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Published: Monday, 1/23/2006

Mayor's staff moves questioned

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With Carty Finkbeiner's election as mayor, 29 people who were hired or promoted during the single term of Mayor Jack Ford have resigned, retired, or been fired.

Slightly more than half were African-American.

The number of terminations, after the bitter campaign between fellow Democrats Finkbeiner and Ford, has raised eyebrows - even as people recognize the mayor's right to install his own team.

Mr. Finkbeiner promised minorities would be well represented in his administration.

"I am knowledgeable and sensitive about how important it is to have a representation of workers who represent the citizens of Toledo," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "We aren't finished yet."

"I just want men and women in the top 60-80 positions that are excellent motivators, excellent producers, excellent lead-ers," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

One terminated Ford appointee, Robert Gilchrist, a commissioner of economic development, said he applied to keep his job but received only a rejection letter from Mr. Finkbeiner's chief of staff, Robert Reinbolt.

"Just because a person's loyal to the person who hired them doesn't mean they're not able," said Mr. Gilchrist, who was the architect of the steam plant redevelopment deal.

He said Mr. Ford gave Mr. Finkbeiner's holdovers the chance to keep their jobs, which some were able to do.

"Maybe Carty couldn't get past loyalty," said Mr. Gilchrist. "There were plenty of Carty people in economic development. Jack knew, and he didn't get rid of them."

Mr. Finkbeiner, who considers economic development his top priority, said he didn't see sufficient production out of the economic development department under Mr. Ford.

So far, Mr. Finkbeiner has not appointed any commissioners of economic development and has said he plans to serve as his own director. He's hired Marisol Ibarra, one of his campaign co-chairmen, to be manager of economic development.

Most of Toledo's nearly 3,000 city workers are protected by civil service law from the whims of party politics. But about 82 people serve at the pleasure of the mayor or the law director.

Those jobs include:

  • The directors, who run city departments and are paid between $60,500 and $92,500.

  • Commissioners, who serve directly below them and are paid between $52,000 and $77,500.

  • Staffers in the mayor's office.

  • Lawyers who work for the city law director.

  • Confidential secretaries who work for the directors.

    "We're going to bring in people that are good for our team," said Mr. Reinbolt. He said the main question, aside from the question of competence, was, "is this supportive of the team we have in place."

    He said lack of team spirit was behind the decision not to reappoint city senior attorney Samuel Nugent, who was within a year of qualifying for a 30-year pension.

    Mr. Nugent declined to comment, but some believe that Mr. Nugent was punished for running for Municipal Court judge against Daniel Pilrose, the Lucas County Democratic Party's endorsed candidate. Both Mr. Pilrose and Mr. Nugent lost to Republican Robert Christiansen.

    City Councilman Michael Ashford, an African-American, said Mr. Finkbeiner should have tried to find positions for people rather than firing them.

    "He's brought in all his old staff who worked on his campaign, who helped him raise money, who he promised them jobs if they worked for him," Mr. Ashford said.

    He said the racial makeup of Mr. Ford's administration was reflective of the city and that so far, that's not the case with Mr. Finkbeiner.

    Among Mr. Ford's closest advisers who applied, but were not retained, was Tom Crothers, chief of staff and finance director. He said he harbors no malice at being fired.

    "He has the right to retain and terminate anyone among the at-will employees," Mr. Crothers said.

    Mr. Finkbeiner has yet to fill the positions of commissioner and manager of housing; executive director of the Board of Community Relations; commissioner of business, workforce and technology, and chief building official.

    Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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