Letter: Park District Board, Director Make Silencing the Public a New Year’s Resolution

Letters to the editor can be sent to shannon.antinori@patch.com.

Credit: Patch file photo
Credit: Patch file photo

Your rights and interests are being hijacked by a few who think they’re better and smarter than you.  Take a look at the draft public comment policy from the board packet for Tuesday’s PTPD meeting, drafted by Garrett Peck:  www.dropbox.com/s/v8zipr1fwt16qpz/010714%20PTPD%20pp105to106%20pkt%20re%20pub%20comment.pdf.

We already have a policy that was passed by this board in June.  A revision was rejected in July.  This is the third time this is being put to a vote in seven months and is clearly a response to the public speaking a little too freely for Peck’s or board president Hurtado’s liking.  Saying this is a “staff” recommendation, Peck implies falsely that there is a broad endorsement of this dreck.

Why is the executive director drafting board policy at the PTPD at all?

I implore you to read the policy because it was written about you and your rights.  All of its provisions are clearly designed to support Peter Hurtado’s warped desire to control and limit public dialog because Hurtado, Silosky, Steinys, and paid staff Peck and Booth don’t want or value citizens’ participation or respect our right to it.  Their actions are consistently in direct opposition to engaging the public and bringing us into the process which our taxes and votes support.  This is the role of the citizen to them:  we open our wallets and shut our mouths.  This is wrong and none of us should accept it.

The eight provisions of the policy all feed into Hurtado alone controlling what you get to say, how and when you get to say it, and even if you get to say it at all.  Other board members will not be allowed to interact freely with the citizens they represent during the meetings and Hurtado gets to cherry-pick who from the public will be “called on” and “permitted” to speak in an open meeting.  I tried to pick one provision as worst but it’s a close call.  Provision 5, “Comments should not be repetitive.” is short (and ironic given the repetitive nature of the policy), but worrisome.  Does this mean a taxpayer can’t repeat themselves during their comment, or does it mean that Hurtado will limit opportunities to speak by saying “Someone already spoke about that, sit down.  No one has a new topic?  Public comment is concluded.”  If already limiting a person to 3 minutes, what difference does it make if they use their time to say “I don’t like what you’re doing”, over and over?  Why shouldn’t you be able to simply say “I agree with Gabby Johnson” or put in your two cents on a single issue?

The meeting agenda shows the effort to discourage the public is even broader.  The agenda moves the public comment down to eighth position, after they go to and come out of closed session and after voting to make this policy permanent.  Peck and Hurtado are intentionally stalling the public, hoping no one can wait around to speak.  Hurtado can then wield this weapon against the public immediately, too.

The reason these few work so hard to deny free speech is two-part.  First, they are awful at management and communication because they don’t see doing either well as a requirement for public service or, in Peck and Booth’s cases, for a hefty tax-funded paycheck.  They have no plan, no skills, no accountability, and no will to do public good.  Beyond falsely claiming that they are for limits on government and less of a tax burden for the public, they claw for power and spend our money furtively like the district is their own entitlement program.  Peck, Hurtado, Silosky, Steinys and Booth are crony capitalists.  The other piece is that they are scared spit-less of the people and so must cut the people out of the equation.  Cowardly and arrogant are a bad and strange mix.

Will you let them cheat you now and for years to come?  Please come to the meetings.  Every citizen has a stake in this and has rights that cannot be denied so don’t let a handful of miscreants take that from you.  The full board packet is here:  www.plainfieldparkdistrict.com/assets/Site/PDFs/board-minutes/2014/Jan2014_BoardPack_2.pdf

The next PTPD meeting is Tuesday, Jan 7th at 6p at the Plainfield Township Admin Bldg, 22525 W. Lockport, 60544 (across the street from 4 Seasons Park, about 2 miles east of downtown).

Anyone wishing to contact me should email radical4plainfield@gmail.com or at PO Box 1071, Plnfld, 60544.

Thank you,

Vicky Polito


JustAnOpinion January 06, 2014 at 08:58 AM
Just to amuse myself, I promised that I would not see who wrote this until I got to the end, but you gave yourself away with the first paragraph and sealed the deal when you called Hurtado and Peck "crony capitalists" & "cowardly and arrogant". Extremely pedictable and priceless at the very same time. So, I ask you again... What suggestions do you have that will make the PPD a better institution? Don't beat the drum about removing the executive management, but real plans and suggestions on spending, programs, etc..
Stella Reese January 06, 2014 at 09:15 AM
JAO, glad you're amused. Trouble is, I know you supporters of the director and board bullies, both of you, believe it's perfectly OK to can people who are the best at what they do, and replace them with your buddies whether they're equipped to do the job, or will cost us lowly taxpayers more money or not, and that it's just fine to give a big thumb to the nose (or play tic-tac-toe, whatever) when the community is saying, 'hey, what you're doing is just wrong,' but the fact is, no thinking person really believes that.
Jimmy Parks January 06, 2014 at 09:15 AM
JAO, still in hibernation I see. Attempts by many to ask questions and get details on future plans have been met with statements of No Comment or no responses at all due to Poker-Pete and Peck playing tic-tac-toe. Attempts to make things better are not possible with these people. Real plans and suggestions start with real people being in place, not the idiots that are in them now. Real plans left with the previous board and all the "resignations" that have taken place.
Vicky Polito January 06, 2014 at 10:37 AM
Here you, go, JAO. Again. These have all been shared before, by several different people. The problem isn’t that no one is offering suggestions or options. It’s that even if a taxpayer is not being smacked down at a public meeting, Peck and the board majority will just pretend that never was heard a discouraging word. When everyone else can hear it but you, it’s because you aren’t listening. Except for items 1 and 2, these all apply to any successful park and rec management and board structure. 1. Garrett Peck should quit or be fired because he was the wrong choice for the job and he’s confirmed that by performing the job badly. 2. Doug Booth should quit or be fired for the same reasons. 3. Issue strategic long-term and short-term plans. Put down concretely the PTPD primary and secondary goals, make them public knowledge to follow, state the metrics to be used for measuring success, etc. Explain both at a high-level and in detail what the district hopes to accomplish in the next five, 10, and 20 years and then stick to working toward whatever phase of that you’re in. This was promised for an autumn 2013 delivery at latest and the current one expires in a year. If housing continues to pick-up, we’ll very much need good planning to meet resident needs. 4. Deliver the transparency promised repeatedly to taxpayers. Don’t reflexively work against the public, inappropriately politicize and personalize district business, or be adversarial and vindictive. The reason so many FOIA request and OMA complaints have occurred in just a half year is exactly that there is no effort to communicate openly and graciously where there was before. Take away the cause, you take away the symptom. 5. Practice positive staff retention and don’t fire qualified staff without cause. Don’t extort silence-for-severance deals. Open fair postings and interview processes on all positions. 6. Work with full board involvement. Citizens vote for a full board and each commissioner is there to serve as their direct rep in a specifically non-partisan structure performing oversight of tax revenue used in the district by staff. When the full board is not involved it disenfranchises the voter and tax payer. 7. Develop and sustain strong cross-community and organizational relationships instead of tearing them down and spreading distrust of and disrespect for the district. 8. Stop taxing and spending without accountability or advantage to the residents. The residents need to know what’s happening to their money and their community.
Vicky Polito January 06, 2014 at 12:19 PM
Oops--I got the date of the next PTPD meeting wrong, sorry. It is indeed tomorrow, Tuesday, January 7th (NOT 6th).
Shannon Antinori (Editor) January 06, 2014 at 12:40 PM
I went ahead and edited it -- sorry I didn't notice it!
Dan B January 06, 2014 at 12:52 PM
Like I"ve said before Vicky, If and when you run I will vote for you and work on your campaign committee. These Bozos( no offense to tho original on ch. 9) need to get booted NOW, before they can do any more damage.
Vicky Polito January 06, 2014 at 01:17 PM
Thank you, Shannon, but it's on me to have gotten it correctly. Dan B--thanks (I think!). I understand that it was because of some of the referendums the public has been openly batting around about things like allowing board commissioners to be recalled and/or other park district changes that the fascist Gang of 5 blocked the March ballot via the "rule of three", taking up the allowed number of referendums on the ballot with non-binding filler. Tick-tock, kids.
MomofmanyinPlainfield January 07, 2014 at 06:47 PM
Vicky, less is more!
JustAnOpinion January 07, 2014 at 08:03 PM
Momof...... Good luck with that, that's a wish the magical Oz himself couldn't make come true. It's the same three or four people, saying the same thing over and over and over.
Jimmy Parks January 08, 2014 at 10:27 AM
JAO, I'll be adding your name to the list of saying the same thing over-and-over. One difference, you bring no value to the discussion.
JustAnOpinion January 08, 2014 at 10:39 PM
Jimmy, I'm a big fan of change and because you and a small group of others didn't notice it happening right before your eyes, then Iddon't know of what else to tell you. But the fact is that because of your ignorance to what was happening, you want to rant about how you want to change the results. Too bad, you can't. So what do we do now? Well, I would suggest using the reminder feature on your calendar to be sure that yours, Vicky's or someone in your group gets their name on the ballot next time. Until then, try to offer something constructive on how we can better our park district, not just nagging and name calling, constantly complaining about how someone isn't qualified for the job, or this and that... It's so old and doesn't accomplish a thing.
Jimmy Parks January 08, 2014 at 10:47 PM
JAO, your record is skipping. When the idiots in place won't be transparent as they promote, when they try to do things behind closed doors and when they hire family and friends, how can anything positive happen? Other than a stupid dog park, what has really been done that's positive? Not complaining, just asking you, since you seem to have the magic decoder ring that knows more of what is going on than any of us? And don't you worry, there will be names on the next ballot, and not just idiots that make up the majority. Please do share your insight.


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