Robo-Call Quizzes Residents About Plainfield Park District

Readers reported getting calls asking them to answer questions regarding the Plainfield Park District.

Several Plainfield residents on Tuesday reported getting automated phone calls, purportedly from the local Republican party, about the Plainfield Park District.

Vicky Polito — an outspoken critic of the recent goings-on at the park district — said she heard from a friend who got the robo-call survey, moments before she got a call of her own shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Polito said she didn't record the call, but believes it began with a message saying it was a "brief survey from your Republican party." The call when on to say,"Currently there are many issues at the Plainfield Park District causing concern with the public, are you aware of them?," asking the listener to press 1 for yes, 2 for no.

Another question asked whether respondents thought the board members responsible for the issues should resign.

Polito said the call came from the number 815-230-7762. A call placed to the number turned up an automated message saying the number was no longer in service.

Another reader reported via Plainfield Patch's Facebook page that she got a similar automated message on her voicemail.

Have you gotten the automated phone call? Let us know in the comments.

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Bad News Bears February 12, 2014 at 03:13 PM
Tony Fremarek is another one of the "friends of Hurtado and Peck". I'm assuming if he does this, he can negate all the support he has given them in the past right? I think it's funny how they are all running and hiding now. Maybe you should have NOT supported them before it got this bad?
Lance Stevens February 12, 2014 at 03:51 PM
and also to note, Fremarek is Batinick's campaign treasurer. One has to wonder, how involved was Batinick in this entire Park District mess??
Frank February 12, 2014 at 05:25 PM
What are the potential ramifications of a vote of no confidence? Can anyone expound on this?
Kathy February 12, 2014 at 06:46 PM
I do not think Batinick was involved in any of this. I would like to think he wasn't at least! I truly hope wrong place - wrong time for him. (am I opening a can of worms and being gullible?)(yikes - like Peck he may sue the for anonymous posts!)
Tim February 12, 2014 at 07:03 PM
Kathy - Mark was the campaign advisor for this whole group. Almost this time last year, he was BOASTING about how his candidates 'swept' their offices in Plainfield. He wasn't just involved, he was orchestrating getting this group into office along with the chairman of the PTRO. Read it here: http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2013/04/plainfield-township-sweeps-set-model-for-illinois-conservatives-to-emulate.html And hopefully, local politicians have learned the lessons of trying to sue people commenting on elected public officials(or those running). It quickly turns them into the most hated person in town. Not a good move for any politician to make... especially if they bump up against someone that knows how to quickly beat them in court. Losing a claim like that is the nail in the coffin for any elected official.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 07:30 PM
Tim, not saying that I disagree 100%, but I'm not really sure I can agree 100% with that either. It very well could be simply a case of a few slick talking worms getting into the apple. I'm not defending anyone, I'm just looking back at my own support that I put behind a number of these people over the years, ultimately to find myself thinking "hmmmm.....bad call" and realizing that it may have happened to a few others as well. I try to make a conscious effort to support people that are as close to my own beliefs and convictions as possible. At times, some may assimilate to an individual or into a group for a vote, exposure, or some other ulterior motive only to behave in a totally opposite manner once they reach the trough. I know you have given kudos to Ernie Knight for being among the first to speak, but remember, he was a supporter of a good number of these folks a while back as well, just as I and many others were. I give Ernie kudos too, as I think he finds himself in the same position as me, which ultimately was being on the receiving end of something I clearly didn't sign up for. Sometimes people can get fooled. If I look back at my voting record over the last 32 years as a voter, there's probably a few bad calls in there; it doesn't mean I sided with bad people and had a motive for doing so, it means that I somehow was sold a bill of goods on a few occasions.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 07:40 PM
For what it's worth, I don't think Peck is a bad guy either. He's pretty smart and more than a little crafty and I'll give him credit for that. However, I feel he's more of an opportunist than a bad guy. The bad guys are the ones that create the opportunity for the opportunist, because there's many in every crowd. If you leave the cookie jar open, some kid's going to find it. One kid might say "ma, you left the cookie jar open," one kid may not say a thing and privately dine on sweets. Trouble is, the second kid usually gets caught up with, which is what happened here. Ma still loves them both, but now realizes that she has to keep a wide eye on kid #2.
Tim February 12, 2014 at 07:47 PM
Frank, I know Ernie was a very strong supporter of these people. Him and I butted heads many times over that. However, he realized his mistake immediately, and put his name to paper to back it up. Very few people did that. It is easy to come out now that it is obvious the whole community is aghast at what has happened... but those officials speaking up now are seen through the 'filter of opportunism' that has been forced on all of us because of this situation. I completely understand that some people might gravitate to those who simply 'say' what they want to hear, and there is really no getting around that when dealing with tens of thousands of people. Some people are just going to 'go with the group'. I've made bad calls myself, many times. BUT, the difference between you, me, and many of the others that have realized this was a mistake, is that they actually have realized it, and spoke out when it was not popular. The majority of the public officials have kept silent. They have put their own career in politics above the interests of their constituents. That is exactly the behavior that caused this, and I really don't think anyone wants someone who behaves like that representing them in public office any longer, no matter what political party they belong to. I do truly believe that this is a watershed moment for Plainfield. This situation, while incredibly horrible, has shone the light of day on the TRUE convictions of those currently in office, and those in this group that stayed silent in the hopes of flying under the radar until it 'blew over'. I doubt you will find a resident that thinks any of this is ok, or think the silent response by many of their elected leaders is in any way acceptable. For an official to come out against it now, almost a year after the fact, just reeks of self-interest to me. I'm sure it will fool some people, but it will just be further evidence of the true self-serving convictions of these officials to most people who have followed this from the start(and some even before the start) Everyone makes mistakes, not everyone learns from them. The chairman of the PTRO was praising this group as late as last fall, and that is a serious problem for them as a going concern for their organization. So far, the PTRO still has not learned(according to their website, all of these people are still members), and I see no reason to think that they ever will, if this situation hasn't been able to jar them into reality.
Tim February 12, 2014 at 07:52 PM
And Frank... please don't ever 100% agree with me... I would be incredibly bored!
Frank February 12, 2014 at 07:56 PM
You do the same then!!!
Vicky Polito February 12, 2014 at 09:22 PM
Frank--I must disagree strongly on one point: Garrett Peck is a bad guy. He has willfully, purposely, unconscionably deprived good working people of their livelihoods for his own gain and to serve both his personal and political agendas. THAT is a "bad guy". He claims status as an Air Force veteran when he didn't earn that status and hasn't the soul or heart to understand that for those who truly give and serve and sacrifice either in uniform or as the family of a service member, that's spitting in their faces. THAT is a "bad guy". He spent his time as OUR employee not in doing the work we needed done and that we paid him for, but spent the time intimidating innocent people and giving out jobs and money to people on his nice list and taking them away from people on his naughty list with no regard for what it meant for the district, like some sort of twisted Santa. And, that's just what we know about thus far. THAT'S a "bad guy".
Frank February 12, 2014 at 09:50 PM
Calm down, Vicky. You miss the point. Let me clarify. You can characterize Peck any way you want, good, bad or indifferent. I characterize him as an opportunist. The fact of the matter is that he is a classic opportunist. What I'm trying to say is that we as a community have created opportunities for opportunists. Such as unopposed candidates on ballots, voter turn-outs averaging 12% of the electorate, etc., etc. Plainfield is really a fertile field for opportunists. Shame on us for allowing that. You can blame him (and others like him) all you want. In this day and age, if you leave your front door unlocked, someone will walk in...and they probably aren't looking to have coffee with you. What I'm getting at is that it's not entirely the fault of the person predisposed to being an opportunist, it's just as much the fault of the people setting forth the opportunity for the opportunist. Those are the gaps we as an electorate, or as a populous, need to close. I'm simply taking my share of the blame.
Michael R. Plainfield February 12, 2014 at 09:53 PM
Just to level-set everything and recap what brought us to this point, let's recall that the previous board (2 of which are on the current board) was lobbing out tax dollars like monopoly money. Between '05 and '12 the PPD ED salary jumped from 126K to 173K, and his worthy (and expensive) Assistant was rewarded with a 32% bump during that same period (63K to 83K). Right in the heart of this timeframe, the economy cratered, and virtually every one of us were tightening our belts, and some were simply trying to hang on to their homes, put food on the table, etc. Not the ED - with his huge pay raise, he was preparing to ride off in the sunset with his $14K/month pension. THAT was the motivation of those supporting change. Now the execution (and especially communication) during this process of change has sucked – so much so that the new board has lost credibility and the confidence of the community – and I cannot see how they can continue to function as a unit. But I just want to caution everyone before vilifying those that supported change last year, and praising those that just wanted the status quo.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 10:02 PM
If you look back at a comment I made several months ago or more about how shocked I was that there were so many unopposed candidates on the ballot, you'd get it. I'll paraphrase my own comment here. "I could have run for any number of positions on the ballot without anyone even knowing who I am or what I stand for and could have walked right in." THAT'S A PROBLEM! I've been beeyatching about this for years. That's called leaving the front door unlocked and being in shock about the number of uninvited guests. To continue paraphrasing myself from long ago "there were positions on the ballot that said 'vote for no more than three' and there were only two to choose from." I can't figure out if that's more scary or more ridiculous, but history has shown that it can be catastrophic.
Larry Newton February 12, 2014 at 10:05 PM
Michael, Michael, Michael. You are so full of half truths and misinformation. . .
Frank February 12, 2014 at 10:11 PM
MRP, that may have been the sale, but that's NOT what people walked away in their bags with. A contract was written for Peck, who probably has never even strolled through a park, let alone run a whole district at a fairly lucrative salary, then was laden with the ability to earn an advanced degree on the tax payers' backs, while many of those taxpayers were struggling financially to the point they had to pull their own children out of higher education. Peck was in line for a new vehicle, while some members of our community were having their cars repossessed. Peck got a six figure job that he had no experience for, while members of our community were getting laid off from their jobs, having to stand in line to get $9 an hour jobs at WalMart. The story you are delivering has no merit.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 10:17 PM
Michael, what angers people is that Peck was given a six figure job he had no qualifications for while they were being laid off. That his contract contained the ability to earn an advanced degree on the taxpayers backs while the general public had to pare back, possibly pull their kids out of higher education, because they were laid off. Because people were living hand to mouth trying to keep food on their table while they watched their tax dollars get flushed down the toilet on "good 'ol' boy" deals. People VERY rapidly sensed that they were getting effed. The whole deal with that appointment and that contract was so much of an "IN YOUR FACE DUMBahsses" deal that it's no wonder why people took issue with it. Took issue is being very kind.
Bad News Bears February 12, 2014 at 10:23 PM
Frank, Peck is evil. He's the kid who opens the cookie jar, tells everyone to eat the cookies, then tells ma that they're all eating cookies to get them in trouble
Larry Newton February 12, 2014 at 10:28 PM
Its really easy to look back and say that the problem is that someone messed up in the past, you know? I used to be a consultant involved in waste management. The joke always was that when a public hearing was held to discuss a solid waste management plan, we'd get two or three people. But then when the landfill siting hearing proposed in the Plan was being held, people would come out of the woodwork complaining about the lack of need and "not in my backyard." Get the parallel? I stand by every vote I ever took and can justify every action I was involved with. You may not like it, but if you weren't attending the meetings prior to May 2013 and you're complaining about what we did back then. . . I don't have a lot of sympathy. It's really easy to say that the three most recent additions to the Board felt the same way as you, but Hurtado ran unopposed not necessarily because he reflected the wishes of the public at large. Silosky and Steinys also ran unopposed. They were the beneficiaries of intentional petition signature culling NOT because they reflected the wishes of the public at large.
Bad News Bears February 12, 2014 at 10:36 PM
MRP, you can spew whatever you want about previous boards and Greg's salary. That's their, and your, story and your sticking to it. Show me some proof that any of that happened. Anyone can accuse people of anything ( like racism) but without proof all I hear is blah blah blah
Frank February 12, 2014 at 10:39 PM
Here's what everybody is up in arms about. Hurtado ran unopposed and was "elected." So did Siloskey & Steinys. Nobody chose them, the door was left unlocked and they walked in. Peck was appointed. Nobody chose him, the door was left unlocked and he walked in. WHO CAUSED THIS PROBLEM? They are opportunists that ceased an opportunity. They're good, bad or indifferent....whatever.....but they are not the cause, they are THE CONSEQUENCE.
Larry Newton February 12, 2014 at 10:45 PM
I remember a meeting soon after Greg Bott signed his last contract. We had a room full of attendees. They were all upset about what he was making. I recognized many of the attendees as members of the PTRO, but didn't hold that against them. I asked one guy if he knew what the job description of the Executive Director involved, what other Executives in the area were making and how long Greg had been employed in this District. The guy said he didn't care, he was making too much money. That was the level of discourse we had. There was only a knee-jerk reaction.
Larry Newton February 12, 2014 at 10:50 PM
Frank, that would be true except that they were part of the effort to knock people off the ballot. That isn't "consequence," that's active involvement.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 10:50 PM
Larry, people earn what they earn, typically as a reward for what they have contributed to their company and for what the prospect for future return is. Here we have a situation where handsome compensation was awarded without ANY previous contributions and a RAZOR THIN prospect for any future return. As a matter of fact, we've only seen LOSSES, so that would translate into "foul ball." That pretty much boils down my previous rantings into something that should be digestable, even to the ignorant.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 10:58 PM
I'm not saying that these are well intentioned people! In this case, you're wrong Larry. Not all people want to do good. Not all people do what they say. Not all people are honest and on the level. They are the CONSEQUENCE of voter apathy and the CONSEQUENCE of the lack of public involvement BEFORE a tragedy happens. It's no different than watering your grass while your house is on fire.
Vicky Polito February 12, 2014 at 11:08 PM
I see what you mean, Frank, and it is true that people need to be on their guard, but the guy who walks into your house, knowing they don't belong there, is still more at fault than the person who made a mistake and didn't lock a door. But, you are right that people do need to be responsible for locking the door when they know someone is out roaming the neighborhood. But the majority of the blame is on the person who sets out to do wrong, who goes peering into windows and turning doorknobs looking for a weakness to exploit, not on the person who just slipped up or didn’t quite take every precaution. And, Peck’s acts are pretty overt and aggressively harmful, too. Even when some tried to aid the defense against unethical governance and got onto a ballot to run against some of the wrong-doers in this situation, semi-rigged petition challenge actions got rid of them. Your point reminded me of once when I was a kid and I came home with this great football I found in a local park on my way home one day. I thought it was my lucky day. I had really wanted a football, but my mom said I couldn't have one (she was not happy about my Tom-Boy phase!). I didn't see anyone nearby, and picked it up and took it home. My mother asked me where I got it and I explained. It made perfect sense to me. I was about 9 or 10 years old. She told me I was wrong to take it, that it belonged to another kid who would probably come back for it and she wanted me to go put it back. All I could think was that I was entitled to that football, because I wanted it and I found it. When I said, "but, Mom, I don’t know whose it is!” she put her hands on her hips (always a bad sign!) and said "But you know it isn’t yours don’t you?" Less than 30 seconds later, I was on my way back to exact spot in the park where I found that football to put it back. I haven’t told myself it was okay to take something I knew didn’t belong to me since (so, really, I guess it was my lucky day, after all). A child can make the mistake of trying “opportunism” out, but by the time you’re Peck’s age, you should know it’s wrong. And you should have the character not only to not walk through the unlocked doors, but to knock and let them know that their door is open.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 11:21 PM
Vicky, we're both saying the same thing. But I know from experience (and I assume you do too) that many people achieve an age where they should know better and have an elevated character, but they simply don't. There comes a time when you have to realize that you can't re-raise a 40 year old person. You can't change a 40 year old's established value system. You can't leave your door unlocked and expect that only coffee clatchers will walk in. You can only learn to deal with them, protect yourself from them, learn to counteract them, all while trying to live in peace with them.
Vicky Polito February 12, 2014 at 11:32 PM
Hey, everyone. Just fyi, I’ve put on The Patch’s “Town Square” sidebar links to the video recording I made tonight of the Plainfield Township Board meeting, where they took up a resolution to make a vote of no confidence in the Board of the Plainfield Township Park District. Please check there for active links to the two video clips. In long form, the video links are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n30Sbfy9SQI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-gfrLc_McI&feature=youtu.be Please bear with me as I will post this same info to comments on different articles, just to cover the bases, so you may see this message a few times. Thanks much.
Michael R. Plainfield February 13, 2014 at 08:59 AM
Larry - you say my points only contain "half-truths" and Frank - you mention that my story has no merit. Guys, please correct the record and tell me where I'm going wrong. I refuse to climb in the gutters with "theories" and other garbage such as, "because someone supported a group of candidates then they ALL must be behind some giant conspiracy..." Assumptions, theories, and proclamations with no backup proof does not advance the discussion and move the community forward. So please - let me know where I'm factually wrong because I'm human and happen to make mistakes every day - and participating in baseless smear campaigns only diminishes the democratic process.
Frank February 13, 2014 at 09:45 AM
MRP, if you review my comments, I think you'll discover that you just agreed with me as to the points you just related above.


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