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Published: Monday, 7/16/2001

Missed deadline isn't the first for Beazley

It came as a surprise to many city leaders last week that Toledo council clerk Michael Beazley, a lawyer who has spent his career steeped in the local election system - serving several years as the top elections official for Lucas County - failed to meet a well-known deadline to file a tax measure with the board of elections after City Council had directed him to do so.

Council voted June 12 to put the measure on the September ballot. Mr. Beazley had until June 28 to file it. His assistant finally arrived at the board office with the election paperwork on July 9.

Because the paperwork never made it from Mr. Beazley's council office on Government Center's 21st floor to the Lucas County board of elections office on the third floor, voters will not get to decide whether to approve the 0.75 per cent income tax renewal when they go to the polls for the Sept. 11 election.

Council members said they were disappointed, but went forward last Tuesday with a new resolution ordering Mr. Beazley to file the tax measure for the Nov. 6 election.

A review of Blade files indicates this is not the first time Mr. Beazley has had difficulty filing paperwork and meeting deadlines:

  • Mr. Beazley practiced law without registering with the Ohio Supreme Court. He passed the Ohio bar exam in 1980, but never registered with the state's top court, a step required of all attorneys who are admitted to the state bar. The error went uncorrected for three years.

  • At the time he was county elections director, he missed the deadline for filing nominating petitions to run for Democratic Party precinct committeeman in 1986. He had to run for the 12th Ward seat as a write-in candidate. Qualifying for the ballot as a precinct committeeman is hardly a tough job - it takes five valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

    Mr. Beazley said he had just moved into the precinct and was unsure who else might run for the seat.

  • In 1998 he was appointed clerk of City Council, touting his expertise on the county elections board as proof he could work effectively. According to news reports at the time of his appointment, fellow elections board member Mark Berling, also a lawyer, said Mr. Beazley "is intimately familiar" with the local elections system.

    It is unlikely this tax measure, which raises some $52 million for city coffers and pays for some popular and vital services, will be defeated by voters, but even popular measures can never be approved if they never get to the ballot.

    As of Friday afternoon, the board of elections had still not seen the paperwork to put the measure before voters, but they soon will, Mr. Beazley said. "We are waiting for the signature from the mayor [on the resolution]. We will then get it downstairs."

    AS ELECTED officials in Washington continue to discuss campaign finance reform and contribution limits to political candidates, consider this: There are absolutely no limits to what people can contribute to candidates for mayor of Toledo or the City Council.

    Probably the largest single gift given to a mayoral candidate in recent times was the $30,000 gift from R.A. Stranahan to Republican candidate Paula Pennypacker in 1993. As the story goes, she went to him to ask for help, and he asked how much money she thought she needed to get through the September primary election.

    As the story goes, Ms. Penny|packer told her wealthy benefactor she figured it would take $30,000. What she didn't say is that she intended to do a lot more spadework to raise money from other supporters. But a minute later, her fund-raising work was done - she left the meeting holding a single check with lots of zeros.

    WARTS and all: On the back of a colorful fold-out tourist map that shows the locations of the various frog statues in downtown Toledo is a list of credits. Identified as part of the "frog support team" are Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, the city divisions of water, transportation, and facilities, TARTA, and the Toledo City Council.

    A tip-off that the map was produced by a consortium of local groups, and not by city government, is that Republican Gene Zmuda is named as council president. No one who knows City Council would ever make that mistake.

    Democrat Peter Ujvagi is the one who wields the gavel at City Council meetings and occupies the spacious corner office on Government Center's 21st floor that is reserved for the top council dog.

    Instead of trashing the 50,000 copies of the first printing and ordering an expensive reprint of the maps to correct the error, workers somewhere simply grabbed some permanent markers and blacked out Mr. Zmuda's name. A second printing of 75,000 is on its way. The mistake will be corrected.

    Fritz Wenzel covers politics for The Blade. Questions? Comments? Tips? E-mail: Fritz@theblade.com.



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