Thursday, January 29, 2009


The Toledo Free Press published an interesting series of articles, which asked local politicians and high school students what they would do “If they were Mayor”. After analyzing the comments, I have a three-part commentary on the results of the review with an assessment of these comments. After listening to Politicians comments on being Mayor over the past years, it is frustrating that in this time, there is so little process offered by any of the possible candidates to move us forward.

Just stating, “green energy” does not explain how a Mayor can move this initiative forward. Being interested in “education” does not explain how a Mayoral candidate can effect improvements in education or explain how to implement the “Toledo Promise”. These are “hot buttons” of interest to the electorate, but we need solutions not just “hot buttons”.

Almost completely ignored was the infrastructure, refuse collection and safety issues. Nor was there mention of how they would balance the budget or create a “business friendly” environment in our Community. We need a cohesive government, but there were no suggestions on how or on what issues the potential candidates would work with City Council. There was no content on how to handle these problems.

It is disappointing to have so little content on how to manage Toledo. We need a candidate who has the courage to face the hard issues, fix the budget and begin reducing fees and fines, which have been created to enhance revenue. It is our right and expectation as voters to demand real answers not just open-ended rhetoric with lofty goals.

There was a great deal of information presented in paragraphs by the politicians and students. I consider this important enough to analyze, categorize and tally the comments to make it easier to assimilate the information. This has been accomplished in three separate commentaries.

Commentary One is a summary of the politician’s comments. It reduces their paragraph responses to bullet points and a category assigned to each comment. Finally, a tally of the categories for each comment by author is included.

Commentary Two contains suggestions on how to achieve some of the points offered by the politicians. These suggestions are essential for the success of Toledo.

Commentary Three lists the main ideas of the many High School student comments. This list gives insight into the fears, hopes, dreams and desires of our students and helps us understand what is important to our youth. Along with the list of student concerns is a brief commentary on what our government must address if we are sincerely interested in recognizing our youth to avoid “brain drain” and thus help ensure a positive future for Toledo.

As we move forward with this campaign to elect a Mayor, we must ask the hard questions. Just listing “hot buttons” without solutions, processes or programs to effect change is not acceptable.

Please read and review the analysis of the three commentaries.


A summary of the responses by the politicians offers open-ended rhetoric with lofty goals and sweeping praise of Toledo potential. Each expounded on the need for jobs, growing the economy, offering alternative energy, and improving education; however, no one offered a platform of processes to attain such lofty goals or reach Toledo potential.

The tally by classification has (24) references stressing the qualities or lack of qualities of Toledo; because Ludeman solely focused on Mayoral qualities, “ethic”, was second followed by education. There was very little reference to infrastructure and safety, which is surprising since these are two of the major mandates of the city.

Finally, there was no mention of refuse collection or recycling even though it has been the center of debate and controversy since the refuse fee was passed 2 years ago and the refuse department is preparing to spend millions of dollars to invest in new equipment.

Tally by classification (click on image to enlarge)

Collins/Future of Toledo/Vision
Collins/Opportunity for academic, economic and cultural advancement/Growth
Collins/Join together (regionally)/Vision
Collins/Realistic goals/Vision
Collins/Location 2nd to none/Vision
Collins/Crossroads of America and Canada/Vision
Collins/Adjust from an industrial/manufacturing economy/Economy
Collins/To research, development and service economy are limitless/Economy
Collins/Excel in the areas of alternative energy and biological/pharmaceutical development./Green
Collins/Void of respect, communication and trust/Vision
Collins/Unable to partner with our neighbors/Vision
Collins/Ensure we will provide for future generations (children)/Vision
Konop/Don’t like what we see/Vision
Konop/Lead country in solar technology and manufacturing/Green
Konop/Children and displaced workers receive quality college education free/Education
Konop/Bolster work force to draw employers/Jobs
Konop/Envied by neighbors/Vision
Konop/Pass torch from “good ol’ boys” network/Ethic
Konop/Scratch each other’s backs/Ethic
Konop/Fight for Toledo/Vision
Konop/Stand up to special interests/Ethic
Konop/Make sure your voice is heard/Social
Ludeman/Encouraged by many to run, needs ½ million to run/Ethic
Ludeman/High financial cost of high profile race/Ethic
Ludeman/Toledo wants change/Vision
Ludeman/Qualities needed for mayor:/Ethic
Ludeman/Conservative, specifically – financially/Ethic
Ludeman/Allegiances should be to citizens and taxpayers/Ethic
Ludeman/Background rooted in business community/Vision
Ludeman/Run city like a business not a political team or sports team/Ethic
Ludeman/Surrounded by good staff, hard workers/Ethic
Ludeman/Delegate, not control, tempo of work force/Ethic
Ludeman/Be honest, admit mistakes, move on/Ethic
Ludeman/Have faith, treat others well/Ethic
Ludeman/Have good, solid working relationship with City Council/Ethic
Ludeman/Need “change” in City Council at next election/Ethic
Ludeman/Replace those who have proved they are self-serving/Ethic
Ludeman/Issues change with time, core values should not./Ethic
Moody/Hard working and innovative/Vision
Moody/Confront and overcome challenges/Vision
Moody/Don,t rely on Federal Government to bail us out/Vision
Moody/Listen to suggestions and recommendations of neighbors/Ethic
Moody/Form team to work with current economic development agencies/Growth
Moody/Create environment in which business can flourish/Business
Moody/Get out of the way of business/Business
Moody/Create right environment for growth/Growth
Moody/Promote home ownership/Social
Moody/Prevent neglect and decay of homes/Infrastructure
Moody/Promote public safety/Safety
Moody/No government subsidies to accomplish the above/Ethic
Moody/Properly manned police force/Safety
Moody/Punish criminals to discourage repeat offenses/Safety
Moody/Much to be done/Vision
Moody/‘Brain drain’/Social
Moody/Tourism desirability/Social
Moody/Public perception/Social
Moody/Population flight/Social
Sarantou/3 issues will dominate/Vision
Sarantou/Toledo hit hard by economy: lost jobs, employers and wealth/Vision
Sarantou/Seize opportunity; diversify economic base and work force/Business
Sarantou/Growing reputation as solar energy hub/Vision
Sarantou/Private sector encouraged by UT/Business
Sarantou/Intensify work to become world leader in alternative energy/Green
Sarantou/Must confront education obstacles and opportunities/Education
Sarantou/Support UT efforts to support region and educate work force/Education
Sarantou/Face challenges of K-12/Education
Sarantou/Quality schools are prerequisites to future success/Education
Sarantou/Anticipate future trends/Vision
Sarantou/Willingness to take risks/Vision
Sarantou/Conviction to make difficult decisions/Ethic
Wilkowski/Running to bring jobs back to Toledo/Jobs
Wilkowski/Real plans and best team to implement/Vision
Wilkowski/Rebuild Toledo, create construction jobs/Infrastructure
Wilkowski/Re-power our homes and business with clean energy/Green
Wilkowski/Revitalize manufacturing through solar panel manufacturing/Green
Wilkowski/City has done nothing to spur growth of clean energy economy and green collar jobs/Green
Wilkowski/Economic opportunity begins with education/Education
Wilkowski/Put college in reach of everyone/Education
Wilkowski/“Owens Success” “UT Guarantee” for education/Education
Wilkowski/“Toledo Promise”/Education
Wilkowski/Every graduating public student receives tuition-free Ohio college education/Education
Wilkowski/Community where/Vision
Wilkowski/Industry wants to invest/Growth
Wilkowski/Family wants to live/Social
Wilkowski/Young people want to stay/Social


Government always lags behind private industry and so Toledo has lagged in the contracts with the city employees. In the 1980’s when the US was experiencing growth and a great economy, business was generous with benefit packages and pay. So likewise, governments passed on these generous packages. However, over the past decades, businesses pulled away from the benefit packages requiring employees to pay portions of their medical plans, co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions and eliminating retirement plans. Additionally, pay increases dropped to the point they did not even cover the increased liabilities of the employees.

As employees in the private section lost benefits, pay increases and were required to pay more into their medical programs, it became increasingly difficult to pay more in taxes. It is an unpleasant task to require concessions from employees whether in the private sector or public office; but as the private sector has made such demands, it is now time for Toledo to do the same. We can no longer sustain the contracts in place and must work to adjust them within the limits of the City budget.

One of the most common phrases repeated by candidates for office is that we must become more “business friendly”. However, there are few suggestions on how to reach that goal. Even in speaking to small business owners, it is difficult to reach a consensus other than the complaints about the number of regulations, inspections and fees, which must be paid. If we are more “business friendly”, it can be expected we would draw more business.

We also need to be "citizen friendly". Over the past four years, we have witnessed numerous punitive programs, which affects Toledoans. Rather than improve the sequencing of traffic lights to improve safety, red light cameras were install to increase revenue. Rather than focus on the essentials of the budget, a "refuse fee" was imposed to increase revenue and fines imposed against residents who put the trash out too soon. Now there is talk of a plastic bag tax to increase revenue. It is time to eliminate these and other punitive fees, cut the 3/4% temporary tax and focus on the essential services required in the Municipal Code. Eventually the economy will improve and if we work to improve our "friendliness", we will be in a position to take advantage of the improved economy.

The following suggestions are offered as a way to bring the budget into alignment to revenue, to become more business and citizen friendly and move forward for the future of Toledo:
·Business: Less regulations
·Business: Less frequent inspections
·Business: Have one office for all permits required to start a business
·Business: Make it easier to schedule inspections
·Business: Lower permit and inspection fees, eliminate unnecessary inspections
·Business: Allow more “cart” vendors along the streets approaching 5/3 Field before and after games.
·Business: Encourage more oversized signs downtown (such as in Times Square)
·Budget: Eliminate fees to generate income such as red light cameras.
·Budget: Privatize refuse collection
·Budget: End the 3/4% income tax
·Budget: Wean the Toledo Zoo off public funding, they should become self sustaining
·Budget: Stop development studies of Southwyck, the city can do nothing, it is privately owned.
·Budget: Decrease City employee benefits
o Have employees pay towards their medical benefits
o Have employees pay a co-pay for doctor visits and prescriptions
o Reduce the number of paid holidays
o Stop paying the 10% employee portion of PERZ (some progress has been made in the most recent contract negotiations, a start, but not enough)
o Reduce required City portion of PERZ payment from 14% to 10%
·Budget: Put the budget in spreadsheet form on the internet for easy analysis and review
·Budget: Hold a “fire” sale of all abandoned property
o When the home is repaired or torn down, give a $500 incentive
o Reduce permits and fees needed to demolish the building
·Budget: Bid out to the private sector the demolition of buildings
·Budget: Don’t put the name of the Mayor on Toledo signs
·Budget: Invest in a Waste to Energy form of trash disposal
·Budget: Establish and adhere to a baseline % of expenditure for the different segments of the budget
·Fire: Reevaluate the number of fireman per shift
·Fire: Eliminate the ambulance service, put it back to the private sector
·Fire: Eliminate the EMS service, put it back to the private sector
·Police: Put a cap on Command officers in the police department
·Police: Hire police from the Owens Tech police degree program
·Safety: Improve the traffic light sequencing to prevent intersection crashes
·Safety: Reinstate the Gang taskforce.
·Safety: Increase the number of speed limit signs along the highway.
·Streets: Put a list of all roads scheduled for repair on the Internet
o List estimated repair dates
o Date request was made
o Estimate cost of repair
o Show date of completion
· Streets: Have a form on the Internet that can be filled out for potholes
o Put the data on line to lessen duplication of requests
o Prioritize the repair schedule on the internet
·Streets: Study more durable construction material for roads and potholes.
·Region: Focus on 2 industries a month and work to bring them into the region.
·Region: Create an office of regional planning where businesses can communicate their needs and get assistance in finding the optimum location for their needs.
·Beautification: Ask organizations to work on the flower beds
·Beautification: Have contests with the Greenhouses in Toledo to beautify the Gateways
·Beautification: Organize youth by area to help clean their neighborhood streets.
·Government: Be customer friendly at One Government Center.


The Free Press received responses from a number of High School students who listed their concerns which are classified and tallied in the example. From the list, the students most frequently mentioned social amenities, community and safety. Safety and social issues were among the lower concerns of the Politicians. The contrast equates to a disconnect between the Politicians and the students. So much has been made of “brain drain” of our youth leaving Toledo, perhaps it’s time we listen more intently to their issues.

Click on image to enlarge