Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to lose while 'winning'

Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop has been on a mission to destroy the Lucas County Improvement Corporation (LCIC). There is a long history to this (search the blog for LCIC and you'll get it all), but it boils down to an issue of control with Konop finding he cannot control the organization so he's going to kill it. The irony that he is the chairman of the search committee for a new executive director of the agency must be beyond him.

In today's paper, Konop is quoted as saying:

"Even if we've got this patchwork organization in place this year, continued public opposition will eventually prevail and we'll actually do what makes sense for the taxpayers."

Actually, he's the only public opposition and he is signalling his intent to continue. That he hasn't presented an alternative plan that is legal or any different from the claims of 'politics' he's making about the LCIC seems to be missed in his criticism.

For a full analysis on yesterday's Commissioner's meeting and the various idiotic statements Konop made, you can listen to the pod cast of Eye On Toledo.

In the meeting, Konop exhibited paranoia (thinking all the people were there to try to intimidate him), hypocrisy (questioning an employee's qualifications despite not having any himself), and class warfare (accusing others of meeting at the exclusive Inverness Country Club while he was meeting with union members - duh! Where does he think people who 'create' jobs are? in union halls????). He also threw in a few catch phrases like 'mismanaged bureaucracy' and 'good ol' boys' just for good measure.

In the end, though, he's lost.

Konop may actually win this battle to destroy the LCIC. But if he continues his public attacks while failing to garner support for his position, he will permanently damage the county's reputation and our ability to attract both people and businesses to this area. No company wants to come into an area with such unrest over the public portion of the economic development effort.

Konop seems to be more focused on the battle and not the war, despite his words to the contrary:

* He says he wants regional economic development, but the only entity that's been able to pull ALL the jurisdictions of the county together is the LCIC - and he's trying to destroy it.

* He says he wants to remove the politics from the effort, but his suggested alternative is another body made up of political appointees.

* He says he wants to work with jurisdictions inside and outside the county, but he mentions only Toledo when he talks about economic development and has yet to meet with the other cities, villages and townships about what they want or how they see economic development going. And his Toledo focus alienates the other jurisdictions, especially when they're the ones that are growing and attracting people and business.

* He says we're the only area with an CIC, but he doesn't even know that the City of Sylvania and Sylvania Township have a joint CIC. He says he wants to duplicate what Franklin County has done, but he doesn't know that Franklin County has a CIC as well.

And while he's doing these things, he sends a strong and loud negative message. Why would a company want to come to this area when one politician is trying to destroy what everyone else is supporting? Why would a company want to stay when they see these kinds of things, especially if they can move to an area where, despite disagreements, everyone is at least on the same page?

I continue to have reservations about how the LCIC is structured. I believe there are improvements that can be made to how private-sector members are appointed (change it to appointment by the full board and not by the three commissioners and the mayor of Toledo), and how the budget is established (prepared and recommended by the executive committee with approval by the full board). But the way to make those changes is to work with the members of the LCIC to get their support and, when you have a majority, change the bylaws. Providing reasoning and logic as to why the changes make sense would be the first step.

Unfortunately, this on-going battle Konop is waging has little to do with the actual agency and everything to do with control and 'who gets to decide,' so he won't take such a route to improvement. Instead, he will continue with his public attacks and, in the end, the county and the joint efforts will lose.

Perhaps instead of teaching law, he should teach a class in how to fail while winning.

1 comment:

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

Your analysis of Mr Konop is spot on. He builds an organization by destoying it, he reaches consensus by sowing dissention, and claims to speak for the people while standing alone. Only a true politician could use such a complete departure from reality as a strategy and hope to succeed (and his campaign of rumor and inuendo is in fact succeeding).

My only disagreement with you may be a minor one in the title of the class he should teach, which I feel should be: "How To Succeed By Failing".

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