Friday, August 01, 2008

Does ESM's Civic Theater violate the Toledo Charter?

Here's the language of Section 79 of the City Charter:

Section 79. Compulsory referendum of certain measures - franchises.
No ordinance or resolution for a public improvement requiring or authorizing the expenditure of more than fifteen percent (15%) of the average gross annual current operating expenditures by the City for the five (5) fiscal years immediately preceding, or for the granting of a general public utility franchise, shall be effective until the same shall be approved by a majority vote of the electors voting thereon; provided, however, no convention center, exhibit hall, sports arena, or municipal theater, other than a sports arena located in the City's Marina District, being the area bounded by the Maumee River, Interstate Highway 280, Front Street and Main Street, shall be constructed, acquired, or leased unless the ordinance or resolution authorizing construction bidding, acquisition, or leasing shall have been approved by a majority vote of the electors voting thereon, whether or not such ordinance or resolution requires or authorizes the expenditure of more or less than fifteen percent (15%) of the average gross annual current operating expenditures by the City for the five (5) fiscal years immediately preceding. A general public utility is one in which all the people of the City may have an interest.

(Amended by electors 9-11-01)


Note the provision that "no convention center, exhibit hall, sports arena, or municipal theater, ... shall be constructed, acquired, or leased unless the ordinance or resolution authorizing construction bidding, acquisition, or leasing shall have been approved by a majority vote of the electors voting thereon..."

I've requested the details of the city's arrangement with Rob Croak for the new Civic Theater in order to see if the space is being 'leased' or 'rented.' Regardless, there is a question of the construction that has taken place to turn the Erie Street Market's Bay 4 into a 'theater.' It's been the location of the various stalls of individual vendors - food and retail outlets in the past and, more recently, the antique vendors.

Councilman Frank Szollosi has asked for a legal opinion about this issue - and I'm very glad he has. Other council members should join him by supporting his request. And the answer should be made public so we can see if we have a law department that is going to fairly and objectively interpret the law - or protect the mayor.

2 comments:

Robin said...

Have you received any of the info that you have requested, yet?

Maggie Thurber said...

No - but the questions were answered at the hearing yesterday.

According to their interpretation, the law director thinks this means that the city cannot enter into a lease to obtain a theater. If it can't build it or construct it, it can't lease one.

It can, however, lease out facilities it already owns.

However, according to yesterday's hearing, they don't have any contract other than a memorandum for renting the space with Croak.

They've gotten a proposal from him, but not entered into any contract.

Additionally, the memorandum they have with Croak to rent the space is not a standard contract and nothing at all like the contract they use for the Civic Center Promenade.

Go figure.

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