Curious as to what community members like University of Toledo President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs or Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur or Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz or several others have to say about the future of Toledo? Are we there yet? in the Toledo City Paper will tell you.
My first reaction was rather cynical: Why would I care what Kaptur and Kapszukiewicz have to say about our future? They're part of the thinking that put us into the economic morass we're in today.
But the inclusion of Dr. Jacobs had me curious. So I headed over to the linked article to see who was asked to participate and what they had to say.
I hope you'll take the time to read all the commentary, though you could predict that Dr. Jacobs and other educators focus on education, the MetroParks director focuses on the MetroParks, the Arts Commission director focuses on art, etc... While their subject matter is predictable, they highlight various programs you may not be aware of.
However, the political perspectives had some surprises, particularly, Kaptur's.
Our challenge in manufacturing is to remain innovative in the auto sector. Frankly, I’d like to produce a Toledo truck or car. When our people created Jeep half a century ago, it became a world symbol. We didn’t import it. We built it. Our generation must remember our roots and build forward.
She'd like to produce a Toledo truck or car? Well, with the government ownership of the company that produces Jeep, I guess she can now say this.
"When our people created Jeep..." Does she mean Toledoans? Union members? Who are 'our people'? And I know that the Jeep was built here, but I would have thought it was 'created' in the engineering and design offices in Detroit.
The company, responding to market demand, created a vehicle whose success is world-reknown. That isn't possible today when this very same company is busy creating cars that conform to political wants and wishes, subsidized by tax dollars in order to ensure the political views. If Kaptur really wants 'our generation' to remember our roots, she needs to educate herself on the success of the free market and stop interfering in that process. That is what will help us 'build forward.'
But that's not all she's got to say:
The Southwyck area might be ideal for an indoor, modern equestrian show ring, drawing competitions from near and far. Lucas County alone has 5,000 horse owners. With Turnpike access, that location can accommodate traffic from across the Midwest and attract dollars to our region.
I couldn't help but immediately recall a person I met during my 2002 campaign for county commissioner. This gentlemen was frustrated over the lack of attention Northtowne Mall was getting versus Southwyck. His anger was clear in our discussion and then he said (paraphrased):
I've got an idea - with all the strip clubs and bars around here, why don't we make Northtowne into a red-light zone or district? We can move all the city's strip clubs and bars and other such establishments into this empty building. We'll build a wall around the perimeter and charge an entrance fee to fund the maintenance of the wall and the security. That way, the mall would at least be producing income and other taxes and we wouldn't have to look at it any more. Plus, tons of neighborhoods will be happy to have 'undesirable' businesses away from them.
Both this man and Kaptur have ideas for other people's property based upon their own interests. But the whole part about it being 'other people's property' seems to be missed by so many politicians in this area.
And while there may actually be some fraction of merit to turning Northtowne into a red-light zone - at least in terms of the economic input to the city and other government tax coffers, the profitability of an equestrian show ring is questionable, at best.
Just because Toledo has 5,000 horse owners doesn't mean that those 5,000 people will compete in equestrian shows - or that they will forgo whatever arrangements they currently have to suddenly utilize Marcy's horse center.
What market research has she done on the profitability of such centers? Has she analyzed this site and any potential center or compared it to the competition that exists across the state line - in rural areas more suitable to housing horses?
When the Lucas County Fair has its one week of activities, neighbors complain about the smell of the animals. While Kaptur is suggesting an indoor facility, does she not realize that smells travel whenever doors are opened and especially in the summer? How will the businesses and residents react to boarding stables across the street?
And don't think that boarding stables won't be needed. Most equestrian centers use the boarding of the horses as a primary source of income. They can't just be a place where people come to compete.
Lest you think this was just a whim, or Marcy talking about remote ideas, she suggested a horse farm in May when the demolition of the old Southwyck buildings began.
She then talks about one of her usual topics - locally grown produce - and says:
Let’s urge local restaraunteurs to turn some of their fantastic ethnic recipes into shelf/freezer ready products. If Betty’s Dressing and the peanut butter blossoms (cookies topped with a Hershey Kiss) were created in our area, what else is possible now?
Yes, you see, because if government doesn't encourage any of these "restaurateurs" (correct spelling), they won't come up with the idea on their own, even though Betty obviously did so without a politician instructing her.
Marcy is correct that there is potential here. But most of that potential is hampered by government through burdensome taxation, over-regulation and a myriad of complicated forms, rules and red-tape. If she really wants to help in this regard, maybe she could start by addressing the bureaucracies that apply to all instead of handing out other people's money as 'tax incentives' to just a few, favored supporters.
I'm glad the City Paper asked this question as it gives us some insight into what our politicians think. In Kaptur's case, she obviously thinks a horse farm and center in the middle of the city is not only a valid idea, but a good one as well. It just goes to show how out of touch she is with the free market, the interests of her constituents and the realities of what it takes to run a successful business under her form of governance.
Just remember this when it comes to voting in November.