Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why Finkbeiner thinks he can withhold public records

It should come as no surprise to The Blade that Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is withholding a public record detailing the reorganization plans for the Police Department. They even did an editorial on the subject - the same day of the news coverage rather than a day or two later as is their normal practice.

This has been a standard of the Finkbeiner administration for several years now.

Despite a prior reputation of aggressiveness on the issue of public records, The Blade was strangely silent when it came to coverage of citizens who tried repeatedly to gain information from the city.

Whether it was the Erie Street Market, red light cameras (here and here), the number of vacant but funded positions, or more on the Erie Street Market, I and others have tried to get public records from the city - and most of these efforts got little or no coverage from the daily paper.

But I didn't expect them to. You see, The Blade has supported the red light cameras and the Erie Street Market, so why would they provide any coverage of citizens who were questioning the spending or efficacy of these pet projects?

But the police reorganization is important to them, and they were the ones being refused requested documents this time around.

Last night, an emailer to Eye On Toledo took exception to a caller who said Carty was the worst thing that had ever happened to Toledo. He wrote:

"I disagree with the last caller.

Carty has been and is a blight on this city, but he’s not the number one offender. That honor goes to JRB (John Robinson Block, publisher) and the editorial board at the Blade. Carty, if left to his own devises, is not bright enough to cause serious harm. The same can be said of Young Ben (Konop, Lucas County Commissioner). What makes these buffoons dangerous is the support and cover they get from the local paper. The list of problems with Toledo and Lucas County can all be traced back to the agenda pushed by the Blade. Commodore Perry, Hillcrest, Steam Plant, Erie St. Market, the ambulances, tow lots, etc, etc, etc, are all ideas first brought forth and championed by the Blade. Carty and Ben are just the most recent incarnations of the Blade's puppets.

Getting rid of Carty will help, but as long as that building on the Left Side of Superior is still calling the shots, Toledo will never be prosperous."

When the area's (supposed) primary 'watchdog' on public officials ignores the practice of refusing to release, in a timely manner and according to law, records that are public, it emboldens those officials to continue the practice, as they see no negative consequences from doing so.

In their editorial, they state:

"Refusing to release a clearly public record of such import to the citizens of Toledo at this crucial point in the city’s history is yet another example of the arrogance and imperiousness Mr. Finkbeiner has shown over the years that has caused citizens to line up to sign recall petitions."

Where was this opinion on all the other refusals to release public records?

It didn't exist and it was the lack of holding such officials accountable that caused them to think they could continue. Of course, The Blade now finds itself on the receiving end of what has become a pattern of behavior and so they're making it a major news story.

If they'd paid a bit more attention to the difficulties in getting public records in the past, they wouldn't be having this issue today.

7 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

Hmm, And here I thought that WSPD-1370 was Toledo's primary 'watchdog' on public officials...

The Blah, actually represents the absentee puppet master's (JRB's) long-standing personal agendas alive and festering.

Maggie Thurber said...

Well, Hooda - you know how nature abhors a vacuum...LOL.

WSPD has become a watchdog but that role has traditionally belonged to newspapers, and they're failing at it which has also contributed to their decline.

Roman said...

This clear bias is just one more nail in the coffin of the "dinosaur" media. The local TV stations, for the most part have too much "fluff" in their coverage, very little hard news, almost nothing critical of local government, nothing critical of other media. If it were not for talk radio, the internet and few other outlets, one of America's Newspapers would be just another house organ for the strong editor form of government!

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

What I find interesting here is the tone of the editorial. Who would believe The Blade taking the editorial position that our esteemed Mayor exhibits both, "arrogance and imperiousness".

Evidently Carty's pandering to JRB over the years is no longer of any account. The Blade has evidently decided to change horses, and Carty is now to be thrown under the bus.

navyvet said...

No matter what..who..when..where..
or why...

Cartea does what he wants. He knows what is best for all. In his own mind.

Mad Jack said...

From Maggie: WSPD has become a watchdog but that role has traditionally belonged to newspapers, and they're failing at it which has also contributed to their decline.Which should actually have been: that role [of watchdog] has traditionally belonged to newspapers, and they're failingTV has a great appeal to those who prefer not to read. Opinion oriented people have the Internet blogs as a pseudo-news source, as blog owners are not journalists and are not responsible to print the truth.

Where does that leave the rest of us? More on topic, if a public office or official refuses to allow access to public records, what can be done about it, and how is the official or office reprimanded or punished for their behavior?

Maggie Thurber said...

More on topic, if a public office or official refuses to allow access to public records, what can be done about it, and how is the official or office reprimanded or punished for their behavior?In Ohio, the ORC has procedures and penalties, but it requires a mandamus lawsuit and a court to order both the production of the records and the 'payment of fees' as it's not called a fine.

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