Mayor Carty Finkbeiner — famous for seeing red like a bull at staff meetings and with city council — apparently has trouble seeing it on Toledo's traffic lights.
In fact, Mr. Finkbeiner has a habit of chastising red-light runners but apparently is himself among those people who on occasion go through intersections when the light is not green.
The mayor, who is quietly known among city employees as having a heavy foot behind the wheel of his city-leased sport utility vehicle, was photographed four times since taking office in 2006 by the city's red-light cameras.
Mr. Finkbeiner refused yesterday to answer questions about his driving record.
But the mayor's chief of staff, Robert Reinbolt, said, “The mayor pays all his tickets.”
According to documents obtained by The Blade yesterday from the city, only two of Mr. Finkbeiner's four red-light camera tickets have been paid.
A $95 ticket dated Dec. 23, 2006, and a second $120 ticket dated Feb. 26, 2008, were both listed as dismissed and unpaid.
Toledo Councilman D. Michael Collins, a retired police officer and a critic of the mayor, said he was curious how those two citations got dismissed since the mayor never appeared at the hearing to make such a request.
“If the ticket was not challenged in the legal fashion, why was it dismissed?” Mr. Collins asked.
“How would this be handled if it were another city employee,” he added. “Were it to be another city employee, would there not only be the expectation the tickets be paid, but also a progressive discipline?”
The 2006 violation was photographed by a camera at the Anthony Wayne Trail and Western Avenue at 2:35 p.m.
The mayor was southbound on the Trail at 42 mph through the intersection, which is a 50 mph zone.
He was photographed again at that same intersection, also southbound, on Oct. 9, 2007, at6:50 p.m.
That time he went through the intersection at 52 mph, according to the citation.
The Feb. 26, 2008, violation was recorded at 9:02 a.m. on northbound Anthony Wayne Trail at South Avenue.
The picture of the mayor's 2006 silver GMC Envoy shows him going through the red light on a snowy morning.
The vehicle is in the right lane and the mayor appears to proceed through the intersection at 39 mph — past another vehicle that was stopped at the red light.
His final and most recent violation was photographed on Aug. 25 at 1:32 p.m. near downtown on westbound Cherry Street at Summit Street.
He went through the red light according to the citation at 37 mph, which exceeded the posted 35 mph limit.
During the mayor's first term in 1997, Mr. Finkbeiner signed a citizen complaint against South Toledo resident Richard Weber, 34, accusing him of running a red light in front of him.
According to the mayor, Mr. Weber ran a red light at the Anthony Wayne Trail and Copland Boulevard about 9 p.m. on May 15, 1997. The two men were seconds apart from colliding, the mayor later said.
At the next traffic signal, Mayor Finkbeiner pulled alongside Mr. Weber's vehicle, got out, and confronted Mr. Weber, whose window was partly rolled down.
Mr. Weber argued that he had been unable to stop because the road was slippery from rain. And once in the middle of the intersection, he saw no vehicles approaching from Copland and proceeded onto the Trail.
The exchange between Mr. Finkbeiner and Mr. Weber lasted only a few seconds but as Mr. Weber drove away, Mr. Finkbeiner recorded his license plate number and called police.
At the time Mr. Finkbeiner had no special police powers, but as a citizen, he was able to file a citizen's complaint with the municipal prosecutor's office. A judge threw out the complaint, saying the mayor did not use the proper form.
Now the mayor is afforded ticketing powers, which was approved since then by Toledo City Council.
Though the city in a decade cut the number of vehicles city employees may take home at night from more than 200 to fewer than 60, the mayor's leased SUV remains part of the mayor's compensation, paid for by taxpayers.
The lease costs city taxpayers $21,101 over the mayor's current four-year term and he has used about 767 gallons of city-provided gasoline this year, said Ken Neidert, the city's commissioner of the division of fleet and facility operations.
At yesterday's average price of $2.38 a gallon, that would cost about $1,826.
Contact Ignazio Messina at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6171.