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Embattled Wass Leaves Park Board

Park Board commissioner says his resignation does not mean, "that the Park Board will be free to pursue its old wasteful spending ways without a watchdog in its house."

Effective immediately, Oswegoland Park Board commissioner Leonard Wass has handed in his resignation from the board.

Wass cited issues he has with the board, namely that he believes the board puts the taxpayer's interest last and is out of touch with community interests.

At November's meeting, Wass fought for a 20 percent tax levy reduction, citing examples of where cuts and possible profits could be made, again clashing with board members.

Below is the full text of Wass' resignation that he delivered to the board on Thursday evening:

Dear Editor: 

It has been a great disappointment for me to be part of a board that puts the taxpayer’s interest last, and believes that a 20 year incumbency allows certain board members to do what ever they want at the expense of the community. 

My campaign promise to taxpayers was to fight the unbridled reckless spending of the OPD Board in order to cut expenses, keep spending curtailed, and reflect cost savings in lower property tax bills.  The continued ownership of a lovely, but now vacant, home and lot on the river on North Adams Street is a prime example of this waste.

Our community has over 50 parks which require significant maintenance and upkeep, and yet this board sees no problems with owning more parks, a golf course, and a child care and babysitting facility.  I have requested to see Profit and Loss statements from our “new” accounting system starting 20 months ago but this request has been a low priority and not acted on.  This Board has no interest in knowing whether it prices its services at breakeven, or has taxpayers subsidizing services they do not use.  The elderly on fixed incomes really feel the brunt.

I was pleased that there was limited movement toward realizing some cost reductions. For example: Two vacated senior positions were left unfilled, in one year the golf course went from a loss to a profit, and a modest reduction was made to the 2013 tax levy. Unfortunately for taxpayers, these gains were modest in contrast to what the Board could, and should have, gained had they been looking closely at fiscal operations as their fiduciary duty calls for.

At the last Board meeting I showed how we could easily pass a 20% savings on to the taxpayers in 2013.  This Board refused to give, or even consider giving, these savings back to the taxpayers, stating publicly that it wishes to maintain the prerogative of taxing our already overburdened taxpayers even more in the future, and also by saying that Park District taxes are small in comparison to other taxing bodies.  This attitude is totally disingenuous, but unfortunately consistent with everything I’ve seen over the past two years. 

This Board, many who have overstayed their useful time, are out of touch members who are entrenched in attitudes that are not conducive to either taxpayer or community interests.  They see no reason to make changes, cut spending, or lower taxes.  In fact they see nothing wrong with patting themselves on the back while wasting even more taxpayer money.   This board is almost Jurassic.  It is living in the past and not the present. 

Just a week ago I told the Board in an open Finance Committee meeting that several Park employees told a senior elected official that they knew where many cost reductions opportunities were, but could not bring them forth for fear of losing their jobs- but once again this was met with disbelief, denial, and rejection- a pattern of behavior consistent with what I have witnessed consistently for my almost two years on the board. 

An example of this Board’s hostility to all criticism and suggestion is that after being a member of the Oswego community for over 25 years, raising two sons and putting them through the Oswego school system, this board wasted thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for legal fees, over six months, trying to drum up phony residency charges on me in an effort to discredit me.  Fortunately, my Attorneys and the States Attorney put that issue to rest, but not until after this Board enriched the Park District lawyers with taxpayer money.

In conclusion I hope that the out of touch board members will not seek reelection in the future allowing some new blood to help the community by carrying out its fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers in a steadfast manner.   I am ashamed to have served on this Board which, in my opinion, is incompetent. I have spent a 35 year career in managing major corporations and businesses, and this board is a sham and disgrace. 

Therefore, I submit my resignation as a Commissioner of the Oswegoland Park District Board to its President effective immediately. 

Be advised that my resignation does not mean that the Park Board will be free to pursue its old wasteful spending ways without a watchdog in its house. 

My seat will now be open for the April election, and I sincerely hope that a qualified, fiscally responsible voter will come forth to serve.  And I will continue to provide Board oversight from the outside.

Leonard R. Wass

 

READ MORE ON PATCH

  • Park Board Commisioner’s Residency Questioned
  • Park Board Meeting Turns Contentious Again
  • Term Limits Unlikely as Park Commissioners Clash
  • Weis: Park Board Violated Open Meetings Act
  • Confrontation Boils Over at Park Board Workshop
  • Transcript Shows Strain Between Park Board Members
  • Wass Proposes Formal Cost-Saving Goal for Park District

Check Patch later for updates on this story. 

Ralph December 21, 2012 at 01:49 PM
What a bunch of pompous self serving drivel.
David Edelman December 21, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Having lived here since 1976, I can assure you that that the park board is NOT as described as Mr Wass states above. We need our elected officials to challenge issues and present fair and reasonable debates to always improve things for our community. It's obvious that Mr Wass is very angry but I find it very hard to believe that it is all about the Oswego park district. I do wish you well Mr Wass as I appreciate your passion, but never understood your approach and ideas.
Budd Bieber December 21, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Well said David.
Larry Motykowski December 21, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Yeah.....blame the messenger, discredit the guy who understands budgeting in the real world and who is not afraid to speak.....I get it. Whether he is pompous or not doesn't matter. What matters is ...."Is he right or wrong?" Let's see the #'s on how the Park District can operate with 20% less and take less from me. Let's see the Profit and Loss that has not been released for 20 months. Let's see if this 20 year incumbency is 'serving' the tax payer responsibly and has earned our re-election vote or if it overreached and doesn't even realize waste when confronted with it and thus needs to be replaced with responsible officials.
Greg Nelson December 21, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Waste in any operation specially public interest is wrong. Mr. Wass brought a fresh air and open door policy forward so all could and should take part in. When the just because spending, because it is in the budget happens over and over we all take it hard specially the fixed income people. It is time in all public controlled bodies to take a close look at spending and accountability because without, we are all going down a road that getting out of will not be pretty! Thanks should be given to a person willing to stand tall in the face of good ole boy spending. I'm happy to say I support people willing to roll up a sleeve to get dirty and point out things that just don't add up! April will change many things and things that change are often good - VOTE!
David Edelman December 21, 2012 at 03:24 PM
If you really believe in something and you think you are that right about it and you have a lot people behind you - they why quit?
Jane Enviere December 21, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Yes!
Ralph December 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Gents - if Mr. Wass saw so much waste, why does it appear he vote in favor of every single motion during his time of payable bills and expenditures? If there is so much waste, wouldn't he have been objecting to bills and contracts each month? Going through posted board minutes gives you some perspective. . Its easy to sling mud and lob baseless accusations at people.. Where was all this wasteful spending? The PD lowered their levy. what did the school do? Oh...yes...asked for a 4.98% raise. I can see how the PD board being the only governing body in town actually lowering their levy can be seen as wasteful. I agree with Mr. Nelson...vote...vote for people who care. vote for people who attend meetings. vote for people who understand what a community is and don't blindly want to gut the community parks and programs.
Katra Knoernschild December 21, 2012 at 04:19 PM
"Vote for people who understand what a community is and don't blindly want to gut the community parks and programs." That deserved repeating.
sid simmons December 21, 2012 at 06:45 PM
sid simmons I have to take issue with the statement "the PD board being the only governing body in town to lower their levy." Last year, the Village levy and the Township levy were both lowered by +/- 5% and this was before the referendum! This year I can't speak for the Village gov't but the Township has once again lowered its levy another 5%. Oswego Township will be operating next fiscal year at bare-bones. As a Township trustee, I am proud to say that we operate within our budget.
Ralph December 21, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Double S- I apologize. Lets remember when saying the village lowered their levy, that they also increased the sales tax in town, with the village pres casting the tie breaking vote to increase that tax. (was funny to see him at the rally on the bridge with the tea party folks then turning right around and voting for a tax increase) However- Kudos to the township for their work.
Travis McGee December 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
The only words missing from Mr. Wass's resignation letter were "bah humbug!"
Pat Butler December 21, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Once the OPD has spent the money then there would be no legitimate reason to not authorize the payment of those debts. Not spending the money in the first place is the better idea, but you don't not pay bills once the services have been rendered. So voting in favor to pay bills is in no way an authorization to waste money.
Carol Anaski-Figurski December 22, 2012 at 12:38 AM
happy holidays you'll be missed
Jeri December 28, 2012 at 03:26 AM
This county is all about the "good ole boy' system. Mr. Wass I appreciate you and your efforts. People evidently do not appreciate anyone being questioned. I can appreciate your peacefulness without this corrupt county breathing down your neck. Nobody wants to be questioned and many taxpayers support the "good ole boy" system. The more one digs the sadder the story. What the difference is that there are some looking for the truth. Not the twisted one. I do hope the gals suing this county wins big! Its time to pull the covers. I would much rather give it to them than the good ole boys. They will probably still not see their greed. That is the good ole boy! Peace to you Mr. Wass. May the truth prevail!

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