Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Toledo government needs more competence, not patronage

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    Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson's mayoral team is swamped with administrative incompetence.

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    Councilman Larry Sykes speaks during the Toledo City Council Finance & Budget Oversight Committee meeting.

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When city officials hire a grant writer, usually they hope that person will make news with the many grants he or she lands. Instead, Toledo’s $67,000-a-year grant writer only made news for controversies created by her hiring and her demotion.

Last year, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson hired Dorothy Spurlock — a former University of Toledo employee who was fired twice by the school. And she hired Ms. Spurlock despite being about six months into a hiring freeze the mayor ordered after announcing that the city was $2 million over budget at the time.

RELATED: Banished to the Toledo water department

Councilman Larry Sykes put Ms. Spurlock’s resume in the mayor’s hands, and the mayor said she was impressed by Ms. Spurlock’s “breadth of experience and primarily her exposure to national and regional types of philanthropy and sources of grants.”

Not much else was heard about Ms. Spurlock until this month, when she again made news after administration officials revealed she had been transferred to the water department — a move that came with a nearly 40 percent pay cut.

The mayor denied that the move was a demotion. The water department needs grant writers, she said. But the transfer came after Ms. Spurlock bungled the application for a $1.1 million grant to fund a local YouthBuild program with the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority. Ms. Spurlock missed the May deadline to submit the grant application, email records show, leaving about 30 Toledo young people without the program that would have taught them job skills while they improved housing authority properties.

Ms. Spurlock’s move to the water department certainly looked like a demotion, and a demotion that was called for.

This from the administration that offered a $45-an-hour economic development consulting contract to the man who cast the lone plan commission vote in favor of the controversial West Toledo Kroger project. He withdrew his request to continue this work after it was revealed that city officials hired him without knowing he had a criminal record, which included misdemeanor convictions for assault, disorderly conduct, and sales to intoxicated people.

This from the administration that responded to a scathing 2015 consultant’s report alleging that the utilities department was riddled with inefficiencies, bloated management, and low cash reserves caused by granting raises and some promotions to officials running that department.

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Once again, we face the issue of administrative competence — competence of the city’s employees and competence of our elected leaders. The Hicks-Hudson administration gets a failing grade on competence and a failing grade, also, on effort. At the same time, the mayor and her administration seem not at all embarrassed by a cronyism that has failed them as well as the people of the city. In fact, they flaunt their cronyism, which occasionally slips into good, old-fashioned political corruption.

Got a pal or loyalist you need to unload? Ship him (or her) to the water department. What’s the problem?

The voters may see one, or two.

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