Something Afoul At City Hall

According to author Anna Sellers Friedrich who wrote

in Places Journal of architecture, landscape and urbanism "city halls exist in almost every city across America. They serve the same purpose in each place: they are portals through which we interact with local leaders and conduct

our bureaucratic business with the government.'

That begs the question, why is the Parma City Hall a public building roped off from the public? How we can interact with our local leaders? Libraries are public buildings yet patrons are not asked to state their business at the door. Patrons are not ushered to the non fiction side and told to stay away from the magazines and newspapers.
A public building infers a certain freedom granted to all citizens yet not so in Parma.  Unfortunately, our government has become less open or perhaps Parma has always lacked transparency.

Our group "Trees Are Needed For A Greener Parma" wonders if we are  the sole exception of the inability of city hall to fulfill public record requests. Since 2022 our group has had incredible difficulty obtaining public records. We have received only a small fraction of our requests. Have other citizens had the same difficulty?

Our group's early request was to find out how many trees Parma routinely cuts down. Service Director told us that the city does not count.  The 15 m budget is not according to records provided hasnt an accounting of what percentage of it budget is used for cutting trees down.  Our group surmised that cut trees leave stumps for which the city uses outsourced companies to grind those stumps. Parma has provided those contractors with a never ending list.

Payment to these companies is tracked and a billing must be rendered. Yet again and again our group has been told no such list exist. Our public records requests have been shuffled from Communications to the Law Dept. for sorting out and it appears from the attempt in 2023 the law dept. is stymied as well.

An assumption is made that with the same administration serving multiple terms all is ship shape up there at city hall. Is this a safe assumption? We think not
Lets look to another example other than the blighting of our neighborhoods from unnecessary tree removal.

The gift of our American Rescue dollars. Rather than improving our senior center or heck building a new facility for the vast community of seniors it serves in addition to repairing our aged sewer and water infrastructure for our chronically flooded neighbors it was decided that the best use of the ARM funding .

that would improve residents lives and welcome new family's to Parma -is a new golf clubhouse/event center.

Records requested on January 25th, 2024 solidify a government system in trouble. Though we did obtain a list of salivating contractors eager for their piece of the pie. Blueprints record requests are unavailable.

That's right the 10 million much touted and talked about golf course and event center are nowhere too be found. .The city however did submit three conceptual renderings. Have other residents been able to view blueprints of where our federal tax dollars are going? Its a citizens right to know.

In the 7th largest city in the state , a city of roughly 80,000 residents a basic function of city hall such as record keeping is the foundation for integrity through transparency in government.  Yet on Jan. 2024 we asked how many public records were requested in 2023? The city's response? No list exist. That's correct an accounting that basic is missing No one thought to count that number .This does not inspire confidence in our current leaders. Maybe those velvet ropes that keep residents out are really meant from keeping residents from  seeing in.

Sharon Stahurski

Founder "Trees For A Greener Parma" and long time Parma resident

Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 7:37 PM, 04.08.2024