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Plainfield Park Board President Apologizes for Peck's Letter

Peter Hurtado said Peck's decision to reject Plainfield Patch as a "legitimate media outlet" is not in "keeping with the standard of respectful communication that we all need to live by."

Plainfield Park District Executive Director Garrett Peck
Plainfield Park District Executive Director Garrett Peck
Updated at 9:15 p.m. Jan. 21:

Tuesday afternoon, park board president reacted to the email from Peck, issuing an apology on behalf of the park district, calling Patch "an open space where anyone can contribute their opinions without fear of censorship."

He gave Patch permission to publish the text of the email:

"I am writing you today to apologize personally, and on behalf of the Plainfield Park District, for the recent email exchange you had with our Executive Director, Garrett Peck. His remarks were uncalled for and in no way keeping with the standard of respectful communication that we all need to live by.

Public service brings with it the scrutiny of concerned residents and the media. This obligation to public accountability cannot be taken for granted. The Patch is an open space where anyone can contribute their opinions without fear of censorship. This is a worthy mission and one consistent with the free exchange of ideas upon which government must operate. I find it to be a valuable forum when posting my own messages to the people of this district.

Again, I am sorry for the tone of your earlier conversation. I want you to know that maintaining civility and respect in our organization is very important to me. ... I hope that we may continue to engage on issues of local importance in the future.

Sincerely,

Peter Hurtado

Board President

Plainfield Park District"

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Original story:

The Plainfield Township Park District will no longer recognize Plainfield Patch as a "legitimate media outlet" because district officials do not like its coverage of recent district issues, Executive Director Garrett Peck said Tuesday.

In a letter emailed to Plainfield Patch Editor Shannon Antinori, Peck announced that senior district staff had unanimously decided they would "discontinue communications with the Plainfield Patch until further notice."

"This decision has been made as a result of, 1) Reviewing media coverage done by the Plainfield Patch and comparing the way the same stories have been presented by other media outlets; 2) The comment policy as well as the enforcement discretion," Peck wrote.

"The Plainfield Patch has become a blog with some helpful information about the community, and we hope that in the future the comment policy/enforcement will be revised as well as the presentation of stories."

Peck, who is also a Plainfield Village Board trustee, added that the decision to cut off communication with the online news site, which is owned by the media company AOL, does not apply to the park board members or president, who "may have their own opinions and make comments to the Plainfield Patch."

In closing, Peck added a personal note: "The statement I will make without consulting with staff is for you to find another fish to fry, the Park District is no longer your piñata."

After sending the initial letter, Peck also sent a text message to Antinori in which he emphasized the decision was not his alone, and, in another email, said, "I hope you find happiness."

Plainfield Patch has been covering the ongoing issues and personnel changes that have occurred since Peter Hurtado was named board president and Peck subsequently appointed district director.

In the ensuing months, the park board has made numerous changes, including updating the park district's public comment policy and terminating a lease agreement with St. John Lutheran Church.

Staffing changes have including hiring new Director of Communications Doug Booth and firing Public Information Coordinator Marianne Ryan.

Last month, Assistant Executive Director Cameron Bettin and Landscape Architect James Less resigned, and Peck said in a release those positions would not be filled. Since then, longtime employee Gene Coldwater has been promoted to the assistant executive director post.

    Also read:

  • Plainfield Park District Treasurer Named Director of Communications
  • It's Official: Park Board Votes to Make Peck Executive Director
  • Plainfield Park District Fires Public Information Coordinator
  • Tim January 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM
    Here's the problem with what Hurtao is saying... When this board majority first appointed peck, peck had current cases filed regarding violating freedom of speech on this very site, and was attempting to get the subscriber information of various posters. One of those posters(yours truly) lawyered up and fought to protect the constitutionally protected right of free and anonymous speech. AND WON! These cases were pending when this board majority appointed peck to the exec director position. Were you all unaware of this? Did you appoint him anyway even while being aware of it? And that is the reason nobody believes this jumble of words released by Hurtado. Either the board majority knew about the cases and still appointed this 'man', or you didn't know about the cases and have shown just how sloppy of a process this appointment was(With no interview or background check). Anyone that has paid the slightest bit of attention is not surprised by this, as this is exactly the same behavior that peck has displayed before. It is no surprise to anyone that he is doing it yet again. But this time, the board majority is sharing in the responsibility of putting him in the position to do so, instead of just being some whining crazy-person on the side of the road. There is no deflection for Hurtado to accomplish, he shares in this disaster. He can not distance himself from the situation that he was the primary architect in creating.
    Frank G January 22, 2014 at 10:59 AM
    Hurtado trying to encourage free speech? I don't buy it for a second. This is the same guy who yelled at us all for speaking up at "his meeting!" last summer, wouldn't let Rachich speak at all, and instituted public comment policies meant to stifle us. There must be more to this story, this is the first time that any one of hurtado/siloskly/steinys/peck have ever spoken publicly against one of their own. At the last minute they scheduled a board meeting for tonight that was also cancelled last minute? Does this strike anyone else as odd?
    Tom Nosal January 22, 2014 at 11:29 AM
    Someone give Peck a dictionary so he can understand the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy. He obviously doesn't get it.
    Vicky Polito January 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM
    I know it's pretty snarky, but I just remembered someone telling me that IF the board decided that Garrett Peck shouldn't be in the role of Exec Director anymore, they have an option besides just cutting him loose and paying him out. They can choose to amend his contract, the same way they amended Cam Bettin's contract, and transition Peck into the most expensive lawn mower in town for a couple of years! And, if Peck doesn't like that amendment, he can quit which I don't think obligates the same pay-out. I don't know if that would be best, but I have to admit that if it comes to not wanting him in the position he has AND not wanting to totally waste the tax money by just strapping that financial parachute to his back and shoving him out of the plane, maybe the board should just look at amending his employment contract to give him something else to do for his paycheck. Yeesh, it's not like the PTPD hasn't been a big game of musical chairs in terms of who's got what job already!
    Vicky Polito January 22, 2014 at 11:44 AM
    Oh, and as to Peck's ridiculously structured deal: thanks, Peter Hurtado, for the great job you did for the people in "negotiating" that THREE YEAR CONTRACT with all it's assorted extras and putting us in the the bad fiscal corner of even having to consider a payout multiplied by YEARS vs. what would have been a normal few months of cash to say "let's just call it a day".
    John Simpson January 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM
    It sounds like Mr. Peck is a totalitarian. This is why we can’t support Peck’s tea bag Republican buddy Chris Balkema for Congress.
    Bill Johnson January 22, 2014 at 12:18 PM
    I don't think I've ever seen a more EMBARRASSMENT to Plainfield than Peck. What part of the past one year of actions do not warrant a removal, censorship or some type of citizen action to stop him. Madigan isn't as bad: Taxpayer money given to a guy who has NO experience in Parks; people fired loosing their jobs (who have families), and now someone trying to control the press. The joke is no longer on Peck, it's on the Village Trustees to officially censure. You don't watch your fellow colleague, or elected official, do the actions he's done and not do something. Shame on Village Trustee's for allowing their fellow board member to act this way.
    Bill Johnson January 22, 2014 at 12:21 PM
    Just google "censure of village trustee" and you'll see what needs to get done.
    Dennis January 22, 2014 at 12:50 PM
    Imagine these same type of people (Peck, Hurtado & company) on a National level as a majority in Congress / Legislature.. or the Presidency. This is the Tea Party Culture all the way folks. This is the way they think and operate. Ted Cruz & Company types and their followers are dangerous folks people. Read the history books about pre WW 2 Germany when you know who got elected. Oops ..Sorry for drifting 'off subject'..
    Plainfield Independent January 22, 2014 at 01:06 PM
    Tim - Do you remember Ernie telling you in mid November of 2012 that there were many people actively campaigning to ban you from this very site? Did you ever figure out who it may have been?
    Tim January 22, 2014 at 01:36 PM
    @Plainfield Independent. Yes, I do remember that. I have the post saved in fact. There was also another government official making those claims to 'ban me'. I know who it was, and more importantly THEY know who it was. Names are not important, as it does nothing to further the discussion, and quite honestly such pathetic activities are nothing more than reactionary intimidation done by people who are afraid of words.... and honestly, how sad is that? I am not afraid of their words, and in fact encourage such people to speak as loudly as they like. Doing so telegraphs their intentions, and it can be left to the public at large to decide if they agree or disagree with such statements and motives. However, when the time is right that information may have to be released publicly to prevent this nonsense from happening again in our local government units. Because now, we are ALL watching.
    Penny Wharvey January 22, 2014 at 01:42 PM
    The Plainfield Park District receives their funding through taxes but they also rely on state and federal grants for certain projects. Those grants sometimes require letters of support from elected officials and/or respected members of the community. At this point, would those letters be forthcoming? Will future projects go unfunded because people feel that the Plainfield Park District is mismanaged? Having a solid relationship with the leaders in the community is beneficial to the Board as well as the Executive Director. A friend of mine once said that when you get appointed to a position in government, walk in with your resignation in your back pocket. Is it time for Garrett Peck to reach into his back pocket?
    Plainfield Independent January 22, 2014 at 02:12 PM
    Shannon - Can you please confirm if comments are still being "flagged?" I see several comments continue to be delayed before they are appearing. Thank you for all you have done for this community.
    Shannon Antinori (Editor) January 22, 2014 at 02:22 PM
    Yes, I have seen several more comments not in violation of Patch's TOS that have been flagged. They've been restored to the site. And thanks, PI.
    Plainfield Independent January 22, 2014 at 02:26 PM
    Thank you Shannon!
    Plainfield Independent January 22, 2014 at 02:30 PM
    Tim - Oh I remember the other person now. People should not be afraid of speaking. It's part of the fabric that this nation was founded on!
    Mayhem January 22, 2014 at 02:32 PM
    Hmm, I wonder if the Park District has any sort of a cell phone usage policy during company time in place? One wouldn't be so stupid as to use company computers to monitor this site. Well, I'm sure someone is. Someone sure is busy flagging all these comments.
    Vicky Polito January 22, 2014 at 02:36 PM
    Sorry to sort of quickly derail this thread, but just so no one misses it, please check The Patch sidebar of "Town Square" for a letter from Joe Kordik, entitled Plainfield Park District Debacle. It's worth reading his views on this.
    Bad News Bears January 22, 2014 at 04:23 PM
    I'm sorry, but I find it rather amusing that my comments keep getting flagged for removal. I understand one comment was rather harsh and probably hurt wittle Garrett's feelings, but the one where I asked Hurtado to do the right thing and fire Peck is gone too. I would actually find it an honor to have someone think my opinion had so much influence if it wasn't censorship. Talk about a childish temper tantrum
    Bad News Bears January 22, 2014 at 04:37 PM
    Shannon, I know you are being overworked because someone is sitting in front of their computer putting and flagging what they don't like. I apologize to ONLY you if anything I said has broken your rules. Your in depth coverage in this fiasco is to be commended
    Tim January 22, 2014 at 04:42 PM
    @BNB - Enjoy it! I seem to be taking the brunt of these comment removals. I'll move over and make some room for you here inside pecks head. Don't worry, there is PLENTY of room.
    Penny Wharvey January 22, 2014 at 06:40 PM
    Mr. Peck's own words from a press release when he was running for senate: Peck went on to point out that this is an opportunity to show citizens of this new district that transparency won’t just be a talking point, but proof those constituents’ voices are heard. http://www.championnews.net/?p=14378
    Mayhem January 22, 2014 at 06:47 PM
    Still think its a "small group of radicals" now????
    Penny Wharvey January 22, 2014 at 07:08 PM
    Mr. Peck on jobs during his senate campaign: I have spoken with citizens all over the new 49th Senate District and the message they have for me is always the same: “We want to work!” http://thewillcountynews.com/?p=238
    Melissa N Daryl Weppner January 22, 2014 at 09:23 PM
    This guy is a jag bag, seriously. Just disgusted.
    Mayhem January 22, 2014 at 11:45 PM
    This is the time to strike folks. We all need to talk to anyone who will listen. Neighbors, co-workers, anyone and everyone. Let people know whats going on in their own backyard. Believe it or not, there are people that don't know and don't understand whats going on within the PD. Stop Hurtado, Peck, Syeinys, and Silosky from being in any other government positions. Please take a look at this. You will see that they are all running for precinct-committeeman in March. Stop this nonsense and stop these clowns in their tracks. You will see that some are running unopposed. Don't let this happen again Plainfield. http://plainfield.patch.com/groups/announcements/p/precinct-committeeman
    Mayhem January 22, 2014 at 11:48 PM
    This is the time to strike folks. We all need to talk to anyone who will listen. Neighbors, co-workers, anyone and everyone. Let people know whats going on in their own backyard. Believe it or not, there are people that don't know and don't understand whats going on within the PD. Stop Hurtado, Peck, Syeinys, and Silosky from being in any other government positions. Please take a look at this. You will see that they are all running for precinct-committeeman in March. Stop this nonsense and stop these clowns in their tracks. You will see that some are running unopposed. Don't let this happen again Plainfield. http://plainfield.patch.com/groups/announcements/p/precinct-committeeman
    Tim January 23, 2014 at 01:27 AM
    This exists. http://plainfield.patch.com/blogs/garrett-pecks-blog
    Vicky Polito January 23, 2014 at 09:22 AM
    Don’t forget folks, special meeting scheduled of PTPD board for tomorrow, Friday, 6p at the Heritage Professional Center (old Midwest Bank at Illinois and Lockport intersection, back entrance, downstairs). See PTPD website for agenda. There is a public comment portion, but the only action will be to go to closed session, then reconvene and take any action stemming from closed session (they are required to vote/take a decision in view of the public on any issue). So, it may not be very interesting from the perspective of what the public can “witness” BUT, it might be pretty interesting to see how much of the public this board and Peck have to “witness” showing up! See link for info: www.plainfieldparkdistrict.com/about-board.asp.
    J. Hagen January 23, 2014 at 11:28 AM
    I will attend and am more than willing to participate with others in any action that will get rid of this mess. It is extremely harmful to the village I love.

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