Friday, July 18, 2014

Welcome to my town

As I settle into my new community after our move last summer, I felt the need to step up and become involved. I learned of an opening on the Parks and Recreation Commission and applied. I was honest in my letter that I had only lived in the community for one year, but believe I would be an asset to the community. I pointed out that I had formed the Fort Des Moines Neighborhood Association in 2010, was elected president, a position I held until moving in 2013. I didn’t know what my chances of even being considered might be, but was thrilled when I received a call letting me know they were interested. The commission is a seven-person commission with only one other woman. Because they are trying to achieve gender equality, I was informed they were most interested in interviewing women.  I was very honored to be told I had been selected and my appointment went before the City Council last night. My letter expressing my interest was in the City Council’s packet of material, which was also made public on the Internet. I have no problem with the letter being made public. Never did I anticipate the outpouring of comments my appointment would bring.

So last night after work I stopped and picked up the three youngest grandchildren and their dog and brought them home to feed them dinner, prepare snacks and drinks for tee-ball practice at 6:15. (Even though it is true that none of my six beautiful grandchildren live in my community, they have chosen to participate in various recreational programs—paying the nonresident registration fees vs. the resident, and tee-ball is one such activity.) While waiting for the practice to begin, I glanced at my phone and see that a gentleman (I’ll refer to him by his initials—BM), had posted his “latest email to our mayor…what a slap in the face after all I’ve done for the parks and rec….” The posting was placed at 6:13 PM. The City Council meeting started at 6:00 PM, with public comments at 6:05. BM wrote (this is word-for-word what he typed and not typos on my part),

Last night I was forwarded a copy if the women’s notice starring she would like to be on the park and rec board. I’m completely amazed that anyone thinks a grandmother with no grandkids or kids in our Town, who moved here less than a year ago is more qualified to be on commission than a person who has volunteered for park and rec for years coaching several teams each session. Like tonight I would be there but I have practice for my Thursday tee ball. I’m sure she will have plenty of thoughts and ideas to improve the department. Beings she’s never coached 1 program here. Like I previously stated I’d love to be there to let all in attendance know how everything in this town is political or who the mayor likes. I do know that several people have forwarded here approved app around town. It truly is sad when u can’t put your feeling about someone who doesn’t always agree with your aside to make better programs for our children. You truly are the Barack Obama of [CITY] as I recently heard it said. Hopefully this great young woman will be able to pick up the slack from the many volunteer coaches who will soon be exiting.






Of course BM’s post, as of this morning, has over 87 comments, some in support of him and also threatening to quit coaching, many of them attacking his spelling and grammar and others posters attacking the grammar police’s grammar. As one person stated, “I hope your letter had less grammatical errors than this post. If I were the mayor reading this, I would have thrown it out after 3 sentences. I would have assumed the author having little enough sense to send a letter riddled with grammar mistakes had nothing intelligent to say. After parsing through the tome I have found that to be a valid initial impression. If this is typical of your decorum I believe the city is justified in passing over your interest in the board position.”

Then there were those individuals who can see the whole picture, and not just organized sports at the sports complex. She expressed the exact reason I applied for the position.  “If the majority, or all of the board of the parks and rec have kids, grandchildren, or coach perhaps it would be best to get a representative of someone from a different group. Although most of the parks and rec services [CITY] provides are for kids, that certainly isn’t the only group [CITY] caters too. People with out children can use parks, bike trails, and pools, and from what I remember the classes offered from time to time are for adults like the exercise programs or crafts. Maybe a voice from someone without children would add additional services to adults. I totally understand why the mayor would hope to have a larger variety of people on the board.”

The Mayor did respond to BM in the Facebook thread.

I assume that the “slap in the face” you indicated on Facebook is because I didn’t answer this email right away. I thought you knew that [CITY] City Council meetings start at 6:00. After seeing your post on Facebook, I apologize for not responding right away, but I was in the middle of the council meeting and not able to respond to your email, which came in at 6:04pm. We had public comment around 6:0, so instead of writing your email, if seems you could have easily been at the council meeting, stated your complaint, and then heading to your practice. I’m sure any of your assistant coaches could have handled practice for a few extra minutes.

Thank you for your interest in wanting to serve on the Parks and Recreation Committee. As we discussed in an earlier message, you missed the deadline for applying, so you weren’t considered for the spot. Also, the committee is supposed to be gender balanced and the open spot was ideally supposed to go to a female. Since a woman applied, they got preference over any males that applied. In 2016, there might be some spots open up. I would encourage you to apply before the deadline to be considered for the appointment.    

You also need to realize that sports are not the only thing that the Parks and Rec Committee oversee. We not only have activities going on up [SPORTS COMPLEX], we have a variety of activities for a variety of age groups and it is good to have a wide range of ages and experience on the Park and Rec Committee. While the candidate was chosen moved here one year ago, that candidate brings a wide variety of experience and knowledge to the committee and is a welcome addition to our community. And to set the record straight, I’ve never met her, but I’m looking forward to doing so.

Thank you Mayor, the individuals who see the complete picture, my son who called me around midnight to talk about the events of the evening, and my daughter who I woke up this morning to find this beautiful posting congratulating me on the appointment:

She brings a lot of community involvement experience with her, having helped organize and lead [CITY] neighborhood association. She participated in the Neighborhood Resident Leadership Certificate Program which provides “training and tools residents need to help neighborhoods achieve results through smart use of data, strategic planning, effective meetings, and developing partnerships with the public and private sector. Core leadership courses emphasize communicating for results, leading through conflict and change, and fundamental leadership skills.” She knows how to work with other community leaders and will do so professionally and articulately. I am wondering if the Facebook troll who has enough tech skills to locate her personal blog to mock it also was able to locate all of her community work?


I love you and I’m looking forward to serving my community.

And for the Facebook trolls and the record, I have over 13 years experience coaching, and it was in bowling.



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