Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Toledo election results - stuck on stupid

Has Toledo fallen into a sink hole
from which we will never recover?
I cannot express how disappointed I am in Toledo's election results. We've put back into office the same names, same philosophies and the same stagnation that has us wishing for the 'good ol' days' only to be disappointed - again and again and again.

You know the definition of insanity? Toledo exemplifies it.

The unions and the Blade didn't want Mike Bell to be mayor again, primarily because they couldn't control him. But they fail to realize that he was actually doing good things in the city.

D. Michael Collins ran ads excoriating Bell for his economic development trips to China and for selling the Marina District to business developers who - eek! - don't look like us. What Collins and his supporters failed to realize is that doing so turned the District into a revenue-producing asset (primarily through the property taxes paid) instead of a drain on the city requiring constant upkeep.

No, it's not yet been developed as everyone, including the owners, would like, but at least it's not an albatross hanging around the city's neck like it had been under the previous mayors.

Collins is now between a rock and a hard place. Does he really think the owners of the Marina District are going to want to work with him to actually develop the property? Or will they wait it out until the next election? Or perhaps, like so many other business owners, leave the city altogether?

How will a mayor who criticized the outreach now reach out to those who have the ability to bring companies and jobs to the city?

Did anyone stop to think about that when they were jumping on the bandwagon?

And then there is city council which, except for Sandy Spang (the only bright hope of the night) is nothing but a repeat of old, tired names we've had all along.

Rob Ludeman, Jack Ford, Sandy Spang, Steven Steel, Theresa M. Gabriel and either Adam Martinez or Larry Sykes will be our at-large representatives on council. But even Gabriel isn't for certain. Only 75 votes separate her from Martinez, who is only 34 votes ahead of Sykes. The results are unofficial and I'm sure there are provisional ballots which were cast so it's really to early for any of the three to be celebrating.

But for Toledoans, it doesn't really matter. They're what we already have in terms of philosophy and approach - and at least two of them are names we've seen and heard over and over and over again. I have to wonder, though, if Sykes thinks not running for re-election to the school board was a bad idea. He was pretty much assured of that seat.

We've gone back to Jack Ford - again. He was first elected to City Council in 1993, the year I was elected clerk of Toledo Municipal Court. He then served as mayor (between Carty Finkbeiner stints) and then went to the school board. I think he also did a term in the state legislature - hard to keep track of the offices he's jumped to and from. He was so bad as mayor that Finkbeiner, whom he defeated after two terms, was able to get elected again. The joke was that we were on a pendulum swinging between crazy and lazy and definitely preferred the crazy side, which is why we back to Carty.

You'd think we'd learn our lesson. Apparently not.

And Gabriel, if she is elected, is an old Finkbeiner ally having served in his cabinet, but also appears to get along well with Ford.

Rumor has it that Finkbeiner is interested in being appointed to fill the district seat Collins will vacate when he's sworn in as mayor. Can it be any worse for Toledo? These are the same people who led us to our current decline/stagnation, but they're old (both physically and in length of time in the public eye) and must be familiar. We just seem to have a disconnect between the people and the policies they advocate which keep earning us the name of 'little Detroit.'

Then there is the Toledo School School board. Bob Vasquez was the top vote-getter which is not surprising considering he was the only incumbent. I like Bob. I've always respected his service on boards and commissions, even when I might have disagreed with him - which wasn't as often as some may think. At TPS I believe he pays good attention to the financial aspects of the school district and he was an early supporter of the performance audit I pushed for. Again, we don't always agree, but I think he's better than most when it comes to an elected official.

But who fills the two vacant seats? Polly Gerken-Taylor, wife of sitting County Commissioner and former Toledo Councilman Pete Gerken and, until now, a perennial candidate ... and Chris Varwig. a long-time TPS volunteer who says she wants to be an advocate for parents and has no desire to run for city council. She may be the second bright hope - if she doesn't get railroaded by the politics inherent in the system. My hope is that she will find allies in Vasquez and fellow board member Dr. Cecelia

As for Polly (because the hyphenated name is just too much), the primary thing she has going for her is her husband's name and unions. Then there was her ridiculous campaign slogan, "now is the time." For what? For her to finally get into public office? She didn't campaign for anything other than what the board has always done. And our test scores, declining enrollment and general failure of the schools is the result. No wonder parents send their kids elsewhere.

On a good note, Josh Lanzinger was elected judge of the Toledo Municipal Court. He'd been appointed to the position and was able to keep it, primarily through the limited incumbency, but also because of the extremely familiar name (his mom is Supreme Court Justice Lanzinger with a long successful history of election in Lucas County). He'll most likely keep the seat for as long as he wants it.

But that's about all...

Let me share with you some of the comments from my Facebook friends:

"Toledoans will elect and reelect the same names and faces that have presided over Toledo's decline for decades...and then complain that it keeps getting worse."

"What's funny Maggie is people in Toledo acting like there is "change" or we will some how move out of the status quo... yes they have said that... but they keep voting the same status crap in."

"Toledo Businesses are voting,... on their way out. Is it any mystery Maggie, that we builders and developers are putting up new houses and subdivisions in the surrounding area and not into Toledo. Failing schools, failing philosophy. Who with a clue wants to live there?"

followed immediately by:

"This is why I will never expand my business to Toledo."

And then this from dear friend and fellow blogger Tim Higgins:

"Perhaps Toledo can put in for designation as a "Green City" for all of the candidate recycling that it did this election."

Maybe, but it won't help. As Sam and I have said for decades: Toledo is like a drug addict who hasn't yet hit rock bottom to know it needs to change.

"Toledo.... the future Detroit of Ohio."

Indeed. :(

btw: this DEFINITELY qualifies for 'stuck on stupid' though now I'm wondering just how stupid am I that I stay....


Mad Jack said...

Right now, it looks like Sykes will be demanding a recount.

Theresa M. Gabriel 19,274
Adam J. Martinez 19,202
Larry J. Sykes 19,163
Shaun Enright 18,695

I agree with your observations about Toledo voters, but at the same time I'd like to point out that there isn't much choice.

SHELLY said...

Having served with Chris Varwig on Parent Congress, I have great hope that she will be able to be affecting change for TPS students. She knows and has good relationships with many of the players in this game, so to speak, and us also aware of the pitfalls and adversaries. I look forward with hope (for the first time in many years) that TPS can make measurable changes in the right direction.

James said...

It's time to change the Toledo city motto to "Stuck on Stupid — and Proud of it."

Roland Hansen said...

I agree with Mad Jack. I add one thing in the form of a rhetorical question: With a voter turnout of 20% or so (heck, even if it were 50%), who should we truly hold responsible for such results?

wolfman said...

Roland makes a point: Who should we truly hold responsible for such results? The turnout was 25% and voter apathy is at an all time high. Voters are tired of being lied to and coupled with the loss of middle-class manufacturing jobs, they just don't see the point of it all. Until both parties get off the corporate bankroll this democratic system is in real trouble. As for the Mayoral election results, can it truly be any worse?

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