Monday, December 12, 2005

Works In Progress

Patience, patience. The reports of the demise of my blog are greatly exaggerated. We are working on some cool things and will roll out sooner or later. And long put-off home improvements and time with the family have kept me plenty occupied. That said, why not an update on some items...

Council Action

We held a lively committee meeting on the Westgate development agreement. A few reasonable questions on the tax abatement for Washington Local Schools. The City of Toledo, pending Tuesday's Council vote, will be giving WLS $300,000 over 5 years in exchange for the property tax abatement as Westgate is reconstructed. In addition, the City will commit to $500,000 in Capital Improvement Program funds, mainly for sewer and water. A very good question was posed to us at the hearing - why not roll the sewer & water improvements into the work related to the consent decree, and make the improvements up and down Secor & Central to enhance future growth. I'll be calling the City's lead sewer man tomorrow on this. Some grumbling from Walk Westgate folks about extending Markway west across Secor...site questions will be fielded at a Plan Commission Meeting in January. Costco deal not yet, yet done - my position is this: support Costco & the private investment in upwards of $35 million, keep key elements of walkability & new urbanism. Mayor-elect, Councilwoman Grachek & Commissioner Wozniak off to see a Michigan Costco next week & I wish them luck.

Southwyck plans continue to mature - got to call Larry Dillin early this week.

This Tuesday's meeting will be the last for Council President Louis Escobar & Councilwoman Karyn McConnell Hancock. Joe Birmingham will be sworn in as District 6 rep. I support Dave Schulz's call for an ordinance to clarify the term limits charter vagueness. Read coverage of my ethics proposal by Russ Zimmer at The Toledo Free Press - expect the first ordinance (Council's own ethics policy) to hit maybe at the organizing meeting January 3rd. Lobbyist registration and ethics seminar for new hires to follow, hopefully.

A lot of active conversations about who should be council president. The next President will need 6 votes on 1/3/06 or 7 if we appoint in the District 3 vacancy prior to someone getting 6. The choice of several Democratic members, including me, is veteran councilwoman Wilma Brown. Experience, toughness, graciousness and, I belive, a willingness to work with the new administration and council make her the responsible choice. Others expressing interest are Sarantou, Ludeman, and Sobczak. Fine candidates.

Thank you to Chief Mike Navarre, Sheriff Jim Telb, and all the men and women who serve and protect, for the planning and action on 12/15.

Ohio Democratic Party Chair's Race continues to unfold. ODP published my old address and phone number. As one of 135 or so voters on the state executive committee I continue to have conversations with folks - most recently with House Leader Chris Redfern and Athens County Chair Susan Gwinn. She's got a decent campaign website. Redfern and I go back the farthest. He has served as Chair of my brother's campaigns the past three cycles and we've supported each other's campaigns as well. I campaigned along with Todd Portune back in the 1995 Cincinnati City Council races, and of course admire his ability to win in SE Ohio. And who can forget Bill DeMora's engineering of a successful Young Democrats of America national presidency way down in New Orleans - I remember the Fairmont well. All personal stories aside, the next chair owes it to our 2006 candidates to dramatically improve the voter file, continue the communications technology investments, and emphasize message, organization building, and, of course, record breaking fundraising.

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