Honest governmentWritten by Autumn Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your Jan. 13 article "Business as usual." It clearly expressed what many East Toledoans have been saying about the current band of Downtown politicians.
In our attempt to find the truth about how the sports arena ended up Downtown, we have been able to put together some accounts of what took place at secret meetings. While our list of grievances entangles many, Lucas County commissioners Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Pete Gerken are the main reasons why we have become political watchdogs.
Outside of fraud, conspiracy and the failure of Lucas County and the City of Toledo to protect our Constitutional voting rights, East Toledoans probably would not have questioned motives. However, 24,258 missing votes from the 2001 election caught our attention fast. Relocating the arena Downtown was never on the original ballot. Hockey fans knew that Toledo did not have the money to build the new arena when we voted. We were perfectly happy enjoying games at the old arena until the new arena could be built.
Unfortunately, commissioners Skeldon Wozniak and Gerken without any consent or authorization from Toledo voters announced that the new arena was being built Downtown. Months earlier, secret meetings were held (outside Toledo) to discuss ways to maneuver ballot word meanings to suit Downtown interest. In the long run, what these co-conspirators did was to void the 2001 election results. Together with elected officials, a cover up was set in place to aid lobbyists, consultants, developers and Downtown special interest groups/people. They all wanted a piece of taxpayers’ dollars. We already know that developer Larry Dillin was given 50 or 60 acres of prime real estate in the Marina District, given $10 million from taxpayers, paid $65,000 by City Council and paid another $8,500 a month for his services. Just to make sure that his company gets their share of taxpayers’ dollars, they will receive 4 percent of the sale price of the commercial land and the right to refuse to develop waterfront land where the Sports Arena once stood. That certainty is a nice contract for someone who has changed his plans twice. His latest idea is to build something called row houses for East Toledoans to enjoy.
In closing, I think you have the picture on our ongoing attempt to bring honesty back in government. Destroying East Toledo’s economy and the loss of hundreds of Sports Arena jobs by relocating the arena Downtown only brings contempt. An East Toledo voter backlash has already begun. You will note the recent defeat of commissioner Skeldon Wozniak’s cousin, Marty, in District 5, along with the poor showing of Mike White in the race for Oregon City Council. We cannot take all the credit, but it certainly helps having family, friends and Storm hockey fans living in these districts.
SAM TARSHA, president
East Toledoans for an Honest Government
As UT students back in the late 1970s, my wife and I had the good fortune of going to Rockets basketball games during Bobby Nichols’ successful years as head coach. Coach Nichols and the talented players he recruited, including Steve Mix, Tom Kozelko, Dick Miller, Jay Lehman, Tim Selgo and current UT Coach Stan Joplin, helped build a winning tradition that instilled a tremendous sense of pride in UT Basketball throughout the Toledo community.
During his successful 22-year coaching career at UT (1965-87), Bobby Nichols registered 376 victories including the victory over Bobby Knight and his reigning NCAA Champs, Indiana, in 1976 to open Centennial Hall, won five Mid-American Conference Championships and led the Rockets to five postseason appearances. Who will ever forget the Rockets’ stunning upset of Lute Olson’s Big Ten Champion Iowa Hawkeyes in the 1979 NCAA Tournament?
It is high time that the university formally recognize the accomplishments of Coach Nichols. I would like to suggest that the university honor its greatest men’s basketball coach by naming the basketball floor at the newly renovated Savage Hall "Bobby Nichols Court." What a great thing it would be to begin the new era of Toledo basketball at the beautiful, new Savage Hall by celebrating the past and the man who put University of Toledo Basketball on the national map in the first place. I really hope that the university will consider honoring Coach Nichols in this way..
UT Class of 1983
In your January 20, 2008 edition you published a guest column from Steven Flagg attacking the Toledo Federation of Teachers, partially based upon articles your newspaper ran the previous week. I would like to confront these charges.
Your articles proved nothing unusual. All unions give money to candidates. Unions tend to give money mostly to Democratic candidates. Democratic candidates donate money to each other. Your "investigative journalism" proved that TFT acts like most unions, and that local Democrats also act in the usual way. Wow! Great job! Who would have known? By the way, did you know that TFT endorsed and gave money to George Sarantou, whom you interviewed as the "other side" of this issue, I presume because George is a Republican? Did you bother to investigate the other TPS unions? Did you think to investigate the AFSCME unions? What about the influence The Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel (TAAP) has had? TAAP is currently affiliated with the gigantic, highly effective United Auto Workers. Talk about political clout!
Only TAAP got its members the [meager] 1.48% salary increase of five years ago. TFT was to get this as a catch-up raise. One of the board members who turned down the fact-finder’s report at that time, called turning the TFT raise down a, "No brainer." His campaign had been run by the person who was TFT’s political action person then. Wow! What influence TFT had! How close is TAAP’s leadership to current TPS Board member Darlene Fisher and to the TPS Superintendent? How close is Mr. Flagg to Darlene Fisher and TAAP leadership? These are all questions you failed to investigate.
Mr. Flagg writes about TFT "controlling" both sides of the negotiating table. I guess that’s why TFT members have gone 5 years without a salary increase. That’s why TFT members have had an actual pay decrease, since TFT last negotiated that we would pay more into our health care fund and get less take-home pay as a result, to help with a budget deficit that never materialized! What control? This is not the first time TFT has had a majority of the school board members who were endorsed by, and received financial support from, TFT. And it has earned our members less than zero over the last five years!
The bigger question is: how can TPS attract new teachers to Toledo when our salary schedule is behind every major city in Ohio and all of the surrounding school districts? TPS has the highest standards in the nation for obtaining and keeping a teaching job. We can’t attract the people who will take my job and those of my contemporaries as we retire, if we don’t have a competitive salary schedule, while we continue to demand a higher level of skills and more accountability.
Finally, I want to address the concern Mr. Flagg and others have for suspended students. Where is their concern for the majority of TPS students who deserve to have an orderly learning environment? TPS loses many more students with caring parents and who are fed up with the coddling of constantly disruptive, sometimes dangerous, students, than we do students who are disruptive or dangerous. Above all, rational parents want their children to be safe. Teachers will not apologize for our deep commitment to the safety of our students!
The safety of the majority of TPS students must always be the number one priority of TPS. But not if Mr. Flagg has his way!
I’ll compare my 31+ years in the classroom to Mr. Flagg’s "12+ years as an educational activist" any time. Mr. Flagg ought to try teaching in a TPS school. I wonder if he would last a full day?
DALE PERTCHECK, Toledo