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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If It Ain’t Broke, For the Love of Parks, Don’t Break It!

Reform transitive verb \ri-ˈfȯrm\
1. to induce or cause to abandon evil ways
2. to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action

Park Watch asserts the Park Board needs ”reform.” Their reasons include charges of incompetence, like not attending to Dutch Elm Diseased trees. Oops! Turns out that’s not true. Charges of non-transparency, like not providing meeting minutes. Uh oh! Another fiction. Charges of corruption, like a half-million dollar superintendent’s slush fund. Doh! A totally bogus claim.

Park Board needs reform. Whoops! Guess not. What Ignoratio Elenchi is this?

Red Herring noun, idiom \ˈred ˈhe-riŋ\
1. a dried and smoked herring having a reddish color
2. a device which intends to divert the audience from the truth or an item of significance.

So what is this truth from which Park Watch seeks to divert our attention?

Decision Resources, Inc. conducted a poll of some 600 random Minneapolis residents – a large and statistical sample – asking their perceptions of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

97% of respondents say the parks “meet the needs of their household.” 99% of respondents say the park system is a “unique and valuable asset.” 99% of respondents say the parks “play an important role, benefit the public good and are low cost.” Not bad, maybe it should have been 100%?

The most interesting question asked respondents to rate the value they are getting for their tax dollars.
9% said excellent value, 73% said good, 5% said fair, and 13% were unsure.

Only 1% rated the value for tax dollars as poor.

Do we know the identities of the six respondents that comprise that 1%? Perhaps they are ParkWatch candidates Liz Wielinski, Michael Guest, Jason Stone, Annie Young, Scott Vreeland and John Erwin.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board continually improves the services it provides, stewardship of the parks, and its financial performance. That is as it should be. Every organization can be improved, and every organization should have a process for continual improvement.

So why the clamor for “reform” based on false assertions? Here’s one idea…

Trojan Horse noun, idiom \ˈtrōjən hôrs\
1. a large hollow wooden figure of a horse (filled with Greek soldiers) left by the Greeks outside Troy during the Trojan War
2. a subversive group that supports the enemy and engages in espionage or sabotage; an enemy in your midst


  1. Clearly, the Park Plague People are smart. But they're obsessed. They seem to have unlimited energy for stalking the park board, and are either unaware of the damage they are doing, or just don't really care at all how much they hurt people and cost tax payers. Here is an idea... there are plenty of REAL problems in the world. You should do a post asking for suggestions of better things the Park Plague can do with their time and energy! Maybe come up with a top-10 list!

  2. How about they:
    1) Those with sports ability can coach a kids sport
    2) Those of you with nuturing skills can be a Big Brother Big Sister
    3) Advocates for children can be a guardian ad litem
    4) Those of you who are creative can be an "Art Buddy"
    5) Those knowledgeable about art can volunteer at MIA or the Walker
    6) Those of you who are lawyers can volunteer at LegalAid
    7) Good readers can be a volunteer reader in the libraries
    8) Music lovers can be a WAMSO volunteer at the MN Orchestra
    9) Environmentalists can advocate for a clean energy project
    10) Handy people can volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
    I am just getting started!

  3. Here is something more useful Park Watch can do.
    Some Minneapolitans are are shipping 38 pallets (@300,000 meals) of Feed My Starving Children food, clothing, medical and school supplies, toys, and other stuff. Hoping to throw in soccer and basket balls, bras, shoes, and of course we can always use some cash to purchase steel for the staircases. The container must be packed by the weekend of August 22.

  4. on the list of things that park watch members could do to be productive.

    At least 100 volunteers are needed by Hennepin County Library's "Homework Hub" to provide after-school help in all subject areas for elementary, middle and high school students this fall. Applications are being accepted immediately - go to Hennepin County library web site for more info.

    they could also volunteer with kids in the park this summer - or coach kids in a league at the park this fall.

    if sports is not their thing - they could read to kids in the park or do art projects with them. the rose bushes along the river parkway need to be pruned and the weeds picked.

    just some ideas.