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Published: Tuesday, 12/15/2009

Mayor-elect Mike Bell tells his transition team to start new regime off right

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Mayor-elect Mike Bell, right, confers with his 'Efficiency and Standards' task force - the Rev. Michael Billian, left, former City Council president Louis Escobar, and Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener. Mayor-elect Mike Bell, right, confers with his 'Efficiency and Standards' task force - the Rev. Michael Billian, left, former City Council president Louis Escobar, and Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Incoming mayor Mike Bell's transition team last night began its work of setting short-term and long-term goals for his administration.

The 31-person group appointed by Mr. Bell met for almost two hours to get their assignments and begin making plans for Toledo under the Bell administration.

The group includes banking, automotive, labor, religious, neighborhood, and education representatives, but no current city employees or members of council. Former Council President Louis Escobar is on the committee, as are Patsy Scott, former director of the city's information technology department, Tom Kovacik, former city chief operating officer, and Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener.

Mr. Bell said the group was picked for its knowledge of the community and to provide outside perspective.

"Most of them have watched from a distance and have opinions on what can be done to move the city forward," Mr. Bell said.

Looking around the room, he commented on the collective brain power, saying, "If we can't figure it out, it can't be done."

The transition team met in a conference room at One SeaGate, the Fifth Third Bank building. Steve Herwat, the executive director of the transition, said the space was provided at no cost and everyone was there as a volunteer.

Mr. Bell's transition team is one of two groups he has named to help smooth the exchange of power from the current mayor, Democrat Carty Finkbeiner.

Still being assembled is the "citizens special investigation" task force, which will perform a quick audit of the city's financial realities.

"It's about making sure that when we hit the ground running on Jan. 4, we get it right," Mr. Bell said.

The former city fire chief and state fire marshal ran as a political independent in his first try at elective office Nov. 3, defeating Toledo lawyer Keith Wilkowski.

The group split into subgroups on Efficiency and Standards, Promote Cultural Diversity and City Attractions, Encourage Our Health and Wellness, Stabilize Our Neighborhoods, Improve Our Schools, Create Jobs, Balance Our Budget, and Ensure Our Safety.

The "Create Jobs" group attracted the most members - a mix of union and business representatives that was cut off at six people.

Steve Cady, a Bowling Green State University professor who is coordinating the transition, said themes for the subcommittees came from a series of public meetings Mr. Bell had during his campaign. The groups are to report back Feb. 15 with suggestions to be implemented within 90 days and over a longer term. Mr. Herwat told them, "Anything and everything is going to be on the table. There is no sacred cow."

Each member was given an opportunity to introduce himself or herself and make a comment.

George Tucker, executive secretary of the Toledo-area AFL-CIO, said he has a selfish interest in the Bell administration succeeding: futures for his seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

"I want them to grow up and have the opportunities that I had," Mr. Tucker said. "We all have to work together and we have to have an industrial base, a manufacturing base, to provide for our employees and to bring up the middle class."

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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