Archive for August, 2005
A few columns back (Aug. 10), I wrote about an advertising campaign that featured “real women” pushing a new Dove “firming” lotion. Apparently I wasn’t the only person thinking about the vamping girls. According to a story in the International Herald Tribune, the adulation Dove has received for “honesty” in undressing “real” female bodies has been more than worth its weight. But the article also says the product Dove is selling is not much different from what grandma used years ago.
To its credit (and because it’s the law) Dove doesn’t explicitly state that its products smooth skin or reduce cellulite. But with phrases like “appearance of” or “look of,” the copy implies it. It’s no new news that the cosmetics industry is all about selling hope. It’s no new news that all advertising is about selling hope. It’s just that when words and images are used to obfuscate instead of clarify that I get frustrated.
I used to be part of this world. I have an MBA from what is probably this country’s top business school. I know a thing or two about “branding,” about creating and fulfilling needs. Or, to be more perverse, about selling fear and often useless solutions.
“Ohmigosh,” you might be saying. “What a curmudgeon! Spoil sport! MBAs as high on the corporate ladder as President Bush say that shopping is to patriotism as breathing is to life. Give this woman a charge card and make her spend over its limit!”
But it’s not stuff I’m averse to, it’s the less-than-forthright marketing of it. The phone company offers a zillion free minutes but doesn’t say only during off hours. The cable company advertises a terrific monthly rate — but just for the first two months of a two-year contract. The cookies have “No Carbs!” but tons of fat. The diet drink is doctor-recommended. (By which doctor? The one on the payroll?)
Companies contend they’re giving customers helpful information. But what they’re really doing is holding back. This is communications as sleight of hand. What’s hidden is likely more important than what’s revealed.
Then there’s redundancy packaged as “choice.” This concept was driven home when my daughter and I went to buy shampoo. The shelf at Target was groaning. In the Pantene line alone, there were formulations for “Classic Care,” “Classic Clean,” “Hydrating Curls,” “Sheer Volume,” “Full and Thick” and a least six others. The options were duplicated as conditioners. And a bunch were further morphed into shampoo-conditioner combos. Talk about stimulus overload.
“Which should I buy?” my daughter asked. I compared labels and found all 11 plus a house brand more or less identical, ingredient-wise. So we passed on the whole shebang.
“Take the Target generic,” I said. “It’s a couple bucks cheaper.”
Downer! Nag! The irony is that I got this way being on the push end of the marketing channel. After a while in MBA land, I realized the world really doesn’t need another flavor of iced tea or scent of room freshener.
When I lived in Germany, too much choice was not an issue. With grocery stores the size of gas stations, you bought what there was. You want soap? We carry one brand. Don’t like it? Stay dirty. Even I longed for more variety.
But where my complaint lies is not with choice or variety. It’s with the fact that there’s only the “appearance” of choice, the “look” of variety. With few new-and-improved exceptions, most stuff is “Me Too,” not “Oh My!”
Plus, we’ve become a nation of weasel-word users: “may,” “should,” “can.” The what’s not said of products (and public policy, to coda back to the MBA-in-Chief) crowds out the headlines. Messages have become subsidiary to their declaimers.
WEEK FIVE: There’s no “I” in team. Eleven equals one. Football is full of hackneyed sayings and clichés. They’re mostly true. Eleven players on the field, working in unison, are hard to beat.
Solid defense and an efficient offense did the job for the Anthony Wayne Generals in their first test of the high school season Friday.
If there was a standout, it was running back Tyler Rahn, who carried the ball 26 times for 131 yards. He’ll tell you he didn’t do anything but power through the holes the offensive line created for him.
Two more wins and head coach Craig Smith will hit the 50-win
plateau for his career. The team wants that for him.
Toledo Free Press has commissioned photographer Art Weber to chronicle the 2005 varsity football season of the Anthony Wayne Generals. Each week, one photo will capture the evolving seaon. Art Weber may be contacted at email@example.com.
Rockets running back Scooter McDougle wants to hit somebody. Hard.
Nobody kicked his dog; nobody stepped on his midnight-blue suede shoes. The junior hopeful is just itching to resume play after a long time-out that began during his biggest game ever at the end of last year.
That’ll happen when you’re all pumped up in the middle of a Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship. You make a game-breaking play, and the next thing you know you’re being hauled off the field with a knee injury.
“I’m hoping by Wednesday or Thursday that I can do some kind of hitting anything,” McDougle said after practice last week. “I’ve been doing a lot of running and working out with the strength coach. I have a real good chance of playing the first game.”
While he proved to be “the difference maker” in the final three games of the ’04 season, according to Brian DeBenedictis, University of Toledo assistant director of media relations for the athletic department, the backfield’s a little crowded with two seniors, a sophomore and a freshman ahead of McDougle on the preseason depth chart.
Until now he has been watching his teammates make full contact from the sidelines, anxious for the go-ahead from the coaches to pop a few pads.
But that didn’t stop him from eyeing the conference title at the end of this season, an uphill journey so far for a player deemed “Super Prospect” by College
Sports.com. McDougle sat out once before during all of 2003 because of academic restrictions, and then racked up eight touchdowns in 12 games the following year, averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 9.3 yards per reception.
Now he’s looking straight ahead while “one of the worst injuries of his career” fades into the distance.
“I can’t wait for this year,” he said. “I hope the seniors go out with a MAC championship, and I’m really hoping that I can go out with a MAC championship next year.”
Yet the view for McDougle remains blocked by numbers — big, gold and blue numbers such as 38, Trinity Dawson; 33, Jalen Parmele; 23, Quinton Broussard; and 27, Richard Davis. Dawson, Parmele and Broussard averaged between four and five yards per carry last year, and Davis comes off a season as a red shirt already in the habit of winning after USA Today ranked his high school team as high as No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the country.
Plus the Rockets are grooming a brand-new talent, DaJuane Collins, a Jersey kid whom DeBenedictis said probably will red shirt this year and stay low on the depth chart.
So can we say the Rockets pretty much have their running game covered with great depth? Sounds more like an ocean of talent rather than a pool, especially when you mix it with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski?
The Rockets are an exception within their division because of their backfield depth. Just ask McDougle, who knows he’s bumping elbows this year with some pretty productive fellow ball carriers.
“This year will set me up for next year, but we’ve got a lot of good players this year and a lot of players coming back next year,” he said.
New UT defensive coordinator Tim Rose has watched MAC football evolve tremendously during the last 22 years.
The Cleveland-area native was head coach at Miami of Ohio from 1983-89, leading the RedHawks to a MAC championship in 1986, a season highlighted by the team’s huge upset win against then-No. 8 ranked LSU.
But whereas the MAC once was a defense-minded conference with the running game predominating offensive playbooks, Rose now steps into a league characterized by massive aerial assaults and WAC-style scoring onslaughts. With a season-ending showdown against the high-scoring BGSU offense and Heisman candidate QB Omar Jacobs looming as Toledo’s final hurdle to another conference crown, Rose may hold the key to the team’s title defense.
UT head coach Tom Amstutz has full confidence in Rose.
“Every place Tim has gone he’s always improved their defense,” Amstutz said.
Rose has led previous units to top 20 defensive rankings five times during a career that has included stints at Minnesota, Boston College, Memphis, Cincinnati and most recently at Louisiana Tech.
Rose also engineered recent defensive success against MAC offensive attacks while serving as defensive coordinator at Eastern Michigan in 2003. He improved a defense ranked 117th in Division I in 2002 to one ranked 76th in total defense and 87th in scoring D the next year. Not too shabby, considering Eastern squared off that season against three of the nation’s highest-scoring teams and combated all year against the MAC.
“We’re looking forward to him doing the same thing at Toledo,” Amstutz said, referring to the team’s need for defensive improvement from last season, when Rockets end zone guardians yielded 404 points, including 63 points each to Minnesota and Kansas; 41 to BG; and 39 in the Motor City Bowl against Connecticut.
Amstutz and Rose appear to be on the same page in their belief that an imaginative defense full of surprises will be successful.
“Tim has great insight and a unique defensive scheme that we’re really looking forward to having on the field this year,” Amstutz said.
“Tom is not afraid to be creative and he wants to do a lot of different things,” Rose said.
Rose said that means keeping a good deal of the 4-4 defense used by the Rockets in years past but installing more of his 3-4 looks while mixing in some new features he’s been developing to help keep things in the dark for opponents.
Shannon no stranger to Amstutz, team
When Rob Spence vacated the offensive coordinator position at UT last January to assume the same role under Terry Bowden at Clemson, head coach Tom Amstutz quickly decided keeping things at home would be the truest path in continuing the team’s nationally recognized offensive success.
Enter former wide receivers coach John Shannon.
In the past two years under Shannon’s mentoring, the receiving corps built a lofty resume of success. Rockets receivers hauled in a school record 24.8 receptions per game in 2003 followed by an encore performance of 23.7 receptions per contest last year with 28 touchdown grabs. Heading Shannon’s receiver charge was Lance Moore, who as a junior in ‘03 paced the nation with an MAC tied-record 103 receptions, then painted his senior year with 90 more grips and a school record 14 TDs.
Shannon has 27 years of college coaching experience, with 18 of those as a coordinator on offense or defense, including a gig as offensive coordinator at Jackson State from 1994-2000, where he earned honors as I-AA Offensive Coordinator of the Year in 1999 and I-AA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000. For Amstutz, the resume spoke for itself and made his fellow staff member the obvious go-to guy.
“John’s been a big part of our offense the last two years and he understands our scheme. He’s a proven coordinator and gives us a chance to continue with the same style and flow of our offense that made it highly successful in the nation last year,” Amstutz said. “He has a good grasp of every concept of our offense and has been a big part of game planning over the last two years, so it was a natural transition to go with him.”
That means Rockets’ players, fans and opponents can expect a familiar and effective offensive attack.
“Our philosophy offensively is not going to change. The things we do as far as running and throwing the football aren’t going to change drastically,” Shannon said. “We’ve got good leadership from our players with Bruce Gradkowski and Trinity Dawson voted as team captains on offense, so we’re excited about them leading us this year. We expect good things from our offense.”
The Rockets’ season opener at the Glass Bowl on Thursday marks a couple of milestones.
The first “first” is the meeting itself as UT faces Western Illinois University (WIU) for the first time in history. The second is the introduction of instant replay in the Mid-American Conference, which functions by the same rules used in the Big Ten.
Coach Tom Amstutz can’t throw the red flag himself because the replays must be called from the booth. But he can make sure that any calls going against the Rockets are nullified by dominating the Leathernecks with a deep backfield and a potential phenom in quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
Plus the Rockets may have an edge with inside information coming from running backs coach Doug Downing, who served on the WIU staff from 1990 to 1995 and then returned in 1996 for three more years as offensive coordinator. He left the Leathernecks the same year they welcomed their new coach, Don Patterson, so the Rockets may find themselves second-guessing their opponent and relying on their defense to stop WIU’s top running back, Travis Glasford.
Glasford, a senior, twice ran for more than 1,000 yards in a season, and it seems the Leathernecks are pinning their hopes on him. Although 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the Gateway Football Conference in 2004, WIU’s abilities may exceed expectations. A win against Eastern Michigan last year, one versus Ball State in 2000 and two previous victories against Northern Illinois demonstrate Patterson’s mantra that it’s all about attitude.
For the Rockets, it’s about pride, too. UT looks to protect its 13-game home winning streak, which began after a loss to Miami in 2002. That game pitted the hometown boys against Ben Roethlisberger, who now suits up on Sundays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Nevertheless, the Rockets turned around and beat Miami in the MAC championship that year, so the Leathernecks are looking, at best, at a possible upset.
— Scott McKimmy
The majority of new investors I meet say they’re interested in real estate because they know of someone else who made money. There is certainly a lot of money to be made! It is not, however, always as easy as what the infomercials preach during the wee hours.
The key to any good buy is finding a motivated seller who has a pressing reason to sell quickly and below market value. Realtors can have great insight in spotting them.
If you’re new, keep this in mind: Houses attractive to investors usually aren’t the pretty ones.
It’s like going to the clearance rack and picking through a few things until stumbling upon something that suits you.
We’ve all heard about foreclosures. This is when owners lose their property to their lenders, usually for nonpayment of their mortgage.
The foreclosure process goes something like this: Payments stop and the lender puts the mortgage in default. After a legally determined amount of time, the lender sells the property to the highest bidder at a courthouse Sheriff’s sale. Before that sale happens, however, owners coming to terms with their misfortune typically qualify as motivated sellers. Therein lays an investor’s opportunity.
Finding foreclosures is cake if you
know where to look. Acting on a foreclosure takes courage. Getting a name and phone number is a start. Some people going through foreclosure are quite bitter about it. It should come as no surprise that they may not want to talk to you. If they’re at least agreeable to listen, explain how you might be able to help.
You might be able to make up back payments and penalties to save the owner’s credit rating (and maybe some cash depending on the seller’s equity). In exchange, you get title to the property. Could be a win-win.
But wait! Before making any kind of offer to the owner, run the numbers as accurately and honestly as you can.
Beware that their loan may not be assumable. If you have to secure a new one, figure those costs to run about 5 percent of the loan amount with points, fees and title insurance.
Back payments could amount to as much as six months’ worth of payments or more. The owner will also likely have incurred penalties for each month the payment was late.
All these are costs you may have before even acquiring the property. Once you’ve got it, don’t forget to figure in your property taxes and refurbishing costs if the house needs work.
You may find bailing out the owner with these added costs may not be worthwhile. If it isn’t, no sweat. You have gained some invaluable knowledge and just averted a sinking ship!
Now let’s go back to the Sheriff’s sale. Can I buy at the foreclosure sale? Yes, but it can be tricky. You don’t always know what you’re getting.
Typically you won’t receive any guarantees to the property’s condition or title insurance. And your offer usually must be in the form of cash, so you’d need to work out financing details ahead of time.
It is not unusual for the lender to be the highest bidder at these sales, upon which, the bank takes control of the property and tries to resell it as real estate owned property (REO) through a real estate agent. Banks are anxious to sell them, but not so anxious that they’re willing to take a loss.
So what’s this mean for the investor? There can be advantages working with lenders rather than a home seller in a foreclosure.
First of all, there’s no crying. A transaction with the bank is potentially much cleaner. Sometimes the bank will even help you finance and get title insurance.
Like any investment, there is risk. But where there is risk, there’s also reward. In real estate, the risk is often directly proportional to knowledge. You won’t know if there’s a good deal to be had without getting a little dirty.
If you think you’re serious, give yourself at least six months to see if real estate investing might work for you. I suggest first-timers do not go it alone. Find a Realtor who will take you by the hand through the first transaction. You won’t make any money talking about it or thinking about it. You must take action.
Jody Zink is a former television news reporter and a licensed Realtor in Ohio and Michigan. She can be reached at (419) 725-1881, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things go bump in the night. Is it the wind or a prowler?
Personal safety at home can be a scary issue, especially for seniors. There are precautions that can be taken to help prevent your home from being broken into.
“The more things you can do to make yourself less of a victim, the better,” said Wendy Newsome, crime prevention officer with the Maumee Police Department. She said most burglars spend less than one minute trying to break into a home, and offered these pointers on keeping your home from being an easy target.
- Don’t open the door to a stranger. If someone needs help, offer to place a call for him or her, but do not let someone you don’t know in.
- Glass doors can invite criminals. Use solid metal or hardwood doors. Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer.
- Lock all windows. Also be sure to secure basement and attic windows. Planting thorny bushes such as roses under windows can also be a deterrent.
- Use a double-cylinder deadbolt. “A single deadbolt, especially when the door has glass skylights nearby, can be easier to access,” Newsome said. “Criminals can break the window and simply turn the single bolt.” Spring latches, door locks and chain locks can be easily broken.
- Get a dog. If you can’t have a dog, pretend to have one. Simply placing a “beware of dog” sign on a fence and a (used) dog bowl on the porch can make a burglar move on. “I’ve even seen people put up security system signs when they don’t have one,” Newsome said.
- Be prepared to call for help. Having a phone in one room doesn’t do much good if you cannot get to it quickly. Have a plan for calling for help and leaving your house if you need to.
“We have found most seniors don’t have a cordless phone, and we almost never see cell phones,” Newsome said. She said family and neighbors could help seniors by purchasing a mobile or cellular phone, then showing them how to operate it.
“Many cell phone providers offer
an additional line at little cost,” she said. For seniors with walkers, a
bag attached to the walker could be
“The little bag holds the phone, so it’s always near.”
Toledo seniors wanting to benefit from or assist with a community protection program can call the Area Office on Aging at (419) 382-7060 for information about the RSVP. Short for retired senior volunteer patrol, RSVP is a joint program between the Area Office on Aging and the Toledo Police Department. The Area Office on Aging also offers workshops throughout the year focusing on safety in the home.
Helen Fletcher’s story began on Valentine’s Day, 2004. Like so many before and since, the 66-year-old grandmother found herself thrust into a situation where children became victims of their parents’ destructive activities.
“The older one came to live with me last school year because he wanted to go to Scott [High School], where I went to, but the others were not by choice,” she said. “I had to go one cold February night and pick them up from Detroit. Their mother had been arrested.”
Fletcher said she has managed to absorb the cost of supporting five grandchildren after selling her home in Southfield, Mich., and leasing an apartment in southwest Toledo. The former government worker adjusted her life to suit her grandkids’ needs as well as those of her father, whose health began failing about the same time she intervened into her daughter’s personal problems.
Her first priority was to enroll the three boys and one girl into school in grades one through four. The extended family is living comfortably, she said, and the children won’t be reunited in the same home with their mother until Fletcher is certain the mother’s life is “straightened out.” One father is in contact; another is deceased, and the third has abandoned his responsibilities, Fletcher said.
“The main thing was to get them back into school and get their lives back on course,” she said. “They were not going to school; things were happening to them that should not have been because of their mother’s problems and her lifestyle.”
For more than 2.3 million grandparents, aunts, uncles and others nationwide raising their relatives’ children, it often takes every penny and the last drop of energy they can muster day after day.
In Lucas County, about 6,000 families raise children who are related to them, but separated from their birth parents, said Judy Paschalis, director of the Kinship Navigator program through the Area Office on Aging in Northwest Ohio. She explained the complexity of the situation for kids whose parents have been incarcerated or are battling addiction to drugs or alcohol, which account for nearly all of the cases that walk through her door.
Few have resulted from illness, injury or other catastrophes not linked to poor life decisions.
“When the kin take in relatives’ children, it’s usually because of drug and alcohol abuse,” Paschalis said. “Sure, there’ve been traffic accidents or something, but we don’t hear from those folks. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s drugs and alcohol or things that happen — like incarceration — that stem from drugs and alcohol.”
More surprising, perhaps, may be the widespread anonymity of grandparents and relatives assuming the responsibilities of the next generation’s children, in part because of their lack of involvement with Lucas County Children’s Services. When circumstances arise forcing relatives to harbor their kin’s children, an informal arrangement is made, and the county agency has no grounds to step in and exert its powers.
“The kin probably don’t have custody when they take the children in. They’re not involved with Lucas County Children’s Services or the courts in any way,” Paschalis said. “They just saw that the kids needed a good home and took them home with them one Sunday night.”
The scenario has repeated itself involving as many as 4 million kids, according to GrandsPlace.com, an Internet service connecting those with relatives’ children to resources for legal assistance, health programs and support networks throughout the country. The grandparents and other kin often share a burden of rearing kids from infants to adolescents while they themselves face the financial and physical hardships of aging.
Their retirement plans never included the possibility of supporting children through their 60s or 70s.
One grandmother, who chose to be identified only as “Anne,” has been slipping toward financial ruin from legal fees incurred in custody battles with her daughter over Anne’s grandsons, ages 14 and 10.
Costs have reached the $10,000 mark during the course of 17 court appearances, she said, which has robbed her of resources she needs for the children’s welfare. The daughter receives free legal services due to poverty, while Anne struggles to provide a proper home life on wages just above minimum.
“I’m getting close to retirement; I have zero money in the savings account because we’ve been in court so many times,” she said.
Anne has raised the two boys practically from birth, she said, also with no support from the father. And although her daughter signed off custody long ago, she made an about-face four years ago, filing to have the boys returned to her. Anne related the legal strategy often used by family lawyers in a system that inherently favors birth parents regardless of their inability to provide a stable household.
“One attorney that went to a Kinship [Navigator] meeting said, ‘I hate to say it, but if you don’t go into court moaning and groaning and crying and sobbing, you’re going to lose,’ ” she said. “‘The parent that does this will win.’ ”
The problem had been exacerbated by the lack of government assistance for elders raising relatives’ kids until Kinship Navigator emerged about five years ago, according to Paschalis. She has run the program originally established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, but later turned over to AOoA. Recent legislation has facilitated the process of gaining custody of grandchildren and enrolling them in school.
However, word has spread slowly, and many adults raising relatives’ offspring have no idea of the availability of health coverage and monthly benefits — up to $451 for four children — in Medicaid dollars.
Joy Gibbs said she just discovered the opportunity to obtain health insurance through the state and is waiting for approval. The burden of raising her daughter’s two children has been much more emotionally trying than financially debilitating.
No longer just a grandmother, Gibbs has to play the strict parent of a 2-, 5- and 13-year-old. Meanwhile, her daughter undergoes treatment at a local clinic for a cocaine addiction, which Gibbs believes to be at the root of her problems, along with mental health issues that have never been addressed.
“When I first got custody, I was excited, but I realized how drastically my life was changing,” she said. “It isn’t a serious financial burden, but I am sometimes resentful.”
Editor’s Note: Toledo Free Press is interviewing all seven mayoral candidates who have filed petitions with the Board of Elections (Opal Covey (July 27), Carty Finkbeiner (Aug. 3), Don Gozdowski (Aug. 10), Rob Ludeman (Aug. 17), Martin Okonski (Aug. 24), Keith Wilkowski, and Jack Ford). We will profile one candidate per week up to the September 13 primary election. Each of the candidates will answer a series of standard questions, but the conversations will also include topics the mayoral hopefuls see as important for Toledo voters.
Keith Wilkowski said Toledo is at a crossroads, or a “tipping point,” in which its future hangs in the balance, and that some residents have given up hope on turning the city around.
“I got into the race because I believe in my heart that we can change this city,” he said, adding that his optimistic view of Toledo’s future differentiates him from his opponents. “I don’t accept for one minute that Toledo has to accept a declining future.”
On his qualifications to be mayor: Wilkowski said his track record as a leader sets him apart from the other candidates for mayor.
“In order to lead, you have to be able to communicate, which our current mayor lacks,” he said. “You have to be able to inspire people toward a common vision and common objectives, like Winston Churchill did in England during the Second World War. I will provide the kind of leadership that Toledo needs.”
Wilkowski said, unlike some of his opponents, he will be more than “just a cheerleader” for Toledo.
“If we are going to stick with the sports analogy, I will be the team’s quarterback,” he said. “A cheerleader is not an active participant in what is happening on the field.”
On a new sports arena: The candidate is emphatic that the proposed new arena belongs Downtown, adding that he is the “only candidate who has put forth a rational, reasonable position” on where the arena should go.
“We should locate the arena near Fifth Third Field,” he said. “These facilities will then create a critical mass of people and activities to make our downtown vibrant and alive, a place where companies like Owens-Illinois would think twice before moving out.”
On hurdles Toledo must overcome: Wilkowski said Toledo’s biggest challenge is in the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to the realities of the global marketplace.
“We need a leader who can understand not only the old manufacturing economy, but also the emerging knowledge-based economy,” he said. “For Toledo to compete in the 21st century, it has to retain its young college graduates by providing employment opportunities.”
On the Downtown business district: The candidate would like to see the UT’s Law School move Downtown.
“While I can’t speak for UT President Dan Johnson, I think that it makes sense to move the school Downtown,” he said. “The courts and law offices are located down here, and this would be a great way to provide another hub of activity to spur development.”
On public schools: Wilkowski said the next mayor must be able to bring a sense of unity to the city’s schools.
“We need to recognize that we have a variety of public, private and parochial schools in this city, and that the mayor is responsible for leadership to the entire community,” he said. “When I was on the school board, we used to say that TPS has more in common with parochial and private schools than the things that separate the systems. That’s the right attitude to have.”
He also said the current school- construction program offers the city hope.
“One of the great opportunities we have is the ‘New Schools, New Neighborhoods’ initiative,” he said. “The neighborhoods in which these new and remodeled schools are built allow us to target resources and use the schools as a catalyst for reinvigorating entire neighborhoods.”
On lowering crime rates: Wilkowski is not convinced his opponents place a high enough emphasis on public safety.
“Public safety has to be the No. 1 budget priority,” he said. “People will not visit or relocate to Toledo if they do not feel safe.”
Wilkowski said the police department does not have adequate equipment to meet its needs.
“People within the department have told me that many police vehicles are barely operational,” he said. “We need to make sure that officers have safe equipment, and this needs to be factored into the budget. I have doubts that this has been the case in the past.”
On the city budget: The candidate said the budget process needs to be overhauled.
“The city charter has not been revised since 1918 with regard to the budget provisions,” he said. “Under the charter the mayor has until November 15 to put together a budget proposal for the following year. There is no way you can effectively put together a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, study it and hold public hearings between November 15 and January 1.”
On his top priorities: Wilkowski said his administration will have one immediate priority: jobs.
“My top priority is creating an environment in which businesses will want to locate in Toledo,” he said. “This campaign, more than anything else, is about jobs and the type of leadership that this city needs in order to attract employers.”
On the flurry of 2005 road construction projects in the city: Wilkowski questioned the sudden appearance of thousands of orange barrels in Toledo, which some citizens have suggested is a political ploy by Mayor Jack Ford to create the impression of a “busy” city government right before the primary election.
“I’d hate to think that road construction is being used for political purposes, but this is certainly poor planning,” he said. “Some people have jokingly said to me that we should amend the city charter to require a mayor’s race every year.”
Wilkowski said he was concerned about the long-term effects of the burst in construction activity.
“I have talked to people in city government who said that this sudden increase has put a tremendous burden on city employees to get so much done,” he said. “I can’t believe that it is possible to do as good of a job trying to get everything done at once, than if we had a rational, reasonable plan in place to replace roads over time.”
On his campaign style: Wilkowski said his unconventional campaign style represents more than trying to get the most mileage from his campaign funds.
“We should be trying to position Toledo as an exciting community where younger residents will want to move,” he said. “If nothing else, my campaign is breaking stereotypes about this city being a place where nothing happens.”
Update: Product Forwarding Corp: Campaign spokeswoman Jen Sorgenfrei said the campaign staff should have more thoroughly checked to make sure Gary Briggs’ Product Forwarding facility was vacant before Wilkowski held a press conference there and suggested it was an abandoned building, but added the situation turned into a positive for Wilkowski.
“After meeting with Keith, Mr. Briggs decided that Keith was the best candidate for mayor, and offered his endorsement,” she said.