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Nader asks city to spare North Toledo auto shop


Kim and Herman Blankenship have received a court order to turn over their property to the city within 21 days.

Morrison / Blade photo Enlarge

Consumer activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader has appealed to Toledo Mayor Jack Ford to save a small auto repair business whose property was involved in the construction of the new DaimlerChrysler plant in North Toledo.

In a letter written Tuesday to Mr. Ford, Mr. Nader, an independent candidate for president, urged the mayor to meet with Herman and Kim Blankenship, owners of Kim's Auto and Truck Service Inc., to work out a settlement that would allow the pair to keep their business.

At issue is the city's eminent domain case against Kim's Auto, initiated during the construction of the new plant during the administration of then-mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

The city has pursued the company's property, which sits south and west of the expansive new plant but was never taken because the matter has been tied up in court. Because the auto shop did not sit inside the footprint of the DaimlerChrysler plant, it's construction was completed and the property was left alone while the matter was litigated.

But the delay of the Kim's Auto demolition appears to be ending. Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy issued a ruling on July 27 ordering the company to turn over its property to the city within 21 days.

In addition to writing the mayor, Mr. Nader is helping the Blankenships pursue a stay of the Doneghy order before the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has not yet responded, said Terry Lodge, a Toledo attorney who has been hired by the Blankenships.

The Blankenships said they have heard nothing from Mr. Ford about the Nader request for a meeting but added they were not optimistic.

They said the mayor has refused to discuss the matter with them before.

Mr. Ford did not respond to calls seeking comment.

"As part of an eminent domain seizure, this business is being offered less than the price of a modest home, $104,000. If this is allowed to continue, Kim's Auto will be deliberately forced out of business by your administration," Mr. Nader's letter states. "Kim Blankenship can't afford to buy a home with the money offered by the city; how then could she pay to rebuild a structure that must now adhere to all new codes, on one-quarter the money quoted by builders?"

"Don't be a Carty," Mr. Nader wrote, a reference to the activist's stormy relationship with Mr. Finkbeiner, who negotiated the deal to build the DaimlerChrysler plant that included the eminent domain action against Kim's Auto.

Mr. Nader was a vocal opponent of that deal at the time it was announced, and he has engaged in public spats with Mr. Finkbeiner since, at times holding him up for national ridicule.

The Blankenships are helping to gather signatures on petitions to get the Nader presidential campaign qualified for the ballot in Ohio.

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