Three days after issuing a statement saying he believes racism is the real reason behind recent ethics allegations, Plainfield Park District Board President Peter Hurtado went on WJOL's Kevin Kollins Show to double down on his claim.
Last month, fellow park board member Janet Silosky spoke up at a board meeting, accusing Hurtado of trying to use a dummy company to sell a shipment of LED lights to the park district.
Calling the allegations of racism "very disturbing," Kollins asked Hurtado what he thought of recent statements from Plainfield Village Trustee Jim Racich. In an interview with Patch, Racich expressed outrage, saying, "[Hurtado] drew on the race card to defend himself." Racich also accused Hurtado of using racism claims to deflect attention from the allegations made against him.
"We're talking about fact, not fictions," Hurtado said of the claims he made in a Feb. 9 letter to the editor. He maintained that Racich can be seen in video of a July park board meeting mocking his accent. "He was making fun of me," Hurtado said.
Asked by Kollins to address the allegations about LED lights, Hurtado said he believes an investigation will show no evidence of ethics violations.
"It's an ongoing investigation right now, so I think it would be inappropriate to comment," Hurtado said. He did say he was unaware of the lighting purchase, and denied any link between himself and Solis, the company listed on an invoice for the lights.
He also said it's time to bring the focus back to the task of running the park district.
"I need to move away from that," he said of the allegations. "Things are good at the Plainfield Park District. This sideshow has to stop."
During his interview with Kollins, Hurtado also downplayed the reaction of residents to recent turmoil at the park district, saying it's the same group of people who continually speak up at park board meetings. In recent weeks, some outraged residents have even called for Hurtado's resignation.
"There's about 25 people in the group," he said. "It's the same people coming to the meetings," Hurtado added, saying YouTube videos posted by a park district resident back up his claim.
Although Hurtado's letter to the editor claims racism, when Kollins asked him if his original accuser, Janet Silosky, is racist, the board president said no, noting that he has campaigned with her in the past.
"Sometimes in the heat of the moment we say something that we don't really mean," he said of Silosky's allegations.
Last week, Silosky told Patch she can no longer comment on the allegations, citing a pending investigation.
Hurtado also told Kollins he would like to see his fellow park board commissioners support the creation of a public advisory commission and an independent ethics committee.
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