Friday, September 22, 2006

Safety Services Numbers

I was listening to an interview with a representative of the Police Patrolmen’s Union and some of the numbers being quoted gave me pause for thought.
692 number of policemen
300 number of patrolmen on the beat
120 number of Command officers
292 number of policemen assigned to other duties besides patrolling the streets
33 number of patrolmen on any given day out of service for various reasons
67 number of patrolmen available per day at each stationhouse for 3 shifts

A few other relevant numbers:
77 per cent of city budget allotted to police and fire services in Toledo
23 per cent of city budget remaining for all other services

1. Does a ratio of 2.5 men to each Command Officer seem somewhat top heavy?
2. What per cent of the city budget do other communities spend on safety services?
3. What is the breakdown of assignments for the remaining 292 policemen?

No comment on these numbers… only observations.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Southwyck and Dillon Meeting 9-21-06

The residents surrounding the Southwyck Mall area had the opportunity this evening to listen to Mr. Dillon’s vision for the Reynolds Road area of South Toledo. Approximately 75 people filled the meeting room. Mr. Dillon spoke well of the plans for the mall and is still pushing to break ground yet this fall. There are pieces which must fall into place to do this and his only request of the residents of the area is to remain patient, to trust and believe it will happen soon. A $100,000,000 project has many facets which take great finesse, skill and time to pull together to ensure success.

Mr. Dillon seemed to struggle to maintain the confidentiality of the negotiations as he wanted to share specifics but knew he could not. He indicated they are very close to signing the 2nd anchor store and was able to assure us that Dillards will remain a department store and not a discount retailer in the Mall as some had heard rumored. He has a number of line stores ready to sign but putting all the pieces together effectively is like a chess game. Stautzenberger College will move into the old Lion for the Home store, which must be remodeled and ready for occupancy by next summer. This does give us some idea of the timing as this is a commitment which must be met.

He assured us all he is committed to the project and as a former resident of the Southwyck area, the Mall is near and dear to his heart, he has taken on the project for personal as well as professional reasons. Bob Vasquez did a great job putting this together and having it hosted at Dave’s Home Cooked Restaurant on Reynolds. Bob remains committed to local businesses and our South Toledo Community. It was good to see Michael Ashford arrive to lend an ear to the proceedings also. Those attended were given ample time to ask many questions which were answered directly, with diplomacy and patience by Mr. Dillon.

Monday, September 18, 2006

PRESS RELEASE: Development Policies An Alternative Approach

There have been numerous references to the brain drain and loss of jobs in Toledo and the Blade article Sunday, September 17, 2006, further emphasized the struggle Ohio has in grasping the causes while searching for solutions. It was stated in regards to the loss of jobs, “The story of Huffy is indeed the story of Ohio. It is not about vanishing jobs. It is about ideas and products that never appeared.”

We must consistently create an educational environment which encourages creative, progressive ideas and concepts. It is essential to continue the progress TPS has had in recent years, but there is a sense of urgency as students continue the exodus from TPS. One concern is that 60% of Toledo Public School teachers and administrators live outside the city limits. We must find a way to lure these administrators, teachers and their children back to Toledo residency so they have more than just a financial investment in the educational system.

How can we create ideas and new products but through quality education of our students beginning with kindergarten and ending with higher learning which encourages progressive concepts? We need a program…
· To offer a progressive approach to the TPS dilemma
· To stop the brain drain
· To encourage enrollment in TPS schools
· To encourage teacher residency in Toledo
· To encourage patent creation
The following proposal is offered:
Hold a summit of educational leaders to include: TPS Superintendent ; TPS School Board; TFT President; University of Toledo President; and business leaders of regional major corporations to discuss the probability and processes to implement the following plan:

Contract with The University of Toledo to manage TPS educationally, financially and administratively, this would mirror the “charter” school concept.
All TPS students would receive financial credits toward college courses at the University of Toledo for each year they complete if they achieve required academic standards,.
All students who complete twelve years in TPS and graduate meeting academic standards would receive a scholarship for a baccalaureate degree of their choice through the University of Toledo.
Reach out to the business community to contribute to endowment and scholarship funds to underwrite the program in addition to funding from local subsidies.
TPS teachers who reside within the city limits while teaching in TPS will receive a significant financial bonus at the end of the year.
Any applicant for a teaching position in TPS of equal qualification would receive priority at hiring over a non-resident of Toledo.
Implement a series of quarterly “Patent” workshops through the University to encourage inventors and provide resources on how to file for a patent.

Through an all-encompassing view of kindergarten through college degree, the synergy would revolutionize our educational system by acknowledging the need for higher education in today’s global economy. Additionally, this plan would offer hope to our economically challenged families as every student would know that through his/her own academic efforts it is possible to attain a college degree.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Teacher Residency

Let me begin by saying I do not believe in residency requirements for employement; however, what message is being sent by the teachers and administrators of TPS when 60% live outside the city limits? Many reasons can be given, but few seem logical other than the teachers and administrators do not want their children in the school system of their employment. We look at brain drain and survey 10 years of Toledo high school graduates, we need to look closer to home and find out why our teachers don't want to reside in Toledo. This is a very distressing statistic and we need to begin offering incentives to hire teachers within our city limits and incentives to stay within Toledo and to send their children to TPS schools. I can't image 60% of the employees who teach in Toledo do not have enough confidence in the system to send their children to the schools of their employment. Any reasonable person would expect a per cent of the teachers and administrators to live outside the district, but 60% is sending a signal to voters of Toledo that they do not have any loyalty to this city. Quote from a May 2006 Blade article:

"If the Toledo Board of Education asks voters in November for a new tax to fund salary raises, most of the teachers who would get that money can't vote for the levy.
According to district records, 1,388, or 58.6 percent of its 2,369 contract teachers, live outside the school system boundaries. Of the 341 Toledo Public Schools administrators, 202, or nearly 60 percent, live outside the district. .....

Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, who lives in Sylvania Township, dismissed the matter when asked about it. "That's a bogus issue," Ms. Lawrence said.....

Ms. Lawrence said teacher residency will not be a factor for voters. But in the past, it has been an issue for some when a district levy appears on the ballot.....

Employees in lower-paying jobs live within the school district more than teachers and administrators.
The district's five American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees units - which includes custodians, bus drivers, secretaries, and food service workers - have the greatest percentage of members who live within the Toledo Public Schools boundaries. Of the 1,112 members, just over 70 percent live within the district.
Of the 380 paraprofessionals for the district, who are in the same union as teachers, 225 live inside the district....

Board President Darlene Fisher said of the three levy proposals that the district has to "explore all the options and what the community is willing to support."
Regarding teacher residency, she said "it would be great if everyone lived in the city limits. ... It's not like we can force people to live inside the district.""

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fly Away

It would set an expensive, ineffective precedent to require all city employees to fly out of Toledo Express rather than Detroit or other airports on City business. Though it is important to support our airport and it is the preferred airport I have used, let's face it.... the accessibility of flights has diminished over the past years. Rather than a requirement to use Toledo Express regardless of cost and time, we need a provision which "allows" using the airport even if more expensive as there is currently a mandate requiring the least expensive source possible. However, this too needs some parameters; i.e., only if no more than 25% more expensive than other airports.

This would "enable" rather than "restrict" choices and allow for common sense to prevail.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ethics - new rules or demand compliance to existing

Frank Szollosi it trying to tighten the ethics policy to match the policy for the Mayor and city employees indicating Council should be held to the same standard. However, Council is not the same as the office of the Mayor, which is a full time position. Council positions are part-time, not full time and most Council members maintain full time jobs in addition to their council position.
Regardless of the policies in place, no policy is effective if no one reports violations and insists on compliance. Several Council members knew what McCloskey was doing and made halfhearted attempts to report his violations.

So here it is… we don’t need more ethics policies, we don’t need elected officials to sign a piece of paper vowing to maintain the ethics laws, we need aggressive reporting of violations when they occur and a demand they are enforced.

If we can enforce what is already on the books, we might once again gain the confidence of the voters. But the grandstanding being done which is wasting valuable time and effort of Council, law directors and clerks is futile and as with any new legislation, will be wrought with problems created by the gaps which were not considered. This is a “rush” job with the potential of disaster.

Zoo Capital Improvement Levy, Nov. 2006 Election

Concerns regarding the Toledo Zoo Levy
The Zoo levy is for 10 years and will generate approximately $8,600,000 in revenue each year. During the July meeting with the residents in South Toledo, Mr. George Oravecz, Toledo Zoo spokesperson, commented that the first $1,000,000 would be used for operating expenses. In reading the levy request, there was no mention of operating funds for the Zoo in this levy for Nov. 2006, only capital improvement funds. It was confirmed a County Administrator of the Board of Lucas County Commissioners that the revenue generated from this fund could be used only for capital improvements.

There is a desire on the part of the Zoo to increase the size of the aquarium. It was explained to the group that the 300,000 gallon two story tank would cost $42,000,000 and would be an additional expense not included in the current Capital Campaign Levy. So when we read about the new aquarium, we must keep in mind that additional funds will need to be raised to pay for this portion of the Master Plan.

The neighbors were concerned about the homes purchased over the past few years on Amherst. They are not pleased with the condition of the properties and wondered what the zoo long-term plan was for the properties. It is believed they may have been purchased to end criticism of neighbors over the noise at the zoo; however, the neighbors are now distressed over the management of the properties. Mr. Oravecz assured the group that they were being managed and will be maintained by the zoo.

The question regarding the “Institutional Campus” zoning was prime on the minds of the neighbors as they are concerned about “eminent domain” authorization provided by this zoning classification. It was explained the zoo could not invoke eminent domain, but when pressed, it was explained the zoo “would not” invoke eminent domain. In reading zoning regulations, the regulation does not contain subclasses of types of institution, so the zoning does authorize eminent domain for the Zoo. Over the past few years, a number of properties on Spencer and Amherst have been purchased by the Zoo to allow for expansion.
If the Zoo hopes to utilize a portion of monies generated by the Capital Campaign levy for operating funds, it would indicate they still are not working within their budget, how then will they operate if they continue to expand. Though Toledoans “Love their Zoo” we need to be sure we can afford it.