Fallen Timbers park hopes get boost; Study urges link to U.S. system

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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A National Park Service report to be released today calls the Fallen Timbers battlefield “nationally significant” and says it should be included in the National Park System.

Preservationists said the report gives legitimacy to their quest for the millions of dollars needed to buy the battlefield from Toledo and transform it into a park.

“We are thrilled that it’s come to fruition,” said Marianne Duvendack, vice president of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission. “We always knew that it was worthy of inclusion.”

The park service study does not say the area should be turned into a national park. Instead, it says the battlefield should be made into an “affiliated unit” of the park system. That would mean that park personnel and resources could be used to assist preservationists on the battlefield.

Without the affiliated-unit status, protection of the site “would become increasingly difficult,” the report says.

“Affiliation with the National Park System adds enormous strength to the partnership [of local preservationists] by linking the Fallen Timbers Battlefield site in importance and purpose to those areas managed by the National Park Service,” it says.

Preservationists said the report should help them raise more than $7 million that may be needed to buy the land from the city of Toledo.

“People are saying, `Oh, this thing has life,”‘ said Maumee Mayor Steve Pauken. “I’m very confident that we’ll reach an agreement. Things really have come along nicely.”

The city of Toledo bought the battlefield in 1987, before archaeologists determined the 1794 battle was fought on that land. A historical marker is on a nearby site by mistake.

In the capital budget passed earlier this month, the state government allocated $2 million for the purchase of the battlefield property for preservation. The city of Maumee has contributed $500,000.

But that is far short of the city of Toledo’s asking price, which Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has set at $7.2 million. The mayor has said he wants the city to get as much as it can for the land because the extra revenue will be used to reduce the amount of debt the city will incur to fund the Jeep project.

Mr. Pauken said he believes the price tag is negotiable, and that a state-mandated survey of the battlefield may produce a different estimate of the land’s worth.

The park report says that “subject to the availability of funds,” the park service could contribute to those costs. It identifies $11.4 million in “possible NPS responsibilities for the affiliated area.” That total includes $5 million for the acquisition of the site and $5 million for an interpretive center.

But it is unclear whether any of that money will be available.

After Congress reconvenes in January, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and Sen. Mike DeWine (R., O.) will reintroduce legislation to have Fallen Timbers named an affiliated site. But it is undecided if that legislation will allocate federal dollars for the project, according to Miss Kaptur’s spokesman, Steve Katich.

Mr. Pauken said he does not believe the affiliated-unit legislation would include any federal allocations.

The brief battle, fought on Aug. 20, 1794, pitted the army of Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne against a band of Native American tribes. The American victory, and the treaty that followed it, gave the young United States Ohio, Detroit, a part of Indiana, and a safe passage on the Ohio River.

The Toledo-owned land is inside the city borders of Maumee. Once the land is purchased, preservationists hope to transfer control of it to a group experienced in park management, such as the Metro parks or the Ohio Historical Society.

Ms. Duvendack said her group is seeking contributions from federal, county, and private sources, and hopes to have the land purchased by the end of 1999. Their plan calls for the park to be operational by Ohio’s Bicentennial, March 1, 2003.

Gun control opponents present case to council

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 21

Opponents of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s proposed gun control legislation used a mix of statistics and tales of attackers foiled to make their case to council last night.

“People would be imprisoned or fined for doing the same things they’ve done for decades without hurting anyone,” said John Mueller, who was in charge of the ad hoc group testifying against the legislation.

Gun control proponents made their arguments at a public hearing on Nov. 12. Last night was the opponents’ chance, and they made the most of it, sending dozens of speakers to the podium.

Leading off was John Lott, a University of Chicago law school professor who said that critics of guns have used statistics out of context to promote their claims.

Among the points he made:

* Guns protect people from a crime more often than they are involved in one.

* Accidental deaths from guns are less common than usually perceived.

* Proposed required gun locks would make guns too expensive for most people to afford.

“Quality, reliability – I mean, these are nice things for wealthy people,” Mr. Lott said. “How many of those poor people are we going to be pricing out of being able to protect themselves?”

Councilman Peter Gerken, however, took issue with Mr. Lott’s statements on gun locks, which are a part of the mayor’s proposal.

Mr. Gerken said gun manufacturers are opposing gun lock laws just as auto manufacturers initially opposed laws requiring seat belts and air bags in vehicles.

“Those companies said it would make the cost of a car prohibitive, just as gun manufacturers are doing,” he said.

The four proposed gun ordinances would require handgun registration, allow prosecution for allowing children access to guns without a trigger lock, and ban possession of “Saturday night specials” and assault weapons.

Gun control opponents said that the bills are too nebulous in defining terms and could make many guns illegal or ban some guns while keeping nearly identical ones legal.

Some of the most powerful testimony was by people who had used guns to fight off attackers or prevent violence.

The Rev. Mark Montgomery of Rossford said he and his wife used guns to frighten off an intruder they believed would kill them.

“I gave him three seconds to leave, and on the count of two, the front door slammed,” he said. “I’m not a hunter, but I am a shooter, and I’m married to one.”

Jean Weddle described calling police after she scared away a man who was throwing bricks through her window – only to have Toledo police take away her handgun because she did not have a handgun identification card as required under city law.

“They seemed more interested in taking my gun than in what happened,” Ms. Weddle said.

The talk of foiled attackers apparently summoned a memory for one council member.

Councilman Betty Shultz thanked Mr. Montgomery for his story because it made her remember a time when she was a teenager and someone tried to break into her home when her parents were away.

“That was the first time I touched a loaded revolver,” she said. “The man didn’t break in.”

Council will hold a hearing on the proposals Monday with representatives from both sides present. Council could take a vote on the ordinances at that time.

8 are inductees in civic hall of fame

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 21

City leaders honored their predecessors yesterday, announcing the first eight inductees into the Toledo Civic Hall of Fame.

They range from giants of industry to patrons of the arts, from a newspaper publisher to a ground breaking minority activist.

“We are honoring our past so we can do even better in the future,” Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said.

The eight will be formally inducted into the nascent hall Jan. 21 at a meeting of the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce.

To be inducted are:

* John D. Anderson (1922-1986), who led Maumee-based The Andersons in some of its most prosperous years.

At various times, Mr. Anderson served as president of the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, the board of the Toledo YMCA, the United Way, the Toledo Rotary Club, and the Toledo Board of Trade. He served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the University of Toledo and was chairman of the board of the former Mary Manse College.

Mr. Anderson’s brother, Bob Anderson, was one of the nine area citizens the mayor appointed to select the inductees. He said that while he did not vote on his brother’s case, “I loved him dearly. He was an inspiration.”

* Paul Block, Jr. (1911-1987), the longtime Blade publisher who was one of Toledo’s most powerful and controversial figures for almost half a century.

From the editorial page of The Blade, Mr. Block was a constant advocate for changes and reforms he believed would help the city.

In a speech to the Kiwanis Club in 1979, Mr. Block said, “I spend my career saying no when others said yes, and yes when others said no.”

Among his most impassioned causes: the creation of the Medical College of Ohio, the formation of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, revitalization of the downtown, and the creation of a strong-mayor form of government.

Mr. Block helped create results in each of those areas. The Ohio General Assembly created MCO in 1964, and Mr. Block served as the first chairman of its board of trustees. When the port authority was created in 1955, he was the chairman of its board.

He headed the Toledo Development Committee, helping bring landmarks such as Government Center to downtown. And in 1992, after his death, Toledo voters approved a strong-mayor form of government, replacing the city-manager form.

Mr. Block was an expert chemist, doing research on the thyroid gland. For years, he was the world’s only source for certain synthetic analogs of natural thyroid hormones.

* John Gunckel (1846-1915), the man responsible for the Newsboys tradition of philanthropy.

A ticket agent for the Lake Shore Railroad, Mr. Gunckel abhorred the wretched conditions in which Toledo’s newsboys lived. Too many smoked and swore and lived dirty, rude lives, he believed.

In 1892, he decided to do something about it. He formed the Toledo Newsboys’ Association as a self-governing group of newsboys who would be dedicated to clean, honest living.

Eventually, the idea spread and a National Newsboys’ Association was formed, with more than 10,000 members. He spent 22 years running the association and spreading his ideas of clean living and philanthropy to those in trouble.

The association eventually died away, but its work continued. The Boys Club of Toledo is the successor organization to the association, and the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association continues its charity work.

* Edward Drummond Libbey (1854-1925), who brought the glass industry to Toledo.

A New England native, Mr. Libbey decided to move his glass business from Massachusetts to Toledo in 1888, citing the area’s ample supply of natural gas and good sand.

The company he started, Libbey Glass Co., eventually would grow into an empire. It lives on in its modern-day successor companies, Owens-Illinois, Owens Corning, Libbey, Inc., and Libbey-Owens-Ford.

He made major contributions to the city as president of the local school board and the city’s plan commission.

His major outlet was the Toledo Museum of Art, which he headed from its founding in 1901 to his death. His wealth paid for most of the construction of the museum’s Monroe Street complex, and he left millions to the museum in his estate.

* Florence Scott Libbey (1863-1938), who also was a founding force behind the Toledo Museum of Art.

Edward Libbey’s wife, Mrs. Libbey had established herself as a art connoisseur before Mr. Libbey even moved to Toledo. She focused on Asian art and ceramics and shared her love of art with her husband after they married in 1890.

Mrs. Libbey had a fortune of her own, being the daughter of millionaire real-estate dealer Maurice Scott, and she directed her funds to the art museum. In 1912, she donated her entire art collection to the museum.

Mrs. Libbey was the granddaughter of inductee Jesup W. Scott.

* Henry L. Morse (1907-1982), a banker who devoted his nonwork hours to helping the community.

Mr. Morse retired as senior vice president, secretary, and director of the former Toledo Trust Co. in 1973 and devoted his time to more than 50 community organizations to which he belonged.

Among his many involvements: he was a board chairman of MCO, he helped found the Lucas County Recreation Center, and he was president of the Toledo Mud Hens.

* Jesup W. Scott (1799-1874), the Blade editor who founded what would be the University of Toledo.

A Connecticut native, Mr. Scott moved to Huron County in the 1820s to look after the businesses of his father-in-law. He soon moved to Perrysburg, then bought 70 acres in Vistula and Port Lawrence, the two villages that eventually would merge to form Toledo.

In 1830, he founded a newspaper, The Miami of Lake Erie, in Perrysburg. It was the first newspaper in the Maumee Valley. In 1844, he moved permanently to Toledo and became one of the early editors of The Blade.

In 1872, he made his most lasting gift, donating 160 acres to found “The Toledo University of Arts and Trades.” That institution eventually became Toledo University, then the University of Toledo.

* Ella Phillips Stewart (1891-1987), the nation’s first black female pharmacist and a tireless worker for the betterment of the lives of black families.

After starting her activism with local relief efforts during the Depression, she began working on a national scale. In 1948, she became national president of the National Association of Colored Women, a post she held four years. That position led to a series of “goodwill ambassador” roles with the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women’s Association, of which she was the international vice president.

She traveled to more than two dozen countries doing her work.

One common bond between many of the inductees is that their names live on in Toledo today. The Libbey name is strong in many of the area’s companies, such as Libbey-Owens-Ford and Libbey, Inc. Scott High School, Scottwood Avenue, and UT’s Scott Park campus are all named for Jesup Scott.

The Andersons is still a vibrant company based in Maumee. Mrs. Stewart gave her name to Stewart Elementary School. And Gunckel Boulevard bears Mr. Gunckel’s name, as did the former Gunckel school.

Hall-of-fame officials are tracking down relatives of each of the inductees so that they can be presented a plaque at the Chamber of Commerce ceremony next month.

The inductees will be honored by a temporary display in the Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library until a home can be built in the Local History room on the third floor. That will be ready after library renovations are finished in the spring of 2001, library officials said.

Mr. Finkbeiner said he hopes the hall can raise enough money to eventually create busts or portraits of each inductee. For now, he said, plaques will have to do.

$497,549 spent to get issue OK’d; Home Depot foes outspent 35-1

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

Getting a new store in West Toledo was worth a half million dollars to Home Depot.

In the most expensive campaign for a ballot issue in Toledo history, the home-improvement giant outspent its opponents 35-1, pouring $497,549 into a campaign to get a zoning change approved by the voters Nov. 3, according to campaign finance documents filed yesterday.

“That is certainly more money that I can ever remember being spent,” said Michael Beazley, the Toledo clerk of council who has been active in the local political scene the last 25 years. “For issue campaigns, it’s not even close.”

Home Depot falls behind only Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s 1997 reelection race in total dollars spent. In that campaign, the mayor spent just over $500,000.

But Mr. Finkbeiner had four years to amass that much money. The Home Depot race, known as Issue 13, was put on the ballot less than 11 weeks before the election.

The gap in spending between Home Depot and its opponents was cavernous. Over the entire campaign, the Vote No on 13 Committee spent $14,297.11.

All the Home Depot spending evidently paid off. The zoning change passed, 42,024 votes to 33,979. That amounts to $11.84 spent by the company for each “yes” vote and only 42 cents spent by opponents for each “no.”

“It infuriates me that the people of Toledo are swayed by something like this,” said Norma Dorfner, media coordinator for the Home Depot opponents.

“They spent a lot more than I had expected them to,” said Harry Ward, the deputy treasurer of the campaign against Home Depot. “We were expecting $150,000 or $200,000.”

The corporation’s money went toward a barrage of television and print advertising, including more than $120,000 spent for direct phone campaigning and $12,000 for a tracking poll.

Issue 13 asked voters to choose between the economic gains of a major new store and the preservation of an old neighborhood. To build the 130,000-square-foot store, Home Depot had to tear down 88 apartments in a residential area.

The city council on July 15 approved the rezoning necessary for the company to build. But concerned neighborhood residents circulated a petition to put the issue on the ballot, gathering almost 19,000 signatures.

An employee in the public relations office of Home Depot’s Atlanta headquarters said that only one person could speak with the news media on the issue. That spokesperson, Kelly Hays, did not respond to telephone messages or pages.

Port-authority levy backers spent $113,000 toward campaign’s end

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 5A

A group supporting the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s levy renewal campaign spent more than $113,000 in the campaign’s closing weeks, according to campaign finance documents filed yesterday.

The levy lost, 66,572 votes to 53,927.

The money was spent by the Chamber of Commerce Issue Fund, which represents many of the city’s businesses.

Contributions to the pro-levy forces came from an array of area corporations, many of them with ties to the port authority or its board.

The list of companies that gave $5,000 reads like a “who’s who” of Toledo-area businesses: First Energy, corporate parent of Toledo Edison; Mid Am Bank; Owens-Corning Foundation; Chrysler Corp.; National City Bank; Owens-Illinois, and Buckeye Cablesystem, a subsidiary of Blade Communications, Inc., which also owns The Blade. Buckeye’s chairman, Allan Block, personally gave $500.

Port board members and their companies also contributed. Board member Ed Shultz gave $2,000. General Alum Co., the company of board chairman James Poure, gave $500. J. Patrick Nicholson’s N-Viro International Corp. gave $500, as did George Ballas’s automobile dealership.

Of 57 contributors, 15 gave between $500 and $999; 17 gave between $1,000 and $4,999, and eight contributed $5,000 or more.

The levy raises $2.2 million a year, used mostly to encourage economic development in northwest Ohio. Voters will get another chance to approve the levy next year.

The levy’s main opponent, Citizens for Accountability, did not file a campaign finance report yesterday. It is required for any campaign committee that spent $1. Failing to turn in a report is punishable by fines levied by the Ohio Elections Commission.

Robert Feldstein, who led the anti-levy effort, said last night he didn’t know he had to file a report. He said Citizens for Accountability spent “well below $100″ and received no contributions.

In November’s other tightly contested local race, Councilwoman Jeanine Perry used contributions from nearly all of Toledo’s most powerful Democrats to get a spot in the Ohio House of Representatives. She beat incumbent Republican John Garcia to represent the 50th District in Columbus.

Mrs. Perry outraised her opponent $23,767 to $5,168 after Oct. 14. Because she carried over more than $50,000 from before that date, she was able to spend $65,162 in the campaign’s closing weeks.

In contrast, Mr. Garcia spent only $6,328 in that period. But he received a boost from the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee, which made more than $87,000 in in-kind contributions, mostly television airtime. Ms. Perry received more than $14,000 in in-kind contributions in the period, most of it from Democratic political action committees.

She received contributions from many of the area’s leading Democrats, including the campaigns of her fellow councilmen Peter Ujvagi and Bob McCloskey, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, and County Commissioner Sandy Isenberg.

She also received small contributions from Council Clerk Michael Beazley, former Mayor Harry Kessler, port authority President James Hartung, Toledo Public Schools board member Peter Silverman, and Toledo Federation of Teachers President Francine Lawrence.

Mayor has new plan to thwart drug store

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 21

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has not given up the fight to stop a proposed Rite Aid store in South Toledo.

Just a day after council overrode his vetoes trying to stop the project – which would tear down several old buildings at Broadway and South Avenue to make way for an 11,000-square-foot pharmacy – the mayor has another idea.

Yesterday, he announced he would ask the council to impose a 60-day moratorium on the issuance of any demolition permits in a community development cor poration’s area.

CDCs cover about half of Toledo’s area.

“It is shortsighted to tear down buildings for these box-like structures,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The mayor said the move was in response to the Toledo-Lucas County plan commission’s decision last week to approve the demolition of several homes and busi nesses at Woodville Road and East Broadway to make way for a Walgreens drug store.

Mr. Finkbeiner said the plan commission’s decision left him “totally shocked.”

He said the national drug store chains are involved in a building war but predicted that “in four years, there will be a lot of empty buildings” when the market contracts.

The mayor said the plan commission is working on guidelines for commercial demolitions in the city, and that the council should wait until those guidelines are set to make more decisions on demolitions.

In the Rite Aid case, the council voted Nov. 24 to approve the drug store’s construction, 10-2. The mayor vetoed the ordinance Friday because he said it did not do enough to protect the neighborhood surrounding the prospective drug store. The council overrode the veto Tuesday, with Councilman Gene Zmuda joining colleagues Rob Ludeman and Edna Brown in supporting the mayor.

To enact a moratorium, the mayor would need to get seven votes on the council, if all members are present. And the mayor said he has asked the city’s law department to “examine all possible legal maneuvers” to stop or delay the drug store’s construction.

But several council members said they would not want to do anything to keep the Rite Aid issue alive any longer.

“This council has made a tough decision, and the citizens have spoken,” said Councilwoman Tina Wozniak Skeldon. “I want him to recognize council’s action.”

“The folks who are in these buildings [to be torn down] want to get out,” said Councilman Bob McCloskey, whose district includes the proposed Rite Aid site. “It’s a manhood issue for the mayor. He wants to show everybody that he’s boss.”

Even Mr. Ludeman, who supported the mayor in the two council votes, said Mr. Finkbeiner should put the matter to rest.

“If you’re opposed to something and fight a good fight, pat yourself on the back and get on with your life,” he said. “It’s past.”

Mr. Finkbeiner said he would ask the council to make the move at its Dec. 22 meeting. He said he got the moratorium idea from the Columbus city council, which is trying to take similar action because of two drug store chains seeking to tear down old buildings to make room for new stores. Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka opposes the moratorium.

Jeep costs under control, officials say

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 21

The city’s expenses for the Jeep project are under control and will leave Toledo in strong financial condition, city officials told a council committee yesterday.

“Cost containment for Project Jeep is in full effect,” said Ken Dobson, who is negotiating relocation packages for displaced busines ses at the Jeep site.

Mr. Dobson and Jeep project coordinator Bob Reinbolt said that the giant leap in the city’s estimated costs – from about $35 million a year ago to about $75 million now – happened because of poor original estimates, and that the projected cost has stayed stable for about four months.

“I feel confident that we will be able to bring this in to you under budget by a few hundred thousand dollars,” Mr. Dobson said.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner held a news conference Tuesday at which he criticized an article in Sunday’s Blade that reported the increase in costs, and that the city will have to borrow millions to give DaimlerChrysler AG the incentive package to expand its Toledo Jeep plants.

But Mr. Dobson and Mr. Reinbolt said that the debt payments would not be overly painful for the city and well worth the economic benefits: keeping 4,900 jobs for Jeep, as well as encouraging industrial investment in North Toledo.

Councilman Rob Ludeman said that the original too-low estimates “hurt us in spirit” as the costs climbed skyward. “Those first estimates were so flawed,” he said.

Saying he had been frustrated with the cost overruns, Councilman Bob McCloskey said the money might have been better spent elsewhere.

“I’m not sure we would have been better off letting Jeep go to Michigan,” Mr. McCloskey said, letting the millions of dollars go to smaller economic development projects.

But Mr. Dobson said that would not have been a more efficient way to retain jobs. “It would have cost two, three times as much to attract the amount of jobs that we would have lost losing Jeep,” he said.

Mr. Reinbolt said that, in a worst-case scenario, the city would have to borrow just under $18 million in a low-interest loan from the federal government. However, he said that sum would almost certainly be reduced, probably through the sale of city-owned land in Monclova Township or Whitehouse.

“I believe it can be reduced to the neighborhood of $10 million,” he said.

Mayor blasts report on Jeep; Finkbeiner says Blade story about cost overruns ‘silly’

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

In a furious, raging attack on a Blade article, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner insisted that the Jeep project’s huge cost overruns are a small price to pay to keep jobs in Toledo.

“I expect better from the daily newspaper, and shame on them,” the mayor said at a news conference yesterday.

The mayor’s ire was directed at a front-page article in Sunday’s Blade, written by staff writer Jeffrey Cohan. It reported that the city and state government’s out-of-pocket expenses on the project have ballooned from the original estimate of $30 million to at least $76 million.

Mr. Finkbeiner accused Mr. Cohan of emphasizing bad news, and not the good.

“Shame on him, and the editor who gave him permission to write that story,” the mayor said. “That silly question-mark story on Sunday should have been shit-canned. It didn’t belong on a front page on a Sunday morning.”

He called his use of a vulgarity at a mayoral news conference “a once-a-year slip.”

The money will be used to assist DaimlerChryler AG in its $1.2 billion investment into its two Toledo plants. The city and state’s expenses are part of a $278 million incentive package local governments assembled to attract the new investment. In return for the financial assistance, DaimlerChrysler will retain 4,900 of the 5,600 employees it had a year ago.

Blade Executive Editor Ron Royhab defended the article and Mr. Cohan, saying that the administration had “grossly underestimated” the cost of the Jeep project.

“Instead of criticizing the newspaper and staff writer Jeff Cohan for reporting this, the mayor should be addressing the problem,” Mr. Royhab said.

Mr. Finkbeiner, who was visibly enraged at times during the news conference, did say he thought the story was “as a whole” balanced.

But he said that negative material was put at the top of the article, while positive information was left at the bottom. He criticized the story’s headline, which read: “Accelerating costs of a new auto plant beg the question: Can Toledo afford to keep Jeep?”

“The real question is, what is wrong with The Blade’s reporter, Jeff Cohan, and the headline writer who allowed this negative article to be on Sunday’s front page?”

Mr. Royhab noted that Mr. Cohan was honored this year by the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists as the best government reporter in the state.

He pointed out that prior to joining The Blade two years ago, Mr. Cohan was the lead city hall reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where he covered the administration of Mayor Jan Jones.

“His work meets the highest standards of our profession,” Mr. Royhab said. “The Blade stands by the story and encourages the mayor to work on solving the problem rather than attacking the messenger.”

At the news conference, Mr. Finkbeiner was surrounded by about 60 Jeep project supporters, including representatives of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the United Auto Workers.

The mayor said the article quoted “cynical guys like Terry Lodge who think they know it all, sitting in their oak-paneled offices … Brother, get a new life.”

Mr. Lodge is the attorney representing some of the city residents who live on the future plant site. They are suing the city to prevent their homes from being torn down.

Mr. Lodge was not quoted in the article. All 11 people quoted in the story are city, county, or state government officials, with the exception of DaimlerChrysler spokes person Curtrice Garner.

Mr. Finkbeiner did not dispute the article’s financial information, which said that the cost to Toledo taxpayers has skyrocketed in the last year because of unexpected expenses.

Mr. Finkbeiner’s major complaint was that the tone of the article was not positive enough, considering that the city’s investment in the project meant that thousands of good-paying jobs would be protected.

He said the cost overruns are mostly because of higher-than-expected costs in relocating 16 companies whose properties will be used for the expansion of the Stickney Avenue Jeep plant. Fifteen of those companies will stay in the city of Toledo.

“I stepped up and saved Jeep, and I stepped up with this team and saved 15 of 16 companies,” the mayor said.

The mayor accused the newspaper of a “flip-flop” because its editorial pages had promoted the Keep Jeep effort for years.

Behind the mayor at the news conference were poster-sized copies of a Blade editorial from January, 1997, supporting the Keep Jeep campaign, and an article from November, 1998, reporting that property values in the North Toledo industrial corridor have gone up since the Jeep deal.

The mayor singled out a member of city council, Louis Escobar, for criticism over a quotation in the article.

Mr. Escobar was quoted as saying: “My sense is, nobody has a clear picture of what it’s going to cost us and how we are going to pay for it. That’s dangerous, because we have to adopt a budget.”

Mr. Finkbeiner said yesterday, “If he doesn’t know, that’s a pretty uninformed councilman, and shame on him.”

Mr. Escobar responded: “I don’t think we’re all uninformed. We’re just not getting the response we want from the administration. We’ve been asking the questions about how much this will cost, and no one will give us a definitive answer, saying, `this is the bottom line,’ not `I think it may be,’ or `it should be.”‘

“We’re relying on the generosity of corporate America,” Mr. Escobar said, “and how many people want to take that to the bank?”

Other council members said last night that they thought the article was fair, but could have had more background to put the situation in better context.

“The article provided the facts as we know them accurately,” said council President Peter Ujvagi. “`There was nothing I disagreed with in the article.”

Still, he said, “more could have been said about the situation the city was in when these decisions were made.”

Councilman Gene Zmuda said the mayor’s reaction was “typical Carty Finkbeiner reaction, quite frankly, which is if you don’t agree with him, he tries to paint you as the devil incarnate. What he doesn’t understand is that you can be supportive of the project and still be critical of the specifics.”

Councilwoman Edna Brown called the article “more or less fair,” but said it did not do enough to show the difficulty of the situation the city was in – facing the loss of its largest employer.

“We felt our backs were against the wall,” she said. “We did what we felt we had to do.”

Other council members said the mayor’s focus on a two-day-old article could be a waste of energy.

“I think it is inappropriate to attack anything other than the problems in front of us,” said Councilman Peter Gerken. “The efforts spent on looking back could be better used in looking forward.” He added that he thought the article “reported things on balance.”

Republican Councilman Rob Ludeman said the public has a right to know about cost overruns. “It’s more expensive than we thought,” he said. “We’ll get it done and it will be so positive, not only the Jeep project, but all the projects behind it. Just because you don’t agree with something, why would you think it’s not fair? The public has the right to know.”

Democrat Tina Skeldon Wozniak agreed. She said she took the article’s headline “as an honest question … not as a negative.”

“We all have to ask hard questions and be committed to the project,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a negative to examine the costs on a regular basis.”

Councilwoman Betty Shultz said she continued to support the administration despite the overruns. “I don’t think anyone knew what the cost would be. Hindsight is always 20-20.

“The Blade has the job of reporting the news as they see it,” she said. “Perhaps I don’t share the view that this is negative.

“I’m not going to criticize The Blade or the mayor or Jeff’s reporting ability,” Mrs. Shultz said.

Blade staff writer Mark Zaborney contributed to this report.

Lake Twp. eatery sued for bias by out-of-town bowling group

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 19

Twenty-two African-American bowlers from Maryland have filed suit against a Wood County restaurant, charging that the staff discriminated against them when they stopped for dinner during the summer.

The suit, filed yesterday in federal court in Toledo, alleges that they were denied service given to white customers at the Iron Skillet restaurant, which is inside the Petro Stopping Center, a truck stop at 26146 W. Service Rd. in Lake Township.

“I am outraged by the way they treated us,” said Diane Scott, the lead plaintiff in the case. “We were ignored and insulted because of our race.”

The men and women were returning from a bowling tournament in Chicago on the Ohio Turnpike when they stopped at the Iron Skillet on June 7.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit:

* White customers who entered the restaurant after the bowlers were served before the plaintiffs, who had to wait up to an hour for service.

* The bowlers were required to ask repeatedly for tableware and condiments, while they were provided automatically to white patrons.

* Staff members made derogatory comments to the bowlers such as “Everything was fine until you people came in here.”

Curtis Coats, director of marketing for Petro Stopping Centers in El Paso, Tex., said the company is “vigorously denying the charges.” He said Petro has conducted its own internal investigation and concluded the charges are false.

“We plan on actively and aggressively contesting the lawsuit,” he said.

The bowlers are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The case has been assigned to Judge David Katz.

Gay-rights proposal is sent to council

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

The lack of a definition for the word “intimidation” prevented a proposed gay-rights ordinance from getting a recommendation from a Toledo city council committee yesterday.

The Law and Criminal Justice Committee voted 4-0 to let council vote on the matter at this afternoon’s meeting.

All four committee members said they support the bill, but Councilman C. Allen McConnell asked the panel not to take a stance on it until the definition of one of the bill’s terms is clarified.

Mr. McConnell pointed out that the bill does not define “intimidation,” a word used in its hate-crimes section. He said that the word could be interpreted broadly, in ways that could restrict free speech.

The sponsor, at-large Councilman Louis Escobar, who is gay, said the bill will follow the definition used in state law, which attaches intimidation to other criminal activity. Council staff said that the definition will be included in a new draft of the bill to go before the full body today.

The vote followed a 2 1/2-hour public hearing, which council members said was more civil than they had expected.

“I am very happy we were able to listen to each other, particularly on an issue that is so hotly debated,” said Councilman Gene Zmuda, the committee’s chairman.

The bill would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment matters and create a hate-crimes law that would include other factors, such as race and religion, as well as orientation.

The panel heard testimony in favor of the ordinance from many of Toledo’s leaders, including police Chief Michael Navarre, fire Chief Michael Bell, and state Rep. Jack Ford (D., Toledo), as well as from gays and lesbians who had faced discrimination. In addition, an array of religious figures testified in favor of the bill, saying that the vote was for human and civil rights, not to promote or defend homosexuality.

“Persecution of gays and lesbians is not a matter of a difference of opinion,” said the Rev. Rebecca Gifford-Mitchell, pastor of Central United Methodist Church. “It is a matter of bigotry and injustice.”

“Nobody should have to pass as something they are not,” said the Rev. Wilhelmina Hein, pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church, which serves a primarily gay and lesbian ministry.

The audience was about 10-1 in favor of the bill, based on requests for supporters of each side to stand up.

A handful of people testified against the bill, citing biblical doctrine they said makes homosexuality a sin.

“We are accepting a life-style that will lead to moral decay,” said Lynn Bland, who said Christians have “claimed Toledo as a holy city.”

The bill is expected to pass, perhaps unanimously. No members of council have expressed opposition.