Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Gold Medal Hope

We were spellbound as we watched Michael Phelps swim to 8 gold medals during the Summer Olympics. This is an amazing fete which will take decades, if ever to equal or surpass. This was the accomplishment of a determined, driven, directed athlete. As Toledoans watch our politicians stumble from one project to another, we could only hope for a portion of the resolve of this winning athlete.

The politicians leap-frog from one pond to another with few issues resolved or completed and throughout the process, the partisanship is exclusionary and divisive creating waves which flood over the foundations of Toledo and wash away the little ripples of success we hope for.

The Erie Street Market has been a contentious issue for over 15 years with a round robin tag team of managers. The latest uproar was over the $100,000 renovation of the building to convert it to a concert venue. The cost was spread over numerous contracts, each under $10,000 to avoid City Council oversight. Council cried fowl, made numerous threats, received extensive media coverage but nothing happened. Council was out maneuvered by the Mayor, they were angry, but could do nothing as it was within the guidelines of the City Charter. Now, in retribution, they are attempting to remove the Verso Group, Rob Croak, from promoting events, but offers not alternatives. Where is the determination, drive and direction for success of Market.

Southwyck Mall has been high profile in Toledo for at least 10 years as the owners continued to let it decline year after year. Each year we hear the politicians profess they will revitalize Southwyck, what a waste of time, effort and money. They cannot revitalize Southwyck, it’s privately owned, not city property. Perhaps the pressure applied over the past couple years has pushed the owners to do something with their property, but even after multiple press conferences and much posturing, Toledo cannot revitalize property they do not own! So instead, the Mayor decided to renovate the “Reynolds Road corridor between Heatherdowns and Glendale. It looks ridiculous with the old fashioned light posts on only 2 blocks of highway. There is no synergy with the surrounding businesses, it’s like a fish out of water. The expenditure of our taxes on this project to nowhere is a waste of money, time and effort. There is determination and drive to do something, but no clearly defined direction.

Now we have a great opportunity in intermodal to expand our workforce in this area. From the media reports we watch with concern and hope that our leaders will work together to form an alliance with the railroads to expand intermodal in Toledo, But the first order of business was to fire Jim Hartung, President of the Port Authority, the second order of business is the replacement of Port Board members and the third order of business is the search for a new Port Board President. That puts the intermodal issue in fourth place, no ribbon, no prize. We need the determination, drive and direction of our leaders to move intermodal forward.

These are 3 examples of no clear direction from our political leaders. Without a united effort, we continue to flagellate in an abyss of misdirection. Each political faction has determination and drive but the fractured divisions of our political leaders paralyze our city, we are drowning. It’s time to end “politics as usual” and look at the parts of Toledo area as a whole. Difference of opinion is healthy and should create vibrant, progressive dialogue, not name calling, division and dissention. Determined, driven, directed leaders, working for the whole of Toledo gets gold medals.

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