Newton to Hurtado: End the Sideshow by Resigning

Larry Newton writes an open letter to Plainfield park board president Peter Hurtado.

Credit: Plainfield Park District
Credit: Plainfield Park District

Do you really want the sideshow to end? You have it within your control.

You are the President of the Board of Commissioners. That role has a certain amount of authority. You get to lead the elected Commissioners to set policy and the long-term goals of the park district. You also are empowered to deal with public concerns and help solve their problems. As the leader of the Board, you also get to represent the park district with other elected officials. Pretty sweet gig. I know, because I've been there.

What the President of the park district isn't empowered to do is interfere with the day to day operations. You should not be recommending people to be hired, you should not be recommending vendors to do work with the district, you should not be recommending how staff can be redeployed to further your personal whims.

The park district is in MUCH worse shape today than when you began your term as President. Staff fear for their jobs, well-established financial procedures are not being followed, qualified personnel have been relieved of their duties, the public is not being respected. You've had your chance to improve the district as you've seen fit. How's that working out for you? 

People want answers about the direction of the park district. Commissioners want to know where you'd like to lead the district. What do we get? Silence. When people request a response from you, when they genuinely want to help to improve the situation we're in, what do they get? Silence. When the tough times arrive and the people deserve an explanation of what's going on, don't clam up claiming that a lawsuit is pending. And for God's sake, stop playing the race card. 

Why is it now we have absolute cooperation about the new Executive Director? Why are we now hearing about a push for ethics? Why now are we hearing about conducting an investigation to uncover any wrong doing? Could it be because the walls are beginning to close in on you? 

You have the ability to change the tone at the park district. You want the sideshow to end? Do the right thing. Resign.

Larry Newton,

Plainfield Park District Commissioner

Bad News Bears February 10, 2014 at 11:01 PM
One of my 2 favorite PPD commissioners. Well said Mr. Newton. Hopefully things will get better for you and what's left of the loyal, hard working staff soon.
Tim February 10, 2014 at 11:02 PM
Thank you Mr. Newton. You articulated the situation perfectly.
Stella Reese February 10, 2014 at 11:13 PM
Thank you, Mr. Newton, for representing the residents who love our park district and are ready to reclaim it. Your value as a public servant, and Ms. Ludemann's, cannot be overstated.
Nick February 10, 2014 at 11:16 PM
my conscience February 10, 2014 at 11:39 PM
I believe it.
my conscience February 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM
I believe Newton. Thanks for that sir, I think that is what Plainfield needs now.
Vicky Polito February 10, 2014 at 11:49 PM
Excellent letter, Mr. Newton. When my husband and I listened to the WJOL interview from today with Peter Hurtado, the part where he talks about forming a couple of "commissions" for ethics violation investigation, etc., and perhaps having members of the public sit in on staff meetings (!?!) was befuddling. Who does he think is available to do all that committee work? How many extra roles can commissioners take on? What makes him think the public wants to sign up for any cockamamie project of his creation? What power would any such groups have to affect change? Absolutely NONE! Aren't there other far more pressing things to get to work on than some stupid diversionary tactic? Is it that he won't learn or he can't learn? I also heard his usual insincere nonsense about "transparency", too. Whenever I hear him talk I wonder if he ever listens to himself talk.
Bad News Bears February 10, 2014 at 11:59 PM
I missed the interview today because I was still at work. However, I don't understand why, or even how, he could have members of the public sit in on staff meetings. I thought the Executive Director was in charge of the staff. Does Mr. Hurtado walk the halls of the PPD like he is the boss????? He is an ELECTED PUBLIC SERVANT!!!! He should have nothing, and I mean NOTHING, to do with the day to day workings of the PPD. That's why we hire professionals and give them actual pay. To run the PPD. Mr. Newton, correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think it was appropriate for the commissioners, even the President of the Board, to get involved to the point of changing the way staff meetings run at the PPD.
Plainfield Independent February 11, 2014 at 12:08 AM
Mr. Newton - Thank you. Vicky P - I wonder who teaches diversionary tactics in Plainfield...gmm. BNB - Much like an elected official requesting barricades or city assets from another jurisdiction. That's staff's job!
Vicky Polito February 11, 2014 at 12:32 AM
BNB--I've heard from staff people that the Three Little Bears--Hurtado, Silosky, and Steinys--were at the PTPD offices so frequently and for so long that they were asking to be given dedicated office space to use on Ottawa Street! I'd also like to know what they were doing, as Silosky often says, "stopping by" so often. And, they didn't just stop by the front desk, they did wander the halls, stick their heads into offices, etc. I feel this was just another concerted effort at staff intimidation, letting the staff know that anytime they could look up and see one of these dopes staring at them, listening into their conversations, looking at what was on their desks, etc. Also, I did record the WJOL interview today and hope to have it up tomorrow morning sometime. Bear with me as I have to cut out some unrelated bits of the Kevin Kollins show.
Bad News Bears February 11, 2014 at 12:51 AM
No rush Vicky. I just appreciate you taking the time to record it. I can't imagine having to work in those conditions. And for the record to any commissioner who may be following this feed, I STRONGLY object to you using my tax dollars to build yourselves an office at any PPD location. You are not paid staff and you are not their bosses. Do the job you were actually elected to do and stop harassing the staff. Maybe if you shut your mouths and opened your ears and minds you could learn something valuable ( not directed at Larry and Mary)
Larry Newton February 11, 2014 at 09:00 AM
no problem, BNB
Gabby February 11, 2014 at 09:30 AM
Mr. Newton, your letter of calm and reason is comforting. Years ago I worked for a large Illinois park district and the role differentiation between commissioners and staff was clear and respected. I cannot imagine the difficulties the staff are facing with Hurtado, Silosky, and Steinys lurking about and demonstrating blatant disrespect. Mr. Hurtado's incompetence was so evident during the WJOL interview. It amazes me that some of his closer advisors and friends did not try to stop him before making such a move. In fact, I wonder who is propping him up and for what reason or objective.
Frank G February 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM
Gabby, I wonder if Hurtado has any close advisors left who'll want to deal with him. Doug Booth was one of his close supporters, and Hurtado called him a liar live on the radio yesterday. The race card as a whole was such a weak play, I can't imagine anyone besided Peter thinking that was a good idea. I guess I have to remember this is Hurtado-land we're talking about, where logic and reason are frowned upon.
Josh Herrara February 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM
So, let me get this straight... In the WJOL interview, Hurtado says that the Executive Director makes the decisions in whether employees get hired and fired, AND that the board should be involved in that decision making process. Wasn’t it Board interference that started this mess back in May of 2013? The newly elected board majority voted Greg Bott out early and placed Garrett Peck as Executive Director against advice from the board minority and the public. The board majority (Hurtado, Silosky and Steinys) had their puppet (Peck) eliminate positions and departments to make room for friends, acquaintances and relatives. Now, after the abuse of power, and hopefully the hiring of a QUALIFIED executive Director, Hurtado still wants control over hiring and firing? Why? Could it possibly be that he doesn't want all of the board majorities’ patronage hires to lose their jobs when they get an Executive Director with common sense and morals? Or is it to continue firing qualified employees to hire more friends, acquaintances and relatives? Also, Hurtado wants a public action committee to sit in on staff meetings. Why? Are the patronage hires not feeding him the information he was hoping for? Or is it to ensure that the staff remains fearful of the majority and ensure their silence? It can’t be to actually listen to the public. He's silenced everyone who wants to help this district and keep it heading in the right direction. Hurtado also mentions that he wants an ethics committee. He says that in the past, there have been some ethics mistakes. And there have been many since he took control of the board. He must consider May 2013 through today "the past" since there was no need for an ethics committee before he brought the park district the wonderful gifts of Garrett Peck, Janet Silosky, Peter Steinys, and The Reverend Doug Booth. The best way to end a sideshow is to get rid of the circus, and you can't get rid of the circus until you get rid of the clowns.
Larry Newton February 11, 2014 at 12:57 PM
Link to a podcast of Hurtado's WJOL interview: http://wjol.nmchost.com/2014/02/11/exclusive-interview-with-park-district-president-peter-hurtado-.aspx
Vicki Knight February 11, 2014 at 03:11 PM
Thanks Larry Newton for your well written letter and for the link to the radio interview since I couldn't listen to it. Also, I have never heard of a Board Commissioner having their own office space in the building in which they serve. Being on a Board myself, I would never expect that or demand that, I think that it is inappropriate, that it was not what they were elected to do as a Board member.
Larry Newton February 11, 2014 at 03:16 PM
Unfortunately, Vicki, we have Commissioners who fail to understand or fail to recognize their role. I used to work for a unit of government in Will County where the President of the Board also sought office space to conduct business of the Forest Preserve District. This is NOT the role of an elected Commissioner. We serve without pay and are expected to set policy and let paid staff implement those policies.
Jamey Alwood February 12, 2014 at 10:19 PM
Larry Newton you nailed it my friend! Peter Hurtado your table is ready!


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