrowed a list of 16 applicants to two.

“The applicants thought the pay was $160,000,” Langford said of the pair of finalists.

Porter, a Jackson church minister who is new to the JRA board, said in a later interview the candidates “were apparently under the impression” the job paid the more lucrative $160,000.

He said he could neither “confirm nor deny” that the JRA’s executive search firm, Carvir Group of Atlanta, gave candidates the impression the job paid in the $160,000 neighborhood.

Carvir Group CEO Virgil Fludd insisted his firm told all candidates “the salary was negotiable” based on skills and experience. No candidate was told it paid $160,000, however, he said. “I’ve been in recruiting for 23 years. We don’t give people unrealistic expectations.”

The two finalists have not withdrawn from consideration, though they know the $160,000 won’t be forthcoming, according to Fludd, who said he spoke to both the day after Tuesday’s confusion. “They remain interested in the role,” he said.

Johnson said she attended the full day of interviews with the candidates last Tuesday and never got the impression they thought the job carried a $160,000 salary. “The search firm did not give the clients that expectation,” she said after the meeting.

She said once the JRA learned the bogus salary figure was out there, the agency “took pains to make sure the applicants were made aware” of the figure’s falsity.

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One comment

  1. Lawrence Wilson

    This is incredulous. How can it be that the JRA board members did not realize that they had been advertising for this job for 6 months with a $160k salary and didn’t discover it until they actually brought into town two finalists for interviews? I would not trust this board to even think about negotiating a $100 million convention center hotel deal for the city. No wonder all of the JRA’s dealings fall apart and end up in litigation. It’s pretty clear they don’t have the competency to do the job they are tasked with. It’s time to get rid of the JRA. There’s just too much at stake for such ineptness.

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