Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Call To Arms

Mayor Jack Ford gave the best speech that I've ever heard from him tonight at the Valentine Theatre in Downtown Toledo. He showed guts, flashes of humor, an understanding of what his supporters wanted to hear, and addressed citizens in an adult, professional way. I've attended State of the City Addresses every year since 1997. This was the best, in substance and style. And I don't remember another SOTC address that had as much political effect as this one will.

Yet, the night wasnt about partisanship - it was about fellowship. Jack has made some tough calls as Mayor. The economy hasn't made it easy. But he has treated people with respect and dignity, he has been very cautious with the public purse, and tonight he rallied the city to his vision. I will work as hard for his re-election as I will my own - I simply feel that's what's best for Toledo's future.

Tonight's speech was interrupted by applause at least 15 times. Here are some early key points:

"Crime has gone down in Toledo for three consecutive years."
"We have 144 active Block Watches, up from 59 when I took office."
"Our police and fire departments are nationally accredited. Only 3 major cities in America can make that claim."
"We have cut sick time and overtime."
"And now you can go to Toledo restaurants, enjoy a meal, and not ingest second hand smoke."
He gets to jobs and economic development later in the speech.

This section led to the first crescendo: "I am proud of our record and 2005 will be even better. I hope you will join with me as I seek re-election as Mayor of the City of Toledo."

Believe it or not, I've had more than one credible person come up to me and say they've heard Jack's not running.

After citing some state and national statistics on the economy, he delivers this:

"bad investment deals from the past continue to haunt Toledo to the tune of $1.2 million dollars in debt payments each and every year for decades to come. These include Museum Place, the Hillcrest and the Commodore Perry projects, and the ill advised PICO deal. Even now, we are fighting the federal government over $900,000 that was improperly spent on the Northcross deal. That $900,000 has been held in escrow for 3 years - we could really use it right now. $2.7 million in bad business loans were made in the previous administration. The day I took office I was greeted with a $16 million budget deficit."

As a Councilman who lost sleep over laying off Toledo Police, Fire and Rescue, overturning our trash collection, and axing vacant public service positions, that last litany of lost, mismanaged, and fumbled tax dollars really frosts me.

And yet, we made lemonade: "We reduced health care and workers comp claims...reduced overtime 22% saving $1.2 million. reduced sick time abuse saving $420,000"

And then he really got going on economic development, in my opinion the key issue Toledo faces in 2005:

The $450 million Jeep expansion..that will secure 3900 jobs. An award from Pres. Bush for our Small Business Initiatives - 34 businesses have opened or expanded in Toledo. A city investment of $900,000 has leveraged $12 million, creating 344 jobs that pay well. He chimed off Metzger Printing, 63 jobs, a new medical facility, 74 jobs, OI, Westfield, the Marina District, $200 mil ProMedica expansion, and more. he discussed his plans for cooperation with Lucas County - a very welcome approach, and highlighted Bill Carrol, a very successful, very respected former Dana exective who joined the Mayor last year as ED Director. He gave appropriate props to Susan Reams, with whom he leveraged a modest $20 thousand something salary into $600,000 in donations to city arts - which is part & parcel to successful ED.

A great moment: Jon Richardson was in the front row - he leads the Art Tatum jazz Festival held the past 4 years at International Park. The Mayor announced a $100,000 contribution from DaimlerChrysler for the event. Jon jumped in the air and pumped his fist. So did I.

The Mayor then talked about safety, neighborhood, housing and infrastructure projects.

Another great moment: Anyone whose ever traveled under that long dark tunnel on Hawley, just north of Libbey High School - can you imagine sending your kids through there, day or night? The Mayor said the problem had been ignored for a generation, but on his watch, lights were installed. This is a detail that will mean much for another generation.

He announced an aggresive recycling plan, and said he wanted to be known as the "environmental Mayor"

He mentioned various park and road projects - and then touched on CareNet, the city inspired health care plan serving those without health care access. This is a very big deal, for kids, parents, seniors. 5,000 are now enrolled. You dont have to ask anyone of those 5,000 how this Mayoral promise has changed their lives for the better - just think about how you'd feel if you didnt have health care.

He announced the name of the new riverside amphitheatre: Paul Block, Jr. - who endowed the city with millions for park improvements and particularly cared about the riverfront and downtown. A very nice gesture.

Lost in the speech I think was the import of his endorsement of a new parking garage adjacent to 5/3 bank on Madison. This move will keep over 200 jobs downtown! and he didnt even mention that fact!

He asked Council to pass the Special Improvement District (We in fact passed it 12-0 at the councilmeeting just before the speech)

This is a long post - but his closing was excellent:

"I have been criticized for what one pundit recently called my lumbering style. that I seem to be in perpetual hibernation, that nothing ever gets done or will get done.

"Fellow citizens, my style has been to work hard, work quietly and have the work I've done speak for me. Now that pundit claimed I must have been President of the Chess Club. That's true. But I was also captain of my undefeated high school football team - the Springfield Wildcats! the same style served me well when I was on City Council and rose to its presidency. It was the style I used to start SASI, Adelante and build the Frank troy Center. It was the same style that saw me elected to the Ohio State legislature and ultimately elected Democratic Leader for the whole state of Ohio.

As you know, I ran on the stated platform of serious leadership for serious times. You will never see me substitute frantic ravings in place of thoughtful planned out action." (a major applause line)

And he closes by urging citizens in Toledo pray, to practice KOINONHA type fellowship (for background on this reference, I found http://www.koinoniapartners.org/History/index.html

This was a great note to end on - nice work Mayor - I'm proud to serve with you.

5 Comments:

Blogger Wes said...

It is good to see that Toledo supports the arts. Keep fighting the good fights!

WF

9:36 AM  
Blogger Move The Crowd said...

MR SZOLLOSI

I commend your attempt to stay in touch with your community. I believe other council members could benifit from your idea....they should take your lead...ironically a few of my friends have been "blogging for Toledo" also...check out:

http://movethecrowd.blogspot.com
and http://enewsblog.com/imani225

thanks and good luck in 06

5:48 PM  
Blogger Move The Crowd said...

hey frank...

i couldn't help noticing you're up in 05...the heat is on buddy!!!! just thought i'd drop this little bug in your ear....hip hop/youth and voter turnout....something to think about...

question: would you happen to know how effective was the GOTV drive was in lucas county/toledo regarding....young toledoans....18-25....

PEACE + KEEP IN TOUCH
http://enewsblog.com/imani225

10:33 AM  
Blogger Kathy Rutkowski said...

Frank, Thanks for your re-cap of the Mayor's speech. I agree that Mayor Ford has finally put Toledo on the right track. He has accomplished so much and will do more. I am a little afraid of the public forum that channel 13 has given Carty. We need to find a way to combat that. By the way, the mayor would not have been able to get us moving without the help of council members like you. Be sure to let us know when and how to mobilize your campaign!

1:09 PM  
Blogger Concerned Catholic said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:28 PM  

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