Mayor Finkbeiner: Enough is enoughWritten by Stephen Ward | | email@example.com
It is time for us to address the social and civic injustice and discord that permeate from the 22nd floor of One Government Center and embrace unethical values that zero into and destroy the zenith of one’s character while plaguing communities and families — the innocent citizens of Toledo.
Upon Carleton Finkbeiner taking leadership of this city as mayor, he listed 34 campaign pledges. He stated that his administration would unite and promote, in every way possible, a clean, green and safe city with vibrant colors everywhere — a city that inspires our citizens to improve our neighborhoods, educate our children and create jobs that offer a future in their hometown.
Finkbeiner stated that job creation comes with an environment that invites new investment in our city. He stated that he would focus on building and maintaining the business base of Toledo to ensure jobs and opportunity for all.
He stated that too many Toledoans lack pride and confidence — pride in our past, pride in our present and confidence in our future. Finkbeiner stated that he promoted full accountability for all city employees, and that even during the difficult times the citizens of Toledo would receive the best quality services we can deliver to them.
He fired the Affirmative Action/Contract Compliance Director Perlean Griffin, and he also stated that those city directors who spoke to Griffin would also be dealt with. Which brings me to this …
Dwayne Morehead did not heed the strong-armed threats of Finkbeiner, but rather chose the path of righteousness by standing for what was right.
Because Morehead continued to speak with Griffin, he was demoted from being the co-director of the city’s Youth Commission to being an administrative specialist, and was placed on a 30-day probation period and instructed to report to Juanita Greene, who is the executive director of the Board of Community Relations. He knew that he was being set up to be fired. Dwayne Morehead has become a casualty of the cause of injustice.
On April 18, 2007, Morehead received a letter signed by Finkbeiner congratulating him on being nominated for the 2006 Toledoan of the Year Awards, and expressing his gratitude to Morehead for the outstanding work he has done in this city.
Those same qualities that allowed Morehead to be nominated, also gave him the courage and the strength to stand up for what is right. In doing so, on June 29, Morehead was suspended for 30 days, and recently he was fired.
Mayor Finkbeiner, enough is enough! We will no longer be strong-armed. We send a message that we will not lie down on the bed of injustice, but that we will stand up and ensure that everyone is protected equally, fairly, equitably and that everyone has the same opportunity. This issue is one of race and it is about doing what is ethical, what is morally right. We all have a civil right to success. That is not a privilege, it is a civil right!
We charge Finkbeiner with being in direct disobedience and violation to the Family Medical Leave Act, which states: Employees are entitled to leave from employment due to a serious health condition. The Family Medical Leave Act states that the employee provide a certification from a health care provider.
We send a clarion call that Morehead has been fired due to retaliation. We proclaim that Morehead has legitimate disease conditions that are under the care and supervision of Dr. Baldwin, who submitted the proper paperwork stating that Morehead could not report to work, and that he is to be on medical leave.
We will not tolerate or ignore Finkbeiner’s tactics in the dismissal of Morehead or any other city employee unjustly, regardless of race. This is an issue of morality that not only affects one, but it affects an entire family. It affects the lives of Morehead’s six children and wife at home. It affects the citizens of Toledo, and it discredits the phrase “Toledo Pride.” This is not about what party you’re part of, this is about right and wrong … the conscience of this city.
Since its inception in 1946, The Board of Community Relations has served the conscience of this city, and as such, has sought to create a heightened sense of awareness that inequality and discrimination still exist. The board exists to promote, empower and support citizens to create social justice, equal opportunity and a harmonious environment. They are to intervene in conflicts and disputes by providing investigation into unlawful discriminatory practices.
Because Morehead’s termination letter was signed by Greene on the orders of Finkbeiner, this creates an unethical conflict of interest for the Board of Community Relations to do its job by investigating this matter. Morehead has a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission against the executive director of the Board of Community Relations, Greene. Therefore, any investigation conducted by the board would surely be biased, as Greene is the one who does the investigations, and surely it would be unprofessional and unethical for her to investigate herself concerning this matter. In addition, Finkbeiner cannot ignore and he can not minimize the charges for his actions.
The facts don’t lie. In addition, Brian Schwartz, the mayor’s public information officer, someone who gets paid to speak for the mayor … stated on a local blog Web site called Swamp Bubbles that Morehead should be fired! Schwartz also stated that Morehead should be grateful the mayor took him from a blue-collar worker to management, and that Morehead betrayed the mayor. Isn’t it a big coincidence that the suspension letter given to Morehead stated that all the problems began on or about March 7, 2007, which happens to be the day after Morehead filed charges against the Finkbeiner administration?
In addition, at a press conference on Monday, Sept. 10, 2007, Schwartz passed out the employee file of Morehead outside of Government Center to anyone who wanted it. First and foremost, this just shows that the Finkbeiner administration is desperate and will do anything it can to discredit Morehead.
In addition, we obtained the files, and isn’t it interesting that the letter that Finkbeiner sent Morehead congratulating him for being nominated for the Toledoan of the Year Award wasn’t in his file? Also there are no violations or disciplinary issues noted in Morehead’s file from Finkbeiner’s inauguration in January 2005 until March 2007, incidents that began with his demotion the day after Morehead filed his charges against Finkbeiner!
In addition, apparently in the files were offenses allegedly committed by Morehead under the Jack Ford administration. There is only one problem: Morehead never worked for Ford. He was a union employee. Furthermore, the city rules state that the information was supposed to be removed 18 months after the document was placed in the file. It has been 4 years since the last document was placed in the file. It appears to me that this is such a gross injustice, and the only thing the city can do to protect itself is to slur Morehead.
If the Finkbeiner administration is able to reveal Morehead’s employee files to the general public, then perhaps the general public should request to see the employee files of the Finkbeiner administration beginning with Finkbeiner himself.
We are requesting that the NAACP, the Toledo Urban League along with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission fully investigate the wrongful discharge of Morehead and report its finding’s back to the citizens of Toledo.
The citizens of Toledo have a right to hold Finkbeiner accountable for his frivolous actions. Why should the NAACP and the Urban League get involved? According to the NAACP mission statement listed on its Web site, “they are to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” According to the Urban League Web site, its mission is to “enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights. So, the question is, why? Why don’t the Toledo chapters of the NAACP and Urban League get involved?
We cannot sit idly by and not be concerned about what is happening in this city. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Toledo Pride, Mayor Finkbeiner — pride comes before a fall, and if this city falls, it is only a direct reflection of its leadership.
Bishop Stephen Ward is a Board of Community Relations member.