Thursday, January 20, 2011

Something to look forward to... My Opinions of the 2007 City Candidates

Starting tomorrow, I will begin my series on local candidates. I will discuss and opine about each candidate solely from the information provided to us (and by that I mean info I can google). If I can't find any information, then these candidates will receive an opinion stating that they are not providing quality information. Of course, these opinions are early, and I will list both the good and the bad about each candidate based on the information available to me at this time.

If you are a candidate, don't worry, you have some time. I will start with those that already have information out there. But if you have no info out at this time, please send me either your resume, or any posted info whatsoever, and I will take that into heavy consideration. You may reach me at

Why Barack Obama should be the next US President

Oh this is a loaded topic.

Let me first begin by saying, Obama is not related in anyway Osama Bin Laden. Anyone who thinks his islamic name is anyway related should be shot and killed, because that kind of stupiduty will destroy the US. Barack Obama, in all actuality, is a Christian, which is unfortunate, because I expect my leaders to think above the level of mythology. Yet, somehow, we elected our current moron of a president. Clearly, our education system is failing us, but that's a different topic for another day.

Is it so much to ask that our next president be articulate? Sure, that shouldn't be the deciding factor, but really, take a class to learn how to speak, it's not that hard. Anyway, I'm a big Obama fan because he's consistent, he can speak, and he is clear. He's never waivered. And he's human. He smokes a few cigarettes from time to time. The polls show Hillary leading for the nomination, but I can tell you right here and right now, she cannot win the general election. Obama can if we get him through. I urge all democrats to recognize his beliefs, not Hillary's waivering one's.

Obama is youthful and has a lot of good ideas. Out with the old, in with the new. We need something new to turn this country in the right direction.

Should Toledo go Unigov?

This has been all over the news, so I won't go into great detail about the formation of the committee formed by Ben Konop. Instead, I will get right to the point of this whole thing: whether Unigov would benefit Toledo and Lucas County?

From these two sources, (1) and (2), Unigov first emerged in Indianapolis as a response to white flight in 1970. So many people left Indianapolis for the surrounding suburbs that the city could not sustain itself. While some might call this "voting with your feet," most people recognize that this is a classic case of nothing more than "white flight."

Toledo is in the state it is today because of white flight. Instead of improving on the land already here, Toledoans simply moved out, abandoned buildings, and left very little opportunity for reinvestment. Of course, the majority of those who participated in white flight naturally oppose any form of Unigov. But those people forget the importance of a strong, centralized business center (also know as downtown). If the central business district fails, the entire region will begin to fail like a domino effect, including the suburbs.

Of course, suburbanites also have a right to fear Unigov. The city of Toledo clearly has one of the most incompetent and inefficient governments on the face of the earth. Since two-thirds of Lucas County's population lives within the city, suburbanites rightfully fear that their votes will lose to the idiocy that is the Toledo voting block. After all, we are talking about a city that elected Carty Finkbeiner for a third term, and a city that elected our current school board. On the other hand, the more informed suburban voters, along with the informed toledoans, might have enough votes to elect a more fiscally responsible government.

If Toledo-Lucas County were form a Unigov type government, it would not have to be fullscale Unigov like Lexington-Fayette County, KY. It could be more like Indianapolis, where many areas kept their own police force and each school district remained the same. Of course, each district would levy its own taxes for these separate services, keeping them somewhat separate from the city. But other services, such as water, sewage, roads, and fire, just to name a few, could fall under the County government. This would cause a more efficient government, with lower taxes for everybody. Additionally, the entire county would be working together to help the region grow and compete economically.

My official opinion is that the region could benefit from Unigov, although I understand the drawbacks as a former suburbanite. I'll let you judge for yourself. This 70 page manual on Indianapolis' Unigov is extraordinarily informative. I urge you not to judge Unigov on its face, but to read the manual.


I realized that I was not completely truthful in my support for Unigov. The beauty of Unigov is that the suburbs have all the bargaining power. The city is desperate. In all reality, the burbs could negotiate such a deal where pretty much everything remains the same, but suburbanites would have a vote for the Toledo City Government. This way, the entire region would be working together for the benefit of the region, and not so much for the city. I really don't see a bad side to Unigov if it's done right. Imagine, the mayor of Toledo could come from Sylvania, Ottawa Hills, or Maumee. It depends how they negotiate it. But the burbs have all the power in my opinion, and in this respect, they could really benefit from Unigov.

Model Zoning Ordinance to promote wind turbines

As I previously noted, I will be studying the Toledo Zoning Ordinance to determine a more streamlined system to promote economic growth. Additionally, Toledo is in a position to become the green energy capital of the world with all the natural resources we have to offer. In that spirit, I discovered this Model Zoning Ordinance that streamlines the process for people to build small wind turbines. Currently, there is no zoning ordinance that contains a provision for small wind turbines, and this results in a long and inefficient process for approval to build wind turbines because it requires special approval. Since our area has the resources to be the green energy capital of the world, the first step to gaining this reputation is to streamline this process. I urge the City of Toledo to adopt this Model Zoning Ordinance, and lead by example, as opposed to being ten years behind.
Additionally, Owens Corning has developed a more light weight, efficient wind turbine fiber. The Andersons has developed into one of the leaders in ethanol production. It seems only natural that this nexus develops between our local government and our most innovative companies. abatements, middle income housing, and crime

In a comment, somebody suggested that we research the effect of tax abatements on local development. As many know, Toledo offers tax abatements for those who purchase luxury condos downtown. It is obvious that these tax abatements have encouraged the redevelopment of several downtown buildings, but it is unknown how much these tax abatements actually encourage people to move downtown, and if there has been any benefit to the local economy from them.

In my research, I stumbled across this article which posits that since most tax abatements only benefit those who earn at the extremes, they do not benefit the majority of the population. Most tax abatements either benefit high-income professionals or low-income earners. This leaves out the largest group, the middle-class (whether the middle-class is disappearing is a debate unto itself). This article discusses how Philadelphia builders are now building affordable housing for the middle-class, which is relevant to us because housing is apparently affordable in Toledo. Therefore, I doubt it is necessary for Toledo to concentrate on building more affordable housing, especially for the middle-class. That said, what is the point of these tax abatements in general if they do not benefit the largest portion of the population? One would think that the economy would benefit most from giving benefits to the majority of people.

Assuming that these tax abatements encourage development, this article raises a very interesting point. While these tax abatements may actually cause development for high-income professionals and low-income workers, what is the worth of this development if nobody is taking advantage of the abatements. This article mentions that city planners often don't take crime into account when deciding to allocate these abatements. Indeed, I know several people who moved to downtown Toledo, and many have left, and those who haven't yet want to, because they will lose their car insurance if their cars get broken into anymore. Would not more people move downtown if these tax abatements did not exist, and the city could use the money they would otherwise collect to hire more police officers to ensure these areas are safe? It seems that safety weighs heavily on the minds of consumers.

I guess my overall point is that tax abatements could most benefit the economy if they are given to the middle class. At some point, the rich stop spending and start saving. The middle class tend to spend more of a percentage of their income. If we give them more to spend, it seems we could increase the amount of consumption in the area, and more money would turnover locally, creating a more pleasant environment for local businesses and consumers. Either that or we could eliminate tax abatements altogether and simply lower taxes for the middle-class. An aside...I think there is a need for tax abatements for low-income housing.