Carty Finkbeiner has fashioned many hats for himself during his long career in Toledo's government: mayor, development director, master of beautification for the city The latest is apparently enforcer of the peace in the parks.
Mayor Finkbeiner, 70, was captured on video intervening and breaking up a fight at Highland Park, during which he is heard calling a teenage boy "fatso" and "tubby."
"Come here, Fatso!" the mayor shouted at the boy in the undated video that was posted on YouTube.com.
Alex Rodriguez, 15, of Toledo, who witnessed the incident, said two boys were about to start fighting for a second time that afternoon when the mayor stepped in between the two and started yelling.
"He was really getting mad and all the kids [were] yelling 'old man!' at him," young Rodriguez said. "They were going to beat him up at one point."
He said the incident occurred on May 25 in the late afternoon or early evening.
At one point in the video, one boy makes a move as if he is going to strike the mayor from behind.
Mr. Finkbeiner was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment. He arrived in Tampa yesterday along with 30 volunteers to audition Toledo to be named an All-America City again. The cities receiving the honor this year will be announced tomorrow evening.
Megan Robson, the mayor's spokesman, said Mr. Finkbeiner was walking alone at the South Toledo park when the incident occurred.
"A couple weeks ago, he was walking in Highland Park and he saw a pretty large group of young men getting into a fight," Mrs. Robson said. "He thought it was a highly charged situation and he took action to stop it."
Mrs. Robson stressed that the video was edited and parts of it could have been taken out of context.
In the video, Mr. Finkbeiner calmly speaks directly to several youths and threatens to call the police and have the park closed. He did not call police.
Young Rodriguez said the mayor stayed after the situation was defused to pose for pictures with some of the teenagers in the park - something that was not shown on the YouTube video.
Brian Minley of Toledo, who recorded the mayor at the park, said the fight was already over when Mr. Finkbeiner intervened.
"That's not how you're supposed to approach some children," Mr. Minley said of the mayor's actions. "You're supposed to be the bigger and better person, not sink to their level."
Mr. Minley, 20, said both he and Mr. Finkbeiner approached the group of teenagers as the fight was breaking up.
Vincent Yancey, 80, supported the mayor's actions.
"I would appreciate the mayor coming down here and breaking up more fights," said Mr. Yancey, who drives his great-grandson from their home in Curtice to use the skate park at Highland.
"This is a nice park, and it's the only skate park in the area, but it's in a bad neighborhood and there are a lot of fights here," Mr. Yancey said. "As far as his language, people say things in the heat of the moment you probably shouldn't, but that's Carty and he's always been like that."
Mr. Finkbeiner is known for his boisterous temper and for inserting himself into situations.
In May, 1997, Mr. Finkbeiner chased down a motorist who had driven through a red light on the Anthony Wayne Trail. The mayor used his vehicle to block the offender at the next intersection, and then gave him a lecture and signed a "citizen's complaint" charging him with running a red light. A judge threw out the complaint, saying Mr. Finkbeiner did not use the proper form.
In a lawsuit filed in 1999, Carolyn Smithers, formerly Erie Street Market manager, claimed that Mr. Finkbeiner "accosted her with a ceramic coffee mug clenched in his fist" and shouted, "I ought to hit you with this!" She contends the mug struck the side of her face.
Mr. Finkbeiner told The Blade he never touched Ms. Smithers, but only raised his cup - a Styrofoam cup, he said, half-filled with tea - in her direction.
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