The following press release was issued by State Representative, John Boccieri, of Youngstown on March 28.
State Representative John Boccieri
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MARCH 28, 2016
Contact: Julia Wynn, Legislative Aide (614) 466-6107
Boccieri moves to reform Mill Creek Park Board appointment process
Lawmaker says county commissioners better suited to appoint board members
COLUMBUS— State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today responded to Probate Judge Robert Rusu’s ardent defense of the current process for electing members to the Mill Creek MetroPark Board of Commissioners, saying that more transparency and public participation in the process is needed and that the county commissioners would be better equipped to oversee park board appointments.
Rep. Boccieri announced recently that he is working on legislation to transfer the appointment authority for park board members from the probate judge to county commissioners.
Judge Rusu questioned the necessity of such legislation in a WFMJ article published Thursday. He has promised to involve citizens to a greater extent in finding a replacement for Board Member Mike Senchak, who resigned last week. Judge Russo said, “Probate judges’ role is the least political role as a county elected position so it’s thought of that the judge could appoint people that are doing it for the right reasons, not for political gain.”
Rep. Boccieri countered this point. “According to my constituents and articles in media outlets across the Valley, the cries for public input were ignored during the hiring process of our current executive director,” said Boccieri. “I applaud Judge Rusu for opening up the process to concerned citizens for the nomination of this new board member.”
“However, I disagree with the suggestion that commissioners appoint board members for political gain,” Boccieri continued. “By and large, commissioners appoint board members who strongly believe in helping the community. These individuals are selfless, unpaid members that want to make a difference by serving on boards of mental health, drug addiction services and children’s services.”
Judges are bound by judicial restraint and so, by virtue of their position, are handicapped from engaging publicly on controversial issues, such as the recent handling of employee terminations at Mill Creek, or cuts to local government funds by Governor Kasich.
“County commissioners appoint nearly every board in the county, boards that crisscross political jurisdictions and are responsible to the public for financial budgets,” said Boccieri. “If the Metro Park board ever plummeted into receivership because they could not pay their bills, the probate judge isn’t going bail out the park; the commissioners are the fiduciaries of the county.”
Rep. Boccieri is currently circulating the draft bill with other members of the General Assembly, seeking co-sponsors before it is introduced.