Wade came into office with an ambitious agenda, or what we like to call, Big Ideas. He wanted to find a way to provide Universal Pre-K for all Toledo’s young’uns. He wanted to make the City cool and hip for young professionals by providing better mass transit and safer bike routes. He wanted to aggressively attract more business, especially into Toledo’s neighborhoods.
As he took the reins, some of his ambitions were tempered by harsh fiscal reality. Hence, Universal Pre-K to the back burner. Others took off, including a partnership to establish a Bike Share program downtown.
He added still more, including the goal to provide free wi-fi citywide. He filled his cabinet with youthful vision and a greater number of women than any previous administration. He sought and landed a Chief of Staff with experience in neighborhood revitalization to address critical but oft-overlooked redevelopment needs.
Same old, same old
At times, he has seemed too preoccupied with the Big Ideas to remember the small nagging problems that continue to plague T-Town. The murder rate continues unabated at historic highs. Gun violence overall remains a scourge. The opioid epidemic continues to kill young and old alike, and a few new treatment beds in Uptown won’t stem the tide.
And did we mention potholes?
As Wade passes his First Hundred Days milestone, he can point to some success in enacting his agenda. His lack of focus on some of the most intractable problems is a bit unsettling, but we’re certain they have not escaped his notice.
Until now. Everything has changed.
Race to the top
The agenda, Wade’s Big Ideas and the nagging background necessities, must all take a backseat. The most inscrutable of America’s problems has reared its ugly, bitter head, and Wade must take it on immediately lest it consume his mayorship. Racism.
Neo-Nazis have marched on our city in the past. Toledo has always said, racist rhetoric has no home here. The police-involved shootings of unarmed Black men that have caused firestorms across America have largely not happened here. White folks like to say, it can’t happen here in enlightened, liberal FrogTown.
Black folks know better. First there was the unfortunate sap from deep inside Wade’s administration who told City Council basketball attracts an “element” not worthy of a brand new city park. He said he misspoke. True enough. This veiled racist remark was immediately condemned for what it was, and Wade sent the miscreant off for sensitivity training.
Now it appears the City might be one big Philadelphia Starbucks. A crude drawing of a swastika was recently found in a city-owned vehicle, flanked by SS lightning bolts. To make sure the message was clear, the artist added, “I hate N****s.”
How did this message of hate get into a vehicle bought and paid for by City taxpayers? More important, is this an isolated incident? To whom was the message intended?
Is the city payroll rife with folks who would embrace this blatant statement of racism? Nooses have been displayed in local worksites. Racist epithets have been scrawled across garage doors. Minority-owned businesses have been targeted with hate-filled graffiti and bricks thrown through windows. Youth of color are followed through stores by security. People of color silently endure the “hate stare” on a regular basis.
It not only can, but does, happen here. We have congratulated ourselves on being a community of compassion. Anti-racist town halls and rallies have been held. Yet still there’s that swastika with a racist hate message in a city vehicle.
What will be done to eradicate it? Wade, you must make this your first, and most urgent, priority.
Or everything else you try will be so much whistling in the wind.