Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner yesterday said he never asked for special treatment in getting two red-light tickets dismissed, but added he was unaware how that happened.
According to documents obtained from the city by The Blade Wednesday, only two of Mr. Finkbeiner's four red-light camera tickets since 2006 were paid.
A $95 ticket dated Dec. 23, 2006, and a second $120 ticket dated Feb. 26, 2008, were both listed as dismissed and unpaid. Yesterday, the mayor said he didn't know how they were dismissed.
"As far as the two that were dismissed, that's not unusual. If people would do their homework they would find that sometimes those tickets go out and it doesn't always validate that an individual actually went through the red light," he said.
"If you look closely at the picture, you'll find the car that might have gotten 6 feet out into the intersection, but halted, then backed up 6 feet, but the camera takes the picture anyway."
The evidence doesn't support that explanation.
The dismissed Dec. 23, 2006, violation was photographed by a camera at the Anthony Wayne Trail and Western Avenue at
The mayor was southbound on the Trail, and he goes through the intersection at 42 mph. The picture clearly shows that the vehicle's brake lights were not illuminated, so he could not have stopped before clearing the entire intersection.
The same is true of the dismissed Feb. 26, 2008, violation, which was recorded at 9:02 a.m. on northbound Anthony Wayne Trail at South Avenue.
That picture of the mayor's 2006 silver GMC Envoy shows him going through the red light on a snowy morning at 39 mph. Again, the brake lights were not illuminated.
The mayor offered his explanation during a news conference regarding the weekend opening of Imagination Station, 1 Discovery Way downtown.
Later, Mr. Finkbeiner said he had not abused his power and didn't arrange to have the tickets dismissed.
"I did nothing in any way, shape, or form dishonorable whatsoever except pay the bills that were legitimate traffic fines to pay," he said. "I don't play those games. I don't ask for favors. I never have and I never will because I'm the mayor of the city of Toledo."
He added: "If somebody dismissed a ticket because they looked at it and said, 'I don't think the guy went through the red light there,' then that's their business. That's not my business."
The mayor said The Blade's story yesterday about his repeated failure to stop at red lights was nothing more than a "witch hunt."
"Let's just say I recognize a witch hunt when I see a witch hunt and so will everybody else in the community," he said.
The mayor - a big supporter of red-light cameras and the revenue they provide the city - said he was disappointed with the attention The Blade had placed on the violations and suggested it was because he supports Issue 3 to legalize casinos in four Ohio cities, including one in Toledo. The newspaper printed an editorial yesterday against the issue.
"I would only comment that I hardly think that two traffic violations in four years is something that most people would put on the front page of the daily newspaper if there wasn't another reason for that to be on the front page," he said.
John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, said Mayor Finkbeiner's attempt to link The Blade's coverage of his red-light violations to the newspaper's editorial stance against casino gambling is "ridiculous" and "a bit paranoid."
"Obviously that was not why we did the story," Mr. Block said. "The story is of some significance because he's the mayor of Toledo."
Mr. Finkbeiner was behind the wheel of his city-leased sport utility vehicle and photographed four times since taking office in 2006 by the city's red-light cameras.
His final and most recent violation was photographed Aug. 25 at 1:32 p.m. on westbound Cherry Street at Summit Street.
He went through that red light, according to the citation, at 37 mph, which exceeded the posted 35-mph limit.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: