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Forty-seven days before D. Michael Collins takes over as Toledo’s next mayor, his transition team met in its entirety Saturday to lay out a plan for a smooth changing of the guard.
“I need your thoughts, your ideas, your challenges, and your prayers,” Mr. Collins told the group that comprised many familiar faces in Toledo politics. “This is a very important path we are going to be taking. We are at a critical juncture. ... We are at a pivotal point and we have to be strategic in where we are going.”
Among the 45 people gathered at the Maritime Academy of Toledo were former Mayors Carty Finkbeiner and Jack Ford and seven former high-ranking city administrators who worked under Mr. Finkbeiner: Robert Reinbolt, Bill Franklin, Juanita Greene, Theresa Gabriel, John Bibish, Ken Neidert, and Dave Amstutz.
Tom Kroma, who was Toledo’s director of public utilities and assistant chief of staff under Mr. Finkbeiner, is expected to be a committee chairman working on neighborhoods but was not present Saturday.
Mr. Reinbolt, the transition team’s director, said the meeting was geared to have members of five committees meet each other and schedule meetings.
“We are not locked into anything, but there is a short amount of time before Jan. 2,” he said. “I think we have a good blend, we have a lot of young people … one thing that may be lacking is the presence of a CEO.”
The group divided into committees for business development, media relations, parks and recreation, labor relations, and neighborhoods, safety, and community relations.
In the neighborhoods group, Jose Montalvo, a retiree who worked for the city under former Toledo Mayor Harry Kessler during the 1970s, said the city neighborhoods department is undermanned.
“They don’t have enough inspectors,” Mr. Montalvo said. “If you want issues, I can give you a lot of issues in the department or neighborhoods. The people working there are the problem.”
Mr. Neidert, who was the city’s commissioner of fleet and facility operations until Mayor Mike Bell took office in January, 2010, said the first thing needed in the neighborhoods department is to slash management ranks by 25 percent.
Others in the committee speculated that Mr. Kroma will be named neighborhoods director.
Mr. Collins said he has not decided who will fill any of his administration’s top positions, although he has said Fire Chief Luis Santiago likely will remain.
“Tom Kroma has a wealth of experience in neighborhoods,” Mr. Collins said. “I will have a serious talk with Mr. Kroma, contingent upon what the committee comes back to me with.”
Mr. Reinbolt said the transition team would be invited to reconvene in a year to rate the administration’s performance regarding the recommendations it delivers to Mr. Collins.
Mr. Ford, elected this month to an at-large term on Toledo City Council, agreed with reconvening the team next year. He also recommended putting together a separate group of young people from which to solicit ideas.
“It looks like a pretty good start, and it is a little better organized than mine was,” Mr. Ford said.
On the transition team are:
●Honorary Chairman Betty Shultz, a former city councilman.
●Seven co-chairmen, Sandy Drabik, Carty Finkbeiner, Jack Ford, Patrick Kenney, George Tucker, Baldemar Velasquez, and Ray Wood.
●Transition director, Robert Reinbolt; deputy director, Stephen Leggett; media coordinator, Matt Zaleski; and transition coordinator, Judy Fegley.
●Labor relations committee led by George Sarantou and including Dan Wagner, Ray Wood, Shaun Enright, Don Czerniak, Dennis Duffey, Judd Johnson, Ken Lortz, Jeff Romstadt, and Alan Cox.
●Neighborhood/safety/community relations committee led by Tom Kroma and including Renee Palacios, Tina Scott, Juanita Greene, Joe Braun, Nate Ford, L. Willis, Sue Wuest, Sonya Newton, the Rev. Cedric Brock, Ken Neidert, and Jose Montalvo.
●Business development committee led by Mr. Kenney and including Dan Reddi, Nabil Shaheen, Jerry Chabler, Dave Huey, Matt Sapara, Steve Serchuk, Ed Blankenship, Dave Amstutz, Steve Roumaya, Joan Uhl Browne, Susan Gilmore, and Dean Monske.
●Media relations/special events committee led by Mr. Zaleski and including Lisa Renee Ward, Elizabeth Bolduc, Chris Fofrich, Theresa Gabriel, Ms. Fegley, and Betty Osenbaugh.
●Parks/recreation/urban beautification committee led by William Franklin and including Jim Flynn, Ms. Gabriel, Jeff Croskey, Abby Arnold, Steve Leggett, Devon McDermin, Chris Ellis, John Bibish, Susan Logie, and Ron Jackson.