Letter: Resident Urges Mayor to Speak Out on Plainfield Park District

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo

It’s not fair to say that because criticism of your lack of comment on the problems within the Plainfield Township Park District came from individuals who used aliases that a response wasn’t warranted.  You are an intelligent and cultured person I can’t be convinced that you don’t realize that your constituents expect to hear your view and see you show your leadership on this.  Since when do we check for ID at the door as the test of whether or not a citizen deserves an answer?

We have a superb administrative staff at the village, and they do the actual work of running the village.  Yes, they get guidance from the trustees and the mayor, but nitty-gritty, they run the joint.  So, if we can’t turn to the elected reps at our village for guidance and engagement on issues affecting Plainfield what good are any of you?  I’m okay with accentuating the positive, but it can’t all be just publicly cheerleading and praising folks at each board meeting for jobs well done.  Sure, people deserve praise for doing great work, but why can’t we turn to our elected leadership to speak as clearly and swiftly when someone is doing a terrible job for Plainfield?  I don’t mean some vendor occasionally getting out of line who we can afford to scold, either.  This isn’t about whether or not the village board has any power to exercise over the PTPD.  It’s about expecting everyone at the village board to fulfill the expectations the residents have for communicating on issues affecting Plainfield.  You may not have jurisdiction, but you sure do have a voice.

We are so far past the PTPD board just having communication problems or simply not being able to make progress through “working together” that it’s obscene!  There may actually be fraud, bid-stringing, and vendor kick-backs being done over on Ottawa Street; law enforcement is investigating; and employee harassment, disenfranchising of board members, and public intimidation have been proven.  How can anyone not have something to say about that, even as just another neighbor and resident of the district?  You live here, too, Mr. Mayor, just like the rest of us.

If what it takes is an individual not in a cloak to prompt a response, okeydokey:  I’m asking you, Mayor Collins, to please give us detailed response on how you perceive this situation and what you support in terms of correcting it.  You should note that in some cases it is exactly because some ordinary citizens felt intimidated and powerless in this that they kept their identities hidden while they asked for help.  But that doesn’t mean their concerns were not valid or worthy of attention from those in power, men and women like you, our elected representatives.  This PTPD mess and the continued place on the Plainfield Village Board of Trustee Garrett Peck (a person who has tried to intimidate and render powerless the citizens of Plainfield, among other things), is damaging to Plainfield and its future.  And, Plainfield has such a bright and exciting future, that’s just heart-breaking.  Things like this throw away with both hands all that good your team at the village does.

Mayor Collins, please share what you think on this issue with all of us.  I know I wouldn’t be alone in appreciating it.  I do sympathize with the tough spot this puts you in, but I sympathize more with the entire community of Plainfield over this willful attack by a few on the health and success of our entire village.


Vicky Polito

Plainfield, IL


Plainfield Independent February 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM
Vicky, thank you for writing this! It's a complete tragedy that Collins has said so little about this issue. I cannot sympathize with him on this at all. He chose to put his name on the ballot and put himself into a position where he's expected to have some level of leadership. Although, I'm not sure he even know what leadership even is because I see none. This community recognizes there is still a HUGE concern on the Plainfield Village Board. Whether he decides to speak or not, it's high time the residents start and continue packing the Village Hall on Monday nights and bring the attention to this board. Next Village Board Meeting is Monday, March 3 at 7pm. Collins better figure out real fast on how to run his Village or the Village is going to run him.
Terry Burghard February 16, 2014 at 06:53 PM
"Tragedy" Is that applicable? "HUGE (sic) concern on the Plainfield Village Board"? You're not an Independent. you are a follower. Let's find things/people that are the real root of the real issue. Laughable.
Plainfield Independent February 16, 2014 at 07:56 PM
You don't have any concerns with the current Village Board? Facing reality of this crisis is the most important thing of all. Until it is acknowledged that this community is facing a serious problem, you cannot move forward to solve it. You cannot solve a crisis until the root cause is determined, but people are often mentally blocked from recognizing it because the implications are so frightening. The time is ripe for Collins to step up and help lead people through this crisis. He should be bold in his leaderhship and that is what good leaders do to make a lasting difference in their community. That is the ultimate fulfuillment of leading people through a crisis.
Jamey Alwood February 16, 2014 at 10:11 PM
I was always taught to stand up and speak up if I saw something that is obviously wrong. That is what myself and many others have done regarding the pillaging of our Park District. It is the right thing to do and I will continue to speak out until these people are out of office! I wish the mayor would join the rest of us in trying to right an obvious wrong. My friends this is not difficult to understand. Hurtado and his crew have acted in a way that is not in the best interest of the public. They have handed out patronage jobs, intimidated employees, fired good and loyal employees, and have allegedly abused their power by purchasing from unapproved vendors who they have financial ties with. Mr. Mayor and anyone else on the fence the time to speak up is now and for the record I am Jamey Alwood a real person and voter!
Ron Jidzny February 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM
You are correct Jamey and I agree with all of what you said. I expect the Mayor to say something about this and what he has said isn't going to cut it. I'd almost be fine if he did say nothing at this point but I would demand he reimburse the Village the $8,000 pay raise he took last year.
Dennis February 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM
It is simply unacceptable the the Mayor of Plainfield has remained quiet about this ...IMO. He represents Plainfield on behalf of the citizens. As well, it is not as if the citizens were posting invalid arguments about what has been going on.. whether "cloaked" or not.
Ericus Alanas February 17, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Is it true the Mayor supports Peck and Hurtado and possibly the other two at issue?
Tim February 17, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Ericus - politics is perception. And right now, it certainly looks that way. Either the mayor speaks out with the community and loses his political 'friends', or he stays silent to preserve the relationship he has with these people. To many people, it looks like he has made his choice. Plainfield needs to clean house, as these events have shown, and from the looks of it most current elected officials will be enjoying their last term. Perhaps it is time to start taking a closer look at the library board as well...
Stella Reese February 17, 2014 at 11:45 AM
Mr. Burghard, you needn't look far to "find things/people that are the real root of the real issue." One of the primary ones still has a seat on the Village Board dais. This mess was generated in large part by Trustee and former PTPD ED Peck, before he so abruptly stepped down from the position he never deserved in the first place. He of course left behind a broad wake of destruction. If you find that laughable, well, I'm just glad you no longer help run our village. Shame on you.
Mark Murphy February 17, 2014 at 12:12 PM
Terry Burghard was as much if not more of a problem in my opinion
Town February 17, 2014 at 01:04 PM
The mayor is staying out of this situation to simply avoid the conflict. Perhaps he has read one of my favorite books "Don’t Make No Waves- Don’t Back No Losers" by M. Rakove. This book is a perfect example of how our mayor likes to run this village. Until we have a mayor that is a full time position we will get what we have elected, a part time leader. Mayor Collins is a responsible and a decent mayor but he is not the one that will take us to the next level.
Gabby February 17, 2014 at 01:12 PM
In the absence of information people create their own story and try to make sense of things. The story I am creating is that the Mayor has something to hide and doesn't want to get caught.
Tim February 17, 2014 at 01:22 PM
Gabby - Collins has a history of not doing much. When the vote was up for video gambling in Plainfield, his statement was the same 'Im not for it, but Im not against it' nonsense. Let's not forget how many times Collins has endorsed Peck publicly in his elections. Sorry Mike, but your fate is sealed here. Not talking about it is just about the worst thing you could do, in a town that is fast getting a reputation for not being transparent... good luck with that.
Bad News Bears February 17, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Can I get an AMEN for Vicky!!!! Well said my dear. And Mr. Burghard, your laughing reeks of mocking. I found your years as Village Administrator just as laughable. I personally don't find the raping of my tax dollars for someone's personal agenda laughable at all. Nor the ruining of people's careers and lives to employ unqualified members of your family and friends. Your true colors are showing and they aren't pretty at all. Oh and Vicky, you go 'head wit yo bad self!!!!
Ame Bible February 17, 2014 at 01:29 PM
Ericus Alanas: A legitimate question.
Tim February 17, 2014 at 01:33 PM
"Peck said he had already received the endorsement of Plainfield Mayor Michael Collins for the general election." http://www.ledgersentinel.com/article.asp?a=10285 On second thought, mayor, don't bother speaking up. We can all just look up where your loyalties lie on our own. It certainly isn't with the residents who elected you.
my conscience February 17, 2014 at 01:35 PM
I am sure the mayor is concerned. I doubt his silence is his way of condoning any unethical or illegal behavior! First, I thought he was too upset to even talk, and needed time to gather himself. After time passed, it seemed that his silence was a prelude to his attack. As many others recently demonstrated, they didn’t want to be the first to take action, but once blood was drawn they jumped into the fray so as not to be left out, or worse yet be associated with the wrong side. But the longer this takes for the mayor to state his position, the more our minds wander. Could this delay in voicing himself be his way of communicating that he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with the behaviors displayed at the park district? I doubt it. Maybe the mayor just has a hard time articulating what really bothers him about the situation. He might agree that something doesn’t seem right and he might even feel uneasy about it, but can’t put into words exactly what it is. Maybe he is confused and can’t figure exactly what happened, or what questions are he should be responding to? He could be staying silent because he has an alternative idea but needs more time to work it out, or doesn’t want to deal with the critics, or he may not feel this is his problem to fix. Or maybe it just doesn’t matter to him, and doesn’t want to offend anyone by exposing his indifference. But most likely, considering the groundswell of citizen indignation against this sorry situation, the mayor’s silence likely means that he is thinking. What seems like silence to us is actually filled with thinking for the mayor. When the mayor finally does express himself, I think that we should all express appreciation that he has taken time to reflect and seriously consider everything that has happened. Of course, I applaud the mayor for standing his ground and representing what he believes in, whenever he feels good and ready!
Gabby February 17, 2014 at 01:40 PM
Tim - thanks for sharing factual information.
Tim February 17, 2014 at 01:57 PM
The fact that so many comments in a story about nothing but the mayor are being flagged should tell everyone all they need to know about exactly where the mayors support comes from.
Vicky Polito February 17, 2014 at 02:23 PM
I wanted to mention that my statement, which I do stand behind, of elected officials not being good for much if we can’t look to them to clearly express their views on issues affecting us all was poorly expressed and a bit incomplete. Those who have spoken up, whether as did Jim Racich, from the get-go as a fellow citizen and never throwing his position as a village trustee around, or expressing condemnation as many others are now doing from various political or elected positions, are much appreciated. I was clumsy to say that elected officials who won’t join the discussion aren’t worth anything and only tie that concept to the Plainfield Village Board. I mean that about every elected official, in every tier of government, as a general view. As an aside, it stuck with me when I read Trustee Dan Rippy’s comment some days ago in a different thread and he mentioned that he’d been reserving comment on this issue so as not to interfere with another elected board’s operations I thought, well, that’s not a terrible notion except I wasn’t expecting any trustee to affect the operations of the PTPD board so that shouldn’t have held anyone back. A lot of us understand that these boards don’t have any jurisdiction over one another, but that’s no excuse for silence. So, I was expecting the village leadership—all of it—to simply speak, to let us know where they stand and for MONTHS only one person (Racich) would and he specifically did NOT make it about one public entity vs. another. Speaking out without it being a “power play” clearly was and is an option. Now, many have joined the discussion and that’s good, but there’s no doubt that this situation if far from resolved and we’re all going to be talking about and working more toward a fuller resolution for quite a while, yet.
Bad News Bears February 17, 2014 at 02:27 PM
Exactly Vicky, Jim Racich and Ernie Knight both spoke up early, as residents. If nothing else, I expected the mayor to address Jim being called a racist. That hasn't happened either
Vicky Polito February 17, 2014 at 03:00 PM
Yes, thank you for mentioning Ernie Knight by name, BNB. I too have appreciated that he's not only spoken out, but his out-reach on the issue has grown and began months ago, as well. I have mentioned before that I've got political differences of philosophy and opinion with Mr. Knight, but he's not some dope or crazy person or bully, so that at least if you argue with him, you're arguing with an intelligent person of honorable intention. Ernie Knight always seems like someone who plays hard, but plays fair. No matter how much we try to turn government by the people into a trivial and rigged "I win/you lose" game, no one gets everything they want, no one wins every time, and we will always be a big, diverse, nation loaded with possibilities and potential, constantly changing. We have to work it out together, with compromise through mutual respect. We human animals have the ability to communicate to exchange ideas and we have got to use that ability freely and often.
Ericus Alanas February 17, 2014 at 04:51 PM
I usually dont see my posts flagged, I think it maybe a bit more personal that just what is being said to whomever is flagging them.
Tim February 17, 2014 at 05:19 PM
Ericus - Except this is all public. Anyone taking it 'personal' needs to remove themselves from public office if it bothers them so much. As you may have noticed, the flagging isn't doing much other than attracting attention to the posts that are flagged... kinda the exact opposite effect of what they were looking for I would imagine.
Tim February 17, 2014 at 05:31 PM
I wandered over to the Plainfield Library website(which I also am a member of), and found a nice little bit of information from their mission statement. It has been modified only slightly to point out that a new medium does not mean it has 'different' rights... "The freedom to speak is essential to our democracy.It is under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the community are working to remove text from the internet, to censor peoples words, to label “controversial” statement, to distribute lists of “objectionable” posters or screen names and to purge comment history. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as citizens devoted to the use of the internet and as citizens and posters responsible for disseminating them, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to post. "
my conscience February 17, 2014 at 05:34 PM
Tim, peck said that he had the mayor's support in March of 2012 (for his failed state senate bid) according to that article you referenced. Two years later, and after the park district fiasco and public outcry, don't you think the mayor has developed another view of peck?! I understand that the mayor is carefully considering comments made by all Plainfield residents now. So, be patient, there is a good chance mayor Collins will make a statement very soon.
Tim February 17, 2014 at 05:43 PM
MC - what I think is irrelevant. The words of Mr. Collins are out there for all to read. He was happy to make his position known VERY quickly back then, yet for some reason hasn't found the time in 9 months to make it known now if it has indeed changed. I go on the evidence at hand, not what I think is 'obvious'. While it is obvious that he should not support this, there is no evidence in his behavior that backs that up. I'm sure he will make a statement eventually, but he's pretty much in a lose/lose situation here. Any statement he makes now will be falling on ears that have heard a steady parade of condemnation from both private citizens and public officials for the last 9 months... except for his. Being mayor isn't just some hobby to pick up when you are bored, it has actual responsibilities that you will be strongly held to by the public. If you fail to live up to those responsibilities, the public will let you know, both vocally and at the voting booth. At this point, any statement by him is just attracting attention to the fact that he is the last man standing. Unfortunately, he has nobody to blame for the situation but himself.
my conscience February 17, 2014 at 05:49 PM
In my opinion, those bizarre objections to anonymous free speech were obviously not thought through very well. The mayor surely understands the concept of free speech and welcomes the support and input from all citizens of Plainfield, whether they want to be known or not. Public workers in Plainfield should not feel that they will be ignored if they maintain anonymity when blowing the whistle on their bosses.
Bad News Bears February 17, 2014 at 05:55 PM
MC - per the Mayor's very own words, he puts no validity in anonymous free speech. I agree he does surely understand it, but he pretty much said himself that he does not support the input from it. I hope you're right and he does take a stand, but I'm afraid, at least from my viewpoint, it won't matter what he says now. He's lost me by his own words
Frank February 17, 2014 at 06:37 PM
MC, you've been speaking on behalf of the mayor alot lately. What he thinks, what he ponders, when he will or will not say something. That's cool. But, right now all he's said is "pay no mind to the man behind the curtain." He ought to address this before a bunch of his supporters go off to see the wizard.


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