Like mosquito bites, those occasional letters grumbling about Marilou Johanek's column in The Blade have the ability to irritate without doing any real harm.
As if to display ignorance of how journalism works, the letter writers claim Ms. Johanek is no journalist. Over the years, Ms. Johanek has compiled a demonstrated record as a journalist. But right now her assignment is to write her opinion. There's a difference between reporting the news and commenting on it.
And comment she does, with wit, insight, and reference to the sad realities of recent Republican governance and politics, from the endless failures of George Bush to the demonstrated inadequacies of Sarah Palin. That's more than you can usually expect from Ms. Johanek's heavy-handed fellow columnists Mona Charen and Jack Kelly.
Of course, Ms. Johanek's critics have no problem with Ms. Charen or Mr. Kelly, suggesting that they do, in fact, understand the difference between journalism and commentary. What makes the critics uncomfortable is informed opinion that differs from their own and, therefore, could make them think - if they'd give it a chance.
Keep on writing, Ms. Johanek. Your job is to make us think those of us willing to try it.
James H. Bissland
Although I have not lived in Toledo for 20 years or more, I keep in touch by reading The Blade on the Internet.
Lately, I have been watching the machinations of your illustrious mayor, Carty Finkbeiner. At no time, as least as far as I can recall, have I seen him say it is important for him to give up some of his perks. It seems to be much easier to lay off city workers.
I wonder why the voters of Toledo keep electing this guy. Perhaps someone there could enlighten me.
Ronald L. Brenneman
In this holiday season let's all reflect on the benefits and gifts that the strong mayor type of government has bestowed on us. We now enjoy a safety force smaller than any time in recent history. We have an impending layoff of city employees, record deficits, untold "pet" projects (Erie Street Market sound familiar?) forced upon us to pay for with our dwindling tax base, and a continuing delusional mind-set in the mayor's office.
Now we get to enjoy a rotating garbage pickup schedule with a thoroughly confusing calendar. What happened to the continued unlimited pickup and Cadillac of services we were promised via the new taxes?
Toledo has to pay millions of dollars every year for failed projects that were foolishly entered into under the guise of economic development and progress. I myself thoroughly enjoy a walk through the empty field of the Marina District and a blissful walk around a still empty and defunct Southwyck Shopping Center. But there is a bright side to this development; the City of Toledo did manage to spend capital improvement money to improve the roadways around Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's neighborhood last year.
After reflecting on the many dubious benefits and gifts bestowed upon us, can we please have a city manager type of government back? I don't think the residents of Toledo can afford the strong (arm) mayor style of government anymore.
Robert J. Zuber
LEAP is one of the most innovative, practical, and money-saving ideas to come from Toledo officials in a long time. It is not a radical change in trash pickup. The schedule is so easy a third-grader could follow it. People who live in Toledo should cut the schedule out of The Blade and post it on their refrigerators. If they are still confused, they can look out the window and see what their neighbors are doing. Be sure to look for the smart neighbors.
If all else fails, call the mayor's office for help. If the mayor is not available, leave a message. I'm sure he will call you back when he gets out of his $10,000 shower.
George W. Weidner
It was very troubling to read of the City of Toledo's $21 million budget deficit for 2009. It appears that city officials have identified numerous sacrifices in the budget but a nearly $3 million gap between revenues and expenditures still remains. It now appears that absent any other options, the city must lay off at least 45 employees since 75 percent to 80 percent of the city's costs are in wages and benefits. In my opinion, it is vital to avoid this serious reduction in personnel and in resultant city services.
An option that is currently being discussed pertains to concessions by city employees relative to the city's contributions to the Public Employee Retirement System pension program. Public-sector employees are covered by a retirement program through PERS that is separate and distinct from the Social Security program that covers private-sector employees. Unlike private-sector employees, who must contribute 7.65 percent of their wages for FICA and Medicare, most city employees have their contributions to PERS fully funded by the City of Toledo and its taxpayers. This costs the city $42 million per year. If all city unions would agree to a 3 percent PERS rollback for 2009, the city would have $3 million and therefore avoid the loss of at least 45 jobs.
While such a concession is never welcomed, it appears that such a sacrifice may be dictated by the economic times and by the urgent need to sustain vital city services.
Donald H. Saunders
Unions: Their time has come and gone, especially, if they continue to maintain their George Custer mentality.
Thirteen paid holidays? Come on.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner says the City of Toledo will save $400,000 if it changes the trash pickup schedule. Try crunching the numbers and telling the taxpayers what we would save if unionized city workers only got five to seven paid holidays.
Unions, they're on the march to the Little Big Horn and, just like Custer, it's not going to turn out well.
I see the City of Toledo has come up with a colorful plan to save taxpayers $400,000 in trash pickup labor. They propose doing this by using the colors yellow, green, red, orange, and blue. Apparently they think the colors will help us figure out when to put our garbage at the curb by jumping and leaping forward one business day after each holiday. All of this confusion will eliminate weekend labor costs and somehow save the residents of Toledo $400,000.
I have an idea, although it is much less complicated. If the goal is to eliminate weekends, why not simply eliminate trash pickup on the holiday for the neighborhood the holiday falls on, and pick their trash up the following week? This will free up some space on my refrigerator from the color-coded chart that the city won't have to print and mail to me. We will be able to figure this one out much easier. It's not very colorful but it is a thought.
In his Dec. 29 column, S. Amjad Hussain found the 1 million deaths that resulted from the Indian partition of 1947 to be "the biggest humanitarian disaster in modern history." There are many enlightened people who point to the Holocaust, which took more than 6 million innocent lives. Intellectual integrity would seem to lean in that direction when identifying modern history's most compelling example of man's inhumanity to man.
S. Scott Schwab
So, are we going to have color-coded fi re hydrants to go along with our trash collection days?
North Haven Avenue