Friday, August 24, 2007

Why people leave Toledo - one man's story

I want to tell you about my friend, Mike.

Mike is an engineer. He's got a good technical job in a local manufacturing plant. He's married and the father of three terrific - but very energetic - boys. His wife, now that their kids are older, has gone back to school to become a nurse. Two of the boys attend a good TPS elementary school and they're happy with the education the boys are getting. The youngest can't wait to go to school with his brothers.

Mike and his wife are involved in the school and with Boy Scouts. In their free time, they race sailboats (which is how we know them). They're a good family - young professionals - the type of family Toledo needs.


Mike told us the other day that they're looking to move out of Toledo. Not because of the schools - at least, not yet. Not because of a lack of job opportunities or because of an out-of-town job opportunity. Not even because of the taxes, although they're not happy about those.

No - Mike and his family are looking at leaving because of something so simple, yet so offensive, that they just can't get past it.

You see, they had a garage sale last weekend. They put their stuff on their driveway and in their yard, put up their signs and began that summer ritual of getting rid of things they no longer need. And, for this sale, that included an old van. They put the van on their grass, as the driveway was filled, and put a 'for sale' sign on it.

At some point on Saturday, a police office was looking at the van. They didn't think anything of it - except to hope that maybe he'd be interested enough to make an offer. However, when they went to move it after the sale was over, they found a ticket on the windshield.

Yes, a ticket. For parking the vehicle on the lawn. Because, according to Toledo Municipal Code 351.07(a)33, you cannot:

(33) Stand or park a vehicle upon any unpaved portion of a front lot or side lot in any residence district, or upon any unpaved portion of a vacant lot in any residence district, except as otherwise permitted under the local Zoning Ordinance, Part Eleven of the Toledo Municipal Code.

Now, Mike didn't know this. But the officer did and, instead of mentioning this law to Mike during the garage sale, he just issued the ticket.

So, it isn't a major issue, but it's the final straw. It's the thought that the police/city is more interested in the fines they can collect than in helping citizens to follow the law. It's the thought that, instead of just mentioning the law to Mike and asking him to move his van, the mindset is to ticket/fine someone.

And then there is the whole purpose of the law, which was to prevent 'junk' vehicles from cluttering up a neighborhood. Clearly, this was not case in this instance, as the van was only on the 'unpaved portion' during the daytime hours of the garage sale - along with other items for sale.

Mike did consider contesting the ticket...he's still not sure. But knowing Mike, he'll probably just pay it - and then move. And I can't help but wonder how many other young, professional families make the same decision when they come across the straw that broke the camel's back.

Is it possible that Toledo will learn from this? Some will, but those who really need the lesson - those ensconced in the Ivory Tower known as 1 Government Center - won't. And, as a result, people will continue to leave while those in power will continue to scratch their heads...


Joe Birmingham said...


I'm beginning to hear about these stories often. I recently had to deal with an officer who was threatening a resident at 8pm on a Saturday because he is restoring a car in his driveway. He said the offense was the car was not licensed. If it were a nuisance I could understand, but this seldom is the case. Whatever happened to discretion? If Mike is not willing to contest the ticket I would be interested in who this officer was. Let me know.

Maggie said...

I heard that same story, as well.

I'll ask Mike if he wants to pursue this further. If so, I'll have him contact you.


gordon gekko said...

I've got the same sentiments about the city of Cincinnati.

I'm moving out this weekend

Here are my thoughts about the move, if you are interested.

-Sepp said...

Mike isn't the only one who's getting tired of the city making up it's loss of a tax base via extra fees and taxes on everything possible.

I wonder how many people in this city are one more disappointment away from packing their bags and heading for the 'burbs?

Maggie said...

-sepp...again - love the wording..."one more disappointment away"...nice!

Jay Ott said...

If you really want to get a sense of the idiotic things the police make an issue out of and waste their time and taxpayers' money on, listen to the police scanner.

For example:

A suspicious boy about 10 yrs. old heading towards a park carrying a baseball bat.

I know someone who was visited by an officer who asked what was burning in his airtight wood burning stove.

The worst and most idiotic thing I've ever heard of was for the police to cite a loitering ordinance to prevent 4 members of SNAP from passing out literature.

John Madigan was supposed to render an opinion, it's been nearly 3 weeks and still no word.

Maybe Mr. Madigan is not going to give an opinion and hopes it goes away. Maybe Mr. Madigan Googled: Chicago v. Morales and found Justice Stevens' majority opinion:

"The freedom to loiter for innocent purposes is part of the liberty" protected by the U.S. Constitution. People in Chicago who stop to "engage in idle conversation or simply enjoy a cool breeze on a warm evening" should not be subject to police commands, said Stevens, joined in full by Justices David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Maggie, I'm sorry I was long here. I think the situation you mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg and just wanted to give a few examples of where we may be headed.

Maggie said...

Jay - I don't mind the long posting ... very good information.

Chad said...

yuppers...and the impotent police force is busy with this sort of hogwash while rapists, drug dealers, child abusers and theives run rampant.

Navarre's priority list matches Carty's.... backwards and stupid. There in lies the problem though, real crime costs money to deal with vs. sudo and pettty infractions that make money.

save_the_rustbelt said...

We began to look at moving out of Toledo after all of the Toledo public employees went on strike on July 1, 1979, leaving the city in the hands of criminals and arsonists for four days. That was the beginning of the end for Toledo. The rest is just a slow death.

The current stuff is just irritating and unnecessary.

We did not leave immediately, but three weeks after our first child arrived moved way out of Lucas County.

Ben said...

The cop probably could have just asked him to move it, but he was also just doing his job. Im sure he didnt enjoy writing the ticket.

Maggie said...

Ben - we can only speculate as fo the enjoyment - or lack thereof - in the writing of the ticket.

The point remains that our officers have the ability to exercise discretion in writing tickets. This is an instance where the discretion to issue a warning, so exercised, would have done more to solve the problem than the ticket itself.

Further, I'm sure the officer didn't think about unintended consequences of such a ticket being the 'last straw.' Perhaps that's part of the problem as well.

Brian Maxson said...

What I find interesting is that this occured during a "posted" GARAGE SALE and an officer took the time out of his busy schedule to attend this GARAGE SALE to maliciously address this "violation".

What kind of pea-brained Toledo Police Officer missed the GARAGE SALE portion of this debacle? The one that took the time out of a warm Saturday afternoon with a possible waiting list of issues that NEED to be addressed for a $100 violation. Took all of 20 minutes, a cop off the street and lost another taxpayer.

IN light of some of the drama within the police department, I'm beginning to wonder if the priorities the Police Chief are ever so slightly askew.

Joe? Sounds a lot like an ordinance amendment is in order before someone creates a big issue for the "list of reasons how Toledo screws over it's residents".

Robin said...

Where are these cops? There is someone on my street who always parks his vehicle on his front lawn.

And yes, I'm also looking to move out of the city limits of Toledo. But, I'm basically trapped here because of financial reasons (can't afford the houses in the burbs).

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


There were many fine & valid points made in this post and the responses prior to this one; however I would like to add:

I dread the thought of spending my retirement years here in Toledo, yet I'm torn, because it has always been my home and I love it.

That said, the current political climate is such that I have been looking for somewhere nearby to move where:

Common political sense rules, rather than arrogant and petty "tin horn" dictators rule the day.

Political parties, or the lack of them are more pro citizen, rather than focused on gaining and retaining control and power.

And somewhere where the focus is on providing the basic infrastructure and services that binds a city together and gives maintaining what already exists top priority, rather than chasing the latest and flashiest trendy thing, and forgetting about maintaining what already exists.

I'm looking for a city/town/village where people and their property comes first and politicians aren't out looking to make a name for themselves.

Oh yes, and a place where taxation is well under control because the politicians are LISTENING to their constituents.

(I'm thinking just North of the Ohio-Michigan line, or West of the Ohio-Indiana line.)

Maggie said...

Hooda - my in laws live in Lasalle Township just north of the state line...not sure I'd want to go north...

Perhaps South - I like the governor in South Carolina...or out west where individualism and personal responsibility are still priorities...

But I love my home and our families are all here...who knows what the future holds???

Ellipso said...

I find it hard to believe that an officer has been sent to my house SIX times now to give me an incorrectly filled out parking ticket (which was why I got three tickets instead of one) while not 6 months ago I woke to find a bullet hole in my windshield and couldn't get a cop to even stop by to see what had happened. I was then told that it "cost too much" to have the bullet retrieved. Apparently it doesn't cost too much to send a cop to my house SIX TIMES. I just can't help but wonder what this place is coming to. Noone even knocked on the front door to explain what was going on. Just ticket ticket ticket. The whole situation could have been avoided had the officer just knocked on the door the first time and explained. Maybe that costs too much?

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