In a mere 15 minute GPD Board Meeting on July 5 at the Meyer Center at Big Creek, the latest team of the local probate judge’s minions continued the agenda of nullifying one of the founding principles of the United States of America in celebration of Independence Day. They voted unanimously to remove public comment from the Park Board meetings making the Geauga Park District the only park district in the entire state of Ohio (over 50 surveyed) that prohibits public comment at meetings. I want to offer my congratulations to these puppets. Not only have they supported the judge in his mysterious agenda to destroy the parks, but they have taken the issues of public involvement in the parks from our rural county to a statewide and national issue of freedom of speech. Ms. Dottore, thank you too, for providing ammunition to stop you from holding any political offices in the future, no matter if the judge has promised the park board position as a stepping stone. Mr.Barker, you indeed pitched a perfect game for the judge and have done irreparable damage to your reputation. And Mr. Gertz, the biggest surprise of all, voted to suppress the right of the public to voice their opinion in a public forum. His only concern was having the Pledge of Allegiance remain on the agenda of Park Board Meetings. I guess we should just remove the “liberty and justice for all” section to be truly honest about what the freedom of expression means to our probate judge and these unelected public officials. And in that same 15 minutes with only a few seconds of discussion, a multi-million dollar budget proposal was approved. Deep thought and insight are not one of this board’s characteristics. Mr. Oros, sitting with a smirk on his face, through the entire meeting looked as if he has just won a big prize (what was it , judge?) And on to Executive Session where the board announced no action had been taken on property acquisition (oh, yes Mr. Gertz owns property immediately adjacent to the land being considered by the board so I guess he has read the Environ report that property values increase when near park land).
Be sure to read the next issue of the Voices of Nature newsletter. Watch to see if this section is removed.
“The Geauga Park Board invites and encourages you to come and let your voice be heard. Please stop by at any time during one of our upcoming Park Board Commissioners meetings.”
Starting two years ago when the local probate judge praised the Mucci/Shumway Board for moving Park Board meetings to later in the day and alternating between West Woods and Big Creek to encourage more public involvement, to huge crowds of people actually participating, it has become apparent that public comment is not wanted unless it is to gush over the wonderful probate judge and his “Big Brother” approach to knowing what is best for the entire county. Meetings were then moved to 3 pm (oh yes, parents with kids coming home from school then could not come). Then the meetings were scheduled only at Big Creek (too far for some to travel), then moved to 10 am (making it even harder for the working public to attend). As if that was not enough, public comment was limited to 3 minutes per person, moved from the end of the meeting when topics on the agenda could be discussed, to the beginning of the meeting (as the park’s legal counsel suggested a move that would defuse public comments) to a requirement that an individual sign up at the beginning of the meeting. AND NOW YOU CANNOT TALK AT ALL. It was also supported by the park legal counsel that the unelected Park Commissioners were not required to answer any questions.
How fortunate we are to have the local probate judge and his puppets to make all the decisions for us simple country folk! He knows what is best and we should all take comfort that he has our (or rather, his) best interests in mind. Let’s rewrite the notice in the Voices of Nature to reflect the actual situation:
“The Geauga Park Board sees no point in the attendance of the public at any of the upcoming Park Board Commissioners meetings. You are NOT encouraged to come and your voice will not be heard.”
Mr. Oros, Ms. Dottore, Mr. Barker, and Mr. Gertz, please let the probate judge know that we have only just begun!
And voters, are we going to let the probate judge who does not even own property in Geauga, OR pay property taxes, tell us what to do with OUR parks?