Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Keith Burris

Lopez: Is force of will what we need?

Anita Lopez is a force of nature — a very, very strong woman.

The question is whether this is what the city needs.

For there is moral force and there is blunt force. Gravity is a natural force that grounds us; a hurricane is a natural force that brings chaos.

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The young Carty Finkbeiner was, to many, a wild force. He grew.

Ms. Lopez came to The Blade to meet with this newspaper’s editorial board yesterday. She makes a compelling case that she has been a good manager as county auditor. She says she has streamlined the office and that everyone who works for her is expected to bring his “A-game.”

She also makes the case that Mayor Mike Bell lives in an ivory tower and has lost touch with the struggling people of this city. Ms. Lopez’s supporters say she has overcome much to build her life. She came up the hard way and supports her mother and father as well as her children.

And, as she puts it, neighborhood block watch meetings will always come before fund-raising galas with her. There are no neighborhoods in the city where she is uncomfortable or afraid.

She believes in open government. She has made the auditor’s office transparent, and she pledges to release the city’s gang map to this newspaper. She freely confesses that she doesn’t much like the press, but journalistic scrutiny makes her a better candidate and gives the democratic process oxygen.

But one wonders, at times, whether Ms. Lopez has a full grasp of her own talking points and their implications.

She says homicides have doubled under Mayor Bell, which is untrue.

She’d like to engage in wholesale replacement of the city’s top level employees, which, particularly as the candidate of organized labor, she ought to know, is not possible. She wants the police chief to, once she is elected, quickly get on board with her plans or face removal. She has to know that it would be very hard to remove Chief Derrick Diggs. Finally, she says she is dissatisfied with the development of the Marina District. She says that she would try to get it back into city hands, sooner or later, even if she had to pay $3.8 million to do so. And who would develop it then? Local business, she says.

This is an odd and risky stand. Granted, nothing may be happening at the marina district. Or the Chinese may still be fully engaged, and the mayor may be quietly cultivating the deal. The public never quite knows what the mayor is doing. Ms. Lopez is right about that. But what is her alternative?

Similarly, Ms. Lopez has finally settled on the number of police officers the city should have: 700. Where will she get the money? She will seek federal dollars. Has she read any stories about the Congress lately? Good luck with that.

Ms. Lopez has been rapped for being overly prepped and protected.

Maybe there is a good reason. When unplugged, she is a bit reckless.

Is she an iron lady or not quite ready for prime time? Is she Maggie Thatcher or Sarah Palin? The campaign will tell us. That’s what campaigns are for.

Keith C. Burris is associate editor of The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.

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