The GPD board meeting, usually held in one of the Park facilities, was
moved to the Probate/Juvenile Court for today’s meeting. While no reason
was offered to citizens who called earlier this week – it was released to
the press that the meeting was moved for “safety and security reasons.”
John Oros was quoted, “the board meetings have been disruptive at times.”
Evidently, asking questions is “disruptive” to those who want to conduct
public business secretly.
At the Courthouse, attendees were required to pass through a metal
detector and most were advised that they needed to turn off or surrender
their cell phones. At 9:00 AM—30 minutes prior to the announced start of the
meeting— all park board members were in the meeting room with the door
closed. Members of the public were refused admittance. Approximately 30
citizens waited in the corridor while the board discussed unknown topics.
Members of the public were not permitted to bring cameras and recording devices
into the meeting. The reporter from the Plain Dealer was granted an exception
to the no recording rule.
New board member, Andrej Lah, was in place, introduced as having been
sworn in this morning. Refreshingly, Mr. Lah asked pertinent questions
about plans that he had evidently had the opportunity to study prior to
the meeting. We applaud his questions but wonder when he was given the
documents, having only been sworn in that morning. Once again there was very
little question or comment from the other board members, even when
presented with a replacement for the financial report that they had
approved in less than 8 minutes at last month’s meeting. Director Oros
mentioned a formatting error that moved sections of the financial document
out of place – leading members of the public to wonder if the board
members had even looked at the financial document that they so quickly
approved at the Dec.13th meeting.
Members of the public were mostly silent at this meeting, partly due to
the fact that no outrageous new developments were presented as fact with
zero oversight, and partly due to the uncertainty of the venue. The
director’s goal of squelching public oversight was quite successful.
(Probably illegal—but successful.)
The entire public meeting was completed in 17 minutes. The board called
for executive session which lasted another 15–20 minutes but resulted in
no further business or votes. The next meeting was scheduled for Feb.14th
with the location to be decided.
Responsible citizens still ask “How and where are park decisions being
made?” Protect Geauga Parks encourages all citizens to exercise their
right to attend these public meetings despite the fact that Judge
Grendell’s handpicked Commissioners have eliminated all public comment. Public
meetings are meant to be open so that the public can understand how
decisions are made concerning our tax dollars and public property. It is
more important than ever for responsible citizens hold this public board
responsible to the PUBLIC.
Kathy Hanratty, President, Protect Geauga Parks