Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Horny Toads! Webber Keeps His Job?

I saw on 13abc tonight that Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has decided not to fire his spokesperson, Jason Webber for the things Webber wrote in his myspace blog. Here's the story...

I can only come up with two explanations for this. Either nobody else is willing to do the job; and given the public relations disaster that is Carty Finkbeiner, that's not an unreasonable thought; or Webber is dumb enough to fit right in with the Finkbeiner theme.

I've talked to people who have questioned Chris Myers' ethics of posting something that he knew could get Webber fired. I suppose. I don't think I would have put it here. I'm not sure if the media had come across it first if they would have kept it back, but who knows? That notwithstanding, Webber doing this has to be one of the dumbest maneuvers I've seen in awhile.

Seriously, how dumb does this guy have to be? Let's begin with the fact that he posted the writings on myspace and thought they would be private. Then there's the idea that he said it was only meant to be between himself and about 20 to 25 of his friends. Something that you're telling that many people is not private.

Then, there is my personal favorite, where Webber said that some comments were meant to be satrical and others were taken out of context.

From Jason's blog:

"The mayor continues to dig his political grave, as he gets himself in one
pickle after another."

Would someone please explain to me how this is satirical? Conversely, I would accept an explanation of what context makes this anything but a negative statement - unless maybe they left out the part where he says, "...but in a good way!"

Jason Webber needs to spend some time going to church and thanking God that he still has a job. If he were on my staff, he'd be gone - if for no other reason than I wouldn't want someone who is dumb enough to think that things posted to the internet can be private to have access to sensitive information.

Then again, maybe Carty didn't want to help raise the skyrocketing unemployment rate in Toledo. Just a thought.


There have been a few stories in the news the past few days that warrant some short observations...

The first is the story about Mayor Finkbeiner's latest spokesperson. It seems that Jason Webber's comments that he made about the mayor in his myspace blog wound up on Webber said that it was his way of updating his friends on his job, his comments were taken out of context and that he thought his profile was hacked because the blog was set to private.
Having read the comments, I have to ask... for example, in what context would comparing your boss's voice to Yosemite Sam would be considered positive?
Then there is the obvious thought of whether Webber will get to keep his job. I don't know that I would want a senior staff member of mine to be stupid enough that he thinks there is such a thing as privacy on the Internet. At my job, we take annual training in computer security, which always seemed pointless to me because so much of it was obvious. Now I know why our company does it. Apparently the idea of not posting private information on myspace isn't so obvious to everyone.
Given how fast the mayor seems to be going through spokespeople, maybe leaving the position vacant and speaking for himself could be part of the solution for the budget deficit.
Which brings us to the second item, which is the city council deciding not to approve the city-tax reciprocity measure that the mayor had as part of his balancing of the budget. The mayor had planned to have people who live in Toledo and work in other cities (some 19,000 of them) pay city taxes. They currently receive a 100 percent credit for taxes paid to the cities in which they work. Dozens of people were at the council meeting to protest this idea, and in a rare performance, the council listened to the voters and didn't approve the mayor's request. It came as a surprise to me. I didn't think that the folks at Government Center met a tax or a fee they didn't like.
Finally, the city council passed a measure encouraging congress to put a temporary moratorium on foreclosures. Council president Mark Sobczak said on the radio that the system in place isn't working because within 6 months 55 percent of the people who are saved from foreclosure are right back in it. This is probably a silly question, but is it at all possible that the reason these people are right back in foreclosure is because the majority of them were not qualified to buy their houses in the first place? In case you missed it, Mr. Sobczak, people buying houses that they had no way to afford was one of the first dominoes in the chain that led us to the current economic situation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What to do?

The city has a committee looking over whether the mayor and the city council should have a pay raise, a pay cut, or a pay freeze. Is there really that tough of a decision here?

Committee member John Stainbrook said on the news that in this time that they are asking all the city employees to cut back, the mayor and the council should be subject to the same conditions. True.

One could also look at it from another angle. People are looking at the CEO's of companies getting bailout funds and saying that their salary should be cut by as much as 80 percent. Personally, I think that's not such a bad idea. It's a lot like the captain of the Exxon Valdez. If you were driving the boat when it hit the sand bar, a big salary should not be in your future. Well, when I look around the USS Toledo, I see sand. Sand, a few flowers and some lights on trees.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sherrod votes yes

So, Sherrod Brown got to cast the deciding vote for the Porkulus bill Friday. He was in Ohio attending a wake and had to be flown into Washington specially to cast that vote. I have a number of questions that I'll be addressing in the coming days, but here's my first...

"When they flew him from Ohio to Washington, did they use a private jet, and if it was a private jet, did the White House use taxpayer money to fund it?"

Budget cuts

The mayor came out and announced his plan this week for cutting the city's budget to cover the $8 million budget gap that has grown to $14 million. Once the announcement hit, it only took hours before a TRO was filed.
One of the cost cutting measures that he announced was in the Fire Department. He said that they will be taking one apparatus out of service and reshuffling the firefighters from that apparatus to cover other areas and times. The problem with this is that in his usual ready, fire, aim method of governance, he forgot to check and see if that would be a violation of the Firefighters' Local 92 contract.
According to the folks at the union, it is. Their contract says that the city must keep a manpower level of 103 line personne each dayl. Unfortunately for Carty, a chunk of his plan's savings comes from the fact that the city would only have 99 line personnel each day.
In general, I'm not a big fan of unions, and to be really truthful, I'm not sure that four people in a city the size of Toledo is that significant, so I'm not sure how much it would jeopardize safety. The apparatus taken out of service would be a ladder truck, which Local 92 reps say would slow response time. I'll give that a maybe bordering on a probably, but again, we have a number of them in service at any given time, so I'm not sure how much it would change things.
What I see as more telling is that this is indicative of Carty's failure to know how things work in the city he's been charged to run and his attempts to short circuit the system. We don't know, Local 92 may have been able to work something out with the city. Perhaps there was a way to reorganize and move some people around to hold the 103.
Had the mayor bothered to talk to them, it might have been worked out. Now, with the city in a time of economic peril as the mayor put it, the city will be spending those precious dollars on lawyers to deal with this. To add insult to injury, if the mayor's past performance is any indicator, the money will go to outside lawyers instead of the ones that the city already employs.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Still waiting

I watched yet another act in Toledo's version of Waiting for Godot last night - starring councilman George Sarantou and Toledo Police Patrolmen's Association President Dan Wagner. Channels 13 and 24 had reports about the city dealing with the $8 million budget gap.
There's talk of layoffs and some of those layoffs may be in the Police and Fire Departments. That couldn't be, could it? We passed the 3/4% the city told us that they wouldn't have to lay off police officers and firefighters, right? But I digress.
So, what is the city going to do about it? Sarantou cited programs that he's hoping the Obama administration hopes to put through. Sarantou said he hopes that money will come to Toledo through those programs and then everything will be fine.
Wagner is planning on going to Washington to meet with Vice-President Biden to explain how bad things are for Toledo cops and try to get Biden's help in getting some money sent to Toledo.
And so, we continue to sit under our tree and wait for Obama.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two thoughts

I saw a report on channel 13 last night that there is a low-fare airline looking at locating at Toledo Express, and it gave me two thoughts...
First was a skeptical enthusiasm. The idea of something locating here is always a good idea. Unfortunately, these low-fare airlines seem to be 15-minute flashes in the pan at Toledo Express, so I can only get so excited. In the time that I've been in Toledo, I've seen so many of them open and close at Express that I understand why they have revolving doors on the terminal. Still it's good news that they're considering it. It's not a done deal, so we'll have to wait and see.
One of the things that's going on is that they're looking for startup capital from this area, which brings me to my second thought on the matter. Could somebody go bar the door to the 22nd floor at Government Center? It would be nice to see this business come to Toledo and high on the list of things to do to facilitate that would be to make sure that the mayor doesn't put his hand to this and drive them away.