Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Paper, Mayor hate poor people and the planet

It was only a matter of time before Mayor Carty Finkbeiner weighed in on the plan to demolish the existing United Way structure and build a new one.

What I didn't expect, however, was employing the force of government, through a zoning regulation, to prevent this non-profit from going through with its plans.

In a letter to the United Way's board chairman and president, and to the Stranahan Foundation, Carty urges them to reconsider their decision due to the 'value' of the building.

"The building is far too valuable to the community to simply knock down and replace with a smaller, generic office building. Cities known for their quality of life embrace a preservation ethic that benefits the entire community, rather than a tear down mentality. Toledo has made great progress in renovating the re-using distinctive buildings that enhance community identity and pride, and I am convinced that the demolition of the United Way Building will halt this progress and be a step backwards for the City and for the United Way."

I'd love to know who, exactly, Carty spoke to at the United Way prior to determining that demolition of the building would be a 'step backwards...for the United Way.' This letter could have been written by The Blade editorial board, but it is signed by the mayor.

The arrogance and presumption of the mayor doesn't stop with his conclusion that a less-costly and more efficient building is a bad thing for the United Way. No - he invokes the power of government to threaten the non-profit agency.

"As a point of information, the United Way Building is located within the Downtown Overlay Zoning District and demolition of the building would be subject to review by the Toledo City Plan Commission, with comments solicited from the City Historic District Commission. The City Plan Commission has the authority to impose a waiting period of up to six months from the date of the hearing of the application.

Again, I respectfully urge you to reconsider your decision to demolish this unique and distinctive building and to explore all other options. The City and I will assist the United Way in every way possible - except the demolition process."

While he didn't say it, Carty didn't need to point out that he appoints all the members of the Toledo City Plan Commission...wonder what decision they will make considering the opposition to the demolition from both the Mayor and the paper?

But, if that's not enough, the Toledo City Historic Districts Commission also weighs in on the issue. As the self-described "historical conscience of the City" they suggest selling the building if the United Way decides not to renovate it. It is, they insist, the embodiment "of the spirit of a community that works together." They also "extend an invitation for continued dialogue between all interested parties for an equitable and just solution that benefits both the United Way of Greater Toledo and the City of Toledo."

Considering that the only parties are the United Way and their tenants, I cannot imagine just what type of dialogue they want to host - or whose definition of "just solution" will be employed.

There are many free-market and private property proponents who see overlay districts, historic districts and plan commissions as a way for government to dictate their wants and wishes to private property owners ... always in the guise of the 'greater good' for the community. This appears to be a classic example that fits their concerns to a 'T.'

The United Way is a private organization and they own the property. The building on the property no longer fits their needs and detracts from their ability to fulfill their mission of aiding and assisting the needy in the community.

Now, a bunch of people who don't have to pay the bills for the building have decided that the 'historical' or 'cultural' aspect of the brick and stone (which are not that old, mind you) are more important than the mission of the United Way. And they're threatening the force of government to prevent this private property owner from doing what they think is best with a building and property they own.

Sadly, between the force of government and the coverage of the local newspaper, the United Way will become bogged down in what other people want rather than in their continuing mission to help meet serious needs in the community.

No matter what is decided, the United Way will present the outcome as something they support and agree with, because they're dependent upon the good nature of the mayor and the paper for continuing donations. But that factor alone makes the opining by these two inappropriate and an abuse.

Sadly, the law may require the United Way to go through the rigmarole of the Plan Commission and bow to the process if not to the actual desires of people who won't have to foot the bill for the building they're so anxious to maintain.

And these liberals and Democrats who are constantly telling everyone they they stand up for the 'little guy' will force these actions against the United Way to the detriment of the many families who rely upon the services the United Way funds.

How many families will have to go without food or coats or heat this winter because money the United Way could have spent to help them was, instead, spent paying for an inefficient and costly building?

And what about the energy consumption of this existing building? Isn't its lack of energy efficiency wrecking the planet and contributing to global warming? Wouldn't it be better for the United Way to have a new 'green' building with solar panels, rooftop garden and other such environmentally friendly amenities? Aren't the mayor and the paper contributing to the global climate crises by opposing the destruction of this non-green building????

Their actions on this issue should be a clarion call to all that the liberals and the Democrats are not really looking out for the best interests of the 'working families' of the city - they're exhibiting their hypocrisy in their quest for government control and their idea of aesthetic perfection.


Tim Higgins said...


You can't help but ask yourself what took the Mayor so long to weigh in from his bully pulpit on this subject unless it was to wait for marching orders from the Blade. (Of course it may simply have been that the Mayor's office was busy answering ESM questions or fulfulling FOIA requests.)

So now United Way must spend additional money and waste time catering to local egos instead of serving their function. Perhaps they will even be forced to live with an inefficient buidling of no historical significance or particular beauty.

Is it just me, or is there a particular smell that seems to be rising on yet another project as political hands are laid upon it?

Maggie Thurber said...

Ah, Tim...see today's post. The mayor had no problem with this plan until he got word from The Blade...at least, according to what Michael Miller is reporting...

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

Better idea United Way!!!
Move out of Toledo and leave the building vacant. Mothballing would surely be cheaper than demolition and you can build the building wherever you want and any way you want. Say Sylvania township for example. Your employees will stop paying Toledo income tax that way. and the preservationists at the blade will have another vacant building like the Fiberglass Tower to admire.

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

The county says this building is worth $5 million. Does the Blade and the City of Toledo have $5 million to make the United Way whole

Robin said...

Looks like the United Way will be moving out the the 'burbs. And we'll have Carty on TV crying about it.

Robin said...

I also want to put in that I don't believe that Carty is a liberal or a Democrat (he did use the Republican moniker, at one point). He's just Carty, with his own agenda.

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