Editorial: A contemptible claim from United Senior Citizens of Bend


Published Jan 17, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

What do the employees of the Bend Park & Recreation District have in common with convicted serial child rapist Jerry Sandusky?

Nothing.

To suggest otherwise is outrageously wrong.

Tom Gunn, vice president of the United Senior Citizens of Bend, made the shameful assertion Tuesday that asking his group to work with park district employees would be like asking young men in State College, Pa., to go to a reunion with Jerry Sandusky.

Outrageous. Wrong. It diminishes what happened at Penn State. It distorts the dispute between the USCB board and the park district.

Gunn’s comment came at a meeting between the boards of the USCB and the park district. They came together to discuss their differences.

They are a long, long way apart.

The USCB believes the park district is failing to serve the seniors at the Bend Senior Center who can’t Zumba, who lack the money to pay fees, who need more of a place to go and socialize than a place to go and get active. Gunn called them the “senior seniors.”

Park board chairman Scott Asla repeatedly asked the USCB board what programs the district could offer to better serve the senior seniors.

The USCB members said they don’t want to help the district. They are tired of working with it. They want the money they raised to help build the senior center so they can offer services themselves. They have threatened to sue.

Gunn said some of what seniors have been subjected to by park district staff or in letters amounts to “elder abuse.” He said he believes the “ambience” at the district’s senior center is wrong. Employees don’t show sufficient “empathy.”

The USCB believes it has legitimate grievances. Its board members feel wronged. But it’s not clear how far those feelings extend beyond the USCB board.

What was plain from the meeting is that the park district is not going to be able to work with the USCB to serve seniors. The USCB does not want it. So the district must continue to do the good job it already does in providing parks and recreation to all of the community.

It should also be plain that the district shouldn’t hand money to the USCB. If the USCB believes it has a rightful claim to park district assets, that needs to be settled in court.

But if the USCB hopes to win by plucking at the community’s heartstrings, it’s going to lose with such outrageous comparisons about district staff.

We are unplucked.