Why we should leave the Parks and Recreation Ordinance Alone
At a recent work session of the BOC, Commissioner Bell brought up he had found a flaw in a county ordinance concerning park and recreation that needed to be looked at more closely. The agenda item at the work session that day was a presentation concerning travel football but Commissioner Bell was intent on bringing this issue to light concerning this flawed ordinance. He maintained that the current policy was flawed because it did not require that the park and recreation board to bring items to the BOC for approval, despite the fact I have been on the park board for 11 years and we were always told we were only an advisory board and that we made recommendations to the BOC for adoption. Year after year, we would make recommendations to the BOC and they could either adopt the policy we recommended, they could ignore it, or they could send it back to us to do it over again. If you pay close attention to the video at the very beginning, Ken Jarrard made mention of a policy our board had sent to the BOC recently regarding head injury policy and the BOC had voted to not approve our policy recommendation. They admit that at the very beginning and yet Commissioner Bell kept insisting that they just wanted to ratify the park's policies (which they do). Never, at any time, was there a complaint that this system was not working. Not one citizen came before the BOC asserting that this item needed to be fixed. However, Commissioner Bell, in his infinite wisdom, led the charge to get the County Attorney, Ken Jarrard, involved. Bell and company instructed him to go back to 1995, when the park board was established, and to pull up every ordinance and every policy, that the Park and Recreation Board had ever recommended and bring it back to this BOC for ratification, just in case it was not done correctly in the past 16 years. Why would he want that done? What price will the taxpayers of this county have to pay for this useless information? This is just one more example of how some BOC members are wasting our tax dollars. Would any of us open up a can of worms like this in our own lives and ask for an attorney to go back and look at possible mistakes (and possibly no mistakes) for NO reason? The system was working, no one was complaining and now we have paid out how many dollars so Commissioner Bell can feel like he's doing something. Wouldn't we be better off if he just got a hobby instead of coming up with meaningless tasks to waste more money ? None of this was instigated in any way by the park and recreation department, it came only from Commissioner Bell's insistence for change.
Now we go to the nuts and bolts of the ordinance that he wanted changed at the work session. When he discovered that the park and recreation staff had the power to assign the fields instead of the BOC, he used language stated below (and taken directly from the video transcripts).
Bell: We're the governing body — we should be able to overrule any body.
Bell: We need the authority, but we can also delegate that authority.
Bell - We are the elected representatives of the county — not them.
These are his words, and his alone. He was more concerned with the power of the assigning the fields than with why the power had been delegated that way in the first place. The very thing the previous board had feared happening, a politician being able to give field space, was about to come to fruition if the district 4 Commissioner could get his way. A wise board in 2002 had known if you made the field disbursement based upon politics it would KILL existing programs. They knew a disgruntled dad would give heavily to a campaign, could come to that Commissioner, and the field space would magically be made available. They knew a dad, angry with his child not making the team, might wreak havoc on an existing program without this safeguard in place. And yet, in one work session, without meeting with park staff and without consulting with the Park and Recreation Board, Commissioner Bell was willing to send it out to a public hearing for change. Why not find out the facts before going in front of the cameras? Why not state what you are truly meeting about, this ordinance, instead of pretending it was about travel football? Or why not just say you are trying to get travel football field space and thought to do so you would go through the back door? I have never said I was opposed to travel football. I have attended countless meetings on the subject and was very open to devising a plan to make it work in the future, but I am vehemently opposed to a power play by a government official, elected by the people, and then trying to undermine the very people who put him in office. That is an abuse of power, that is micro-managing, and to not even have a discussion or to call a meeting with your own staff prior to dropping such a bombshell is ignorant and insulting. Things didn't go as planned for Commissioner Bell as he undervalued the effect of the internet and the booster clubs. Within hours he was forced to rethink his decision. We are still awaiting what the future holds with this ordinance but I tremble to think what would have happened had the public not been made aware of this proposed change and had our wonderful booster clubs not gotten the word out quickly.
The incumbent has demonstrated by his own actions that he has his ulterior motives for wanting change. Change was not asked for by the public, nor precipitated by any event, and I pledge to you today, that this candidate will not work in that fashion. I will not be looking to "fix" things that are not broken. Commissioner Bell will now say that none of this is true but I urge you to watch the video and how this ongoing issue got started and continues to go on and on. Ask yourself why we are paying an attorney to fix something that was never broken to begin with. Is this how you expect your money to be spent?