Married to the Job

The parks director's hubby works for the firm that landed a job at a city park

Quan, who sits on the council committee that oversees the parks department, agrees. "She and her husband are great people. I don't think they'd do anything wrong."

Quan blames the controversy on Okan-Vick's outsider status. Okan-Vick grew up in Istanbul and has a lilting Turkish accent; some city workers seem to feel she's "snooty" or "upper-class," Quan says. "She's not a down-to-earth, good old girl who's been at the department for a while. It seems like she's always had a battle ever since she came over to the parks department."

Indeed, Okan-Vick has drawn controversy in her 18-month tenure with the city. She took heat for commissioning a new department logo for $24,500, just below the threshold that requires competitive bidding. It was also controversial because the department had its own in-house design team (see "Logos, Lies and Layoffs," by Tim Fleck, June 26).

Parks Director Okan-Vick never requested advice 
from the legal department.
Parks Director Okan-Vick never requested advice from the legal department.

And perhaps the only reason the contract involving Vick's old firm, Knudson & Associates, hasn't been controversial is that no one seems to know about it. According to the memo that Haines wrote City Council, Knudson was taking itself off the contract.

But after Vick left the firm and his wife was appointed parks director, the firm was quietly made a subcontractor on the same project. It now works under its former partners. "The problem would have been if [Vick] was working for his wife," says Mignette Dorsey, a spokeswoman for the Building and Services Department. "But when he's gone, he's gone."

City officials say it's out of their hands. The city doesn't have to approve a contractor's choice of subs, Dorsey says. "We can't tell them what to do."

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