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Published: Friday, 10/21/2005

Finkbeiner: City tardy in post-riot action

BY TOM TROY AND TAD VEZNER
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

He promised not to second-guess Mayor Jack Ford's handling of the riot, but mayoral candidate Carty Finkbeiner never said he wouldn't weigh in on the mayor's post-riot performance.

Mr. Finkbeiner accused Mr. Ford and the city's Board of Community Relations yesterday of maintaining a low profile when they should be publicly active in bringing the North Toledo community back together.

"The Toledo Board of Community Relations has been virtually unheard from recently," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "It is five days after the events, and the mayor has yet to put forth a post-riot program to draw on all the strengths of the community."

Mayor Ford's public information officer, Mary Chris Skeldon, rejected Mr. Finkbeiner's charge, and said the mayor has had meetings with victims and community leaders, and on Monday announced a plan for healing and reconstruction.

She said the Board of Community Relations was involved in the "Erase the Hate" effort to counter the neo-Nazi rally.

"Mayor Ford chooses to do it not through press conferences, but through real work with the community and in the community," Ms. Skeldon said.

Besides a stronger showing by the BCR, Mr. Finkbeiner's proposed plan called for:

●An ecumenical religious campaign.

●A new curriculum to be designed by area colleges to teach brotherhood and mutual respect in the schools.

●A marketing effort to help the city feel good about itself and "project a strong and caring image" to the world.

On Saturday, a crowd of protesters opposing a rally by neo-Nazis in the Lagrange Village neighborhood turned violent, causing injuries and damaging businesses, homes, and vehicles.

Mayor Jack Ford, during a candidates forum before members of the East Toledo Club yesterday, defended his administration's massive street rebuilding effort this year.

Challenger Carty Finkbeiner charged that the Ford administration was undertaking an "extremely aggressive" street repaving program this year that should have been implemented over four years.

"That isn't the way to do it. The way to do it is consistently year in, year out, 40 to 45 miles - the way we did and will do it," the former mayor said.

But Mr. Ford said the money for the paving became available this year through the Ohio Public Works Commission and three annual 2-cent increases of the federal fuel tax.

"It happens to be coming in this year. We're using it, and if you don't use it, you lose it," Mr. Ford said.

The mayor announced a plan in February to repave 60 miles of roadway and crack-seal another 50 miles, using $8 million to be repaid from future fuel tax and license revenue.

About 40 people attended the meeting at Cousino's in Oregon.

Toledo City Council candidate Dave Schulz filed new complaints yesterday against one of his opponents, fellow at-large candidate Bob McCloskey.

Mr. Schulz, a Republican, said in his filing to the Ohio Elections Commission two large billboards used by Mr. McCloskey, a Democrat, should have been disclosed on his campaign finance reports. He also charged that Mr. McCloskey used campaign funds to buy Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Storm season tickets for his personal use.

Mr. McCloskey said the ticket purchases are for political purposes, and said he gives a lot of the tickets away to youths or other people in his district.

He said the billboards are a public service to invite citizens to call him with complaints, and don't carry political messages.

"It's just a pattern of shady and illegal behavior," Mr. Schulz said.

The Ohio Elections Commission ruled last week that there was probable cause to support Mr. Schulz's previous complaint that Mr. McCloskey is illegally using the word "re-elect" on his campaign literature and signs. The full commission will hear the case Nov. 3.

Mr. McCloskey, a longtime District 3 councilman, is making his first run citywide.



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