Perhaps he was also trained as an engineer, but Troy Bell is no William Daniel.
Not just in the resume department, where Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome drew fire for picking a new chief administrative officer who's been sacked at least once in recent jobs, not having the traditional merit badge of long service in a particular city or county elsewhere in the country.
Bell said he's sought to be the well-rounded administrator who has had a lot of different experiences. The Republican website The Hayride called the appointment "underwhelming," but it is one of those rare choices in politics among top jobs, one that does not have to be checked or confirmed by other public bodies.
He is Broome's appointment to make. His performance in the job will have a lot to do with how the new mayor performs, and is perceived. It's also a career gamble for him: He will be working in a high-profile role, in a far larger city than his last — Walla Walla, in Washington state, where he was fired by the city administrator but received plaudits from the elected mayor of the small city.
Bell succeeds Daniel, the former state legislator and successful engineer, who moves to the city-parish job directing environmental services.
Well, at least Daniel will be close at hand for the new man to consult — as he should.
It is not exactly a problem, but something of a challenge for Broome that she succeeds Kip Holden, who was in many ways one of the most successful mayors in the history of Baton Rouge. His later years in office were marked with some political discord, but city hall under Holden and Daniel has made advances in management internally as well as dealing with the raging crises of last summer and fall, shootings and floods.
Broome must put her own stamp on city hall, inevitably, and the notion that she has looked outside for a CAO is hardly a bad idea. Daniel's long background in the city, including service as an elected official, gave him insights that a pure "city manager" CAO from outside might not have. At the same time, Daniel and others in city hall might welcome new ideas that Bell has picked up on either coast in his previous jobs.
There are other CAOs from Holden's three terms who are available to talk, such as Walter Monsour and Mike Futrell, the latter now a city administrator in California, but amid the thousands of new folks with whom Bell now has to communicate, there is a considerable pressure of time.
Broome's administration faces early tests beyond city hall, not least the possibility of protests or unrest when the investigation of the Alton Sterling shooting case is officially resolved.
Meanwhile, the meltdown of a recent Metro Council meeting and a walkout on racial lines of members raised the specter of more black-white discord. The mismanagement seen by the white council members at the black-led Council on Aging is not only not perceived by the black members, but they heaped literal Biblical praise on Tasha Amar-Clark, the politically connected CoA head.
Along with other glitches from the new Broome team, the troubled relationship with the Metro Council has to be a very high priority.
What a mess. And it's yours, Mr. Bell. Welcome to Baton Rouge.
Email Lanny Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After more than four months in office and a long search process, Mayor-President Sharon West…