The Political Dirt
Would You Like Some Mud With That?


In The Letters to the Editor section of the Herald Star for Sunday, October 6, 2002, a letter appeared from former city Councilman Larry Coppa. The same morning, that letter was posted on the message boards of Toronto In Focus. For the benefit of those who may have missed it, I am repeating that letter here.
For the past 3 ‘ years I have been doing research and have constructively criticized how things have been done in the City of Toronto. There have been positive results. Thousands of dollars have been saved in the past and will be saved in the future.

The following are just a few examples of these positive accomplishments. I exposed the illegal water meter bid, which resulted in a $ 3,947.00 savings. A minimum of $ 1,950.00 can be saved every year, because I questioned how Earth Tech manages our sewage plant. The monthly $ 175.00 retainer fee to Clemans and Nelson was stopped because of my research and questioning. This saved the taxpayers $ 21,000.00 over a ten-year period.

I do not want to see history repeat itself. According to the 1991 and 1992 State Audit of the City of Toronto, the City had very serious financial problems and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Bob Wilson was mayor from 1984 through 1991 . At the end of Bob Wilson’s eight years as mayor, the General Fund was $ 139,515.00 in the red.

Also, according to the State Audit, the following are some of the other problems:

” The City did not make payments for several police pension contributions from 1990 and 1991. The City did not make payments for several firemen pension contributions from 1990 and 1991. The City is subject to interest charges and penalties.”
” Purchase orders were not always issued to initiate the expenditure transaction.”
” Proper documentation was not always attached to vouchers to support the validity of the expenditure. As a result, it could not be determined what item or service was purchased and if it was for a proper public purpose.”
” The Recreation Department did not have documentation to support gym and hall rental receipts. As a result, rental revenue could not be confirmed as to the amount collected and payee.”
” The Treasurer failed to reconcile the payroll clearing account and did not complete an accurate outstanding check list on a monthly basis. As a result, the Treasurer had no records to identify the undistributed balance of funds on deposit.”
” The Treasurer did not properly maintain a payroll ledger. As a result, employee payroll histories, ( i.e., net pay, check numbers, retirement benefits and miscellaneous deductions ) were not posted to the ledger.”
There are many more problems stated in this audit. A copy of the audit can be obtained from Ohio State Auditor Jim Petro. The address is: 88 East Broad Street, P.O. Box 1140, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1140. The phone number is ( 800 ) 282-0370 .

How many Toronto citizens knew that our City was in such a financial state ? It is my opinion that this was not very responsible leadership. More people need to become involved in city government in order to make sure that our city leaders are accountable for how they spend our tax dollars.

This is not the first such letter that has been posted by our erstwhile/coming politician using this twofold method of reaching an audience. In the early days of TIF, his missives were usually unchallenged, but recently they have begun to meet with much more scorn, at least in so far as the message board is concerned.

Well, before anyone goes off on Larry for posting something sooo self aggrandizing and derogatory about the current administration, let me point out that this is politics. The man is actually campaigning, which is something that seldom happens in this town where people tend to run on their name recognition and associations. Of course name recognition could also be read as reputation and associations could be read as political connections, but let’s not split hairs.

The fact is that Larry is campaigning. We are finally getting a taste of big-time politics complete with spin and mud-slinging. I say, it’s about time.

The days of just walking into your polling place and checking the ballot for familiar names are long gone. Today’s politician has to get the word out that he is your champion, your hero, your modern messiah if you will; while at the same time, he must vilify the opposition — showing him to be a thief with archaic ideas and dangerous cronies. No longer will it suffice to hand out flyers with a self-serving checklist of accomplishments. Today’s politician has to have a media campaign and a cleverly disguised personal agenda if he wants to take the voters down the primrose path to lackey-land.

So when you see this letter posted in the Sunday paper’s letters section, don’t be put off. It just means that we are one step closer to the kind of exciting political campaign that has electrified such major urban Meccas as Boston, New Orleans, Chicago and, yes, even Miami.

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