REGISTER VIEWPOINT: MetroParks board right -- in your face

The thing is, they're right. Erie MetroParks commissioners aren't accountable to Erie County commissioners when it comes to the budget, and accountable to no one save the probate judge when it comes to keeping their jobs.
Commentary
May 20, 2010

The thing is, they're right.

Erie MetroParks commissioners aren't accountable to Erie County commissioners when it comes to the budget, and accountable to no one save the probate judge when it comes to keeping their jobs.

So all we can do is bemoan their tone when park commissioners Micah Vawters and Tom Dusza say things like "I never felt the need to go there (to the county commissioners) and answer them" when it came to keeping the county up-to-date on the park system's doings and spending.

"They're taking up our time," complained Vawters, while Dusza said he'll sue to make sure the county coughs up the $36,000 in annual local government funds from the state that's funneled through the county.

And the decade and more of nastiness that's characterized the Huron River Greenway battle with neighboring property owners? The park district had more money to spend on better attorneys than the landowners had, Vawters said.

Again, true. But it does remind some of us of the night, back at the beginning of the whole sordid mess, before the park district was even involved, a Greenway backer stuck her finger into a landowner's chest and sneered, "This trail's coming and there's nothing you can do about it."

Yes, the park commissioners are perfectly within their rights to tell the county commissioners to go pound sand. And last week, that's pretty much what they said.

And there's no denying the park system does some things well -- spectacularly well, in the case of the Castalia Quarry Reserve, one of the most scenic walks in the county.

What's galling is, the high-hatted attitude toward accountability -- a failing of the park commissioners in the past, and now seemingly on both sides. Some common courtesy -- an invitation to parks director Steven Dice, instead of a "summons," to talk to the county commissioners; perhaps some willingness on the county commissioners' part to head on out to where the park district lives.

About the only thing approaching accountability is when the park district asks voters for a levy, which might happen again in November. Perhaps if voters saw more of a willingness to work together, they might reward that at the polls.