Let parks, recreation officials do their jobs

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 24, 2003

Despite ordinances and personnel policies to guard against it,Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates once again appears to be trying tomicromanage the city’s recreation department.

At Bates’ request, aldermen last week met behind closed doorswith recreation officials and parks commission members regardingoffices of some of the department’s supervisory personnel. At aprevious board meeting, Bates had questioned why some employeeswere stationed at the A.L. Lott Complex while others were locatedat the department’s new offices in the converted National Guardarmory.

The alderman’s latest questions amount to nothing more thanmeddling. It also seems any other questions Bates may have could beanswered with a simple phone call rather than ambush inquiriesduring the city’s televised board meetings.

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Bates’ persistent interest in the recreation department istroubling in that city bylaws give governing authority to the parkscommission, with the board of aldermen retaining control overcommission membership and through an annual budget allocation.Bates, as the city board’s senior member, should know that bynow.

The reason for the current set up, commission officials say, isto keep politics out of the recreation department.

Bates has often advocated bringing the recreation departmentback under direct control of the board of aldermen.

The department’s years of success and relatively smoothoperation suggest that’s not needed. Also, other city fathers havegiven no indications of a desire for a change.

If that’s the case, then parks and recreation officials shouldbe left alone to do their jobs.

To use a sports analogy, leave the ball in the hands of theplayer who’s in the best position to score. The board of aldermenhas far more important “games” to play.