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Published: Saturday, 1/17/2009

Mayor: Personal vendettas fuel recall

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA AND MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Finkbeiner Finkbeiner
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Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner spoke out Friday against the political action committee seeking to remove him from office with a possible referendum on the September ballot.

Mr. Finkbeiner, who reprised his State of the City speech to members of Perrysburg Rotary, said organizers of the so-called Take Back Toledo group are interested only in their own personal agendas.

The mayor delivered the speech for the third time Friday- this one tailored for regional and Wood County consumption at the Carranor Hunt and Polo Club.

The campaign to recall the mayor officially began Monday, when organizers met with volunteers helping to gather the needed 19,753 signatures within 90 days to put the decision before voters in September.

The mayor made the comments about Take Back Toledo in response to a question from the audience.

He previously has pointed out that most of the organizers live outside Toledo. In December, he accused Tom Schlachter, co-founder of the Moses-Schlachter Group Inc. of Sylvania Township, of attempting to get public funds to profit from information he gained from his service on the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board.

Brian McMahon, president of Danberry National Ltd. of Perrysburg and a principal member of Take Back Toledo, attended the Rotary meeting yesterday, and said afterward that Mr. Finkbeiner's comments cast the group in the wrong light.

"When somebody asked him about Take Back Toledo, he said it's just a group of people who have personal agendas and personal vendettas," Mr. McMahon said "I don't think that's true."

If it were just a small group of people with vendettas, the campaign won't succeed, Mr. McMahon said.

"We are living in a time where time is very critical," he said. "The sooner that Carty either resigns or is removed from office, the sooner we can get at bringing the people together as a region."

It's the regional economy that got Mr. McMahon involved in the campaign.

He said Mr. Finkbeiner talks about cooperating as a region in economic development, but he also competes with neighboring municipalities. He pointed to the mayor's attempts to attract Bass Pro Shops to Toledo instead of Rossford.

"On one hand, he says we have to work as a region, and on the other hand, in the same speech, says he tried to steal the deal," Mr. McMahon said of the mayor's speech in Perrysburg yesterday.

The mayor in December accused Mr. McMahon, who lives in West Toledo but operates from a business in Perrysburg, of repeatedly misleading area citizens - most recently in his advocacy of an intermodal hub near Toledo Express Airport.

Brian Schwartz, who served as the mayor's spokesman until May, 2008, said the campaign is not anti-anything and is pro-Toledo and pro-northwest Ohio.

"I don't know that any of the people who organized Take Back Toledo have anything personal against Carty at all," Mr. Schwartz said.

The campaign is about the regional economy and regional leadership, Mr. Schwartz said.

Mr. Schwartz said he left the mayor's employment on good terms, even though his resignation followed a three-week suspension for alleged off-air vulgar comments spoken to a Detroit radio station producer.

"There's certainly no personal grudges," he said.

If the recall question makes it onto the September ballot and a majority of voters agree to recall Mr. Finkbeiner, he would have to step down as soon as the vote is certified. Toledo City Council President Mark Sobczak would take over for the final three months of the mayor's term.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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