The Toledo board of community relations and the city administration, which ran separate celebrations honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for the last two years, will join forces to put on one celebration Jan. 21.
Juanita Greene, BCR executive director, said yesterday that Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has agreed to one celebration, combining elements of the board's regular King breakfast and the mayor's luncheon.
Mrs. Greene said during the board's regular meeting at the Reynolds Corners branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library that the mayor, whose last day in office is Dec. 31, will meet Thursday with her and Earl Apgar, board chairman. “We won't have people wondering, `Should I go here?' or, `Should I go there?'” she said. “It will be one event.”
Mr. Apgar, an assistant superintendent with Toledo Publics Schools, said he expects the new mayor, either Jack Ford or Ray Kest, to honor the plans.
The board discussed calling a special meeting Oct. 15 to interview Mr. Ford and Mr. Kest. Ms. Greene said Mr. Kest has accepted the invitation, but has not received a commitment from Mr. Ford yet.
``That will be one of the questions we will be asking the candidates when we meet with them,” Mr. Apgar said. “We would like their full support for the program. I'm sure they would want us to continue what we've been doing here.”
Jimmy Gaines, who is on the board and chaired the mayor's first King luncheon, said the celebration will be a brunch. He said the homeless will be fed as part of the event, something that was begun with the mayor's luncheon.
Ms. Greene said she expects the naming of a keynote speaker will be a joint effort between the board and the city administration. It was that task that spawned two King events.
The board has sponsored a long-running King breakfast celebration, but the mayor clashed with the board twice on the event's keynote speaker. Mr. Finkbeiner organized his own event for 2000 when the board invited Hank Meijer, co-chairman of Meijer, Inc., as keynote speaker.
The mayor and labor leaders objected to Mr. Meijer, but labor organizers agreed to support both events when Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, was added to the BCR program. In 1997, the board invited, then Ohio Treasurer Ken Blackwell as the keynote speaker, but uninvited him when the mayor complained, but reversed itself and invited him again to speak at the event.
“I'm happy that we will be able to coordinate our efforts,” Mr. Apgar said. “I believe we will be able to reach a consensus on a speaker.”
Ms. Greene told the board that Lisa Rice, executive director of the Toledo Fair Housing Center, will become a board member in January. She said Ms. Rice's participation will lead to more collaboration between the board and the center.
Michael Marsh, the center's development manager, said he foresees the center and the board working together on several projects, including efforts to curtail predatory lending. “We receive 250 to 300 complaints a year,” Mr. Marsh said. “Predatory lending will be huge. I think it's going to be bigger than anything we've done.”