Staying under the radar in City Politics

. March 7, 2017.

Here’s a City Politics kwik kwiz. Name the mayor of Toledo. Got it? OK, now name something controversial facing city leaders today.

We bet y’all had no problem getting Mayor Paula Hicks Hudson correct. As to recent controversial actions by the City, there was the change to the municipal code to allow the Metroparks to shoot deer, the ban of so-called conversion therapy, and the inclusion of transgender as a protected class under the City’s discrimination code. As to ongoing issues, there’s the ever-controversial regional water conundrum, the wrangling over the tight budget, the fights over how to fix crumbling city streets, and, well, you get the pitcher.
We bet you had no problem coming up with a list.

T-Town is the big kahuna in the region. Its leaders get all the ink, and all the scrutiny, criticism, and pressure that comes with being too big to hide. Typically the electeds out in the ‘burbs slide comfortably under the radar, avoiding controversy and public spotlight as Toledo electeds suck up all the oxygen.

Water boy

Boy yowza, we bet certain electeds wish that were true in an election year.

See, elections are about public perception. Who seems like a sensible decision-maker? A sound steward of the public purse? That’s who we want representin’!

In some cases, crafting this image can be done by taking action in the public eye. Take Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough. We bet most of you outside Sylvania have never heard of him. Even most of those inside Sylvania, for that matter.

At least, until now. He’s recently taken serious public steps to up his own ante. Since the legendary Water Crisis of Twenty Fourteen he has done his darndest to take a public lead on regional water. First he threatened that Sylvania could leave the Toledo water system. Then he pushed for studies of feasible options. Now he’s a proponent of a regionalized water system with redundancy that is fairly priced and safe and sustainable for all.

He’s gone from a non-entity to a major player overnight. This is the kind of public notoriety most suburban mayors never achieve in decades of holding office. Yet Stough has done it respectfully, and without coming off as a publicity-seeking arse.

Poll tax

“Lien and mean” Mikey Olmsted has found a decidedly worse way to gain notoriety. Ever heard of him? He tried to join Mayor Stough in standing up to big, bad Toodleydoo and push for regionalized water. Should the bully refuse to play nice, Ol’ Lien and Mean warned, PBurg would line up its options and go its own merry way.

It’s an election year. A great time to look like a statesman, and climb out from under the cloak of irrelevance that normally shrouds a mayor from a sleepy Republican suburb of Frogopolis.

As an aside, we never heard of Olmsted until recently. We wondered, could he be related to the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted? You know, the guy who designed Central Park in EnYCee, and whose plans were used for Ottawa Park in Toledo?

We don’t know the answer to that, but we’re pretty sure the Law isn’t on ol’ Lien and Mean’s side. See, he’s got big problems with the law. Specifically, tax law.

Seems PBurg’s Olmsted owes tens of thousands of dollars in tax liability to the state and federal guvmints. The State of Ohio filed a tax lien against him. He entered into a voluntary payment plan, but didn’t comply. Now the state is garnishing his mayoral salary.

This means that the taxpayers of Perrysburg are effectively paying Olmsted’s tax liabilities to the state. He’s a middle man, funneling his constituents’ tax payments to pay his own. He owes an even larger sum to the IRS, and if they seek garnishment. the taxpayers will be on an even bigger hook. Olmsted also owes money to the PBurg school district.

All these tax liens aren’t the point, sez ol’ Lien and Mean. Focus on the issues that matter to the citizens, he states.

The citizens? They’re paying to help you with your tax problems, Mikey. Which is something you seem unwilling to do on your own. They should be concerned. As should the taxpayers of the school district, who have to prop up your non-paying, slacker self.

Here’s a matter of public interest. In November, they might just decide to stop paying your liabilities through their hard-earned tax dollars, and boot you and your tax problems out of office.

Does the issue matter to you now?