Hurtado Alleges Racial Attacks in Letter to Editor

"These are nothing less than racial attacks and slurs, and should be rejected by all who believe in civility, civil rights and common courtesy."

Peter Hurtado. Credit: File photo
Peter Hurtado. Credit: File photo
On Friday afternoon, Plainfield Park District President Peter Hurtado sent a letter to Patch, defending himself after allegations of unethical behavior arose, and alleging that residents and at least one elected official have made racial remarks about him.

The letter reads:

Dear Editor,

When I was elected to the Plainfield Park District Board in April 2011, and began to study and review the District’s business and purchasing practices, I found a number of issues that I felt needed to be addressed. I raised a number of questions about the PPD awarding no-bid contracts for insurance policies, contractors, an independent auditor, the harassment/bullying of individuals, questionable lease agreements and land swap deals and switching to a deregulated energy supplier with little investigation. In just one instance, the Board voted to reduce $130,000.00 in penalties due to the PPD from a local vendor down to only $3500.00, and the answers that I got to my questions ranged from “I like the way it is” to “what we discussed during our meetings stays in our meetings” to “per our board manual you cannot go out and talk to anyone - only the Executive Director and President are allowed to talk”.

In 2013, now that my voice could finally be heard as part of a new Board, I found that new challenges and attempts to silence me had arisen – not just from veteran fellow Board members but from former Board members, employees and their friends, seeking to control the debate and public perception.

Finally, in 2014, I have come to the realization that I am now being falsely accused of wrong doing not because I raised so many questions to try to correct and undo the District’s past mistakes, but simply because of the color of my skin and the accent in my voice. In recent weeks, a Plainfield Village Trustee has publicly mocked the way I talk (by my accent). An individual speaking on behalf of the “Take our Parks Back Group” at our February 4th board meeting publicly made fun of the language in my press statements and letters, to which another member of that group said “Apparently I am an idiot. And the e-mail goblins have it in for Pete, as he seems to be the only one with this spam/sham issue. Now I understand. More Kool-Aid please….” Members of this same group have even publicly said that “every ‘Mexican’ that works for the Park District is my relative”. I am not naive, and know full well that politics, particularly local politics, can be a messy and hateful experience, but the fact that such comments drew only applause and/or laughter from other attendees is wrong, hate-filled and beyond contempt.

I believe they have now crossed the line in the sand. These are no longer “public comments” – these are nothing less than racial attacks and slurs, and should be rejected by all who believe in civility, civil rights and common courtesy. We can disagree without being hateful. We can argue what is best for our neighbors and fellow residents without resorting to racial and ethnic slurs.

I remain hopeful that the actions of these individuals in recent weeks are not a true reflection of our Plainfield Park District community.


Peter Hurtado

Frank February 08, 2014 at 09:01 PM
Thank you Mr. Rippy. Thank you for standing with your constituents along with your colleagues on the Village Board.
plainfieldpete February 08, 2014 at 09:16 PM
yet you did anyway frank While you guys waste time yelling at board meetings and sitting at your computer the Tea Party is out knocking doors securing victory in March. There are already strong ties with the billionaire future governor. After this March the power shift will be complete and a few dozen people will be helpless to stop any of it. Mr Rippy takes a public stand a couple of post after it's mentioned that he is on the ballot in March. He will now take a few pats on the pack and ride to victory. Right on cue. Bravo Anyone notice there have been no calls for any of these park district people to step down from the PTRO?
Frank February 08, 2014 at 09:16 PM
The community is INDEED represented. Mr. Racich, Mr. Fay, Mr. Rippy, Ms. Bonucci, Mr. Burghard, THANK YOU for standing with your supporters. Whether a separate entity or not, it's all about Plainfield and standing together is what is of the utmost importance. Mr. Lamb? Mr. Mayor? Will you join your loyal voters and colleagues in defending our village? Standing up for what is right?
not_buying_it February 08, 2014 at 09:43 PM
There appears to be a significant amount of questionable activity that has gone on within the park district. An outside investigation seems like a logical proposal. The FBI has a Public Corruption Division that handles corruption in local communities, but they may need several requests to instigate an investigation. The page is: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/corruption On the lower right hand side of the page is a link labeled "Submit an Online Tip". I know for certain someone has already submitted a request for investigation, but it is probably prudent for others to submit, as well.
Frank February 08, 2014 at 09:44 PM
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Mr. Hurtado has been asked to resign by the community and a majority of the Village Board. It's time he listened.
Frank February 08, 2014 at 09:54 PM
Pete, your comments assert that everybody in this village are a bunch of rubes and the tea party is about to rape and pillage and you take pride in that. That's really sad.
Frank February 08, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Like the last election, anyone with an R next to their name, unfortunately even the good ones, will get trounced.
Bad News Bears February 08, 2014 at 10:51 PM
Frank is right. There are many a Republican, myself included, who will not vote for anyone with an R after their name unless 1. I know for sure they are not a Tea Party member; or 2. The Republican Party denounces the Tea Party and makes them run as their own party. Until that happens, there won't be alot of Republicans elected to offices whether they be local, state or national. With elections around the corner, I am watching all the candidates. This will be an anti-tea party election for me, as well as for many others
plainfieldpete February 09, 2014 at 01:23 AM
Frank is wrong. The D don't have Obama to carry the ticket, they have the most unpopular gov in the country. Cross's district will not go D. No way no how. The guy from Shorewood is a little goofy and the other is a woman teacher. Batinick will cruise to an easy win. Rauner has the money and the mayor of Chicago wants him in. Those 2 things usually lead to a 99.9% success rate. BNB I get what you are saying but you are one man, one vote. That is the difference, Rinos just vote, tea party folk get off their butts and support candidates.
Bad News Bears February 09, 2014 at 02:26 AM
Pete, in that respect you should be supporting the loud voices against the PPD board majority. Most of us have become very active and aren't sitting on our butts. I respect and understand your stance on this matter. Locally, Plainfield has a political mess on its hands. I believe that Batnick is a very big part of that mess. He is not well liked although he is very well funded. In my opinion it is the PTROs responsibility to help clean this mess up and stop supporting these kinds of people. I may only be one man with one vote, but I also have money and alot of influential friends here in town and I'm using all my resources to exert the right pressure in the right places. That and the loss of my one vote is all I have
Frank February 09, 2014 at 05:34 AM
plainfieldpete, here's a couple of things about what you said that leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. "the guy from shorewood is a little goofy and the other is a woman teacher." Plainfield has no shortage of "goofy" lately and you use the term "woman teacher" in a very derisive, demeaning way which I think is disrespectful. "Batnick will cruise to an easy win." The same was said about Peck, but he was beaten handily by a woman teacher, who apparently was the better candidate in the eyes of the voters, not because she was swept in by Obama. "you are one man, one vote." I find it offensive that you would suggest that someone's vote has no value. I respect your right to have an opinion, but you underestimate how negative a view people take when it is being represented that tea party candidates are on a seek and destroy mission to take over, rape, pillage and destroy local governments for their own benefit. That's not representing the people, it's representing TO the people that a radical idealism is going to be forced down their throats whether they like it or not so they may as well not even bother to vote. This has and will continue to alienate Republican voters while strengthening the ranks of the other side simultaneously. Tea party idealism is old hat; the majority of traditional Republicans take a very dim view of it and it is the very reason so many crossed party lines and opted to re-elect Obama. Most don't want Roe v Wade overturned or planned parenthood abolished. Most are pro-choice. Most don't feel it's any man's business to dictate to a woman what she can or can't do with her body. Most people found it distasteful when Rick Santorum said that a woman should "accept the gift that God has given them" when becoming pregnant as a result of rape. Most people found it distasteful when Clayton Williams said about rape "if it is inevitable, just relax and enjoy it." Most people feel that Todd Akin never showed up to biology class when he stated that "a woman's body can fend off pregnancy in the case of legitimate rape." Romney trying to tout himself as the king of job creators after outsourcing MILLIONS of jobs overseas and making stupid statements like "I don't understand why the brothers don't like me" and "47% of the people that support Obama are dependent on government...it's not my job to worry about those people." These are the things that caused many a republican to shake their head and say "what? did I really just hear that?" and vote against it. It's ridiculous statements like those that alienated people who are BLESSED WITH THE ABILITY TO THINK. People that expressed moronic viewpoints lost the election because of having moronic viewpoints that the majority of people do not support, not because Obama carried the ticket.
Tim February 09, 2014 at 08:41 AM
Plainfieldpete thinks 'the D don't have Obama to carry the ticket'. That is true, but other than this scandal, what exactly are the local Rs known for? That's right, nothing. The entire organization is being eaten from within by its bad actors. The longer they fail to address this, the sooner they will be nothing more than a sideshow. They certainly aren't going to get MORE votes based on their actions. The reason they were able to win, was the almost record low turnout, and ballot challenges booting other candidates off the ballot, leaving them to run unopposed. This scenario will not happen again in their lifetimes. The secret is out how they challenge ballots, and the steps have already been taken to prevent it from happening again. When faced with actual challenges on the ballot, they LOSE. Hurtado LOST his state office bid when faced with a challenger on the ballot. peck LOST his state office bid when faced with a challenge. They know they can't win when faced with the regular process, so they have weaseled their way in by finding loopholes. Those days are over for them. Their actions have generated far more opposition for them, than supporters. If you have watched these stories develop, you will see many, many people say they once supported(voted for) these people, but never will again. There has not been a single person who switched the other direction. Mark Batinick? Well, he tried popping up here on Patch, writing a brief blog post. He was IMMEDIATELY met with opposition and derision for being a part of this group, never to be heard from again. Once the residents started connecting the dots of what has happened, anyone whos name shows up connected to this group immediately takes a nose-dive as far as election prospects. Sure, there are always going to be the die-hard supporters, but they are VASTLY outnumbered by sane, rational people who recognize that their backyard is not to be used for political nonsense like this, and will make sure to prevent it from happening again.
Theresa February 09, 2014 at 09:46 AM
Well said Tim.
Henry Bowlin February 09, 2014 at 10:21 AM
@PlainfieldPete: Mark Batinick has received tens of thousands of dollars from the same people who funded Peck. Why? Where has Mark been on this issue? For someone who wants to work in Springfield, it seems pretty simple to explain a position. Otherwise, we're left to draw our own conclusions.
plainfieldpete February 09, 2014 at 10:36 AM
BNB I don't know where your friends with money are at, they aren't showing up on the state board of elections. Tim we aren't talking about those districts we are talking about a strong Republican district. The teacher will get some votes because rinos have to vote for someone Batinick 60% teacher 36% goof 4%
Bad News Bears February 09, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Like I said Pete, we are working in Plainfield right now, and on the PTRO. They need to stop supporting them. Thanks for your opinion, but since you called me a "Rino" because I don't vote tea party, I'm not feeling our conversation will progress in a friendly manner. You're so sure you know everything, it's hard to talk to you anyway
not_buying_it February 09, 2014 at 01:17 PM
Does it ever occur to some folks to vote for the persons most likely to help the community? For example...Would you vote for Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy, just because they had an "R" after their name and NOT vote for Pope Francis and Mother Teresa, just because they had a "D" after theirs? Voter extremism is never going to be the answer.
Jimmy Parks February 09, 2014 at 01:20 PM
Hurtado is supposed to be on WJOL on Monday afternoon, Feb 10, at 3:40 P.M. on the Kevin Collins show to talk about this. I bet he has a prior arrangement or something else come up instead of being on. If he is on, I'm sure he won't answer any questions, and play the victim card.
joe February 09, 2014 at 02:05 PM
When all else fails, always play the race card.
Paul Fay February 09, 2014 at 02:12 PM
Someone had requested information regarding the Village's Code of Ethics. Please visit: www.plainfield-il.org. From the menu on the left, click on: 'government', then 'municipal code', then Municipal Code Online (which will appear in the center of the screen). Lastly, View 'Administration', Article VI - "State Officials and Employee Ethics Act".
Jamey Alwood February 09, 2014 at 03:06 PM
@jimmyparks I hope Mr. Collins does a little research on these disgusting allegations and calls out Mr. Hurtado for trying to deflect from the real issues. This latest stunt is the worst yet, and now is the time to stand up yet again against this type of intimidation. Being labeled as a racist is the worst thing that can happen to a good and decent person, but when it is such an obvious lie it is easy to stand up and call him out on his lies. I hope he resigns before the March meeting, but if he doesn't I will be there challenging him on the issues as always! Mr. Hurtado you better think twice if you are going to call good people racists, and I dare you to call me a racist in open session. You and little Garrett aren't the only ones with legal counsel.
Carol Palac February 09, 2014 at 03:37 PM
This is like a bad soap opera....... One that Mr. Hurtado doesn't want to end......
Bad News Bears February 09, 2014 at 03:58 PM
Definition of slander: a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report. Mr. Alwood, I have heard you, in person and in the videos, reading Hurtado's words back to him. Everyone knows that you were ridiculing the fact that he has not lived up to ONE of his promises and is actually acting completely opposite of how he promised to act as Board President. Hurtado accusing you of being a racist is SLANDER. Mr. Racich, we all know you pronounce Hurtado's name correctly because you are fluent in Spanish and a huge supporter of the Hispanic community. Hurtado accusing you of being a racist is SLANDER. Mr. Newton and Ms. Ludemann, if Hurtado has no proof of the accusations he's made against past boards (especially the bullying/harrassment accusation) then what Hurtado has said is SLANDER. Peter Hurtado, I hope you have some actual proof of the accusations you've made because there are many witnesses against you at the moment and these accusations are serious. Calling someone a racist isn't something you can JUST DO anymore. I think you may have overplayed your hand here and made your situation much much worse. And I hope you have a private legal slush fund somewhere (not the PPD fund thank you), because I have a feeling you are going to need it soon #JustMyHumbleOpinion
my conscience February 09, 2014 at 04:54 PM
Paul, Thank you for answering the question regarding the Plainfield Village Council code of ethics. The five sections of Article VI seem brief. The section on ethics is short. Specifically prohibited activities seem to be either 1) accepting gifts or 2) performing prohibited political activities while on-the-clock. That is pretty obvious, but I am glad it is prohibited in a written code! I saw no restriction, for example, related to governmental units purchasing goods or services from companies that are owned by, or affiliated with, the elected officials or political appointees. Maybe that is not illegal. Who knows, maybe it is not even unethical - depending on the circumstances (?). I did see that the village's director of management services is designated as the ethics advisor for the village, so I suppose Traci might answer certain ethics questions, for the Village anyway. Paul, again thanks to you for kindly answering this question on what ethics rules have been established for the Village of Plainfield. The direct and factual response is appreciated. Now, we should try and find out if the Plainfield Park District also has an ethics code, or rules of conduct - as seems required by Illinois law. I wonder if Shannon could kindly research and report on that?
Jimmy Parks February 09, 2014 at 05:53 PM
@my conscience, why make up a company name, fake invoices and non-standard payment methods using PayPal? If there really is nothing wrong, why not be transparent? There are so many questions about everything Hurtado does. He is just too arrogant to actually answer anything, or be honest. Time to resign Hurtado.
my conscience February 09, 2014 at 06:18 PM
I am not saying anybody did anything wrong or right. I am just trying to establish what the actual rules of conduct are. Paul poited us to the ethics code for the Village. I think we would all now like to see the ethics code for the Park District, if there is one. That’s all.
Jimmy Parks February 09, 2014 at 06:20 PM
@my conscience, thank you for clarifying.
Vicky Polito February 09, 2014 at 10:18 PM
Just an FYI--the village board meeting for tomorrow, Feb 10, that was supposed to be a COW workshop has been changed to a special meeting with some business items that I assume need to get handled this week. Just wanted to let people know. My understanding is that neither Garrett Peck nor Jim Racich will be at tomorrow's meeting. Just so you all know. The next regular and hopefully fully attended board meeting will be Monday, March 3rd.
Mary Ludemann February 10, 2014 at 12:37 AM
Hi Everyone, I posted the Park District's Ethics Ordinance on the Speak Out page for everyone to read.
my conscience February 10, 2014 at 07:07 AM
Thanks Mary Kay. Everyone should read that. It is patterned after the state law, and similar versions seem to have been adopted by other governmental units in Illinois. It seem to only specifically prohibit only certain political activities, and receiving gifts. I do however like the preamble added to the Park District version of the code of ethics - it sounds wonderful even if it couldn't be enforced.


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