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Published: Tuesday, 5/11/2010

Elections enlighten the voter

I agreed with almost everything Blade Editor David Kushma said in his May 9 column, "Primary had winner, losers, no-shows."

I was working in Cincinnati and drove back just to vote in the primary because I care about our community.

I agree with the column's assessment of Toledo City Councilman Joe McNamara. He has been one of the only ones who seems to really care about the community - until the past couple of months. I thought his "no" vote on the city budget was strictly a political move, and I am glad it backfired.

We needed City Council to step up and fix the budget issue, and his unwillingness to do so in the runup to the primary was discouraging.

I voted "no" on the Toledo Public Schools tax because I do not think the school district is serious about cutting costs and providing the value for our dollars that we should get.

I also feel the public employee unions have lost all touch with reality.

The teachers, the police, the city workers - all of these unions have lost the point of why they were started in the first place - to protect workers who cannot fight for themselves.

All they do now is take advantage of the taxpayers and nonunion employees.

It is called the "employee's contribution" for a reason. I have to pay into my 401(k) from my paycheck. Why don't they?

Matt Opperman

Harlan Road

In late March, the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association sought a temporary restraining order against the City of Toledo. The issue was the city's use of "exigent circumstances."

The city claims it has such urgent financial problems that drastic measures must be taken.

The mayor and his staff have to provide details and information to the State Employment Relations Board so it can make the final ruling on such unusual methods of economic recovery.

City Council decided its opinion in the matter was good enough for now, and the city said it would immediately begin to reduce the paychecks of city employees. These reductions in pay violate the collective-bargaining agreements the city and the unions signed.

Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge James Jensen ruled that he could not grant the temporary restraining order because his court did not have jurisdiction over labor matters and the labor dispute belongs in front of the State Employment Relations Board. The city is reducing the pay of members of its two police unions.

The judge's ruling contradicts the Ohio Revised Code: "The state employment relations board or the complaining party may petition the Court of Common Pleas for any county wherein an unfair labor practice occurs. … The court has exclusive jurisdiction to grant the temporary relief or restraining order it considers proper."

When is Judge Jensen up for re-election?

Timothy J. Hanus

Harbord Drive

In response to your May 9 editorial "Let Taxpayers vote," I think it is a great idea to let the voters vote on whether the city pays contractual obligations to its workers.

Why wouldn't the voters be in on that? In fact, the voters should be sitting at the negotiating table when the unions negotiate with the city.

But let's take it a step further. We should put on the ballot an initiative that all residents of Toledo receive the local newspaper for free. Let's let the voters decide whether you should be paid for your product.

Michael Smith

University Boulevard

Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, said in the aftermath of the recent local election: "... I will not take a settlement on the layoffs that they put forward" ("Poor revenue may add $4M to TPS deficit," May 6).

The union is cut out of the same cloth as any another union refusing concessions.

The time for negotiating, posturing, and dancing around the fundamental issue has passed. Taxpayers cannot afford the contracts some politician signed.

In the case of TPS and its unacceptable contract, take away the monopoly from the monopolist.

Give all families a choice in the form of a voucher. It would then be sink-or-swim time.

Stephen G. Spitler

Meadowwood Drive

On May 4, voters in the Toledo and Springfield public school districts voted down levies to generate school funding.

Property-tax levies have become increasingly difficult to pass in recent years, causing schools to make severe cuts.

Ohio and many other states have challenged the use of property taxes as the main source of funding for public schools.

In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court declared Ohio's system of funding schools through property taxes unconstitutional. Our lawmakers sat idly by.

In 2007, a group called Getting It Right for Ohio's Future attempted to put an initiative on the November ballot that would have established public education as a fundamental right, which would put the responsibility for funding on the state, rather than on property owners. Again, our lawmakers sat by.

Community members need to work together to demand that state lawmakers find a solution that will effectively fund the schools by supporting a ballot initiative, and voting lawmakers who sit idly by out of office.

Amanda VanNess

Waterville

The year was 1961. I was a boy of 10. I received my first transistor radio from my father for my birthday in March. I turned it on just before a Detroit baseball game began and heard those wonderful words: "Tiger baseball is on the air!"

Ernie Harwell and George Kell did the play-by-play, and I was in my glory because those two made the game so exciting from beginning to end ("Harwell enlivened and enriched baseball," May 7).

Dennis Shonebarger

Beaufort Avenue

It's front-page news in The Blade, with a nice big photograph, when a poor "pit bull" might be put to sleep ("Once facing death, Amos embarks on a fresh start," April 23).

Then an innocent 11-year-old girl gets viciously attacked by a "pit bull" that jumps a fence.

The responding officer is also attacked and bitten, and must finally pull his gun and shoot the dog to save himself and the little girl. That story was buried on Page 7.

Too bad Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop wasn't there to explain to the girl and police officer that "pit bulls" aren't really vicious dogs.

Maybe he could have even explained that to the dog while the "pit bull" was chewing on the officer's arm.

Wesley Wurm

Oregon

Not reading enough about our local dogs? They get full pages and pictures.

Now you have a sports columnist writing a column about his dog dying ("Fond farewell to this man's very best friend," May 2).

You want to help this city and its schools? Put more pictures of students in the newspaper. Let the dog thing go.

Rick Sobecki

288th Street



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