Monthly Archives: January 2004

Bad faith by the shameless Five

About 100 citizens showed up Friday night [January 2] to voice their outrage with recent Park Board actions. A challenge was made to show good faith and vote in one of the four dissenting Commissioners as President of the MPRB. The Five made (in)famous by a backroom appointment elected Jon Olson to replace Bob Fine. Committee control remains the same. The General Counsel remains the same and they also remain as lobbyists. They continue to enjoy about $500,000 per year in fees for about 4,000 hours of work — and will undoubtedly continue to donate significantly to the campaigns of those who employ them — because, of course, there is no conflict of interest in their eyes.

So the 5-4 majority will continue to dominate unrelentingly. Remember, this is the same leadership that said, in effect, they were not capable of operating a popcorn stand. Now they want to run rental property, establish a foundation, and develop a marina. There is probably more on their plate, but that will remain their little secret. They will forge ahead with lip service, at best, for those who disagree.

This was all too predictable for those who have dared to pay attention to the Park Board. But the usual format has limited public input with NO direct response. The Five went on to follow their pre-arranged appointment process. The VP title for Erwin carries no practical significance. So it’s Same-O Same-O Same-O.

As predictable as the actions of the Five are, they should expect a public reaction. Any of these five Commissioners could have acted individually and voted for a change — especially after Erwin’s impassioned speech and Olson’s mumbling. Even an Erwin Presidency would have been limited in its ability to produce change by the lurking 5-4. But since they got their pre-arranged outcome, they should each face dedicated opposition in the next election. But prior to that, a concentrated effort should be made to dissolve the MPRB. This would involve a conservancy to protect the land. The Mayor and the City Council could staff the functions and get the job done in an efficient and accountable manner.

In the meantime, scrap the MPRB meetings. Just do the Committee work, send in the 5-4 votes, and save the pretense. Those who continue to abuse the independence of this Board can cause it to be disbanded. Not as victims, but rather as a fitting legacy to these shameless Five.

John Belfry