Absent without leave

After giving themselves a 250 percent pay raise, park commissioner no-shows force the board to cancel meetings.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board regularly makes news for all the wrong reasons.

A while back, the board’s chaotic public meetings routinely made headlines for being disrupted and even shut down by activists, some of whom were ejected by police and even issued citations. More notably, backlash ensued after newly elected activists-turned-commissioners voted to give themselves a 250 percent pay raise for a position traditionally viewed as a public service. And just last month, the board paid out a $170,000 discrimination settlement to four Somali teens who were detained by park police.

Now the Park Board has come full circle by yet again calling off the panel’s public meetings. But it is not because of activists taking over the proceedings. Rather, too few of the activists (now on the board) have shown up to meet the legal requirement for holding a meeting.

The February 21 edition of the Star Tribune described how a scheduled meeting of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was canceled for the second time this year because too few of the commissioners bothered to show up.

“It has to stop,” board Vice President LaTrisha Vetaw told the Strib. “People voted for us to do the work, to make the hard decisions, and attendance is important.”

The Park Board controls an annual budget of $126 million. Some suggest “petty politics” may be behind skipping the meetings, effectively preventing the board from conducting park business.

The Star Tribune noted that “the canceled meetings have pushed back board approvals for contracts, invasive aquatic species work and a new lease for Superintendent Al Bangoura’s residence in south Minneapolis.”