Thursday, November 29, 2007

The value of third place at LivCom

Yes, Toledo won third place, out of seven finalists, in our population category for the United Nations sponsored LivCom Awards. And that's a nice thing.

But what is the value of this award? and how can it help us with the myriad of challenges Toledo faces? Ah...there's the rub.

In all the data on the LivCom website, I couldn't find objective criteria for the judging, although the city did release its scores in the various categories (one A and the rest Bs). And the paper is reporting that 70 communities applied in our category. So what, exactly, are we among the 'best of' in terms of 'livable cities'?

The criteria are listed here, but the judging was based upon application and presentation. There was no independent verification of the statements made.

Toledo, I'm sure, did a good job in preparing the application and in making the presentation. Carty Finkbeiner is nothing if not enthusiastic about our city and its assets ... and he has the ability to infect others with his enthusiasm. So I'm sure the decision of the judges (environmental and landscaping professionals) was justified.

But does winning this award change anything? Sadly, I don't believe so. Not because it isn't a nice thing to have - it is - but because the hype over the award is in excess of the value. Having this nice claim to fame isn't going to do anything for the problems Toledoans face on a daily basis.

And even The Blade admits the problems in their editorial today:

"This is not to say that Toledo doesn't have issues it is struggling to overcome. The flight of educated young people to greener pastures, the loss of good jobs, the lack of downtown retail development, troubled schools, and growing suburbanization are all issues yet to be adequately addressed."

But their take on this award is that "Third place is infinitely better than no place, which is where some, including naysaying radio personalities, would have us believe Toledo is."

Now, I have no idea if they're referring to me, or not. But I take exception to the depiction that such awards will actually change the city, because they won't. Papers, certificates, trophies and titles will never be enough to cover up the loss of good jobs, loss of population and troubled schools. And no company is going to make a decision to move here because of those awards when these other issues are still outstanding.

Even the poll results on The Blade website show their readers understand this fact. As of the time of this post, nearly 61% do NOT "agree with Toledo's mayor that pursuing a recognition award is worth the effort to improve a city's reputation?"

It's a matter of priorities - and style over substance. Carty is great at style, but a bit lacking on substance. To be glad about the third-place finish is appropriate, but to jump up and down is a bit much. What would be so much better, however, would be to have no awards, but a city with good roads and infrastructure, low taxes, and a business-friendly environment. Then we'd really have something to rejoice about.

20 comments:

Jay Ott said...

Maggie,

Now, I have no idea if they're referring to me, or not.

I attended this bitterly cold news conference and I can tell you that the radio host that was referred to, was Fred LeFebvre by none other than Carty himself in the cheering section while someone else was at the microphones.

There were lots of ad hominem attacks aimed at "the naysayers", but telling naysayers that they are wrong but not saying how and why they're wrong is not a valid argument.

Moose Tracks said...

Ms Thurber, why have you not commented on Toledo City Council and Mayor Finkbeiner putting the Domestic Partner Registry into place - thereby 11 people dictating morality to a city of almost 300,000?

Maggie Thurber said...

moose tracks - normally, I don't allow comments unrelated to the original post - or comments already made.

But I'm making an exception in order to ask you a question first - on that needs to be answered before I can respond appropriately to you:

1) how is this legislation 'dictating morality' to the city?

Once I understand your perspective on this, I will explain why I didn't do any posts on the legislation.

Maggie Thurber said...

Jay - I heard the news clip of Carty referring to Fred ... but ...
I didn't hear them say that the 'radio personalities' were wrong in what they talked about - just that they were being negative.

Funny, isn't it, how when facts and logic fail to support their position they fall back on such 'name-calling' and personal attacks...

Me? I'll take facts, logic and reason over emotion any day - especially when it comes to government actions where such things are so lacking in the first place.

Hooda Thunkit said...

The value?

Take it to a pawn shop and see what you can get for it.

Ask "His Dishonor" and I'm betting that it means the world to him...

Talk about misplaced priorities and cluelessness about one's job description. . .

Robin said...

I'll take good jobs and smooth roads over shiny awards, any day.

No one really pays attention to these awards, anyway. Who remembers what city made the list, last year?

2Bn11FA said...

This is absurd to say the best about it. This award is nothing more than a happy coverup for a failed administration...again. All of Carty's ideas for moving the city forward are nothing more than superficial, cosmetic changes. Nothing of substance every gets done...well without a new fee or tax being added. This award is just the latest in the Mayor's attempts at political misdirection..."hey looky here at this shiney award...never mind the potholes over there or the empty buildings...they don't really count."

When will the residents (the remaining ones) realize that this is bad news....though I have a great idea to promote the city...let's hold an early election and get Carty to re-up...we could vote him in with the renewal of the "temporary" 3/4% tax...Carty seems to be about as temporary as that tax.

Chuck Greer said...

I still like the Fred LeFebvre description of a "Mary Kay" administration, lipstick on a pig, and all that. This 'award' is no different than the variant "Who's Who" awards, or a vanity press, where you pay enough money, and you too can be listed in the "Up and Coming Young Persons of the Mid-Western North American Continent, Volume II", or have your 400 page novel about the life and times of you and your 27 indoor cats. All are meaningless. The 'critera' is based on what is presented, not on an independent inquiry. This is fluff over substance...

Brian Maxson said...

This is actually Carty's vain attempt to find something stronger to attach to his legacy than his fine name being associated to being an answer to a Trivial Pursuit® question.

Providing for the commmunity instead of his cronies eludes him big time.

Brian said...

"Toledo won third place, out of seven finalists, in our population category for the United Nations sponsored LivCom Awards"

I think the United Nations says it all.

Moose Tracks said...

One thing Carty was very proud to mention in his London presentation for the award was Toledo's diversity, which he "proved" with the newly enacted Domestic Partner Registry. His subsequent inane statement about the registry being "good for Toledo's families" would be laughable if it weren't so awful.

After decades of independent studies all over the globe, the one thing that is crystal clear is that society functions best when children are raised by their married biological parents. Anything less results in quantifiable problems. The studies' results show this to be true no matter what demographic is used - income levels, ethnicity, culture, religion/no religion, etc.

Based on these hundreds of studies, it is accurate to portray the Domestic Partner Registry as a moral issue for our community.

I remain curious as to why you have neglected to comment on the issue.

Brian Schwartz said...

Maggie,

The mysterious "someone else" at the microphone was none other than your former assistant, Jim Mettler.

I'll leave it to others to discern who he was talking about. . .

It wasn't you.

Maggie Thurber said...

moose tracks - thanks for tying in your question to the topic of the post!

First, yes, the domestic partner registry is a moral issue - but nothing has been dictated to anyone. Nothing is required in the legislation - it is permissive. Therefore, I do not see that the City of Toledo creating a domestic partner registry is, as you said in your first post, "11 people dictating morality."

Stable families are key to stable communities. In a recent column, Walter Williams looked at recent census bureau data:

"There's one segment of the black population that suffers only a 9.9 percent poverty rate, and only 13.7 percent of their under-5-year-olds are poor. There's another segment of the black population that suffers a 39.5 percent poverty rate, and 58.1 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor.

Among whites, one population segment suffers a 6 percent poverty rate, and only 9.9 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor. Another segment of the white population suffers a 26.4 percent poverty rate, and 52 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor.

What do you think distinguishes the high and low poverty populations? The only statistical distinction between both the black and white populations is marriage. There is far less poverty in married-couple families, where presumably at least one of the spouses is employed. Fully 85 percent of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed household."


As for why I haven't commented on this issue? I think it's a pointless act by city council. It's a feel-good measure much like a proclamation, naming a 'day' or passing a resolution in agreement or opposed to legislation in another body.

They shouldn't have been wasting their time with such a meaningless (in real terms) measure - and so I didn't think it necessary, especially in light of some of the other serious issues we're facing.

If I were to say anything about it at all, it would have been that they've got much more important - and relevant - things to do. But I've come to expect them to spend time making it 'official' to give out certificates that make people feel better about their actions or choices, especially when everything these days seems to be more about emotion than logic, reason or common sense.

And to give further coverage of such a pointless act seemed - well - pointless.

Maggie Thurber said...

Another thing, moose tracks ...

I'm concerned about your use of the term "neglected" in "...why you have neglected to comment on the issue" as it implies some sort of responsibility to do so.

While I don't mind you asking the question, I do mind that your words give the impression I was somehow negligent for failing to post my thoughts on the domestic partner registry. Perhaps you did not mean it that way - as words alone often do not convey what was actually intended - but that was my impression.

Just to be clear - I have no responsibility or obligation to comment or post on any topic or anything at all.

Neighborhood Concerns said...

The award was based on the presentation that the Mayor gave not on the city as we see it every day of the week.

Yes, there is a great museum, yes, there are nice parks and there is some nightlife, but there is rising unemployment, there are growing numbers of vacant homes, there is a lower tax base on which to draw on.

The award is nice but when one visits do we think it will be based on the award and if so, can we ask them how the city measures up to what the presentation showed?

And the Mayor said he lives neart the heart of the city and that is completely inaccurate.

Ah....Mr. Schwartz stalking Thurber again...I thought this was to stop?

Moose Tracks said...

Ms Thurber - your statement is accurate: a blog serves at the whim of its 'owner', who is not required to comment on anything at all. I apparently have misunderstood your purpose in starting a blog, being under the assumption that your actions were, in part, out of concern for our community and that your desire was, again in part, to bring a calm, sure sense of reason and logic to unreasonable acts perpetrated by those in local government.

My mistake. I am sorry for having wasted your time on the Domestic Partner Registry issue, which - although 'voluntary' - is still a terrible piece of legislation with no potential for good, but far-reaching potential for bad results in our community.

Maggie Thurber said...

Moose Tracks - please don't misunderstand ... I do not mind the question and did not consider our discussion of the domestic partner registry a waste of time.

I think council wasted it's time in doing this.

And we agree that it was terrible piece of legislation.

Maggie Thurber said...

Also, moose tracks - I like your blog!

Moose Tracks said...

And I,yours, dear lady.

kateb said...

I always say if you can't discredit the message, discredit the messenger.

The latest attempt at this is the 'naysayer' commentary.

This is the group of people who:

1. Truly believe if you ignore a problem is really isn't there.

2. If they can't use the ignoring philosophy they aggressively pursue the person who knocked them into reality with facts.

These are Toledo's problems. It is so non-business friendly that business is fleeing Toledo. As is the working public.

The working public also didn't care for the Academic Emergency and Academic Watch listings of Toledo Public Schools.

They also don't like paying the highest amount of taxes and energy rates.

They also don't like living in a forest of for sale signs as we were the (?) 16th highest foreclosure rate in the country recently?

We have a high rate of unemployment and a poor record of educating the next generation of workers. Those who are left are losing their homes at record rates - as well as paying taxes at record rates. Those who are left face paying high fees for emergency services - which will hit at their most vulnerable and catastrophic times.

Some of these are outside the scope of our local government - as in the energy rates - however the rest are not. These are the issues that need to be worked on.

As far as Carty having anything to do to denigrate someone bringing up these shortcomings, has he not been the Mayor for about 10 of the last 14 years here when the greatest economic downfall and business/residential flight actually took place??!

Misdirection at it's finest.

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