Clear Images owner Frank Ozanski shows off some of the signs made at his business. The Toledo fi rm made signs for three of four candidates seeking an at-large City Council seat.
At-large Toledo City Council candidate Dave Schulz yesterday accused one of his opponents, Democrat Joe McNamara, of hypocrisy for championing the "brain drain" issue while buying campaign signs in Indiana rather than locally.
"Mr. McNamara's use of an out-of-state sign printer while not even attempting to buy from a locally owned union shop is outrageous and hypocritical," Mr. Schulz said yesterday while standing in front of Clear Images, a printing business at 121 11th St. in downtown Toledo.
"Instead of stemming brain drain, McNamara is contributing to it," he said.
Mr. McNamara, who is not endorsed, acknowledged that he bought his signs from America's Campaign Store, of Jeffersonville, Ind., a suburb of Louisville, after someone on his campaign researched graphics prices online, including Clear Images. Both businesses use union printers.
"It's not true that we didn't compare prices," Mr. McNamara said. "While it's important to buy local, it's also important to be fiscally responsible, and taxpayers can count on me to spend their money with the same discretion I spend my campaign's money."
Clear Images printed campaign signs for Mr. Schulz, who is the endorsed Republican for the council seat in the Nov. 7 election, as well as for two other candidates in the race - endorsed Democrat Lourdes Santiago and unendorsed Democrat Bob Vasquez.
Mr. McNamara fired back a question for Mr. Schulz, asking, "Would Dave spend taxpayer money without concern for cost or value?"
That prompted a response from Mr. Schulz, who said he is the purchasing manager of a Toledo medical products manufacturer.
"I spend my employer's money wisely and would continue to do so as a councilman," Mr. Schulz said.
Mr. McNamara has made brain drain a key issue in his campaign. Last month, he unveiled a list of 10 ideas to combat the loss of educated young people from the Toledo area. None of them involved advocating buying local products.
According to their Web sites, America's Campaign Store charges $1,555, plus shipping and $35 for a union-made label, for 1,000 doubled-sided yard signs, while Clear Images' price for 1,000 slightly smaller yard signs is $1,940.
Clear Images' owner, Frank Ozanski, said the prices on the Web site are out of date, and his current price for yard signs is $1,760.
He said the cost of shipping the signs, with their wire frames, from the Louisville area to Toledo would close much of the price gap, and that local political candidates save money by assembling the signs themselves.
The Blade requested but was not provided a price quote for shipping from America's Campaign Store.
Mr. Ozanski said he was upset that he wasn't given more of a chance to compete for Mr. McNamara's business.
"He probably went online, looked up signs, and picked the cheapest one," Mr. Ozanski said.
Mr. Ozanski said his family-run business acquired Design Graphics, of Bowling Green, two years ago and merged it with the family's textile-printing business, Clear Images.
The council candidates are competing for the three years remaining in former Democratic Councilman Bob McCloskey's at-large term. McCloskey resigned in May in a bribery scandal.
Two other candidates said they bought their signs from Clear Images.
Ms. Santiago said she wanted to patronize a local business. But she also has at least one out-of-town vendor involved in her campaign. Her Web site is "powered" by Blue Utopia, which has a Seattle address. Blue Utopia's Web site says it provides campaign software to Democratic candidates.
Ms. Santiago said her campaign manager, Adam Herman, operates her Web site, and she said she was not aware of Blue Utopia.
Mr. McNamara said his Web site was designed locally,
"I am supporting Toledo's tech economy whereas Lourdes is supporting Seattle's tech economy," Mr. McNamara said.
Mr. Herman said the campaign chose Blue Utopia through the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, which uses it for about 10 other candidates.
"We knew we would get a good deal and it would be something used by other Dems at the state level," Mr. Herman said.
Mr. Vasquez said Mr. McNamara got himself an advantage over the other candidates if he accessed a low-cost out-of-state supplier.
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