Konop for Lucas County

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Vision for Dorr Street Campus Village

Here are my remarks I offered today at our press conference on Dorr Street. We had a nice collection of student leaders on hand who were really pumped up about the proposal. I think it is a job creator for all of Lucas County and that's why I'm excited about it too. Also, with news today that Toledo ranks 196 out of 200 metro areas in job creation, we have to really get aggressive and think boldly about how to grow our local economy. In any event, let me know what you think...here's my outline:

Statement Supporting Establishment of a Student Village Commercial District

A quarter-of-a-billion dollar economic engine, the University Of Toledo fuels our economy as a major employer and a regional center for research and development. It is home to thousands of tomorrow's scientists and engineers, doctors and lawyers, artists and teachers, civic leaders and entrepreneurs.

Growing our region’s economy and creating jobs demands that we invest in developing our workforce. While it is true that people follow jobs, it is increasingly true in the 21st century economy that jobs follow people. Thus it is imperative that our University attract and retain our nation's best and brightest students, researchers, and faculty.

Three weeks ago I announced the Cool County Initiative, a strategy for growing Lucas County's creative workforce by investing in the quality-of-life amenities that citizens expect from their community.

Central to this strategy is the University of Toledo and its students and staff. It is for that reason that I am here today to declare that the establishment of a Student Village commercial district on Dorr Street will be among my top priorities when I am elected Commissioner.

The trend of declining enrollment at UT must be reversed not only for the good of the university but for the future of our region's economy.

The University's ability to attract and retain students is tied in no small part to the quality of student life. A redeveloped commercial corridor with shops and restaurants will attract students to the University and attract badly needed investment to Toledo's central city.

The popularity of this recently opened Jimmy John's sub shop is testament to the strength of the student market. The combined purchasing power of students and traditional area residents represents an extraordinary opportunity for businesses large and small.

As Commissioner, I will marshal all of the resources of the county and our regional economic development partners to help make this dream a reality. From establishing design standards to providing infrastructure and offering help with project financing, the county can play a major role in helping to transform this long-neglected area into a thriving urban village that will strengthen both the University of Toledo and the neighborhoods that surround it.

Most importantly, this initiative will help create jobs for all of Lucas County's citizens. In the 21st century economy, institutions of higher education must be directly linked to a community's economic development plan. Universities are research hubs that generate spin-off businesses. Universities also attract talent to a community which leads to economic growth by then attracting business and generating entrepreneurs. As Commissioner, I will make sure that the University has no stronger partner than county government. And that will be a benefit to all of our residents.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our Blog Featured Tonight on FOX 36

A nicely done nightly news story tonight on some local bloggers, including yours truly. Here's the link to the overview:

http://www.foxtoledo.com/dsp_story.cfm?storyid=26650

Good to see my friend Lisa Renee get some exposure too. She's doing a great job blogging local and national politics at:

http://liberalcommonsense.blogspot.com/

Blog on!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My Reaction to The Noe Indictment...

1) We should have publicly financed campaigns in this country which would greatly lessen the likelihood of this type of scandal.

2) The Republicans should pay for this at the polls in November...but this isn't just a Republican issue. The system is broken and there should be systemic reform (see point one). That being said, if the facts alleged against Noe are true, those politicians connected with him should be very closely scrutinized by voters, to say the least. The Noe indictment, on a micro level, is a big blow for the R's.

3) This case certainly has a political dimension, but at its base it seems to be all about greed. Politics was just a means to an end for Noe as far as I can tell. Public policy was the last thing on his mind.

4) Sadly, there probably will always be Noe type figures lurking around the political process. That is why it is important that elected officials focus on ethical conduct while in office. I'm trying to do my part...see the last post!

I'm intersted in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

Also, if you want to learn more about my position and prior involvmenet related to this case, check out:

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050611/OPINION04/506110312

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051102/NEWS24/511020463

Ben

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ethics Pledge

Earlier today, I unveiled my ethics pledge to the citizens of Lucas County. I signed it at a press conference this morning at One Government Center. I think the issue of ethics in government is of the utmost importance to the future of our democracy and I take this pledge very seriously. It's a contract between me and my constituents. If you vote for me, this is what you'll get:

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 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.



_________________________________

Ben Konop

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The week ahead in the campaign...

Should be an interesting and exciting week as always on the hustings. We have a new radio and TV ad coming out this week called "Values for Lucas County." It will be posted on benkonop.com shortly and begin airing by the middle of the week.

Also on the agenda, a trip out to Spencer Township for a visit with the Spencer Township Democratic Club. This will be the fifth Democratic Club I've visited in the last several weeks and I'm hoping to hit them all by the end of the month. Last Wednesday, I had a great time at the Black Democratic Women's Caucus. Thanks to Olivia Holden for the warm welcome. Also, thanks to Rex Palmer from the Maumee Dems for his hospitality. They have a great group out there as well.

Other than that, more of the normal campaign rhythms...knocking on doors and raising money, etc...

Stay tuned for some other interesting tid bits to come out this week.

Prediction: Seahawks 27-Steelers 24...

You read it here first. Big Ben's last second heroics fall short and Seattle escapes with a narrow victory. Shaun Alexander takes the Super Bowl MVP.*

*Disclaimer...I've always been a bit of a Seahawks partisan. Dave Krieg was one of my favorite players from the mid '80's. I also was a big Steve Largent fan...before he got to Congress.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Let the blogging begin...

Friends, In an effort to reach out directly to the citizens of Lucas County I'm starting this blog which I will update frequently. This should be an interesting and productive endeavor. I am a big believer in the power of the internet to democratize the electoral process, and I think this can be one small step in that direction.