When endorsements go wrong

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell (I), is probably regretting his ill-conceived endorsement of SB5 right about now. No sooner had his claims about the benefits of SB5 been debunked as nonsense, and it revealed he was laid off as a firefighter before collective bargaining existed, now the attention he has brought himself has landed him in some ethical hot water.

The chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party has asked the Ohio Ethics Commission to investigate the $656,000 in federal grants and loans the city of Toledo has awarded to a development company owned by Mayor Mike Bell's niece.

In a brief letter yesterday, Chris Redfern, the party's chairman, formally requested the ethics commission "to commence an investigation into the contractual relationship that exists between the City of Toledo and Shayla Bell."

Ms. Bell, 27, started Fort Industry Development shortly after her uncle took office in January, 2010. Since then, the city has awarded Ms. Bell's company five contracts to buy, rehabilitate, and sell foreclosed homes. The rehabilitation work itself is performed by a general contractor. Fort Industry also is to receive two more contracts, which would bring the total close to $1 million.

"I think it's clear that Shayla Bell wouldn't have received one penny if her last name wasn't Bell," Mr. Redfern said.

City officials dispute that claim. Mayor Bell has said his niece earned the contracts on her own initiative with no assistance from him. She had to qualify with the city's neighborhoods department to begin receiving the contracts.

She had no prior construction or development experience, but she teamed up with two businessmen from an established commercial and industrial glass company in creating Fort Industry. That gave the firm the experiences and financial wherewithal to qualify for the program, neighborhoods department staff has said.

Is it any wonder that people are sick and tired of politicians taking care of themselves and their special interests while attacking hard working people?

Vote NO on Issue 2