Often innocuous concerns like a foul ball at a Little League game seems limited to those for who it impacts, and that makes for a boring read. The reality is an errant foul ball isn’t prejudiced towards just observers of a Little League baseball game. In my eight years of watching my children play El Dorado Hills Little League, hundreds of foul balls have barely missed the skulls of joggers, dog walkers and seniors alike. I’ll go so far as to state that a topic as mundane as a foul ball reveals a lot about our community leaders.
Annually EDH Little League invests a princely sum to our Community Services District for use, maintenance and field-safety for use of public baseball fields. One would assume that an annual investment of $80,000 (Yes, $80,000!) raised by Little League
parents and volunteers would suffice for such expectations. Apparently, not only does the investment exclude public safety (absence of safety nets attached to the top of backstops) but the fields are in deplorable condition.
In fairness, it could be argued: “Why doesn’t EDH Little League manage such matters?”
I agree with the dissentience. In fact it’s been the contention of the CSD board that EDH Little League manages the fields by hosting bake sales and car washes. Hypothetically, if we’re all in agreement with EDH Little League managing the fields, then I would suggest that $80,000 would be better used in the hands of EDH Little League.
Recently a Little League game was played at Jeff Mitchell Field. Located at Brooks Middle School, Jeff Mitchell Field is a “Field of Dreams.” It’s the shining star of EDH Little League — a field that was built in memory of neighbor and hero Sheriff Jeff Mitchell. Attending the game was a CSD board member. He watched as a series of near misses scattered children, including one foul ball that directly hit a parked automobile. It took one inning of a baseball game to convince the CSD board member of the seriousness of the situation. That board member was Bill Vandegrift.
Billy “V” is an affable, gregarious sort who has proven to this parent that he’s truly in tune with the needs of our community. For example, when requests for resources from the local recreational swim community were presented at a CSD Board meeting, it was Vandegrift who took the time to gauge the needs of hundreds of competitive swimmers, parents and volunteers. In the end Vandegrift facilitated the competitive swim community by including them in the CSD pool improvement capital campaign. Today the CSD pool is a wonderful example of the community working in harmony with CSD board members in designing a functional public pool which supports both leisure and competitive swim.
As previously stated, it was Vandegrift who stood behind a backstop at a recent Little League game and watched children scrambling in all directions as foul balls pummeled the concrete around them. And it was Vandegrift who patiently listened as EDH Little League board members expressed their concerns to then CSD General Manager John Skeel during a recent meet-and-greet. To date no decision has come from the CSD board concerning field conditions and safety. Recently John Skeel was placed on indefinite leave.
Since 1962 the mission of the CSD board, as is stated in its annual report, is to provide customer service to the community. It’s this writer’s opinion that along the way the CSD Board has lost its mission. A board once seated by those who served the community is now permeated by an insulate environment motivated by the expansion and preservation of guaranteed entitlements.
In the CSD annual report there are no less than five proclamations regarding “economic hardship” which negatively impacts revenue responsible for financing CSD operations. As a result of decreased property taxes (a major source of revenue), the CSD has been forced to lay off staff. According to the report (edhcsd.org) ending June 30, 2010, “cash and investments” totaled nearly $12 million, of which approximately 65 percent went towards CSD salaries and benefits. It appears that the drop in revenue has had little impact on board member’s benefits.
As stated, CSD charges exorbitant fees from various recreational organizations for the use of public land and resources. It is the intent of these organizations that their investment provides their organizations with the ability to broaden interest within the community. By failing to provide these organizations with the proper resources, the CSD Board should be held accountable for breach of its ethical and/or fiduciary duty to the community.
In the CSD annual report it lists under the banner Strategic Plan: “Delight customers.”
Carpet-bombed by foul balls is not a delight to fan, jogger, dog walker or senior.
Don’t get me started on Porta Potties!
El Dorado Hills