Thursday, October 20, 2005

Point Place & Old West End Forums

Tuesday night in the Old West End and Wednesday night on 131st in the Point.

A local creative was keeping time in the carriage house at the Mansion View on Collingwood - Mike Pedee, editor of Talk of the Town - sold me an ad in this month's issue. Glad to support a local business.

I had about two minutes & will here weave in some statements I made at Council Tuesday as well: (definitely not verbatim)

Hello, my name is Frank Szollosi, I'm an at-large City Councilman running for re-election. I'm a Democrat, and I thank everyone who came out on this great evening to talk about the future of our city. Saturday was a very difficult day for Toledo. Our public safety forces, police, fire, deputies & others - they all demonstrated restraint and discipline - each and everyone in the room, and everyone in Toledo, has every reason to be proud of them. They responded to the unexpected with courage, and prevented the loss of life and more serious bloodshed. I join the Mayor in seeking justice for the individuals and businesses harmed. We all have to take responsibility to heal our city. Among what was exposed Saturday was a condition the US Conference of Mayors calls in a June 2005 report "Youth Disconnection" The report cites Census data indicating 16% of Toledoans age 16-24 are neither enrolled in school nor employed. That's 6500 young people - and you can't help but wonder how many were involved in the skirmish Saturday. We have a window now to more forcefully address these and other underlying issues that the Nazi visit simply brought to a head.
Toledo needs more jobs. I have served as the Chair of the Economic Development Committee for a few months now, and can report tonight we have changed the way our region retains and attracts business. The private sector has raised $8 to $9 million to privately fund the Regional Growth Partnership, and this evening, the City has taken another historic step in the merger of the city & county economic development departments. The public & private sectors have unique roles in ED, and for the first time 15-20 years, we have our acts together. Economic growth means good things for neighborhoods like the Old West End. We shouldn't be financing our city with gimmicks like the garbage tax, which I was immediately and forcefully against, as it would only add pressure on homeowners already saddled with rising state taxes.

We took questions on Columbia Gas and the proper staffing levels for the police & fire departments. Our authorized strength for Toledo Police is 700, we stand today at about 675, with a plan to put at least 29 more on the street in 2006. The good news is our revenues continue to rise, and Mayor Ford is now looking at 705, even with retirements. I am opposed to any dimunition in daily required fire department staffing.

Wednesday night we had three minutes with Point Place "dean" Howard Pinkley, WTOL News 11 anchor Terry Thill, and about 3 dozen Point Place residents. (again, not verbatim)

Good evening (I went next to last, at 9:30pm!) and thanks for staying out on this beautiful evening to hear us talk about what's important to each of you here in the Point. Again, my name is Frank Szollosi, I'm an at-large councilman, serving since January 2003. I'm a Democrat. In two years we've handled several big Point Place issues. First, the $450 million storm water re-build is on time and on budget, delivering huge environmental benefits to the neighborhoods and waters of Point Place. We're also putting people to work with all this construction. I serve on Council's Budget Task Force, and we have a great responsibility to balance another difficult budget in 2006 without impacting city services, and without gimmicks. I serve as Chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, and one of the issues were addressing is international - with huge implications for the Point and the City of Toledo - turning back efforts of those who seek the diversion of Great Lakes water to the American Southwest or Canada. It is a real threat. Finally, I sought the chairmanship of the Economic Development Committee a couple months back because I believe that retaining and attracting jobs is the key task for the City to address. From 1963 until 1993 my grandfather worked the second shift at Chevrolet down the street, now PowerTrain. I remember as a young boy him coming home late when my brother & I would spend the night. He lives a life of dignity in retirement, with prescription drug benefits, a comfortable pension, and he and my grandma can go to the doctors when they need to - the American Dream should be passed on from generation to generation in Toledo - we need jobs, whether they be from small business to the big automotive plants, and its our responsibility as public officials to work together to see that the American Dream stays alive in Toledo for my generation and future generations.