Saturday, March 01, 2008

Challenge to Carty: PROVE IT!

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner appeared on a radio show and said my information about the city's budget and where I think they could cut spending if the 3/4% temporary income was defeated, was "so patently erroneous and false and misleading." (Audio available here - and, for proper context, should be heard prior to reading further)

Yes, this from a man who freely admitted he had no idea how the bills of the City of Toledo are paid.

I should first explain that in all my years of public service, I've never had my figures or fiscal analysis of various projects, budgets, etc... called these things. In fact, I've developed a reputation for accuracy, detailed analysis and correctness. Even a caller to my show the other night said he was told that if he was going to 'challenge' me, he'd better have all his i's dotted and t's crossed because I do my homework. It's something that, as a Republican in this Democrat area, was a necessity for survival and it has served me well.

As to Carty's comments:

I could critique the interviewer's lack of skill in asking a question and then allowing Carty to not answer - talk about irresponsible journalism...

I could critique the mayor's penchant for resorting to calling people 'liar' when facts and logic fail to support his own position...

I could challenge his lack of attention in that he only listened for 3-4 minutes to one of my 3 hour-long shows on the topic, certainly not enough to learn anything about my analysis and positions...

I could analyze his unhealthy perspective that a criticism of him and his decisions is a criticism of the city as a whole...

I could point out all the things I'm "for" in terms of this tax: accountability of elected officials, honesty with the citizens instead of scare tactics, limited government, lower taxation, essential services (my plan doesn't layoff police officers or fire fighters), openness in government, truthfulness about city spending over the years, a spine to make difficult decisions rather than the 'easy' ones, a city with a level of taxation that is attractive to businesses and residents, etc...

I could easily debate his definition of responsible journalism/reporting on this issue ... I, Karen Shanahan and WSPD are asking questions and presenting alternatives that no one else in the so-called 'responsible' media is doing.

I could expound - for a quite a long time - on Carty's definition of 'responsible' equating to 'agreement' with him, coupled with blind acceptance of statements presented without fact-checking or challenge...

I could even point out his hypocrisy in urging advertisers - that is customers - at the station to take their dollars elsewhere. Yes, you heard it correctly. He encouraged people who spend money at a downtown Toledo business to stop because some employees of that company disagree with him. That really sends a powerful - albeit, negative - message to the declining business community in Toledo, doesn't it?

However, I think that, rather than do all these things, I'll just challenge the mayor accordingly:


Jay Ott said...

I think this quote goes to the very heart of what the mayor's problem is:

Now the beginning of study is humility. Although the lessons of humilty are many, the three which follow are of a special importance for the student. First, that he hold no knowledge and no writing in contempt. Second, that he blush to learn from no man. And third that when he has attained learning himself, he not look down upon everyone else. -- Hugh of St. Victor

jerrytel said...

Keep at it Maggie - you have plenty of support. I have been sitting on the sidelines for a long time, but no more. You already know that the mayor will not respond to your challenge. He would be a fool to further jeopardize is faltering reputation, but then again, he is a fool...we shall see.

The A-Hole Lawyer said...

I am just a simple country lawyer - so this may be a bit too simple in accounting terms and methods, but:

List the ESSENTIAL city functions, those expressly permitted by the charter and those not expressly adressed, in order of importance.



Courts - no counting a misdemeanor probation department and other places it can be trimmed


Streets and roads

Education - done miserably, but we cant just close the schools and say sorry kids - look elswhere
Garbage collection
Ambulance service
Erie St. Market

Now I am sure the list is long and extensive - but, off the top of my head, the top 5 are the really mandatory duties/services of the city.

Then - start at the bottom of the list cutting programs, exenditures, budgets, and yes perhaps perks, benefits, salaries and positions, once the 57 million is trimmed. STOP.

I am willing to bet in a multiple hundred million dollar budget - the cuts never reach the top of the list - won’t even touch the top 5 essential duties.

The A-Hole.

Tim Higgins said...


There you go again putting facts and common sense ahead of emotion and compassion. I find it amazing that the careful analysis that you and Karen have been working with could be so easily written off in favor of the delusional rantings of a man who wouldn't wouldn't recognize truth if it bit him on the butt.

I likewise find it surprising that the Mayor found the courage to appear on a radio show. I can only assume that such an appearance with done only on the condition that no statements of fact would be questioned and no tough questions would be asked.

Perhaps this is what the "brain drain" that I have been hearing about in Toledo is really about.

Jeff Kish said...

The chiefs of Fire and Police need to stand up for their troops and their departments by insisting that the loss associated with the defeat of the 3/4 is assigned accordingly to thier percentage of the levy. They need to review your #'s and insist of our esteemed mayor that only non essential cuts be made. This city will go nowhere until department heads stand up to our dictator mayor.

Jeff Kish

Maggie Thurber said...

Tim - the 'brain drain' comment would be funny if it weren't so true...

Jeff - EXCELLENT point ... so glad you made it!

toledo1 said...

Well, I got the answer I was "demanding" from my councilperson, a good friend of WSPD, and he said, "But here goes…Maggie and crew at WSPD have done a good job gathering the facts. Of the half a billion dollars that the city spends (some of that in the general fund…some of it in capital improvements) there’s about $217 million that is NOT mandated by the Ohio Revised Code. Many of them are mandated by the Toledo Municipal Charter, however. Do I think there is room for cuts. Absolutely. That seems to be the hue and cry of folks who want the levy defeated. Do we need a Youth Commission…or do we need to spend as much in Parks & Forestry? That’s always a subjective question. So that’s the argument against the tax.

But the money raised is split between police…fire…refuse…and about 16 percent for capital improvements. That formula will not change if it passes. Since a majority of it goes to police and fire (about 76 cents on the dollar) most of the cuts will be police and fire. It’s not a scare tactic. It’s a budgeting reality. I cannot tell you definitively when the layoffs would begin except that in order to lighten the “fall” if this fails, the city is likely to start layoffs soon and try to save some money going into 09. There’s no guarantee voters would pass this in November IF it’s put on the ballot again."

So they will go to the table with the unions as the negotiations are coming up and even if they make these concessions, people are still being laid off and SOON!

We had a fatal shooting last night and another one just a few hours ago. What are we going to do once these cuts are made?


Tim Higgins said...


Great information on how the city thinks about the money that it receives and how it allocates it to the various departments. It is interesting to note that when confronted with new issues to deal with, the city will insist on following the same unsuccessful thinking that it has used in the past. I for one would like to see how the city and the union react to upcoming negotiations in the light of a new reality.

I am disappointed after the hard work that had to be done to obtain this information, by the comment of the shootings however. Such crimes are seldom prevented by the police, who can only catch the perpetrators and hand them over to the courts. A suggestion that this would be otherwise going into the future or that such things are going to get worse in that future is playing the scare card.

Maggie Thurber said...

toledo1-let's take the statements from your unidentified city council member one at a time:

Of the half a billion dollars that the city spends (some of that in the general fund…some of it in capital improvements) there’s about $217 million that is NOT mandated by the Ohio Revised Code. Many of them are mandated by the Toledo Municipal Charter...

First, the ORC mandates very little of what the city does. The Toledo Charter is the defining document. Additionally, over the years, council has passed ordinances requiring things - these are listed in the Toledo Municipal Code, which is different from the Ohio Revised Code.

The 'challenge' issued by Brian and Fred referenced the Toledo Charter. If council has created a law in the TMC that requires something, they can always repeal such laws and eliminate those particular requirements. But to change the mandated services in the Charter would require a vote of the people.

Do we need a Youth Commission…or do we need to spend as much in Parks & Forestry? That’s always a subjective question. So that’s the argument against the tax.

Truly - the question isn't what do we want, but what is an essential city service. I identified mine (which, btw, includes Parks and Foresty but not recreation). Further, with limited funds, do you put your resources toward essential city services (like Police, Fire, roads) or toward such non-essentials as Youth Commission. To be quite honest, I don't know of very many Toledoans who'd pick a youth commission over a police officer or fire fighter, do you?

But the money raised is split between police…fire…refuse…and about 16 percent for capital improvements. That formula will not change if it passes.

Here you have a council member who doesn't have a clue. From the Toledo Municipal Code regarding the current allocation of the funds:

1905.14. Allocation of funds.
(c) Allocation of Three-Quarters Percent (3/4%) Tax Increase. Commencing January 1, 2005, one-third of the increase in funds resulting from the continuation (by Ordinance No. 546-04 which was approved by the City's electorate on November 2, 2004), of the prior increase of three-quarters percent (3/4%) in the City's income tax, as originally provided in Ordinance No. 157-82, passed by the Council of the City of Toledo on March 16, 1982, and approved by the City's electorate on June 8, 1982, shall remain in the General Fund for police, fire and other Safety Department responsibilities, one-half (1/2) of said increase shall remain in the General Fund, and one-sixth (1/6) of the said increase shall be allocated to the Capital Improvements Fund.

See - the current allocation per the TMC as I described (1/3 to police/fire/safety, 1/2 to general fund and 1/6 to CIP).

Ballot language according to the Board of Elections:


Continuation of a three-fourths percent (3/4%) levy on income (one-third (1/3) to the General Fund for police, fire and other Safety Department responsibilities, one-third (1/3) to the General Fund, and one-third (1/3) to the Capital Improvements Fund), commencing January 1, 2009, and ending December 31, 2012.

Under the new language, the funds from the 3/4% will be split evenly, but not until January 1, 2009.

Since a majority of it goes to police and fire (about 76 cents on the dollar) most of the cuts will be police and fire.

The majority of the city's general fund goes toward police and fire - but a majority of the 3/4% does NOT per the above language.

Regardless of how much money goes toward these two departments, cuts in the budget can come from ANYWHERE. Just because your mortgage might get the majority of your personal income, it's not the first thing you cut when you have a reduction in'll cut other things first. That's the point I want to drive home with you, Toledo1: That there are other options BEFORE cutting police and fire but council is choosing to threaten these two departments because they believe that doing so will result in your yes vote on the issue tomorrow.

No matter what they call it, it is a scare tactic - because cuts to police and fire DO NOT HAVE TO BE MADE BEFORE THE ELIMINATION OF NON-ESSENTIAL EXPENDITURES.

...the city is likely to start layoffs soon and try to save some money going into 09.

This may be true, but instead of throwing the scare tactic back on me, why are you not demanding of your council member that non-essential services get cut first? Why are you not outraged that police and fire are the first cuts instead of the absolute last?

Why are you acting like the victim instead of their boss? Why didn't you immediately respond to this council member and ask about elimination of non-essentials and get his/her position on what they might consider essential or non-essential (and no - they haven't done that)? Why not get his/her promise to protect police and fire?

No - it's easier to accept what they say even when you don't like it than expect to be able to hold them accountable to do the right thing and NOT cut police and fire.

Those are my thoughts, but let's sum up. Your council member didn't address the issue of essential versus non-essential and what their priorities will be for cuts, didn't know the difference between the current allocation of the tax and the proposed allocation starting next year, and spouted the standard line we've heard from all the elected officials: doom and gloom with cuts to police and fire if you don't give them the money they desire.

My main thought is that if your council member doesn't even know such basic points as the difference between the current versus the proposed allocation, you probably shouldn't trust him/her on where cuts could be made in the budget because they obviously don't have a clue.

If the tax fails then we all show up at city hall and demand that essential services be the last on the chopping block. That's what you do to ensure that your will, as their bosses, is followed.

Funny - still no response from any city council member to the challenge issued by Fred and Brian and absolutely no one who's willing to prove that my figures are wrong, false, incomplete, etc.

Nope - they just sit there in the Ivory Tower and tell you children will die in flaming buildings and criminals will control the streets if you don't give them their demanded funds.


toledo1 said...

"Here you have a council member who doesn't have a clue."

Interesting - it was Tom Waniewski - a onetime guest host on your show. I was trying to be polite because I think he's a good guy and I thought you did too since he's on WSPD so much and sat in your chair.

toledo1 said...

Actually, he did admit that your number crunching was solid and I included that in my first post. And with all these, "Why aren't you..." questions, I absolutely sent those questions back. But in the meantime, it is just like I said, they are planning to lay off. Whether or not I argue, debate, and demand, which I will continue to do, layoffs are coming. I also got a response stating that even though the 3/4% runs until the end of the year, they could go into a form of receivership and they are trying to salvage some economic stability. Is that true? Again, I don't know. I am going, I am demanding, and this is what I am getting. I am NOT saying you are wrong, but I still worry about Toledo's safety if this doesn't pass.

Maggie Thurber said...

I like Tom. I think he's going to make a good member of council. And he is a good guy - as are many members of council. So what?

He's also new and in the midst of a very steep learning curve. So, he doesn't have a clue about the allocations probably because he's trusted what others have told him and hasn't yet had the time to look it up himself.

If you'd said that Lindsay Webb had provided the response, I'd have the same reaction.

Whether or not I like someone is irrelevant to the discussion.

Oh - and I don't pick the guest hosts ... that's the job of the program director of the station. I also don't tell the guest hosts what to say, do or whom to (or not to) invite.

Just because someone is a guest or frequent caller to the radio station doesn't mean I won't point out the 'errors' when they occur.

Google Analytics Alternative