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Published: Friday, 6/6/2003

GOP pitches local labor for Marina project

The city should make sure that construction jobs in the $191 million Marina District project are guaranteed to local contractors and union workers, Republican candidates and members of Toledo City Council declared yesterday.

District 2 Councilman Rob Ludeman said the group had written to Mayor Jack Ford urging him to include local preferences in the request for proposals that will be issued to recruit developers to the East Toledo project.

“We call on the mayor and his administration to set the tone immediately to demand that the request for proposals require local contractors and local union labor,” they said in a statement.

Democrats responded yesterday that there was never any doubt that local firms would get preference, and called the announcement a blatant pitch for support from the building trades unions.

“What they called for today was already going to happen. Perhaps tomorrow they'll have a news conference to announce the sun will rise in the east,” said Councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz, who is up for re-election in District 6 in North and West Toledo.

The mayor's office announced Tuesday that it would issue a request for proposals on the Marina District by the end of June. The project, to be built around the former Acme power plant on Front Street in East Toledo, would have a new arena, theaters, stores, offices, residences, and a marina.

A spokesman for Mr. Ford was unable to confirm that local firms would get preference, saying only that Mr. Ford would respond to the council members' and candidates' letter.

“He appreciates the input,” mayoral spokesman Megan Vahey said. She quoted the mayor as saying the Republican news conference was “an attempt to cater to the building trades vote.”

Mr. Ludeman, who is seeking re-election from South Toledo District 2, brought up the vote in July, 2001, to rezone the former Plaskon Products industrial site at 3025 Glendale Ave. to permit construction of a Wal-Mart store. Council was split evenly, and then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner broke the tie in favor of the rezoning.

The company won the endorsement of the construction trades by promising to build the store with union workers, even though Wal-Mart is known for aggressively resisting unionization of its employees.

Joe Birmingham, the Republican candidate for District 6, said those who voted against the rezoning voted against labor.

But Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he was proud of his vote against rezoning the Plaskon site because of the company's anti-labor stance. Other unions opposed the Plaskon rezoning in that case.

Mr. Ludeman was joined by at-large council members George Sarantou and Betty Shultz, as well as Tiffany Adamski, who is running in East and South Toledo District 3; David Dmytryka, who is running at-large, and Mary Beth Moran, who is running in West Toledo District 5.



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