- Also read: Plainfield Park District Timeline
Earlier this month, the Illinois Labor Relations Board issued a ruling finding that the board violated the public labor act when maintenance staffer Joel Schumaker was disciplined by Peck, then ultimately fired, allegedly in retaliation for talking to coworkers about unionizing. Peck and then-Superintendent of Parks Gene Coldwater were also accused of interrogating Schumaker and coworker John Nickl about their union activity.
On Friday — a day after Peck resigned — park district labor attorney Dave Miller said he plans to appeal the ruling, which came after he failed to reply to a complaint filed by AFSCME Council 31 by a Dec. 17, 2013, deadline. Miller works for law firm Rock Fusco & Connelly, which was hired by the park board in August to represent the district regarding labor issues.
Though the ruling came Jan. 9, Miller said he received it on Jan. 13. He believed the 15-day deadline meant business days, not calendar days.
"My calculation was based on 15 business days — Dec. 23," Miller said during a Friday night special board meeting. "That was an error. I discovered that error on Dec. 23."
Miller's subsequent motion for a six-day extension was denied, and the park district was found to be in violation of the act. Earlier this month, the labor board ordered the park district to offer Schumaker full reinstatement with backpay.
On Friday, Miller said he has one month from the date he received it — Jan. 13 — to appeal the ruling. He wouldn't comment on what the next steps will be, should the appeal be accepted.
Coldwater named interim directorMeeting for the first time since Peck's departure, the board voted unanimously to make Coldwater the interim executive director.
"The key word is interim," park commissioner Larry Newton said. He said the board has yet to determine how it will conduct a search for a new director.
"We have all kinds of things to consider," he said. "It's strictly short term, strictly interim," he said of appointing Coldwater, who was promoted to assistant executive director just days before Peck's resignation.
The board also voted 5-0 to remove Peck, who remains a Plainfield village trustee, as board secretary.
'We need you to resign'The meeting was a rare showing of consensus among board members, but it wasn't entirely without contention.
Peck's resignation on Thursday capped off months of controversy that began when he was hired in May, and Cameron Bettin — who was originally slated to replace retiring executive director Greg Bott — was demoted.
During the public comment period on Friday, two residents spoke up, urging board members Peter Hurtado, Janet Silosky and Peter Steinys — responsible for hiring Peck — to resign.
Resident Jamey Alwood targeted board president Hurtado.
"You, sir, have wrecked lives," he said. "You have ruined careers. And for what? For what reason? ... We need you to resign."
Alwood quoted statements Hurtado made to Patch in which he called for transparency, public involvement and "broad consensus."
"I agree the board should form a consensus — but I think that you, Mr. Hurtado, should follow Mr. Peck," he said. " ... We need you to resign, and we need you to do it right now so we can begin to repair the reputation of this park district," he said, referring to the search for a new director. "What kind of candidate would want to work for a board that is so dysfunctional?"
Newton and fellow commissioner Mary Kay Ludemann, who have been vocal critics of decisions made by the board majority, were hesitant to say whether they also believe the trio should step down.
"They created this situation since May," Ludemann did note.
"They got the executive director they wanted — look what happened," he said, but added, "it's hard to say [they should resign] now because we're in serious negotiations about the future."
Newton said the board will discuss how to proceed with a search for a new director at its next regular meeting, set for 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Plainfield Township building, 22525 W. Lockport St.
- Plainfield Park District Retaliated Against Pro-Union Employee: Labor Board
- Plainfield Park Board President Apologizes for Peck's Letter
- Plainfield Park Officials Mum on Staff Promotions
- Plainfield Trustees' Heated Email Exchange Goes Public