Saturday, June 28, 2008


The attorneys put their heads together on JUNE 27, 2008 AT 10:30 A.M for a pretrial conference and decided on a court date in mid-August.

One must be very patient when dealing with the courts.

PayDay Lenders and City of Toledo Department of Public Unitilities

Richard Cordray was interviewed on Conklin and Company June 22, 2008. The first topic was PayDay Lending and unfair credit card practices. As time passes, the credit card companies are shortening the time to pay the bill which causes late payments and the consumer is then charged late payment fees and interest making it more and more difficult to get out of credit card debt. There are new federal rules being discussed which are "pro-consumer" for example, you will "have to be given at lease 21 days to pay your bill".

So what does that have to do with the City of Toledo Public Utilities? One bill I have the most trouble paying on time is the water bill and I didn't understand why for years as I don't bring in the mail, my husband does. He drops it into a mail basket and about every 10 days I go through, open the bills and pay them. But I never knew what day the water bill arrived until last quarter.

Last quarter the bill was dated March 19, 2008, it arrived March 22, and payment was due April 3 -- that's only 15 days.

This quarter the bill is dated June 18, 2008, it arrived June 24, and payment is due July 7 -- that's only 18 days.

I watch more closely now that I realize how short the payment cycle is for the water bill; however, if Mr. Cordray is so concerned about unfair billing practices, he needs to look in our own back door. The utility company should be required to extend the billing cycle. I wonder if the cycle is purposely short so the late fees will enhance revenue? With a quarterly billing cycle, most would expect more time, not less, to pay a bill.

I want to know:
What per cent of the water department revenue is generated through late fees
What amount is collected in late fees
What amount is collected in regular billing
Are the late fees billed against the refuse fee
Total amount collectd in refuse fees
Total amount collected in late fees against the refuse.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Trash Talk of Swampville

By Karen Shanahan, June 25, 2008

Cast of characters:
Bumbley C-Rights - Council
Bumbley A-Right - Administration (Mayor)
Almost Potential Swampville - Toledo and/or its Residents
Mrs. Daring: - Lawsuit complaintant
Inspector Sternway: - Mrs. Daring's Attorneys
FEE: - Refuse fee, trash tax
CANS - Trash cans

For the past many months "Almost Potential Swampville" has been hammered with trash talk, not of strong economic development which was promised during campaign speeches by Bumbley A-Right. The following is Trash Talk of Swampville.

Many months ago on a dark and dreary day in Almost Potential Swampville,
Bumbley A-Right saw nasty alleys which he found absurd:
He decreed, "Swampville must "PUT THEIR TRASH AT THE CURB!"
Obedient, Almost Potential Swampville complied, though disturbed.

Bumbley A-Right, a 3:00 p.m. bus tour of Swampville he took,
Only to find, !HORRORS! cans at the curb.
"Cans at the curb the day before trash day!
This is too early", he roared: "this cannot be,
This cannot exist, absolutely, it must desist!"
So A-Right commanded,
"The times to see cans on my streets I will alter!
This must be done, we must not falter!"

But alas, the decree in winter required
Swampville Seniors to tromp in the dark with their cans
They would stomp through the snow and the ice in the dark,
"No! No!" cried Bumbley C-Rights, “this must be banned,
Bumbley A-Right, he must amend his decree.”
After many discussions and much ado,
The time was adjusted for me and for you.
Swampville cans could go out in the daylight you see,
But A-Right would be watching to confirm our deeds.

"Not enough!" screamed Bumbley A-Right,
We must punish infractions to increase budgets by fractions.
I shall decree!" Bumbley A-Right, intracted
"if Swampville puts cans out early each day,
Surely, surely and definitely, they absolutely must pay!"
So Bumbley A-Right declared forty bucks each infraction.
And this was his cry – "Swampville, you know will comply!"

"But how, oh how, can we possibly check, what a plight!
I know," he announced! "we'll deputize Block Watch and precinct alike,
To pounce on the ones who put cans out in early light.
Ahhh… feels right, feels good" they heard him exclaim,
"I covered it all and yes, all must pay the same!”

"But WAIT!" Yelled Bumbley C-Rights, "we can't do this, it hurts!
For Swampville will revolt, they too want some perks!
C-Rights spoke: “Call me if you get this fine,
You won't have to pay, we'll wipe it away!"
A sigh of relief from Swampville, they were pleased,
They were happy, that their C-Rights did thus agree!

So now comes the next phase of trash in the queue…
"The budget, the budget, oh what shall I do? "
Exclaimed Bumbley A-Right just to himself.
"Money is short, this cannot be,
We need more, we need more, I know…
The trash, we'll just add a FEE!"
And so on the budget he dumped in the middle,
An additional, a little, right in the middle,
An extra FEE for Almost Potential Swampville to pay.
"Hee, hee," he snickered; "I've done it for sure,
An extra five million, now that's a real cure."

"Not so fast", Bumbley C-Rights, they did reply,
"We must discuss this, we can't just comply."
Ah yes, but it's buried in the budget you see,
So maybe, just maybe, we can just let it be.
It passed with the budget and one more time we complied,
We here in Swampville, we did not decry.
Oh weary, so weary we are of this trash.
If you need more money, should not a levy you pass?

Bumbly A-Right again was poised to perform.
He told of his scheme for savings and more.
Trash again?, Swampville wondered, what more could he do?
A brilliant scheme by A'Right's point of view.
Holidays, holidays, always a drain.
We won't collect trash 'til next week to relieve the pain!
"Works for me" we did hear him eagerly exclaim!"

But then to A-Right this was explained,
On some occassions at his own house he would discover
No trash pickup until three weeks would be covered.
"Oh no, not my house" all heard him groan,
"Never, ever, will they ever miss MY home!"
The plan was foiled, as onward trash crews toiled.
For Bumbly A-Right was convinced with not even a wince.

All remained quiet as quiet can be,
The trash issue passed and Swampville rested at last.
As the months passed and the FEE was collected,
It seemed just not right and a matter to question.

"Oh no you don't", Mrs. Daring implored,
"I won't let it rest, I'm just not so sure."
Inpector Sternway agreed too, and he did say,
"Almost Potential Swampville is not to pay."

"A ploy, a plot, it just isn't right! "
So replied Bumbley A-Right when he learned of the fight.

But Bumbley C-Rights just went along, ho-hum,
We won't speak, let the courts beat this drum.
But they did not remain quiet on trash you will see,
Instead they announced that change there must be.
Automate to extricate the trash from the street,
One armed bandits instead of the three.
Lengthen the route, increase the hours,
Save us more money, that's our desire!
Test runs, trial runs, we'll give it a try,
Almost Potential Swampville again they just sighed.

"Are you done yet Bumbley A-Right and C-Rights", they asked?
"Oh no, it's a new year and more money we ask!.
Recycle will save you but if you do not,
The amount you must pay will grow a lot."
On their own, without the budget request,
The C-Rights the FEE they did adjust.

Swampville answered: "Recycle, we'll do it, just tell us we could,
We need not be taxed if its something that’s good."
Bumbley A-Right and C-Rights still they decreed:
"This money we need, we require you pay
For the games each day we want to play."

Mrs. Daring and Sternway exclaimed, "NO WAY!
Right it is not, the lawsuit will stay
And in the end, it's the Rights that shall pay!”

But Almost Potential Swampville replied:
"We are just so tired, so weary of trash.
Go away, PLEASE, let this pass."

Not to be, not to happen, an end to this ruse
The one armed bandit is trouble to use.
Long hours, long days has put holes in the budget
Now, the Rights must devise how to fudge it.
"How at his point can more cash be raised for this joint?"
A-Right ponders our fate as Swampville does wonder
What will they devise next our pockets to plunder?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Marina District - A question for Frank Szollisi

So Frank, are you saying that in order to be employed in Toledo you must be a member of a Union?

Your latest demand that all work on the Marina District be performed by Union members is so anti-business it is disappointing. The Unions can take care of themselves, they don't need you legislation.

Back off!

Vacant Property Registry Folly

Vacant Property Registry
What is the purpose of this registry?
What is to be accomplished by the registry?

If I understand the purpose of the legislation, it is to provide easy access to the name and address of the owners of vacant properties so they can be billed for city work to maintain the property if the owner does not.

I had a discussion with a councilperson about this and it became quite intense. If I own a home, maintain it, clean it, keep it in repair, mow the grass, shovel the walks in the winter, pay the taxes… it is ABSOLUTELY none of the business of this or any other government entity whether it is or is not inhabited. If I am in compliance with the laws on maintaining MY property, it is ABSOLUTELY none of the business of this or any other government entity whether it is or is not inhabited

There are already regulations for those who have vacant property which is in decay, not maintained and condemned. If the city does maintain the grounds, condemns the building and then demolishes the home, the owner is billed.

We are assured there are many “exclusions” to the registry, but we have to request the exclusion after registering the property. The property is then on a registry visible to anyone who requests the information. What happened to the term “private property?”

When I asked the council person what will be accomplished when the registry is put into effect, it was explained it will help the city know how many vacant homes exist in Toledo to help determine revenues for the city and help control the dilapidated properties in Central city. Are you aware the City owns almost 600 vacant properties which are 30' frontage, many in Central City? Will they register these properties?

My point to all on council is this: those who do not maintain their properties are not going to register the properties. When I offered this opinion to the councilperson, I asked what ultimately would be accomplished and the response was more fees would build up. What good will that do when the City is not proactive enough to collect the fees currently owed?

The responsible residents will once again bear the brunt of city inefficiencies by the requirement to report to a city that already has proven they do not follow through with the regulations. It will be randomly and inefficiently be applied and undoubtedly another person will be needed to maintain this registry and answer all the requests for exclusions. As government is best at creating, this is another quagmire in the political arena of Toledo politics designed to appease the politically connected CDC’s..

If in fact there is close to $3,000,000 in unpaid fees against vacant and abandoned property the department responsible for collecting the unpaid fees should be held accountable, not create another regulation or registry which will be impossible to maintain.

Council should require a report with:
A list of properties with fees already assessed which they have not been able to collect.
The amount owned against each property
The name and last know address of the owner of the property
The efforts taken to collect the owned fines

It is extremely disappointing to see this Council continue to punish with additional regulations the citizens who pay the bills and vote them into office.

A Question for Mr. Wilkowski

As a former Law Director, an Attorney, a public figure for 20+ years and a probable candidate for Mayor of Toledo, I request your official opinion on the legality of the Refuse Fee. Do you consider the "refuse fee" a legal form of revenue for a municipality? If you decide to campaign for the office of Mayor, it is important to understand your position on taxation and fees.