Saturday, December 06, 2008

And so it begins - trying to discredit the recall effort

Today's paper has a story on the people behind the recall effort at Take Back Toledo.

Lacking information about who is involved, the story attempts to present the group as supporters of Jim Hartung, the former director of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority who was fired earlier this year. The Blade has long had a vendetta against Hartung that is well documented, so how else to start the discrediting of the group than to attempt to tie them to Hartung?

Hartung supporters
Other than Mr. Schlachter, membership in the group was not well-documented yesterday, but according to a person who was at the meeting at the Toledo Club, other recall backers include Tom Pounds, publisher of the Toledo Free Press; Andy Stuart, general manager of Clear Channel radio stations in Toledo, and Sanford Lubin, editor of the Toledo Business Journal.

All three have been critical of Mayor Finkbeiner and all three were supporters of James Hartung, the fired president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Hmmm...all three are also men, so does that have some significance? All three have also been critical of The Blade, so is that perhaps a reason to try and discredit them? I'm fairly confident the paper will try to portray this group as a bunch of dissatisfied media people who are only looking for increases in ratings or subscribers. But that would ignore the rest of the group, most of whom have not yet announced themselves.

Having been left out of the announcement process, the reporter asks several bank executives about the TBT group with some saying they were invited, but declined to participate. I suspect there are quite a number of business executives who believe they should be more involved in local governmental policies that impact businesses, but who would not want to be part of recalling a mayor. That's just a business perspective - not a criticism of the effort itself, as The Blade attempts to portray.

Of course, our Republican Party Chairman, Jon Stainbrook, weighs in on the effort by opposing it. Many in the party will not be surprised to find this is his position. He's quoted as saying the funds for the recall could be better used. Perhaps he's forgotten that Republicans are supposed to believe individuals are better judges of how to spend their money than government - or a political party.

It's also no surprise that two potential candidates for mayor, Republican Jim Moody and Democrat Keith Wilkowski, are supportive of the recall. To have an incumbent mayor face a recall effort at the same time as a re-election campaign certainly bodes well for his opponents.

If this were just a recall effort, I wouldn't see the point. Carty could actually end up being recalled at the same time he's re-elected as mayor. While that scenario is not probable, it is possible - especially in Toledo and especially with Carty.

However, the stated goals of Take Back Toledo are not just to recall the mayor, but to support a strong candidate for mayor who understands that the success of the business community is directly tied to the success of our city.

They also want to change the city charter. I will withhold judgment on their goal of modifying the city charter until I see what specifics they propose - but I'm already on the record as opposing a switch back to the city manager form of government because I believe a change in government structure does not mean we end up with a change in the philosophy of those we elect to govern.

The true test of this newly-formed group will not be the recall effort - nor will it be their ability to find, support and elect a mayoral candidate.

The true test will be of their own willpower and courage. Will this group be able to weather the political and Blade attacks that will surely come and, by doing so, encourage other business leaders to also take a stand on the various policy decisions that get made in our community? If they are successful in that regard, they will have accomplished much.


Lisa Renee said...

I found it disturbing the way that the article was incorrect about Tom Pounds and the Toledo Free Press's involvement. I'd also suggest that the phrase about Wilkowski is not accurate. From my understanding he would support signing the petition if asked because he believes in the democratic process as opposed to the way the article is phrased. There was no direct quote from him on this.

It's not surprising that it's being viewed as a vendetta type thing, so far the names of most of those announced have had issues with the Blade or the Mayor and the Hartung story as well as several other scenarios related to the Port Authority have been mentioned. The selection of Jerry Chabler is another one.

It would have been very difficult to avoid this as a reaction, it's human nature to not want to accept that there may be a valid point, that it must be driven by some other reasoning, perhaps if more people who were involved in the initial stages come forward that will diminish some of it. It's also understandable to realize why those who have already been deemed as "negative" would be more willing to announce their involvement. They've already established they are willing to not let the fear factor of speaking out that some still feel, stop them.

Personally I still feel that going through the amount of effort and money that will need to be spent might be better spent on the 2009 Mayoral election. That said, my concerns with Take Back Toledo have been more related to the transparency and paperwork/legal requirements aspect of it.

I fully support the legal right of residents of Toledo to decide if they want to recall any elected official, including the Mayor.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I too found the timing a bit perplexing, but for me the Charter Changes hit a familiar chord so I strolled over to have a look at their site.

I would have wished to been in on the planning from the get-go, but will wait to see what comes of the effort, in hopes that I could offer some of my own insights/opinions, re: the Charter Changes based on my 30 years of service.

So far, no further contact/reply...

Tim Higgins said...


I find it hard to believe that anyone is surprised that the Blade did a poor job of checking the facts and that as a consequence they got a good bit of the story wrong. This seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Going after Clear Channel and the TFP then becomes a natural consequence of one more editorial confused as news in the Blade.

Neither am I shocked to see this effort depicted as a payback for Jim Hartung (though perhaps in a way it is). When one of the few clear thinkers in the city's economic development was lost to petty politics, perhaps a breaking point was reached for some business leaders.

Finally, I am not surprised to see this portrayed as vendetta, though in my case, I could not help but recall the recent movie, "V is for Vendetta".

“Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

Perhaps this is a "Guy Fawkes" movement and one long overdue.

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