Last night's Toledo City Council meeting gives a glimpse of what could happen in Toledo if we adopt the '9 is Fine' charter amendment proposal (Issue 2 on the primary ballot) and go to all district representation on our council.
Lisa Renee, at Glass City Jungle, has notes from the discussion, but you can listen for yourself here in the discussion over the Kroger store closing resolution.
In trying to be accommodating, council voted to allow comment from some audience members present for the issue. Council does not normally allow comments at their business meetings, as that is usually reserved for committees. And last night shows why.
Instead of addressing the issue of the Kroger store closing, one person from the Lagrange Village Council decided to attack District Councilman Michael Ashford over his representation, or lack thereof, on this issue and in general.
Now, I don't know about Ashford's relationship with the Lagrange Village Council, but I do know I agree with his position on the Kroger store: that it's a logical business decision for the store to make and while he may not like it, he can appreciate the company's position.
But part of the issue that made it into the news coverage of the discussion was that the store was not in Ashford's district.
Now, this wasn't an overwhelming consideration, but it did come up. And it raises the issue of what would happen if Toledo has only district representatives.
I've already spelled out my opposition to the '9 is Fine' charter amendment, including this particular scenario. But here it is - the balkanization of our city - already raising its ugly head...and we haven't even voted on the proposal yet.
I'm in favor of a smaller council and like the idea of an odd number, but I don't want to lose the accountability of seven members of council (my district rep and all at-large members) to have only two (my district rep and the super district rep) or three (add in the other district rep in the super district) directly responsible to me.
The big consideration presented by the supporters is that this measure would provide better geographic representation. While that may be the case - and could be seen as a positive - it is outweighed by the in-fighting we already see over limited capital improvement monies and the attention of city departments to individual district needs. Besides, I'm more interested in attention to issues and diversity of thought than I am in geography. We can mandate people from 1 to 100 districts, but that doesn't give us a balance of perspective, which is what this city so desperately needs.
So remember this when you go to vote in the primary - the problem already exists and Issue 2 will only make it worse.