A faith-based, social-action group proved the truth of two adages Monday night: There s strength in numbers and it pays to do your homework.
Toledoans United for Social Action drew an enthusiastic crowd of 1,150 people to its meeting at Friendship Baptist Church in South Toledo, where the group held a Nehemiah Action Agenda on jobs, housing, and school discipline.
Just as Nehemiah, a biblical prophet, led the Israelites to rebuild Jerusalem, TUSA seeks to rebuild Toledo.
We come here as people who have power, because we have numbers, Bishop Duane Tisdale, pastor of the host church, said.
Partly a church service but mostly a rally demanding government action, the event included gospel songs by a choir, a fiery 10-minute sermon, and a series of action questions delivered to Lucas County commissioners, Toledo City Council members, and Toledo Public School board members.
In a format rarely encountered by politicians, TUSA officials gave each of the groups a series of questions that allowed them just one-word answers yes or no.
One representative from each of the three elected bodies then was given a single minute to make a statement.
No questions were taken from the floor.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner was chastised from the pulpit for turning down an invitation to attend, with Robert Birt of Glass City Church of Christ saying that we are troubled by the mayor s absence.
TUSA officials, representing 23 churches of various denominations, had been doing their homework since last fall.
They held numerous meetings and spent countless hours analyzing what they consider to be Toledo s most pressing problems and to propose ways to solve them.
They narrowed it down to battling the rising unemployment rate; dealing with abandoned houses that are a blight to city neighborhoods, and implementing a consistent method of discipline in public schools.
TUSA passed out orange sheets for the audience to list abandoned houses in their neighborhoods and said they would personally deliver the lists to Mr. Finkbeiner s office today.
The questions posed to county Commissioners Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Ben Konop asked for commitments to job training in general and green jobs in particular.
Both Ms. Skeldon Wozniak and Mr. Konop said yes to extending the funding of the county s green jobs coordinator position for an additional year; to spend $1 million of the Workforce Investment Act funding on green jobs training, and to meet with TUSA officials within 60 days.
City council members Joe McNamara, Michael Ashford, Lindsay Webb, Phil Copeland, and Mike Craig all said yes to investing in creating green jobs, funding green jobs training, and supporting a city ordinance on green jobs partnership.
They also pledged to support efforts to hold accountable owners of abandoned property.
Four of the five school board members who were in attendance Steven Steel, Darlene Fisher, Lisa Sobecki, and Bob Vasquez said they would support funding for four days of intensive training to implement in the next school year a more consistent, research-based school-discipline program that has been devised by the state, called Positive Behavior Support Program
They pledged their commitments to follow-up, data collection, and accountability to make sure the program is implemented properly and fine-tuned as necessary.
The meeting ended with a pledge to continue TUSA s efforts to work together to rejuvenate Toledo.
TUSA was founded in 1993 and represents more than 19,000 people in 23 congregations throughout Lucas County.
Contact David Yonke at:firstname.lastname@example.org,or 419-724-6154.