comments

Parks & Rec appointment questioned

Ken Broadway replaces outspoken commissioner
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
-A +A

Appointee term expiration dates

Planning commission

Ralph Coleman: Dec. 31, 2014

Jeff Shirhall: Dec. 31, 2014

Pierre Martinez: Dec. 31, 2014

Brian Whitmore: Dec. 31, 2016

Gregg McKenzie: Dec. 31, 2016

 

Parks and Recreation Commission

Chris Anderson: Dec. 31, 2014

Nancy Hartwell: Dec. 31, 2014

Ken Broadway: Dec. 31, 2016

Paul Ruhkala: Dec. 31, 2016

John Carter: Dec. 31, 2016

 

Front Street Historic Committee

Harlyn Matson: Dec. 31, 2014

Michael Clark: Dec. 31, 2016

Kathleen Nippert: Dec. 31, 2016

 

Board of Appeals

Michael Anderson: Dec. 31, 2014

Tony Soriano: Dec. 31, 2014

Paul Ruhkala: Dec. 31, 2014

Ralph Coleman: Dec. 31, 2016

Wijaya Perera: Dec. 31, 2016

Questions surround the appointment of Rocklin Mayor Diana Ruslin’s campaign ally Ken Broadway to the Parks and Recreation Commission. The man who was ousted, longtime Commissioner Jack Haycock, said he feels his departure was retaliation for speaking out against controversial city business.

“The real problem is the mayor’s appointing her supporter on her campaign committee,” Haycock said. “He supported her, now she’s rewarding him.”

Broadway, a former City Council candidate who was endorsed by Ruslin and Vice Mayor Scott Yuill, was appointed to the commission in Haycock’s place. Broadway and all of the city’s committee appointments were sworn in Tuesday at the Rocklin City Council meeting. The mayor served as Broadway’s campaign co-chair during the last election, and also served with Broadway on the board of the Educational Excellence Foundation. Ruslin said the council doesn’t operate that way.

“Everyone has the same opportunity,” she said. “There are a limited number of seats available and everyone is treated the same way.”

Ruslin did say because the council members knew him, it was an advantage for Broadway.

“Do we know people? Yes. But it doesn’t have anything to do with our decision,” Ruslin said. “We’re five votes, not just one. If you are engaged in the political community, I think there are more doors open for you.”

Broadway also sits in an advisory role on the board of Rocklin’s Fast Pitch Softball league, which could face fee increases and contract changes before the Parks and Recreation commission later this year.

“I would recuse myself from any decision where a conflict exists,” Broadway said.

Broadway said he looks forward to serving on the commission and hopes it will benefit the citizens.

“Certainly there is support for me and a belief that I can provide a benefit as a Parks and Rec commissioner,” Broadway said.

Haycock is speaking out publicly, as he feels the City Council retaliated against him for opposing a number of controversial issues brought by city staff over the last year.

“I should be able to speak the truth and not be persecuted for it,” Haycock said. “I spoke up against the park smoking ordinance, the spraying of herbicides (by park volunteers) and the Scout fees.”

At a July Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, Haycock questioned the city’s practice of allowing park volunteers from Rocklin athletic leagues and dog park organizers to spray herbicides in public parks. Later that month, the Placer County Agricultural Commission, which regulates the use of herbicides and pesticides, opened an investigation.

The city is required by law to have trained individuals use the products and maintain detailed reporting of chemical use. In a statement following the county investigation, City Manager Rick Horst told the Placer Herald, “We are making sure that everyone understands that the City Parks and Recreation Department’s policy is that the city or its licensed contractors will be the only entities authorized to spray for weeds.”

The city is subject to surprise inspections and could face fines if it fails to comply in the future, according to Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Ed King.

Haycock, a former civil litigation attorney, was outspoken during an October Parks and Recreation Commission meeting in which city staff proposed an ordinance that would give the city manager the exclusive authority to create rules governing the city’s parks, trails and open spaces, which would bypass the commission and City Council.

“The (city manager) could say red sneakers are prohibited in the parks. Then pretty soon people are getting tickets for wearing red sneakers,” Haycock said during the Oct. 10 meeting. The commission tabled the measure and the city ultimately backed off.

In a letter to commissioners, Horst wrote, “The intended purpose is to have a definitive code by which staff can govern our park systems and not to have a debate over who has the authority to establish rules and regulations.”

Haycock also criticized a draft of proposed park rules that included a ban on tobacco products of any kind. The city settled on a smoking ban that was approved by the commission. It has not yet been presented to City Council for approval.

Haycock believes the City Council removed him to get ready for a fight this spring over proposed fee increases for nonprofits, including Boy Scouts, who get a waiver to use city buildings for meeting space. Haycock is a past president of the local Boy Scout council. Outrage over the proposal in November forced the city to form a committee to study the issue and delay the new fees.

“They knew I was president of the Boy Scout council. I put it on my application,” Haycock said. “I’m about the truth and I want the truth to come out.”

City Council asked all the applicants the same five questions. Haycock said after a question about how he would approach controversy during commission meetings, Councilmember Scott Yuill asked Haycock a follow-up question about the scout fee increase. Yuill said Haycock’s answer had nothing to do with his decision on who should be appointed to the commission during the Jan. 14 special meeting.

“I recall Mr. Haycock referenced the ongoing meetings the city has been conducting with the Boy Scouts during one of his answers to the standard questions,” Yuill said. “I asked him to elaborate, but frankly never fully understood his position, and we were short on time. There was no further discussion from any council member on that matter.”

Yuill said he doubts any issue would be a deal-breaker.

“It’s doubtful anyone’s position on any single issue would make too much of a difference,” Yuill said.

The council vote tally was not immediately available by press time.

Ruslin said Haycock’s outspokenness was a good thing.

“That’s the whole purpose of having a commission is to have those healthy conversations and have discussion to be an advisory board to council,” she said. “It’s like anything, council, we don’t always agree. We feel differently on different issues. That’s the same for a commission. Everyone brings an opinion.”

Haycock said Rocklin citizens would be better off with experienced commissioners with a longer institutional memory on issues that have faced citizens and their parks.

“If they wanted to replace somebody, they should have started with those with the least seniority,” Haycock said.

Chris Anderson has been on the Parks Commission the longest, serving since 1994, Paul Ruhkala started in 1997, followed by Haycock in 2002 and Nancy Hartwell and John Carter in 2011. Both Ruhkala and Carter were reappointed, with Hart-well and Anderson’s terms expiring in 2014.

Rocklin City Attorney Russell Hildebrand advised the council on the appointment process at the Jan. 12 meeting.

“Those boards and commissions serve at your pleasure,” Hildebrand told the council. “They can be removed at the pleasure of the council at any time. There is no vested right once (the council) puts them in a role.”

The council is also considering when commissioners are appointed. They are considering a practice of staggering appointments so commissioners will not be seated following an election year. That way, new council members will have more time serving before they are expected to make appointments.