On Sunday, Lucas County Commissioner and mayoral candidate Ben Konop was in a church giving a political speech from the pulpit.
Aside from the fact that this was a Christian church and Konop is Jewish, and the fact that his fellow liberals, including the editorial board of The Blade, have previously said that "The Pulpit's for Preaching" (Blade editorial Oct. 5, 2008), what is most disturbing are the failed proposals he suggested in trying to pander to his listeners.
* He promised to 'acquire' funds from the $12 billion that President Obama has set aside for community colleges and use that money to help Owens Community College open a campus in downtown Toledo.
There have been numerous proposals to put higher education in downtown Toledo. The University of Toledo had a 'campus' at the Convention Center and offered classes there. The Blade has long pushed for moving the law school downtown, though there is little interest in moving it off the main campus of the University of Toledo. And there has been no indication that Owens even wants to put a campus downtown.
Of course, there is also no guarantee that Konop would be able to get $12 million for this purpose along with the question of whether or not our colleges and universities might have a better use for it should it be 'given' to us.
From a 'basic functions of government' perspective, it's not the role of the mayor to address higher education facilities - there are presidents and boards of trustees of those institutions to perform that task.
* Despite the failure of the state-wide push last year to implement such a policy in Ohio, Konop promised to put a ballot initiative before voters by November 2010 that would require businesses with 25 or more employees to provide paid sick days to both full and part-time employees.
The reason the unions pulled this off the ballot last November is because they could read the reaction of the public to this proposal just as well as everyone else - and it was in for a huge defeat. Businesses do not want to have their benefit packages dictated to them by a bunch of politicians. Employees want the ability to have benefits that meet their needs - not a one-size fits all mandate.
Locally, Toledo is at a huge disadvantage for attracting and retaining businesses with our higher payroll income tax, higher property taxes and the amount of regulations enforced upon them by current and previous councils and administrations. The last thing a Toledo mayor should do if they want to promote businesses in Toledo is create a new mandate.
Konop cites 'studies' that prove this mandate is good for business, but the paper doesn't identify which one(s), if they even asked. Of course there was an Ohio specific study which showed just the opposite, and my previous post on the issue addresses the discrepancies between the two.
I could go on and on about the fallacies presented by Konop to justify 'why' paid sick days is a good idea, but let's just look at Konop's background. He's never run a business, never been employed in a management position within a business and, as far as I can tell from his published background, never even worked in a private business. I think that says everything you need to know about his 'opinion' on what is good for business.
* He also wants a 'living wage' requirement for any business with 25 or more employees that gets money from or does business with the city. This proposal is similar to the one he presented for Lucas County, but couldn't implement because it wasn't allowed under state law.
Now, common sense will tell you that if companies hired by the city of Toledo have to pay their employees more, the costs of government will be higher than what they might be without this regulation. Duh!
The hypocrisy of this proposal is that living wages actually hurt those the politicians claim they will help. Additionally, the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce is on record opposing the proposal before the county, and will probably stay on record to oppose it if presented within the Toledo limits.
This will, as would the mandatory sick days, put Toledo businesses at a disadvantage within the region. That is not business-friendly.
* He also proposed merging the county and city building inspection departments. This actually has some potential for savings on the part of everyone and is an idea that should be considered. But why wait for an election? If it's a good idea, then start now to evaluate it and don't worry about whether or not it gets votes for Konop in November.
But you see, just like with many of his other proposals, they seem to be a ploy to pander for votes, not a genuine interest in reducing the costs of government.
Today's paper has the reaction of the other candidates to his proposals, including D. Michael Collins questioning the appearance in a church.
They all say the proposals are anti-business, put the city at a disadvantage, or are recycled failures. Konop's reaction is to personally attack some of them and call their positions 'right-wing talking points,' a phrase he utters often when people point out common sense observations that poke holes in his ideas. (note to Ben: it's getting old.)
The mayor is the CEO of the city and we need someone who, at the very least, has a modicum of supervisory/management experience. Konop doesn't - and his ideas and campaign are clearly designed to pander to specific groups with promises he cannot implement by himself.
The more Konop speaks, the more he proves that he's just not qualified for the position.