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Public safety, city streets popular topics at Wednesdays with Wade

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    Red Cross collection technician Cara Kinnerson prepares Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz to donate blood during the annual Mayor D. Michael Collins Blood Drive at the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association hall. The blood drive honors the memory of Mayor Collins, who died Feb. 6, 2015.

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    Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz

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    Many residents at the Wednesdays with Wade event April 4 complained about the city's persistent pothole problem.

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Public safety, city streets, and illegal signs were popular topics at the third Wednesdays with Wade, where Toledoans spent two hours asking questions of Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and his staff.

Many of the roughly 80 people in the audience at Sanger Branch Library on Wednesday live in the Old Orchard neighborhood and asked for updates regarding the Toledo Police Department’s investigation into recent break-ins in the area.

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Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz

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Toledo police Chief George Kral said officers had arrested a man they could tie to eight burglaries, but he believes the man wasn’t acting alone.

“I believe there is a group of people involved in these burglaries,” Chief Kral said. “But we are on it. I have put substantial resources toward this.”

The chief and the mayor shared their personal experiences with home invasions. In each instance, valuables and personal items were stolen from their homes. They assured the audience they take burglaries seriously.

“Just because I know what it feels like doesn’t make it any better,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

Chief Kral also shared the department’s latest crime statistics, comparing the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2017. He said overall crime is down 13 percent citywide.

Arson is down 41 percent, aggravated assault is down 38 percent, robberies are down 31 percent, theft from motor vehicles are down 22 percent, burglaries are down 21 percent, and homicides are down 8 percent, the chief said.

Rapes are up 23 percent, something Chief Kral told the audience his department is working on, and car thefts are up 5 percent.

Another topic that garnered ample audience interest was the issue of signs illegally stapled to utility poles and trees in public rights of way.

West Toledo resident Dale Kelsey brought an offending sign — one that advertised fast cash for a home sale — to the meeting.

“It’s like litter,” Mr. Kelsey said, to audience applause.

Mayor Kapszukiewicz told the crowd that signs of any kind posted in the public right of way are illegal and should be reported to city crews.

“Our transportation crews routinely, when they see them, they go and take them down,” he added.

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Many residents at the Wednesdays with Wade event April 4 complained about the city's persistent pothole problem.

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Many audience members asked about the seemingly never-ending potholes on city streets. Paul Rasmusson, director of public service, said there are 584 potholes throughout the city reported through Engage Toledo. 

“They come in as fast as we get them,” he said.

He offered a bit of hope to the frustrated audience when he said the cold-patch season is coming to a close. Hot asphalt plants are due to open, which produces a patch that lasts longer, he said.

South Toledo resident Robert McNutt said he came to the community meeting Wednesday to follow up on a question he raised at the first Wednesdays with Wade in February. He wants Toledo to become a handicap friendly city by offering free parking downtown for individuals with disabilities.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he remembered Mr. McNutt and his question and that he would have to check with the third party the city contracts with for downtown parking enforcement.

“I’m intrigued by your idea, and I like your idea,” he said.

The next Wednesdays with Wade is set for May 2 at the West Toledo Branch Library, 1320 W. Sylvania Ave.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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