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Former Plainfield Parks Employee Appointed to Ottawa City Council

Landscape architect James Less reportedly resigned. According to park officials, the planning department will be eliminated.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Former Plainfield Park District landscape architect James Less, who reportedly resigned just before New Year's, already has a new gig.

Less, 37, was appointed to the Ottawa city council on Thursday, following the death of commissioner of public health Ed Whitney, according to the Ottawa Times.

Less ran against Whitney in 2011 and received praise from the incumbent city council member, according to the paper, which quoted Whitney as saying, "I think he ran a good campaign. He's a good, intelligent kid. I think in the future he will be a very good candidate."

According to the Times, Less is an Ottawa native and has served on the city's Tree Board, Plan Commission and Playground and Recreation Board.

"Being a landscape architect and having a planning background I feel I have a good understanding of what that plan is trying to accomplish and what it's going to do," Less told the Times. Click here to read the full article.

On Dec. 30, the Plainfield Park District issued a press release announcing that Less and Superintendent of Planning/Assistant Executive Director Cameron Bettin had resigned. No reason for the resignations was given.

In the release, Executive Director Garrett Peck said the positions would not be filled, and that planning department duties would be contracted out to a third party. According to Commissioner Larry Newton, Naperville-based Hitchcock design will be used as a consultant for planning projects.

Vicky Polito January 13, 2014 at 10:16 PM
The total compensation for Peck as exec director is $152,000 a year, before adding in any educational costs as per the 3-4 year contract Hurtado and he built. That base salary of $110,000 also goes up automatically each year by 4%-6% without any sort of merit or performance evaluation. And, yes, I completely understand and agree that the next couple of election cycles, 2015 and 2017, are key to fixing this problem. But, there's no reason not to speak out and look for other impacts to have as citizens until we vote. Part of being an informed voter comes from information and opinion flowing over time, neighbor to neighbor, and documenting things is helpful.
J. Hagen January 17, 2014 at 11:24 AM
Is there any way to recall rather than waiting to vote the problems out?
Vicky Polito January 17, 2014 at 11:59 AM
To my knowledge, no. A growing group of people in the community were talking about petitioning to put a referendum on the ballot sooner to allow recall of commissioners, but—and this is my educated and experienced guess—the board majority of Hurtado, Silosky, and Steinys along with Peck reacted to this by using their ability to put what are called “back door” referendums on the March ballot to block any citizen effort. See, they put three non-binding and vague (read: meaningless) referendums up for March (dog park fee question; term limit question; indoor sports facility question) and since the Illinois election code says that there can only be a maximum of three referendums on a ballot regarding one entity (this is called the “rule of 3”), they hogged up the spaces. It just occurred to me that this is very like the game tic-tac-toe, where you place an X or O to block, a la “Hollywood Squares! (I’m old.) Interestingly, while they swore up and down that term-limits were good because it let voters clean house of people they felt weren’t doing a good job in their elected roles, they denied that adding recall to that would be an even greater tool for the residents to address bad players. Wonder why they thing THAT? Part of the difficulty is that for citizens to place a referendum on a ballot is more effort (although, it’s not at all hard work, just more work), whereas all the board majority had to do was vote to do it, so it is just easier for them to take that action. Further, these are NON-BINDING, so all they amount to is poorly sampled survey questions, no action can come of them. But, the meter is running and more opportunity for the citizens to prevail will come along.
J. Hagen January 17, 2014 at 12:49 PM
So we are stuck with this awful mess that grows worse every day? Are there any officials above this that can take any sort of action?
Vicky Polito January 17, 2014 at 01:23 PM
I’ve been told several times that there is no other elected official who has authority over this, BUT: There is such a thing as critical mass and momentum and if enough people make their views known, concretely, then that builds those things as elections come up and in case something happens before an election that would allow a faster remedy. I encourage anyone with something to say to write to this park board, to the village board, to the IL state reps like Bertino-Tarrant, to the IL reps like Tom Cross, etc. Whoever you want to speak to, speak to them. It’s your right. Come to meetings, both park district and village board meetings, and if you have any comment to make, make it. Similarly, you can reach out to any local media you want. Further, you can contact the Attorney General’s office (and the Public Access Counselor therein) with complaints or issues, particularly regarding any denial of a FOIA request or any Open Meetings Act violation you think may have occurred. Contrary to those who would rather the people shut up, it doesn’t always matter if your specific complaint is not found to be actionable, it matters that people don’t accept defeat before even trying. You can go to the Will County State’s Attorney’s office, too. Bottom line, whether another government tier can weigh in or not aside, any and every American can speak up and ask any questions they have by any legal means they see fit about what happens in their community, their public entities, and with their tax money. Sometimes it’s all about building the case. Or, as someone I know says, sometimes things take the time and effort they take, not the time and effort you’re willing to give them.


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