51 percentWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
During his mayoral campaign, Mike Bell often referred to Toledo as a “sinking ship.” Attention needed to be paid to the economic fundamentals, Bell argued, not rearranging deck chairs.
So it was historically appropriate that on April 15, the exact 99-year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, Bell called a news conference to announce that a deal to sell the Marina District had struck an iceberg in the form of Toledo City Council.
Dashing Pacific, the Chinese-based company that recently purchased The Docks, offered $3.8 million for the Marina District, which has sat empty and undeveloped for a decade. Dashing Pacific did not ask for any tax breaks or city money. The company simply offered to buy and develop the property in what should have been a promising transaction.
Instead of welcoming the investment and finding ways to cooperate with Bell and Dashing Pacific, some Council members made odd demands and carried themselves as if they were doing the company a favor by deigning to sell the land.
Steve Steel spoke condescendingly to Mayor Bell, objecting that Dashing Pacific is “12 time zones away and we don’t know anything about their track record.”
We know their check for The Docks cleared. We know they are the only global concern to step up and try to help revitalize Toledo.
Lindsay Webb, whose political standing has fallen dramatically in the past few months, seemed more interested in imposing “restrictive covenants” and in parroting a Blade editorial than expressing her own thoughts.
Most curiously, the normally reliable and thoughtful D. Michael Collins clouded the issue with these comments: “I would expect that the prospective purchaser provide within the instrument of purchase, a complete business plan — defining schedules, financing, marketing and all of those essentials that would be required under a business plan for a conventional loan.”
This is incongruent, of course, as there was nothing resembling a loan in the transaction.
Collins also suggested that if 51 percent of the business plan were not complete within two years, the property would revert to Toledo for $2 million. Given the variables in development and construction, such a proposal is nothing less than obtructionist and nonsensical.
But the 51 percent number could have some useful application. Perhaps City Council members should be held accountable for at least 51 percent of their campaign promises. Perhaps voters should look back on 51 percent of the resolutions, votes and actions taken by Council and prepare a list of items to be discussed as each seat is up for re-election.
Titanic was sunk by only the smallest portion of the iceberg it struck; while there is faith that Mayor Bell will be able to salvage the Dashing Pacific deal for the Marina District, it is the 51 percent number that will resonate from this conflict.
It’s appropriate, as 51 percent symbolizes the half-assed effort Toledo City Council has devoted to this transaction.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.