Updated: Jan 29, 2021
Toledo City councilor Bill Dalbey brought up an item of discussion at the city council work session on Wednesday night (1/27) regarding the Timber Unity signs around Toledo. Mr. Dalbey said "The Timber Unity (TU) group may have started out as a political action group but they have now evolved as an organization that supports only Republican candidates and has attracted white supremacists. There are comments on their private Facebook page is rife with sadistic misogynistic and sometimes seditious posts and comments". He also mentioned one of the TU members was at the State Capital during the time of the attack on the capital and that she video live streamed and commented on what was happening. He acknowledged that some of the members of TU are doing good things but suggested that they should form their own group as TU is tainted.
Jeff Leavy, one of the founders of Timber Unity spoke to the council explaining that they were founded to fight HB 2020 and Cap and Trade, which if passed he said would have meant that GP would not have been able to stay. They are all about helping small communities to keep their livelihood. Tasha Webb, Secretary of the Board of TU said they attend political events, if there are others at those political rally's that are violent it doesn't mean their group condones it. Peggi Rush the moderator for the TU Facebook page said they have over 65,000 members and they can't control the actions of everyone. She added they do not allow violence at their rallies and have even been thanked by State Police after their rallies for being clean and peaceful. Other members and supporters of Timber Unity where quick to denounce all labels and false accusations of racism and white supremacy.
There were also those who defended Councilor Dalbey and felt the TU signs were sending the wrong message about Toledo. Some citizens said they have been attacked on social media about expressing their views either for or against TU. Others pointed out that having the signs on private property are a personal right just like they have the right to display the flag, or BLM sign or a religious sign. Councilor Dalbey presented a proclamation to the city manager and Mayor Cross for the council to consider. This was not brought up to the council at the meeting as Mayor Cross said he wanted to wait and get feedback from the council about what they wanted to do, if anything, in moving forward.
During discussion after public comment most of the council agreed that they cannot take a stand on what signs people choose to post in their own businesses and on their own private property. Councilor Jukich said "This is a colossal waste of time. What people choose to believe and support is there own business." Councilor Kamikawa said she has been given a lot of flack about her support of TU. She said she doesn't necessarily like the looks of the big signs but feels that is a personal choice. "If the signs went away tomorrow I would still support TU." Councilor Kauffman said there was no proof that TU is racist, she said you can't just go by what someone posts on facebook as facts.
After the discussion Mayor Cross told the council that he felt a big part of the problem is because of the isolation the pandemic has caused. "We no longer go and have coffee and discussions with our friends and neighbors about issues, instead we are pitted against each other on social media. There is a willingness to put a label on people who you have never met. If someone disagrees with you they become the enemy. We need to stop and talk and get to know each other as people again." The council decided that they would like to revisit a discussion and a proclamation that they made in June denouncing hatred, and not political groups.