McNamara fighting on two fronts - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

McNamara fighting on two fronts

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Thursday could be a big day for mayoral candidate Joe McNamara.   He and another councilman could be formally sanctioned by the Democratic party for not supporting a union leader who wanted a seat on council.

Four weeks ago, Democrats on council installed union official Shaun Enright (D) to fill a vacant seat on council.   McNamara, a fellow Democrat and council president, did not support Enright.

Now, the party is angry with McNamara and so is a big union in town.  So the mayoral candidate is fighting a war on two fronts. 

McNamara is a member of the Democratic party's executive committee but he did not back Enright, the committee's choice to sit on city council.

Thursday night, that committee could sanction McNamara for his independence but any serious sanction could hurt McNamara's mayoral campaign, a circumstance the Lucas County party chairman wants to avoid.  

"So let's hope we can resolve this without anymore bloodshed," chairman Ron Rothenbuhler told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann. 

For his part, McNamara is convinced the party will stop short of sanctions, saying, "I know at the end of the day, (Democrats) are going to come together to see (mayor) Mike Bell defeated."

More troubling to McNamara is a letter written by the head of Teamsters local 20.  It was written February 13 and was sent to council members and the heads of the Ohio and Lucas County Democratic Party.

Union president Bill Lichtenwald called McNamara "self-serving... self- aggrandizing... and ego driven..." accusing the councilman of not supporting unions.

Lichtenwald claimed McNamara voted to privatize the city's refuse collection, "conspired" with Mayor Bell to impose exigent circumstances on unions, voted against fact-finding reports at the detriment to union members and refused to support labor's candidate for the vacant council seat, Shaun Enright.

Lichtenwald did not return phone calls from 13abc reporter Bill Hormann seeking comment on the letter.

McNamara fired back with a letter of his own, writing to Lichtenwald, "You distort... twist and flat out lie about my record."

There are errors in the union leader's attack.  McNamara did not vote to "privatize" refuse pickup.  The private company that won the bid to pick up city trash is a union shop which hired several Teamster workers.  Those who did not choose to join Republic Services were transferred to other city jobs.

Also, McNamara voted against the mayor imposing exigent circumstances.

However, McNamara did vote against fact-finding and the Enright seating.

But the former city council president leveled an attack of his own in his response letter:

"The Teamsters endorsed Mike Bell over pro-labor Democrat Keith Wilkowski.  The Teamsters gave Mike Bell over $10,000 in campaign contributions.  This feels like people in glass houses throwing stones."

Councilman Mike Craig (D) was delivered the letter from the Teamsters and thought it was "rude."

Craig supports McNamara for mayor and who could also be sanctioned for not backing the Enright appointment. 

And Craig says the Teamsters voted against their own interests when they backed Mike Bell three years ago.

Craig told 13abc, "If that's the guy you worked to elect you should stand behind him."

We knew the unions were upset with Mike Bell but now it seems they're mad at Joe McNamara who right now is the only Democrat in the mayor's race.

If McNamara wins his party's nomination, it could make for a difficult decision by Teamsters:  back a mayor they now think is anti-union or back a Democrat with whom they seem to have some issues. 

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