All is forgiven (but just this once)Written by Jim Harpen | | email@example.com
OK Toledo. 18% of you voted in the primary (high-five). 82% of you sat on your disinterested, uninformed duffs and didn’t think it was important (five-finger wrap on your knuckles). Fortunately, and strangely, the outcome was probably the same as though 100% of you took five minutes out of your busy lives and stopped by your neighborhood polling station to let our next elected officials know you care, and that you’ll be watching. You see, Toledo, there’s a lot you should be watching. The political state of things here in T-town can be summed-up in one word: Weird. Maybe it’s that things have been so weird for so long, you just don’t recognize it. You’ve been walking around with this political pebble in your shoe for so long you don’t even know you’re suffering political agony. Considering that, you of the 82-percent are forgiven – but just this once. Here are a few reminders of just how weird things are here, and this is just the recent stuff. If this doesn’t prompt you to pay attention and care enough to vote in November, just pack up, move to Bono and wile your days away swatting at mayflies.
• The city is still facing a $7.5 million dollar deficit for 2009. And now we learn that Carty himself is predicting he’ll hand the keys to the city to our next mayor with a $25-million deficit on the horizon if we continue to follow the path mayor & council have forged. Today we’re not any closer to closing that seven and a half million dollar gap, nor figuring out what the hell we’ll do to stay out of the red next year. We’ve gotten so used to nothing productive happening at Government Center that we hardly notice anymore. That’s weird.
• Our current mayor recommended and our current city council approved spending 12-million dollars we don’t have for new garbage trucks so our current Teamsters garbage collectors could keep their jobs. Never mind that a private company made a proposal to take over trash collection that would have saved us taxpayers that $12-million on the trucks, and another $3-million a year in operations. Never mind that a mutually agreed-upon arbitrator looked at the facts, and ruled that the only way to save our taxpayer dollars was to go with the private company. Our elected officials did what the union wanted and are now wasting our money. That’s weird.
• Toledo City Council is getting downright petty. The mayor wanted to appoint attorney Jim Tuschman, one of the sharpest guys in town, to the Port Authority Board. But council said no. Never mind that council has waved-through Carty appointees of much lesser quality. Tuschman was Carty’s latest recommendation and council didn’t want to give Finkbeiner the satisfaction. That’s petty. And that’s weird.
• Carty proudly announced last March he and his subordinates were going to take big pay cuts to help deal with the city’s budget deficit. It looked like such an honorable act of martyrdom. Then he quietly and conveniently started paying himself and his subordinates full pay again, figuring –OH!- nobody would notice. He was nearly right. That’s weird.
• And more about this act of mayoral martyrdom: Carty’s excuse for quietly restoring himself to full pay is that he incurred overwhelming legal expenses fighting the recall effort to oust him. Remember, he wasn’t fighting to keep his job. Finkbeiner was fighting the effort to give us a choice about him keeping his job. He was fighting to keep that choice off the ballot where we could decide. He was fighting facing the will of the people. And worse, we’re paying for his battle because we pay the mayor. That’s weird.
By nature I’m a pretty polite guy, but I’m tired of being polite. Next January we get a new mayor and a partially new city council. Invariably some people will complain about what the new mayor and council do. When I hear those complaints, I’ll ask the complainant if they voted in November. If the answer is no, my response is going to be swift and severe: “Then shut your damned mouth.”