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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2010

Put dipping dilemma to voters

Meeting the challenges that face our community during difficult times requires leaders to reject politics as usual and embrace new ways of doing things. Now more than ever, we must endeavor to make city government more open, more transparent, and more accountable to Toledo taxpayers.

The practice commonly known as "double-dipping," whereby a working public servant simultaneously collects a regular paycheck and public employee retirement benefits, is unfair to our taxpayers and to other hard-working individuals who seek public employment. I recently proposed an amendment to the city charter that would curtail this practice. I am seeking the support of my colleagues on City Council to place this issue before voters in November.

Your June 3 editorial "Double-dipping" raises legitimate points. You are correct in asserting that "not all double-dippers are created equal" and that the most egregious abusers of this practice are politicians, whose actions unfortunately cannot be prohibited by city law.

You also express concern about a "blanket prohibition" preventing "bringing in talented government workers from elsewhere in Ohio." I share this concern. The amendment I have proposed makes this distinction, seeking to end the practice exclusively for employees who have retired from the City of Toledo.

It's time to stop recycling the same people and bring in fresh perspectives to confront our community's challenges. Although a statewide ban would be an ideal remedy to the "double-dipping" dilemma, Toledoans deserve the opportunity to vote on responsibly curtailing the practice in our community.

Joe McNamara

Member

Toledo City Council

On the subject of double-dipping, the issue that seems to be overlooked is a retirement plan that allows a person to collect benefits after only 30 years of service.

Taxpayers can no longer afford this. Instead of debating double-dipping, they should demand that any plan that allows employees to retire after 30 years be abolished.

Dan Dimas

Waterville

Before everyone jumps at the opportunity to berate public employees who return to work after retirement, consider this: Every person who retires, draws Social Security, and then returns to the work force is a member of that group.

If you are working after receiving Social Security, you are taking a job from someone who may need it to raise a family. So when The Blade states that "double-dipping should be banned altogether," that would include Social Security retirees. Be careful what you wish for.

L.R. Gillen

Maumee

For months, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell said the city had a huge budget deficit. Now he suddenly has found a consultant who will tell the city how not to lose money, at a salary of $60,000 ("Councilmen question need to hire Bell backer," June 3).

It's convenient that this consultant worked on the mayor's election campaign. The previous administration hired consultants for a variety of things, and the deficit grew.

Cut costs by not hiring a consultant, as this is living beyond our collective means. Or let the mayor pay the consultant privately. Because he receives additional pension funds and a city salary, he could afford it.

Anne Boyle

Juniper Drive

My granddaughter and I spent a leisurely couple of hours downtown at the main branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. Parking was explained as we arrived, and there was help when we validated the ticket.

However, no one mentioned that we had to leave the parking structure immediately after getting our parking ticket validated. We had a snack at the library's Eddy B's and shopped at the gift store for about an hour.

To my dismay, when we used the parking ticket to exit it would not open the gate. Too much time had passed between the time the ticket was validated and the time we were ready to leave.

That would discourage customers from using library services, something I'm sure we don't want to do.

Barbara A. Bacher

Oregon

Toledo must really be on the decline. How could the 54,000-square-foot Toledo Masonic Center have been auctioned off for a mere $100,000 ("Masonic sale brings $100,000," June 2)?

That's $1.85 per square foot, less than the price of a medium-sized home. How could this have happened in my former hometown?

L.F. Monahan

Oakhurst, Calif.

Do you want to help Toledo Public Schools? Close the charter schools.

Charter schools bleed money from TPS and serve only a select group of students. Each student who transfers from TPS to a charter school takes thousands of tax dollars with him or her. It's almost like going to a private school on tax dollars.

Close charter schools, give the tax money back to TPS, and keep Libbey High School open.

Judith L. Gable

Temperance

Global warming found in Gore household: Tempertures to rise for the unforeseeable future ("Gores agree to separate after 40 years of marriage," June 2).

Wally Igielski

Sylvania

I take issue with your June 2 editorial "Blame to go around."

No one would dispute your statement that "Israel has the right and the duty to take reasonable steps to stem the flow of arms to terrorist groups that seek its destruction." But framing the death of nine activists in international waters in that context is misleading and disingenuous.

The Freedom Flotilla carried no weapons or arms. Its mission is well publicized to Israel and the world: to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza and to challenge and draw attention to the siege of Gaza.

Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, said the ship was too large to be stopped by nonviolent means. Israel is using the blockade as collective punishment of the entire civilian population of Gaza.

You regurgitated Israel's accusation that the organizers of the flotilla have ties to Hamas. I would like to know what these ties are.

You mentioned that "the partial blockade of Gaza …permits the delivery of food, medicine, and power." That may be akin to jailers allowing life-sustaining measures for prisoners.

I agree with you that "questions about the incident need to be examined fully." I take issue with your statement that "the (United Nations') ability to conduct a truly impartial review at least raises doubts."

Your editorial continues the tradition of apologists for Israel who say that everything it does is in self-defense and therefore justifiable.

The UN is calling for "a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."

I know what Israel will say. Do you?

Phung Vo

Sylvania Township



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