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Published: Tuesday, 1/20/2009

Counting on Carty

WHEN Mayor Carty Finkbeiner took on the federal Census Bureau over its 2007 population estimate for Toledo, a lot of people figured that his chances of winning were closer to none than slim. But, despite the ridicule he drew from some quarters, we have to concede that Mr. Finkbeiner's perseverance paid off.

Good for him - and us. What appeared to be a somewhat quixotic battle produced an important victory for the city. The Census Bureau has revised its original population total upward, from 295,029 to 316,851.

Because communities typically get a percentage of federal dollars based on population, Mr. Finkbeiner believes the higher estimate should improve the city's chances of receiving additional funding - possibly as much as $15 million more - from whatever economic stimulus package is finally worked out by President-elect Barack Obama and Congress. With the city facing ongoing budget deficits, that would be good news. And the mayor is already planning ahead to make sure the city is treated fairly in the next U.S. Census in 2010. He's formed a blue-ribbon committee to help ensure that everyone is counted and the actual population verified.

In this case, Mr. Finkbeiner had city officials slog through reams of housing data from various sources, including building permits and newly constructed or converted structures, to come up with a more realistic population figure.

The mayor deserves credit for his bulldog-like tenacity, which allowed Toledo to join a number of other communities, including Detroit and St. Louis, in forcing the federal government to take a more accurate look at just how many of us inhabit our fair city.

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