Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Carty attacks his recall supporters

Yesterday Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner held a press conference to attack the recall effort being mounted against him. We talked it last night on Eye On Toledo.

Except, it wasn't really a press conference, because he didn't take any questions. It was a speech, and he gave it in front of many city employees who were in Council Chambers to hear it, rather than at work on behalf of the citizens who pay their wages.

The text of the speech is 23 pages, front and back, and it took him about 24 minutes to read it. He pretty much stuck to the prepared comments, and spent the first nine minutes or so praising his own record in office.

He starts with a quote from Barack Obama's book and transitions into caring for each other during difficult economic times.

"So it is that Toledo will be as strong as the quality of leadership exemplified in the weeks and months directly ahead. In the economic shortages of the moment, we must share more, and be ever mindful of the needs of others, particularly the most challenged of Toledo's citizens. I pledge to work with my fellow Councilmen and County Commissioners to seek collaboration amongst us in order to alleviate the suffering of many as we also seek to grow our economy in very troubled times."

Of course, Carty isn't known for working with City Council, waiting until the very last minute to tell them things and taking forever to provide data and information that's been requested...but I guess that's irrelevant to him.

He then details some of the investments that have been made by private businesses in Toledo, including our new Jeep plant and General Motors Powertrain expansion. He does not mention that the rebuilt Jeep plant opened in 2001 during his second term as mayor.

He mentions the work by solar-based companies as well as our universities and hospitals/health industry. Then he says this:

"I have, in 11 years as mayor, overseen the capital investment of $3.75 billion, which included the creation of 18,722 new jobs and the retention of 25,359 jobs."

Unfortunately, this is one of those half-truths or mis-truths Carty's always referring to. As mayor, he did NOT oversee those investments by private companies, he was merely present while the private sector was doing what the private sector should do. Yes, some Toledo tax money went into the projects, but that doesn't mean the mayor 'oversaw' those projects. When he lists the numerous projects, (including Owens Corning's World Headquarters, The Docks, the State Prison, the Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway, HCR ManorCare and Health Care REIT, and Joint Economic Districts with Sylvania and Perrysburg Township) it's clear the only project he actually supervised was the Joint Economic Districts. And even then, it was more of hostage-type situation than it was a 'joint' development idea.

He then takes credit, along with some others, for the passage of the COSI levy, which had been rejected by the voters twice already before passing this past November. I'm not sure I'd want to be taking credit for raising the property taxes of Lucas County residents, especially while working "to alleviate the suffering of many as we also seek to grow our economy in very troubled times." But Carty does.

He does get one thing right when he mentions that Toledo's bond rating was upgraded, in spite of all the job losses we've had in Toledo. He praises city council for their 'fiscal restraint over the past three years.' However, that fiscal restraint wasn't good enough to prevent us from facing a $10 million budget deficit to close our 2008, nor a $21-23 million projected deficit for 2009.

He also comments that Toledo is better off than Columbus ($80 million deficit and laying off 200) or Chicago ($800 million deficit). Of course, Toledo is much smaller than these cities to begin with, so there's no way to know if our percentage of deficit is comparable to these other cities, but this is what Carty likes to do - compare us as better than cities in worst positions, rather than have us strive to be like those who are better off.

"Into this significant moment in the nation's, and Toledo's history, comes a group entitled "Take Back Toledo."(stet)

He then begins the character assassination of the individuals so far identified as leaders of the group: Tom Schlachter, Brian McMahon and Andy Stuart.

(Disclosure - Andy Stuart is the General Manager of Clear Channel in Toledo, home of WSPD radio where I do the Eye On Toledo talk show.)

Carty attacks the residency of the individuals, though the city charter has no residency criteria for who can sponsor a recall effort.

"First, two of these individuals live outside of Toledo, as do almost all of the group's members. Mr. Schlachter lives in Sylvania Township. Yet, this man, who has never lived in Toledo wants to "Take Back Toledo." He never has had any true ownership in Toledo, but he thinks Toledoans should turn City Hall over to him."

More half-truths? So far, these three men, along with Brian Wilson, the program director for WSPD, and Ed Nagle, a local businessman who owns a trucking firm, are the only people who've announced their participation with TBT. Wilson lives in Perrysburg and Nagle lives in Toledo. Wilson and Stuart both work in Toledo and pay Toledo taxes. So if these are the only members of TBT who have been confirmed as members, how does Carty conclude that 'almost all of the group's members' live outside of Toledo? And what does it matter anyway?

Carty is fond of saying that our region needs a strong Toledo, as the core of area. He often touts the fact that we're all tied together and must support a strong Toledo. But when some business people come together and say, 'okay - for a strong Toledo, you have to go,' Carty somehow twists this into outsiders trying take over City Hall. And they don't want to take over City Hall, as Carty claims, they just want Carty out of it.

Carty then claims that Schlachter used inside information from when he served on the Port Authority Board of Trustees to advance two projects. What Carty doesn't tell us is that Schlachter decided to support two proposed developments and resigned from the Port Board so he could do so. He did not want any conflicts of interest between what he wanted to do as a businessman and his membership on the Port Board. Neither project came to fruition, so it appears that rather than somehow benefit, Schlachter actually lost out - losing his seat on the Port Board and not yet having any success with the developments. But let's not allow facts to get in the way of Carty's character attack, nor mention that one of the projects was also supported by our Congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur.

He does the same to Brian McMahon - claiming that McMahon somehow schemed his way into the confidences of a previous mayor and city manager and cost the city money in a failed annexation deal. That Carty voted in favor of the project and strongly supported it until it turned sour is somehow conveniently forgotten and never mentioned in his speech.

McMahon called in to WSPD this morning and set the record straight on that land deal, citing the reasons why it was a good idea in the first place and listing all the businesses currently located on the property, generating money in a joint economic development zone for Toledo.

Finkbeiner also claims that McMahon 'hoodwinked the citizens of the community' into believing he had a perfect intermodal site by Toledo Express Airport. Well, it is a perfect intermodal site and it should be developed. Carty, however, seems to think that there can be only one - and it must be the one he wants within the city of Toledo limits. It's that sort of thinking that causes people to want him out of Government Center.

And if you want to talk about 'hoodwinked,' let's ask all the voters who believed Carty when said he was a changed man following his heart attack and that he was now calmer and wouldn't act like he did during his first two terms as mayor if we only elected him again. Many of his former supporters use the term 'hoodwinked.'

But he saves his best for last in attacking Andy Stuart by attacking WSPD, including a call for a Congressional investigation into the station's violation of the Fairness Doctrine. Of course, the Fairness Doctrine is not in effect, having been eliminated under Pres. Ronald Reagan, but again, let's not allow facts to get in the way.

I've explained the history as to why Carty is not allowed on the talk show portion of WSPD, but Carty chooses to ignore his own complicity in the situation. He says WSPD is negative:

"They have come out against every City school levy, every quality of life issue that is presented to the taxpayers. They encourage Toledoans to move from the City and now for the second time, they are leading, on the air, and Andy Stuart is providing money for, my recall. This man, again, lives outside of Toledo, and does not have a vote in Toledo. But this master of negative news about Toledo wants Toledo voters to turn Toledo over to him, Mr. McMahon and Mr. Schlachter."

Again - more mis-truths and half-truths. WSPD talk show hosts have opposed Toledo Public School levies - because we do not believe in rewarding people for bad decisions. Our schools are not doing the job we need them to do in educating our children. They have a few successes, but many failures. Picket Elementary has been in academic emergency for six years and was in violation of the No Child Left Behind law because they did not address this problem until just recently. Why should TPS be given more money when they're not using the money they do have for the purpose intended?

When it comes to 'quality of life' you need to know that this term is a euphemism for 'unnecessary government spending.' The quality of life items Carty is referring to includes bike paths, flowers and lights for our downtown trees. It also includes the COSI children's museum, as noted above. You see, Fred LeFebvre, Brian Wilson and I are in agreement that government should do what is mandated and no more. Toledo has spent money on bike paths, flowers, lights, pools - and we will NOT have a new police class nor fire class this year as planned. The city doesn't have the money for the essentials of police and fire, but we have these other, non-essential, things. Now that Toledoans are seeing the implication of funding these other items in the lack of police and fire recruits, they may actually agree with us that 'quality of life' can have numerous definitions. Personally, my quality of life is enhanced more by safety than it is by flowers and bike paths.

Then he gets into the Fairness Doctrine and another character attack:

"Mr. Stuart has a serious ethical conflict. I believe he, and WSPD have, over and over again, violated the historic Fairness Doctrine governing political comments over public airwaves. That doctrine required that any time a radio station made a blatant political statement on air, the broadcaster must offer free, equal time to the opposing view. The Fairness Doctrine principle is violated by WSPD every day. WSPD's vicious, one-sided diatribes go back years. Today, it is non-stop.

I will be requesting Congressman Henry Waxman of California to have the Energy and Commerce Committee he chairs hold hearings on the radio industry's abuses of the Fairness principle, with Toledo's WSPD being a prime example of such abuse.

The airwaves belong to the public and the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated and practiced in Toledo and across the nation. When a radio station's General Manger actively finances campaigns against incumbent officials, and when his prime time personalities conduct daily diatribes against issues and governing officials of a community without giving equal time to the opposing viewpoint, that is wrong. I will ask Congressman Waxman and the new Congress to investigate all tapes of WSPD during the past three years, during which time I have been, and members of the City Administration have been, denied airtime to rebut the falsehoods and glaring misstatements, of WSPD radio."

Again, for the record, Carty can come on the air on WSPD if he would only apologize for the public statement he made claiming WSPD was telling mis-truths, half-truths and outright lies. And his administration has been invited and continues to be welcome to call in or be guests on the talk shows. They aren't allowed, though, not because of WSPD, but because of Carty's own dictates. You see, if Carty isn't allowed on air, he won't allow his staff to come on air.

It's important to point out that Carty has never documented a single problem with anything that's been said by the radio hosts - other than it's critical of him and he doesn't like it. To my knowledge, he's never provided any letter, memo, email, phone call, etc... to show that something said on air is inaccurate or incorrect. He makes lots of claims of 'lies,' but never proves that one exists. As an elected official, if I were in such a situation, I'd certainly be writing letters to document any error. Absent such documentation or proof, one is left with just the claim by a politician who doesn't like that his actions and decisions are being challenged on talk radio.

Also, people with opposing views make for good radio - so why wouldn't the station want people who disagree with a host call in and make their points? Other elected officials do so, but they're not afraid of the tough questions that get asked. And even with the ban on Carty, himself, he could allow his administrators on air to provide any rebuttals - but he doesn't.

I expect we've not heard the last of the Fairness Doctrine issue - it's too much of an agenda item by the left. I'm certain Carty will provide his own version of events in his support of imposing free speech restrictions on talk radio hosts.

As an aside - much of what Carty said about WSPD could be said of our local daily paper - pushing their own agenda in the news portion of their coverage, rather than confining it to the editorial pages, and promoting policies and taxation that are detrimental to our success as a community. But Carty agrees with them most of the time, so he won't attack them the same way he attacks WSPD.

Carty concludes his speech with the 'I have good intentions' claim. He admits he's made mistakes, but he loves Toledo and never "attempted to advance anything but Toledo and its citizens." He also claims to know the real motivation for why TBT exists:

"It's all about their pursuit of something they each already have - power and wealth. But they want more! And they want to select a pliant Mayor who will hand them more of what they already have."

According to Carty, you can't have good intentions for the city if you disagree with him. Carty seems to believe that criticism of him equates to criticism of Toledo - and that's just not true. In fact, such association and lack of separation between the man and the city is a bit disturbing to me. What Carty fails to understand is that, despite his good intentions, he's made numerous bad decisions and his governance (coupled with votes by city council members) will have a long-term, detrimental impact on the city he loves so much. I will grant that Carty wants what's best for Toledo - he's just very wrong in his definition of 'best' and how to achieve it. And the business community, frustrated by policies and decisions which do not help create an environment conducive to growth, are no longer accepting the all-to-common excuse that 'it's just Carty being Carty.'

Finally, Carty tells the three men what to do:

A. Start caring about Toledo by investing in Toledo.
B. Move-in to Toledo, as I did 34 years ago.
C. Talk-up Toledo.
D. Give back to Toledo.

Well, they've all investing in Toledo - or tried to - and that's part of why they already care so much.

They don't need to live in Toledo when other communities offer them something Toledo can't. This part of the wrong thinking that permeates Toledo politicians. Rather than acknowledge that Toledo needs to change to attract people, especially the ones who've left, they just state people should move here and accept what's offered. By failing to recognize that we're getting killed by our competition (the surrounding areas and communities), politicians are not required to do anything different if the problem is the people leaving, rather than what the city is offering.

Talking up Toledo, the third dictate of the mayor, is hard to do when you've got so much you're trying to defend: kicking the Marines out of the city, taking over ambulance service, charging for fire response to accidents, red light and speed cameras to generate revenue, spending on pools and bike paths and flowers while ignoring his campaign promise to have 700 police officers, setting up a committee to review laws/regulations for business-friendliness then refusing to let them study the very first issue they ask about, threatening companies who want to leave Toledo (like Federal Express or Columbia Gas), and on and on and on... (Or you can read all the 'not business friendly' posts.)

As for giving back to Toledo - that implies Toledo has given these men something that needs to be returned. I reject this concept, especially as used by those on the left that you somehow owe allegiance to a city's politicians. Regardless of that point, these men do 'give back' through the United Way, Make-A-Wish and as employers hiring and paying people, and paying Toledo taxes - even though they live outside the city. And the whole issue of them not being able to vote is perhaps 'barking up a tree we don't want you to bark up,' as Carty has said in the past. The individuals who don't live in Toledo get no vote on how the taxes they pay through their payrolls or the property they own are spent. I recall some individuals actually having a revolution over that whole taxation without representation idea...

But a bigger point that's missed is that 'giving back to the community' has never been a criteria for political speech. Any person should be able to participate in the political process and it shouldn't matter whether or not they've lived up to someone else's expectations of 'giving back' in order to do so.

As I said on the radio last night, Carty made a politically strategic blunder by giving this speech disguised as a press conference. The last thing you want to do as a politician under attack is give more ammunition to your opponents - and Carty, true to form, did that in spades with the comments he made. He's elevated the recall effort by defending himself against it and by personally attacking the backers. Additionally, other than pursuing enforcement of a defunct regulation, he's got nothing else to use as ammunition - and he might even have more legal troubles than he currently has if Schlachter and McMahon really want to take exception to being called crooks and liars.

As local bar owner Bill Delaney explained, he's decided to get involved with the recall because of what Carty said in his speech. I can only wonder how many other people might have been similarly persuaded.

Update: Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle has the complete text of remarks here.

WSPD's Fred LeFebvre talks with Brian McMahon and Tom Schlachter here.

Brian McMahon refutes Carty's claims in this interview with Brian Wilson on WSPD.

3 comments:

Mad Jack said...

I will be requesting Congressman Henry Waxman of California...

When I read this I suddenly got a vivid mental picture of Carty trying to get Waxman on the phone. Just imagine the people in Waxman's office -

Waxman: Who is it?
Aide: We think it's that crazy Mayor from Toledo.
Waxman: Finkbinder?
Aide: No, Finkbiner. With an en. This is about the fifth time he's called.
Waxman: Hm. What do you s'pose he wants?
Aide: Something about the historical fairness law.
Waxman: Okay... Okay, tell him I'm out of town for a while. Tell him I'm in Mexico working on that disadvantaged Latino and gay migrant workers thing, and I won't be back for two or three months.

The real tragedy here is that Carty might actually believe that he's never done anything wrong, and that he's telling the truth about all this.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

The Mayor's unfamiliarity with facts and figures is legendary, even by his own admission. His "vicious, one-sided diatribes" (his words, not mine) are likewise the stuff of legend. Therefore none of what you detail is much of a surprise. What is a surprise to me however, is that I suddenly realize that Carty is not the paranoid wack job that I thought he was.

After all, you aren't paranoid if we are all out to get you ... :-)

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

Recall idea is stupid. Lets find a viable candidate to replace him. His term is up in 09 is it not?

And I will never understand why a radio station would ban Carty. The guy is a walking train wreck that produces great radio. Banning him for being himself is silly and is just as childish and petty as Carty is on most issues.

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