Two Toledo safety forces’ unions joined the growing gaggle of organized labor leaders and some Democrats on Friday in denouncing one of their own for stepping out of line on Toledo’s mayoral race.
Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, and Dan Desmond, vice president of Toledo Firefighters Local 92, blasted Toledo City Council candidate Adam Martinez — an incumbent and endorsed Democrat — because of his negative comments about mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins and his endorsement of Mayor Mike Bell.
Mr. Desmond said the firefighters’ rank-and-file union revoked its endorsement of Mr. Martinez and demanded he return a $250 campaign donation.
He said Mr. Martinez raised “an inflammatory and frivolous” issue for a “crass appeal to the electorate.”
On Thursday, Mr. Martinez endorsed Mayor Bell, the incumbent targeted this election year by the vast majority of labor and the Ohio Democratic Party because of his support of “right to work” laws and also Senate Bill 5 in 2011, a state law that would have limited the bargaining rights of public employees but was overturned by referendum.
Mr. Martinez also criticized Mr. Collins for statements about police racial profiling early in the campaign and for publicly stating that the city of Toledo never had a $48 million deficit in 2010.
“Councilman Collins vehemently denies that racial profiling and inequality exists,” Mr. Martinez said. “While there may not be many reported cases of racial profiling within our police department, it is still a very real concern to many in our community that should not be shamelessly dismissed.”
Mr. Wagner said Mr. Martinez’s comments on Mr. Collins’ racial sensitivity were completely false.
“Let it be clear that neither the TPPA nor the professional men and women who comprise its membership in any way endorse or engage in such actions,” Mr. Wagner said.
The police union president said a decade-old policy mandates police officers to record the race and gender of all individuals who are stopped.
“There has never been an officer accused of or disciplined for engaging in racial profiling. We acknowledge that there may be a common mistrust of police officers within the community but instead of attempting to bridge this disconnect, Councilman Martinez only added fuel to the fire with his unfounded accusation,” Mr. Wagner said.
Mr. Martinez on Friday said he believed Mr. Collins is “insensitive to racial issues,” based on Mr. Collins’ statements during public forums and his response to a question about racial profiling before the Sept. 10 primary.
Mayor Bell and Mr. Collins have clashed repeatedly on the question of whether Toledo police officers engage in racial profiling. Mr. Collins said at a forum sponsored by the Toledo chapter of the NAACP earlier in the campaign that based on a report from the city police department he did not believe racial profiling existed. He has turned the question back at Mr. Bell, asking several times since then if the report was a lie.
During a forum last month, the mayor said: “We do have people that racial profile. ... They’re human, they do things.”
An internal police department report from March states that during traffic stops in 2012, “of all groups, black male drivers were stopped the most frequently at 39 percent leading to 5,743 warnings, 4,021 citations, and 2,752 arrests.”
It also states: “Race and gender do not appear to be factors in which individuals are stopped for field interviews by Toledo police officers.”
Regarding the police and fire unions, Mr. Martinez said their statements today were unfortunate and he is very supportive of unions.
“While I appreciate the comments from Dan Wagner, he and Councilman Collins missed my point,” Mr. Martinez said. “It is not about whether or not documented cases of racial profiling exist in Toledo, but the fact that members of our community feel that racial profiling is a problem. I cannot support a candidate who dismisses this genuine concern.”
The Ohio Democratic Party endorsed Mr. Collins over Mayor Bell even though both are political independents. The police and firefighters unions also endorsed Mr. Collins, although the Toledo Fire Chiefs Association union has endorsed Mayor Bell.