Higgins: Naughty and nice: Toledo City Council’s Christmas listWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to a postal mix-up, I have been receiving letters originally directed to another overweight guy with a white beard. Unlike “Miracle of 34th Street,” these deliveries do not, however, constitute irrefutable proof that I’m the one, the only … well, you know. I did receive a pleasant note from the real big guy though, after forwarding these efforts on to him. (We often visit near year’s end to compare diet goals and white beard grooming tricks). He said that if any of them seemed amusing, I had permission to use them.
I have been looking at a stack of letters I purposely set aside — Santa letters sent by and on behalf of members of Toledo’s government.
A membership to Toastmasters was on a list for Councilman Phil Copeland. Evidently an improvement in public speaking skills is seen not only as a gift to Mr. Copeland’s future in politics as Lucas County Recorder, where he will have to speak for an entire agency, but also a gift in time and translation for the local media and his co-workers, no matter what capacity he serves in.
Speaking of enhancements, there were requests for Santa to bring Councilman Steve Steel a gift certificate for self-defense lessons. I guess many still feel that if he’s going to insist on fighting outside of his weight class, giving him the gift of some martial arts techniques (maybe even ninja skills) might come in handy. There was likewise no shock over requests for adding the book “Basic Debate, Student Edition” to his stocking.
Speaking of books and stockings, there were letters to put a special copy of the Toledo City Charter in Councilman Tyrone Riley’s fireplace-hung footwear. It would be special because Santa would ensure that areas regarding conflict of interest and abstaining in a vote of council were highlighted.
There were a number of requests for a gift for Tom Waniewski as well. Santa has been asked to deliver a few more people with math skills and common sense to join him on Council. Apparently the hope in such a gift is to slow down the juggernaut of regulation, taxation and funding allocation that seems to be running rampant through Council these days. Mr. Waniewski is a Republican, however, and has therefore been on the Naughty List for some time. Despite putting a good word in for him in my North Pole missive, it’s likely he’ll see little beyond a lump of coal.
Many thought that D. Michael Collins had received his present from Santa early, when media nemesis Brian Wilson left the airwaves at 1370 WSPD. Apparently, this was not the only item on his list. My favorites were a Junior Detective Kit for his investigations and a spotlight that could be mounted in council chambers to shine on him whenever he speaks.
Speaking of multiple requests and multiple gifts, there is evidently a groundswell effort using missives to Santa to get Lindsay Webb a whole park. Evidently the thought is that if she had a park of her own, named after her, and with night basketball and swimming programs going on there year-round, she’d leave the rest of the city alone. The word I heard from the North Pole is that you have to be really nice to get such a special gift, and that Councilwoman Webb has been, at best, substantially compliant.
Young Councilman Adam Martinez is also someone who has multiple item requests to Santa. The first is for a really good day planner under his tree. Having missed several Council meetings in 2012 after missing 19 in 2011, I guess he or someone on his behalf figured a better way of tracking his schedule might be of benefit.
Councilman George Sarantou is asking for one of those Charles Atlas kits that you used to see in the comic books. A longtime member of City Council who is about to be term-limited out, Mr. Sarantou has run for higher office more than once, and each time had a bit of sand kicked in his face. Considered a 97-pound weakling, mostly because of his affiliation with a county Republican Party that weighs even less, this latest soul-sucking loss to a far less qualified candidate in Councilman Phil Copeland for the County Recorder’s office was apparently the last straw in sending off the request. Expect Councilman Sarantou to do a lot of heavy lifting before announcing another effort for higher office.
The most interesting of the letters that I saw was from Councilwoman Paula Hicks-Hudson. It seems that she was sent Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak and has had a heck of a time getting anyone to notice her ever since. She was writing to the North Pole to ask why she had been sent the cloak in the first place, and if it might be possible for Santa to take it back without holding it against her. There are rumors (and I’m not saying about who) that certain members of Council sent letters to Santa on her behalf, as they were unwilling to share the limited limelight of Council meetings with her.
The letters for Councilman Rob Ludeman were rather unique. He has been on City Council for a long time and was even president for a while, but Mr. Ludeman has seemed inconsistent over the years, sometimes seeming like a Republican and sometimes like a Democrat. This voting record seems to have left the Councilman (much like the local Republican Party that endorses him) stuck on the political Island of Misfit Toys from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Unlike “Survivor,” this made-for-TV island is one he wouldn’t mind some help from Santa in being voted off.
I looked for a letter to Santa mentioning Councilman Mike Craig, but couldn’t find one. Apparently when you are a former civil servant and now a public servant who has a strong family and union background, including service as a UAW union steward, there’s nothing that Santa can bring you that unions and the Lucas County Democratic Party can’t. There were rumors that Mr. Craig writes no letters because he found out that the elves refused to organize, but I haven’t been able to confirm that locally or at the North Pole.
Santa seems to have found only one request for City Council’s President Joe McNamara in the letters he’s received. While Mr. McNamara’s young political career seems as well-favored as anyone’s, he may be suffering from comparisons to another local Democratic politician of youthful appearance and legal training who once put his political stamp on Toledo. By now most of you realize that Mr. McNamara might in fact be suffering from “Konop Regional Antipathy Problems.” As it did for the original victim and long-time carrier, this condition can doom even the best political efforts of a candidate, no matter how well-intentioned the ideas or well-connected the family. Santa tells me that regardless of being on the Nice list (after all, he’s not an evil Republican), there may be problems even Santa can’t fix with a box and a bow.
Last, but not least, Mayor Mike Bell didn’t have a lot on his list this year, but there have been a couple of requests on his behalf to get the Ghostbusters in town to service One Government Center. Like Ebenezer in “A Christmas Carol,” the mayor may have been recently haunted by the spirits of former mayors Jack Ford and Carty Finkbeiner (both now asking Santa to put Mr. Ford in Phil Copeland’s soon-to-be-vacant Council seat).
These efforts are not so much hauntings, as attempted demonic possessions. There’s now concern that the fiscally conservative practices from early in Mr. Bell’s term have been taken over by the spendthrift “three-card monte” spending that his predecessors were famous for. I’m told that such things may be beyond even the ability of Santa, but that he’s at least trying to arrange a visit by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis for the pilot for their new reality show, “Celebrity Exorcism.”
Tim Higgins blogs at justblowingsmoke.blogspot.com.
Tags: Adam Martinez, Brian Wilson, Carty Finkbeiner, D. Michael Collins, George Sarantou, Jack Ford, Joe McNamara, Just Blowing Smoke, Lindsay Webb, Mike Bell, Paula Hicks-Hudson, Phil Copeland, Rob Ludeman, Steve Steel, Tim Higgins, Toledo City Council, Tom Waniewski, Tyrone Riley