Konop for Lucas County

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


My statement on the visit of Karl Rove to Lucas County today for a $5,000 per person fundraiser to raise money for, amongst others, my Republican opponent George Sarantou:

While Karl Rove hides behind the fences of Inverness and fails to answer the tough questions, my Republican opponent George Sarantou also remains unaccountable to the voters. After receiving $750 in campaign contributions from Tom Noe, which currently sit in his campaign account, my opponent refuses to refund the money back to the taxpayers of Ohio. Instead of being accountable to the citizens of Lucas County, Sarantou, like Rove, chooses to turn his back on the people and keep Tom Noe's money in his campaign account.

That's why, in an effort to empower the citizens of Lucas County to hold their elected officials accountable, our campaign has recently launched www.giveitbackgeorge.com, an online petition urging my Republican opponent to refund the Noe contributions.

George Bush has been one of the many Republican leaders to refund his Noe contributions. Perhaps Rove could talk George Sarantou into following the lead of his boss? If it's good enough for George Bush why not George Sarantou?

Finally, we see here today the long reach of Karl Rove once again meddling in Ohio politics. How far will this reach go? Is Karl Rove trying to inject himself into Lucas County politics? Will my opponent behave like a Karl Rove Republican? One has to wonder after the string of events here in Lucas County today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ethics Part II

Here is a copy of the ethics pledge that I signed yesterday and that my opponent refused to sign:

Pledge Of Ethics And Good Government To The Citizens of Lucas County
I pledge to support the establishment of a County Ethics Commission to supplement the state-level Ohio Ethics Commission, following the example of other local governments around the country.I pledge to hold myself to the highest standard of personal conduct and be accountable to the citizens of Lucas County.
I will take personal responsibility for my actions.
I will be open and accessible to members of the public in every community.
I will promptly respond to all inquiries by concerned citizens.
I will serve the full duration of the term for the office of which I am elected to.
I will be a full-time public servant and will accept no outside income while in office.
I support requiring campaign contributors to report county contracts with their campaign contributions.
I support banning campaign contributors from receiving no bid contracts.
I will promptly disclose any legally questionable activities of which I am aware to the Ohio Ethics Commission or other appropriate authorities.
I pledge to hold Lucas County employees and appointees to the highest standard of personal conduct and make them accountable to the citizens of Lucas County.
I will recommend and support appointments to boards and commissions based on knowledge, experience and integrity.
I will not appoint lobbyists to boards and commissions.
I will hire staff based on knowledge, experience, and integrity and not campaign contributions.
I will support requiring boards and commissions to hold regular meetings during evening hours and in different areas of the county, so that working people can attend.
I support requiring ethics training for all Lucas County employees and appointees to boards and commissions.
I pledge to follow the law of the State of Ohio and of the United States of America.

The question I have for my opponent is, what in the pledge does he find so objectionable that we won't join me in coming out strongly in support of good government?

Does Mr. Sarantou intend to be a full-time commissioner or will he treat it as a part-time job? Will he pledge to serve the full duration of his term or is he, as Pam Haynam asserts, seeking to use the Commissioner's office as a springboard to run for Mayor? Has he learned from past mistakes? If he's given another envelope of cash or learns that a colleague is demanding a bribe for a vote, will he report it to the authorities or again choose to look the other way (which, by the way, could potentially cost the taxpayers of Toledo millions of dollars)?
Voters deserve answers. It's past time for Mr. Sarantou to provide them.

Finally, my opponent stated yesterday that he "will sign the code of ethics that the State of Ohio Ethics Commission has which is the recognized law of Ohio." He suggested that "Mr. Konop do the same." Unfortunately, there is no code of ethics promulgated by the Commission for candidates or elected officials to sign. That is why I proposed my code. It's time for a higher standard of accountability. It's time to end the culture of corruption afflicting our community and our state. It's time for a change.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Buy Local!

Several weeks ago, Lisa Renee blogged about an idea she thought was worth promoting: supporting local business in Lucas County. I thought it was a great idea and after going back and forth with Lisa and a couple other local concerned citizens, I decided to issue the following statement today:

Statement Kicking Off Buy Local Tour of Lucas County

One year ago this week, Thackeray's Books closed its doors for the last time. Some of the economic consequences were immediate and quantifiable. Employees lost their jobs or were offered lower paying positions elsewhere. Local suppliers and contractors lost a customer. Public services lost a source of tax revenue.

Some of the other consequences were a little harder to measure. Loyal customers lost a sacred place, a treasured Toledo institution that promoted local authors and championed free speech. In a new creative economy where a community’s uniqueness and distinctive character weigh heavily in its ability to attract jobs and investment capital, Lucas County lost one more "cool" place.

Communities across the country are realizing that small business is big business. They're preserving their distinctive identity and promoting strong local living economies. How? By working to keep money in their community. It matters. And we can do it too.

As Lucas County Commissioner, I will work with my colleagues in government and with small businesses from throughout the county to launch a comprehensive "Buy Local" awareness campaign. Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak's leadership has laid the foundation for this initiative and I look forward to working with her to make it a success.

The possibilities for promoting local purchasing are limitless. Some communities, such as Philadelphia, promote special Holiday Shopping Weeks. Here in Ohio, commercial food producers are working together to develop a distinct "Ohio Proud" brand identity. Toledo Blade columnist Roberta deBoer has even suggested that we follow the lead of Ithaca, New York where local merchants accept "Ithaca Hours" alongside U.S. dollars.

Today I'm kicking off my "Buy Local" Tour of Lucas County. Later on today I'll be visiting great local businesses like Rohr Fish, PC Horsepower Computers, and The Mango Tree restaurant.

The impact of buying local is real. A June 2004 study conducted by the University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center for Lucas County Commissioner Wozniak compared the economic impact on Lucas County of Thackeray's Books to the impact of the national chain Barnes & Noble.

The study estimated that $100 spent at Thackeray's Books resulted in a local economic return of $44. This return included revenue kept local through wages, suppliers, and profits. The same $100 spent at Barnes & Noble resulted in an economic return of only $20.

The study found that Thackeray's Books added more than $5 million annually to the local economy whereas Barnes & Noble contributed only $1.15 million.

Studies conducted elsewhere have reached similar findings. A 2003 case study of Midcoast Maine covering several lines of goods and services found that local businesses spent 53.3% of their revenue within Maine, 44.6% within the surrounding two counties compared with big-box retailers who spent only 14.1% of their revenue in Maine. (The Economic Impact of Locally Owned Business vs. Chains: A Case Study in Midcoast Maine, New Rules Project, September 2003. From the website of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies -- LivingEconomies.org)

Based on the findings of the Thackeray's study, University of Toledo economist Gbenga Ajilore estimated that as much as $8 million in revenue could be added to the local economy if each household redirected just $100 of their spending to a locally owned store.

Small businesses are also responsible for the largest share of net new jobs each year. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies reports that the 200 largest corporations in the world still employ less than 1% of the global workforce. Job growth comes from local, independent businesses.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner recently launched a campaign to stimulate “loyalty, pride, and tradition.” What better way to instill pride in our community than by coming together to support that which makes us unique?

Throughout this campaign I've been putting forth new ideas and a fresh vision to grow our economy and create jobs by promoting development, courting skilled workers, and attracting investment capital. Today I'm proud to announce a plan that can grow our economy by simply keeping money in the community.

Governing is about leadership. With the May primary rapidly approaching, no other candidate for Commissioner, Democrat or Republican, has put forth any proposal of any kind on any issue. Perhaps they are totally satisfied with the status quo. I am not.

A February report by the Milken Institute ranked Metro Toledo 196th out of 200 metropolitan areas in job growth. We can't turn our economy around with quiet complacency. We need passion and vision, new energy and new ideas. That's why I'm running for County Commissioner.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Music and the Campaign...

Anyone who has been closely involved with a campaign, or has been a candidate, can understand the ups and downs that come along with the mission. Music, I think, can give a campaign perspective and even direction. As Tolstoy said, "music is the shorthand of emotion."

While I travel throughout the county, knocking on doors, going to fish fries, and talking about ideas I have for helping our community, I listen to A LOT of music. And I'm always trying to identify with songs that correlate to the way the campaign is going, lend some insight into the whole process, provide encouragement, or just get your mind off things.

Here are a few recent favorites that have been guiding me along as the campaign progresses:

"Try and Try Again" by Billy Joe Shaver. One of my favorite lines in country music, and a good attitude for a campaign: "If all you do is lose, you better find a way to win." Also another great line about community: "It's everybody's business 'till we get the good work done."

"Tangled Up In Blue" by Bob Dylan. Because nothing is black and white in a campaign...or life.

"My Favorite Things" by John Coltrane. One of the great jazz saxaphonists of all time can really calm the nerves after a turbulent day.

"When The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash. The title track to the last album he ever recorded. I read that Cash was inspired to write this song by a dream about the Queen of England and the Book of Revelations. Hmmm... In any event, it's powerful and makes you realize there's a whole other world out there.

"Ball and Biscuit" by The White Stripes. Blues with an edge from my favorite two member band. This song always gives me a little jolt, perhaps because I was introduced to the White Stripes by this song. At a Dylan concert in Detroit a couple years ago, Jack White joined Dylan and his band unannounced during Dylan's encore and they combined on a memorable rendition of this one. I think my ears are still ringing...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Weekend of Door to Door...

I'm convinced the best way to campaign, from both the candidate and the voter's perspective, is by going door to door. After personally knocking on a couple hundred doors this weekend, I can tell you that, as a candidate, the process enables you to learn a lot about the community you seek to represent. I had some great talks this weekend with a variety of folks, was offered food at more than a few houses, and only had to deal with one vicious dog. But along the way I think I made some new friends and got a sense from the voters that they are ready for some new blood and fresh ideas in local government. If you are interested in knocking on a few doors with me in the next several weeks, drop me an email at ben@benkonop.com. Together we can help breathe some new life and ethical representation into local government.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Go Rockets!!!

As a lifelong UT hoops fan (and current faculty member of the University), I'm pretty pumped about tonight's big game in Cleveland. If the Rockets men's basketball team wins the MAC Championship game tonight (7pm, ESPN), they will go to the Big Dance...March Madness! Good luck to the team and to coach Joplin. As a kid growing up in Toledo who loved basketball and played 24/7, Coach Joplin was a hero of mine and also a coach of mine at numerous summer basketball camps. Bring the championship home to Toledo, Stan!

My prediction: Rockets 61-Kent State 54...Justin Ingram tournament MVP.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Little Muskrat Anyone?

I'm back from the dead...probably about 80% strength but good enough to be on the campaign trail. Tonight I'll be out in Jerusalem Township for the annual Jerusalem Township Mens Democratic Club's Muskrat Dinner (also on the menu, ham and kielbasa). The dinner starts at 6pm and is located at 9501 Jerusalem Road. This will be my second trip to Jerusalem Township for a campaign event this year, and if this time is anything like my first stop there, I'm sure it will be a great time. That's a pretty fun group out there to say the least...very soft spoken guys ;-)

If anybody is in the neighborhood and wants to try some muskrat and help a good cause, stop by...


PS. I'm thinking of knocking the last two alleys off my list next weekend...anyone interested in rolling a game or two with me. Email me: ben@benkonop.com?