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Rich Man Versus Poor Boy

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

      If you have been following the recent Toledo Blade story of the discussions between millionaire developer Bruce Douglas and Toledo City Council regarding his grandiose request for a reprieve of his $500,000 dollar loan on The Uptown Arts Center Apartments, you may have missed some valuable insights as to how a city can miss a chance to go big and make a difference in neighborhood redevelopment.

     This is the drama of Rich Man vs. Poor Boy. The Rich Man is developer Bruce Douglas (now of a Florida residence) and the Poor Boy is the Grace Community Center and the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio.

Lafe Tolliver, Esq

     For some background, The Rich Man wants City Council to give him a "winkie-winkie" financial bonanza and write off of their accounting books an approximately half million dollar loan so that he can sell the low-income apartment complex.

     Why the money grabbing request? Simple. The Rich Man wants to either ease a tax bite or he simply wants to see how gullible City Council and whether they will give him a fat tax cut write off (maybe as a farewell gift to The Rich Man for his prior acts of goodness to Toledo?) so he can sell the complex to another waiting buyer.

    But wait! There is more!

     At or around the same time that this preposterous request on the city coffers was being made, albeit with a straight face, the Grace Community Center and Big Brothers & Sisters of Northwestern Ohio were both seeking a paltry $75,000 so that they could continue their admirable work with youths in the "central" city.

     The two non-profit community centers were asking for a financial life line to continue to do their good works but certain members of City Council suddenly had their ears filled with wax when the community centers sought help from the city in helping Toledo revitalize some of its neighborhoods.

      It is without question that both centers have a strong and admirable history of service and support for their constituents but, at times, they need a financial dollop to help them through certain dry financial patches.

     Despite the two centers pitches to the city for a financial life line, they were denied by a majority of the council on specious grounds that the city could not do what was being requested.

     But yet, to date, the request from The Rich Man is still on the back burner and the Poor Boy was sent to the back of the line with a lot of garrulous guff.

     Is this how we want to treat two community agencies who are doing commendable community service work? Is this how we want to further the work of revitalizing neighborhoods? You know, it is not as if such community centers are constantly in City Council chambers with a tin cup asking for hand outs.

     Things happen with community centers that may require them to humble themselves and seek help from the very city in which their efforts are  advancing the agenda of the mayor who was/is keen on neighborhood revitalization.

      As for The Rich Man, do we really want to bend over backwards and give out financial plums to those who least need it and only need it in order to make more attractive a sale to another fatcat buyer?

     This all leads to the question: Why can't City Council support the works of the two community centers and tell The Rich Man that he has dined sufficiently at the public trough and it is time for The Rich Man to take off his bib and let someone else take his place at the dinner table?

     I am sure that The Rich Man is a nice guy and all that...but surely in the allocation of scarce city resources, should we not place the money with agencies or groups that are working to improve the lives of its citizenry and not fatten the bottom line of The Rich Man?

    Would it not be fair or equitable to have both the Rich Man and The Poor Boy meet with the financial heads of City Council and show them their income and expense records and then weigh in on who is the best candidate to receive any breaks or goodies from the city?

    I would expect City Council members to aggressively approve the request from The Poor Boy (Grace Community Center and Big Brothers & Big Sisters) but apparently that was not the case and even The Rich Man was willing to reduce his request from a half million to that of one hundred and seventy five thousand dollars!

          My last check of what government is to do, among other things, is to improve the lives of its populace. Granting The Poor Boy a chance to continue to start on the starting line and not ten steps behind is a commendable goal that City Council should encourage.

        My solution: The City Council allows The Rich Man his tax break of paying one hundred and seventy five thousand dollars to rid of the loan balance due of five hundred thousand dollars; but those funds are to be earmarked for The Poor Boy.

     And. at the closing of the sale of the complex, the city shares in the some of the profits that The Rich Man is anxiously rubbing his hands to receive.

     A win-win for all. The Rich Man gets richer and The Poor Boy is able to live another day.

Contact Lafe Tolliver at tolliver@juno.com



Copyright 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/04/18 09:50:45 -0400.

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