Boccieri labels proposal to quell park dissent 'un-American' - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Boccieri labels proposal to quell park dissent 'un-American'

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Rep. John Boccieri Rep. John Boccieri
MAHONING COUNTY, Ohio -

Controversy is brewing over a proposal that would allow judges to fine citizens who oppose actions by park districts in Ohio. It's part of an amendment to the state budget bill.

Just last year there were protests over actions taken by Mill Creek Park administrators.

It was sparked by the sudden firing of more than a dozen park employees, and lead to calls for the ouster of the park's Executive Director, Aaron Young.  

Now, an amendment would give probate judges more power over park districts, and the ability to fine or penalize people that interfere with a districts mission.

Representative John Boccieri calls it a gross over reach of power. "This overreach of power just puts the probate judges in a very dynamic situation where they're grabbing and micro managing the park district," Boccieri said.

 Probate judges currently appoint park board members, the amendment would broaden that authority to include management issues.

Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert Rusu doesn't care for the idea. "To do a knee jerk action for something that's happening in one or two counties that's going to affect the whole state, I'm not in favor of that," Judge Rusu said.

Boccieri says to stifle or limit dissent is not the American way. "By allowing judges to fine or pass duties on third parties that don't agree with or that, as the language says, interfere with his directions or the mission of the park district is quelling dissent and that's not what the country is about," Boccieri said.

Judge Rusu feels this proposal needs to be properly vetted and not rushed through. "To just have the opportunity to talk about it before it gets put in on a last minute amendment bill to the budget and then all of a sudden we're stuck with it. I don't like that," Rusu said.

Members of Concerned Citizens of Mill Creek Park strongly oppose the bill and some say it could face a first amendment legal challenge. 

At this writing, Aaron Young was not available for comment.

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