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Letters to the Editor—Geauga MapleLeaf, July 14, 2016

INSTITUTIONAL PARANOIA?

Geauga Park District Executive Director John Oros and the Geauga County Park Board have changed the by-laws again to eliminate all public input from park board meetings. Why are they so paranoid about constructive criticism from the public?

Their actions over the past year lead one to believe that they are trying to hide something. Witness the following:

1. Mr. Oros personally manages Freedom of Information Act requests. Often the response is “no documents.”

Decisions appear to be made with little or no documentation to avoid public scrutiny.

2. Mr. Oros blindsided the board with his controversial pilot snowmobile program, even though it had been in the works for several months.

3. Mr. Oros fired the Director of Business and Visitor Services for reasons unknown. To date, he has not named a replacement. He has assumed the responsibility for the financial presentation at board meetings. Very little is explained about the finances other than his reading of the various account balances.

When reviewing the multi-million dollar 2017 budget, Mr. Oros was asked a fairly simple question about changes in the budget. He couldn’t answer it, so he defaulted to a member of his staff. Obviously, finance is not an area of expertise for him.

4. Very little real discussion takes place at board meetings. Mr. Oros makes a proposal and calls for a vote. All three commissioners vote yes. So how were their decisions reached?

After the July board meeting, commissioner Bill Gertz may have answered that question for us. He said that before each board meeting he meets with Mr. Oros at 9 a.m. to discuss the upcoming meeting. Do the other board members do the same thing?

Yes, park board members can meet individually with park staff. However, if this process is repeated at each meeting — and we know that it was for Mr. Gertz — it would appear to be a deliberate tactic to sidestep the Sunshine laws.

These are just a few examples of the institutional paranoia that is pervasive in park management. If they conducted their business in a more open fashion, the public might be more inclined to support them.

H. Dieter Sems
Munson Township

PUPPETS LEARNED FROM MASTER

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 make 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 multi-million 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 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 Township

ONE OF A KIND

In a mere 15-minute GPD Board Meeting this morning (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 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.

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 truthfully 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 onto 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 park land.)

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 our upcoming Park Board Commissioners meetings.”

Sandra Buckles
Troy Township

‘TOP ROT’ AT GPD

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 the revolving door GPD board and Executive Director handpicked by Grendell are clearly not up to the job.

Evidently, chosen only to rubber stamp the judges 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.

Hmmm, 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 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 Township

TONTO KNEW

If you were at Grendell’s Park Board on Tuesday (July 5), you know that everything has changed. There is no more public input.

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

It didn’t used 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 the crooked deal he was trying 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, what about the park. Well, they have a credibility problem. In the most recent Grendell-approved park flyer, it asks folks to “come and let you voice be heard.” After Tuesday’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 when they see it.

Tonto sure did.

You see, after the bad guy rode off, Tonto would look at the Lone Ranger and say, “Paleface speak with fork-ed tongue.”

David Partington
Munson Township

TIME FOR ACTION

James R. MacNeal’s recent guest column in the Maple Leaf, titled “Study all Global Warning Scientific Research,” although initially complimentary, was quite critical of a presentation put on by students of Hershey Montessori School dealing with global warming.

Too bad Mr. MacNeal has not followed the advice in the title of his column. He states, “many models tend to understate or flatly ignore the greenhouse effect of the far more common greenhouse gas water vapor . . . .” Folks, climate researchers are hardly that ignorant. They know water vapor in the atmosphere has been around since the earth was formed billions of years ago and is a necessary greenhouse gas which allows life to flourish on our planet. Without the greenhouse gas water vapor, the earth would be a frozen hulk hardly capable of sustaining much life. Researchers know the problem is man generated greenhouse gasses that take our planet outside the climate range we have been in for over a million years.

Much of Mr. MacNeal’s column seemed designed to confuse or put doubt in people’s minds. Maybe he is just parroting the propaganda of Exon/Mobil and other companies that have spent many millions of dollars to create doubt in people’s minds as to the cause of global warming. These companies are willing to go to great lengths to continue their harmful commercial activities to the detriment of our planet.

Thousands of atmospheric researchers know the cause of progressive, damaging global warming is man’s use of the atmosphere as a dumping ground for gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, etc., gases that will very likely be devastating to life on earth and in our oceans if not drastically controlled very soon.

Once again, we see the argument of a conspiracy to silence the climate deniers. This is hardly the case. Since the 1500s, the scientific method has been the way of determining truths about the universe we live in. Scientists relish the opportunity to counter any viewpoint they do not agree with and provide evidence to support their argument. Such is the way of science.

Without the scientific method, we would still be forced to believe the earth is flat, Zeus is the king of the Gods and Apollo 11 did not really land on the moon.

James MacNeal quotes two distinguished scientists regarding their being skeptics of global warming. I phoned Mr. MacNeal and asked him where the quotes came from and how long ago were they made. He could not tell me. I asked him if he had read any book on global warming written by any scientific authority. He stated he had not. It’s wise for scientists to be skeptical until sufficient data on a topic has accumulated.

If you would have interviewed nearly all atmospheric scientists 20 or 30 years ago, they would have expressed some healthy skepticism and doubt, but with the overwhelming data available today from extensive research little doubt remains in the scientific realm.

The time for action is now. We need to stop providing a forum for climate deniers when they do not provide facts but only spread disinformation and confusion. We need to stop electing people to political offices when they are in the pocket of corporations and are mouth pieces for the corporate climate denying propagandists. We need leadership and an educated electorate that does not tolerate the direction we have been heading.

Without action soon, we will be heading into a climate future from which there may be no return for many hundreds of years.

John G. Augustine
Parkman Township

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