A PARK BOARD MANDATE: Fine misrepresents events

On Feb. 7, 2010 the Star Tribune published an editorial which was critical of Park Board Commissioners Bob Fine and Jon Olson. On Feb. 15, the Star Tribune published counterpoint letter from Fine criticizing the editorial.

Fine’s letter elicited the following response, which appeared in the Opinion Exchange on the editorial pages of the Star Tribune on February 18, 2010:

A PARK BOARD MANDATE: Fine misrepresents events

In his Feb. 15 counterpoint to the Feb. 7 Star Tribune editorial “Good start for new board,” Park Board Member Bob Fine claimed that the editorial contained “false and misleading information.” But Fine had his own false and misleading information.

According to Fine, “a one-year search for a superintendent was conducted in 2003.” According to Park Board minutes, the search began in July 2003, when the search firm was voted on. My calendar tells me that July to December is only six months.

Then there is the 2003 hiring of Superintendent Jon Gurban. Isn’t it false and misleading to attempt to whitewash the hiring of a superintendent who had not been screened nor interviewed and was not even present at the meeting when Fine orchestrated the hiring?

Not only were the four 2003 minority commissioners outraged, but so was the public. I was one of several individuals who organized a rally at Park Board headquarters protesting the improper hiring of Gurban. That rally was the beginning of Park Watch.

Fine claims that “Gurban was doing an outstanding job of maintaining the system.” If this were true, the 2009 election would have supported it. But the outcome of the election was a new Park Board majority — Brad Bourn, John Erwin, Anita Tabb, Scott Vreeland, Liz Wielinski and Annie Young — and a mandate for new leadership for our park system. Fine, who supported Gurban and the status quo, became part of the new three-commissioner minority.

When the six new majority commissioners voted to initiate a search for a new superintendent, they were doing so because there was a public mandate to do so. Fine may not agree with them, but the six new majority commissioners did the right thing. And so did the Star Tribune.