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Published: Monday, 4/20/2009

Mayor Finkbeiner won't resign; says recall signatures insufficient


After months of silence on the effort to force him out of office, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has responded Monday.

He vowed to contest the validity of the recall petition signatures, and said, "of course, I do not intend to resign."

"The day I turn Toledo over to a group of self-interested malcontents from outside of Toledo, will be a cold day in a warm place," he said in a prepared statement from his office.

A Columbus law firm called on city Clerk of Council Gerald Dendinger to reject the mayoral recall petitions as insufficient, citing more than 2,500 signatures the firm says are invalid.

"There are not enough valid signatures. The evidence is voluminous," Mr. Finkbeiner said in the statement. "We will contest the validity of a significant number of signatures, as more than half of the signatures have already proven to be false or invalid."

Mr. Dendinger Monday morning declared the petitions sufficient in a letter he delivered to Mayor Finkbeiner's secretary. The recall election is set for Nov. 3.

According to the city charter, Mr. Finkbeiner has five days after Mr. Dendinger's notification to resign to stop the election from going forward.

The group Take Back Toledo turned 45,500 signatures to meet its minimum of 19,753. The elections board validated more than 20,000 signatures as being of registered Toledo voters.

Take Back Toledo claims Mr. Finkbeiner should be removed from office because he has been fiscally irresponsible, driven business away, and an embarrassment to the city. If the effort is successful, he would leave office with less than two months left in his term.

In a five-page letter, Attorney John Kulewicz of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP told Mr. Dendinger that his firm spent the weekend looking at signatures submitted in petitions by the group Take Back Toledo, and found numerous instances of questionable signatures.

Attorney Kulewicz also took issue with Mr. Dendinger's claim that the petitions are in compliance with state law. He said that the petitions failed to include a mandatory provision warning that election falsification is a fifth-degree felony.

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