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Published: Thursday, 11/30/2000

Finance chief rescinds his threat to quit

Toledo Finance Director John Bibish nearly resigned yesterday after Mayor Carty Finkbeiner berated him during the mayor's weekly staff meeting.

After a lengthy meeting with the mayor that stretched into the evening hours, Mr. Bibish agreed to remain with the city, The Blade learned.

The mayor's Wednesday meeting has become notorious for its length - often going five or six hours - and for the mayor's caustic comments toward members of his administration.

Numerous officials have left the Finkbeiner camp, citing the mayor's behavior as the cause.

Mr. Bibish, a 20-year city employee, was named finance director in October, 1999. He was acting finance director from April, 1999, until that time, and prior to that was the city's commissioner of accounts.

He is paid $85,000 annually.

Mr. Bibish walked out of the staff meeting yesterday morning, causing a swirl of speculation throughout Government Center that the move signified his resignation.

He did not return numerous phone calls from The Blade.

Mr. Bibish told key members of the finance department that he was quitting, but late in the day went into a lengthy meeting with the mayor after which he agreed to remain, sources said.

Assistant Chief Operating Officer Deborah Younger said yesterday evening she could not comment on the situation, but could say that Mr. Bibish and the mayor were meeting at that hour about a “disagreement” they had.

The mayor and Chief Operating Officer Mike Justen did not return phone calls.

Mary Chris Skeldon, the mayor's spokeswoman, said she did not hear Mr. Bibish offer his resignation during the meeting, and he submitted no written letter of resignation.

The dispute began when the mayor was chewing out Mr. Bibish for allegedly failing to collect income tax from local lottery winners, and for not filling vacancies in his department.

The mayor called Mr. Bibish “scraggly faced” and “a bean-counter,” one city official who was in the meeting said.

Mr. Bibish is a certified public accountant.

Bob Williams, the mayor's other assistant chief operating officer, said a number of projects were discussed with all the department heads during the meeting, and Mayor Finkbeiner discussed issues with “equal intensity,” with many of his staffers.

“It was a meeting where the mayor was very insistent that things get done,” he said.

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