Nov. 18 was a sad day in Oak Park [Fired park district manager mulls discrimination suit, Dec.21]. The first African-American employee ever hired by the Park District of Oak Park was fired. After 21 years of full-time service and 34 years of total service, this was the thanks Greg Evans received. He didn’t receive a letter of reprimand. He was never told of shortcomings in his job performance or a probationary period with which he could correct any problems. Most disconcerting of all is that he had no forewarning that he would be fired right before the holidays.

Forget a party, forget a pension, forget retiring from a job he loved, and forget being given an opportunity to say goodbye to his co-workers or staff. What kind of people have we allowed to run the park district? I know firsthand what a hardworking, conscientious worker Greg Evans has been for the park district. I worked for Greg during the late 1980s and early ’90s. I have also worked special events for the park district since 1996. I informed the park district last week that I would no longer work for them. I cannot in good conscience work for people who treat an employee with such insensitivity and disrespect.

I read the memo from Executive Director Gary Balling and Superintendent Ellman, which fails to justify his firing. No matter how successful Greg was at his job and no matter that his programs and events generated over $700,000 in revenues for 2004, at the time of his firing in November Greg had already more than doubled his projected revenues for 2005, and it still was not good enough. Per my conversation with Ellman, the park district is in the midst of a reorganization and there was no spot for Greg. His response to my disbelief was to say that a lot of people are shocked at the news of Greg’s firing.

Greg Evans was a student at Fenwick High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and an M.S. in health education from Southern Illinois University. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at DePaul University. He has furthered his education and professional career by attending numerous park district conferences, seminars and joined many related affiliations. This is an intelligent professional and a hard-working manager who has a proven track record. This is not someone who deserved to be fired.

Oak Park residents need to start paying attention to officials making decisions with their tax dollars and town. Where is our park board? Greg Evans was the sole casualty of the park district reorganization. A whole park district is reorganized and only one person is fired. It just happens to be one of their most successful managers. To my knowledge this is the second long-term African-American fired from the park district in recent years. The first firing cost a bundle. And to think I am a taxpayer who voted for renew our parks referendum.

Karen Mullarkey Kerrins
Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!