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Confrontation Boils Over at Park Board Workshop

Commissioner and Oswegoland Park District critic Len Wass presented his campaign financial analysis to his fellow commissioners Wednesday morning at the Little White School Museum. It was less than warmly received.

The tension between members of the Board continued Wednesday morning at a four-hour board workshop held at the .

Commissioners met to discuss a wide range of issues, but spent most of their time arguing about newly-elected member Len Wass’ campaign study of park district spending. Allegations that Wass manipulated the district’s budget numbers to shed a negative light on spending stretched out over his nearly 90-minute presentation of his analysis, which was widely disseminated during the campaign earlier this year.

Commissioners agreed to allow Wass to provide his analysis at the workshop meeting that his claims that the park district spends the most per resident in the area were not accurate.

During the campaign Wass said the district spends about $456 per resident annually. He arrived at that figure, he said, after studying the district’s 2009 financial report. Wass said the report shows park district expenditures totaling about $18 million with 40,000 residents. The 40,000 figure was based upon 2000 census figures. The latest census has the Park District with 49,000 residents.

Board President Bob Mattingly came to the workshop prepared for Wass’ report with an analysis of his own. He said that Wass’ figures were not fair comparisons. Wass’ report shows the park district with $18 million in total expenditures (which includes fund balances from previous years that carry over from budget to budget,) and his analysis of other park districts did not include those districts’ fund balances.

Mattingly said in reality the park district only spends about $9 million annually. His study also showed that comparing local district spending (including budgeted fund balances,) the Oswegoland Park District spends less per resident than Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles.

“I think what you’ve been doing is manipulating these figures for your own gain,” Mattingly said. “It’s been very misleading.”

The verbal sparring between Wass, Mattingly and Commissioners Danielle Ebersole and Deb Krase continued over everything from employee pay and benefits, the number of park district facilities and user fees.

“Going in I was a bit suspicious about why I was asked to present my campaign presentation (at the workshop),” Wass said after the meeting. “I took them at their word that they wanted to see it and understand the background information.

"I indeed was surprised and disappointed in what happened. It was a well-coordinated, pre-planned attempt to discredit me in the hopes that I might fall in line or resign with this public humiliation. It was like a pack of hyenas enjoying their kill.”

Mattingly said Thursday he has no interest in forcing Wass to resign. In fact, he said a conflicting voice on the board is good.

“I’m sure he didn’t feel good that we challenged him,” Mattingly said. “In the past when he’s given his presentation it’s been before a crowd of folks that are supportive of him.

"What we were doing is attempting to get the facts out about the park district. We’ve been accussed time after time of being the biggest spenders in the nation and it’s just not true, yet he continues to insist that his figures are correct.”

Wass wondered why Mattingly is only now bringing forward these figures after the 2009 financial report was published over a year ago.

"I find it more than a little suspicious," he said.

As for the future and working together on issues facing the park district, both men had characteristically opposing viewpoints.  

“At the current rate there are three votes of the incumbents and (Commissioner) Roy (White) may vote his own way,” Wass said. “They certainly have a majority. They are going continue to operate the park district in the way they see fit, and they won’t let anyone impede them in that. I was certainly given a clear message — conform or resign.”

Mattingly said he’ll try his best to come to an agreement with his rival.

“I’m sure this is the way it’s going to be, and I feel badly about it,” he said. “I’m not confrontational. We can disagree on things, but it’s how you disagree that matters. I can tell you one thing; I won’t be bullied.”

jerri powell October 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM
Hello, Thank you Mr. Wass for all your hard work and communication to us taxpayers. It is hard to go up against folks that have had their position for far too long. they are rooted in their ways. They also work those numbers to what ever they hope will be seen by us taxpayers that are taxed out. You always have my support. Mr. Wass you have always been for the tax payer and what is reasonable and affordable. Thanks again jerri
Tina Conley October 27, 2011 at 11:28 PM
Gag
Jane Enviere October 28, 2011 at 01:12 AM
This obsession is rather bizarre. Move on. I think there are more productive ways to encourage fiscal responsibility than regurgitating manipulated numbers and old data. Of course, if you would rather resign, that's ok, too!
Pat Gavros October 28, 2011 at 11:59 AM
Please Board Members....remember one thing. It's not about you or your figures, etc. It's about all of us, the residents. Be responsible in these economic times. We can enjoy the many wonderful things offered without overdoing it. And...by the way....get along, we don't want to emulate Washington. I know that each of you gives of your time and talents to make Oswego a great place to live. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to our town and its many residents.
Roger Sanders October 28, 2011 at 12:13 PM
I have trust and faith that the experienced Park Board members like Mr. Mattingly and Mrs. Krase have the best interest of the park district at heart. I would suggest that Mr. Wass stop manipulating information for his own agenda and learn how to be a better board member. We have plenty of elected officials that manipulate data to suit their own agendas. We don't need another one.
David Edelman October 28, 2011 at 01:18 PM
Why is it that every time I read about the park district I see the name WASS? And it is never positive and bad press for our community. Its the park district for crying out loud. I have lived here all my life and have never seen any issues with the park district. Obviously this man is looking for trouble and making our community look like a freak show. Thankfully we have Mr. Mattingly in charge and he will do what is right for the community as he has always done.
Tina Conley October 28, 2011 at 01:32 PM
I think it's a typo....
jerri powell October 28, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Amen Pat, all within reason and also new ideas that save money but still offer entertainment opportunities that are already offered. Simplification...for the economic times..we will all survive...
George Jones October 31, 2011 at 10:37 PM
KENDALL COUNTY PROPERTY TAX RATES Kendall County taxpayers are among the highest taxed in all U.S. Counties. Remember that before deciding who to vote for in the March 20, 2012 Primary. And remember that when you hear all the bunk from Mattingly at the OPD that they are like angels and hardly spend anything. Here's the facts that Bob Mattingly at the Oswego Park District and other Tax and Spend Dinosaurs (In Greek - dinosaur means terrible) should consider. I know Len Wass has consider it and so have the people that elected him this year. Kendall County Property Tax Paid as % of Median Home Value: = 2.05% Kendall County Tax Rank (nationally), 44 out of 1,823 counties: = top 3% Is the "average middle class resident" in Kendall County getting the top 3% of "essential" government services and quality outcomes in Kendall County from places like the OPD? I think not. The wealthier residents are being subsidized by the middle class to play golf at the OPD. In Kendall County Government, the wealthy horse back riders can ride their horses at Ellis Farms. The wealthy farmers are getting a good deal with better tax rates on their Ag zoned land than what you or I are with our homes. So, as taxpayers here in Kendall County, we have every right to praise the elected courageous Wass like public officials who want to lower our taxes and tell those like Mattingly and his cohorts who want to keep our taxes high to go and jump in the Fox River.
jerri powell November 01, 2011 at 01:29 AM
thank you Mr. jones...This is what people are becoming aware of....
John November 14, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Wow. That's all I have to say. Some of you are delusional. Get a life! The park district puts up with so many different aspects and complaints about things not worth complaining about...but they're here for the people and willing to do whatever makes them happy. If you want something done just call and complain because it will get done and they will do everything possible to satisfy ONE person. Thanks, Just another citizen
Tina Conley November 14, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Living proof that anyone can throw numbers and comments on a site and think people will believe them. Are you saying that only wealthy people golf at Fox Bend?

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