Tuesday, May 22, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Pop! go the quizzes at city hall

I would like to begin today by apologizing whole-heartedly to all my various talkative, unnamed sources inside city hall.

Apologize and also confess: The upcoming pop quiz is entirely my fault, and I am truly sorry.

Now, to bring the rest of you up to date.

Remember how Mayor Carty Finkbeiner chose Tuesdays with Morrie to be the first book in Toledo's citywide effort to get the whole community reading the same tome at the same time?

Well, that goal included city staffers too.

And the can-you-believe-it? rumor floating around city hall the other day as aimlessly as a dust mote was that Hizzoner would soon spring a Morrie pop quiz on his underlings, many of whom were said to be cramming in preparation.

Well, some were, anyway.

Said one: “Yeah, I think at some point he said he was going to ask us questions on it. I mean, that wouldn't surprise me, but I don't think he said when. But I have to be honest with you - I don't always pay much attention to what he says in [the legendary Wednesday staff meetings]. Do you have Cliff Notes?”

Another high-ranking Finkmeisterling, listening to the loud clock ticking away Hizzoner's final term, displayed what teachers would call senioritis.

“Hey, I'm prepared to take an F. I have it, I just haven't read it yet. And I doubt I'm going to get around to it. I've already got 10 books on the side of my bed, and that's the 11th.”

Or maybe that's not senioritis at all.

Maybe that's just what happens after too many quizzes.

As another of the mayor's top dogs explained:

“We always get these. He'll say, `OK, everybody, take out a sheet of paper,' just like they used to do in grade school! And then he'll read off a series of facts and quiz us the next week. And then he has [right-hand man] Arturo [Quintero] grade them.”

Well, not always.

“They generally grade them themselves,” said the mayor, who - and this is the part for which I am compelled to beg forgiveness - seemed to have tucked away deep in some uncharted brain fold any notion of a Morrie quiz until I mentioned it.

“I hadn't really remembered that, to be truthful with you,” Hizzoner allowed. “But I do recall now that at some point I said ... I'd give them a pop quiz.”

And no, Carty confirmed, this isn't unusual.

“We have quizzes periodically. It could be on current events, it could be on something that everyone's been alerted to be very knowledgeable about, it could be on something that, on that very day, we talked about earlier in the meeting and I wanted to make sure they were paying attention, so we'd have a little pop quiz.”

Hey, what's the big deal?

“You can't hardly ask the whole community to read a book and not have those working for you, the leader of that community, read the same book,” said the leader, reasonably enough.

“Now, if you want to make fun of that, go right ahead,” the mayor added. “But the only way you can get people going - well, I guess there are a lot of ways - but one way you can do it is to get under their skin.”

Which must mean my work here is through.

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,

and Saturdays. Email her at roberta@theblade.com or call 1-419-724-6086.

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