By the time you’re reading this, it will be almost over: Four long, hard, grueling years of national embarrassment, local incompetence and stunted economic growth, all the result of what history may accurately record as Toledo’s Greatest Mistake, the election of Carl Finkbeiner.
What else could explain the (re-) election of a certifiable failure and nationally known joke-of-a-mayor whose sole accomplishment was as a “Trivial Pursuit” answer?
The grand exodus of jobs, businesses and people will be the indelibly tragic legacy of the man I humorously but derisively dubbed “Mayor Pantload.” Deservedly so, considering the stench of mistruths, half-truths and outright lies only a hard-wired narcissist could not only ignore, but transmogrify into “Toledo Pride” and then publicly desecrate anyone “who doesn’t believe as I do.” Even with the intense scrubbing of new ideas initiated by Mr. Clean’s long-lost twin, Mayor-elect Mike Bell, it will take considerable time for the fecal stench of the Finkbeiner Criminal Administration to fade from local, regional and national memory. How long before “Trivial Pursuit” becomes extinct?
Concurrent with the orgasmic thrill of this blessed political conclusion, post-Jan. 4 (at 5 p.m.) also marks the end of a four-year concerted effort to raise community awareness by educating voting age citizens with the 2-by-4 content of local talk radio programming at NewsTalk 1370 WSPD.(1)
The determination to effect fundamental positive change in “The Toledo Way” was carved in stone after a lengthy conversation at Clear Channel/Toledo headquarters about the same time Carl reassumed his “throne” (complete with fabled Golden Shower) on the 22nd Floor.(2) The unpleasant but necessary cure involved a double-shot of hard-core, unabashed, relentless-but-accurate daily news and commentary, along with a reenergized, reengaged business community that had long since taken shelter in the more prosperous, pristine suburbs, erroneously thinking a few miles and a county line would shield them from the malodorous winds blowing in the results of political flatulence from One Government Center.
And so it began.
Naturally, resistance was stiff. Even terminal patients are known to refuse life-sustaining medication. Such was being administered — none too gently — from the 2-by-4 within the WSPD studios. The efficacy and accuracy of the information was apparent in the soaring ratings WSPD enjoyed as the audience learned via WSPD News and talk shows, the sordid realities they were funding with their every-increasing (and unnecessary) tax burden. As they watched, friends and children left for actually greener pastures, long established businesses sported plywood windows and their beloved Toledo lapsed from vibrant to moribund — all thanks to the potent potion of aggressive ignorance, contagious apathy and a miscreant mayor summed up in denigration “Carty Gets Results.” Indeed, political subdivisions get “the government they deserve” but even the terminally clueless did not want a megalomaniac “cheerleader” shaming their home on stages big and small. And the people began to roil. They started to “get it.”
Finally, exactly 18 months ago, the business community had enough. The ever-growing Finkbeiner dung heap encompassed public interference and humiliation of Costco (which had the audacity to actually want their business to be here) to an unending litany of embarrassments: unwanted bike paths, Irongate, expulsion of the Marines, self-indulgent prize seeking, animal cruelty, verbal harassment, misogyny, racist insults, (still unresolved) lawsuits, the flagrant desecration of the First Amendment even a 10-year-old knew was wrong coupled with fiscal irresponsibly only someone with a BS in Jockstrap could achieve, moved eight men to meet and enact the plan marinating for four years in a small office on South Superior Street.
After some organizational fits and starts, the “Take Back Toledo” campaign was launched with “Recall Carty” petition signings in minus-24-degree weather in January 2009. While scandals continued and taxpayer dollars squandered, more than 45,000 signatures were gathered and submitted. Naturally, all the stops were pulled to torpedo the results. No matter. The “Take Back Toledo” campaign succeeded in banishing the scourge of Mayor Pantload from November’s mayoral election. With a patently transparent announcement, made with the giggling silliness and radiant embarrassment reminiscent of his attempt to fraudulently claim a Chamber of Commerce “Young Man of the Year” award, the self-anointed Big Cheerleader revealed his latest delusion: “I was only gonna run for one term anyway.” Carleton “S. for Brains” Finkbeiner, the Monocratic Gift that keeps on giving; Toledo’s Human Wrecking Ball of Economic Progress who, after four years, pointed (with pride) at 3rd Place Loving Cups signifying nothing, a severely shrunken population, a $40 million dollar deficit and questionable, costly, incomplete projects made possible through sinfully squandered taxpayer resources. Gratefully, in a near-Messianic transfiguration, Finkbeiner became a Limp Duck.
Thanks to the resolute “Take Back Toledo” committee — Tom Schlachter, Brian McMahon, James Hartung, Sanford Lubin, Ed Nagle and Andy Stuart — seven men who cared so much about Toledo and its future, they invested their time, risked their reputations, friendships, business — and lost, in some cases — in order to shake up and wake up the citizenry to the missed opportunities that, if realized, would have Toledo flourishing as it should, if not for the corruption and ineptitude of the Finkbeiner Gang of Criminal Idiots. I am proud to have been numbered among them.
Thanks to Toledo Free Press and its immediate, unrelenting support for the First Amendment and recognition of our ongoing efforts to change and stay the new course.
Most of all, thanks to you citizens and voters, the TBT Volunteers, readers, listeners, the new activists who made 2009 the year Toledo turned around and, with the election of Mike Bell, now faces a future commensurate with its bodacious potential. It’s over. And it’s just beginning.
Brian Wilson is program director and news director of WSPD 1370 AM. E-mail him at Brian@WSPD.com.
1. In the analogy, lazy, reluctant mule only returns to his plowing chores when the local veterinarian smacks it in the head with a 2-by-4, initially shocking the farmer who was expecting a more genteel solution. The vet explained he first had to get the mule’s attention. In our story, WSPD is the 2-by-4; I played the role of the Vet. Guess which part you played. (Hint: not the farmer).
2 On holidays, The Great He would invite local riff-raff to actually visit the Inner Sanctum of the Most Holy to glimpse His Domain from his superior vantage point, as he daily cast his demented gaze down upon the fools who had re-elected him, despite his infamous record of violence, misogyny and projectile coffee cups.