The Park Levy - And Other Lessons

Working to get that park levy passed is a good reminder our political system works - and that we have a voice.

I stood about 100 feet away from the doors of the voting building as instructed.  I had taken the day off and was clutching my literature, wearing my logoed badge and holding a sign that was of proper size.  I was dressed for the chilly autumn air and had a thermos of coffee at my side.  It was 6 a.m.  I had been given a sheet of “do’s and don’ts” and had no intention of violating the trust that had been given to me to represent my company and our Issue 80 levy request.

An outside agency had run the campaign and they were very thorough.  They made sure to make contact with us through home phone numbers, home computer addresses and on evenings and weekends.  This was all intended to insure that we maintained a transparent distance from the campaign during business hours.  I can honestly say people were absolutely diligent in that task.

During my campaigning watch at the polls, I was visited by other volunteers who had also taken a day off.  They brought additional literature and made sure those of us standing post had everything we needed.  Our company is big, has a lot of departments, a lot of specialties and a lot of financial responsibility.  We also have been given a lot of trust to spend taxpayer money responsibly. Our 10-year levy had expired and we were seeking a replacement for that and additional dollars to run a number of lakefront properties we had absorbed in the previous several months. Public opinion polls let us know that our efforts were appreciated and we were doing what the people wanted us to do. Our intentions were to do what the public indicated they wanted us to do.  We explained that in the press, in our campaign speeches and in every piece of literature that accompanied our outreach efforts.  It has always been the pledge of this company to spend the taxpayer’s money as if it is our own.

Without the public trust – there can be no real accomplishments in this arena.

This company is a result of a cry from the public that emerged almost 100 years ago when people saw the natural lands succumbing to the urban sprawl and development at an alarming rate. They passed legislation to insure the natural beauty of these reserves would be maintained forever. There is no way that mandate could be translated into an agenda that merely served the personal interests of any one of the employees, board members, etc.  We serve at the pleasure of those that keep us here. We supplement some of that support with fees from services like golf, zoo visitation, reserved-room events, etc. but without the taxpayer dollar, we would not survive. We are ever-conscious of that.

Our levy passed by a 70 – 30% margin. We are honored to get such an indication of trust. It will remain the driving force of each and every day going forward.

This past week, past month, past year, past decade we have turned a wary eye to Capitol Hill; another place that is supported by the taxpayers and the sweat of the brow of respect-deserving Americans.  But I am seeing those that work for our dollars up on that hill seem to have forgotten who they are serving, who they work for, what their real job should be. And I mean they didn’t just forget – they seem to have totally abandoned the core principles that brought them into a life of public service in the first place; democrats and republicans alike.

See I have to believe when someone becomes a public servant there is a part of them that reaches deep inside and decides, “I can make a difference. I want to do some good simply for the pleasure of doing right, serving my fellow man and doing the right thing.”

I look at them today and ask, “How did things get so out of hand?”

Amidst this festival of minimal integrity I am hearing lines like this:

“I take full responsibility for that.”

“We will hunt down those responsible and see that justice is served.”

“Let me be perfectly clear….”

What good are any of these words without the action that is supposed to follow?

Because I am not seeing much action on anything these days.

So why are we hearing declarative statements like this all the time?

Is it to bolster the confidence of those watching in the huddled masses that are starting to doubt the story we’re being fed? Did you ever think we would get to the point in our America history where we are actually seeing commercials on television encouraging people to move to Belize? There are commercials about hording food for the big possible government overthrows that are on the way. There are commercials about hording gold and water and silver and guns.  Everyone suddenly needs a gun now.

The new healthcare program began to unfold and within a few days we learned that only a trickle of successful enrollments in the federal exchanges occurred. ADVERTISEMENT

The documents show six enrollments on the morning of Oct. 2, 100 by that afternoon, and 248 on the morning of Oct. 3.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokeswoman tried to downplay the veracity of the data. The HHS Director backed her up at a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing saying, “We do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven't given it to date.”

Wow; awful lot of scrambling going on.

Then we have this other agenda playing that every time something bad happens, a whole line up of minions show up to inform us that that no one in power knew anything about this particular item. The picture they paint to me sounds like a senior citizen center where anything that can upset the patients is never mentioned. Seriously though do you recall any recently ousted CEO that tried to use the “I didn’t know about it” defense? Of course not because it begs the question, ‘ WHY DIDN’T YOU KNOW ABOUT IT?”

There will be more elections coming soon folks, very soon. Our votes need to reflect these lessons we are learning every day here in 2013.  Things like “term limits” and “lifetime politicians” and “transparency in all things” need to be shouted from the mountaintops.

I am blessed to have been affiliated with a company of integrity for more than 30 years now. There have been times when decisions were questioned, direction was challenged, and authority was removed and replaced. It was done for and by the will of the people and always improved our company.

If our lawmakers and national conscience-keepers cannot give us the truth it is our job as American citizens to demand it and mandate the honesty we need through the power of our votes. Please continue to see through clear eyes and remember how this country was started.

Ron Ciancutti is the Director of Procurement for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at