Friday, July 18, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Youth coach’s suspension upheld

Leader staff writer

Against the advice of the city attorney, the Cabot Parks and Recreation commission on Tuesday upheld its one-year suspension of a youth baseball coach and denied his request to appeal until 60 days.

Last month, the commission affirmed the baseball advisory board’s decision to ban John Elizandro from coaching for a year because he allowed someone to play in the wrong age division to give the child a chance to adjust to the game and enjoy himself on the field, he said.

In a letter to the commission, Elizandro said he did not believe the older player gave his team an advantage, or he would not have played him.

Elizandro did not attend the June meeting and requested the commission hear his appeal.

City Attorney Jim Taylor, arguing that the parks commission should leave disciplinary matters up to the parks director, advised the commission not to get involved in the suspension and send it back to the parks director for a decision.

He also recommended that the commission’s by-laws be changed so that it can no longer hear appeals, effectively getting the commission out of the punishment business and helping the city to avoid lawsuits.

Chairman Maggie Cope said the by-laws give the commission the final say in any sports league decision, and it should hear the appeal.

Taylor said if they did hear appeals, the commission is exposing itself to lawsuits and its members could even be sued personally. In that case, Taylor said the Municipal League and the city attorney’s office will not represent commission members.

“You are going to get into highly intense situations athletics carry with them. It is something, in my opinion, you should not be doing,” Taylor said.

He said the commission is delving into the day-to-day operations of the parks and recreation department. In his view, the commission’s job is to simply set and follow up on the parks’ budget. Hearing appeals is the job of the park director, Taylor recommended.

Commission member Nick Whitaker said, “I have really big trouble after last month’s meeting, you (Taylor) did not say a word. The next morning, a man went to the mayor’s office, and we start getting e-mails from you saying we shouldn’t have done it.”

Taylor said he knew nothing about the meeting, until e-mails were sent out. He said at the time he did not know the position the commission would be put in.

“I, nor my office, are no way involved in any kind of political things of nature in this town, and never will be,” Taylor said.

After the meeting adjourned, Whitaker continued to have words with Taylor, angrily pointing at him.