In 2006, when Metro Parks, Serving Summit County proposed a levy increase, I voted for it, not knowing very much about the organization. Parks are good, right?
In 2008, I had a very close personal experience with Metro Parks concerning the Corsair Model Aircraft Club. I learned a lot about what Metro Parks is really about. As it is now, I will never vote for a Metro Parks tax levy again.
After the increased tax levy passed in 2006, within three years Metro Parks had accumulated a budget carry-over, or surplus, of $34 million.
Today, that surplus stands at over $16 million. I also found that there is a Metro Parks Foundation with unrestricted holdings of more than $4 million, as of Dec. 31. That is over $20 million in surplus funds.
The park district’s land holdings have swollen to 11,500 acres through grants, gifts and purchases. It “purchased” for $1 the land over which our club had flown for over 40 years. We were forced out to make way for a 0.35-mile hiking trail. Apparently, 125 miles of hiking trails in the county were not enough.
Metro Parks spends a lot of money on self-promotion. Including the chief of marketing and communications, at $74,738, a total of $231,970 was spent. Is this necessary?
The services and programs the district provides are sometimes redundant. Wildlife and nature education is also done by the Akron Zoo and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Hiking and biking? Again, there are plenty of opportunities in the national park.
Some proposed activities, such as flying disc golf, are rejected, but are picked up by the state parks (at Wingfoot Lake). Model aircraft fly at the Portage Lakes State Park. The state park system in Summit County has scant resources in comparison to Metro Parks, yet is more responsive. Metro Parks could do far better.
I have heard the excuse that such activities are “not in our mission.” There is nothing in state law mandating Metro Parks’ “mission.” It is a local decision. If this is the reason, the mission must be changed.
We, as voters, have very little chance to express ourselves on these issues. The Metro Parks commissioners are appointed, not elected. We can express ourselves about the tax levy on Election Day.
The current levy has another year to run. I suggest that a strong message be sent that changes need to be made, by voting against Issue 2. Metro Parks will come back and try again. Let that happen with a more reasonable request or increased, more diverse activities in the parks.
Trustee, Corsair Model Aircraft Club
Wilms for Akron judge
Firm, conscientious, ethical and unbiased are just a few attributes that characterize Gertrude Wilms, candidate for judge of the Akron Municipal Court. Without hesitation, I support Wilms. Currently serving as the city of Akron’s chief prosecutor (since March 2012), Wilms has demonstrated her ability to serve as a very competent administrator, one with a strong desire to make this community safe for all citizens.
During her tenure as an assistant prosecutor and chief prosecutor, Wilms has handled over 10,000 criminal cases and has earned the respect of local judges, attorneys and the citizens of the Greater Akron area.
She is quite active in numerous professional organizations and several community advocacy groups, working tirelessly to help others.
I trust that she says what she means when she says she will maintain the same personality and try each case on its merits, applying the law and doing what is best for the citizens.
Vote Tuesday for Gertrude Wilms for Akron Municipal Court judge.
Editor’s note: The writer is a former Ward 4 representative on the Akron City Council.
Nothing to do with the founders
In an Oct. 27 letter defending the tea party (“Like the founders”), the writer states that tea party members stand for paying debts and working for families, schools and one another.
How does the tea party-led shutdown of the government, leading to the projected loss of $12 billion to $24 billion, work for paying debts or working for families or schools that cannot access government programs meant to serve them?
I believe it is much more important to pay attention to the actions someone takes than to listen to what he or she wants you to believe. I do not believe the tea party’s all-or-nothing mentality has anything to do with the Founding Fathers’ wish to go forward in faith, morality and goodness.
It was the tea party that did not want Congress to vote on pending legislation, which caused Speaker John Boehner to knuckle under and not allow legislation to be put to a vote. That same legislation, when put to a vote, was passed by the House. The president did not deny or delay the vote in the House. That was done by the writer’s friends in the tea party, influencing weak leadership in the Republican Party.
The Republican Party, led by the tea party, is responsible for this loss. You cannot rewrite history just because you would like to.
Support the ADM levy
We are now focusing on behavioral health as one of our nation’s most burgeoning issues. One in four of us has a diagnosable mental illness, and substance abuse is on the rise. The good news is treatment works, and people do recover.
On Tuesday, voters of Summit County are being asked to approve Issue 1, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board’s renewal levy. It is important we continue to support people and their families who struggle with behavioral health disorders every day.
A vote for the levy pays for needed services for our military heroes and people in crisis. It helps families care for loved ones with mental illness and helps keep our community safe by educating youth on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
It teaches young children with behavioral disorders how to interact with others, enabling them to enter school ready to learn. Funding from the ADM board is at work in our schools, court systems, hospitals and in our homes. The board operates with sound fiscal management and full transparency.
Voting for this levy will not increase your taxes, but will continue to help the most fragile among us get the help they need. On Tuesday, I urge you to enable the board to keep its programs and services in place. Please join me in supporting Issue 1.
John R. Aller
Editor’s note: The writer is the executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Stark County.
I strongly urge the author of the Oct 23 letter “Failure to take responsibility” to read the Constitution, paying particular attention to Article I, Sections 7 and 8.
He may be surprised to learn that the Constitution delegates to Congress, not the president, the authority to pay the debt, borrow money, levy taxes and pay bills. Had we defaulted on paying our debt, it is uncertain that the president would have had any authority to choose which debts or bills to pay.
As for the government shutdown, by failing to authorize money to keep the government open, Congress was responsible for the shutdown. The president didn’t choose to close the national parks or to not pay veterans benefits; that was Congress.
The writer is entitled to his opinion. Too bad it’s not based on fact.
Stoynoff for Green school board
I highly recommend Katie Stoynoff for the Green school board. Her exceptional qualifications will enhance the board in a way that no other candidate can. She has lived in Green for over 35 years. Her knowledge of Green Local Schools brings a special awareness of the issues. As a 1994 graduate of Green High School and a parent of a student at Green Intermediate School, she is unequivocally the best candidate for the board.
Her bachelor’s degree in industrial management in human resources, along with her years of experience working for the University of Akron in the human resources department, offer an expertise in labor relations.
Her master’s degree in secondary education, along with experience as a college lecturer of English and a program administrator at UA, lends a special understanding for rigorous educational programs that will prepare our students for higher education and productive citizenship.
Stoynoff understands that our schools need to be a place where our children can feel safe and flourish in their academics and extra-curricular activities. She is a community leader and has been involved in a variety of organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America. Please vote on Tuesday, and remember Katie Stoynoff for Green school board!
Editor’s note: The writer is a former Ward 3 representative on the Green City Council.