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.
Plainfield Park District"-----------------------------
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.