Most people have, I’m sure, heard about Toledo’s mayor, Carty Finkbeiner’s snit with the urban training scheduled on Friday evening by Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
If you need a refresher, see here.
Not willing to understand the public sentiment and make himself small for a while, he further embarrasses himself on Monday, see here.
This is not the first time the Marines have trained here. A couple of years ago as I headed home on a Friday evening after work, I saw them downtown, using light posts and trash cans as cover. As we stopped at a red light, I made eye contact with one of those young men. I smiled and nodded; he nodded back. I felt good knowing that not only were soldiers learning and practicing the skills they need to keep them safe abroad, but should it ever be necessary, they would be ready to defend us at home.
Finkbeiner’s cover story on this whole mess is that the people of Toledo were ‘scared’ with the Marines downtown.
Firstly, the number of people downtown after 5:00 p.m. in February can be counted on two hands….actually unless it’s baseball season, that number pretty much holds whenever there is not a Mud Hens game. Secondly, the majority of citizens out on the streets downtown on a Friday evening are too stoned or inebriated or schizophrenic to be frightened. Sad but true. Thirdly, what is Finkbeiner’s opinion of his constituents if he believes they cannot distinguish the difference between armed services training and warfare.
The real story here is that the vast majority of Toledo (and surrounding areas) are outraged and disgusted by the Mayor’s actions. They have written as much on blogs and in letters to the editor, they have called the talk radio station in town, WSPD, as well as local television news programs. Dozens gathered across from the Mayor’s office for over 3 hours on Monday (in single digit temperatures) to make their feelings known.
The secondary story here is Carlton S. Finkbeiner. This guy was a goofball when he came to talk to my Civics class during my senior year of high school in 1975-76. He was, if memory serves, a councilman then. He was, I remember clearly, an idiot and a blowhard. Time has not lessened these traits.
He is one of those guys who believes he is never wrong. If you disagree (or criticize) him, it’s not a difference of opinion, you are a baboon or worse. He’s assaulted Toledo business owners, he has thrown coffee cups at office staff. He routinely berates staff members. He is fiscally irresponsible with the city’s diminishing tax dollars – spending enormous amounts on bike paths (conveniently right by his house) and flowers while imposing additional ‘fees’ on citizens for trash pickup that is supposed to come from existing funds. He has twice left his dog in his vehicle for extended periods of time in the heat of the summer. The list goes on and on. Here, read the wiki:
Known as much for his temper as his work ethic, many allegations surfaced throughout Finkbeiner’s two terms, and more continue to surface in his third.
- Toledo restaurateur John Skiadas filed a law-suit alleging that Finkbeiner physically and verbally assaulted him at the Erie Street Market in 2000. The lawsuit was dismissed by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Wittenberg in 2004.
- Finkbeiner was the focus of a segment on the Daily Show poking fun at statements he made suggesting that Toledo could be the next Hollywood. During the interview, Carty expressed his ideas while the camera fixated on Toledo’s most rundown neighborhoods, contrasting them with the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. The segment aired during the 1997-98 season.
- On July 1, 1998, Carty was fined $400 and court costs after pleading guilty to ethics charges when he was Mayor, realized a $10,000 profit from Owens Corning’s purchase of his condo, and his failure to publicly report the gain.
- He plagiarized a single line in his KICK-OFF speech in 1998.
- Finkbeiner suggested relieving the problem of noise complaints from neighbors of Toledo Express Airport by selling homes nearby at low cost to deaf people.
- In early 2006, political adversaries scoffed over the Mayor spending $9,996 of city money to complete the installation of shower facilities in his City Government building office. The project was considered “controversial” in part because the shower quote was originally $10,006, six dollars over a threshold that requires approval from City Council. The contractor was able to shave $10 from the project, thus avoiding a Council vote on the proposal. 
- In May 2006, he called Toledo’s African-American Fire Chief Michael Bell “King Kong” at a staff meeting. Finkbeiner later clarified his remarks as relating to the Chiefs physical stature, and Chief Bell has acknowledged in public that he took no offense to the remarks.
- In June 2006, Jack Smith resigned from his brief tenure as Chief of Police after what he described as a near-physical confrontation with the mayor after they exchanged words.
- In January 2007, Finkbeiner claimed that both he and wife Amy were treated unprofessionally by Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies when they tried to visit Amy’s son, an inmate, on separate occasions. Amy Finkbeiner claimed she was not allowed to use a ladies’ room at the jail, while Finkbeiner said he was denied a chance to visit after visiting hours had concluded. Sheriff Bob Bratton said the deputies were only doing their jobs. 
- Also, in January 2007 Finkbeiner and his press secretary were sued by radio station WSPD, claiming that First Amendment provisions regarding freedom of the press were violated when the press secretary forcibly kept a station employee out of a public press conference. Finkbeiner’s objection to the employee is that he produces opinions and editorials, and is not in fact a reporter on behalf of WSPD. On January 31, a federal judge granted the station a permanent injunction requiring Finkbeiner and his staff to admit station personnel.
- Finkbeiner has also suggested a cafe be built on the Martin Luther King bridge so city employees could eat there while the bridge was undergoing construction. 
- In August 2007, Finkbeiner was confronted on two occasions by reporters because he parked in a handicapped spot and left his dog, Scout, in the car during a hot spell. Finkbeiner was ticketed and fined, but denied mistreating the animal.
- In February 2008, Finkbeiner refused to let a company of Marine Corps Reservists engage in urban patrol exercises on the streets of downtown as well as inside the mostly vacant Madison Building, 607 Madison Ave. Toledo police knew about the event three days in advance, but it wasn’t until the Marines arrived that “the mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people,” said Brian Schwartz, the mayor’s spokesman. Finkbeiner defended his decision to cancel the exercise, but in an e-mail to Marine Corps officials, he expressed support for the Marines and the military and invited the Marine unit to return to Toledo for training, but not downtown.
The real puzzle is that this is the Mayor’s third term. He served as Mayor from 1994 to 1998. He was re-elected in 1998 and served until he termed out in 2002. He ran again (and was elected!) in 2006. It gives one some indication of the quality of candidates available.
One would hope that this joker is not re-elected for a four term, but I’m not holding my breath. The people who vote for Carty are (generally) the rag tag group that have not been able to get out of the city. The Republican party won’t step up and make their case to the people. Businesses are leaving in droves, moving only a few miles away to friendlier environments.
Carty doesn’t seem to notice or care. He thinks he is the big fish in the big pond. Sadly, Toledo is no longer the big pond. It’s a puddle and it’s drying up fast. Finkbeiner is a tadpole.
The citizenry of Toledo need to wake up. This once great city will never stop it’s downward spiral as long as the same type of people continue to be put in charge of running it. And these types of incidents ensure that getting back on our feet will take even longer.