Friday, May 27, 2005

Another Era of Reform Begins


February 7, 1897 by Frank Beard. OSU History Dept. website.

Who can we trust?

On April 4th I raised questions about Tom Noe using state money to invest in run-down central city real estate. Revisit the story here at toledoblade.com Who can we trust to investigate this?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Our $12,000,000 Is Missing

And who will investigate?

It should not be those five GOP State Supreme Court Justices who took money from Tom Noe, at least they have the good judgment to recuse themselves.

It should not be Governor Bob Taft, Auditor Betty Montgomery, nor Attorney General Jim Petro - they have all taken money from Tom Noe, and have let Noe get away with everything since the Capital Coin Fund got established in 1998. These elected officials should not only be held accountable by voters in Ohio, but by an independent special prosecutor.

Who should investigate?

Our City is about to lose $3.6 million at the hands of the Governor and GOP led General Assembly with the loss of Local Government Funds. The cut will impact our ability to provide police, fire and emergency response for people in Toledo. And we now have to suffer the loss of $12,000,000 in state-owned rare coins and assorted collectibles?

Where did that money go? Did Noe spend it on the Bush campaign? Who should investigate?

A news reporter asked me if this was just a political witchhunt and I replied, "Show me the money." It's public money that's gone and plenty of Noe political contributions to everyone from George W. Bush down to our own GOP County Commissioner Maggie Thurber suggest where it went.

Every taxpayer in Ohio owes the Toledo Blade newspaper gratitude for its investigative journalism into this horrendous breach of public trust. But the next steps are so very important. Taft, Montgomery, Petro and the entire Republican Party are absolutely compromised by their prior support from Tom Noe. The taxpayers of Ohio deserve an independent special prosecutor that will investigate the elected officials who failed to protect $12,000,000 in public money.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Carty Cancelled

Perhaps hiatus is another possibility - but I dont think so. The executives over at WTVG 13 ABC have finally acknowledged that their on-air "talent" campaigns across Toledo with impunity, that his actions betray his words about not making up his mind on the Mayor's race. Perhaps the Keith Wilkowski boomlet will be the trigger. Perhaps the impending summer festival season. Appropriately enough, the glass directory at the entrance of One Government Center still reads "Ray T Kest, Lucas County Treasurer - Suite 500." Carty has relied on the Kest gang to split and weaken the Democratic Party, and their promised reward is Suite 2200. Mayor Ford & I & others reached out to the new party leadership, but Carty & the Kest gang rebuffed us - splitting Democrats at a critical time for the citizens of our city, state and nation. Do they really think Toledo will deliver?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

State Dinner

COLUMBUS --- Democrats from across Ohio surround me as I sit here at the LucasCountyDemocrats.org table at the state dinner. Gov. Rendell (PA) just got introduced. I've been coming to these for years and have never sensed greater urgency or optimism in the room. We can do this in 2006.

06 candidates with a strong presence are Rep. Ted Strickland and Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman. Redfern has a lot of people wearing his pins, too.

Toledoan Rex Shanahan sang the National Anthem, and he and his wife Karen are sitting at the table along with Steve Steel and his wife. Marcy is here too, with a few staffers. She and State Sen. Fedor sponsored tables too.

Rendell is still speaking...the thrust of his comments are encouraging us to be proud Democrats. To fight for what we believe in. Not to be timid, and to stick to our guns. "The greatest thing we can do is serve others, to give others opportunities." He's right.

A number of friends from across the state are counting on us to return to our strong, unified tradition in Lucas County. Its a very important county in statewide elections. I assured them that the split will fizzle with old Carty. The folks here roll their eyes and wish us good luck. We'll take care of it, I reply.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Weekend

A great evening at the Civic Center Promenade, aka Erie St. Market. Well over 500 friends and supporters of Mayor Jack Ford jammed the place for what has to be among the most successful fundraisers ever in town. I would think he had to make $125k - $150k. A great cross-section of our community and a very diverse crowd. Anyone who doubts his desire or ability to win is making a bad call.

Tomorrow I'm going to help kick off the Police Athletic League's Baseball season over at Gunkel Park. Need to cut the grass and visit my grandmother who just got released from St. V's. And tomorrow night I'll be blogging from the Ohio Democratic Party State Dinner in Columbus. I serve on the ODP State Executive Committee - and am looking forward to planning for 2006.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

North, South, East, West

With all the downtown talk, its important for folks to know we're also working to get things done across the city.

Met today with council and administration staff, along with a few citizens from the Southwyck area, to help develop the game plan for revitalization along South Reynolds. In this instance I believe Mayor Ford and mayoral-candidate Ludeman are working toward the same goal: new retail investment, and the sooner the better. My colleague Karyn McConnell-Hancock & I are contributing time, ideas and support. For instance, I introduced a successful model for citizen & business participation based on the Northland Alliance which focuses on Morse Road in Columbus. My focus is not only on Southwyck - though as the anchor its the critical piece - but also on the small businesses from Airport south to the Turnpike.

This weekend Mayor Ford and ED Director Bill Carroll are off to Las Vegas to work the big national retailers convention. I expect them to meet with the owners & representatives of Southwyck and potential investors. The latest news about Dillards being willing to stay at Southwyck, within a new "open air" mall design, should cheer everyone concerned. The good work of concerned citizens and the City has gotten the attention of the developers.

Earlier this year I went out to Northtowne on news of its closure. Again working with the Administration's ED staff, we found homes for some of the displaced businesses - including Mr. Big Stuff now cooking sweet southern 'que at the Erie Street Market. You need to get there. Northtowne is now becoming an industrial/commercial development site - potentially tying into Jeep parts suppliers.

Sunday night I couldnt make the Westgate neighborhood meeting - though I did speak to District Councilwoman Grachek before and after to discuss what's happening there. I understand some of the meeting was to discuss university parking options (keep the greenspace!). I'm involved some behind-the-scenes discussions right now about the whole Westgate area, and the active citizens from that great Toledo neighborhood are correct in having their voices heard on the coming development.

Finally, the Marina District. The first half of the project, the remediation, continues - as do discussions with Pizzuti and potential investors into that valuable strip of riverfront land. Council is expecting the feasibility study within a few weeks - and we are eager to execute the gameplan for the second half.

Toledo should be ready for more exciting announcements, more development, more choices, and more jobs.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The City Today

Started the day answering emails and phone calls - and feeling pretty good after Wednesday & I attended the Springsteen show in Cleveland Sunday night. Highlights included "Stolen Car" "Wreck on the Highway" "Matamoros Banks" and "Dream Baby Dream". The CSU arena is about five blocks from Jacobs Field & Gund Arena - we parked in between and ate at the Juniper Grille. Good food at a reasonable price.

At 10 this morning I attended the funeral for Sgt. Andy Eckert down Glendale at Calvary. I joined hundreds to salute his bravery and sense of service, and found my heart breaking for his wife and young children.

At noon I tried a new downtown restaurant (more jobs) and later went to the beginning of the Toledo Public Schools Character Counts awards ceremony at the Crystal Ellis Center on Upton. Worked all afternoon.

At 5 today I went to the East Side for a press conference on the 2005 International Art Tatum Jazz Festival. Its just not right for people to accuse Mayor Ford of not getting things done...the 05 festival is being underwritten by a $100,000 gift from DaimlerChrylser to the Toledo Jazz Society brokered by Ford - who doubled what he brokered last year for the event! And the result: we've got George Benson, Elis Marsalis, and the legendary McGriff along with a line-up that rivals any jazz event anywhere.

Tonight I briefly considered the WTOL poll on the Mayor's race: Carty & the Kest Gang won't wait much longer. The TV ratings period ends in late May. Point Place and Old West End parades and festivals the first weekend in June. Not that anyone should believe a word Finkbeiner says about hedging on the race...he and two female campaign aides have been working events for weeks. The Teamsters Hall was a busy beehive of activity Saturday morning. Finkbeiner should have got kicked out of the Blockwatch Appreciation Dinner (no politics at Blockwatch is a longstanding rule - not that Carty pays any respect) after he tried to shake every hand and his aide tried signing people up on a campaign volunteer form. "Hi, I'm Carty Finkbeiner, sign up for my campaign, but don't say anything because I'm still being paid to be on TV and promote myself." Crass, dishonest & desperate. If Toledo wants more of the folks that let Ray Kest get away with everything, they'll have that chance when Carty & the Kest Gang come out of the closet. And who needs a poll to predict that result?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Another Toledo Win - The 180th

Thank you to the men and women of the 180th Fighter Wing out at Toledo Express Airport. The Defense Department announced today that not only will the base stay open - as 8 Ohio bases will now close - but that more jobs and fighter aircraft are on the way. This good news is a reflection of your commitment to public service, national defense, and patriotism.

1,100 employees, $100 million in local economic impact! Kudos to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, whose recent appointment to the Armed Services Appropriations subcommittee certainly didn't hurt our cause. Nice work by the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce. Chamber President Mark V'Soske led (along with Reps. Kaptur & Gillmor, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford and the Port Authority) a civic campaign that stretched from Downtown Toledo, to our airport, and took them into the heart of the Pentagon in Washington DC to lobby for the 180th.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Taft's 19% - Carty & Noe

Tough review for the Governor: 19% approval - 74% disapproval - 600 person sample. Survey USA. As you may know, Taft's "go-to-guy" apparently was becoming Carty's go-to-guy, participating in at least one meeting and later fielding Finkbeiner softballs on the air. I think Carty should keep Tom Noe (R) at his meetings and on his final shows. Great move. (He must be losing it.)

Moving Ahead & Getting Things Done

Tuesday's groundbreaking for Toledo Hospital's 500,000 square foot renovation promises 400 new local construction trades jobs and 1000 new health care jobs. With ProMedica owning hundreds of undeveloped acres in Maumee's Arrowhead Park, Toledoans should be thrilled the hospital chose to re-invest in our great city. We worked hard for it, and I join ProMedica's CEO in tipping my hat to Mayor Ford. Our next step is continuing to expand access to health care to the thousands in Toledo without it.

In April I wrote about saving the Toledo Storm hockey team, and today we celebrate hockey returning next season. We worked hard for this too - I joined Mayor Ford in getting a season ticket. Thanks Storm Fan Club for your successful campaign. Our next step is being the catalyst to build a new arena.

And on the small business front - also Tuesday, Mayor Ford and I joined the owners, employees and neighbors of Crickey's Austrailian Pies, located on Rosetta off N. Detroit, for a business expansion announcement. You see, Mayor Ford and his staff quietly helped them through the SBA loan process, and their hard work with area grocers, along with their tasty product, has them outgrowing the kitchen kindly provided by Collingwood Presbyterian Church and into a state of the art facility for dozens of employees and 1,000,000 pies a month.

Kudos to top City officials Bill Franklin and Kattie Bond and our city workers for their attention to detail in keeping the city looking good - cutting grass in our parks, traffic islands, and other rights-of-way. Flowers are starting to bloom - its beautiful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Strickland Announces

ODP has the story, click here. I had it last week but was busy with local stuff.

Congressman from southeast Ohio, former minister, and has demonstrated electoral success in so-called "red" Ohio counties (he even has a very good rating from the NRA?!?). Ohio Democrats have reason for optimism for 2006. - I'm sure that will be reflected in the state dinner May 21st in Columbus.

On the other hand, Democrats in Lucas County have tough fights the next twelve months - but we must fight, win and beat Carty & the Kest gang if we are to contribute to taking back our state in 2006.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Toledo Can Be Proud

Sergeant Andy Eckert was killed by an IED in Iraq Sunday, Mother's Day. Our hearts go out to his wife, children, family and friends. Sgt. Eckert was earlier awarded a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in Iraq. 1,601 Americans have been killed since the war in Iraq began.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Downtown Debate

Millions are being invested in historic riverfront and Warehouse District residential & commercial projects. Across our river are first class restaurants and the most exciting economic development project in the Midwest - the Marina District. We have the best ballpark in the minor leagues, with a brand new ice hockey and concert arena coming soon. A landmark bridge that will keystone development around a beefed up industrial corridor, from renewed shipbuilding and a high tech coke plant on one side, to our international jobs magnet, our Jeep plant and world-beating workforce, on the other. Burgeoning small businesses, including tech and creative shops. Our Pulitzer-winning hometown newspaper. Owens Corning, Libbey and Pilkington retained. Public sector leaders working together for a change, and private sector leaders making massive new investments into regional economic development.

Downtown Toledo is the place to be. And we are upholding a long tradition of fighting hard to develop it.

Leadership in Toledo today is hard at work.

Toledo can be proud.

You are welcome to share your reaction on the blog and OI online.

Good analysis by Homer Brickey over at toledoblade.com.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ludeman Hurts Finkbeiner


The expected mayoral campaign announcement Wednesday afternoon by my colleague on Toledo City Council, Rob Ludeman, hurts the stealth effort of Carty & the Kest gang. Finkbeiner loses potential GOP votes, as Ludeman emerges as the sane alternative to Finkbeiner to most Republicans. Finkbeiner loses potential GOP contributors, who have to be looking for a positive Republican development amid their other trauma. Ludeman presumably retains the GOP favored media firm Hart Associates, who did Finkbeiner '97 (Then what are Carty's options for media firms with political experience?) And Finkbeiner continues to lose time - by far the most important resource of any campaign.

In '93 Carty won with Republican votes, this time they'll go to Ludeman - who earned rock solid GOP support city & county wide in 2000. In '97 Carty won by well less than 2000 votes, despite netting nearly 9 out of 10 votes in the central city (this year, advantage Ford).

Maybe Finkbeiner is just playing a ratings gambit - local TV is currently in a ratings period by which advertising rates get set. His decision to not run would be great news for WTVG ABC 13 - but would be devastating for Carty's enablers, the Kest gang. This big split in the Lucas County Democratic Party perpetuated by Finkbeiner would then amount to nothing but a sell-out. He exploits the party and keeps his Sunday morning talk show (which probably had a minor ratings spike during his stealth mayoral campaign this spring, which probably means a raise) - all at the expense of leading some good Democrats to make the wrong decisions, badly damaging the party precisely at the moment we should be stepping it up for 2006.

Its simple: the anti-Ford folks are now split into two groups. Republicans and some independents will track for Ludeman, Democrats and some independents for Ford, while Carty and the Kest gang will have to pin their hopes on the confused.

Its funny to hear Carty play the populist card, railing on about leaders stepping up and leading on economic development. He lambastes our business community, even though the Chamber has led an effort to raise $7,000,000 to $9,000,000 for a privately funded Regional Growth Partnership. He belittles elected officials even as Mayor Ford and Commissioners Wozniak & Gerken have put the full force of the City of Toledo and Lucas County into efficient, rational, and increasingly aggressive joint ED efforts - with the cooperation of the Port Authority, the universities, some of the suburbs, and the private sector. The next step will be hiring a top national economic development professional to lead the RGP, and to house the city & county ED teams under one roof.

The bottom line is that leaders are working together now - something Mayor Finkbeiner acutely failed to achieve.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Return from Vacation

Took my wife Wednesday and son Lucas out of town for almost 10 days. No posts for a bit, but got some great R & R. Lucas really enjoyed the sand at the beach and 70 plus degree weather, I had a chance to kayak alongside dolphins, and later, cruise Class I & II rapids, and Wednesday finished some books. We both simply reveled in spending time with our son.

Back at work today - got updates on OI, Southwyck, and some staff changes. Caught up on local news the past 10 days, too. What a whirlwind! Tonight I joined 500 activists from about two dozen churches across Toledo at an annual meeting of Toledoans USA, United for Social Action. (click here for a report from Clyde Hughes at toledoblade.com) Heard from Mayor Ford and Commissioners Skeldon-Wozniak and Gerken on progress on jobs programs, crime fighting and nuisance abatement. A choir led things off with beautiful and inspiring renditions of "My Country Tis of Thee" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" - a great way to jump back into public service.