Does the mayor know that the Chamber of Commerce matters in Toledo?
That question comes to mind in the wake of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce's announcement Tuesday that it would oppose Issue 2 on the March 15 ballot to raise the city income tax from 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent.
It appears Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson made little effort to woo the chamber's support.
On Monday, Hicks-Hudson and the usual group of union and city council supporters held a kick-off to the campaign to raise the tax. The next day, the chamber announced it would not support the tax increase at least until the budget could be reviewed by a "third party," such as the Center for Priority-Based Budgeting.
The city's only effort to win the chamber's endorsement - or at least keep it neutral - was way back on Jan. 5 when Finance Director George Sarantou, Chief of Staff Mark Sobczak, and Chief Operating Officer Eileen Granata went before the boards of directors of the Chamber and the Toledo Small Business Association.
Hicks-Hudson never made a call.
Can you imagine former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner allowing any three of his top administrators speak for him without him having his personal say? Finkbeiner would have burned up the phone lines to the president of the chamber to try to secure an endorsement as critical to passage as the chamber's is. And then if the chamber opposed his tax increase, he would have lambasted them in a public news conference.
In December, 2014, Lucas County Commission President Carol Contrada met with the chamber about the commissioners' planned increase in the sales tax from 7% to 7.25%. The chamber stayed neutral.
It doesn't take much in Toledo to shoot down a tax increase. It's really hard to imagine passage of this tax increase with the business community giving the thumbs down. And with 1,800 business members, the chamber speaks for a big chunk of the business community.
The Hicks-Hudson contingent might think they are politically golden because of PHH's successful re-election in November. Her campaign divided and conquered by turning out African-American, Democratic, and union voters. Maybe that's the plan this time around. Certainly, the same campaign manager is in charge, Ernie Davis. But remember, as impressive as it was, she still only got 35 percent. This tax increase proposal is going to need a majority.