2011 saw the end of Edward Drummond Libbey High School.
The school’s demolition was not planned without a fight. The main opposition to the demolition was the Libbey Preservation Committee, which proposed several alternatives to prevent knocking down the school, which started classes in 1923.
Among the ideas were using parts of Libbey for afterschool and GED programs, food and assistance programs, a voting site, a small manufacturing area, a computer training center, day care programs, a green technology site and vocational training.
Some opponents, such as activist Warren Woodberry, believed losing Libbey would have negative effects on the community.
“It’s an active community,” Woodberry said. “There are thousands of homes and you look left and right and there’s nothing to do. They are moving the Boys & Girls Club across Broadway by another school. They tore down the YMCA. The park has four swings. There are thousands of homes there and they have four swings. People have that in their backyard. There just was no logic there. The swimming pool has been closed for years. They are just begging kids to come out and join gangs.”
After two months of discussions, a plan emerged April 26 that had many hopeful that Libbey could be saved. Toledo Deputy Mayor of Operations Steve Herwat announced a proposal that could save Libbey’s field house, skills center and football stadium. The field house could be used as a site to host winter basketball youth games while the stadium had been discussed as a possible location to partner with the Mid-City Football League.
Saving those structures, however, hinged on Toledo giving Toledo Public Schools (TPS) a $1 million loan which would be used to install a heating and cooling system so that the field house could be used year-round. Toledo would then have to pay a nominal fee of $1 for the buildings.
Those plans fell through June 2, when the Toledo Mayor’s office revealed its “Cost Estimate Summary” which showed it would cost $5,056,899 to repair the building to make it ready for public use.
“The city had a plan and different ideas of what they would like to put in there,” TPS Board Vice President Lisa Sobecki said June 5. “They stepped up to the plate. They also had to go through their process. I fully understand how processes go and how much it costs to do things in older buildings.
“I do applaud them and appreciate the fact that they came to the table and wanted to take an opportunity to look at the building. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t work. Would I have hoped this would have worked out? Of course. But understanding our budget constraints within the school district and their budget constraints within the city, these just aren’t good times for anybody.”
That $5 million-plus total was the last nail in Libbey’s coffin. Demolition was scheduled to begin in the end of December but has been postponed until January due to utility issues.
Archive for December, 2011
2011 saw the end of Edward Drummond Libbey High School.
He pledged to run the mayor’s office without concern for his own re-election, and at the halfway point of his first term, Mike Bell has kept his word.
The mayor of Toledo rode a roller coaster in 2011, with the highs of luring unprecedented foreign investment to Toledo and the tumult of being a strong and often solo voice urging the passage of Issue 2, which supported Senate Bill 5’s stark reforms to the state’s collective bargaining laws.
“I’m left with few tools to correct the budget situation and keep city employees working to provide vital services,” Bell wrote in a late October Toledo Free Press guest column. “The state of the economy locally, in Ohio, and across the nation has put Toledo in the situation we, and other cities, are in. If Toledoans aren’t working and paying income taxes, then the city is going to have less revenue. This is the state of the economy and the current system in which we operate. Issue 2 will save jobs and allow us to continue operating the city without raising taxes. For those reasons, I support the reforms to collective bargaining.”
Issue 2 was resoundingly defeated, but it is expected that local unions will have a long memory when it comes to Bell’s stance.
I believe he is fine with that.
Unlike previous “strong mayors,” Bell is defiantly his own man, running his office consistently, even if his policies run contrary to public opinion. As progressive as many of his ideas are, Bell himself is a throwback to the quiet men of honor who refuse to lie to themselves, much less other people.
One of his greatest development triumphs has been the success of his trips to China.
Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., a group of Chinese investors, invested more than $5 million in the Toledo waterfront in 2011 with the purchase of The Docks restaurant development and property in the Marina District.
The Chinese investment in Toledo was the result of two visits to China by Bell and contingents from local government and business. Bell said foreign investment in China had spurred development there so the city was trying to spur development here with foreign investment.
It began early in 2011 when the Chinese investors purchased The Docks dining and entertainment complex and five adjacent acres of parking lots from the City of Toledo for $2.15 million. City officials reported the sale netted Toledo about $300,000.
Real estate developers were recruited to the area by Bell and his staff during and following his trips to China. That relationship eventually led to a much bigger investment in Toledo by those investors.
Dashing Pacific entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Toledo in February to purchase 69 acres of the Marina District for $3.8 million.
As he heads through 2012 and into the elections of 2013, Bell will ride high with the impact of the investments from Hollywood Casino Toledo and the Chrysler expansion.
Between now and then, there will undoubtedly be other opportunities for Bell to stand up — and if need be, stand alone — for what he believes is right. But Bell is a discerning collaborator, and that means that as he continues to make news, it should be largely positive and progressive. Regardless, Bell can be counted on to make news for reasons that make us proud — even when we don’t agree with him.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sylvania Schools Athletic Foundation announced plans in August for a massive renovation totaling $6.5 million of the athletic facilities of five Sylvania schools. Among the list of schools to receive renovation includes Northview and Southview High Schools and Arbor Hills, McCord and Timberstone junior high schools.
“This project is about kids,” Foundation Board Chairman John Ross said. “There are over 8,000 kids in Sylvania schools and to know that they will have an opportunity to compete, play and participate in great schools with great athletic facilities is really exciting.”
The Foundation plans to raise $4.5 million in private funds to finish the renovations and is seeking an additional $2 million to establish an endowment fund for Sylvania’s athletic and extracurricular activities. Their goal is to have all the upgrades finished by the end of 2012.
“It was a very successful 2011 for the Foundation,” Foundation Executive Director Jeanette Hrovatich said. “We were able to raise some significant dollars to complete the baseball and softball renovations.”
Northview is adding new field turf (for football and soccer), bleachers (for baseball, football and soccer) and field lights (for baseball and football). The school will also add an eight-lane, all-weather track-and-field events area, a ticket booth and a facility for concessions and restrooms.
Southview is putting in new field turf, bleachers, home stands and a press box for the football field, as well as portable stands for the band and a facility for concessions and restrooms. Southview also will add new bleachers for baseball and softball and additional soccer seating.
Northview and Southview will also add 32-foot scoreboards, which include a 10-foot-by-17-foot video screen and five different spaces to sell advertisements.
Arbor Hills and McCord will have their football fields upgraded to include irrigation and drainage as well as lights, an electronic scoreboard, a press box and an eight-lane track. Timberstone will receive mounding and screening for wind protection and fencing.
To fund the $6.5 million project, the foundation is not looking to for taxpayer money. Instead, it is turning to private donors to help with funding.
“When you look across the country, I see no one else attempting to do what we are doing in a district with two public high schools to raise private money to help keep these extracurriculars available for kids,” Ross said. “This is cutting-edge. Things are going to change in how schools are financed. The time to involve the private sector into this has come. It is going to be very successful and a new way to look at things.”
To donate and help the Sylvania Schools Athletic Foundation raise money for Northview and Southview high schools, as well as Arbor Hills, McCord and Timberstone junior high schools, visit www.SupportSylvaniaAthletics.com. The website offers options to donate through PayPal or by sending in a pledge card, which can be printed from a PDF online. You can also contact Hrovatich at (419) 824-8656. The foundation accepts donations of any amount; donation levels from as low as $10,000 and as high as $5 million include varying rewards and recognition.
Once a year or so, WUPW runs a contest to choose a spokesperson who will introduce shows, appear in ads and promote the station. The winner is dubbed “The Face of FOX Toledo.”
But someone who has had a legitimate claim to that title for 16 years is preparing to depart the Glass City. Laura Emerson, who has co-anchored FOX Toledo News since it began in 1996, has decided to leave the station.
Beginning in mid-January, Emerson will relocate to Paducah, Ky., where she will work for NBC affiliate WPSD.
“It’s one of the two dominant stations in that market,” Emerson said. “It’s a hyphenated market that includes Cape Girardeau, Mo. and part of southern Illinois. But it’s one of two stations gunning for No. 1.”
Emerson’s final decision to leave Toledo was a recent one — she made up her mind in mid-December — but she’d been considering the move for some time.
“I’ve missed for a while being in a full-service newsroom. We do two shows a day, and I’m proud of the product we put on at FOX Toledo, but my previous two TV stations had morning, noon, multiple night newscasts. And it is helpful to have more coverage throughout the day, and I’m kind of excited to get back to that sort of a newsroom,” she said.
“It’s going to be a newsroom that does four and a half hours a day, versus the one and a half we’re doing here, so it’s significantly more.”
So, she’s leaving to do even more work?
“We’ll have a lot more people, too,” she laughed, noting WPSD’s staff will be nearly twice the size of FOX Toledo’s. “There’s an advantage to keeping that 24-hour local news cycle going.”
Emerson said shaking things up in her career is an appealing idea.
“Sometimes you’re just excited about change, for the sake of newness. Change kinda wakes you up, and gets you excited about life again,” she said. “And while it’s a little bit stressful not to know what the new people are going to be like, or the new place I’m going to be living, I’m kinda excited about just change.”
There is no doubt Emerson is leaving a considerable vacancy behind at FOX Toledo, one that is already being felt by those who have worked with her.
“We were very fortunate to have her as long as we did,” said Shaun Hegarty, who has co-anchored FOX Toledo News with Emerson since 2006. “She’s been a rock at this place for several years. The viewers have come to know her, come to like what she does. It is a substantial loss, but the news business goes forward.”
The early days
Perhaps, but Emerson’s tenure leaves a significant set of shoes to fill. Her run as one of the most prominent faces of the area’s media began when the inaugural broadcast of FOX Toledo News — “Fox 36 News at 10” aired Jan. 28, 1996, following the Super Bowl.
“It was interesting being with a news operation from the very beginning, because you didn’t have anything to build upon,” Emerson said of the news department’s early days.
“You could invent whatever you could dream up. And it was exciting to be a part of building that.
“Since we didn’t have ratings to lose in the beginning, we were able to be a little experimental and try things that just sounded cool — some of which worked, some didn’t. But that was kind of a fun, creative place to be.”
She also noted the uphill battle the station’s news department has fought to gain respect in the community.
“I’m proud of the way we’ve positioned ourselves as a news operation. It’s kind of tough to be a Fox label in a Democrat town. Because sometimes when you’re out covering something political, people automatically assume you are Fox News Channel, which we are not,” she said. “We are a very moderate news operation. But sometimes, we’ve had to fight hard to convince various individuals and entities of that. But I’m proud that we’ve stood our ground and worked hard to get that point across and become accepted in the Toledo market as a news operation.”
Karl Rundgren, managing editor and co-anchor of FOX Toledo News from 2003-08, said Emerson was a strong on-air partner.
“Laura was a huge help when I first started anchoring at FOX Toledo,” he said. “I was figuring things out on live TV, and she was always incredibly patient with my mistakes. Before long, we developed a strong partnership where we could communicate to each other silently while still reading the news.
“Laura barely ever cracked up on camera, but I do remember one time that we both almost lost it. She was reading a story about a bizarre crook in lingerie who was robbing people, and actually talked about how he would ‘shake his man-breasts’ at the cops. We came back on camera, and I just turned and looked at her and said, ‘“Man-breasts,” huh?’ Then we both struggled to keep from breaking into peals of laughter. It just sounded so bizarre for the phrase ‘man-breasts’ to be read in her refined voice.”
Her time at FOX Toledo has also helped Emerson mature as a broadcaster, she said.
“[I’m] so much more confident, just from experience,” she said. “Knowing how to handle breaking news, lots of years of helping young reporters write stories, being a mentor, making decisions, becoming a senior person in a newsroom.”
How will she face the challenge of relocating to WPSD — going from the highest individual on the totem pole to starting over?
“I’m looking forward to it, because it really has been a long time that, you know, I’ve sort of been just part of the furniture, and everyone just sort of expected me to be here,” Emerson said with a laugh. “I’m not saying [they] took me for granted, I don’t want to say that, but just saw me as completely a part of the product.
“It’s really going to be invigorating to be the one who is learning again. I have to learn a different style, a different philosophy, different newsroom computer system. I think all of that is going to be, while a little challenging, very exciting.”
‘Care about your audience’
But that excitement comes tinged with some sadness as Emerson prepares to depart a station and community she’s worked so tirelessly for. “I’m proud of being a consistent presence that people could depend on — as a co-worker, as a person on the air, I’ve always been dependable, and you know what you’re gonna get if you know me,” she said.
“I’ve just been fortunate to work with a pro,” Hegarty said of Emerson. “I’ve been very lucky to have somebody in here who knows this business inside and out, somebody who can give me guidance when I need to, and help us to be a big player in a pinch. It’s not like I came in here working with a rookie. I came in here working with a pro, and not a lot of people can say they did that, and I did. And I’m lucky.”
Asked what she will miss about the city she is departing, Emerson said her passion for the Toledo arts community, the good friends she’s made and the giving spirit of the city’s residents.
“I’m hoping I can find some of that in my new home in Kentucky, but all communities are different. I’m not taking for granted what I’m leaving behind in Toledo. There’s a lot of good here,” she said.
On that note, Emerson had simple words of advice for whoever is chosen to take her place at Hegarty’s side:
“Please try to uphold good journalistic standards, and care about your audience every night. When you’re looking over copy, when you’re writing a story, just care about the audience. I believe in that as the No. 1 thing for journalists of all kinds. You need to care about your reader, you need to care about the people you’re writing for. And do a good job for them, in addition to doing it for you.”
It’s been a turbulent year for Andrew Zepeda.
After losing his job at 92.5 KISS FM in late 2010, the morning show host spent the first half of 2011 unemployed and stressing about when, where and how he might return to radio.
Since inking a deal in July for a morning radio show on 100.7 The Vibe, the last half of 2011 has gone much better.
“Andrew Z in the Morning: The People’s Show” debuted July 18 and airs weekdays from 6-10 a.m. The station recently began playing clips of the morning show along with some new content weekdays from 3-7 p.m. In addition, Zepeda has appeared on WNWO’s morning TV show and is in talks with the station to launch his own afternoon TV show as early as January.
“Things are going really well now. So much better,” Zepeda said. “I knew that we just had to get back on air … and show that the world isn’t going to fall in, people aren’t going to be picketing outside. I just needed someone to take a chance and put us on.
“Things are coming back around. It’s just mindblowing how quickly it’s happened. I thought it was going to take a lot longer. But we’re genuine. We really just wear our hearts on our sleeves and we just do it and people have accepted it. Just how quickly it’s happened has been a real surprise.”
“I feel like we’re the little station that could. We’re 86 watts; my wife’s hairdryer is 150 watts. It’s almost like we’re a Kia running in the Grand Prix. We’re so overperforming of what anyone expected. We’ve done this for six months now and we’ve hit our [projected advertising] budget or been above budget every month. It’s just been amazing.”
Scott Meier, general manager of the Toledo cluster of Cumulus Media radio stations, said he is happy with the show, especially the work ethic of Zepeda and the cast.
“It’s been going great. I think it’s an incredibly entertaining show,” Meier said. “I’ve worked with a lot of morning shows, some much larger than this one, and these guys work as hard as anyone I’ve ever worked with.”
Zepeda’s website had more than 1 million hits in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the station is hoping to increase the size of Zepeda’s broadcast area in the future, Meier said. Cumulus, which purchased Citadel Broadcasting Corp. in September, is now the second largest broadcast radio company in the country, behind Clear Channel.
Zepeda lost his job at KISS FM after pleading guilty in November 2010 to three felony charges, including theft, complicity to breaking and entering and failure to remit sales tax, in connection with an October 2010 break-in at his shuttered Perrysburg pizzeria.
On Feb. 4, Zepeda was granted an intervention in lieu of conviction and entered an intervention program for alcohol abuse, which he completed in May. All charges will be cleared from his record if he successfully completes his two-year supervision.
Zepeda’s comeback hit an early speed bump when, on July 29, less than two weeks after the debut of his new show, a Wood County judge found Zepeda had violated the terms of his intervention in lieu of conviction by entering establishments where alcohol is served. Judge Alan R. Mayberry scolded Zepeda for “thumbing his nose at the system,” but allowed him to continue with the intervention program, warning him another violation would result in a conviction, which could include incarceration.
“It’s frustrating,” Zepeda said. “Where do you go that doesn’t have alcohol? I’m basically on an old person’s schedule. I can go to Denny’s, I can go to Cracker Barrel, I can go to Bob Evans and I can go to fast food, and that’s pretty much it. My wife has to go out by herself. I can’t even take my kids to Chuck E. Cheese. But I think overall the judge has been very fair. I’m trying to be good just because I don’t want to give him any more headaches.”
His co-workers are also committed to keeping him out of trouble.
“Trust me, we’re like his babysitters,” said Jerry Pickering, aka “Avalanche.” “I mean, this is our job. You will make us lose our paycheck if you screw up.”
Zepeda said there will always be naysayers, but everyday Toledoans seem to enjoy the show.
“I’ve been here the shortest amount of time — six years. Everyone else was born and raised here. This show is Toledo and I think people realize that. This is not an elite town by any means and the average person, they love it,” Zepeda said. “They feel like they’re one of us. Everybody makes mistakes. I think they can relate to us.”
To watch or listen live, visit www.thevibetoledo.com or www.andrewzonline.com or download the TuneIn Radio app.
The 2010-11 UT women’s basketball team won the first postseason title in school history with a WNIT Championship.
“It was a great confidence builder to know that we can play with anyone and beat anyone,” Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop said.
The Rockets were undefeated at home, 22-7 overall and 14-2 in the Mid-American Conference last season including a 66-65 win at Bowling Green State University. Toledo ended the regular season with a win over Central Michigan to secure the MAC regular season title.
UT lost 51-46 to Eastern Michigan in the semifinals of the conference tournament, ending the team’s goal of making the NCAA Tournament. The Rockets accepted a bid to the WNIT for the second straight year and hosted Delaware in the opening round.
Despite 6-foot-5 forward Elena Della Donne scoring 31 points for Delaware, the Rockets advanced with a 58-55 victory, led by 14 points and nine rebounds off the bench from center Yolanda Richardson. Richardson led the Rockets again in the second round with 20 points and eight rebounds in a 67-52 win over Auburn. In the third round, UT beat Alabama 74-59.
The Rockets narrowly escaped the quarterfinals with a 71-68 win in overtime against Syracuse. Toledo cruised into the championship game with an 83-60 blowout of Charlotte as all five starters scored in double figures.
Naama Shafir dominated offensively in the title game with 40 points against USC in front of a MAC-record attendance of 7,301. The Trojans cut the lead to 70-66 with 36 seconds to go, but Shafir made six free throws down the stretch for a 76-68 win.
“It was an amazing performance,” Cullop said. “It is probably one of the most special individual performances I’ve seen.”
The performance earned Shafir Tournament MVP honors as she was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Richardson.
The experience the Rockets gained in the WNIT will be crucial to Toledo’s success this season with Shafir out for the year after tearing the ACL in her right knee Nov. 25 at Indiana. The Rockets are 3-3 since losing Shafir and 6-4 overall this season.
“You look at all these things through different lenses,” Cullop said. “It was a blow to lose Naama. Now that we’re in this situation, we have to do the best we can with it.”
Unison Behavioral Health Group encourages local drivers to avoid getting behind the wheel “buzzed” as the holiday season concludes.
Unison is in its second year of the “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” campaign, sponsored for $55,000 per year by the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Lucas County. The local chapter is part of a larger national campaign.
“Buzzed” is a common word for being mildly intoxicated when drinking or using drugs. “Buzzed driving is different for everyone, and it really depends on age, weight, height, the type of drinks you’re going to consume, and the hope is to make people aware that just one drink could be considered buzzed driving,” said Kitty Slight, Unison’s marketing manager. This year’s holiday campaign specifically focuses on men between 16-25 as they are at the highest risk.
One drink (1.25 ounces of 80-proof liquor, 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of table wine) for a 100 pound man or woman is enough to make him or her buzzed, according to a chart provided by Unison.
The holiday portion of the campaign kicked off in November, Slight said, because Thanksgiving typically has the most traffic fatalities out of any holiday.
“The holidays aren’t always a happy time for many people. People can feel stress for a lot of reasons that can lead to drinking,” Slight said.
The campaign’s use of social media also makes it unique, she said. So far, the Facebook page has generated 2,900 views and the national campaign’s page had 12,166,922 impressions in 2010. Unison’s Facebook page also offers a sober pledge, which asks signers to always drive sober, not allow anyone they know to drive drunk and identify alternatives to driving home.
Students Against Drunk Driving at Cardinal Stritch High School often works with Unison to spread the message against buzzed driving. The chapter participated in a texting campaign that encouraged area students not to drive buzzed during the 2011 prom and graduation season. The holiday campaign also asks students to text “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” to each other, although not while driving, Slight noted, adding that young adults shouldn’t drink until they are 21.
Slight encouraged parents to talk to their children about drinking. “Studies still show parents have the most influence in their children’s lives,” she said. “Just because your kid is rolling their eyes or sighing doesn’t mean your message is falling on deaf ears.”
As New Year’s Eve approaches, Slight said it is important to plan a way home before going out and to use a designated driver or cab service. “It’s true for every day, not just Christmas and New Year’s,” she said, adding that if you see someone driving drunk, call 911.
Visit http://unisonbhg.org/Buzzed_Driving_16-21.asp to learn more.
An amendment passed into law in June allows communities to decide for themselves whether they want to remain part of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority system.
Perrysburg and Sylvania Township acted quickly on the amendment and will place a measure before voters in the March primary, giving them the power of voting out of the regional transit authority system. Rossford is also considering leaving the system, but its City Council recently postponed putting it to a vote, saying they wanted more time to develop an alternative transit plan first.
Previously, when one of the system’s nine subdivisions — Maumee, Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg, Rossford, Spencer Township, Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Toledo and Waterville — wanted to leave, the move had to be approved by the others. Perrysburg had attempted to leave in the past but was blocked from doing so by the other subdivisions.
The amendment was authored by Republican Randy Gardner, a state representative of Wood County’s 6th District, who said the issue is about freedom of choice.
“All along, this has never been about TARTA,” Gardner said. “This has been about voters’ rights and about the freedom for communities to decide whether or not they would like to try to improve their transportation services in another way. The law is pretty much working as it was intended. It has allowed at least for city councils and township trustees to have a discussion with their communities about the future, about what’s best for the people they serve.”
Perrysburg Mayor Nelson Evans said his city’s residents are paying about $1.5 million annually to be involved with TARTA, despite Perrysburg voters rejecting TARTA’s last two levy requests.
“If we’re going to be taxed for a service, especially if we’re unhappy with that service, then we want to be able to say whether we want to be part of that service or not,” Evans said. “Part of the fatal flaw of this transportation system is the fact that we’re stuck there unless all the people say we can get out.”
Evans said demographics of the subdivisions involved have shifted in the past several decades from when TARTA’s system of organization was developed.
“From what people are telling me, they’re tired of seeing these empty buses driving around town with nobody in them,” he said. “As demographics have changed over the years, people (here) just don’t use it as much.”
Evans said Perrysburg City Council members are exploring TARTA alternatives should voters decide to opt out of the system, committing to offer a substitute transportation system on the November ballot if needed.
TARTA general manager Jim Gee has publicly spoken out against the amendment, which he says will be a detriment to riders who depend on the service.
“It’s certainly within the voters’ rights to (opt out), but I think if a community does that, it really has a negative effect on the residents within that community who rely on public transit,” Gee said. “It also has a negative effect on citizens from outside that community who need to get to that location for jobs and services.”
And while Gee said the population most utilizing TARTA remains in Toledo, he believes the impact of subdivisions leaving will have an impact on the suburbs.
“We do see a lot of folks going to Perrysburg and Sylvania Township, especially with suburban job growth,” Gee said. “There are a lot of jobs in the suburban fringe, especially service jobs. There would be a financial impact (from subdivisions leaving TARTA), but the financial impact is not that great, because when a community opts out, service to that community stops. The bigger impact is a social impact, because our passengers will no longer be able to move between communities like they can now.”
The year 2011 began with great expectations by local UAW workers for the anticipated expansion of the Toledo Assembly Complex (TAC) by Chrysler Group LLC.
Chrysler met those expectations with the Nov. 16 announcement of plans for a $500 million investment in the production facility that would add 1,105 new jobs at the Toledo North Assembly plant.
That investment includes expanding the plant with a 260,000-square-foot addition to the existing body shop and adding a metrology center. Upon completion of that expansion, a second shift would be added in the third quarter of 2013 with about 1,100 new jobs.
Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne announced the company will invest a total of $1.7 billion to support the development and production of the next generation Jeep D-segment sport utility vehicle. It would replace the Jeep Liberty currently being built at the North Assembly plant.
“This announcement further demonstrates our commitment to the special relationship that Chrysler and the City of Toledo have shared. This decision clearly demonstrates the confidence we have in the Toledo Assembly Complex, its future and the commitment and quality of work of the people who work here,” Marchionne said at the announcement ceremonies at the plant.
“We are proud to add a new chapter to our relationship with the City of Toledo, Lucas County and State of Ohio. I have no doubt that Toledo will be a key piece in the mosaic of the future organization.”
On Dec. 16, Chrysler concluded production of the Dodge Nitro, which accounted for 13 percent of the production at the North Assembly plant. The plant will continue to produce the Jeep Liberty until the new SUV begins production in 2013.
The TAC employs 2,600 employees, according to Chrysler and the UAW. It includes the Toledo Supplier Park, where Jeep Wranglers are produced.
The Supplier Park has been working two 10-hour shifts six days a week to meet continued demand for the Jeep Wrangler models.
Both TAC plants are working overtime to keep up with demand for the models produced there. One shift remained at each plant Dec. 27-30, according to a spokesperson for Chrysler. Those plants are usually shut down during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
“We celebrate a very bright future for this facility and the people who work here. Today, we begin the next chapter in Toledo,” Mauro Pino, plant manager of the TAC, said Nov. 16.
“It’s a big day for our members who have been working so hard and deserve it. We take great pride in the job we do here,” said Bruce Baumhower, president of UAW Local 12.
Marchionne confirmed in January 2011 that Chrysler was considering a possible investment in the TAC, but Chrysler’s plans for expansion of the TAC were not announced until all local and state incentives were finalized and a new four-year contract with the UAW was ratified.
The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) approved $10 million in tax credits and more than $2 million in grants for work force training and new equipment that would create 1,110 new jobs and retain 1,700 existing jobs at the TAC.
The state incentives support Chrysler’s $365 million in the TAC and an additional $72 million for expansion of the Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg Township. The ODOD approved $3.3 million in tax credits and $850,000 in grants for worker training and equipment at the machining plant.
Toledo City Council approved a Municipal Job Creation Tax Credit of 40 percent for 10 years Oct. 4 based on the creation of 1,105 jobs at the Toledo North Assembly plant.
The city committed to expediting approvals of all building permits during the design and construction phases of the expansion and will waive all fees for those services, valued at $158,670. The Department of Inspection will collaborate with Chrysler’s design team to coordinate all fire and code variances and inspections.
Tax abatements for Chrysler on the proposed expansion were approved by Toledo Public Schools and Washington Local Schools.
Ohio Senate Bill 5 was signed into law March 31. Alarmed by the law’s alleged restrictions on collective bargaining, opponents launched a successful drive to put it on the November ballot. Although this tactic was certainly to be preferred over stacking the state Supreme Court through election of a prejudiced justice, as unions attempted to do in response to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s reining in of public employee unions, the nature of the campaign was scarcely more honorable.
The “No on Issue 2” campaign was marked by falsehood and fear-mongering. Websites and advertisements were clearly misleading. For example, they claimed that SB5 restricted emergency personnel’s ability to negotiate for equipment and training, and nurses’ ability to negotiate for adequate staffing levels. An honest reading of the law exposes both claims to be lies; in fact, in the latter case, nurses didn’t have that right in the first place. Nor did SB5 ban or restrict collective bargaining, as was so often claimed. The opponents falsely accused advocates of blaming public employees for governmental fiscal woes — as if public workers were passing the spending laws that caused the problems.
Some Issue 2 advocates were not much better, preferring unfair clichés about “union thugs and slugs” to the issues of the law and the deceitful opposition to it. The advocates were also out-organized, understaffed and underfunded. Most critically, they were far too slow in making their case; the opponents seized the early momentum and never came close to losing it.
Much of that advantage was due to another deceit. “We are Ohio,” the primary opposition group, was mostly funded from outside Ohio, particularly by Big Labor interests in Washington, D.C. They also utilized We-are-not-Ohio spokespeople from out of state.
The involvement of Big Labor in the campaign was certainly to be expected, given the stake it had in the outcome. After all, if the issue carried, unions stood to lose power, prestige and income, so they were protecting their interests — which is precisely what Big Labor and its progressive backers condemn business lobbies for doing.
In a column written for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Dan Tokaji, professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, asserted that Issue 2’s defeat was significant because it protected labor’s political influence. And that’s precisely the problem: Public sector unions have undue influence over the politicians who pay their members. Give us what we want, they say, and we’ll work our cans off to keep you in power. Deny us, and you’re done.
So the politicians keep the public union gravy train rolling in order to win re-election; and when the chickens come home to roost, as they have now, the economy and the taxpayer get dumped in the straw on the coop’s floor.
Tokaji also called union lobbying “the only counterbalancing force to corporate political influence” and said that “eviscerating” this “main counterweight to corporate campaign spending” would be “ … anathema to a society that’s ostensibly committed to the principle of one person, one vote.”
This is nonsense.
Very rarely does Big Labor give a whit about the economic or political interests of anyone other than its own. Moreover, Big Labor’s commitment to dishonest political campaigns, higher taxes, and continued government expansion (read: more public union members), among other evils, is itself anathema to our founding principles.
Something has to be done. Overly generous handouts to public employee unions are not sustainable. Increased spending of any kind is affordable only when revenue increases more than spending. But the increasing tax revenues needed to underwrite increased public employee benefits no longer exist, thanks in no small part to the economic policies of the very politicians who gave away the store in the first place.
Either expenses must be cut, or tax revenue must increase to cover them. But higher taxes impede the economic activity that is taxed. Raise taxes, and the economy slows even further, causing even more of a shortfall, especially if expenses aren’t reduced — and Issue 2’s defeat eliminated a means of cutting government costs.
Cut taxes and get the government boot off the throat of business, and watch the tax revenues pour in. That’s what happened following the Bush tax cut of 2003 — tax rates were reduced, and taxable income grew such that the federal deficit was cut in half from 2004 through 2007. But union-backed progressive politicians, such as those who won control of Congress in 2008, would rather swim in acid than do that.
So where do we go from here? The state legislature intends to reintroduce elements of SB5 as independent bills. But the unions will have to face an even bigger bogeyman that now looms on the horizon: right to work.
Thomas Berry, for the Children of Liberty, www.meetup.com/The-children-of-liberty/.