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Published: Tuesday, 8/9/2005

Carty's back: The old one or a new one?

Well, that didn't take too long.

The question on everyone's mind has already popped up.

On the last day of June, he announced his candidacy. By early August, the allegation Toledo had been holding its breath for surfaced.

A recap. Carty Finkbeiner - Toledo's political equivalent of James ("the hardest workin' man in show business") Brown - was out doing what Carty does best: knocking on doors to win votes.

When he came to a house with a prominent "No Soliciting" sign, he did what any politician would.

He knocked.

A woman opened the door. She saw Carty. She shut the door.

She says he swore at her. He says it never happened.

Yeah, but she's got a witness! Oh, yeah? Well, so does he!

Sigh.

A classic he-said, she-said tussle. Too bad, because Toledo really, really, really wants to know.

Has Carty Finkbeiner calmed down in the four years since he left the mayor's office, or not?

Of the many things for which our former mayor is remembered, his temper probably tops the list.

It's either that or his rah-rah boosterism of Toledo.

If you think about it, both come from the same place: Carty's remarkable zealousness.

Or, as some would contend, his overzealousness.

I had one e-mail not so long ago from a Toledoan who was dead-dog serious in his request that someone force Mr. Finkbeiner to undergo a mental-health assessment, with the full results made public.

This, my correspondent wrote, was the only way he could be satisfied that any vote he gives to Mr. Finkbeiner would be prudently cast.

The rest of us may not be quite that picky, but Mr. Finkbeiner's level of self-control is an unanswered question - one that even he apparently acknowledged when he was quoted, on the day he announced his candidacy, promising to be "patient and more disciplined in his emotion."

No question: The guy was a total hot-head. But is he still?

Hey, a lot can happen in three, four years. Just because Carty was once the kind of mayor whose index finger could be found denting people's chests, a mayor who didn't shy away from (how shall we put this?) direct and salty language, a mayor known to take aim at someone's head and fling a coffee cup - and these are just the better-known incidents - just because he was that kinda guy doesn't mean he still is.

No, really.

People can change.

Mr. Finkbeiner underwent heart bypass surgery. Talk about your Big Brush With Mortality!

I have to believe that an experience like that gives a person the perfect opportunity for reflection, at the very least, and quite possibly a close encounter with full-out depression. (Depression, medical experts tell us, is not an uncommon after-effect of heart surgery.)

In a perhaps uncharacteristic sign of my optimism and hope for the human condition, I say we give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

Hey, if he's still the same old Carty, we'll find out soon enough.



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