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Maple Leaf Guest Column

The Geauga County Maple Leaf published our letter as a guest column in their online edition.

GUEST COLUMN: ‘Voices of Nature’ Hijacked for Political Purposes

APRIL 14, 2016

Lord Acton famously stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The probate judge position appears unable to make fair and reasoned absolute decisions with just this one person.

Geauga Park District’s quarterly “Voices of Nature” publication is self-described as a “seasonal guide to programs, special events and current news of Geauga Park District.”

Quizzically then, why does the local probate judge, whose primary statutory duty is to appoint the park commissioners, hijack the publication for his personal political purposes?

The “From the Bench” article in the Spring 2016 edition of “Voices of Nature “starts with a quote from an anonymous “Geauga Protect the Park group” member who allegedly told the judge, “if someone wants their children to play at playground, they should move to Mentor.” The judge focuses his article on the statement of an anonymous person and we can only hope he does not accept anonymously sourced evidence in his courtroom.

Presuming the accuracy of the quote, why would anyone send anyone to Mentor to find a playground when there are playgrounds found at every elementary school in Geauga County as well as at several township and village parks?

The true question is why the judge wants to destroy 9,500 beautiful and unique acres of park lands with more playgrounds, and not preserve, conserve and protect the park lands, as that is the mission of Protect Geauga Parks.

This appears to be another politician motivated to spend money, with no apparent benefit to the taxpayers, while destroying natural environments and habitats that can never be replaced.

The article references the “competing interests of preservation versus recreation.” Preservation and recreation are competing interests only for the ignorant. It’s birdwatching not recreation? It’s hiking not recreation? It’s listening to the sounds of nature not recreation? It’s geocaching not recreation? It’s wondering at spectacular spring and fall flora not recreation? It’s stargazing not recreation?

Recreation and preservation can be complimentary goals under prudent park management and are “conducive to the general welfare,” as required by the Ohio Revised Code cited by the judge.

The judge references another anonymous source in stating, “Those few who oppose limited recreational use of our parks . . .” Protect Geauga Parks promotes increased recreational use of our parks as long as it is consistent with preserving, protecting and conserving natural environments. The simple beauty of nature is that it does provide recreation for every person without the intervention of artificial recreation.

The judge chastises the anonymous source for mischaracterizing his board appointments. Facts are facts: A review of the revolving door that has become the seats on the Geauga Park Board, whether it be unlawful appointments, forced resignations, voluntary resignations or short terms only for political purposes, proves that the appointments are not “fair and reasoned decisions.”

The article states that “Unlike the executive and legislative branches, where consensus often is required, judicial decisions must be made by one person — the judge.” Apparently, the judge has forgotten to whom he is married as his spouse is an appellate judge who makes decisions by consensus. Apparently, the judge has also forgotten about the Ohio and U.S. supreme courts, where decisions are made by seven or nine judges by consensus.

Lord Acton famously stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The probate judge position appears unable to make fair and reasoned absolute decisions with just this one person.

The judge states “the Probate Court is the least controversial, the least adversarial and is the least political county elected position.” If true, why does the judge defend his park board appointments, why does he attack anonymous people in this article and why does he write an attacking/controversial article in a publication intended as a seasonal guide to programs, special events and current news of Geauga Park District?

If he believed his own premise, his article would be about taking his grandchildren for spring walks through the parks and enjoying the birds and the blossoming flora. As the Queen stated in Hamlet, “methinks thou dost protest too much.” William Shakespeare, Act-2, Scene-2.

The final quizzical statement refers to the judicial ethical rules stating “A judge shall not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism.”

So then . . . why did the judge write this article?

Protect Geauga Parks Trustees:

Kathryn Hanratty, Ed Buckles, Barb Partington, Ron Kimmich, John Augustine, Sandy Buckles, Shelley Chernin, Tony Festa, Frank Gwirtz, Katherine Malmquist, Dave Partington, Kathleen Webb

Categories: News

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