Seattle Director of Parks and Recreation Tim Gallagher resigned today.

Gallagher's resignation letter, released by the parks department, is below the fold.

KOMO broke the news last week that Gallagher had taken a week-long work trip to Australia with a top deputy that cost the city $6,000.

Erica subsequently broke some more news about Gallagher last week: He'd been on three more trips at city expense three out of the last six weeks. In addition to Australia, Gallagher went to conferences in Palm Springs, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. (This morning's Morning Fizz  repoted that Gallagher may be up for the parks job at King County. King County spokesman Frank Abe, however, tells PubliCola Gallagher is not up for any job at the County.)

West Seattle Blog had the story first about Gallagher's resignation earlier this evening.

Last October, PubliCola broke the news that Gallagher was fined $300 by the city’s ethics and elections commission for using his position to obtain a permit for his wedding in a part of Discovery Park that is off-limits to the general public. More recently, he was in the news for issuing a total ban on smoking in parks, then reversing it one day later.

Here's Gallagher's letter:
April 26, 2010

To:  Mayor Mike McGinn
Council President Richard Conlin and Seattle City Council
From:  Tim Gallagher, Superintendent Parks & Recreation
Subject:  Letter of Resignation

Effective May 10, 2010 I will resign my position as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Seattle.

When I decided to return to work in 2007 my decision was based not only on the opportunity to manage one of the great park systems within the United States but my continued concerns with the issues of environmental sustainability and obesity, especially with the long-term health effects towards children.   During my time with Seattle I have made those issues a primary effort and one that was recognized by the Seattle public as important.

Further, I worked to develop an organization with a culture of learning and one that placed a value on the systems greatest resource, its employees.  I worked to develop and encourage a learning environment within the organization, bringing in new ideas and concepts and tracking the trends and developments in the field, not only in the United States but world-wide.  Further, I made an effort to reach out to the public as was evident by my 200 plus after hour public meetings each year.

As with many professions, continuing education is important to not only the sustainability of the profession but the requirement to be up to date.  Recently the department sent nearly three dozen employees to the annual Washington Parks and Recreation Society’s annual conference.  This is but one example of the many learning experiences and continuing education opportunities that the employees have been provided  to attend during my term  with the City.  The investment in the employees has many positive outcomes, including, but not limited to the development of staff and delivery of services to the public.

I will stand by my efforts to develop this learning environment within the department not just as it relates to the employees but more importantly as it relates to the long-term sustainability of the department.  Clearly, the subject of long-term sustainability is one that must be addressed in the next year.  Voter approval of several recent levys shows the tremendous public support for parks and recreation, unfortunately operation and maintenance resources have not been provided to the department to match the public’s request.  The result is a park and recreation system that is now unsustainable and in jeopardy of collapse.

Unfortunately, the press has decided to focus on other matters and not the real story, the upcoming collapse of a truly great park system.  With the reality of the direction of the focus, I believe it is best for me to step aside to allow the press to concentrate on the real issue at hand, the sustainability of the park and recreation system for the City of Seattle.

Over the past several months we have suggested several avenues to develop a level of sustainability, from elimination of lines of business, to asking the voters to decide on new revenue to support the current system.  My hope is that all elected officials step forward and fully evaluate the opportunities at hand.


Tim Gallagher