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Published: Monday, 9/24/2012

EDITORIAL

Clueless in Toledo

Some politicians appear to believe that voters will accept anything they do or say. They may be onto something.

Recent examples: Attendance by some Toledo City Council members at committee and regular meetings has been a problem for years. Three members have missed at least a dozen meetings this year: Phil Copeland (18), Lindsay Webb (16), and Mike Craig (12).

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Council members are paid for meetings they miss unless their excuse is not accepted by the rest of council (which never happens) or they ask to have their pay docked. To his credit, Mr. Copeland has done that for meetings he didn't attend. So has Tom Waniewski, who has missed a couple of committee meetings.

The excuses for missed meetings strain credulity. Mr. Copeland says he can't always meet his obligations on City Council -- a part-time job -- because his regular job often takes him out of town. Mr. Copeland, a candidate this year for the full-time job of Lucas County Recorder, seems to forget that most of his constituents would be fired from their part-time jobs if they didn't show up.

Ms. Webb says her constituents care more about the results she gets than whether she attends meetings. If her colleagues followed that reasoning, City Council would never meet and nothing would get done. Someone else must carry the freight when some council members fail to come to work.

At the same time, Mayor Mike Bell continues to press his case for raising the pay scale of about 70 top city officials. He assured council members -- with a straight face -- that it won't necessarily mean that anyone will actually get a raise.

The mayor argued that city directors, commissioners, managers, and attorneys are not covered by union contracts, that the pay ranges for their jobs have not been updated for more than a decade, and that they are paid much less than their counterparts in other cities. Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat warned City Council that not updating these employees' pay ranges would "send them a message that you don't value them."

So Toledo voters whose jobs vanished during the Great Recession, whose pay and benefits were cut, and who have taken second jobs to make ends meet are to believe that these officials don't really want more pay. The knowledge that they could be paid more is enough to reassure them that they are valued.

Finally, the mayor's office says that the 18-inch wheels, premium speakers, corner strobe lights, and specialty floor mats that came on its new, $42,000 Chevrolet Tahoe sport-utility vehicle are necessities when foreign visitors are shown Toledo's prime investment opportunities.

Really? Strobe lights? Some punch lines write themselves.



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