Boccieri proposes reforming Mill Creek Park Board appointment process

Boccieri is working on getting co-sponsors for a bill he plans to introduce in the General Assembly that would change the law statewide

State Rep. John Boccieri said the responsibility of Park Board appointments should be given to the county commissioners.
John Boccieri (File photo)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) said he wants to change who makes appointments to the Mill Creek Park Board of Trustees.

Last week, Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert Rusu said he was forming a selection committee to help him decide who will replace Commissioner Michael Senchak, who resigned March 24. Traditionally, Rusu, as a Probate judge, has been in charge of the appointments to the board.

Boccieri thinks that responsibility should be shifted to the three county commissioners. He is working on getting co-sponsors for a bill he plans to introduce in the General Assembly that would change the law statewide.

Boccieri said much has changed since lawmakers set up the process a century ago, and now millions go through MetroParks’ systems. He added that more transparency and public participation in the process is needed and that the county commissioners would be better equipped to oversee park board appointments.

“If the financial health of our MetroPark is such a grave concern, then doesn’t it make sense to have the three independently-elected members who are constitutionally appointed, who are responsible for the county’s financial health in charge of the appointment process? I think that’s the county commissioners,” he said.

Last week, Rusu said the responsibility of the appointments fell to him, because Probate court is among the least controversial and politically-motivated, and he has experience in the legal process.

Boccieri said, however, that judges are bound by judicial restraint and so, by virtue of their position, are handicapped from engaging publicly on controversial issues, such as the recent handling of employee terminations at Mill Creek.

He said he hopes to introduce his bill by mid-April, once the General Assembly is back in session.

In the meantime, Rusu plans to have the selection committee picked in the next two weeks, involving people who have a stake in the park.

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