Saturday, May 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


A look back at the Carty years

When Carty Finkbeiner looks out the windows of his top-floor offices of Government Center for the last time, he'll see a far different city than the one he inherited.

Windows twinkling in downtown apartments. Headlights sweeping through once-deserted streets. The stacks of a $750 million Jeep assembly plant poking into the horizon.

From 22 stories above, he says he sees hope where doubt once reigned.

He's proud.

“This has been one heck of an administration, and if anybody doesn't say that, then shame on those persons,” the mayor says. “Try to replicate it, try to get done what we've gotten done in an eight-year period of time.”

His critics agree the city is a better place after eight years of the first modern strong mayor - even as they breathe a sigh of relief, and wonder at the personal and financial cost.

“Carty has been a godsend on one hand,” says city council President Peter Ujvagi. “But he could have had a much more positive impact on the city if he would have overcome his demons.”

With 15 days left in the reign of 62-year-old Carleton S. Finkbeiner, he remains perhaps the city's most controversial local politician.

To some, he's a field general who turned lazy bureaucrats into efficient civil servants. There are fewer employees now than when he began, yet the city has dramatically boosted services from paving roads to bulldozing old homes.

To others, he's a bully who caused talented city workers to flee. Stories abound about tirades against city workers, from berating some to tears to hitting one in the head with a coffee cup.

He kept Jeep and stimulated downtown growth, but the city's debt doubled. He made the city pretty, but residents still left for suburbia.

He made many feel good about the future - with 8 out of 10 residents now believing Toledo's on the comeback. But many still shake their heads at the antics - like publicly pondering whether to ask deaf people to move near the airport.

It's all academic to the man at the center of the debate. To him, the only thing that matters is the progress he can see out his window. That kind of progress didn't come from being willy-nilly. It came from being a leader.

“This job, either you get people to surrender to your way of doing things, or you surrender to the system,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. “And the system is basically to pass the buck.”

For a couple hours on Election Night, 1993, the trademark million-dollar smile was gone.

Carty Finkbeiner sat at a table at the former Kelsey's bar downtown, eating a sandwich with his wife and daughter and watching his political career go up in flames.

Hours after the last vote was cast, exit polls showed him down 10 points. Two TV stations had already declared opponent Mike Ferner the winner. He concentrated on being stoic in the face of his third loss for the mayor's seat - and perhaps the last political race of his career.

“I was not of the mind that we were on the verge of a huge surprise,” recalls Mr. Finkbeiner.

Two hours later, the smile returned. He had eked out the closest victory in modern mayoral history, winning by just 702 votes. He credits his secret weapon: Some people like him, but don't want to admit it publicly.

“People just see Finkbeiner bush-whacked for 15 years, maybe 20 years,” he says. “They don't want to put up with having any disagreements with their friends or neighbors over the fence about who they're going to vote for.”

It has never been easy for Carty Finkbeiner.

The first-born son of a prominent Toledo civil engineer, he had coached college football, trained to be a stockbroker, and tried selling insurance - but he could find no career that satisfied him, he says.

He wanted a calling, and he soon settled on it: Politics.

In 1974, Mr. Finkbeiner broke in as a Republican, challenging and nearly upsetting longtime U.S. Rep. Thomas “Lud” Ashley (D., Toledo). He tried again in 1976, but again fell short.

In 1979, he ran for and won his first two-year term on Toledo city council.

“I ended up loving it. I had the feeling in '79 or '80 I'd like to be mayor,” Mr. Finkbeiner says.

He was elected four more times to council, along the way switching to the Democratic Party. He also ran twice for mayor, in 1981 and 1987, losing both times.

In 1992, Mr. Finkbeiner was successful at another campaign, one that changed Toledo fundamentally. He led the drive for a new form of government - strong-mayor - that dramatically boosted the power of the city's chief executive.

Later that year he pondered whether to make another go at mayor - knowing a loss would relegate him to the dustbin of political has-beens.

In fact, 45 percent of Toledoans thought he was the best city councilman. Then again, another 45 percent thought he was the worst.

Friends told him he'd regret it if he didn't try, so he did.

In a campaign marked by fierce attack ads, Mr. Finkbeiner came from 17 percentage points down in the polls to capture the seat with just 50.4 percent of the vote.

To Carty, the vote was a mandate from a city that needed a leader.

Corporate leadership had faded since the 1970s as the city lost half its Fortune 500 companies. Of the big firms that remained, many recruited new leadership from outside Toledo - people, the mayor says, who had little loyalty to their new hometown.

The leadership void couldn't be filled by a local government run by a city manager who had the academic credentials but lacked the power to turn around a dying industrial city.

“There was a vacuum, and there still would be a vacuum if there was a city manager - or a strong mayor who wanted to be loved by all,” says Mr. Finkbeiner.

Carty had no such inclination.

He arrived on the 22nd floor with plenty of plans and little patience, recalled his one-time chief of staff, John Alexander.

“We who had carried over [from the city manager administration] felt we pulled into the train station under one form of government and the new engineer got on board, said hello to everyone, and then floored it.”

In the words of the John Denver song, “Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio,” this midwestern city was a place where “they roll back the sidewalks precisely at 10, and people who live there are not seen again.”

By 1994, downtown hadn't changed much.

The shuttered Portside Festival Marketplace was a municipal embarrassment. Downtown saw its last department store - Woolworth's at Superior and Adams streets - close.

But the new mayor had a key ally: A booming economy.

Projects flowed quickly once the mayor took office. In his first month, he negotiated an agreement with Owens Corning to build its new international headquarters on the once-swampy Middlegrounds south of Toledo's downtown.

The long-neglected Warehouse District stirred to life with the Maumee Bay Brewery opening in the Oliver House, followed by the Erie Street Market and plans for a new Mud Hens stadium.

The vacant Commodore Perry Motor Inn became apartments, as did the former Lasalle's department store and decaying Hillcrest Hotel. Portside became COSI. The often-derided Federal Building met the wrecking ball.

And then there's the former city warehouse across the river.

City equipment was moved out. Restaurants moved in - beginning with Tom Cousino's Navy Bistro.

“The mayor, when he has a vision that he wants to accomplish, he has a dynamic personality to make it happen,” Mr. Cousino says.

Just north along the riverfront will be the Marina District entertainment complex. It will replace an industrial corridor anchored by the abandoned Toledo Edison Acme generating plant.

Still, the projects haven't been picture-perfect. Take the OC deal.

The mayor - the lead negotiator of the deal - was among 11 people who sold their Middlegrounds condominiums to clear way for the new corporate headquarters. The mayor let the court set his condo's price - $167,620, or $107,880 more than the mayor paid for it just two years earlier.

The mayor admitted his profit, but he failed to disclose that the developer paid him an extra $10,000 to move early. The mayor insisted he forgot, but he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics charge and was fined $385.

To get the Middlegrounds property for OC, the city gave landowner Tim Wade the Paramount Theater block.

It's one of the mayor's regrets: “We didn't have the resources to give them the cash,” Mr. Finkbeiner says.

Still, the city put cash in other projects. From the new apartments to the Marina District, taxpayer dollars were leveraged to make the deals work.

And even getting the projects done hasn't been easy. City councilmen have long complained that the mayor's office shuts them out of decision-making - sending them projects that need immediate approval but have serious flaws.

Mr. Ujvagi calls council the “broom and shovel brigade.”

The mayor pushed one developer's plan for the city-owned steam plant that required the city to invest $550,000. Then the developer backed out because of a realization - after the deal was inked - that there wasn't enough parking.

Several blocks away, the mayor wanted to demolish all the buildings on the north end of a block bound by Superior, St. Clair, and Adams streets for a new parking garage.

“In his usual style the world was going to come to an end unless we did what he wants immediately, and now,” Mr. Ujvagi said.

Council refused to be bullied, according to Mr. Ujvagi, and the city ended up with an award-winning downtown parking garage.

The mayor conceded the point.

“If council says that's an example of great work by city council I'll be the first one to applaud great work by city council,” says Mr. Finkbeiner.

Hugh Grefe and fellow neighborhood activists used to beg city hall to tear down decrepit crack houses and gang hangouts.

They'd get a bureaucratic shrug: The city was doing the best it could. It took time to do the paperwork. And there's only so much money for bulldozing.

“We had an inventory of 2,000 homes in the city where drugs and crime could find a safe hiding place, but the best we could get done was 30 of them a year. So the inventory kept growing,” Mr. Grefe recalled.

Then Mr. Finkbeiner came to office.

He found extra cash for the program, streamlined the process, and set a new goal: 300 demolitions a year - or 10 times the old rate.

In his second year, he met that goal, and has met it since. In eight years, the city razed more than 2,200 abandoned structures - nearly all in the inner city.

Beyond that, his administration began plotting with county officials and neighborhood community development corporations to put new houses in long-scarred neighborhoods - wooing developers and buyers with an assortment of tax credits, tax abatements, and low-interest loans.

Developments sprouted near downtown with new homes offering suburban-sized lawns and $150,000 price tags. The rate of home ownership - a key barometer of a neighborhood's health - rose in three-fourths of inner-city census tracts in the 1990s.

Mr. Grefe said the national nonprofit housing group Local Initiatives Support Center, for which he is the local liaison, has invested an average of $5 million a year in city housing developments under the mayor's reign - five times what it invested before the mayor entered office.

“Within LISC itself, this is a mayor who has earned a lot of people's admiration across the country,” Mr. Grefe said.

The mayor made neighborhoods a personal issue. He proudly displayed billboards of landlords he thought weren't keeping up their properties. And he wasn't shy about knocking on doors of problem residents either.

In October, 1997, he was driving through the Old West End when two residents stopped him to complain of a possible drug house. The mayor immediately drove there, with then-aide Bill Sanford, to confront the residents.

“I'm thinking, `We're dead meat. It's just me and the mayor,'” Mr. Sanford recalled.

The home's residents convinced the mayor they weren't dealing drugs. But they agreed they needed to clean up their yard, which they did within an hour.

“I don't think you're going to find many mayors who would go and do stuff like that,” Mr. Sanford said.

The mayor's passion extended beyond housing.

Flowers line the Anthony Wayne Trail - among the 700,000 planted a year. A gleaming stainless steel fountain looms over the Harvard Circle - among the mayor's many “beautification” projects. Fire hydrants were painted green and white.

For six years the city paved 40 miles of road a year - relaxing the pace to 32 miles in the past two years. Before 1994, seven miles were repaved a year.

Violent crime has dropped more than 20 percent during the mayor's two terms. Murders are down more than 70 percent. The drops, although mirroring national trends, occurred as the Finkbeiner administration pushed community-oriented policing and police substations in neighborhoods.

And the administration began “model block” programs, where police and code inspectors inundated problem areas for weeks to jumpstart improvements.

His assistance stretched beyond his desk in Government Center. He initiated the first “Call City Hall” program, where the mayor and other city officials spent 12 hours just answering phone calls from residents with complaints.

If that wasn't good enough, residents also could talk to the mayor personally at least for 10 minutes each, and often longer. He went to their neighborhoods to do it.

Even the mayor's detractors point to something that's hard to measure in bricks and mortar, houses knocked down, or flowers planted - a new sense of optimism. The mayor has been a constant, unabashed cheerleader of Toledo's comeback, often pointing to the city's 1998 rating as one of America's 10 “All America” cities.

Council's youngest member, Wade Kapszukiewicz, 29, remembers Toledo as the butt of jokes.

“For many people my age, it was never even considered that, when you got your degree and moved somewhere, you'd move to Toledo.”

Now, Toledo is a contender.

Of course the Finkbeiner administration - as with most of its endeavors - does not get universal praise for its efforts.

On one big scorecard - the number of people living in Toledo - the mayor came up short.

For years, the mayor had been claiming the city would actually gain residents in the 1990s. He labeled academics who suggested otherwise “doomsayers.”

Yet, the 2000 census showed that 85 of the city's 100 census tracts lost people since 1990 - dropping the city's population 5.8 percent, to 313,619. That continued a three-decade exodus of the city's more affluent residents to the suburbs.

While experts have long blamed the city's reputed high crime rate and bad schools, some have also blamed a key mayoral initiative. For the first time in three decades, the mayor's office ambitiously marketed Toledo's water, even piping it to Delta, in Fulton County, for a new steel plant.

Dr. Ron Randall, a University of Toledo political science professor, was one of the “doomsayers” who warned that selling water would fuel suburban growth. And now, he says, that's what happened.

The mayor argues that the Delta plan was a “good deal” for the city and was needed to promote regional job growth. But in the last years of his administration he has insisted on tax-sharing agreements and promises that the affected suburbs won't lure Toledo businesses away.

It was a hot Saturday in July. The air conditioning didn't work in Government Center. The mayor was stuck inside there 10 hours, fielding phone calls and faxes.

And he considers it one of his happiest days as mayor.

That day in 1997, the city basically finalized a complicated deal to keep Jeep - ending a decade of concern that the city would soon lose its biggest employer.

“It was just like, all of these years we've been worried about this. We've finally come to this moment and we have a commitment,” the mayor recalls.

The prior year, Jeep's parent company, Chrysler Corp., announced it would build a plant within 50 miles of Toledo - but not necessarily in Toledo.

“The talk in Detroit was that Toledo was going to be taken off the map in the automotive industry,” says former city Economic Development Director Barry Broome.

The mayor led a spirited community-wide campaign, to which The Blade contributed “Toledo Loves Its Jeep” placards.

Working with a host of other agencies, the mayor fostered a $280 million state/local incentive deal - including $35 million in city cash to buy and prepare the site for a new Jeep plant.

Four years later, the $750 million plant is cranking out new Jeep Libertys.

The Jeep deal - which kept the city's largest employer from leaving - highlights a laundry list of economic development projects initiated since January, 1994.

Owens Corning kept 1,000 jobs downtown. A new North Toledo prison has added 300 jobs. And HCR Manor Care added 200 jobs when it was formed as part of a 1998 merger.

Those are just the high-profile projects.

By the administration's count, a total of 665 projects added 13,713 jobs and retained an additional 12,628. That doesn't count jobs yet to be created from an expected $1 billion in construction work in the next few years, from building the new I-280 Maumee River crossing, to a new Toledo Hospital campus.

Those kinds of economic-development gains impress mayoral supporters like Pat Nicholson, the chairman of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

“We could have lost OC. We could have lost Jeep. And we would have been telling people in this town, `The last one out, turn off the lights,'” says Mr. Nicholson.

Still, it's impossible to keep score on job growth. The city doesn't keep a running tally on jobs that left Toledo during that same time, like the 550 lost when Doehler-Jarvis, Inc., closed its plant in 1998, or the hundreds of Jeep jobs lost even with the new Jeep plant.

And there's no measure of how much more - or less - the new jobs pay compared to the ones that were lost.

For all the civic energy expended in 1997, the Jeep deal remains controversial.

National consumer advocate Ralph Nader claims it was a prime example of short-sighted corporate welfare.

The city underestimated by more than half the cost to get the Jeep site ready. That left the city scrambling to sell some of its land to make up part of the difference, and take out a $26 million federal loan to cover the rest. The taxpayers' repayment on Jeep loans this year alone is $2.9 million.

And DaimlerChrysler officials have kept only 4,200 workers - 700 less than the number long touted by city officials as part of the deal. The automaker said the way the deal was written doesn't force it to keep 4,900; it was only a target.

Dr. Randall, the UT professor, said he thinks the price was too high to keep Jeep and Owens Corning, a deal that also included millions in city aid.

“We ended up with a bankrupt firm [Owens Corning], and in the case of Jeep, we've ended up with a company that seems to have welched on the 4,900 `promised' jobs,” says Dr. Randall.

Mr. Broome counters that the city couldn't afford to lose such big employers.

“The city of Toledo would have absolutely nothing but a 400-acre contaminated piece of real estate if the mayor didn't do Jeep,” he said.

A physically fit man whose shock of blond hair has turned gray during his tenure, Mr. Finkbeiner has a famously infectious smile, and an engaging ability to remember names and relate to people.

He's also said to be a man who quickly can turn a sunrise of a smile into a spittle-flinging tirade.

The people who work now or have worked for Mr. Finkbeiner say the harsh side of the mayor can be tough to swallow. Many chose not to - leading to a revolving door at city hall that the mayor's critics say has robbed the city of skilled administrators.

Those who have stayed offer a shrug and a smile: That's just the mayor.

One aide, Lisa Marie Kowalski, complained to the city's human resources director after a profanity-laced “tiff” with the mayor in May. But, this month, she said she has no hard feelings.

“The mayor is very passionate, and he's very driven. With that, there's good and bad,” she says. “Sometimes there's unnecessary excitement over things. But everyone has a different style, and I admire him for his love of the people and the city.”

The mayor has driven himself hard - spending the better part of every evening at home reading and marking up correspondence for action the following day. When he comes to work, he distributes his projects, expecting a response by 3 p.m. that day.

Former Chief Operating Officer Tom Kovacik said Mr. Finkbeiner kept track of dozens of projects on a weekly basis.

“That's probably why a lot of them succeeded - because they never left the radar screen,” says Mr. Kovacik.

And, he says, Mr. Finkbeiner doesn't kid around at work.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time he was all business,” Mr. Kovacik said. “On a rare occasion after a long day when the visits were done, rarely, but he would have those kinds of friendly candid conversations with directors.”

But the directors didn't expect friendly banter during the mayor's legendary Wednesday staff meetings.

The weekly sessions with all top aides - often lasting more than five hours - included obscenity-laced rants at directors. Some directors tried to argue their cases, but most just sat there - unwilling to challenge the mayor, recalls former press secretary Mary Chris Skeldon.

“I think a big reason you didn't disagree with him in the Wednesday meeting was because it just made it longer,” she says with a laugh.

It was in one of those staff meetings in 1994 that the mayor read aloud a citizen's suggestion that low-price homes near the airport be offered to the deaf - who, by theory, wouldn't have a problem with the increased jet noise. The mayor said he thought the idea had merit, and he ordered his staff to pass along the suggestion to airport officials.

His staff didn't challenge him, but some later complained to other city officials who leaked the story to the media. The controversy blew up into perhaps the mayor's most embarrassing episode, one that led to national ridicule.

The mayor knows his meetings are dreaded by some. He said that if he dismissed some people from the meeting for a day because they arrived late or for some other misdeed - “to some of them it might be a reward.”

At times, Mr. Finkbeiner publicly embarrassed his top staff by cutting their salaries for failing to meet his standards. In February, 1999, Anthony Reams saw his $80,000 salary as neighborhoods director lopped by $8,000 - the 10th staffer to be disciplined that way.

Still, some top city officials say the unpleasant working conditions were overshadowed by the mayor's accomplishments.

“We as employees on the inside saw the gruffness, the foul language, the embarrassment that was visited on some of our colleagues and it didn't sit well, quite frankly,” Mr. Alexander says. “But the outside importance of accomplishment by this mayor was of much greater import to the community.”

Says Ms. Skeldon: “People in his administration accomplished a lot more than they would have otherwise - even though it wasn't pleasant.”

Citizens outside his administration have been less diplomatic about the gruff treatment.

One, restaurateur John Skiadas, is suing him over an encounter the pair had last summer. Mr. Skiadas alleges the mayor cornered, bullied, and threatened him about delays in opening an eatery in the Erie Street Market.

Three misdemeanor charges against the mayor have since been dismissed, and the mayor denies he did anything wrong.

Indeed, he denies he ever took out his anger on people physically. But he maintains his sometimes-tough demeanor forces slackers to do their part to make Toledo run smoother.

But many city council members complain that production could have been higher had the mayor's temper - and ego - not gotten in the way.

“His management style is a tragedy,” says Mr. Ujvagi. “Publicly, he seems to be the most compassionate person in the world. Privately, he's harsh, demeaning, confrontational.”

Mr. Ujvagi and other council members argue that the mayor often kept them in the dark even on big projects they could have helped steer through. That includes the biggest one in city government history - a $400 mil- lion settlement of the 10-year-old federal environmental lawsuit over the city's wastewater system.

Twice council has caught flaws in the plans - one which could have cost the city millions of dollars, according to Mr. Ujvagi.

The city may owe millions more on another project - perhaps the biggest scandal of the Finkbeiner administration.

An $8.5 million deal to convert the near-downtown Beacon Place apartments into condos was negotiated in 1997 by Mr. Finkbeiner's housing commissioner, James Thurston. The housing commissioner assured city council that the city was in no danger of being held fiscally responsible if the project collapsed.

A year later, the project did collapse when the administration failed to clear the sale of the properties with the federal government, which had financed them. The city has forfeited $230,000 and could end up owing $2.3 million.

“You had the administration saying don't worry about it, every- thing's fine,” says Councilman Gene Zmuda. “Despite the assurances on the record it still ended blowing up in our faces.”

A Blade investigation this year revealed that the developer - Ed Bergsmark - gave Mr. Thurston, of Perrysburg, a free apartment within city limits so Mr. Thurston could keep his job.

Mr. Thurston and Mr. Bergsmark are being investigated by Toledo police and Lucas County prosecutors.

Council members say they are often expected to rubber-stamp deals, and are attacked when they hold deals up to scrutiny.

“It you inquire about the details, he interprets it as you're against it,” Mr. Zmuda says.

Mr. Finkbeiner concedes his administration has made mistakes. But he says that, in general, the city couldn't afford - and still can't afford - to shift power back to city council.

“The strength of the council is that it's a debating forum. But once the television lights go off, once the reporters leave that facility, the council will go home, and guess whose responsibility it is to pick up the issues debated upon?”

The mayor prefers to point to evidence of good management.

Since he took office, the city has trimmed 129 workers from the payroll - a 4 percent cut.

Government bond traders have rated Toledo a safer investment risk since 1994, thanks to the $13.7 million “rainy day” account. In 1993, the account had $2.1 million.

But the city's financial picture is not all rosy.

In particular, the city's debt nearly doubled during Mr. Finkbeiner's tenure - from $202 million when the mayor was sworn into office to an expected $389 million by the time mayor-elect Jack Ford takes the oath.

The mayor said the city's debt is “moderate” compared with other Midwestern cities - especially those going through growth spurts, such as Columbus and Indianapolis.

Don Monroe, head of the River East Economic Revitalization Corp., agrees.

“There's not a major city that does not have to provide great financial incentives to motivate people to take the risk,” Mr. Monroe says.

Councilman Kapszukiewicz sums up many of his colleagues' thoughts on the mayor: “I think he will be remembered as someone who loved the city of Toledo, but in some ways loved it too much and got in the way of progress,” he says.

Still, that sentiment is not universal.

At least one councilwoman, Betty Shultz, says historians will give the mayor the highest marks.

“I think - perhaps not in my lifetime - that Carty will go down as one of the greatest mayors this city has ever seen,” says Mrs. Shultz. “His accomplishments out- weigh any perceptions of failure.”

And others outside city government say the mayor is owed his due - even those who historically have tangled with him, like Sandy Isenberg, president of Lucas County commissioners.

“He has helped reinvent Toledo. And - whether you like him or not- people feel much better about living in Toledo,” she says.

An August Blade poll confirmed that. Nearly 80 percent of Toledoans thought the city was heading in the right direction. But only 55 percent gave the mayor credit.

The mayor isn't surprised. That's more than historically have liked him through the years.

“I've always been outspoken. I've put my foot in my mouth. I've been aggressive. I've been abrasive to some people. I've been a doer and I've been a pain in the rear-end,” he says.

“There's always a balance between those who think I'm terrific and those who think I'm a son of a gun.”

Although the city charter forbade him from running for re-election this year, it doesn't stop him from running for mayor in 2005. And Mr. Finkbeiner won't rule that out.

Based on his years in government, he qualifies for a pension of about $3,000 a month. But he has been pondering other careers.

Earlier this year he tested the waters for the Ohio gubernatorial race in 2002. But he stopped pursuing it amid doubts he'd win a first run at statewide office, and - if he then won two terms - he'd start his second term at age 71.

Mr. Finkbeiner, who has been paid $75,000 a year as mayor, instead sees himself as a chief executive officer in some enterprise involving economic development, neighborhood revitalization, education, communications, “or all four.”

In the fall, he applied for the post of athletic director at the University of Toledo, but did not make the cut for finalists.

More recently, Mayor Finkbeiner has discussed the possibility of a becoming executive director of the Northwest Ohio Regional Technology Alliance, despite an admitted lack of technical expertise. So far, he has not applied.

Mr. Finkbeiner said he plans to give himself 30 days to smell the roses and the coffee.

He intends to slow down. Pray daily. He might even write a book.

“I have probably a year's worth of papers stacked up in a pile at home that [my wife] Amy's been begging me to get at,” says the mayor.

Then he'll find a new job.

“I know I'm going to miss being at the center of decision-making. And I'll miss being able to pick up the phone and call somebody and say, `We need to get that done.' I'll miss seeing these people coming through the doors shortly after 8 o'clock with this report or that report. I'll miss it immensely.”

Riding down that elevator Jan. 1, with boxes of belongings in hand, he says he may shed a few tears. But he won't be sad.

“I have absolutely nothing but gratitude. For me to be sad or sorry or something of that nature would be a total, absolute failure on my part as a human being,” Mr. Finkbeiner says. “My dream came true to be the mayor of the city of Toledo. I've been blessed immensely. Now I owe back.”

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