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Published: Thursday, 10/5/2006

Councilmen play game by different set of rules

Guy walks into a bar.

He pulls up a stool beside his longtime pal ."Hiya, Joe," he says.

"Hiya, Eddie," says Joe. "What's new?"

"I've been thinking about trying to meet some city councilmen, to talk about that business I want to start. Think I should?" Eddie asks.

"Hey, I'm just a regular working guy, but it seems to me that's what those business types do: They meet with politicians. So, yeah, I think you should," Joe says.

"I've never done this before," Eddie admits. "Do I just call 'em up at city hall and ask for a meeting?"

Joe sips his beer, thinking, and then his face lights up like a Christmas tree.

"Hey, I got a better idea! There was something in the newspaper about some ethics policy thingy that council just voted on. And this story talked about how council people needed to take freebie sports tickets and stuff for their job."

Eddie looks puzzled, so Joe reaches for a wrinkled copy of The Blade from down at the end of the bar.

"Yeah, see? Council 'adopted

a new gift-reporting rule for

itself yesterday.' Read right here!"

Joe points to Council President Rob Ludeman's explanation that a University of Toledo football game offered a prime opportunity to chat with UT President Lloyd Jacobs.

Eddie begins to read aloud:

"Says here Ludeman called the game 'an opportunity to talk with Dr. Jacobs at a time when the university and the former Medical University of Ohio are completing a merger, without having to pass the cost along to taxpayers.' Hey, Joe, what's he mean by that?"

Joe shrugs and says: "Heck if I know. I'm guessing, though, that the UT president's invitation means Ludeman doesn't have to shell out $24 for the ticket himself - er, I mean, from his $200 monthly council expense budget."

"Boy," says Eddie, shaking his head slowly, "so that's how the big shots do it! You and me, Joe, we go to a Rockets game and talk about my business idea, we're still reaching into our own pocket. But the fat cats, they've got it down to a science, don't they?"

"You bet," says Joe, reaching into a bowl of stale peanuts. "Take a tip from those guys, Eddie. You're gonna need to get yourself some luxury boxes so you can pay for politicians' time and attention, you know what I mean?"

Joe leans over and reads

some more out loud from the newspaper article, this time Councilman George Sarantou's rationale for accepting Dr. Jacobs' offer to be his guest at a home game.

"Listen to this, Eddie, here's what that councilman said: 'I don't go to watch the game. I go to talk to people about different things going on at the university.' That's what Sarantou told the newspaper, Eddie. That's inspiring, ain't it? Whaddya think about that, eh, Eddie?"

Eddie sits quietly for a moment, then says:

"Well, Joe, I'm just an everyday guy, but here's what I'm thinking: Maybe council doesn't really need any city hall offices, if they have their really important meetings at places like luxury stadium boxes."



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