They detail 2,000 different expenditures to 1,700 vendors from October and November 2008. The total was more than $3 million.
"We also found items like $2,377 dollars spent at Bass Pro in Maumee, $1,842 at Appliance Center in Maumee, even a Gino's Pizza bill for $383."
Kudos to them for getting and publishing the information, but February is too late for any of us to do anything about it, especially when the attitude from the mayor's office is that all the expenditures were less than $10,000 so none of them had to be approved by City Council before being paid.
If we had transparency in local government and required that the city's check register be published, we'd know about these things when the check was written.
Many cities and states have found a way to put their detailed expenditures on line in a searchable database. Citizens, media and organizations can then view all the items purchased and from whom.
Why hasn't Toledo done this?? If these expenditures had to be publicized and we could all look at them in a timely manner, would there be pressure on the elected officials to be more judicious in their spending? Would they fear the light shining on their activities? Would we know about spending soon enough to prevent multiple under-$10,000 contracts for a single project - like when the mayor broke up remodelling work at the Erie Street Market so he didn't have to submit it to council?
And even if it didn't do these things, would it still be a good idea so we can keep track of how our tax dollars were being used? I think so.
We need to demand that our city put it's check register on line. This deserves the support of candidates and our political parties. City Council members should get behind this drive, especially because it seems they're also in the dark when it comes to city finances. They supported a requirement that the mayor's budget submission in November be balanced, so this would be the next logical step.
Call your council members and tell them we need transparency and we have a right to know how the city spends our money.
City Council phone number: 419-245-1050