'This Sideshow Has to Stop:' Plainfield Park Board President

Hurtado talks about racism claims in WJOL interview.

Peter Hurtado. Credit: File photo
Peter Hurtado. Credit: File photo

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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Frank J Thierer February 11, 2014 at 08:14 AM
WOW !!! Racism, I'm proud to say that I don't have a racism bone in my body. I was taught a long time ago by my parents that racism is not allowed. "You judge people on how they do their job,You judge people on how they treat you" Us older people will remember those lessons from our parents. What fries my butt is when you express your dislike for a person because of the job they are doing and that person starts yelling "racism". mr hutado,I could care less what your nationally is. What I care about is how you do your job. Since you are suppose to be running the PPD for us the "Residents" I have a right to tell you how I feel about your job performance. Your job performance "SUCKS". You, along with your "partners in crime" need to vacate your positions in this board. All of you have done a great disservice to all of us "Residents". The faster you leave the faster we "Residents" can get down to the business of placing the proper people in those positions so they can start running the Plainfield Park District for all of us "Residents". I just love when a person gets painted into a corner they throw out the racism card. mr h, did you care about any of us when you tried to unload a bunch of light bulbs that sounds like we'll never be able to use,or it will take many decades to use up. All you wanted was to fill your pocket with our cash. You make a bad business decision in your private life and expect us "Residents" to pay for that mistake. Is that how you "fabulous four" feel about us?I love the way board member silotsky or stenys stand up and feigns their complete shock that their fellow partner in crime is trying to screw us "Residents" by dumping their garbage on us and bail themselves out of a bad situation. All four, hurtado,silotsky,stenys,and booth,the "Fabulous Four"need to go NOW. Do all of you think that if you hold out we will forget all of this. Do any of your think that when we see you sitting up at the main table at a PD meeting that any of us actually have any respect for you. That's all gone, we look at you with contempt. I have to wonder what goes through your minds up there knowing that most if not all of your audience can't stand the sight of you. How does that feel? What do you think when you are looking out at all of those "Residents"knowing full well that the vast majority want you to resign NOW! Must be great feeling because all of you are still here. Really makes one wonder how your thinking process really works. I'd be so embarrassed that I don't think I could even show up. I'd pull a Pecker and resign in the paper and not show my face. ARE YOU GETTING THE MESSAGE......LEAVE NOW
Robert Betzwiser February 11, 2014 at 09:48 AM
Mr Hurtado, Where was the racism at election time. You were elected. How about the board majority who (BULLIED) the people of plainfield for political reasons. Hit your hand with a hammer it's going to hurt. Maybe you should be a comedian. I keep laughing! Turns out your 25 or so people is really 30,000 or so. .
Dan February 11, 2014 at 10:10 AM
right out of obammy's play book,when all else fails,use the race card. this guy is a tool,like ALL political members.
brian February 11, 2014 at 11:06 AM
"He was making fun of me," Hurtado said. LOL! Grow up kiddo! BTw, the sideshow will leave when you do!
Judy February 11, 2014 at 11:40 AM
When & where are PPD meetings held? Why are they not listed in our weekly Plainfield Enterprise on the Community Events and News page?
Plainfield Independent February 11, 2014 at 11:50 AM
The meetings are now held at the Plainfield Township building on Lockport St which is a different government entity than the Park District. I noticed there is no documentation anywhere showing the Township board voted to approve the Park District meetings to be held there. Was this brought to the attention of the full board? Maybe some of the elected Township officials could give some insight as to WHO authorized this agreement?
Theresa February 11, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Well Mr. Hurtado....given the new names posted it would appear that there are more than 25 residents following your "fiasco". Hmmm?
Josh Herrara February 11, 2014 at 12:26 PM
So, let me get this straight... In the WJOL interview, Hurtado says that the Executive Director makes the decisions in whether employees get hired and fired, AND that the board should be involved in that decision making process. Wasn’t it Board interference that started this mess back in May of 2013? The newly elected board majority voted Greg Bott out early and placed Garrett Peck as Executive Director against advice from the board minority and the public. The board majority (Hurtado, Silosky and Steinys) had their puppet (Peck) eliminate positions and departments to make room for friends, acquaintances and relatives. Now, after the abuse of power, and hopefully the hiring of a QUALIFIED executive Director, Hurtado still wants control over hiring and firing? Why? Could it possibly be that he doesn't want all of the board majorities’ patronage hires to lose their jobs when they get an Executive Director with common sense and morals? Or is it to continue firing qualified employees to hire more friends, acquaintances and relatives? Also, Hurtado wants a public action committee to sit in on staff meetings. Why? Are the patronage hires not feeding him the information he was hoping for? Or is it to ensure that the staff remains fearful of the majority and ensure their silence? It can’t be to actually listen to the public. He's silenced everyone who wants to help this district and keep it heading in the right direction. Hurtado also mentions that he wants an ethics committee. He says that in the past, there have been some ethics mistakes. And there have been many since he took control of the board. He must consider May 2013 through today "the past" since there was no need for an ethics committee before he brought the park district the wonderful gifts of Garrett Peck, Janet Silosky, Peter Steinys, and The Reverend Doug Booth. The best way to end a sideshow is to get rid of the circus, and you can't get rid of the circus until you get rid of the clowns.
Gabby February 11, 2014 at 12:29 PM
Just in case Mr. Hurtado believes the 25 are in a conspiracy against him, this is not true. I do not know any of the "regular" contributors on the Patch. After listening to you on the radio, I was led to believe that things are worse than I thought. The contagion of change has begun as those of us in the early majority join the early adopters and innovators to call for your resignation. The most effective change happens at the grassroots level.
Shannon Antinori (Editor) February 11, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Link to a podcast of Hurtado's WJOL interview: http://wjol.nmchost.com/2014/02/11/exclusive-interview-with-park-district-president-peter-hurtado-.aspx
Vicky Polito February 11, 2014 at 12:49 PM
Thank you, Shannon! I have a recording but I am stuck in a meeting and can't prep and post! Appreciate it so much.
Bill Johnson February 11, 2014 at 02:18 PM
Scary. If he doesn't realize 25 people "showing up" is a HUGE amount...which means there are 1000s of others "listening" to those people, and are just too busy to show up....or they don't care...then he's lost when it comes to real public opinion.
Dave D February 11, 2014 at 02:19 PM
Hurtado - 25 people? Really? I don't know any of the other people that make comments on this forum but I can tell that all you are doing is digging yourself a deeper hole. I am a citizen of Plainfield and have been since 2000. All I want is for my kids to have a happy and safe childhood and to have the opportunity to participate in programs offered by a well run park district. You have shown me nothing but a complete lack of professionalism. It is clearly time for you to go. Good luck in your future endeavors.
Bill Johnson February 11, 2014 at 02:36 PM
Dave's absolutely right. It's about citizens and kids. That's the purpose of the Park District. All this bickering, fighting and politics does an injustice. So, whether it's right or wrong, this whole thing, the BEST thing to do is step down. Even if Hurtado is right. At some point it's really not about right and wrong incidents, its' about moving on and thinking of the community. Clean slate.... remove himself, people would respect him. He might have even had good intentions, but now it's hard to change perceptions: he's not going to. Morale is at stake. And so is the citizens confidence.
A. Radley February 11, 2014 at 03:23 PM
I hope this isn't a repeat comment and I really hate to direct traffic away from the patch, but did anyone see the article on the Herald-News where Hurtado claims the link between the lighting company that sold the LEDs to the Park District and his company are completely coincidental? Seems like an awfully big coincidence.
Tim February 11, 2014 at 03:34 PM
Shannon, Is Hurtado not giving interviews to the Patch, and just to everyone else? (herald, WJOL, etc) If so, I think we have a bigger problem in the PTPD on our hands... STILL.
Mark Murphy February 11, 2014 at 05:51 PM
Didn't he admit the lights were His? However, he has no ties to this Ghost Company (Solis) that allegedly had his future Son-in Laws name on it? I got to hear this one! More people need to go to the FBI website and demand a Federal Investigation!
Joe Schmo February 11, 2014 at 06:01 PM
I went on the park districts website and pulled up the April 13 2013 board meeting minutes before these people took over there is a check number 85334 to Sterling Network Integration got to wonder if that's who the District used before Garrett ' s buddy took over. Wonder why they got the boot
Sam Pavlis February 11, 2014 at 06:03 PM
Hurtado definitely needs to do the ethical thing which is to step down at this point. Has anyone heard from our mayor??? He has an obligation to speak to his constituents about the scandal that is plaguing the village that he is supposed to be ruling!!! His lack of interest is not helping his cause either.!!
Tim February 11, 2014 at 06:57 PM
@Sam P - The mayor has made his statement with his silence. From now on, he will be attached to these people(some of whom campaigned for him) and their reputation. The time to speak out about this was BEFORE it became this severe of a problem, when it became very clearly obvious what this little group was doing back in May, when they immediately started appointing their political friends to executive positions. There were elected officials who strongly spoke out against this immediately, so any of them doing it now(almost a year later) are too late to the table and shouldn't be trusted.
Plainfield Independent February 11, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Sam - The mayor is in a go-along-to-get-along mode. His comments to the community last night was to 'stay warm.' The mayor's silence is absolutely pathetic. His words and actions to a Village resident and to two trustees make me wonder if Mayor Collins is now advocating censorship. His and Brian Murphy's continual interruptions of the public trying to speak making me wonder if they are taking some of the ideas from the Plainfield Park District playbook to silence their critics. Keep asking questions to the Village Board folks and stay vigilant!
Sam Pavlis February 11, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Tim I couldn't agree more!!! But it is an absolute joke to have a mayor that chooses to stay quiet about this fiasco when his constituents are looking to him for guidance. He has an obligation to speak up!!!
Tim February 11, 2014 at 07:45 PM
@Sam - I think this is a watershed moment for the Plainfield community. A lot of people have laid their cards on the table, as to their true allegiances. Those who have been silent, or only recently turned their backs on the same people they supported and put in these position, seem to be unaware that they have 'poked the bear'. The whole community has been watching, and listening. The little clique of people who caused this is starting to be identified and shown in the light of day, and not a single one of them will ever hold elected office in this community again. They think this was just a little power game for them, and I don't think even now they are fully cognizant of all the innocent lives they have already ruined. You don't just 'do that' in a small community like this, and expect nobody to notice. There is no coming back from the side they have chosen.
Theresa February 11, 2014 at 08:02 PM
It would be prudent to publicly post the next scheduled PPD meeting date, time & location.
Theresa February 11, 2014 at 08:03 PM
And make sure the space can accommodate more than 25 residents... one would think.
Jackie Darling February 11, 2014 at 08:25 PM
Theresa- This is from the Park District's Website. The next meeting will be held on March 4th, unless of course another "special meeting" is scheduled before then. The regular monthly meetings of the Plainfield Township Park District will be held on the 1st Tuesday of the month. All meetings are held at the Plainfield Township Administration Building, 22525 W. Lockport Street, Plainfield, IL 60544 unless otherwise noted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. All meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. and are open to the public.
Vicki Knight February 11, 2014 at 08:43 PM
I was at the last meeting and there were more than 25 people there so I don't know what Peter Hurtado is talking about, I guess he can't count. I just got done reading the article from the Hearld News and OMG!!!!WHAT A JOKE!!!!!! Who does he think he is kidding?
Theresa February 11, 2014 at 09:04 PM
@Jackie Yes, thank you but they have a history of changing or to cancel at a moments notice :)
my conscience February 11, 2014 at 09:31 PM
This message is directed at parents who might question the state of civics education in Illinois. Do you think it might be too extreme to say that so few young people understand what civics and representative government mean that our democracy could be at stake? Do you think that, if we don’t start practicing and demanding ethical behavior of our government officials, eventually our democracy will fail? Would it be a stretch to say that many freedoms we now enjoy are taken for granted, not understood or could even be lost? OK, maybe that is a stretch, but the next Park District, or Village board meeting would be an excellent opportunity for civics students, or others wanting to learn more about local government, to attend and see first-hand how community problems are handled by local government. To maximize the educational value, before attending the meeting some background in the various issues facing the board should be reviewed and several key questions written down. During the meeting, the student should review their list to see if their most important questions are covered. The list of questions should be discussed by students, teachers and parents both before and after the meeting. Another excellent topic that could be studied is the Illinois law regarding open meetings, and how it benefits all citizens. It would be good for teachers and students to express why open meetings are good, and what Illinois may have been like before the open meetings were required by law. This exercise is best done before attending a meeting. This is a tremendous learning opportunity for civics learners of all ages. Who knows, one of them could be our next president! Reference: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/open-meetings-laws-illinois
Bad News Bears February 11, 2014 at 09:53 PM
MC, there have been high school students that have attended the PPD meetings for civics class. A bunch of them got to witness our President ( Hurtado) and ED ( Peck) play tic tac toe while tax payers spoke. So I guess they got their civics lesson that day


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