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Published: Tuesday, 2/14/2006

Director quits after being kept from marina meeting

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Carroll Carroll
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Bill Carroll, the acting executive director of the Lucas County Improvement Corp., was looking forward to a high-level discussion about the Marina District in Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's office on Friday.

After all, he had piloted the project during the last year of the Mayor Jack Ford Administration and wanted to stay involved in his new role as interim head of the joint city-county economic development agency.

It didn't happen.

Mr. Carroll was taken aside before the meeting started and told that the LCIC - the joint city-county economic development agency with $170,000 of city funding - was not going to be part of the weekly Marina District meetings.

He was politely sent away.

Mr. Carroll responded by promptly turning in his resignation.

"I'm not going to be disrespected," the former Dana Corp. executive said yesterday, explaining why he abruptly ended his short-lived stint as executive director of the LCIC.

He said he was told Mr. Finkbeiner had awakened "cranky" on Friday and that was why he was not invited into the meeting.

Mr. Finkbeiner yesterday said the decision to exclude Mr. Carroll was not personal. He said he was comfortable with the "chemistry" of the Marina District group that met for the first time for 90 minutes the previous week and wanted another such meeting.

"You'd have to ask my wife if I was cranky when I got up on Friday. All I know is that we've had three hours of meetings now that have been extremely productive in getting this off the ground," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The meeting included a Lucas County commissioner and an executive of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Mr. Carroll, who was former Mayor Ford's economic development director for 14 months and who served with Mr. Finkbeiner on the port authority board, agreed Feb. 3 to be acting director of LCIC, at $10,000 a month, until the group completes its search for a permanent director.

According to several participants in Friday's Marina District meeting, Mr. Carroll arrived at the 22nd floor of Government Center with county Commissioner Peter Gerken.

He was called into the office of Robert Reinbolt, Mayor Finkbeiner's chief of staff, where Mr. Reinbolt told him that Mr. Finkbeiner did not want him in the meeting.

He said Mr. Reinbolt told him, "Carty woke up cranky this morning."

After several minutes of discussion about the LCIC and the Westgate Village Shopping Center, Mr. Carroll left Mr. Reinbolt's office to find that the rest of the group had gone into the mayor's office for the meeting.

Mr. Reinbolt said he did not recall calling Mr. Finkbeiner "cranky" and said that Mr. Finkbeiner indicated last Wednesday that he did not want to include Mr. Carroll.

Mr. Reinbolt said Mr. Carroll was overreacting to one incident.

"He's just letting some passion he has get in the way of what's best for the community," Mr. Reinbolt said.

Mr. Gerken said his understanding was that Mr. Carroll's presence was approved in advance.

He said he asked Mr. Reinbolt if he could include both a representative of the Pizzuti Cos., the Marina District's developer, and Mr. Carroll in Friday's working session.

"I said, 'Let's have both Pizzuti's guy and Bill Carroll come in,' and Bob called me back said 'That's great.' So I invited him," Mr. Gerken said.

He said the incident made Mr. Carroll feel "that there wasn't going to be a positive working relationship" between him and the mayor.

Mr. Reinbolt said a Pizzuti participant was approved but not Mr. Carroll.

"We have our internal team, and it was decided it would not be expanded further to include LCIC," Mr. Reinbolt said.

Also in the meeting as well as Mr. Gerken were:

City Councilmen Robert McCloskey and Rob Ludeman; Pizzuti special projects director Shannon Hamons; state Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D., Toledo); Casey Stephens, the city's commissioner of environmental services; Bill Burkett, of Hull & Associates Inc., an environmental consulting firm; Don Monroe, executive director of the River East Economic Revitalization Association; Dan Steingraber, chairman of the River East Associates business group; Paul Lewandowski, an assistant to the mayor, and Jerry Arkebauer, vice president of finance for the port authority.

Mr. Carroll said the episode raised questions in his mind whether the mayor intends to continue supporting the LCIC, despite Mr. Finkbeiner's assurances that he would give the LCIC a chance to perform.

"LCIC is the right tool if it's given an opportunity," Mr. Carroll said.

Mr. Finkbeiner yesterday denied that he was unwilling to partner with the LCIC.

He said one item on the agenda was to discuss the incentives that had been offered to Bass Pro Shops by the previous administration to locate in the Marina District, and he did not want to put Mr. Carroll in a defensive situation.

Mr. Gerken said despite the incident he believes the mayor intends to have a working relationship with LCIC and that Mr. Finkbeiner has approved the transfer of four city staffers to LCIC by March 1.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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