Thursday, Aug 16, 2018
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Overdue for reform

Lucas County Treasurer Lindsay Webb has promised to release in the next month or two the credit report that initially disqualified her from taking office.

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The Lucas County Democratic Party central committee that chose Ms. Webb was seemingly surprised to discover her credit woes and even more surprised that most citizens thought it mattered.

Yes, most of us think a county treasurer ought to be able to keep his or her own books in good order.

In the meantime, it is worth asking whether Lucas County really should have an elected treasurer.

Why should this job be a beauty or popularity contest, any more than your accountant, or your financial adviser? We are not only talking about a title, but the series of tasks the title signifies.

Either the treasurer’s post is a bona fide job, which would mean the person occupying it should have the experience and skills to manage and invest hundreds of millions in county tax dollars, or it is a political bauble to be passed to and fro among the privileged.

The debacle of Ms. Webb’s ascension to the treasurer’s office makes the best case in years for meaningful reform of the county’s row offices and their functions.

In 2012, reformers fell short in their attempts to get a ballot measure before voters to create a new Lucas County charter. The new county government would have done away with the elected county commissioners and eight row offices. They would have been replaced by an elected county council and a county executive. Under the proposal, the executive would hire, with council approval, employees to handle what are now the functions of the the elected treasurer, auditor, coroner, clerk of courts, sheriff, recorder, and county engineer.

Good-government reformers could not get the petition signatures they needed to put their idea to a vote.

But Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz — the former treasurer whose seat Ms. Webb was appointed to fill — campaigned last year on a platform that included consolidation, regionalization, and the elimination of redundancies between the city and county. On the campaign trail he often mentioned functions such as building inspection, purchasing, economic development, and human resources as potential merger opportunities.

Now that Mr. Kapszukiewicz is in the mayor’s office, it is time for his administration, and the Lucas County commissioners, to get serious about looking for ways to fulfill that campaign pledge.

Some good citizen, or citizens group, might even revive a few of the proposals from the failed 2012 reorganization effort.

It is easier to advocate for good government than it is to accomplish it. But one small step toward good government is to not do absurd and comical things. Lucas County politics is the continual assertion that everyone who is in the club should eventually get a sinecure of some kind — regardless of qualification.

Most of the row offices are jobs, not honorific offices. The job of treasurer is actually a complex job. Handing it over to whatever joker is next in line is comical and absurd.

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