Blogging on City Time Interests Taxpayers

TOLEDO -- Local political blogs are becoming more popular as more people go online to express their opinions about issues of interest.

News 11's Rob Wiercinski discovered a couple of Toledo city officials who recently have been sparring in cyberspace. In fact, there are dozens of blogs where people can log on and discuss Toledo politics. One of those blogs is www.glasscityjungle.com.

On that site this week, a city councilman and a member of the mayor's staff exchanged some heated remarks. You might be surprised to know some of those staffer postings were made during the work day.

Lisa Renee Ward created her blog a year and a half ago. Her goal is to help people become more informed about local issues and political candidates, and to provide a forum for debate.

"It's cool to see people discuss and that's what I try to do, try and not get overly involved in putting my opinion in. I'm interested in other people's opinions," Ward says about glasscityjungle.com.

Councilman Frank Szollosi and Mayor Finkbeiner's spokesman Brian Schwartz traded barbs on the blog this week regarding budget matters.

Szollosi says doesn't mind chatting with people who don't see eye-to-eye with him. "They say Frank's full of beans, it's great, let people debate and have lively discussion," he says.

Schwartz admits he spends part of his work day, checking out two local blogs to see what's being said about the mayor.

"In this day and age of instant electronic communication, any elected official ignores blogs at his own peril because rumors could get started, false information could get disseminated very quickly," Schwartz says.

But, is that good use of a public employee's time? People we spoke with say it's not.

"I don't think he should be paid to surf the net. If he wants to surf the net, let him go home and do it, but not on taxpayers' time," says Patty Provo.

"I think if he's surfing the net, there's probably other things that he's surfing more than just the mayor, who's talking bad about him," says Joe Peterson.

Whatever the case, Ward says she hopes to get more people involved in local politics.

Posted by KO