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Published: Saturday, 6/29/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Bell vetoes expansion of crime text alerts

Removal of funds to buy homes also struck down; Bell’s 6th, 7th vetoes nix Tuesday’s actions

Bell Bell

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell used his veto power Friday to strike down two city council actions — an authorization to spend $50,000 toward expanding text-alert crime monitoring to the entire city and also council’s disappropriation of $700,000 earmarked to buy homes near the Collins Park water treatment plant for a planned expansion of the East Toledo facility.

The mayor has used his veto power seven times since taking office 3½ years ago.

Mr. Bell’s veto of the text-alert program follows council’s 9-2 vote Tuesday to expand the “Eye Citizen” program.

“While the purpose of the above-referenced legislation seems laudatory, this administration and, I suspect, most of council, was unaware of key information regarding the selection of the proposed vendor,” the mayor wrote to council. “The lack of information could arguably have affected the outcome of council’s deliberations had it been known.”

While a majority of council agreed Tuesday with Councilman Tom Waniewski to spend the $50,000, many were surprised later that night or the next day to learn he owns a small part of the company given a no-bid contract.

Mr. Waniewski on Wednesday said he agreed with City Law Director Adam Loukx’s recommendation for a mayoral veto.

Mr. Waniewski could not be reached Friday. Mr. Waniewski said he owns 1 percent of Tele-Home LLC, the company he named in the council legislation he wrote for approval. The district councilman from West Toledo unveiled the text-alert program in September, 2012, as a pilot program for only the Old Orchard neighborhood near the University of Toledo.

Councilmen Steven Steel and Lindsay Webb cast the only no votes for the $50,000 expenditure. Mr. Waniewski abstained from the vote but had discussed its value during previous meetings.

Mayor Bell’s second veto Friday reversed council’s decision to take about $700,000 out of the administration’s control.

Council earlier this year authorized the administration to use that money to buy homes near the Collins Park water treatment plant for a planned expansion of the East Toledo facility. Councilman Shaun Enright, who lives in East Toledo, introduced legislation Tuesday to rescind the uncommitted portion of that funding.

Public Utilities Director David Welch said the city has purchase agreements with the owners of 408, 428, and 662 Collins Park Ave., but the city needs to buy up to seven more homes. The homes’ prices range from $50,000 to $71,000, he said.

Council voted 8-4 in favor. Mr. Waniewski, Mike Craig, Paula Hicks-Hudson, and Adam Martinez cast the dissenting votes.

Mr. Enright said his legislation was needed because property owners have not been told of the plan for the water-plant expansion mandated by the Ohio Environment Protection Agency, and he accused the Bell administration of destroying a neighborhood.

Nine votes are needed to overturn a mayoral veto.

In a letter to council, Mr. Bell said: “As Councilman Craig accurately pointed out, the transactions that have occurred involve willing buyers and willing sellers.”

Mr. Bell said the city had not threatened any home owners with eminent domain.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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