The issue? Eminent Domain for Southwyck Mall. (For complete background, read this, this and this.)
If you're not familiar with Toledo politicians - or even if you are - you might be surprised to learn who said the following:
"...eminent domain is a tool the City of Toledo can use to get Bill Dillard and Buddy Hering, who own parcels at Southwyck, to complete the deal with Larry Dillin, president of Dillin Corporation."- Toledo Free Press
“They [the owners of Southwyck] have a history of not cooperating and running Southwyck Mall into the ground. Those uncooperative owners are the reason we have to look at eminent domain. We can't let them hold us hostage.” - Toledo Free Press
"It really bothers me that we can't get a national company to be a responsible corporate citizen, and I think we need to take bold action." - Toledo Blade
Anyone familiar with the traditional stances of the two parties would probably guess these quotes came from the Democrats...but they didn't. The first quote is from Republican Rob Ludeman, District 2 representative. The other two quotes are from Republican George Sarantou, at-large member of council.
And the Democrats? They said this:
"Council President Michael Ashford questioned whether the administration has the legal justification for eminent domain, given recent rulings by the Ohio and U.S. Supreme Court on the use of eminent domain for economic development." - Toledo Blade
"Councilman Frank Szolosi said he has “a fundamental opposition to the city's use of eminent domain.”" - Toledo Free Press
Further, our Republicans are strangely silent about the revelation that the supposed 'public use' to justify eminent domain was never part of the plan for Southwyck - and, contrary to what the mayor said, was NOT requested by Larry Dillin, the proposed developer of the property. The city has decided a road right through the middle of the property is 'needed.' (Posts linked above show the planned road and the original - and still current - site plan presented by Dillin.)
According to this Blade article, "Mr. Finkbeiner said the road fits with the Village at Southwyck concept proposed by developer Larry Dillin.
“[Mr. Dillin] feels that it’s very important that that mall be broken up, that there be a connecting road running north and south, to link the beltway road,” the mayor said, referring to Southwyck Boulevard."
But this is directly contradicted by the developer, according to the Free Press article:
"“We feel very strongly about our plans to rejuvenate the Southwyck property and want to move forward with them,” said Bill Thomas, director of real estate services for Dillin Corp.
Thomas said the Dillin firm had nothing to do with the city's latest plans for a connecting road through the Southwyck property. If the city has plans that show a connecting road, “We were not involved in them,” he said."
So the mayor lied about the need for a road, the Republicans are supporting eminent domain because they don't like what a property owner is doing - legally - with their private property, and the Democrats are the ones asking questions about the legality and the costs.
Truly, up is down in Toledo.
BONUS ISSUE: The comment by Sarantou about being a "responsible corporate citizen," ties in with this quote, also from the Blade article:
"Dave Lemon, the volunteer leader of a citizens' organization in the Southwyck area, said Mr. Dillard shows no corporate responsibility for the area surrounding the mall, and is "stubbornly refusing" to sell a mall that he is neglecting."
Perhaps we're getting to the underlying message here? That you're only welcome in our community if your use of your private property corresponds to our determination of being 'socially responsible.' But that's another post for another time...