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Letters to the Editor: Chagrin Valley Times, Feb. 18

http://www.chagrinvalleytoday.com/viewpoint/your_viewpoint/article_23f61dfc-d5b4-11e5-9bec-f72a8ad57b91.html

No doubt about dysfunction

     If any of you folks had any doubt about the dysfunction and wrong direction of our Geauga parks since Judge Timothy J. Grendell’s takeover began, you only had to attend the last park commissioners meeting and observe what went on.

     The meeting started off with Director John Oros introducing the two new park commissioners. I asked about any experience in their background that might be an asset and indicate a positive direction, as opposed to the direction the park has been heading since Director Tom Curtin was fired. Neither commissioner mentioned any past interest in parks, natural area protection, involvement in any park systems or background in conservation. Folks, the new commissioners may be very fine people, but give me a break!

     One commissioner’s sole knowledge of any park seems to be that he played baseball in a “ball park.” The other seems to have had questionable experience as a school board member with some of her financial activity there under serious question.

     New park commissioners should be able to hit the ground running, and many of the highly qualified people who have been interested in being appointed are vary capable of doing just that. It’s not a place for beginners to spend years learning the ropes and being pulled around by the nose by a director who’s being pulled around by the nose by some probate judge.

     Prior to the very limited public comment period, Director Oros again stated that questions would not be allowed. Is he for real? Should not the park administration and commissioners welcome questions and be more than happy for the opportunity to communicate in a public forum? Apparently not.

     Beginning to look more and more like our parks are part of the Russian oligarchy. Perhaps they should change the name of the park newsletter to “Geauga Parks Pravda.”

     Folks, we can do better, and we must do better. If not, we will continue to degrade and eventually destroy a park system built up over more than 50 years by the hard work of fine professionals, many of whom still work for the parks under very stressful conditions.

     It’s time for our political profession at the Statehouse to do their job and give us a probate judge that the late Judge Charles “Chip” Henry would be pleased to see filling his shoes.

John G. Augustine, Parkman

It is time for some change

     I read with interest the honorable Judge Timothy J. Grendell’s justification for not renewing a longstanding, well-respected, highly qualified local park board member and replacing him with one of the judge’s political proteges. It seems the judge believes that change is better than experience, that new faces are better than institutional memory, that people who will owe him something are better than people with knowledge.

     Now I must give the judge credit for showing some political courage. Like many, I received a robo call from him endorsing the Sandy Hook Promise. His call focused on bullying and its prevention, but we all know that Sandy Hook’s primary focus is on gun regulation. One has to admire him for endorsing this group’s goals, some of which may be held in disfavor by many in the county.

     However, that said, I have witnessed firsthand the disruptions caused by the judge’s constant changes at the Geauga Park District Board. Board members do not know the history of issues and that matters have been previously decided and now are being re-discussed, because the judge was unhappy with the first outcome; they do not understand the difficult budgeting process; they cannot make and implement long-term plans.

     The result is that there is no true oversight by the board, and the judge’s hand-picked director leads the board down the judge’s predetermined path.

     If the judge truly believes that random change is good and that, to quote him, “there are no lifetime appointments,” then he should resign his position. To quote a letter my wife wrote when the judge manipulated the Ohio House and Senate elections in order to avoid being disqualified by term-limit laws, “It’s time for the Grendells to stop feeding at the public trough.”

Ed Buckles, Troy

A little help for his friends

     Some people have responded to my recent letter defending Judge Tim Grendell for hiring his campaign manager as his Juvenile and Probate Court constable and the no-bid contract he awarded to tea-party candidate Linda O’Brien. They ask why I didn’t mention Kim Laurie, like I was trying to hide that one.

     It is true that the judge fired some employees, created a new position of budget coordinator and liaison for the Juvenile and Probate Court and then gave failed Lake County Tea Party candidate Kimberly Laurie the job.

     As I see it, that’s only three examples of when Judge Grendell used the power and the budget of his office to help out loyal friends and political allies. That doesn’t mean that it’s cronyism. He’s simply helping friends have good jobs until their next opportunity comes along.

     Yes, I know Ms. Laurie is running for Lake County commissioner again. But if that doesn’t work out for her, she’ll still have her Geauga County job. What’s so wrong about that?

Todd Ray, Munson

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