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Published: Tuesday, 1/6/2009

Nostalgia looms large in mayor's civic song

Of my own free will yesterday, I went to hear Carty Finkbeiner's State of the City speech.

I did so despite the fact that listening to Carty (bless his heart) is not necessarily among my Top 10 Fave Things To Do.

I did so despite the fact that an opportunity to listen to Hizzoner is neither precious nor rare.

No, I went to hear the mayor because my respect for historical events is high, and I suspected this might, fellow citizens, be the very last State of the City speech from Carty (bless his heart).

True, Hizzoner hasn't announced yet whether he'll seek a second second term (no, not a typo).

But the (most recent) recall effort against Carty certainly telegraphs how another re-election campaign would be even more of an uphill battle than the usual quest. (Maybe that's the recall's very purpose).

So even though I believe our mayor to be a man constitutionally incapable of turning away from the siren's song of elected office, consideration must be given to the idea that even tone-deaf Carty may recognize when the band starts to play the last dance.

Anyway, that's why I went to the speech. But that's not what I got from the speech. What I got was more than being witness to history.

What I got was nostalgia.

If Carty's speech played at the Stranahan Auditorium, it would be Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

"Oooh! I remember this song!"

"Oooh! I remember this exhortation!"

Hizzoner's first such speech was a Big Event, televised live, unlike this year's quickie lunchtime Rotary Club meeting.

But aside from those differences, it was much like a cavalcade of familiar Greatest Hits.

Quick, Toledo, pop quiz: In which year's State of the City speech did Hizzoner say:

"The accomplishments of [year deleted] not only marked the 'Toledo Renaissance' for all our citizens, but also were recognized by the outside world."

Well, it could have been in this year's speech, wherein Carty (bless his heart) gushed about how many news organizations gushed about us (ABC News, CNN, the Financial Times), but in fact it was 1995 - Hizzoner's very first State of the City speech.

Nostalgia continues unchecked if we give a tip o' the hat to a 10-year anniversary by scrounging around the dusty remnants of 1998's State of the City speech.

Here's what The Blade reported from that Golden Oldie:

"Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, in his annual State of the City speech last night, urged the public to take part in shaping Toledo's future, but he offered little in the way of new policies or programs."

Now, I didn't read in advance the write-up in The Blade today of yesterday's speech. But if there isn't a near-verbatim paragraph somewhere in today's story of the paragraph above, there certainly could be.

Or, as Hizzoner put it yesterday (repeatedly, bless his heart): We are transforming Toledo together!

Those soothing bromides. Those unchanging, comforting reassurances.

I'm telling you, Carty Finkbeiner is alive and well and working The Nostalgia Circuit.



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