I was thinking about The Blade’s story by Tom Troy about Anita Lopez Sunday as I mowed the lawn.
My wife and I are new homeowners in Toledo, and our lawn had not been cut in a long time. We went to Sears and bought a hand mower. It’s small yard, we said, and this is a “green” thing to do. Also kind of a dumb thing. The lawn turned out to be bigger than the mower or the man mowing. So much for the idealized concept of what will work.
I am wondering if the concept of Ms. Lopez is in conflict with the reality.
On paper, she is a perfect candidate for mayor: She has true passion for the city, an impressive resume, and she’s overcome a lot to get where she is.
But two things about her are emerging that compromise the biography and the resume: poor judgment and an inability to think on her feet. Talking issues and policy without a script seems to be difficult for her.
Judgment: An earlier Blade story details Ms. Lopez’s credit history and debt. I understand that good and able people have debt problems and that single mothers have a hard, hard way to go. But few people with debt problems aspire to manage something. And we are talking about managing a city. Put this together with the Sunday story about Ms. Lopez’s top staffers also being enthusiastic campaign volunteers and financial contributors. This is not illegal. And its certainly not new. It’s how things have been done in big-city politics for years, going back to turn-of-the century Boston. In Detroit, for example, the tradition was that if you were part of the machine, you got a job, and you kicked in to the machine and its candidates. But how well has that practice worked out for the city administrations of Detroit, or Chicago, or Toledo?
Most cities, and most mayors, have been trying to move toward administrative competence over hacks and cronies. Toledo needs more pros and fewer hacks. The current mayor has appointed some fine people. And some hacks and cronies. The alternative candidate should be one who is more professional and progressive about appointments, not less.
Most disturbing is that the people close and loyal to Ms. Lopez don’t just get sinecures but promotions and raises. As noted, this is legal. And Ms. Lopez has stated for the record that she does not require employees to contribute to her campaigns. But that’s not how it’s done, and we all know it. She doesn’t need to ask.
This cronyism — pals get good jobs, give to the campaign in one way or another, and then get better jobs — doesn’t pass the smell test. And it not good government. We all know that too.
Back to my lawnmower. My wife, watching me and laughing asked: “Did we made a mistake?” Possibly.
Some of Ms. Lopez’s backers have to be wondering if they made a mistake and it is not too late to find another horse. Abraham Lincoln said that when you make a bad bargain you should hug it all the tighter. That’s rare, bad advice from Honest Abe.
Keith C. Burris is associate editor of The Blade.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6266.