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

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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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.