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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2001

Carty's misplaced enthusiasm

Mayor Finkbeiner makes too much of this newspaper's attention to the issue of letters he may or may not have received relative to the new Maumee River bridge. Indignant and convinced that his integrity had been challenged, Mr. Finkbeiner railed at The Blade for asking to see letters the mayor said he had gotten from area veterans promoting “Veterans Memorial Bridge” as the name for the new bridge, construction of which is scheduled to begin next year.

His rant misses the point. It was certainly not his integrity that was an issue, but his tendency to engage in hyperbole now and then as a means to an end.

Asked to produce the letters, he could not. Asked to produce the letters he said he sent out in response, he could not. If they did exist, and were not kept, that's a violation of public records law. And an administration that had to be reminded once before several years ago about the importance of public records - in that case, telephone records - presumably knows about such things.

More likely, the mayor simply got a little carried away in his enthusiasm for an idea. It's happened before.

This time it's quite possible the mayor saw letters that appeared in The Blade's Readers' Forum on the bridge-naming issue. Many were published, offering a variety of names, and several of those suggested Veterans Memorial Bridge. It would not be difficult, in Mr. Finkbeiner's haste to embrace the idea after it was proposed by mayoral candidate Ray Kest, to assume that the letters had come to him, and that that's where he had seen them.

In the grand scheme of things, given the seldom boring nature of the Finkbeiner years on the 22nd floor of Government Center, this episode is about a 5 on a scale of 10. We don't minimize it, but neither do we believe the mayor was fibbing.

He may have been victimized by his proclivity for well intentioned but enthusiastic exaggeration. If so, it is still enthusiasm that is misplaced. Veterans Memorial Bridge is an uninspiring name for what will be Toledo's signature bridge, but he's the mayor and he's entitled to weigh in. What's Mr. Kest's excuse?

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