Thursday, July 31, 2008

Turns out, Erie Street Market did NOT make a profit

You knew this was coming....

According to today's paper, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has spent $79,879 to do work at the Erie Street Market - and that amount was NOT included in the financial statement presented earlier this week.

When these expenditures are added in, there is a loss of $53,611 for the first six months of the year.

Carty issued a press release yesterday saying, "Last year at this time, the building was running a deficit of approximately $50,000." At least that $50,000 deficit reflected accurate accounting and all expenses. Carty's estimate of a profit at ESM doesn't. And now that we know the cost of the renovations, it appears we're at a deficit of at least $53,611 - just like last year.

The mayor's public information officer told WSPD News that the costs would be covered by the profits from the concerts in that particular bay in the market. If the costs are supposed to be reimbursed by the profits, they should definitely be listed in the expenses. Whether or not there will be enough profit from the events is another question entirely. We'll see...

In the meantime, city council is angry that the work was broken down into 13 different contracts in order to avoid requiring approval by them. Toledo's city charter allows expenditures under $10,000 to be made without a separate ordinance by council, so long as the money is budgeted. There is, of course, the potential for abuse as we can clearly see in the way Carty set up the renovations at ESM. Obviously, Carty was afraid that council, which balked at funding ESM but eventually gave in, might not give its approval - especially if the financials were accurate.

So, he broke the work down into small contracts in order to avoid the legal requirement of going before city council.

"We are on the verge of making a huge breakthrough with the Erie Street Market," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "I would assume any smart person would expect that it would take some expenditures to do what we said was going to be done there."

So now anyone who challenges his expenditures is dumb?

The work is supposed to be finished this week, in time for the first events in that bay. What's not mentioned is that the first concert planned for Saturday evening was previously scheduled to be at a local club, Headliners. It's now going to be in a city-sponsored venue, taking the money and work away from an existing private business. And Carty thinks this city is 'business-friendly.'

"So now we are 48 hours before an opening and all of a sudden everyone wants to go negative, and I think that's unfair," Mr. Finkbeiner said.
...
"We are going to concede the defeat of Toledo if people don't begin to see there is a lot of good strong positive things being done and all we are hearing about is the negative," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Um...mayor...we're not being negative - you're making bad decisions and we're pointing it out. It isn't US being negative - it's your detrimental decisions that are the problem. If you don't want people to point out the problems with your decisions, stop making bad decisions!

This story will continue to evolve ... and I'll keep you informed.

7 comments:

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

The city is becoming a caricature of the cartoons of my youth. The Mayor budgets like Wimpy from Popeye saying, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today". Meanwhile, in our business friendly environment, the city treats local businesses like the characters in "Spy vs. Spy", with the city blowing its competitors up every chance they get.

Funny, but it was much more amusing when I was younger and none of it was real.

Carol said...

Sad to say that it appears as though our mayor thinks that if it's not owned, operated and dictated by the City of Toledo then the cause/event is not worth having.

I seem to remember that in his campaign promises Carty cheered for more jobs, more local business, better services, etc. All the standard political BS to sway a vote. But none of those promises have come to fruition. None.

Instead we have become (the city in general) a greedy, deceptive, conniving, dishonest, subversive, divisive, consistently inconsistent, disheartened, disillusioned, defeated, shop-worn and depressed city. All things unhealthy for professional development and growth, and very unhealthy for us, the taxpayers, that will bear the brunt of this mayor's tyranny for years to come.

The other day I was chatting with a person from Sandusky at a luncheon. They asked where I was from. When I said Toledo ... the response was, "I'm sorry." And they meant it.

I'm embarrassed, angered, disgusted and feeling a bit assaulted simply by living in Toledo.

Mr. Mayor - for the love of all that's Holy ... STOP this nonsense. Listen to your constituents. You remember them, don't you? The ones that voted for you? The ones that supported your "vision" and your dream for Toledo. Only to get stepped on and cast aside ...

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

Another quick thought...

I wonder if these contracts were bid out, and if they were performed with union labor?

Jay Ott said...

Well, this answers the question I asked a couple of days ago:

The question everyone should be asking is whether or not the city omits certain details in order to deliberately deceive city council and the taxpayers? Or has the city left out those expenses you mentioned due to incompetence?

It's both deception and imcompetence. Since this trickery was discovered, it reveals the mayor's incompetence.

It will be interesting to see whether or not city council will cut off funding for the ESM because they were lied to.

Now is the time for those on council who always talk about "holding feet to the fire", let's see if it's just a game of words. That will depend on what council will do next.

GraphicsGuy said...

Okay, so Collins has trouble getting the documents he's requested, then when the documents are handed over, they're incorrect?

Carty hides some expenditures, creates a P&L that's nowhere near accurate, and 'brushes off' the discrepancies?

The taxpayers have been lied to by Carty? Is this NOT the first time?

Do I want a someone that is a proven liar to run my city? Does anyone?

Is this not an ethics violation? Could this be just cause to remove him from office?

I think in the interest of the city, WE should be finding a way to remove Carty from office!

Maggie Thurber said...

Tim - there is usually a threshhold for 'informal' bids versus 'formal' ones. I don't know the city's minimum but the county's was $25,000. An informal bid means explaining the work and calling three known providers of the service and getting a price estimate. It also means that the mayor could be selective in who got called and who ended up with the contract.

GraphicsGuy - not being entirely forthcoming with information is not a violation of the state's ethics law...

Jay - council is between a rock and hard place. The contract with Libbey Glass requires the city to keep the ESM open...but that doesn't mean they can't have better control over the funding and expenditures...They had their opportunity to hold up the money until they got a budget and business plan - but they blew it ...

-Sepp said...

I am no longer a "nay-sayer" when it comes to Toledo! I have become a "told-ya-so'er"!

I have no doubt that Carty will make this all go away.

He will hold a news conference and approach the podium and display a shiney object...and Toledoans will promptly forget the whole scandal.

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