Question 1. Parks & Recreation looks more and more like a city department that has operated without adequate oversight, literally for years. What is the likelihood that there are other problems of this kind, if not necessarily of this degree, in city government and what will you do as mayor to find out and deal with it?
Olson answer: The Parks and Recreation Department has not had adequate supervision and oversight by either the City Manager nor the City Council, otherwise we would not have the existing problem at hand. I have expressed in City Council Chambers in the past as a concerned citizen that we needed a line-item expenditure audit of all City Departments,Agencies, Commissions, Boards, and Authorities as outlined in the City Charter(Local Constitution). It has only fell on deaf ears, as your next Mayor I will employ this kind of audit to prevent any thing like this from happening in the future. I believe there are many other areas in the City's Budget and Authorities that have similar and even greater problems. For instance, Spring Harbor was brought to the forefront by yours truly! Spring Harbor has $6.3 Million in delinquent property taxes owed to the City, however, the legal representation representing the Medical Center Authority is also the same legal representation, representing Columbus Regional Healthcare Systems, Inc. and this lawsuit has been on-going since 2007. And the $74.6 Million for Spring Harbor Retirement Home for the affluent is being paid by the 3 mills of property tax you are paying for Indigent Care(Poor). Plus the two individuals who signed the Bond Issuance are not even Members of the Medical Center Authority, but are affiliated with Columbus Regional Healthcare Systems, Inc.. I will address this situation and retrieve Millions of your taxpayer dollars that have been hidden up under Authorities. I will be your watchdog!
Question 2. The Parks & Rec issue is just one of several in recent years that appears to have spotlighted a growing and increasingly tense racial divide in this community. What specifically can and should a mayor do to bring together a community divided over race or anything else?
Olson answer: The Parks and Recreation fiasco has created to some tense racial divide. Shame on the City Council and City Manager for no and sometimes little oversight which has caused this divide in the Community. However, I believe much of this is caused by African-American leaders making this a racial matter instead of a fiscal matter. I am calling out Edward Dubose who challenged Mayor Wetherington in a City Council Meeting and Ed compared the Tony Adams situation to a lynching. This graphic depiction does nothing but divide the Community along black and white lines. This is where I differ, I believe the truth always prevails in situations like the Parks and Recreation. We don't need Black Preachers demanding from Mayor Wetherington a GBI investigation, because this tells our citizens that either our Police are incompetent or corrupt! Many of our citizens don't know that their is also a finance officer in Parks and Recreation Department who interrelates to Pam Hodge the City's Finance Director. This was one more meausre to have prevented this fiasco. As your next Mayor I will ensure that I will take the fiscal matters at hand and audit every department in accordance with the City Charter. I personally have received a statue specifically from the local NAACP organization on behalf of the many works I have contributed to the African-American and Caucasian Communities. Myself and CSM(R) Eddie Roberts were the former President and Vice-President of the Fort Benning Buffalo Soldier Association respectively, that have contributed the only Black Memorabilia to the Infantry Museum. I believe in Unity in the Community, for a better tommorrow!
Question 3. When you think of a great mayor, in Columbus or any other city, who comes to your mind? What did he or she do that made such a difference, and how would you apply that experience and example here?
Olson answer: Bobby Peters would be my choice! I believe he is the only Mayor to be re-elected for a second term. He was always an inspiration to me, he is a good listener, and is very likeable which are some the traits I would like to have and sometimes need to work on.
Bobby united the Community and that is a goal I would like to achieve, there is nothing to gain from discourse. Also, Bobby voted against the 3 Mills of your property tax designated for Indigent Care. It wasn't that he was against the poor, but it was I think he knew since it was a Unilateral Agreement with the Medical Center that abuse could come from this Agreement. Fomer Mayor Frank Martin in this agreement locked the citizens of Columbus into a 30 year agreement from 1992-2022. And in accordance of the City Charter, the City Attorney Hardy Polleys would not sign this agreement. No City Contract can be enforeceable unless it has the signature of the City Attorney and is prepared by him, which did not happen. Resolution 282-92 shows us that this is a non-binding agreement and completely against the interests of Columbusites. Now we have Spring Harbor being financed by the 3 Mills of your property taxes to pay off a $74.6 Million Bond(loan). Now you know why I picked him, because if you go to paulolsonformayor.com you can read the displeasure Bobby now has for the Spring Harbor Bond as a Judge!
Question 4. There was an interesting exchange among you at the forum at the FOP lodge in September with regard to crime. Mr. Anthony and Mr. Baker suggested that public safety is necessary to recruit and keep business, while Ms. Tomlinson said safety follows opportunity that economic development reduces crime. Are public safety and economic development a chicken-or-egg argument? What needs to be the priority?
Olson answer: More Economic development and job opportunities reduces crime. Right now Columbus is experiencing nearly 10% in unemployment. I hope to reduce this percentage dramatically as your next Mayor by bringing in Defense Contractors that will complement the relocation of the Armor School. I also will work with the Chamber of Commerce to bring Tier 2 Plants from KIA to the Columbus area. Columbus Council most recently created the Crime Prevention Program at a cost to the taxpayers of nearly $1 Million annually which this money could and should have been earmarked for Police Tactical Units that will eradicate Drugs and houses of Ill-Repute. I will be the Elliot Ness of Columbus and lower the crime by 50% by the end of my administration. In fact, the Council had an opportunity to purchase an Integrated Records Management System at a cost of $2.5 Million, but thought it better spent for an ice-skating rink. As your next Mayor I will help them prioritize needs over wants!
Question 5. On the subject of crime: One of Mayor Wetheringtons legacies is the Crime Prevention panel. Yet theres still a lot of vagueness and doubt about what this board is supposed to do. How will you as mayor work with the Crime Committee? How should it be funded, what do you think its budget should be, and what should that money be spent on?
Olson answer: We already had a Crime Prevention Program, before Mayor Wetherington was pressured by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance to create this social experiment.
The Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown had no law enforcement experience and the City Council decided his salary at $57,000 a year. This is a real slap in the faces of all the starting law officers starting at $31,000 a year who have to be subjected to working on Holidays, weekends, rotational shifts and are exposed to the dangerous elements in the duties of a police officer or deputy sheriff. There was really no mission statement from the beginning and this Board finally allocated funds after the Director had been on duty six months. This is a waste of resources and could be better spent towards Police Tactical Units to actually eradicate drugs from our streets and neighborhood patrolling. Also, this money can still be used for the Integrated Records Management System which was a valuable tool that helped the Tampa Police department reduce crime by over 50%!
I am the only Mayoral candidate that has spoken out against this social experiment and the fact that we already had in existence a Crime Prevention Program located at the Police Station. I thought we had a Consolidated Government to reduce waste and redundancy, instead my opponents want to expand government needlessly!
Question 6. The issue of TADs tax allocation districts has come up again in your discussions. The first attempt at a TAD here failed, very narrowly. Do you think this is a useful vehicle for development and infrastructure improvement?
Olson answer: The TAD(Tax Allocation District) from the beginning was a deceptive toll being used by our City Council in a stand alone Referendum. This stand alone Referendum cost the taxpayers needlessly $80,000. In the wording of the Referendum it never refers to the TAD, instead it talks about Redevelopment Powers that can be amended from time to time. It reminds of a AMWAY dealer who wants to sell his product to you but never mentions the name of his business. And the ability to amend from time to time gives the local government a blank check, Right! Remember, Tomlinson and Anthony promoted this TAD, and in this proposition they were to remove the Marshalling Yard and take out the rail in Columbus. This would have been a total nightmare, because it would eliminate any chance of any manufacturing coming to Columbus. Meanwhile they are always talking about bringing jobs to Columbus. Columbus has 85% of its workforce having only a High School Education with 15% having College Degrees. I think we need to look strongly at Assembly-Line jobs as well as High Tech jobs.
As your next Mayor I will use CDBG money from HUD of nearly $2 Million that is earmarked for the poor, elderly, and fixed-income, instead of redirecting it towards corporate welfare! That is how I am going to revitalize the distressed areas. I would also like to bring industry to the Enterprise Zone area in Midtown.
Question 7. The growth from BRAC is already well under way. Give your projection of what you see happening over the next four years when you are in office, and assess the communitys level of readiness for the changes that are already happening. What do these changes mean in terms of infrastructure, traffic, housing, economy, crime, schools, etc.?
Olson answer: Over the next four years as I am your next Mayor, I visualize that I will work in concert with the Chamber of Commerce and Fort Benning staff to bring Defense Contractors to this area. I believe that I will be the best Amabassador to the City with my 37 years of military experience. I was enlisted,NCO, and retired at the rank of Major. This will greatly enhance the rapport that I will have with Fort Benning and bring an economic windfall to this area. Many in the Chamber of Commerce are retired officers that I have already had the pleasure to work with. I am the only Mayoral candidate that wants to reduce the property tax to 9 mills as we now have it this year, forever, as in accordance with the City Charter 7-102. We are presently in competition with the surrounding counties of LEE, RUSSELL, CHATTAHOOCHEE, and HARRIS Counties that have much lower property taxes and ad valorem taxes. I am the only candidate that understands this concept and will be able to bring new businesses and residential growth to Columbus. Most alarming, the Property Tax Digest this last year reduced by -.89%, the first time in Columbus' history!
Question 8. Every candidate talks about economic development bringing business to Columbus. What, realistically, is it within a mayors influence and/or authority to do, and what specifically will you do to grow the Columbus economy?
Olson answer: The Mayor can have great influence in being the Ambassador to the City, but he has to make sure that he works in concert with the Chamber of Commerce as well as the Economic Development Authority. Like in the NCR relocation from the state of OHIO, the Chamber was under the impression that they would get a $5 Million grant from the Federal Government, instead it will cost the taxpayers of Columbus $7.5 Million for them to relocate to this area. As your next Mayor I will ensure that I will prevent this from happening. I will also work on the road infrastructure, because without it businesses and manufacturing will not move to your area. This includes sidewalks which I am a strong advocate for sidewalks for our children and our handicapped to school and work.
Question 9. Have any of you received death threats like Councilor Mimi Woodson?
Olson answer: I have not had any threats made towards me.
Question 9. If you were not running in this election, which one of the remaining candidates would you vote for and why?
Olson answer: I will not answer this question, because it would only endorse another candidate. I have put in too much time and effort to endorse a fellow candidate. Besides, no other candidate has expressed in all of the forums that they would not go up on Garbage Fees, Water Rates or comply with City Charter in reduction of your property taxes IAW 7-102. Instead, they have entertained the resurrection of the TAD Referendum and the lifting of the Property Tax Freeze, therefore, I will not endorse another candidate. I want the best interests of my constituents as your next Mayor!