Collins: City Council is not a rubber stamp for Mayor BellWritten by D. Michael Collins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Votes by a legislative body should be based on accurate information and due diligence.
Recently, questions of yet another instance where members of Toledo City Council were purposely given incorrect information came to light.
On Oct. 18, 2011, council was asked by the administration of Mayor Mike Bell to appropriate funding so that a derelict building located next to Scott High School could be demolished. The administration gave the impression that the city would hold the title to the property and that additional legislation would be needed beyond approving the demolition money for the title to be transferred to Toledo Public Schools (TPS).
While I supported the purpose of the legislation, I felt that the city should take the opportunity to get something in return for the funding and the title transfer. I suggested that the former Beverly Elementary School property be given to the City of Toledo and turned into green space for the neighborhood.
No action was taken on this suggestion that was first made at the Oct. 11, 2011, agenda review, so when it came up for a vote Oct. 18, 2011, I asked for the legislation to be held for two weeks. Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat stated on the Council record that the matter would be brought before Council again for the title transfer. On that assurance, I removed my request to hold the legislation and voted yes.
Later, in response to a Council referral seeking an update because legislation had not come before Council to transfer title, it was stated that the city did not hold title “Title holder of the 440 Winthrop site is the Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation (LCLRC). It is the LCLRC’s intent to recoup some of the costs of demolition with their transfer to TPS.”
Mindful of other recent problematic matters such as: vehicles being purchased for the use of the mayor’s office from funding approved for street sweepers and other necessary vehicles for the benefit of constituents; a shell game involving who would reimburse the city from donations collected for Navy Week; and paper games to make it look as if our deficit was lower through the transfer of money to the rainy day fund and several other scenarios, I wrote a letter to the mayor expressing my concerns.
The mayor’s response came a week later and did not address the concerns raised about the misinformation provided to bring about a vote on Oct. 18, 2011. He stated the purposeful misleading of Council was “much ado about nothing.” The mayor has tried to paint my due diligence efforts as mayoral ambitions or as obstructionism, suggesting that I am the only one who raises questions and therefore, the questions do not have merit.
I will continue to raise questions with or without the support of other members of Council. You can count on me to continue to bring valid concerns to the public’s attention, because you have a right to that information.
A legislative body should not be a rubber stamp. There are times when it should follow but there are also times when it should lead.
D. Michael Collins is the Toledo City Councilman for District 2. He is currently serving his second term of elected office. Email him at email@example.com.