Saturday, April 04, 2009

Controversy over All America City award

It's good news and bad...

Toledo has been nominated as a finalist for the All America City Award. That's a good thing. Three projects - the Neighborhood Block Watch Program, Toledo GROWS and CAPA City (a youth program) - were highlighted in the application.

These are good programs and deserve the recognition and prior awards that have been given to them.

But many city residents are questioning how Toledo can be a finalist for such an award when we've got a $27.7 million budget deficit and the all the problems resulting therefrom.

The award program requires cities and presenters to travel to the National Civic League award ceremonies (in Tampa this year) and compete with the other finalists over a three-day period of time. The winners are announced at the end of the presentations.

At the press conference announcing our finalist status, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner was asked - or at least reporters tried to ask - if city money would be spent on this function and whether or not competing for such an award was the right priority for him considering the deficit and union problems.

His response was that he was going to stay on the positive side, that he was 'in charge' and wasn't going to answer such a question, and that reporters should 'get a life.'

While I understand the desire to focus on a positive thing for the city, it is ridiculous for the mayor to not anticipate such logical and reasonable questions at his press conference. He could have made such statements about no city monies being spent as part of his announcement, thus eliminating the need for reporters to ask, but he didn't. Instead, he got testy and indignant that they would even dare to suggest that the issue of funding an expensive trip during such economic struggles might have any relevance at all.

And when he gets like that, he says things he shouldn't - like telling reporters:

"Let me stay on the positive side and let me suggest that you guys get a life. We will, in all due respect, and I really do mean, get a life."

As callers and emailers to WSPD have said they are going to write the hosts of the competition and tell them what is really going on in Toledo, one can only wonder if our mayor and his comments will again become a national embarrassment. Sadly, because he wasn't exactly forthcoming on the application when detailing the 'challenges' the city faces (he identified declining participation in Block Watch programs and hunger as our challenges), the fact that the city is in dire financial straights may come as a surprise to the award sponsors.

Also, it would be a shame if the application's highlighted programs suffered as a result of our mayor's penchant for painting a rosy - and incomplete - picture of the city.

What he should have done was admit the financial struggles, point out the serious challenges, and highlight the deficit and the job losses and the foreclosures. And then point out that in spite of all those things, we have successful programs in the city that are flourishing despite the gloom of our economic conditions. This approach would have acknowledged the true state of our city and used that as a backdrop for showcasing the positive things that are going on and the can-do spirit of our citizens.

Instead, the award judges are going to get communications from Toledoans that will make it appear as if Carty was trying to hide the true condition of Toledo or that he was ignoring the elephant in the room.

If the truthfulness about our city and its condition is made known and negatively impacts Toledo's standing in the competition, Carty will blame others for pointing out the facts, accusing them of negativity, rather than blame himself for failing to be honest about those facts in the first place.

Have you had enough yet?


2Bn11FA said...

I find it a little odd that Carty would have a Press Conference to announce that Toledo was "nominated" for this award when he was the one doing the "nominating." If a city has to apply for the award or the recognition of this group, how is that an award?

Aren't awards normally give to unsuspecting persons or groups? A civic award for a citizen's bravery or for help "challenged" people. basically for doing something for which you expected no reward?

I find that submitting your own name/city for an award is quite, well ridiculous, to be polite.

For this or any award to be truly meaningful, shouldn't someone not from Toledo submit the city to the organization? Shouldn't Carty be running the City without expectation of fancy awards?

I find it just laughable, with the number of "prizes" this city has received that Carty has submitted Toledo for all of them. None are spontaneous submissions from impressed visitors. But rather from a doddering oaf of a Mayor trying to make himself look good.

Toledo is truly locked into a mentality of "if it looks good, people will forget the real problems we have!"

Between the outright lies and misdirection how can this city survive? Who can be trusted to right the floundering ship? I don't know.

Maggie Thurber said...


Your points are well-taken, but Toledo wasn't just's a finalist. So the announcement was that we had been selected as a finalist and were invited to go to the presentation round in Tampa...

MoveToTheBurbs said...

Maybe Toledo would have a better shot at winning this award if Carty simply sent a letter to the judges that said the following:

"Thank you for making us a finalist for All-America City. As good Americans, we know the meaning of sacrifice. As much as we'd love to travel to Tampa to be with you, we have decided to sacrifice the trip (even though made at our own expense) to stay home and work hard to improve the quality of life for all Toledoans. Thank you for your consideration.

His Carty-ness"

You know that if Toledo wins the "award", The Fink will immediately need to replace all city limit signs to reflect the award, and include his name, of course. Given that it is very likely The Fink will not be mayor later this year, does the city have the money to replace the signs twice?

DeeDee Liedel said...

I thought perhaps the application deadline was a couple of months ago, thus explaining that the financial outlook was not quite as dim then, but the deadline wash March 16.

Although the mayor says no city tax dollars will be spent on travel how much has been spent on preparing the application and how much will be spent on preparing for the presentation?

I know, I'm from the 'burbs, but Toledo's economic health does affect the suburbs.

chrispix said...

Yall are not the only city having this discussion. Rowlett, Tx is going to use Taxpayer money to fund this trip.

You can follow along here..

In addition I called the NCL to ask how many cities applied for this distinction, and I was told they don't release this kind of information. Is it because there were 34 cities that applied for it this past year?

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