Park district has failed Oak Park

After serving honorably for 25 years on the LAPD, I became a park ranger for the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. Originally I was assigned as a full-time ranger in Oak Park.

Over time I came to realize that most of the other park rangers were lazy and useless. Ranger Jimmy Rosales is an exception.

Rangers would typically avoid police radio calls for service within the parks and let local law enforcement, the Simi Police Department or the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office handle the calls. Some rangers, including the supervisor, spent much more time in the office watching TV or playing on the computer than they did in the field.

After three years working in Oak Park, the position for one full-time ranger in Oak Park was eliminated.

I continued to work as a ranger, mostly in Simi and only occasionally in Oak Park. I began to realize that the citizens of Oak Park were being ripped off. They paid for park services as part of their property taxes but some of that money was being diverted to Simi Valley.

After a few years and making my dissatisfaction known, including personally to RSRPD general manager Larry Peterson, I resigned my position.

I left a letter for Peterson and all of the RSRPD board members detailing the inefficiency of the ranger program. I got zero response from the board members, none of which resided in Oak Park.

The Ventura County Grand Jury eventually received my letter and conducted an investigation. I was interviewed at length, as were members of the Simi Valley Police department and Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

The RSRPD was represented by Peterson and the head park ranger. The conclusion of the grand jury was that the RSRPD park ranger program should be eliminated.

Unfortunately, the decision by the grand jury is advisory and not binding. Peterson, with typical bureaucratic audacity, ignored the recommendation of the grand jury and retained the ranger program.

Today were are being made aware again that the RSRPD has been taking advantage of Oak Park citizens through its handling of the AM/PM school program.

Again the RSRPD takes Oak Park money and spends it in Simi.

The RSRPD needs to be thoroughly investigated for their obvious financial irregularities. Peterson and others need to be held accountable.

In addition, the RSRPD board of directors should be required to have at least two members be residents of Oak Park. If not, Oak Park should disenfranchise from the RSRPD and form its own park district.

Mike Schwieger
Oak Park