Tuesday, August 28, 2007

City Council "united" in the status quo

For all of Carty Finkbeiner's term as mayor, the A-Team Democrats on city council have been complaining that they're not involved in making decisions that impact the city. Everything from the budget to capital improvements, at least one of the A-Teamers has said they didn't get the information, or they weren't included in discussions, ... you name it.

However, the A/B-Teamers have suddenly found "unity" and they've managed to come together long enough for an outward showing of agreement. (You can read the details here and here.)

But along comes a major issue for the city - their antiquated financial computer system which prevents council members from knowing where the city stands in terms of spending. This has been a major complaint of many, to the point where the council authorized more than $100,000 for a consultant to develop a plan for taking bids on a new system.

Yesterday, city council's information services committee heard an hour-long presentation about the old system, four potential new systems and the estimated costs. Unfortunately, despite having a new 'working majority,' none of the A-Teamers were at the meeting.

According to today's Blade, neither Frank Szollosi and Mike Craig (members of the committee), nor their alternates, Michael Ashford (newly elected council president) and Joe McNamara, were at the presentation. Although all four of them managed to be at the Lucas County Democrat "unity event" that began about the same time that the committee meeting was ending.

And then comes this portion of the article:

"Mr. Ashford, the new council president, was not familiar with the software accounting issue but waved off the absence of A-team Democrats who now constitute what he has called a "working majority" of council.

"You can say we missed a lot, but it will come back to us. We'll have an opportunity to hear the finalized plans," Mr. Ashford said

So, one of the two biggest complainers about lack of input into decisions now thinks it's not important to be informed ahead of time because he'll get to "hear the finalized plans."

And that's not even mentioning the fact that he said he 'was not familiar with the software accounting issue.' I'm sorry, but how can you NOT know about the fact that you can't get current financial data about city spending?

Anyway...I'm sure when the 'finalized plans' are presented, there will be the same political posturing about lack of involvement in the decision. But I'll remember who passed up the opportunity for early involvement in favor of a partisan 'unity' event. Will you?


Frank said...

It boggles the mind to think this is one of the many reasons the city of Toledo is in the mess we are in. It shows me (a citizen of Toledo) that "looking good" for the party is more important than taking part in a very important issue that will impact the city for years to come. Why did they bother to run for office other than to place "council member" on their resume for future positioning in something higher.
Maybe they should pay back part of their paychecks from the city since the "unity event" was a party event and not a city event.

Maggie Thurber said...

Frank - very interesting idea...I'd love to have the update from when you call the two councilmen and tell them they should be docked for non-attendance.

Or better yet, do they need to have their absences from committee meetings excused like they do from council meetings? If so, perhaps their fellow council members should refuse to excuse them on this one...

Tim Higgins said...

Isn't it typical that at a time when we don't know what the deficit for the 2008 city budget will be, when we don't know what deficit in the budget for the MLK bridge really looks like, when we are discussing additional city capital expenditures for "decorative" infrastructure; that our city council chooses to be absent for a presentation on how to begin a process of accountability. This is worse than party politics, it is malfeasance.

Hooda Thunkit said...


A couple of thoughts:

Dem Dems were takin care of bizness, while at the very same time ignoring the very business that they were elected to take care of.

And, they don't REALLY want to know where we are financially at any given moment in time, because they might accidentally have to act from a position of knowledge, which is a major shift in governing Toledo.

"his dishonor" of all people can't be tied down and restrained by that, there are way too many bike paths, pretty shiny things and pretty lights to erect, to be interfered with by a "real time" budget picture.

The last thing that this administration wants is the real-time facts and figures to contend with. . .

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