Jumping through hoopsWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board of Community Relations (BCR) went without desks, computers, files and other office supplies for 39 days.
At a Nov. 2 Youth, Parks, Recreation & Community Relations committee hearing, the discussion centered on the lack of communication between Mayor Mike Bell’s office and the members of the BCR.
The focus was also on the missing furniture and other office supply items that were on an inventory prepared prior to Juanita Green’s retirement. When the office space that the BCR previously occupied was given to the law department, the items were dispersed.
BCR wanted its items back, but instead was offered $4,000 to buy new furniture for the office.
On Nov. 2, Bell said, “What I’m saying is, if you expect us to go down that list and find each one of those things, that’s not going to happen. I’m just going to tell you that straight up, that’s not going to happen. OK? But if you are talking about being able to make that office extremely functional for these people, including, uh, new furniture, whatever it takes to be able to make them feel as if they are comfortable where they’re at, we are prepared to do that.”
When pressed by BCR member Jewell Lightner as to why the items could not be returned, this verbal exchange took place between Bell, Lightner and Councilman Steve Steel:
Bell: To start up with, I didn’t create that list. I don’t know if the stuff ever existed.
Lightner: I believe Juanita Green.
Bell: I understand that.
Lightner: She gave the list to Mr. Herwat as part of her retirement.
Bell: OK, so if she submitted it, it must be so, is that what you are telling me?
Lightner: Along with Bill Stewart, I’m saying if she submitted it, it would most likely be accurate.
Bell: OK, and respectfully to you, I agree to disagree.
Steel: I would hope that you would hold off on determining the accuracy of this when you’ve said you haven’t seen it, so I wouldn’t.”
Bell: I’m just saying … to hold me accountable for a long list of — let’s just move forward to do what we need to be able to do to make this functional. That’s all I want to do as mayor.
The Bell administration submitted an ordinance to Toledo City Council that would have placed the BCR under the authority of Council instead of the mayor’s office. This was not something that the BCR supported. It was scheduled to be voted on at the Nov. 9 Council meeting, but was referred back to the administration, which means it’s not going to be voted on.
Councilman Tom Waniewski asked during “first call” on Nov. 9 how much the BCR was being given for new furniture and where the money was coming from. He was told the $4,000 was coming from the mayor’s budget. Bell said that if they moved the old furniture, they’d still have to buy new furniture, so they opted to give BCR the new furniture.
On Nov. 10 (day 40), the BCR had three new phones installed, two new computers installed and a few of the old items returned to its new space on the 21st floor of One Government Center.
Hoop houses were mentioned several times at a Nov. 9 Council meeting, with the City of Toledo set to give the Lucas County Improvement Corporation (LCIC) land that was a part of the former Doehler Jarvis location and access to EPA funding to clean the site.
The plan is for LCIC to partner with others to create an urban farming environment that would include hoop houses, which are a form of a greenhouse.
There was also previous discussion about fish farming as a possibility, with tilapia being raised there as well.
Councilman D. Michael Collins raised some concerns as to the feasibility of the project and the lack of experience by the LCIC in this area. He joined 11 members to vote for the land aspect but not the funding for the urban gardening to take root.
To quote Mayor Bell from Nov. 2, “Government doesn’t work as quickly maybe as some other places.”
That’s true — so perhaps there is still hope that one day the BCR will have a fully functioning office and tilapia will be jumping where a decrepit mess stands today.
Lisa Renee Ward operates the political blog GlassCityJungle.com.