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Mayor Vows to Find a Cure for the Blue Flu

Police May Not Like the Prescription

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell is seeking a cure to the police department’s “blue flu” before it becomes an epidemic.

Mayor Bell had sought a diagnosis of illegal strike from the State Employment Relations Board (SERB). However, SERB declined the City of Toledo’s emergency request for that designation, based on their judgment that there was not a demonstrated continuing or recurring threat of illegal strike.

However, agency leaders did offer another possible prognosis, encouraging the Bell administration to file an unfair labor practice charge with SERB for further consideration of what city leaders call an “illegal work stoppage.”

More than 70 police officers called off sick Monday and Tuesday, April 5 and 6—including patrolmen, detectives, and members of the SWAT team. The “blue flu” seemed quite infectious until the mayor’s office went to SERB seeking an antidote.

“Allegations of neglect of duty will be investigated thoroughly and the response will follow the letter of the law, the contract and departmental policy,” emphasized Toledo’s public safety director Shirley Green in a written statement. To that end, TPD’s internal affairs section launched an investigation to determine if the call offs were the result of an organized effort and if so who were the responsible parties. 

Leaders from the Toledo Police Patrolmans Association believe their rank-and-file officers were purposely poisoned by the Bell administration when they were not allowed to revote on contract concessions they originally rejected. It turns out exigent circumstances approved by Toledo City Council at the end of March proved to be a bitter pill to swallow instead.

Mayor Bell came back early from a Mexican vacation, vowing to meet TPPA leaders in sick bay to seek a new cure together. But he has warned that prescription must be the same strength as exigent circumstances would be—which calls for an increase in health-care payments and a contribution equal to ten percent of each officer’s pension pickup.

Here’s hoping the two sides will be better patients this time—so they can cure what ails them short-term and long-term. The situation has made citizens and taxpayers sick to their stomachs, too. But they don’t have the luxury of calling off sick with the “green flu”—and not pay the tax increases that also are causing sour stomachs.