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Published: Saturday, 4/15/2006

Judge gives McCloskey OK to go on council trip

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A judge has given indicted Toledo City Councilman Robert McCloskey permission to travel with other city representatives to Texas to tout the Marina District project although he has told associates he will not go.

Through his attorney, Mr. McCloskey, who is set to stand trial May 9 on two counts of bribery, asked Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates on Tuesday for permission to leave the county.

The judge gave permission on Wednesday.

Clerk of Council Gerald Dendinger said the councilman told him Wednesday he would not go on the April 22-24 trip to San Antonio.

In February, the East Toledo Democrat was indicted on two bribery counts stemming from a 2002 rezoning case. He was released on his own recognizance pending trial, with the restriction that he not leave Lucas County. Mr. McCloskey also is a defendant, along with the city, in a $10 million lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in 2004 stemming from the same circumstances.

Mr. McCloskey could not be reached yesterday for comment.

At least three members of the Marina District committee are journeying to San Antonio to make a presentation on the waterfront project, where they hope to get ideas for Toledo s project, and possibly recruit investors.

Those attending include Don Monroe, the Marina District project coordinator; Mike Badik, city housing commissioner, and Mike White, commissioner of transportation and engineering. The cost has been estimated by the mayor s office at $1,000 a person.

Mr. McCloskey is a member of the Marina District committee.

Council President Rob Ludeman said sending Mr. McCloskey with the Marina District committee would have been a legitimate city expense.

He is a councilman and had up to last fall represented the east side and south side for some time, Mr. Ludeman said. The former District 3 councilman moved to an at-large seat Jan. 3. I would not say it s unreasonable given the magnitude of the project and the importance of this conference.

Paying for the trip out of his own pocket likely would present a financial challenge for Mr. McCloskey, given his legal situation. The city is footing his legal bills in the civil case, but Mr. McCloskey must pay for his own defense in the criminal case, and he has considered setting up a legal defense fund.

Mr. McCloskey s bribery indictment and the lawsuit arose from a 2002 rezoning application filed by Pilkington PLC and EJS Properties of Okemos, Mich., a charter school developer. EJS claims the rezoning application was rejected by City Council because the two businesses refused to pay $100,000 Mr. McCloskey demanded to set up a prescription drug fund for Pilkington retirees.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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