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Letters to the Editor—Chagrin Valley Times, July 14, 2016

Speaking with forked tongue

If you were at Judge Timothy J. Grendell’s Geauga Park Board meeting last week, you know that everything has changed. There is no more public input.

Now I can understand that Mr. Grendell might not want to hear from me, but everybody?

It didn’t use be that way, at least not on Saturday morning TV.

As a kid, Saturday morning found me parked in front of our black-and-white TV. I’m a child of the ’50s, and I loved the cartoons, but my favorite program was “The Lone Ranger.” The Lone Ranger was the good guy. He had an Indian companion named Tonto who spoke a sort of broken Hollywood English. The shows often started with the bad guy riding up to the Lone Ranger and Tonto. The bad guy proceeded to give them a line of talk that came straight off the stable floor. The bad guy would tell the Lone Ranger that the crooked deal he was trying to pull on the family of settlers was really OK. The Lone Ranger and Tonto sat on their horses stone faced. Then the bad guy rode off.

OK, OK, what about the park board? Well, they have a credibility problem. In the most recent Judge Grendell-approved park flier, it asks folks to “come and let your voice be heard.”

After last week’s meeting, the message is different. There is to be no public comment. That’s right, no input from the people that pay for the parks. It’s sit down and shut up. Sadly, that just won’t do. If you can say one thing then do just opposite, you lose the public trust. People recognize dishonesty when they see it.

Tonto sure did. You see, after the bad guy rode off, Tonto would look at the Lone Ranger and say, “Pale face speak with forked tongue.”

David Partington, Munson

Congratulations to puppets

Kudos to the Geauga Park District Board and Executive Director John Oros for making Geauga parks one of a kind in Ohio.

In a mere 15-minute park board meeting last week at the Meyer Center at Big Creek Park, 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 — of more than 50 surveyed — that eliminates 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.

Park board President Jackie 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. Board member Leonard H. Barker, you indeed pitched a perfect game for the judge and have done irreparable damage to your reputation.

And board member William. 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 truthfully honest about what 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 multimillion-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 had just won a big prize. What was it, judge?

And on to executive session, where the board was scheduled to discuss 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 parkland.

Be sure to pay attention to the fall Voices of Nature. 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 their upcoming park commissioners meetings.

Sandra Buckles, Troy

Questions, answers quashed

In August 2014, citizens came together, approached the Geauga Park Board and said, in essence, “You have been in office less than a year and need to reconsider the drastic changes you have made to the mission of our beautiful parks. Please get public input and then thoughtfully make changes the people, the shareholders, the taxpayers want.” We were summarily rejected.

At subsequent board meetings, with ever-changing board members, we engaged in further discussions with questions and answers from both sides.

Ultimately, on the advice of counsel, they chose to let us speak but declined to respond in any manner. However, the board’s business continued with open discussion among the board members, debate and the exchange of ideas. Expenditures were questioned by the board, and staff was required to get answers.

The latest board meeting took 16 minutes, during which a multimillion-dollar budget was approved without a single question raised by a board member, several thousands of dollars of vouchers to pay bills were approved without a single issue raised, current projects were noted as being on schedule without any detail as to what they were, and, I suppose as a celebration of the Fourth of July, the public’s right to speak was terminated. The local probate judge’s puppets have learned from the master that the letter of the law is better to follow than the spirit.

Either the board is not aware of its responsibilities, doesn’t care about these responsibilities or is conducting business outside of public scrutiny.

Ed Buckles, Troy

Advertising can’t hide rot

A history of excellence and a fantastic staff keep the Geauga parks going despite a serious problem of top rot.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on advertising will not hide the fact that the revolving-door Geauga Park District Board and executive director handpicked by Probate Judge Timothy J. Grendell are clearly not up to the job. Evidently chosen only to rubber stamp the judge’s distorted version of the natural world where “conservation” is a nasty word and open spaces are valued only as gaming spots or game preserves, this group blunders on, shutting out the public.

Ignoring constructive suggestion and calling the public “critics,” they have now eliminated the public-comment time from the monthly board meetings. A group of citizens asking questions about how our public parks are being used, how our public dollars are being spent and how they are making these decisions caused this — so they tell us. Hmmmm, I thought that was called an engaged citizenry.

So how long before the top rot affects the whole park system? How long can the parks endure the whack-a-mole decision making, the gratuitous self-promotion and the lack of conservation knowledge displayed by Mr. Grendell and his appointees?

Our parks were great long before this bunch took control. Spending hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars on advertising and TV spots featuring the judge does nothing to make them “better than ever.”

Kathryn Hanratty, Chardon

Categories: News

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