On With the Process

Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor

What do we want? INVESTMENT! When do we want it? NOW!
Grassroots Community Organizers’ Slogan

The African American community looms as a potential winner, pending approval of Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s proposed framework for the $180.9 million Toledo Recovery Plan.

Only Councilwomen Katie Moline and Cerssandra McPherson, possibly, stand in the way.

Moline, supported by McPherson, introduced an amendment that cut $8 million from the Recovery Plan framework. Most notably, the modification appears to “zero out” youth programming, gun violence prevention, pre-K, affordable housing, community centers, and construction of a new Wayman Palmer YMCA.

Moline’s decision has caused great angst in the Black community.

Currently, the net worth of a typical white family is ten times the wealth of a Black Family. More troubling is the fact that the wealth gap has been created and persists by decades of disinvestment, a strategy rooted in public policy decisions such as those proposed by Moline.

It is no secret that the infamous “urban removal” destroyed Toledo Black wealth by demolishing Dorr Street’s Black commercial district in the early 1970s. Yet other policy-based decisions such as redlining, underfunded public schools and community centers, and over-policing still bear significant responsibility for today’s poverty, blight, gun violence, and health disparities.

It appears that both Moline and McPherson may have acted impulsively, failing to caucus with their constituents and supporters to assess the community’s frustration with Toledo’s history of delayed and defunded promises.

In addition, Moline’s proposed amendment may have also placed her in the dog house with her powerful political allies. Her decision could cut into the building trades’ economic benefits from related construction projects, such as the state-of-the-art Wayman Palmer YMCA.

“I think it’s been severely misrepresented, and it’s been unfortunate to see that. In my mind, it’s just really putting guardrails up. It’s saying ‘give me the details so Council can know what we’re approving,'” says Moline.

However, the mayor’s office counters by pointing out that Moline’s amendment places $80 million in the ‘revenue replacement’ section, a sum $8 million more than Kapszukiewicz allocated.

“Moline doesn’t explain where the additional $8 million will come from. All we know is that the amendment defunds basically every program that benefits people of color. And, the amendment only addresses $100 million, not the entire $180 million we proposed. So, where are those cuts coming from?” a spokesman from the Kapszukiewicz administration demanded.

Furthermore, Moline’s amendment ignores that the mayor’s plan is merely a framework and not an ordinance. It doesn’t guarantee spending or prevent city council from performing its oversight responsibilities. It simply creates a roadmap for Council to later hold budget hearings and negotiate who and how much will be spent for the plan’s projects.

How will it all turn out?

Toledo’s minority community is currently under a state of emergency. The impact of disinvestment policy has wreaked generations of cumulative socioeconomic mayhem on our neighborhoods and our city. Funding of disinvested communities must be our top priority, and Moline’s meaningless amendment merely slows things down.

What do we want? INVESTMENT! When do we want it? NOW!

Note: This opinion was written prior to City Council’s vote on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. The mayor’s office was confident that they had the number of votes to defeat Moline’s amendment if presented.

Moline had “not stated publicly” whether she was against the mayor’s proposal but was still thinking the matter through, given all the feedback she had received. “Conversationally, a few people have said they support what I’m doing, but we’ll see what actually transpires,” she said.

McPherson stated, “[The amendment] was a bad position to put council in. It is what it is.”

Councilwoman Moline subsequently withdrew her amendment and the mayor’s proposal for the Toledo Recovery Plan in the amount of $180,948, 591 was approved by Council in a 10-1 vote. Moline was the sole dissenting vote.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org