Pounds: Decisions, decisionsWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
The debate about naming a Downtown intersection after “gay icon” Joe Wicks was more than a conversation about how to honor Toledo’s citizens; it was a test of the Downtown business community’s ability to organize and exert influence on the political process.
It often seems as if local government follows the whims of its individual officials instead of the guidance of the people whose money and lives dictate the fortunes of the city.
In this case, Steve Steel’s seemingly innocuous proposal to name an intersection after the late owner of Caesars Show Bar caused Downtown business owners to respond with a flurry of emails, mostly protesting the manner in which they felt Wicks conducted business and the state in which he left his property. There was only one email in the first two dozen that used what I would describe as insensitive language, but the vast majority of comments were strictly business and community oriented. I do not have insight into the hearts and minds of every person who wrote an email, but I know many of them, and I believe their shared concerns transcended sexual identity politics.
It is appreciated that Steel recognized the Downtown business community’s concerns and responded by tabling the motion. With advocate Lair Scott involved, it is unlikely this discussion is closed, but there is no doubt Council will now implement a process for naming intersections that will help circumvent future controversies.
Another big decision was introduced this week with the announcement that Toledo Public Schools (TPS) is seeking a 6.9-mill levy on the November ballot. There is a lot of time to study, challenge and understand the proposal, but one issue will be difficult to overcome: The levy is “continuing,” which means permanent. No matter how much we support TPS and understand the critical needs of its mission, no matter how desperately we seek improvement in the components of education that make our community viable, we are uncomfortable endorsing any levy, for any institution, that is permanent. Is it our place to saddle the next several generations with a levy they have no say in and for which TPS has no ballot box accountability?
It’s too early to make the call on the TPS levy, but it will take a lot of work to convince enough voters that a permanent levy is the solution.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.