Travis Tschaenn’s Attempted Dissolution of the Park Board
Recently Town Council President Travis Tschaenn and a few members of the Town Council attempted to dissolve the Brownsburg Park Board. The park board has served the residents of Brownsburg for greater than 60 years. This article provides a timeline of major events, seeks to understand the impact, and describes the undesired outcomes which occurred as a result. Discussion of the advantages or disadvantages of the proposed change is outside the scope of this article.
Town Council President Travis Tschaenn also refused questions from a resident on the ownership and modification of the council agenda. He had the resident escorted away from lectern and temporarily removed from the venue by a Brownsburg Police officer.
Time Line of Events
• Friday June 16th, 4:48pm – Travis Tschaenn approves an agenda including an item titled – A resolution to declare the Town Council’s intent to dissolve the Park Board
• Monday June 19th — Holiday — Town Offices are closed
• Wednesday June 21st, 4:48pm – Travis Tschaenn approves an agenda where the Dissolution of the Park Board item is removed from the agenda.
Thursday June 22nd, Town Council Meeting
• Roll Call — Travis Tschaenn announces the council will not be taking any comments regarding the removed agenda item park board dissolution.
• During Citizens Comments Relating to the Agenda- Comments Denied
○ Rob Kendall – Asks how items are added or removed from the council agenda.
○ Travis Tschaenn gaveled Rob out of order. Mr. Kendall is escorted from the lectern and temporarily removed from the venue, by a Brownsburg Police Officer.
• Ordinance 2023-10 Issuance of Bonds by RDA & RDC Discussion
○ During discussion of this item Mark Tieken states “I was limited on the time I could study this issue here, this ordnance, because I spent a lot of time on an issue that is, that didn’t make the agenda tonight. Which I cannot say, because I might get kicked out the door.” Mark Tieken votes NO on this item when the vote is taken.
• Town Council Items
○ Mark Tieken Discusses his concerns were the evening’s agenda made available in a timely fashion? Did the holiday negatively impact the public’s ability to review and act on the agenda. He asked if the agenda could be published sooner.
• Citizen’s Comments
○ Rob Kendall – who was earlier removed from the forum questioned and condemned the actions taken by Town Council president Travis Tschaenn. “This is simply about people being able to address the government”.
○ Dave Warswick – Expresses his distain for the town council president’s action removing the resident before he could make his comments. “I wasn’t gonna get up here any say anything tonight. But that was absolutely absurd and ridiculous that he was not allowed make comment”. ” I am truly upset at this appalling reaction tonight, to the gentleman making the comment”.
○ David Weyant – Provides a scathing lessons learn analysis on Travis’s attempt to dissolve the park board – “Your heavy handedness, thought you could slide this under the wire, without anybody lookin’. “Travis YOU DID THIS”. “Step up tell the public what you did and why you did it. I will eagerly await your answers”.
What we know:
Concerned Brownsburg Residents take action – They reached out to members of the town council, and members of the park board in an attempt to understand Travis’s proposed approach. Including the proposed organizational structure, financial impact to the parks and the town, and insight why this action was being taken at this time. They also publicized this action in order to raise awareness within the community.
• Friday late afternoon June 16th- Travis Tschaenn contacts the park board notifying them of the council’s intent to dissolve the park board. This is the first time the park board is made aware of their intent, much less the pending action scheduled to take place in approximately two business days.
• Other members of the park board, and Brownsburg Parks executive staff had no awareness of this action until they were informed by members of the park board late Friday afternoon.
• The public discovers approximately $368,000 funds in use to construct Virgil Park would be jeopardized if the park board is dissolved.
• No evidence has emerged to date that Travis Tschaenn conducted an investigation into the short and long term financial impact. Nor did he provide a new organizational structure prior to the ordinance placed on the next council’s agenda.
• Two of the council members have stated (Mark Tieken and Chris Worley) they had no awareness of this action, prior to receiving the agenda in their inboxes.
• Town Council president Travis Tschaenn has refused multiple inquires from numerous individuals to explain his conduct in this matter. In addition, Travis has refused multiple inquiries from this publication, to explain his side of the story.
• None of the members of the current council discussed dissolving the park board on the public record prior to this attempted action. This raises questions why item was placed on the agenda without public input.
Thursday June 22nd, Town Council Meeting:
Seeking to eliminate any discussion on this matter Travis says —
“We will not be taking any comments on the previous item that was removed from the agenda for the park board dissolution. That has been removed from the agenda for now, due to some information that we have received. That will be tabled for the time being but it will come back in the future.”
Travis stops Rob Kendall asking about council agenda ownership and construction at citizen’s comments. Travis has Rob removed from the lectern and escorted from the venue by a Brownsburg Police officer.
This publication and many others worked tirelessly to determine who spearheaded this effort, the short and long term financial impact to the parks and the town budgets and learn why this action was being taken at this time.
Dissolution of the Park Board
Our investigation, discussions with other residents, observed evidence of conduct by town council members, combined with critical thinking and deductive reasoning allows an uninformed person to draw the following conclusions:
Travis Tschaenn would not have placed this item on the agenda unless he believed he had a majority to pass the ordinance. Who would his co-conspirators be? Ben Lacey and Mark Simpson.
Travis’s opening remarks explaining why the dissolution of the park board item was removed from the agenda in town council “due to some information that we have received”. This comment calls into question what effort if any was made to determine the down stream financial impact of the organizational change.
• Did Travis consider an investigation into the financial impact of the change?
• Was an investigation performed?
• Did the investigation fail to discover the funding shortfall?
• Was the funding shortfall discovered and determined to be acceptable?
• Were other funding sources identified?
The aforementioned questions remain unanswered. In any event, it is clear nothing was going to prevent the dissolution of the park board when the item was placed on the agenda.
Why was this action taken now?
A reasonable person could conclude this impulsive action was taken because Monday June 19th is a holiday, all local government offices were closed. Giving the public approximately 2 business days to obtain any information. Leaving 2 business days for the park board to act to address the matter.
The three day weekend combined with Brownsburg schools summer break, would further reduce the number of concerned citizens who could learn of and act in any way to prevent the action.
Denial of Public comments by Travis Tschaenn
This publication condemns in the strongest possible terms Travis’s heavy handed reaction to the resident questioning the ownership and modification of the council agenda.
Rob’s use of the “dissolution of the park board agenda item” was an example in his comments. This clearly triggered Travis, the distinction is Rob never asked any questions about the dissolution ordinance itself. Rob would have been better served to ask why the agenda item Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce report to council , first appeared and then was removed from the agenda.
Travis’s immediate escalation to a “nuclear response” was a last ditch effort to prevent exposure of his actions on the public record. Actions which call to question his ability to act prudently in this case to listen to his constituents he was elected to serve. Even when he doesn’t want to hear it.
The ordinance stated the justification for this action as “the Council has determined that it is appropriate and in the best interest of the Town and the Parks Department to dissolve”. The council failed to support this claim. Additionally, comments have been raised that the Parks Board is an ineffective, redundant level of government, which at times acts out of line with the town council’s stated parks objectives.
Who appoints the majority of people who serve on the park board? Town Council. Since by the council’s own admission they have been unable to effectively identify people to serve, direct and collaborate with members of the park board. It brings into question their ability to effectively oversee the functions of the parks department.
As stated earlier, no evidence has emerged to indicate a financial analysis was performed prior to the pursuit of this ordinance. This failure to take the fiscal posture of the parks and town budgets into account indicates this action was impulsive, opportunistic, short sighted, and detrimental to the council’s own stated parks goals and objectives.
Throughout this entire episode Travis Tschaenn has failed to demonstrate the basic principles of governance typically employed by public servants.
In summary, the actions taken by Travis is a case study on how NOT to implement a significant, disruptive organizational change.
On an individual councilmen level, each member should at the very least, withhold their support of any initiatives Travis attempts to advance until they have proven to themselves, Travis has tendered a thoroughly thought-out proposal. This is likely this council’s best effort to incorporate the park board responsibilities.
Unfortunately, this council has shown it is NOT capable of taking on any responsibilities.
To the four council members collectively, this publication strongly urges these members review Travis’s actions in greater detail, take any actions necessary. The council should communicate their actions to the public within the next 90 days.
Any further action on this matter should remain tabled until all current council members are no longer in office.
To learn what others are saying social media search for #DissolutionofBburgParkBoard in Facebook.
Materials used in this report:
>> Click Here << To review the original packet which contained the ordinance to dissolve the park board.
>> Click Here << To view the unaltered video from the June 22nd town council meeting.
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