Fordbeiner’s two cents nonsenseWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been unseasonably warm this winter. Local meteorologists talk about jet streams and warm air currents, but they’re wrong; winter has been neutralized by the immeasurable volumes of hot air Carty Finkbeiner and Jack Ford are expelling into the Lake Erie West atmosphere.
The former mayors have been criticizing Mayor Mike Bell for everything from how he is handling crime to how he is managing the people who work for the city. Finkbeiner and Ford are like Statler and Waldorf, the curmudgeons who sit in the upper balcony, far from the action, hurling insults at the Muppets — except Statler and Waldorf are intentionally funny.
Finkbeiner and Ford, who together ran Toledo for 16 consecutive years (just about long enough for someone to enter a TPS kindergarten, graduate from the University of Toledo and leave to work in another city), define intellectual mediocrity and apocryphal ethics. It is one thing for an elder statesman to offer counsel or help a young mayor navigate choppy waters; that would be appreciated and respected. But Ford and Finkbeiner, by grandstanding and attempting to embarrass Bell, reveal themselves to be the petty, sour, historical footnotes they are. They are like 4-year-olds trying to get their mothers’ attention with squirt guns.
Their joint beef with Bell concerns his handling of personnel in the city’s neighborhoods department.
“How do you build spirit … if you’re trying to make a scapegoat of individuals whose integrity you do not question?” Finkbeiner said, throwing in his self-described “two cents.”
As a Facebook friend observed, “Carty Finkbeiner preaching the importance of employee morale is like Captain Ahab doing a Save the Whales commercial.”
Of course The Blade ($1 on weekdays, $2 on Sundays) is more than happy to encourage Fordbeiner and provide a platform for their out-of-touch and obstreperous nonsense. At least it provides some great irony; on the Jan. 8 front page of The Blade, a poorly manufactured slam piece on Bell — which featured unflattering ladles of Finkbeiner balloon juice — ran just inches above a photo for a story on dog rescue teams, which featured a dog looking longingly out of a car window. Finkbeiner historians will remember that in August 2007, Finkbeiner twice got caught locking his dog Scout in his car — once in a handicapped spot — while he reportedly was being fitted for prosthetic testicles. Mighty funny for The Blade to run a Finkbeiner story near that dog-in-a-car photo; that’s a nice touch from the organization that published an entire book about Finkbeiner’s legacy of ineptitude and vulgarity (“The Little Book of Carty,” $8.95).
The most offensive element of Finkbeiner’s blather is his quote from a Jan. 9 “news” conference, brazingly set at One Government Center: “It’s time for Mike to be a man and start doing his job and taking responsibility,” Finkbeiner said, aloud, in front of people.
“Time for Mike to be a man”? Really, Carty? You, one of the most immature and emotionally stunted Toledo leaders in memory, dare to tell Mike Bell, a man who dedicated his life to rescuing people from burning buildings, to “be a man?”
Exactly what advice are you offering, Finkbeiner? Should Bell start screaming at his staff? Should Bell start bullying his team? Should he strike someone with a coffee cup? Should he hit somebody? Is that what would make him a man in your estimation?
There is no room in civil discourse for this kind of hyperbolic, mean-spirited, name-calling diatribe.
History will appreciate that TweedleCarty and TweedleJack offered their vaudeville act on the exact same day the wrecking ball hit Libbey High School and the Seneca County Courthouse. Jan. 9 will forever be remembered as the day a high school, a courthouse and the meager credibility of two former mayors came crashing to the ground.
None of this is to imply that Bell is above criticism. Even as he has brought international attention and investment to Toledo, there are people in the community who question his focus on more pressing local issues. It’s chicken-or-egg territory. Without major investment and growth, Toledo, especially its central city, will continue to decay and shed population. Without major investment in neighborhoods, Toledo will be limited in its ability to attract investment and growth. No one mayor has the power to change such long-term megatrends.
Bell is still two years away from defending his office at the ballot box, but he must feel as if the race has already begun. With The Blade utilizing its Finkbeiner chisel to chip at him, Bell finds himself spending more time on defense. Union interests with long memories of the SB 5 fight will be ready to back a Bell opponent; whether that will be Anita Lopez, D. Michael Collins or an unknown contender remains to be seen.
One thing is clear: Toledo could elect a turnip to office and the city would be better off than it would be repeating any of Finkbeiner or Ford’s 16 years.
At least the turnip would stay silent once it left office.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at email@example.com.