Archive for October 23rd, 2009

Continued Turmoil at the Justice Park District

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

by Victor Stiefel

Staff Reporter

Two long serving commissioners resigned their Park District posts at October’s Justice Park Board meeting.  In separate letters commissioners Sue Murphy and Kathy Rusch lambasted mayor Kris Wasowicz’s Peoples Voice Party members Karen Garrette, Olivia Jachymiak and Roy McGee.  Both cited among other things secrecy, alienation and unprofessional conduct in regard to the group of three’s campaign of reform turned to mud and malicious attacks.  Upon taking office Karen Garrette was voted Park Board President.

This is just the latest development in a series of missteps taken by the three new commissioners.  This June under the spirit of improving the Park District, commissioners Garrette and Jachymiak made an attempt to employ a law firm from which Park Board President Karen Garrette’s husband, holds an office.  A position commissioners Murphy and Rusch fought as being unnecessary and costly.  The arrangement was eventually tabled.

Last month Garrette took it upon herself to fire the park maintenance man and replace him with a friend of commissioner McGee.  The termination of the employee was carried out over the head of the Park District Manager and without open discussion with the Park District Board.  That employee was hired just last year to replace a long time maintenance man who was appropriately fired for multiple work related infractions.

This action precedes the resignation of Park District Manager Cali DeBella for similar reasons.  Mrs. DeBella tendered her resignation two weeks ago.  The Program Coordinator of many years has also left.  This leaves the Park District with a shortage of chaperones to take charge of the kids that attend district programs.  This exodus of knowledgeable personal has left the District dangerously understaffed.  This month’s Park dance had only two under 21-year olds watching 50 youngsters.  On all too many days, one employee is supervising children at the Park District building with no one in the office watching the front door.  Most alarming is because of the commissioner’s haste; background checks are no longer being made.

Instead of being the people with new ideas, the three now find themselves in charge of a government entity they have no experience in running and no seasoned employees with which to carry out the functions that a well-run community service needs.  The new commissioners have been called out as secretive, impersonal and cliquish.  Public comment is no longer permitted at committee meetings.  The new commissioners need to get their act together and get it together soon.  They’re in control of this train now!