Ad on Toledo's official Web site sparks debate

The city of Toledo, already accused of competing with the private sector in its quest for revenue, is now in the advertising business.

Paid advertising started showing up this week on the city's Web site,

The first ad, featuring Crestline Paving & Excavating Co. of Toledo, has been running on the Web site's "front page" for three days, according to Brian Schwartz, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's public information officer.

What do you think about this? I think it is interesting although I have not formed an opinion.

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Since when is trying to make money to cover operational expenses a bad idea?
If the ads are screened and only companies favored by the city are eligible than there is a problem.


I just took a look at the site and it is disturbing it is on the homepage of the site with equal importance as news stories.

I looked at the page, and it's in kind of an awkward position on the page. Evidently the Toledo business thought it was worth the money having their logo there, and the city is making money on it. It seems like a good business transaction.

I guess I could see how it coule be interpreted that the city is endorsing a certain business, but I don't think it's that big of a deal.

i think it looks shoddy.

i also don't think it should be in the middle of the home page amongst the stories. it should be off to the side and clearly marked as an advertisement.

as to the idea of selling ad space, who cares?!? it's not as though people actually pay attention to this site.

ps....this was probably the best marketing money ever spent by crestline.

Would it make a difference if Crestline were major contributors to Carty or if there were some paving contracts coming up this Spring?

Eventhough the above is made up, the City should not be in the endorsement business. Perceptions and Realities could go beyond ugly in the morning.

First off, this is an extremely poor website. For someone being paid that much money that website should be kickin' ass.

Who gives a shit if they are selling ads. I agree the ad should be on the side and labeled as an Advertisement, but just because there is an ad on their site doesn't mean its' an endorsement.

In a way, the City is in the endorsement business already. For example - if the City deems your sidewalks as being "hazardous," they will ask you to replace them, using a "city-approved" company. What makes the company city-approved?

Oh please, any reason to attack the city, or more specifically Carty.

I guess if the city government uses HP computers they endorse them too eh?

As a part-time web developer, this type of advertising on a public owned web site (yes we own it) is unethical at best. While I am not sure if any laws are being violated, it sure brings into question how Crestline even managed to secure a spot on the site. I do not see any solicitation by the city on the site advertising rates for commercial advertisments. Does this mean that as long as I can come up with the advertising rate I could place an ad for my website on this public owned site?

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth. ~Japanese Proverb

better go with Crestline

Did anyone see the shitty job they did on Miami street between Fasset and Oakdale?

Not a bad salary considering it's HER FIRST WEBSITE!!!

TPP, you first say it's a shitty website, then you say "Oh please, any reason to attack the city, or more specifically Carty."

Hey, the buck stops right at his desk - if he ok's $54 grand for a websight designer than OK's someone with no previous experience, then he should be verbally smacked.

That site could be better done by a second year college soph. as homework.

if he ok's $54 grand for a websight

What! He spent $54 grand on that??????

Yuppers - to a young lady who never ever managed a website before ever never.

Your tax dollars at work.

Paid status on the ad has been noted and will be off to the side in a future rev of the site.

Actually Billy, the correct response would have been "nopers".

$54,000 is the salary of the city's webmaster. What you see now is what we inherited from the last administration and it looks bad. Katarina must first get updated software and bring in some consultants to help us develop a world-class website.

Katarina must first get updated software and bring in some consultants to help us develop a world-class website.

If she is the web master and IF she is qualified to do her job AND she makes $54k a year, WHY is there a NEED to bring in consultants?

TM's right on. Why do you need consultants to be a web master? A web master IS a consultant.

Why not get rid of the web master and just hire whomever is doing the consulting??

Why not get rid of the web master and just hire whomever is doing the consulting??

Thats a great idea. Hiring a company to do that for you is relativly inexpensive, my company does that (hire out the consulting), they do the design and hosting for a monthly fee and when i want a change made i just send em an e-mail.

Thats another $54k the city can cut to balance the budget. However i don't think they will do that, Carty likes to spend money like a rich woman on a shopping spree.

$54,000 is not her salary. Her salary is $32,000. $54,000 is her net cost to the city.

She must cover that in ad sales to stay employed. Therefore, she must pay her own salary.

While she is selling ads and updating the website, she is looking for a web designer to redesign the website.

She was not hired to redesign the website. She was hired to maintain it and to sell ads on it. If she does not sell enough ads to pay her salary, she loses her job.

$54,000 is not her salary. Her salary is $32,000. $54,000 is her net cost to the city

What do you mean it is the net cost to the city? It would still be more fiscally responsible to just farm it out. But again Carty IS NOT fiscally responsible!

"It would still be more fiscally responsible to just farm it out."

Of course they could farm it out to a corporation who all they do is maintain websites - we wouldnt pay salary or healthcare - BUT - Carty would lose a modicum of control. He could not storm over to their office and demand them to snap to attention and do his royal bidding right then and there, and thus, we wont be farming it out any time soon.

I do have a question tho - What if WSPD offers to cough up the $6 grand for a year's ad?


I would not assume that it would be really cheap to upgrade the site. It could cost anywhere from $20-200 to upgrade depending on what they wanted. I believe the City's site is run off of a ColdFusion server, and while the overall "look" may be easy and very cheap to tweak, if they wanted some deeper structural things done, it may cost more because it may require custom programming. I spent some time learning the TPS Content Management System (CMS) system when I talked to the district about some Web ideas and I believe the City's system is the same. ColdFusion is a proprietary technology, so a person skilled in ColdFusion would be needed and those programmers are getting harder to come by. Where I work, another school was quoted 100-200K to install and customize a CMS system (the low end was the same system this site runs off of). One place paid 500k for a complete overhaul of their Web site (yes it is mind numbing).

I hope maybe the City and the school district, which run the same CMS, can partner on any structural upgrades if they want to stick with the system. They both need the same modern stuff, so hopefully they are talking.

Regarding her salary, if she is paid 32K, that would be about what an entry level Webmaster would make, although I can't comment on her ability or background. I am also torn on the city having ads, although the current placement is not right.

My recommendation is that the City and the School district get away from a ColdFusion site, although depending on the resources to invest and actual cost, it may not make sense. Both need a box that can host many services and potentially many sites.

Between snow emergencies, garbage pick-up delays, shoveling sidewalks, and the latest on the Blizzard of 2007, you would expect to find that on the City of Toledo's website.

Think again.

NBC 24 staffers were surprised that the city's homepage had no information on the snow storm, even though the city has a full-time webmaster.

:....wouldn't it be nice if the site would become a resource for such information?"

It would be great, agreed. Maybe it will be but there is still so ambiguity with the webmaster who was hired to be a webmaster and now Mr. Schwartz states that she is not the webmaster and consultants are to be brought in to redesign the site. So who is doing what and how more are the consultants to cost the city and will the consultants be from Toledo to redesign the city of Toledo's web site or is this going to be farmed out to some agency, say in Topeka?

".....and does not show off the city well" and neither does the garbage set out to early and the alleys laden with trash and the sidewalk dump zone on Lagrange Street, Mr. Schwartz and just like your comment about the web site being in the state is in, you inherited it from the previous administration the trash problems were also inherited and we are doing what about them? a paid advertisement, then it's a problem...

I agree; it looks as if the city is endorsing the company. Hidden message?: If you want your project approved by the city inspectors, better go with Crestline.

Asking questions regarding shady business is our responsibility as tax-payers. A quick look at the official city websites of Perrysburg, Maumee, Columbus and Dayton shows that none of these cities have advertisements on their site. The ad on Toledo's website just sticks out like a sore, tacky thumb.

From what I understand, the city sent out letters asking for ads. They cost $6000 for a year. This is to help pay the new Webmaster somewhere in the area of $55K to create a new website.


And the consultants are to charge how much to design the site?

And which is it, is she the web designer as the mayor's spokes person, you, is quoted here:

"Mr. Schwartz said the mayor's office hired Web master Katerina Bekyarska in November to update and redesign the city's Web site, which he said looks out of date and does not show off the city well."

Or is she an ad rep to place ads to offset the development cost of the web site, Mr. Schwartz.

because the website is so deficient, i never put much thought into it.

nonetheless, wednesday was trash pick-up for us and it got cancelled. many households in this area were not aware of it.

wouldn't it be nice if the site would become a resource for such information?

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