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Published: Friday, 9/18/2009

Bell gives report on what needs to be fixed, left alone

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Toledo mayoral candidate Mike Bell, left, with associate professor Steven Cady of Bowling Green State University discusses an assessment to find what's working in Toledo and what's not. Toledo mayoral candidate Mike Bell, left, with associate professor Steven Cady of Bowling Green State University discusses an assessment to find what's working in Toledo and what's not.
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Mayoral candidate Mike Bell Thursday announced the results of what he said was a community-based assessment of what's working in Toledo and what's not working so well.

Mr. Bell said he brought together 200 people, mostly business and community leaders, in a series of meetings over the summer.

Fresh from winning one of two coveted spots on the city's Nov. 3 general election ballot on Tuesday, along with Democrat Keith Wilkowski, Mr. Bell sought to emphasize what he says is one of his skills: gathering people to work together, in this case, for the city's future.

The findings of this group and two more meetings set for October will be incorporated in his platform before November, Mr. Bell said, and will be available to be implemented in January.

A survey of the group found some agreement on what's working for Toledo: community assets; higher education and the University of Toledo; cost of living and quality of life, and downtown development.

What's not working: economic development; regional cooperation; government collaboration, and Toledo Public Schools.

"You've got to figure out what assets are working, then enhance those assets," Mr. Bell said. "Out of the 200 people, that came out as a top priority, that we do not work very well with people inside and outside the city."

The Wilkowski campaign was unimpressed. Spokesman Ben Krompak e-mailed a response that read in part: "It's going to take more than a few focus groups to turn Toledo around. Keith Wilkowski has a bold vision for our community's future and detailed plans to create jobs and strengthen our middle class."

Mr. Bell was asked how the report would help him handle a pressing problem for the city - a $7.8 million deficit now blamed on voters' rejection of Issue 1 on Tuesday's ballot, which would have allowed a $3.9 million transfer from the city's capital improvements fund to the general fund.

"We are going to have to reprioritize our budget. People are saying work inside the framework. That means you're going to have to cut something else," Mr. Bell said. As a savings he suggested every-other-week trash pickup.

A registered Democrat who is running as an independent, Mr. Bell released the document at The Docks, using as a background the nearly vacant Promenade Park and public boat slips, and the empty steam plant building.

The summary of the meetings will be used as the basis of two more public meetings, and will be added to make the sixth and seventh planks in Mr. Bell's platform, which can be found on his Web site.

The so-called All-City Summit meetings were held in late summer and moderated by Steven Cady, a Bowling Green State University associate professor in the college of business and director of the Institute for Organizational Effectiveness.



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