Crystal balling 2010’s newsmakersWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer scientist Alan Kay’s observation that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it” provides strong connective tissue for the people most likely to make and shape Toledo news in 2010.
Toledo has long been victim to a “hotbed of mediocrity” mindset in which people go with the flow and allow events to happen instead of taking control and driving. It is easier to sit back and let the wheels roll, to allow life’s many distractions to keep one’s mind preoccupied. But it is far more honorable to step up and contribute; not everyone can lead, but not everyone has to blindly follow.
Our 2010 Newsmakers are people who are taking control and doing what they can to move the city forward, to break out of the stagnant and complacent herd mentality far too many people allow to rule their lives.
The Newsmaker description certainly fits incoming mayor Mike Bell. Bell has made some savvy and bold choices in his transition team and administration; there is particular admiration for his choice of Dean Monske as deputy mayor for external affairs, an economic development position. Monske, leaving his post at the Regional Growth Partnership, is a direct, fiercely intelligent man who understands context and big-picture thinking. Bell has also scored with the appointment of Tom Crothers as director of public utilities; Crothers’ work with the Downtown Toledo Improvement District shows he is a coalition builder and strong manager of resources.
In coming up with a broad stroke list of potential newsmakers, there is an obvious list of elected leaders. You can be sure you will hear from Lucas County Commissioners Pete Gerken, Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Ben Konop, who faces re-election this year. After a less-than-world-beating showing in the mayoral election, Konop seems vulnerable, but he has a penchant for keeping himself public with causes both honorable (Children’s Wonderland) and suspect (piling on Dog Warden Tom Skeldon even after he announced his retirement).
On Toledo City Council, buzz has president Joe McNamara potentially losing his seat to Mike Craig, but if so, that’s not based on performance; McNamara has done his job well and deserves to maintain the reins if he wants them. Councilman Steve Steel is profiled in this issue as 2010 Newsmaker, as someone who seems to inspire kicks and kudos in equal measure. Newcomer Adam Martinez will attempt to make his mark in a climate of budget crisis and economic challenge.
In TPS school board news, the most prominent name you hear may be Dan Burns, who is at the center of investigations involving fund misappropriation. When Superintendent John Foley steps down, his replacement will have plenty of financial and public relations issues to sort through.
Our cover story on Jeff Simpson’s attempt to assume command of the Lucas County GOP guarantees his status as a newsmaker, but that doesn’t mean his predecessor will vanish. In addition to the undoubted legal battles Jon Stainbrook will initiate, he could find himself in the headlines as Lucas and Cuyahoga County prosecutors investigate alleged signature fraud and other campaign finance issues that took place on his watch.
In economic development, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority President Paul Toth will be busy managing the port, airport and other holdings. Xunlight: CEO Xunming Deng and Norm Johnston of Solar Cells and Solar Fields will continue to draw international attention to our region for their work in alternative energy. Destination Toledo President David Nolan will work on branding and tourism issues.
In health care, as the nation moves toward who knows what legislative reforms, ProMedica CEO Randy Oostra and Mercy CEO Steve Mickus will be the leaders in interpretation and implementation.
In the art scene, Lucas County Arena GM Steve Miller will impact Downtown by booking concerts and shows. Nice get with Carrie Underwood, by the way. Paula Fullilove, the new director of the Truth Gallery, will contribute to the exhibit scene. Matt Fehr will make some noise this summer when his title track to the new “A Team” movie debuts. We do not yet know the name, but there will be a new director of the Toledo Museum of Art before the year is over. Robert Russ may yet get his proposed reality show off the ground and on the air.
As Toledo faces one of its toughest economic eras, the local philanthropic leaders will be asked to step up. This puts such men as Bill Kitson from United Way, Tim Yenrick from the Red Cross and Bill Sanford from Catholic Charities in the spotlight.
In sports, Mike O’Brien will run UT athletics with a new contract and promotion. Football coach Tim Beckman and basketball coaches Gene Cross and Tricia Cullop will lead the Rockets to victorious headlines.
In media, it will be an interesting year. Clear Channel GM Andy Stuart is flexing his stations’ muscles on the political scene. The Blade is facing labor negotiations and continued challenges to its dominance, not the least of which is from Stuart.
A year from now, we will be talking about these people and many others; undoubtedly, people living in blissful obscurity today will find themselves YouTubed into stardom as the year marches on.
And who knows; Toledo Free Press may even have some headline-making news of its own in 2010.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.