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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.

Sincerely,

Peter 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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