Gerken and Mayor Want In

One, Pete Gerken, is looking for his next rung up the political ladder and the other, Mayor Finkbeiner, is -well, you decide. These guys are a day late and a dollar short. They want in on the gravy train that is the upcoming coke plant.

Obviously, they must have thought -when they heard about it four years ago- that it was the OTHER coke. Well, coke is coal turned into nearly pure carbon by a heating process, one of the byproducts of which is combustible gas. Wow! Years later, Gerken discovers this and wants in on the bonanza. Free electricity for the city! Gas plus water and heat, plus turbines, equal steam for generators making electricity. That should make him more electable for whatever office he decides to move up to next.

At the eleventh hour, these guys come up with a ridiculous demand that the city should get a piece of the power-generation action. This is an idea that should have been floated years ago, not now. They must not realize that the principals in the proposed plant have already factored the profits from electrical generation into their business plan a long time ago. That's part the the reason it is a viable and, perhaps, profitable scheme. The only thing this late-hour ploy can do is sink the project.

It's easy to be cynical here when you watch bush-league stuff like this done by our political so-called leaders.

www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070620/NEWS16/706200400...

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This whole deal burns me. The City of Oregon brokered the deal to get the plant here to begin with. Then Toledo stepped up a month before the original ground breaking and claimed the land the coking plant was to be built on was theirs. Unfortunately a hundred year old, handwritten, document was found that substantiated part of Toledo

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...is this...I no longer find it strange that Toledo is preferred over a suburban community by the commissioners. However, I do find it strange that Gerken supports the generated energy going solely to Toledo, instead of being shared by Toledo and Oregon.

That's besides the fact that the people generating the energy get to decide what to do with it...and I agree with Pete's post - that "the principals in the proposed plant have already factored the profits from electrical generation into their business plan a long time ago."

This was clearly understood when I still on the board...

After reading the article, it sounds to me like the mayor and the commissioner merely want to have a seat at the table before the plant decides to put the extra energy on the grid. I don't think they're demanding it. There is no such contract to guarantee the city will get this energy, and I think they simply want to see if they can squeeze out some benefit. I say more power to them if they can pull it off, but I don't know what FDS Coking would get out of it, so I doubt it'll happen. I honestly think we should be applauding the mayor and the commissioner for trying to get a seat at the table. It shows they're trying to lower our costs. They probably won't succeed, but we at least know where their interests lie.

Maggie,

You did imply that you don't support lower utility costs when you opposed competition to a monopoly. Utilities have a giant monopoly, even Buckeye Cable, and I think if there were competition, prices would go down. Why should the government be precluded from competing if they can do it cheaper? There is no indication that they would subsidize these activities. Sure, there is the danger of turning typical private industries into government entities, and indeed this would be dangerous, but it is the government itself that is letting these monopolies to operate. Where is the danger of allowing a local government to provide the same services for less? Why can't the government compete so long as they create a provision that these adventures cannot be subsidized?

Your logic baffles me. If your for small government and for competition, I still think the great evil is the monopoly. There are no public or private means to control prices whatsoever. I'd rather have a government compete than nobody at all. Why can't the government compete in the private sector when competition is clearly necessary?

it seems to me that both Oregon and Toledo neglected to address the power generation side benefit in the original deal, so neither has the right to try and alter the terms now; which means that they surely will.

Gherkin and the Finkmeister both did not fully understand or comprehend the project when the deal was done, so now that they have a sliver of a clue, both think that it's alright to renegotiate, alter and change the terms retroactively.

Typical...

If they only had a brain and the attention span that would allow them to grasp the technologies involved in any of the projects before doing the deal.

What Toledo/Lucas County needs is a few techno-geeks of their own to enlighten them ahead of time.

Q. what ever happened to that county-wide fiber optic network that everybody was supposed to be working on?

Would have made the perfect backhaul medium for multiple wireless and TELCO projects at a lower overall cost to the taxpayers, as well as some much-needed competition to Buckeye CableSystem, AT&T, and a few others...

Hooda Thunkit

They're a little late to get a seat at the table. This is something they should have thought of a long time ago, astute politicians that they are. My gripe is that this looks like political grandstanding to me... a way to garner votes when Gerken goes for his next political office. It's a hollow request. They have no standing to ask for the energy.

And please, don't dodge the questions this time. You're not a politician anymore. Be real. You know I have a ton of respect for you, I just want to know how you really think, I don't want a politician's answer.

You're right, they don't. But what's wrong with trying? Does FDS Coke have a deal with first energy? If not, I bet there's still some room to maneuver. If the cities of Toledo and Oregon were unaware of this energy to be produced, they might have standing.

...in all honesty - I didn't even consider the point you raise about the existence of a government utility when reading about this issue. I did, instead, focus on the fact that the mayor and commissioner should have known that the plan all along was to put the excess energy on the grid.

You have inferred a position that was not stated nor intended. I cannot help that you've come to a conclusion that wasn't implied. My original statement didn't even address whether or not the city SHOULD have a municipal utility - so how you jump to any conclusion about my opinion of municipal utilities is beyond me.

And I didn't dodge your question - I answered it directly. But in doing so, I stated that you incorrectly came to a conclusion. Rather than accept that you misunderstood my point, or intent, you seem focused on a different discussion entirely.

Please go back and re-read my original post. I addressed the fact that the mayor and commissioner were focused on TOLEDO and not on a shared benefit for Toledo AND Oregon. I addressed the fact that I knew - quite some time ago - that the plan was to place any excess energy onto the grid. This was a round-about way of saying that if these two had wanted to have 'a seat at the table' like they said, they should have requested such much earlier than this week.

I will say again. I don't know enough details about the city's proposed municipal utility. In fact, I don't know that many are aware enough of details to have an informed opinion, because all Council has done is authorize the ability to have a municipal utility. They haven't established one yet. Whether or not I, personally, would support such a venture would depend greatly upon how it was structured. The devil is in the details.

In general, my experience has been that when 'government' tries to compete with private industry, it has the ability to subsidize such ventures with tax dollars. Which means that there isn't a level playing field.

Philosophically, I'm opposed to government taking on duties that the private sector can do. I opposed the takeover of towing responsibilities. I opposed the takeover of the ambulance service. I'm very interested in whether or not contracting out garbage service would save tax dollars. I know that for some road pavings, government performs it internally and for others it contracts out for such service. I don't think that everything should be done by the private sector, as there are many things that government can and should do.

And this isn't a political answer - it's just logical - and the truth. So please don't keep repeating the same question. :)

(on a side note(and I say this with kindness)...you're right that I'm no longer a 'politician.' But I see a contradiction in your writings. You don't want me to respond as a 'politician' in terms of the words I use, yet you seem to imply that I have some obligation to respond, as if I was still responsible to you and other members of the public. The fact that I'm no longer a public official means that I have no obligation to provide you with an opinion, answer or anything else. If I've misunderstood this, I apologize.)

Maggie,

I would think that you, as a fiscal conservative, would recognize the dangers of monopolized utilities. The monopolies create no private control of prices, and as such the government must step in to keep them in check. In this case, the local government is acting more as a competitor, thereby lowering prices for the city of Toledo. If the city's prices are lower, certainly this will lower suburban prices for fear of the city selling its services to the burbs. I guess I don't understand your opposition to this. Even if all direct benefit goes to the city, the burbs would benefit also. While I don't think the city will succeed here, if they do, the burbs will benefit as well. I really don't understand your opposition to an attempt to lower utility costs (the only thing I can think of is that you don't like Gerken, which seems like a bad reason to me).

You're being way too kind to Junta on this. Don't apologize.

With all due respect, I'd be interested in why you'd think, with both Carty and Gherkin involved, a savings would be involved?

Looks to me as if two bumbling bullies are drooling over a gold nugget, muscling in after the legwork has been done.

.........as SensorG likes to say...straw man argument...

I didn't say I was against lowering rates for Toledo - or anyone. So you've come to a conclusion " I really don't understand your opposition to an attempt to lower utility costs..." which is neither stated nor implied. Nice try, though...

What I did say is that even I knew the plan was to use the power generated for internal functions, with excess put back onto the grid. A company that generates excess power can sell it to whomever it wants. The key is "sell" - not 'give' - and they should sell it to whomever will give them the best price.

Toledo does not have a municipal utility, although city council has given the city the authority to establish one. So if the Toledo government-run utility were to be established and then wanted to purchase the excess, I'd have no problem with it. However, I believe that the owners of the plant have already factored their current decision (to put the energy back onto the grid) into their business plan.

My criticism was that the emphasis seemed to be solely on Toledo...not on a shared benefit for Oregon, as well. And I'm no longer surprised by this emphasis from the BCC. Further, if I had the knowledge of the plan to put excess energy on the grid, I would presume that Comm. Gerken, who got the same briefings as I did, would have known this quite some time ago as well.

Finally, Junta, you and I have had some interesting discussions about the core of the issue. I'm not just a fiscal conservative, I'm also a limited government proponent. I haven't done sufficient research into what, exactly, Toledo plans with establishing a municipal utility. But from what I recall, I do not believe that it would be set up to operate in the 'free market' as other utilities (yes, I realize that the utility market isn't exactly 'free' but that's a different subject entirely). I don't discount the option for establishing a separately-run utility that was not subsidized by tax dollars, but I guess I'm just cynical enough to believe Toledo wouldn't be able to such.

...I should apologize if I misunderstand something. It's easy to get the wrong impression or miss something when doing things in writing, versus in person with tone of voice, etc.

Besides, it's the same consideration I'd want shown to me...and courtesy seems to be so lacking in so many things, these days.

But I understand your point - thanks!

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Boardmember Carleton Finkbeiner

http://www.ohiocitizen.org/campaigns/coke/goodbad.html

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

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