Monday, January 11, 2010

Dowagiac Mayor Continues Good Ole Boys Club

The Good Ole Boys Club is alive and well in Dowagiac. For those of you who wondered if it really existed, read on:

At tonight's council meeting, the Mayor appointed new members to the Russom Field Board. As all of you know, I was very interested in this seat due to my 25 years' experience working with youth. I have a degree in Recreation, and I have the needed qualifications to be a valuable member of that Board.

Tonight, the Mayor appointed City Manager Kevin Anderson, Councilwoman Lori Hunt and City Council Candidate Jim Benedix. This board will decide what activities and programs will be instituted at Russom Field.

Here are some questions residents should ask their elected officials:

Why would the mayor appoint one city employee, one councilperson and someone who is vice -president of the Dowagiac Dogwood Festival?

Why couldn't the Mayor find someone who doesn't have close ties to the city?

I want to make it clear that, although I am disappointed in not getting this seat, it would appear that, once again, the Mayor has proven he only appoints people to boards who are already involved in the city.

Another concern is, by appointing people without any recreation and planning experience, the Mayor is guaranteed to get whatever he desires. If Mr. Lyons really had the best interest of residents and area youth at heart, he would have appointed people with extensive experience working with youth. Qualified people would also have experience in the area of making long-term plans for a recreation area.

Mr. Lyons appointed each of these board members to open-ended terms. This means that these members are like Supreme Court Judges. They are in office until they die or decide to step down. In my opinion, this is a matter of control--why else fill this entire board with people who already have ties to the city?

I can't wait to see the plans this board suggests for this property. Without anyone with experience, I think it will be unlikely that our youth will get good programs. This is from a Mayor who was quoted in the DDN, saying he thought kids still play "Kick The Can".

The only hope we have is that the Silver Creek half of this board will take a stand to make sure the property is used in the correct way for the correct purposes. I certainly wish them well, as I believe it will be an uphill battle.

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