Resident removed from parks board chose public vote

Adelina Mart, whose reappointment to the Maplewood parks board was voted down by city council 5-1 on Tuesday has responded. She said Mayor Barry Greenberg gave her the opportunity to have the vote removed from the agenda, to save her “the embarrassment,” but declined, saying the council’s decisions should be made in public.

Mart’s response:

A few hours before this Tuesday’s Council meeting, Mayor Greenberg informed me that the other Council members would not approve my reappointment to the Park Board. He was truly kind in offering me the option to be removed from the agenda and save me the embarrassment. While I appreciate the offer, my view is that Council decisions should be done in public view to increase transparency in a government where it is sorely lacking it.

Therefore, I am not embarrassed.

I am not embarrassed for the two years I served on the board, bringing up the needs of the community I live in. I am not embarrassed for my failed attempt at advocating for the 100+ petitioners who requested a better dog park. I am not embarrassed for my failed attempts at creating a trail in Kellogg Park for individuals who regularly commute by train, or advocating for an updated Park and City master plan that includes community input, or the creation of pocket parks to demonstrate the appropriate use of native plans. And, I am not embarrassed for advocating that our policies and decisions be based on evidence and research along with what the community needs.

I am not embarrassed for speaking up for transparency and inclusion, constantly questioning who is involved in decision-making and how we can better hear the voice of our diverse community. I am not embarrassed for speaking against the use of Park funds for a War Memorial in front of city hall. I am not embarrassed at my failed attempts to create collaboration between the Park Board and Sustainability Commission, or for my suggestion that Park Board come out in formal support of the Walkability Study. I am not embarrassed in my failed attempts to engage discussion around the Parks budget. And I am not embarrassed for questioning the intentions, demand and funding for a skate park (before ultimately voting for it). I am not embarrassed for asking that actual skate park users be included in the design of the project. And I am not embarrassed for requesting that all agendas and minutes be published online.

I would be embarrassed as an elected official to have never attended a Park Board meeting. I would be embarrassed as an elected official to not reply to emails from my constituents. I would be embarrassed as an elected official to have no comments on a 125+ page, $9 million city budget. I would be embarrassed as an elected official to not address the comments of individuals that take time to come and speak at public forums. I would be embarrassed to make assumptions about constituents based on the street or Ward they live on.

My parents were keenly aware of tyranny created when government silences the people’s voice. I was born in a country under communist rule. While I immigrated here in 1995, it was only in 2008 that I became a citizen and was granted the right to a voice. Everyone has a right to that voice, and no one should be silenced for using it. This is a blatant attempt to do just that.

Beyond Park Board, I was vocal during the creation of the Short Term Rental ordinance. I have made public comment at Council meetings and in this online forum on many topics. My mannerisms may not be demure and my opinions may not always be popular, but I have always been respectful and forthcoming.

Serving on a board is but one way to participate in our governance. I have met neighbors who advocate for safety. Neighbors who advocate for accountability and transparency. Neighbors who work on community engagement and social inclusion. Neighbors who went out of their way to help our Airbnb guests with their dead battery, neighbors who beautified the Zephyr lots with their garden, and neighbors who come by with their dogs for coffee on Saturday morning. Elderly neighbors who have brought us into their family, and neighbors who rent and feel like they don’t have a right to a voice in our community. These are the neighbors I keep in mind when I speak up.

They will not be silenced. I will not be silenced. As long as we all keep bringing our voices together, the just and inclusive community we imagine can become a reality.

27 thoughts on “Resident removed from parks board chose public vote

  1. I am hoping to be able to reach out and talk to Adelina soon so that I can personally explain my vote to her. I will not make any public statement until I speak to her myself first. I hope you understand. Anyone can reach me any time to discuss City matters, discuss my votes, criticize me, make suggestions and recommendations, etc. The best way is via email or my Facebook Councilman page “Ray Crader Maplewood Councilman.” I try to be very responsive as others can attest. Please keep in mind I do have a full time job and family obligations if I don’t return your email right away. Also, not all Council members follow 40 South News or the comments nor are they obligated to do so.

  2. “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” This seems to fit perfectly aside from the fact she appears to not have been warned or have anything explained to her. #shepersisted

    • Some people commenting here quite obviously want to make a comparison to Hillary’s defeat. I feel just as upset about our nation’s current President, (whose name I still cannot even bring myself to state out-loud or type here). It’s painful. But we must persevere and persist. Despite your desire to make the comparison to Hilary, please stop. Your fight is misplaced here and it make me sad that you do not see this. Put your emotions about the Presidential election results into a different direction. Of course there are complexities that are not stated, but I was trying to make a point, not write a comprehensive statement covering every complex aspect. People like us desperately want to do something, we feel so wronged after the election. But you need to put your energy where it will truly serve to make a difference. Take a step back and truly see and understand that. Being combative and comparing this to Hilary’s defeat will ultimately not serve you, and it will not serve the needs of your community. You need to try harder to seek to understand and compromise. You need to force yourself (yes, force yourself) to understand and see the goodness in these people who serve in your community. Again, I feel the pain of he who shall be named being President. But let’s try to work together to make change in harmony with our neighbors. Let’s keep things REAL.

      • Big Changes have small beginnings. I believe what you are calling frustration is more of an awakening. I would argue that the awakening should be directed to our council to shape the community we live in. Start small, finish big. I love my cliches.

        • As we see in the dysfunction of our national government, effecting change requires real compromise. I try to teach our children that they cannot always have their way because that’s not how the real world works, they need to know that even if many adults elected to their current offices do not realize it. Now we even have bully as president who whines and rants and bullies when people disagree with him or his ideas. That is far from ideal. In the current climate, it is easy to misplace deep, collective frustrations onto a group of volunteers, who, while they certainly are far from perfect, do not have bad intentions. And by the way, I like your cliches too. Thanks

      • To clarify, the phrase originated in 2017 when the United States Senate voted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren’s objections to confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell uttered this sentence during comments following the vote in an effort to defend the Senate’s actions and blame Senator Warren.

    • Keepingitreal said something about misplacing collective frustrations, I got the context. There’s no need to pick fights like that, it’s petty and mean-spirited. Many commenting actually seem to be on the same side, so why not try harder to listen more and seek to understand?

  3. Sounds like Mart has already said that she went against the status quo which ruffled some feathers either from board members themselves or from the city. Either way, both are disgraceful reasons, especially given the fact that none of the councilmen attended a meeting. I don’t think we will hear a defense from the city as the reasons Mart listed are exactly why she was not brought back. Again, disgraceful.

    • Thanks Kevin. Just to be factual, I do believe Councilman Crader attended one Park board meeting around the time of his election.

  4. Having at one time served as a member of the parks boarddor the city off Shrewabury, I can understand both sides of the situation. The are many things that various groups of citizens would like to have the city do and there are many other things that the board would like the city to do for its citizens. For all of us to live together, to grow togerher and to create the best municipal community together, some decisions must be made. Those decisions will approved by some, disliked by others. We need to work together for that which is best for all.

    • Very true. But not as exciting as the imaginary, colluding bad guys they have chosen to create. Thank you for your statement.

  5. Adelina, this was a very well thought out response to a difficult situation. I do not know you personally, but you appear to have Maplewood’s best intentions at heart. Of course, there are two sides to every story, so I hope that Maplewood recognizes that the citizens are asking for transparency with regard to the decision making process.

  6. I wonder if perhaps some people are not aware of what a board member is realistically supposed to do. People who volunteer to serve on boards are asked to help deal with the minutia of running small-town public work departments. You are not asked to join a board in order to buck the system and constantly talk about what you do not agree with; if you did, nothing would get done; the board would just be debating all the time! A good board member contributes their experience, expertise, intelligence, etc., in order to help the board accomplish its mission and goals as a team. A dutiful board member helps a board do its job efficiently and smoothly. If you don’t think you can bite your tongue during the appropriate moments, in order to accomplish tasks the tax payers entrust the board to deal with, you should not be there. There is a difference between being an opinionated board member who can still be a team player vs. just being an obstacle to making progress.

    • I would love to see present the case that Mart acted in the way you are describing. Describe where she was bucking the system…was it in advocating for a trail in park that is sorely needed? Was she not biting her tongue when asking if there was demand and funding for a skate park? Was she being an obstacle when requesting meetings and agendas be posted online? If that’s so, then I think we should re-evaluate every member on every board to ensure that they are just filling a seat and not dissenting anyway from the status quo.

      • Elsbeth’s point stated in several ways is that these kinds of boards are primarily there to get tasks done in order for the department to keep working for the public’s benefit. This is not exciting to most people. You might even say it’s boring. If as a citizen you have problems with what a department is doing or if you want to introduce your own ideas, the most effective way to express that is as a citizen, not as a board member. It might sound counter intuitive, but truly that is not really why you serve on a board. You are not elected by the public, you are suggested to serve, and the reason you serve is move things along. I also agree when Elsbeth said not many people understand the process and they probably do not want to take the time to really understand it because it is so boring. And that’s OK because that’s why nice people volunteer be board members and sit through meetings that are boring. Picture a board meeting. Now understand that it is boring. The mundane agenda items need to get approved in order for things to function. Things got on that agenda well before and they will be approved by the majority of the board even if the rouge member votes against it. Sure, you can object to things and vote against things as is fully your right. But there is an understanding among most people who know about this that all you’re doing is wasting everyone’s time as you hear yourself argue. Again, it is your right, of course, but you will annoy everyone else in the process, as you waste their time, and in the end, everyone else will vote to pass those things. If you actually want to effect REAL change, you really should not try to do it as a board member. Maybe this lady did not understand that going into it, but, hopefully now she does. Maybe now as a citizen of her community she will go to the next meeting and as a tax paying citizen bring her ideas to the city. I never said her ideas weren’t good or valid or whatever. Her ideas actually sound logical and good. I am just saying that is the true reality of the situation and you need not blow it out of proportion making it sound like there are large conspiracies within this small town government. Also, try going to one of these meetings, as is your right, and understand and see for yourself. It is your problem if you do not like knowing the truth.

        • Even if you agree to have not brought her back, which I think is wrong, the way the city has gone about this process is ridiculous and shady. The city wanted to sweep this under the rug by removing it from the agenda. I am shocked that people as reasonable as Shawn and Ray would act in this manner as I have always viewed them as very deliberate and transparent individuals. Tim Dunn and Karen Wood have always been seat warmers and will always do as they are told or what the consensus tells them to do. I was not sure on Steve Moseley, but I guess we have our answer. Everyone of these individuals needs to be held accountable. Hopefully, if action in ward 3 is any indication, Wood and Dunn will be gone.

    • I respect that you view the boards as being tasked with the minutia of running a small town. If that is a satisfactory use of these citizen commissions for you, that’s fine. However, I don’t see that view supported by the work and decisions all other boards have made in the past.

      Planning and Zoning makes important decisions about people’s home and livelihoods at every meeting, and at times there are differing views indicated by split votes and lively discussions. Design and Review is tasked to make difficult aesthetic choices that define the character of our city(my partner and I can’t agree on patio furniture, so I’m going to assume this is hard too). Sustainability has pushed the City towards energy efficiency, having won awards for Green Dining Alliance, Tree City USA, EPA Green Power Community. They are now discussing creating native plant displays, bringing PACE Green Energy financing to Maplewood, and how to tackle walkability and social equity. I have attended their meetings often, and appreciate the can-do attitude all the members bring to the table. These predominantly/exclusively male-filled boards have never been told to “bite their tongue” or go back to dealing with “minutia”.

      I would argue that a $1.9m Public Works budget (second in size only to the Police budget) is not “minutia”. As one of the only boards that has a budget(so to speak), I would argue they are tasked with an even greater responsibility to the taxpayers that fund that budget. To clarify, in my two years I have never voted ‘no’ on any initiative proposed by the board, I have merely questioned if some decisions are supported by and in the best interests of the community.

      I can only assume that the “good ol’ boys” club may also feel that “my place” was to “bite my tongue” and “deal with the minutia”. I would urge them to make whatever their reasoning public, so voters can make more informed choices on who is representing them next time they visit the polls.

      • I did not mean to make it sound as if a board’s only task is to just say mindlessly agree. I realize there are complexities that I did not take the time to state here. But I was making a point that being on a board is much more about keeping the wheels moving, not specifically to bring your own personal agenda to the table. I think Elspeth even said that having an opinion is just fine too. It is even expected that you should have an opinion. That is not what this is about.

        • It looks like in her comment below, she rarely voted against anything that was on the table. Further, I would be curious to hear how she brought her personal agenda to the table. If its not about her having an opinion, I am not sure what it is about. It sounds like what you are saying is that it is okay to have an opinion as long as it doesn’t interfere with some sort of established agenda. Where does this agenda come from? City council is obviously oblivious to what happens on its boards. Who is responsible for presenting ideas? City employees that don’t live here? I think your thoughts assume that we have a well functioning city with an active council. Showing up to ribbon cuttings doesn’t cut it (pun intended). Again, I am not sure as to your or Elsbeth’s position, it seems like you guys might not be aware of the circumstances that are surrounding this specific issue, but in the lack of transparency and history of our council and without comment (again), I tend to believe Mart when it comes to this.

          • My comments were never specifically about the voting record of this former board member. My comments were agreeing with the comments someone else made… just keeping it REAL

  7. Ms Mart is exactly whom I want to represent me on the park board, her agenda are my agendas.

  8. Adelina, thank you for your service to the city. I’m deeply disappointed that the council members chose to not reappoint you. I have contacted my councilman requesting the reason for his decision.
    I believe this decision reflects poorly on the entire city council.

  9. I would love to hear an explanation from the city. As a member of a (different) board, I cannot imagine what it would take for the council to take the time to remove one of us. Heck, we have had enough trouble recruiting members. This will likely make it harder.

  10. I’m so very confused as to why the council would not want a person of Ms. Marts character serving the city.