Toledo Talk

The politics of this water crises

After watching the 4th press conference in 2 days by Mayor Collins, i am personally frustrated by the lack of details. Collins refuses to discuss any timeline, process, or possible future scenarios. Instead, all he seems to want to discuss is the execution of water distribution. Seemingly, the latter part is to be lauded. However, this doesn't excuse the lack of information. He is taking the "don't create a panic" approach, but it feels like every conference kicks the water samples just further down the road. We have now heard deadlines of 6:30-7 yesterday, then 9pm, then 9am, now noon today. Collins won't divulge how many samples have been submitted, nor the process (I.e.- samples taken every hour until we have 3 in a row clear). This feels like either lack of respect for the intellect and critical thinking of the population. Utter incompetence, or some worse is happening. I'm crossing my fingers for lack of respect.

created by ahmahler on Aug 03, 2014 at 10:12:36 am     Comments: 221

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The "do not boil", "do not heat" advisory read like horseshit to me.

If the concentration in water is 1 ppb and the water is heated for an hour thereby losing 4 fluid ounces to evaporation, the concentration of the toxin would increase by a mere 3.125%. Starting with 1 ppb, the increase is 31 parts per trillion. BFD.

The Dose Makes the Poison,

The most important thing the WHO advised is that the TDI for the material. TDI = Tolerable Daily Intake. That tolerable level is 0.04 micrograms per kilogram of mass of the consumer. In my case, being a man of significant carriage at 105 kg, that's a total of 4.2 micrograms of the material.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCsQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.who.int%2Fwater_sanitation_health%2Fdwq%2Fchemicals%2Fmicrocystin.pdf&ei=wO_1U6XSM4ynyASVuIGQCA&usg=AFQjCNFVjqlOAyyHfjKaJr0dL3a1QAPitA&sig2=37Bi7lJLPewA2PLINRZG3g&bvm=bv.73231344,d.aWw&cad=rja

1 ppb = 1 microgram per liter of fluid. I would have to drink 4.2 liters of water to exceed the WHO's TDI for the toxin. The only fluid I've ever drank more than 4.2 liters of per day is beer.

A 50 kg/110 pound person could drink as much as 2 liters of the 1 ppb water and be fine.

We are exposed to acceptable levels of toxins every day. Damn near everything we come into contact with is toxic at certain levels. Not that I want to start this battle again, but it's the "dosage argument" that renders the second hand smoke argument flawed.

The water hysteria was silly.

posted by jimavolt on Aug 21, 2014 at 09:28:09 am     #  

justread posted at 06:32:14 AM on Aug 21, 2014:

They didn't say it couldn't be removed. They said home-style filters wouldn't work, and that boiling would theoretically increase the concentration as water boils off leaving a greater toxin to water ratio.
Don't forget your chlorine.

There have already been studies published indicating that activated charcoal systems have significant effectiveness at removing microcystin from drinking water.

However, there are not enough of these studies, and there have not been enough studies of the effects on humans of LT microcystin exposure for public health officials to take some sort of definitive stand. Thus, we get the CYA mode whereby public officials err on the extreme side of safety rather than risk lawsuits have children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised become ill.

We saw this with the city and county officials telling us not to shower, despite the fact that WHO levels for skin contact with microcystin are 20 ppb, and even the highest readings recorded in the water crisis were in the low single digits.

posted by historymike on Aug 21, 2014 at 11:23:50 am     #  

Like Roy Scheider standing near our faucet waving a gun and screaming "DON'T TOUCH THE WATER!!!"

posted by justread on Aug 21, 2014 at 11:40:56 am     #   1 person liked this

The rumors and hoaxes roll on....

posted by justread on Aug 21, 2014 at 04:57:17 pm     #  

https://www.facebook.com/cityoftoledo

4:26 p.m., Aug 21, 2014 post :

The city of Toledo has received calls regarding rumors of a “Do Not Drink” water advisory for today. There is no such advisory, and the water remains safe to drink.

We continue to test the water per Ohio EPA protocols. Our most recent test result indicated .36 parts per billion after water was treated at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant.

The World Health Organization recommends not to drink water when microcystin reaches a level of 1.0. We are required to report to the Ohio EPA any result over .5.

We will continue to closely monitor the water quality and alert the public if the situation changes.

Again, the water is safe to consume.

posted by jr on Aug 21, 2014 at 05:13:38 pm     #  

I find it interesting that my son's high school felt compelled to comment via email to families about the supposed rumor of a do to drink order eminent.

posted by MrsArcher on Aug 21, 2014 at 05:30:08 pm     #  

We're gonna wear this Albatross for a long time. I wish he had just hired a relative or yelled at some fat kids. You know, just embarrassed himself...not created a 50 year PR debacle for the city, region, and lake.

posted by justread on Aug 21, 2014 at 05:55:51 pm     #   5 people liked this

MrsArcher posted at 05:30:08 PM on Aug 21, 2014:

I find it interesting that my son's high school felt compelled to comment via email to families about the supposed rumor of a do to drink order eminent.

I'm curious about the school's compelling. What was the commentary? Did the school debunk the rumor, or did the school write something else?

"... about the supposed rumor ..."

I'm one hundred percent sort of positive that it is a rumor and not a supposed rumor.

5:15 p.m., Aug 21, 2014 City of Toledo Facebook post that points to a post on the city's website that links to the following PDF file:

Agal Toxin Tap Level Reports

posted by jr on Aug 21, 2014 at 06:25:51 pm     #  

The email was simply a statement saying that they were prepared for the circumstance if a do not drink order was issued again, with bottled water available for drinking and potable water available for the lunchroom to cook. It did not state how long their supplies would last. Their intent was to keep students safe and comfortable if a water ban was reinstituted.

posted by MrsArcher on Aug 21, 2014 at 10:21:09 pm     #  

anyone else disturbed by the fact that the city of toledo hired a non toledo PR agency to handle this crisis?

http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2014/08/21/City-of-Toledo-issues-notice-assuring-public-that-its-water-is-safe-to-drink.html

...“We are required to report to the Ohio EPA any result over 0.5. We will continue to closely monitor the water quality and alert the public if the situation changes,” the statement read.

The statement came from Hart Associates, a media relations firm hired by the city to handle the public response to the water crisis of Aug. 2-4...

http://www.hartinc.com/ is based in Maumee

posted by nits on Aug 21, 2014 at 11:23:30 pm     #  

"anyone else disturbed by the fact that the city of toledo hired a non toledo PR agency to handle this crisis?"

Well, Maumee receives Toledo water. That's disturbing for Maumee. Besides, Maumee is not China, I think.

From the Aug 22, 2014 Toledo Blade story titled Nervous residents snatch up water; city stresses quality remains safe

Hart Associates, a marketing and public relations firm in Maumee, already was a subcontractor on water treatment plant projects for the city and was the contractor handling public relations for the Toledo Waterways Initiative, the $521 million program to upgrade the wastewater treatment system, said Robert Reinbolt, chief of staff to Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Thursday was day three for the bogus rumor. The nervous people were two days late for their premature panicking.

One resident said:

"... so maybe it’s a rumor, maybe it’s not."

That's profound.

More from the Blade story:

Adam Geer, manager of the Food Town, said the store was selling three 24-bottle cases of water for $9.99, so many customers were leaving the store with six or nine cases.

And here's how reliable information is obtained in the swampy farmlands of northwest Ohio.

He said he had heard from a friend, who has a brother, who knows a lot of people, that officials are going to announce in the morning another “don’t drink” advisory

He probably heard it through his tin can, connected to a string.

All of a sudden, the Iraqi dinar seems like a worthwhile investment.

I can see Toledo making a Men's Health Magazine Top 10 list for most gullible cities.

posted by jr on Aug 22, 2014 at 01:21:33 am     #   1 person liked this

nits posted at 11:23:30 PM on Aug 21, 2014:

anyone else disturbed by the fact that the city of toledo hired a non toledo PR agency to handle this crisis?

http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2014/08/21/City-of-Toledo-issues-notice-assuring-public-that-its-water-is-safe-to-drink.html

...“We are required to report to the Ohio EPA any result over 0.5. We will continue to closely monitor the water quality and alert the public if the situation changes,” the statement read.

The statement came from Hart Associates, a media relations firm hired by the city to handle the public response to the water crisis of Aug. 2-4...

http://www.hartinc.com/ is based in Maumee

No. Plenty of Toledoans work for Tom Hart.
Maybe even someone from (gasp...) Sylvania.

If we elevate our concern to appropriate issues, the response is what is of concern, not where the Hart office is located.

posted by justread on Aug 22, 2014 at 06:19:01 am     #   3 people liked this

Whoops. Mike Hart.

Sorry Mike, I slipped.

(Tom died a long time ago.)

posted by justread on Aug 22, 2014 at 06:34:22 am     #  

posted by ahmahler on Aug 22, 2014 at 06:37:35 am     #   5 people liked this

nits - justread - It's not that they used Hart...It's how much the bill is going to be. Very Pricey. But if you keep it under $10,000......

posted by Molsonator on Aug 22, 2014 at 06:50:24 am     #  

Yeah. Not cheap.

What disturbs me is that the city "leaders" talked their way into this dynamic, but don't have the skills to talk their way out.

posted by justread on Aug 22, 2014 at 06:53:58 am     #   2 people liked this

Exactly!

posted by Molsonator on Aug 22, 2014 at 08:29:51 am     #  

Two things strike me in the press release -

1) The way it is worded it sounds like they are only going to tell us when they legally have to. Not very transparent. Kinda slimy.....

2) "That‘‍s well below the unsafe level of 1.0 ppb as recommended by the World Health Organization." - This statement is problematic. We are using the Ohio EPA guidelines for reporting but WHO for deciding shut down. Also, they have given themselves an out by using the word "recommended".

I wonder who defines "well below"?

I bet everyone at Hart Associates is drinking bottled water though.....

posted by Molsonator on Aug 22, 2014 at 08:58:33 am     #   1 person liked this

http://www.toledoblade.com/Keith-Burris/2014/08/22/Scientific-plan-crucial-to-help-improve-lake.html

Having a difficulty swallowing terming two long time elected officials at the federal level "heroes," when the conditions of Lake Erie have degraded progressively since 1995 with no outspoken response by either office holder. The deterioration of the lake has been brought to the attention (same applies to asian carp invasion) for a good number of years with negligible reaction. The first action taken is a subsidy for the growers. Heard the U.S. Farm Report this am with above average yields due for both field corn and soybeans. Seem fair to anyone else? There has been not one mention of the word Monsanto or any other provider of chemicals including a local family who has a major fertilizer business along with shipping on the Maumee River requiring the annual dredging of same. Seems there are some folks who just should not be upset by undrinkable, unusable water which takes me to the next unpopular topic: golf courses. We do have several in close proximity to the lake. What is used on those to keep the fairways and greens green? How much of that flushes with each rain into the waterways and who is policing the policies, chemicals, and application to those open field acres? That might disturb a small handful of users in brightly colored pants but I guess that's a small price compared to the rest of us who would like to shower in peace.

posted by Mariner on Aug 23, 2014 at 09:00:00 am     #  

I always wondered who was up at 5AM watching the farm report with me. :)
Agree with all that Mariner, and I believe that the lake needs to be a true priority and it has not been. But to keep things in perspective, the water has never been undrinkable or unusable at my house throughout the "crisis." The leadership has been far and away less usable than the water.

One of the nicest golf courses I ever played was in Arizona. Yet, they used grey water and green paint. Of course, if you look at the square area of golf courses compared to the square area of suburban lawns and agriculture in our region and watershed, golf courses are an odd place to start.

Something indeed must be done about brightly colored pants, but I've never seen John Daly at Heatherdowns.

If you can't shower in peace, get the bathroom door fixed.

Finally, it's better not to read Burris than be frustrated and confused by the insurmountable challenge of making sense of his opinions.

posted by justread on Aug 23, 2014 at 10:03:17 am     #  

The perrier is getting costly just to get my tushy clean. The only rebuttal I have is that I have heard those referred to as "Go to hell pants." If you don't like 'em your invited there.

posted by Mariner on Aug 23, 2014 at 11:00:02 am     #  

Perrier. Quite the poshterior. :)

posted by justread on Aug 23, 2014 at 11:08:18 am     #   4 people liked this

In response to Dave Kushma column from today- http://www.toledoblade.com/DavidKushma/2014/08/24/Pay-attention-to-what-Collins-said-not-the-way-he-said-it.html

As reformed talk radio gasbag I'd like to say Mr. Kushma neglects to mention the Blade contribution to the story in the form of the headline and first sentence in the original story.

Mayor says water crisis is similar to 9/11

Mayor D. Michael Collins said on Monday that the water emergency that crippled Toledo’s water supply Aug. 2 was like the terrorist attack suffered by the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 — a wake-up call to community action.

Now I won't pretend to be a newspaper reporter but perhaps it could have gone like this.

Mayor calls for community action on water emergency

Mayor D. Michael Collins called for an all out effort by citizens and elected officials in response to the recent Toledo water crisis. Collins calls the recent crisis affecting Lake Erie a wake up to community action

posted by fred on Aug 24, 2014 at 09:47:28 am     #   8 people liked this

Dennis Collins still blindly confuses a lack of confidence in the administration with a lack of confidence in the water.

posted by justread on Aug 24, 2014 at 11:35:52 am     #   8 people liked this

Disclosure: I don't know Lisa Ward. I never read her blog or whatever it was. I don't even think I know anybody who knows her.
I read the Blade story with utter shock and amazement. Everything now makes sense. Somehow, despite a pool of 300 applicants, we ended up with an unqualified, uneducated, inexperienced glorified receptionist in the role of Public Information Officer and acting Public Safety Director. As a taxpayer, I am astounded that this failure in the process occurred. I think that an investigation is warranted. I'd like an explanation from Ellen Grachek as to how this was allowed to happen. If one of my HR directors in the private sector allowed this, they would be terminated right after our attorneys got back from responding to all the lawsuits and title 9 claims from qualified candidates who were inexplicably passed over.
I don't expect a new inexperienced a Mayor to know better. I expect an HR director to. This town is full of people who could have prevented the worst PR disaster since, well... Huh. Uh.... There wasn't a worse one.

posted by justread on Aug 24, 2014 at 01:23:35 pm     #   6 people liked this

"we ended up with an unqualified, uneducated, inexperienced glorified receptionist in the role of Public Information Officer"

That's a really big generalization, something you regularly hammer people on, for someone you've never met, never read anything she's written or even knows a single person who knows her...

The blackness of you kettle is beginning to show through.

posted by SensorG on Aug 24, 2014 at 04:10:17 pm     #  

Call me as black as you want. But come harder with it.

It would be a generalization if I were not referring to a specific individual. I picked up those elements from a newspaper. If I have made a mistake, I'm happy to be corrected.

Unqualified: refers to no training or certification related to the role in which she was functioning before and during the "crisis."

Uneducated: refers to no post-secondary education or any education specific to the role in which she was functioning before and during the "crisis."

Inexperienced: refers to the lack of experience specific to the role in which she was functioning before and during the "crisis."

Glorified receptionist: refers to her actual experience as a receptionist and secretary prior to her elevation to her current position. Of course, there was working in a call center, too.

So, actually.... no generalization at all.

If I wanted to go after this woman, who I do not know... I might have selected criminal, tax delinquent, check bouncer... and so much more. The Blade provided a rich palette of negative information, most of which I left untouched, choosing to stay on point in regard to the position in which I feel she underperformed at the permanent expense of the city's image.

If you want to go after me, choose your shot better.

posted by justread on Aug 24, 2014 at 04:21:47 pm     #   9 people liked this

Anywho... snipers aside, the fact remains that there are plenty of people with the qualifications, education, and experience to provide expert crisis communications and counsel to the Mayor, and our citizens deserve the appropriate talent in the appropriate roles for our precious resources.

I understand that action has been taken to place Ward in a role more akin to administrative assistant, and a professional PIO will be hired. Too late, of course. But a move in the right direction, since this Mayor has and will experience the greatest crises in the history of the city, per his own claim.

posted by justread on Aug 24, 2014 at 04:30:53 pm     #   6 people liked this

I've met Lisa (years ago) and faithfully followed her blog until she was hired by Collins. It did not surprise me when she was hired to be a council aid - she had an amazing knack of digging up dirt, getting information and finding out what was really going on in government. I did not realize that she was actually hired by a group on council, I thought she only worked for Collins.

I also was not surprised when she followed Collins to the mayors office as executive assistant. I was surprised, however, when she was named as PIO. I give kudos to anyone who manages to work their way thru life's curve balls. But PIO of a city this size is a big job and needs someone with experience.

In Collins' efforts to pare down the size of his office he ignored the actual jobs that were being performed and how they served the city. From his perspective as a council person they did not serve him, so he figured they were not needed when he was mayor. He was wrong.

Justread: There were 300 applicants for the council aide position, not the PIO position. Last I checked, the mayor's appointments are not subject to approval by anyone, let alone by a department head that he can hire/fire (Grachek). Even as council aide, that is a discretionary position and not subject to the usual legal protections.

posted by MrsArcher on Aug 24, 2014 at 04:40:00 pm     #  

SensorG posted at 04:10:17 PM on Aug 24, 2014:

"we ended up with an unqualified, uneducated, inexperienced glorified receptionist in the role of Public Information Officer"

That's a really big generalization, something you regularly hammer people on, for someone you've never met, never read anything she's written or even knows a single person who knows her...

The blackness of you kettle is beginning to show through.

It's not a generalization when it's true. In fact, it's so true that she's getting responsibilities taken away from her. What an embarrassment.

posted by dell_diva on Aug 24, 2014 at 04:40:20 pm     #   6 people liked this

MrsArcher posted at 04:40:00 PM on Aug 24, 2014:

I've met Lisa (years ago) and faithfully followed her blog until she was hired by Collins. It did not surprise me when she was hired to be a council aid - she had an amazing knack of digging up dirt, getting information and finding out what was really going on in government. I did not realize that she was actually hired by a group on council, I thought she only worked for Collins.

I also was not surprised when she followed Collins to the mayors office as executive assistant. I was surprised, however, when she was named as PIO. I give kudos to anyone who manages to work their way thru life's curve balls. But PIO of a city this size is a big job and needs someone with experience.

In Collins' efforts to pare down the size of his office he ignored the actual jobs that were being performed and how they served the city. From his perspective as a council person they did not serve him, so he figured they were not needed when he was mayor. He was wrong.

Justread: There were 300 applicants for the council aide position, not the PIO position. Last I checked, the mayor's appointments are not subject to approval by anyone, let alone by a department head that he can hire/fire (Grachek). Even as council aide, that is a discretionary position and not subject to the usual legal protections.

I stand happily corrected on which position the 300 were for. That makes more sense, as if we'd have had 300 candidates for the PIO position, we'd have had a better shot at getting one.

Shame that in the public sector there is no approval by a qualified HR professional. Perhaps if there had been.... oh well.

The second biggest shock in all this (after the epic PR fail) is that she was carrying the badge of Safety Director the night of August 1.

posted by justread on Aug 24, 2014 at 04:52:35 pm     #  

Shame that in the public sector there is no approval by a qualified HR professional. Perhaps if there had been.... oh well.

For most of city hiring yes, there are procedures and protections and approval. But for positions that are typically political appointments? No. And that goes both for PIO and council aide. Council has a right to hire who they want without getting permission from the mayor's department head who may be of a different political party or faction. And as mayor, Collins has a right to appoint who he wants in his executive staff. Don't let it reflect badly on the person appointed, let it reflect badly on the person doing the appointing.

The second biggest shock in all this (after the epic PR fail) is that she was carrying the badge of Safety Director the night of August 1.

Yeah, that is shocking. Clearly this administration has not even thought of the level of emergencies that can arise and who is getting the phone call.

posted by MrsArcher on Aug 24, 2014 at 05:43:12 pm     #  

Until I read the story about Lisa Ward being unqualified to be the city of Toledo's PIO, I thought I was reading the usual Blade Sunday puff pieces about our mayor.

posted by toledojim on Aug 24, 2014 at 07:39:38 pm     #  

Disclosure: I don't know Lisa Ward. I never read her blog or whatever it was. I don't even think I know anybody who knows her.

For the record, I consider Lisa Ward a friend and have in general been a fan. When I found out she was joining the Mayor's office I was happy, and that opinion has not changed.

posted by upso on Aug 24, 2014 at 08:26:17 pm     #   2 people liked this

Ok. I know this one guy who knows Lisa Ward.

My opinion that we could have done some serious damage and spin control if we had a seasoned PR person on staff has not changed. Nor has my shock that she was acting Safety Director. It continues to be an impartial opinion, based on no knowledge of the individual. Simply a fair and uncolored assessment. No love, no hate.

But hey, I'd loan her a battery charger.

posted by justread on Aug 24, 2014 at 09:24:01 pm     #   1 person liked this

Lisa is apparently angry with me for my comments in the article even though I specifically said I did not necessarily blame her for the lack of communications.

I don't and you don't know what counsel she provided and if that counsel was heeded. Perhaps she was told to stay quiet.

I do know that she has the hardest job in the city and has to be demoralized after today's article. People want to criticize her for the job she did or didn't do without knowing the internal dynamics of the crisis.

I'd just say, Lisa if you're reading this, I support you. I know the pain of public humiliation like you're experiencing right now. You will get past it. Keep your head up.

posted by MemyselfandI on Aug 24, 2014 at 09:31:31 pm     #   2 people liked this

I think you would have been better prepared Brian.

It's been fairly well established that she did indeed give counsel. And, it was smack within the scope of her role at the time of the crisis.
It's not fair to her that she ended up with the hardest job in the city and any repercussions are unfair unless she accepted responsibility beyond her reach. A rule of thumb is to stay within your area of training, experience and education.

Which is why, despite the fact that I know a lot of surgeons and they make a lot of money, and despite the fact that I am quite ambitious, I'm not cutting into anybody even if they handed me the knife.

I love speed, and I think I am a pretty good driver. But if I take the wheel of an Indy car and crash it, I am sort of a victim. Sort of. The person who let me do it is culpable as well, of course.

So, at this point, I am done with the focus on Ms. Ward. The larger problems and Collins' piss poor leadership are not her fault. To continue to dwell on her lack of preparedness or qualifications for the role she (accidentally and unwittingly, I assume... right?) found herself in simply misdirects the focus.

If she is some kind of a PR/communications savant, and her genius advice was not heeded because Collins knows better, she should bail. If she went under the bus for her boss once, it won't be the last time.

posted by justread on Aug 24, 2014 at 10:02:45 pm     #   1 person liked this

For the first time since I parted company with the Finkbeiner administration, I missed that job. Ideas on what to do and how to do it kept racing through my head with no means of acting on them.

But again, I don't know that others would have let me act on my ideas. When I was with Carty, I usually had the authority to act independently in a crisis since he was usually in meetings discussing the crisis. I bounced between the meeting and the press pool, updating them. If I didn't have any new news, I would recap what we knew up to that point. At least the reporters and their viewers knew they had the latest. Cartly allowed me that. I don't know that Lisa has that freedom.

posted by MemyselfandI on Aug 24, 2014 at 10:30:33 pm     #  

As for qualifications, I'd say Lisa was qualified. She'd covered city politics as effectively and certainly more thoroughly than news outlets. She was very into the nuts and bolts of city government.

It was clear she had a knack for precise writing. Her chief weakness is she doesn't know how a newsroom works and how reporters work.

When I started out at the port authority, I knew how the print side operated. I made a priority of understanding television newsrooms, what they needed and what they wanted. Most importantly, I was willing to do television interviews. When the news was bad, I went out front and answered the questions. When the news was good, I put the mayor or department heads out front.

posted by MemyselfandI on Aug 24, 2014 at 10:34:21 pm     #  

I think that my concern has been as much strategy as tactics.

It is important that a person write precisely, for example.
It is also important what they decide to say. That strategy of what and when to announce is of most concern. An understanding of how a news room works (medium) may not have allowed a better direction in terms of the content of the communications (message). Once something is unnecessarily blown up so big that it takes over the local news and drives it into a 24-hour a day cut-in, perhaps you've lost control of the ball. The room left for speculation will allow space for that speculation to grow in the 23.5 hours per day that you aren't communicating with the talking heads camped in front of your war room making wild guesses to fill segments as the National Guard trucks roll into town.

It is my belief that the warning issued overnight on August 1 was overdone. I believe that the "do not touch" element in the early hours was a serious mistake and a factor the level of panic. What could have been downplayed as a concern while things are double checked became "DON'T EVEN TOUCH IT!!!!"

While I understand that we have a long-term crisis in terms of the health of the lake, I feel that the city could have taken responsibility for the false positive and other problems due to misfortune, deferred maintenance, etc. We really do have two issues. One lake problem, one water plant problem. (Although I guess the fact that we are still talking about the response suggests there remains a third problem. The administration.)

I had hoped to veer back away from Ms. Ward in specific, but as you continued, I'm inclined to suggest that being into the nuts and bolts of city government is no substitute for the kind of training in crisis communications and public relations that could have provided the background and skills to both predict and prevent the absolute loss of confidence resulting from the hyperbolic analogies, overstated warnings, actions based on false positives, and lack of transparency.

posted by justread on Aug 25, 2014 at 06:45:43 am     #   8 people liked this

As Uncle Ron used to say, "There you go again." another second-guesser

posted by Mariner on Aug 25, 2014 at 07:55:34 am     #  

While I understand that we have a long-term crisis in terms of the health of the lake, I feel that the city could have taken responsibility for the false positive and other problems due to misfortune, deferred maintenance, etc. We really do have two issues. One lake problem, one water plant problem. (Although I guess the fact that we are still talking about the response suggests there remains a third problem. The administration.)

As an independent individual and not as anyone's employee, I agree.

Am I the only one here with some science training who is frustrated with how the profession failed the politicians and the people in this situation? The real coverup, IMHO, is with those who were involved and understood the science - what there is of it. At the very least, the people representing the science community could have said, "Hey, we don't know enough yet to tell you with certainty that the water is safe. We don't know with certainty that the water is unsafe. We have this test that is telling us something that indicates that the water could be dangerous to drink. So we erred on the side of safety." That would have placed the discussion into the place it should have been.

People are not stupid. Science can be explained in such a manner they can understand. And people knew something wasn't right with the information that they were given. However, to expect the mayor or his staff to know or understand this information is IMHO, unrealistic. They were left in the position of really not knowing whether there was any data upon which they could rely. I'm sure that they were told that we have some good data, soon. So, they delayed until they could understand the situation before making statements to the public.

The science and scientists let everyone down. FAIL! I still have no idea what the accuracy of the test - whether lysed or unlysed - is. Reading between the lines of what Tom Henry has written, the techs/scientists seem to have no idea of the actually measurable accuracy using the kit that they use.

For a technician or scientists to release a number like .972 ppb from a test that can not reliably measure down to .001 ppb is outrageous.

@upso Tweeted out a link to the Minnesota EPA. Inexplicably, the Minnesota EPA requires that the microcystin level not to exceed .04 ppm. However, they admit that they can not test down to that level accurately. OK, if that is true, then how in @#$% can the City of Toledo use the same test and report .972 ppm? Is the accuracy then +or- .01 ppm? If true then we recently exceeded the 1 ppm maximum.

http://t.co/m3ScIhww97

note: "MDH" = Minnesota Department of Health.

"Based on available data, MDH has derived a guidance value of 0.04 ppb for microcystin-LR in drinking water. A person drinking water at or
below this level, whether briefly, occasionally, or daily for a lifetime,
would have little or no risk of any health effects from microcystin-LR.
MDH currently recommends that this guidance for microcystin-LR be
used for total microcystins. This guidance is lower than current
laboratory detection limits. MDH is currently doing water testing and
will check for improved test methods that can meet the guidance values.
"

WTF? Why create a limit, when you can not even measure it?

from Tom Henry's story
But for reasons unknown, Toledo generated higher results from many of its unlysed samples than its lysed samples during its state of emergency the first weekend of August, the opposite of what was expected.

City chemists and state EPA officials don’t know why. Nor does the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

“It’s counterintuitive to what you would expect to see. We have no definitive answer as to why it was [like that],” said Mike Baker, the Ohio EPA’s chief of drinking and ground waters.

Maybe not "definitive." But it really reads like someone screwed up, IMHO - NOT The Blade's

posted by paulhem on Aug 25, 2014 at 09:45:20 am     #   2 people liked this

If I look up the word FIASCO, there should be a picture of Toledo. Like others have commented, people outside of Toledo are well aware of the water situation. I was a thousand miles away on vacation last week and people immediately brought up the subject. Appointed positions within city government are always scrutinized, especially when brought to your attention. It's not what you know, rather who you know.

posted by Hoops on Aug 25, 2014 at 10:13:56 am     #  

I was a couple of hundred of miles away visiting a small town in Western Michigan and running my Jeep in the designated ORV area over and around dunes.

When asked where I was from, I answered, "Toledo." After thinking about it for awhile, they said, "Toledo! I saw on the news that they had poisoned water." I replied, "That's why we are here - to drink your water." bwahahahahaha!

posted by paulhem on Aug 25, 2014 at 10:41:37 am     #  

Bwahaha! On a semi-related note, the above Blade article found a way to reference the infamous phrase "former Medical College of Ohio," if anyone is counting these.

posted by historymike on Aug 25, 2014 at 09:16:50 pm     #   1 person liked this

Justread: Once something is unnecessarily blown up so big that it takes over the local news and drives it into a 24-hour a day cut-in, perhaps you've lost control of the ball. The room left for speculation will allow space for that speculation to grow in the 23.5 hours per day that you aren't communicating with the talking heads camped in front of your war room making wild guesses to fill segments as the National Guard trucks roll into town.

Gold star for you.

In the other thread I had suggested that administration should be rotating people out to talk to the press on a consistent basis to feed the "news cycle", only to mocked and told (essentially) "the only thing I want to/need to hear is when the water is safe again."

As we have seen from both the fall out from the actual crisis and the rumors that seem to spread among the elderly of another water shutoff, it might actually be important to communicate often with those goddamn pesky citizens. Something beyond "the water is safe to drink now...all is well."

But what do I know...I've only been professionally and academically successful in this area. By the way, the water is safe to drink now so everyone can just shut up about this, 'k.

posted by oldhometown on Aug 26, 2014 at 04:22:06 am     #   5 people liked this

http://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2014/08/26/Water-plant-chief-issues-resignation-copy.html

The plot thickens. I hope Leffler didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement, I'd love to hear his perspective. This sounds like more political craziness.

So, I'd just like to re-iterate the real failing of the administration during this whole episode-They failed so hard, when it came to communicating to the public "the what and the why" of the water ban. Collins basically said-"trust us, you wouldn't be able to understand, but, we've got this". You'd think that since his wife has a pretty good grasp on this stuff, that he would have been able to articulate the methodology for testing and the parameters during the crises. And now they wonder why Toledoans don't trust the water. Toledoans don't trust that Collins is forthright and they probably think he puts his public perception ahead of the flow of info that we want.

posted by ahmahler on Aug 26, 2014 at 07:50:09 am     #   5 people liked this

Along those same lines: a friend and I were talking about the water "crisis." She is an administrator of a charter school downtown, and says her school, as well as TPS schools, were told to stock up on bottled water last weekend "just in case."

She was shocked to hear later that the City was chastising people for spreading rumors, seeing as how the schools were told this by the city.

posted by Anniecski on Aug 26, 2014 at 08:45:08 am     #   1 person liked this

ahmahler posted at 07:50:09 AM on Aug 26, 2014:

http://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2014/08/26/Water-plant-chief-issues-resignation-copy.html

The plot thickens. I hope Leffler didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement, I'd love to hear his perspective. This sounds like more political craziness.

So, I'd just like to re-iterate the real failing of the administration during this whole episode-They failed so hard, when it came to communicating to the public "the what and the why" of the water ban. Collins basically said-"trust us, you wouldn't be able to understand, but, we've got this". You'd think that since his wife has a pretty good grasp on this stuff, that he would have been able to articulate the methodology for testing and the parameters during the crises. And now they wonder why Toledoans don't trust the water. Toledoans don't trust that Collins is forthright and they probably think he puts his public perception ahead of the flow of info that we want.

I'd be interested in his perspective too. I couldn't help wondering if this was one of those cases in which somebody goes on FMLA because they are "sick" of their job.

posted by justread on Aug 26, 2014 at 08:51:33 am     #  

More national news.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/toledo-water-treatment-plant-supervisor-resigns-25127684

posted by justread on Aug 26, 2014 at 02:10:32 pm     #  

Sorry about the bus tracks on your back, Dave. :(

posted by nana on Aug 26, 2014 at 03:34:00 pm     #  

In my very best Harry Callahan voice, "Terrific ."

posted by Mariner on Aug 26, 2014 at 06:05:31 pm     #  

Burris' column today really resonated with me. Of course, some of it dam near echoed me.

"We really do have two issues. One lake problem, one water plant problem. (Although I guess the fact that we are still talking about the response suggests there remains a third problem. The administration.)" -Toledo Talk, August 25

"Toledo we have a problem. Three actually. One is the Lake. Two is water treatment. Three is city governance. I think a dramatic act of change in city administration would calm a lot of nerves and begin to restore confidence." -Toledo Blade, August 26

Keith, I know we've had our differences, but you seem to be coming around. Keep those coincidences coming.

Between this and the fact that he has come around to the fact that the entire Henny Penny Advisory "didn't need to happen" made my morning.

posted by justread on Aug 27, 2014 at 06:44:37 am     #  

"I think a dramatic act of change in city administration would calm a lot of nerves and begin to restore confidence."

Being a tad greedy. You got your Blight Authority this summer. Chill with the demands.

posted by jr on Aug 27, 2014 at 07:17:11 am     #  

justread posted at 06:44:37 AM on Aug 27, 2014:

Burris' column today really resonated with me. Of course, some of it dam near echoed me.

"We really do have two issues. One lake problem, one water plant problem. (Although I guess the fact that we are still talking about the response suggests there remains a third problem. The administration.)" -Toledo Talk, August 25

"Toledo we have a problem. Three actually. One is the Lake. Two is water treatment. Three is city governance. I think a dramatic act of change in city administration would calm a lot of nerves and begin to restore confidence." -Toledo Blade, August 26

Keith, I know we've had our differences, but you seem to be coming around. Keep those coincidences coming.

Between this and the fact that he has come around to the fact that the entire Henny Penny Advisory "didn't need to happen" made my morning.

Unless, of course, "justread" is the top-secret screen name of Keith Burris.

:-)

posted by historymike on Aug 27, 2014 at 08:15:36 am     #  

Utilizing caustic as a determinate I'd say no way Josa ;-o

posted by Mariner on Aug 27, 2014 at 09:16:42 am     #  

And then there is this....

http://www.toledonewsnow.com/story/26384712/canadian-lake-erie-island-under-water-ban

posted by Molsonator on Aug 27, 2014 at 01:59:54 pm     #  

shit.

posted by upso on Aug 27, 2014 at 02:00:25 pm     #  

Wonder what the levels were? It seems like you have to beg to get them to tell you.....

posted by Molsonator on Aug 27, 2014 at 02:17:39 pm     #  

Seems they are going by sight not by testing the water.

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140827/SCIENCE/308270059/1361/Pelee-Island-residents-warned-not-to-use-well-water-due-to-toxic-algae-in-Lake-Erie

posted by Molsonator on Aug 27, 2014 at 02:22:39 pm     #  

They are telling people not to drink their "well" water, not sure what they mean, because our well is about 500+ feet drilled down into the ground, do they mean to tell me that these toxins will filter through all the at dirt and rock into my well????? This doesn't make sense to m, that their "wells" would get contaminated unless they are different from what i consider a well.

posted by MIJeff on Aug 27, 2014 at 02:29:16 pm     #  

A water ban in Canada, and guess whose photo they use.... yep. Toledo. The new poster child for poison water.

Here's the thing. Pelee Island is a rock formation essentially. That rock is why the west end of Lake Erie is so much shallower than the east end. The east end is mostly shale. The west end is mostly harder, carbonate rock. The glaciers were unable to erode much of the hard bedrock on the western end, and the reason Pelee Island exists is because it was extra resistant to glacial erosion.

The science of how Pelee Island was formed doesn't support concerns that lake water would be intruding into deeper aquifers.

Who knows...

posted by justread on Aug 27, 2014 at 03:05:47 pm     #  

historymike posted at 08:15:36 AM on Aug 27, 2014:
justread posted at 06:44:37 AM on Aug 27, 2014:

Burris' column today really resonated with me. Of course, some of it dam near echoed me.

"We really do have two issues. One lake problem, one water plant problem. (Although I guess the fact that we are still talking about the response suggests there remains a third problem. The administration.)" -Toledo Talk, August 25

"Toledo we have a problem. Three actually. One is the Lake. Two is water treatment. Three is city governance. I think a dramatic act of change in city administration would calm a lot of nerves and begin to restore confidence." -Toledo Blade, August 26

Keith, I know we've had our differences, but you seem to be coming around. Keep those coincidences coming.

Between this and the fact that he has come around to the fact that the entire Henny Penny Advisory "didn't need to happen" made my morning.

Unless, of course, "justread" is the top-secret screen name of Keith Burris.

:-)

I'm sure he wouldn't post under his real name. He'd be getting hundreds of comments, many of them derogatory.

posted by toledojim on Aug 27, 2014 at 04:06:15 pm     #  

Sorry, the satire did not translate well. Keith Burris and justread have about as much in common as lobsters and armadillos.

posted by historymike on Aug 27, 2014 at 04:11:59 pm     #  

Like Keith and I, they both have a hard exterior and a soft inside.

posted by justread on Aug 27, 2014 at 04:42:31 pm     #   3 people liked this

"While Pelee Island’s municipal water system was still safe to use, those who have private wells that draw water from the lake were told Tuesday not to bathe or cook with their water."

Guess the wells go out to the side instead of down?

posted by nana on Aug 27, 2014 at 04:44:11 pm     #  

justread posted at 04:42:31 PM on Aug 27, 2014:

Like Keith and I, they both have a hard exterior and a soft inside.

I thought you looked like tootsie pops.

posted by MIJeff on Aug 27, 2014 at 04:54:53 pm     #  

Actually maybe you are blow pops.

posted by MIJeff on Aug 27, 2014 at 04:55:09 pm     #  

nana posted at 04:44:11 PM on Aug 27, 2014:

"While Pelee Island’s municipal water system was still safe to use, those who have private wells that draw water from the lake were told Tuesday not to bathe or cook with their water."

Guess the wells go out to the side instead of down?

Yeah, but who in the heck would use a well that draws water directly from the lake in 2014?

I could see it in 1850. Maybe.

Normal residential wells draw water that has been protected in an aquifer, free of all the rather nasty things found in the lake. (Or any other open water source.)

posted by justread on Aug 27, 2014 at 05:02:02 pm     #  

I can't get Keith to even look at Twitter, let alone start posting on a message board.

posted by Nolan_Rosenkrans on Aug 27, 2014 at 05:26:33 pm     #  

Now they say well water OR tap water on Pelee.

posted by Molsonator on Aug 27, 2014 at 08:21:39 pm     #  

has this ever happened in Pelee in the past?

posted by upso on Aug 27, 2014 at 08:51:33 pm     #  

Sounds like Keith and DMC have something else in common - neither finds any value in twitter.

posted by Spaceace on Aug 27, 2014 at 09:30:32 pm     #  

good point
DMC hasn't posted in over 20 days https://twitter.com/DMCToledo/status/496322503858728960

it's 2014, and i think it's fair to expect at least weekly updates, even if it's just a thumbs up.

the city has a twitter account
https://twitter.com/city_of_toledo
but it's not very useful. 8 tweets as of this 27th day of august

posted by nits on Aug 27, 2014 at 10:29:58 pm     #  

"DMC hasn't posted in over 20 days"

Seems somewhat active to me.

https://twitter.com/RunTolDMC

posted by jr on Aug 27, 2014 at 10:51:42 pm     #  

Let's give Keith and DMC a break here. This is a harsh environment. You have to think on your feet, fast, accurate, be willing to admit an error, suffer the ego hit, learn something and then move on. Quickly.

posted by Mariner on Aug 28, 2014 at 06:27:49 am     #  

Who uses twitter? I don't and I don't know anyone else that does.

posted by deere1 on Aug 28, 2014 at 08:12:19 am     #   1 person liked this

deere1 posted at 08:12:19 AM on Aug 28, 2014:

Who uses twitter? I don't and I don't know anyone else that does.

You must not get out much.

Know anyone 16-30 years old? They most likely are using Twitter - maybe Snapchat, Tumblr and/or Instagram too.

Heck, over 50 million Americans are Twitter users.

posted by SensorG on Aug 28, 2014 at 08:28:34 am     #   2 people liked this

Mariner posted at 06:27:49 AM on Aug 28, 2014:

Let's give Keith and DMC a break here. This is a harsh environment. You have to think on your feet, fast, accurate, be willing to admit an error, suffer the ego hit, learn something and then move on. Quickly.

My spidey sense is picking up sarcasm.

posted by MIJeff on Aug 28, 2014 at 09:53:06 am     #  

deere1 posted at 08:12:19 AM on Aug 28, 2014:

Who uses twitter? I don't and I don't know anyone else that does.

Don't feel bad, I don't either and know no-one who does. In fact, I thought it was just for phones! Until I clicked the RUNTOLDMC link above this am, I had no idea you could tweet on the internet, lol. We're old/not paying what little attention and time we have to Twitter. :)

posted by nana on Aug 28, 2014 at 11:35:11 am     #  

Heck, over 50 million Americans are Twitter users.

Which must serve to illustrate something about the bell curve, American culture and a cure for common stupidity, but I can't think of anything.

posted by madjack on Aug 28, 2014 at 05:36:05 pm     #  

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

posted by MIJeff on Aug 28, 2014 at 06:17:15 pm     #   1 person liked this

If someone accused me of being a twitter, tweeter am sorry to say prob would give 'em a roundhouse. :-}

posted by Mariner on Aug 28, 2014 at 06:47:51 pm     #  

MIJeff posted at 06:17:15 PM on Aug 28, 2014:

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

Based on Romney's crushing & humiliating defeat, I'm guessing most of them. Ironically, if you had a twitter account you might know that.

posted by SensorG on Aug 28, 2014 at 06:51:16 pm     #   4 people liked this

MIJeff posted at 06:17:15 PM on Aug 28, 2014:

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

Bait laid.

posted by justread on Aug 28, 2014 at 07:18:13 pm     #   1 person liked this

SensorG posted at 06:51:16 PM on Aug 28, 2014:
MIJeff posted at 06:17:15 PM on Aug 28, 2014:

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

Based on Romney's crushing & humiliating defeat, I'm guessing most of them. Ironically, if you had a twitter account you might know that.

Bait taken.

posted by justread on Aug 28, 2014 at 07:18:44 pm     #   1 person liked this

justread posted at 07:18:44 PM on Aug 28, 2014:
SensorG posted at 06:51:16 PM on Aug 28, 2014:
MIJeff posted at 06:17:15 PM on Aug 28, 2014:

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

Based on Romney's crushing & humiliating defeat, I'm guessing most of them. Ironically, if you had a twitter account you might know that.

Bait taken.

Someone is still bitter...

I'm sure 2016 will be your year, the old, white guy demographic is looking promising.

It's not like you haven't lost 5 of the last 6 presidential elections or anything.

posted by SensorG on Aug 28, 2014 at 07:50:11 pm     #   3 people liked this

SensorG posted at 06:51:16 PM on Aug 28, 2014:
MIJeff posted at 06:17:15 PM on Aug 28, 2014:

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

Based on Romney's crushing & humiliating defeat, I'm guessing most of them. Ironically, if you had a twitter account you might know that.

All political troll forum crapping aside, because I have no interest in arguing this same worn out infantile nonsense two years removed with political trolls, but some facts for those who are interested in reality:

Obama: 65,915,796
51.1%
26 states plus DC

Romney: 60,933,500
47.2%
24 states

Clearly most of the 50 million of the tweeters in question did not vote for a particular candidate, despite all the nonsense being thrown into the hijack of this thread.

posted by justread on Aug 28, 2014 at 08:40:39 pm     #   1 person liked this

Ooh! I have a good question-what is voter turnout of tweeters vs non tweeters?

posted by ahmahler on Aug 28, 2014 at 08:58:31 pm     #  

SensorG posted at 06:51:16 PM on Aug 28, 2014:
MIJeff posted at 06:17:15 PM on Aug 28, 2014:

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

Based on Romney's crushing & humiliating defeat, I'm guessing most of them. Ironically, if you had a twitter account you might know that.

Bait laid...

posted by SensorG on Aug 28, 2014 at 09:20:29 pm     #  

justread posted at 08:40:39 PM on Aug 28, 2014:
SensorG posted at 06:51:16 PM on Aug 28, 2014:
MIJeff posted at 06:17:15 PM on Aug 28, 2014:

Wonder how many of those 50 million voted for 0bama a second time?

Based on Romney's crushing & humiliating defeat, I'm guessing most of them. Ironically, if you had a twitter account you might know that.

All political troll forum crapping aside, because I have no interest in arguing this same worn out infantile nonsense two years removed with political trolls, but some facts for those who are interested in reality:

Obama: 65,915,796
51.1%

26 states plus DC

Romney: 60,933,500
47.2%

24 states

Clearly most of the 50 million of the tweeters in question did not vote for a particular candidate, despite all the nonsense being thrown into the hijack of this thread.

Bait taken...

posted by SensorG on Aug 28, 2014 at 09:20:52 pm     #   3 people liked this

Aaaaaaand scene.

posted by Nolan_Rosenkrans on Aug 28, 2014 at 09:34:52 pm     #  

This is about the water crises?

posted by bucknut on Aug 28, 2014 at 09:51:21 pm     #  

Sorry was wondering out loud when twitter came up.

posted by MIJeff on Aug 28, 2014 at 11:13:50 pm     #  

Ed Moore says a new plant would cost "north of $1 Billion"

"To (Warren) Henry, that means Toledo taxpayers could achieve essentially the same thing for $700,000 in savings by staying on its current path, although - of course - more costs are coming as each of the three older units individually get rehabbed."

Note to Tom Henry regarding that article:

$I Billion less $300 million is not $700,000.

posted by justread on Aug 30, 2014 at 12:35:21 pm     #  

rofl think he forgot 3 more zeros. $700,000,000

posted by MIJeff on Aug 30, 2014 at 12:44:37 pm     #  

Wow we have made it to Phys.org.

http://phys.org/news/2014-09-toledo-states-epa.html

posted by MIJeff on Sep 07, 2014 at 02:30:32 pm     #  

I like the way Pelee Island reports the water tests.

https://pelee.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=357

posted by Molsonator on Sep 09, 2014 at 08:38:47 pm     #  

Looks like Portland, Oregon has the toxic algae on their river today:

http://newsdaily.com/2014/09/17/officials-warn-of-potentially-toxic-algae-on-major-portland-river/

posted by viola on Sep 17, 2014 at 09:21:47 pm     #  

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