But what is the value of this award? and how can it help us with the myriad of challenges Toledo faces? Ah...there's the rub.
In all the data on the LivCom website, I couldn't find objective criteria for the judging, although the city did release its scores in the various categories (one A and the rest Bs). And the paper is reporting that 70 communities applied in our category. So what, exactly, are we among the 'best of' in terms of 'livable cities'?
The criteria are listed here, but the judging was based upon application and presentation. There was no independent verification of the statements made.
Toledo, I'm sure, did a good job in preparing the application and in making the presentation. Carty Finkbeiner is nothing if not enthusiastic about our city and its assets ... and he has the ability to infect others with his enthusiasm. So I'm sure the decision of the judges (environmental and landscaping professionals) was justified.
But does winning this award change anything? Sadly, I don't believe so. Not because it isn't a nice thing to have - it is - but because the hype over the award is in excess of the value. Having this nice claim to fame isn't going to do anything for the problems Toledoans face on a daily basis.
And even The Blade admits the problems in their editorial today:
"This is not to say that Toledo doesn't have issues it is struggling to overcome. The flight of educated young people to greener pastures, the loss of good jobs, the lack of downtown retail development, troubled schools, and growing suburbanization are all issues yet to be adequately addressed."
But their take on this award is that "Third place is infinitely better than no place, which is where some, including naysaying radio personalities, would have us believe Toledo is."
Now, I have no idea if they're referring to me, or not. But I take exception to the depiction that such awards will actually change the city, because they won't. Papers, certificates, trophies and titles will never be enough to cover up the loss of good jobs, loss of population and troubled schools. And no company is going to make a decision to move here because of those awards when these other issues are still outstanding.
Even the poll results on The Blade website show their readers understand this fact. As of the time of this post, nearly 61% do NOT "agree with Toledo's mayor that pursuing a recognition award is worth the effort to improve a city's reputation?"
It's a matter of priorities - and style over substance. Carty is great at style, but a bit lacking on substance. To be glad about the third-place finish is appropriate, but to jump up and down is a bit much. What would be so much better, however, would be to have no awards, but a city with good roads and infrastructure, low taxes, and a business-friendly environment. Then we'd really have something to rejoice about.