Playing to a distinctly young crowd that spent a lot of its time texting and tweeting, city Councilman D. Michael Collins kicked off the mayoral "Political Party" series at the Ottawa Tavern in Toledo's Uptown neighborhood Tuesday night.
Collins, a former police detective, regaled his audience with the story of how he discovered the Bell administration had quietly purchased two SUVs.
Collins said he saw the mayor's press secretary alight from a GMC Terrain and was curious why she was using her own car. He said he checked the license plate and discovered it was owned by the city division of Streets Bridges and Harbor.
"It was supposed to be equipment for Streets Bridges and Harbor," Collins said. "That money was authorized for a street sweeper."
He also learned about a Tahoe that was supposedly purchased for a SBH supervisor.
"It never had a supervisor behind the wheel."
He said the Bell administration's response was just to "deny, deny, deny" the truth about the two cars he said cost more than $80,000.
According to Collins those cars were for the mayor's office use.
Called to account by council in March, city Finance Director Patrick McLean and City Law Director Adam Loukx admitted an ordinance last year that paved the way for the mayor’s office to buy a 2013 Chevy Tahoe and a 2010 ordinance that allowed the city to buy a 2011 GMC Terrain were poorly written.
Collins still carries his old detective badge in his wallet, but not a gun (he says). But he said he would never have patroled the Uptown area as an officer without carrying heat.
Collins insisted the city never had a $48 million deficit, as claimed by the Bell Administration.
"That's a myth. They used magic math and solar calculators that were stored in a dark closet."
Among his policy prescriptions, Collins told one questioner who wanted some a pro-bicycle policy that, "the problem with bicycles is motorists don't pay much attention to bicycles." As for having bike lanes, he said, "if we have bus lanes why not bike lanes."
Collins said public education is important to avoiding the fate of bankrupt Detroit and proposed this solution: teachers would identify the kindergarteners and 1st and 2nd graders most likely to drop out of high school, and the most academically accomplished 6th, 7th,and 8th graders, and then pay the junior high schoolers $15 an hour to tutor the younger students.
Collins doesn't hide his lack of confidence in the current administration, which he seeks to displace. "We're not necessarily led by the smartest people in the world. We're led by people who are pre-retired retired. They're waiting to get their checks."Overall, Collins addressed a variety of topics, advocating for recycling and incentivizing the arts.
Asked his "no. 1 priority for making Toledo the place where people want to be:
"Provide the environment so there are good jobs."
This event ran from 7 to 9 p.m. and was lightened by "Smokey and the Bandit" playing on the television and the $1 Pabst Blue Ribbons during happy hour.
Afterward, a band led by Steve Steel (Toledo city councilman) entertained.
Each of the seven candidates will get a Tuesday night to hold forth. Next week is independent Alan Cox. Mayor Bell will have his chance to get back at Collins July 30.