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The GOP hates Toledo

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A red light speed camera sits near the intersection of Cherry Street and East Delaware Avenue in Toledo.

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It’s hard to resist the impression that Ohio Republicans really hate Toledo.

The latest piece of evidence is the speed and red-light camera legislation that passed last week in the House.=

House Bill 140, which passed the chamber 71-24, would take away revenue equal to the revenue the city receives from red-light and speed cameras. The bill is headed for the Senate.

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The bill comes up as the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next month on a lawsuit challenging a very similar law.

Let that sink in.

While the Supreme Court gets ready to deliberate on a law restricting Toledo’s right to use red-light cameras, the Republican-controlled House has moved to pass yet another bill to do the same thing.

The legislation shows contempt not only for cities in Ohio that have desired, in their own home-rule wisdom, to use automated cameras to help enforce laws, but for the Supreme Court itself.

Such is the hatred that the Ohio General Assembly has for the cities of Ohio — including Toledo.

The General Assembly’s bill would deduct from Toledo’s annual local revenue subsidy from the state the identical amount that the city collects from such cameras and transfer it to the Ohio Department of Transportation for public safety projects.

State Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) put it mildly when he said, “It’s egregious and mean-spirited.”

Lawmakers in Columbus piously suggest that if safety and not revenue were their intent, Toledo authorities should gladly give up the money. Maybe they will. The city is still operating the cameras.

Toledo is not motivated by the money any more than any other agency in the state is motivated by money. Criminal courts impose fines. Bureaus such as those giving out licenses for driving and hunting charge fees for those licenses. The goal in both of those cases is not to make money but to pay for the administration of a program.

Ironically, it is the Ohio General Assembly that seems to have its greedy eyes on red-light camera revenue, as the purpose of the legislation is to seize, in the manner of a school bully, the revenue that Toledo collects from its cameras. You don’t see the General Assembly proposing to give that money to the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The idea that Republicans actively despise the city of Toledo is not an isolated thought. Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz gave vent to that suspicion in his State of the City speech on Feb. 22 when he said “indifference [from the state] would be preferable to what the reality is, and the reality is a hostility to the goals and the ambitions of cities like Toledo.”

One would think the state representatives whose districts border Toledo would show some sympathy or consideration to Toledo, out of regional respect — the same region that wants Toledo to give up its water utility for the benefit of the region. Not so. Republican Rep. Derek Merrin, who lives in Monclova Township and who represents District 47, which borders Toledo on the west, or Theresa Gavarone of Bowling Green, whose Wood County 3rd District is just across the Maumee River from Toledo, dutifully cast their votes in the affirmative.

So did Republican Reps. Jim Hoops (R., Napoleon), Steve Arndt (R., Port Clinton), Bill Reineke (R., Tiffin), Robert Sprague (R., Findlay), Craig Riedel (R., Defiance), and Robert Cupp (R., Lima).

It’s shameful and discouraging for the cities of Ohio to be held in such low regard by the state’s lawmakers.

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