Excerpts - Jan 19, 2012 - Toledo Free Press - Collins initiated investigation into neighborhoods department
When Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins asserted in November that council should investigate potential foul play within the neighborhoods department, he felt his appeal was dismissed as “political grandstanding.” But Collins’ involvement in the investigation goes much deeper than that call for action.
In August, contractors approached Collins with stories of bid rigging and intimidation from the city department. He said he listened and started digging through public records. As word began to spread about his research, calls flooded in with more tips.
He and his legislative aide, Lisa Renee Ward (a former Toledo Free Press Web editor), compared bids and found that two separate proposals were nearly identical. He found that an accountant group working on a city deal had walked away from a community development corporation, citing the city was not cooperating with required records transfers. He conducted cross-examination interviews with contractors about bid rigging and found that all of the stories mirrored each other.
By November, Collins was ready to release his story. He said if he had found anything that warranted a criminal investigation, he would have gone to the prosecutor. He gave his research to the media instead of Mayor Mike Bell’s administration because he didn’t think he would be taken seriously. Also, reviewing various documents had that the administration would investigate.
The two incidences that convinced Collins to bypass the Bell administration involved former Housing Manager Jody Prude and former rehab specialist Toni Thomas. Collins said a police officer told him that her supervisor directed her not to charge Prude with falsification after she wrecked her car, left the scene and reported it stolen. Collins notified a city official but nothing was done.
The other decision that bothered him related to Thomas. A community development corporation (CDC) reported that Thomas was being too overbearing and the administration dealt with the complaint by curtailing all of Thomas’ interactions with that CDC, instead of investigating how she handled others, Collins said.
“My public statements can be conveniently described as an attempt to build a political staircase in seeking the office of the mayor of the City of Toledo and I frankly find that reprehensible because my work as a police officer was never designed to create the opportunity to become chief,” Collins said. “One would ask, are you planning on a campaign against Mike Bell and is this the kickoff? The answer is no. I was elected in November of 2011 as the Council member representing District 2 in Toledo and that is a position that I fully anticipate completing.”
Excerpts - Jan 20, 2012 - WSPD - The Blade Got A lot of Help Blowing the Lid off the Departmant of Neighborhoods - "Councilman D. Michael Collins spoon feeds the Blade the whole story"
It was previously believed the Blade Newspaper "singlehandedly" uncovered an environment of alleged favoritsim and bid rigging at Toledo's beleagered Department of Neighborhoods, but the Free Press is reporting that the story was dropped into the daily's lap on a silver platter by none other than City Councilman D. Michael Collins, prompting some serious questions into the councilman's motives and respect for proper procedures.
Collin's then took his findings to the editors at the Blade. "I firmly believe that had I not taken the steps I took, nothing would have ever been revealed to the extent that it is today," Collins said.
The Mayor's office is understandibly furious with the revelations and says Collins the entire matter
Mishandled the investigation? I would say the corruption or whatever it's called within local government is a "mishandle."
The WSPD story seemed to skip the part about malfeasance and incompetence existing within local government. Who cares how it's exposed?
But this does show that the Blade may not have done the big investigative work like people thought. How could they? They were too busy trying to save a courthouse. I was always a little suspicious that the Blade was the one behind uncovering this mess because it's out of character for them. They don't shake down local government entities like they should.
Comments higher up in this thread about the Blade:
- "Personally I would wish for a lot more of this type of reporting from The Blade, the press is the unofficial 4th branch of the government, there to keep the other 3 branches honest and bring the attention of the people to what their government is up to."
- "Thank You! Toledo Blade. Today's story alone was worth the annual subscription cost."
It seems, however, that the investigative work may have been done by Lisa Renee Ward, the former blogger at Glass City Jungle. So thank her. No surprise here. She did this kind of work for years on her site. It's no coincidence that Ward was involved in exposing this government problem. Ward being the one behind the investigative work, at least the initial investigation, makes more sense to me than any newspaper.
If five Lisa Renee Wards existed in our local media, then our local government entities would be very nervous. I wonder what journalism school Ward graduated from?
January 25, 2006 Toledo Talk post by psyche777 (Lisa Renee Ward) that pointed to a TFP interview with the new WSPD afternoon radio host, Brian Wilson, who described bloggers this way:
".... every town has a blog, and they are generally populated by Kool-Aid drinkers, mouth-breathers, has-beens, never-will-be people and so on. It's a game that means nothing. It's generally a hobby for someone to masturbate their ego anonymously. I've been in this business 40 years. They're listeners. They have no clue how this business works."
But a mouth-breathing-never-will-be person helped expose local government problems. When will the "real" media catch up to the ego-masturbators?