Recreation Director Craig Daniels acts awfully squirrelly when he is asked about how taxpayers’ money was spent on the construction of a new splash pad in Pulaski Park. Daniels has flat out refused to answer The Review’s questions about the matter, defiantly saying he doesn’t have to answer any questions.
This about the spending of $115,853 of taxpayers’ money on a project that may or may not be in compliance with the state Department of Environmental Quality’s regulations. We’re not only talking about taxpayers’ money here, we’re also talking about a public health issue.
If the water in the splash pad is not properly treated, a bacterial infection could be spread.
The issue came to light thanks to the probing of School Boardmember Hedy Shulgon, who said Daniels has refused to share information about the project and has claimed in the past that she is “harassing” him over this matter.
Shulgon has every right to inquire about the project and how, once again, taxpayers’ money was spent. She has every right as a school boardmember, resident, voter and taxpayer to ask questions.
A lot of credit is due to Shulgon for doing her job and being a watchdog over the public’s money. It’s shocking that some of her fellow school boardmembers are not supportive of her or have even shown interest in the subject.
From what we have observed, Daniels can’t seem to directly answer any question about the project. His behavior sends up a whole bunch of red flags.
The more we dig into the project, the more questions are raised. In other communities, the average cost to build a splash pad is $60 – or less — per square foot. Daniels spent $115,853 of taxpayers’ money to build a 900 square foot pad. That comes to $128 per square foot.
Why did Hamtramck’s splash pad cost twice as much?
We may never know because Daniels doesn’t think he has to answer questions.
At this point, it looks like a full outside audit needs to be done because the public is being stonewalled by Daniels.
This inquiry has also raised alarms over the behavior of Recreation Commission President Dave Olko, who scolded a Review reporter with a string of profanities because of the inquiry and attempted to physically charge the same reporter at a recent commission meeting.
We are told that Olko has a big heart for kids. We’re sure he does, but he has what looks like an out-of-control temper. Why does Olko get so upset because of this inquiry that he gets to the point of threatening physical violence?
Is there something to hide?
At the very least, Olko presents himself as a ticking time bomb and a major liability to the public school district.
We don’t know what we have stumbled on here, but by barely scratching the surface of this project, we are finding some very disturbing things. It makes you wonder, what else is going on in the Recreation Department?