Thursday, August 28, 2008

Suspensions without pay recommend for Erie Street Market spending

According to numerous media reports, three City of Toledo administrators are facing possible discipline over the spending for renovations at the Erie Street Market.

Chief of Staff Robert Reinbolt is recommending five days without pay for Andrew Ferrara, a city economic development specialist; three days without pay for Paul Ringlein, the city's facilities administrator; and one day without pay for Ken Neidert, commissioner of the division of fleet and facility operations.

The charges are 1) failing to communicate (with the mayor, chief of staff, other superiors, and city council about the type of work and the use of multiple subcontractors for less than $10,000 each) and 2) failure to use proper procedures for disbursing city funds, maintaining proper control of the costs, and documenting the scope of work. There will be a hearing for these administrators and I'll be watching to see if they just accept the responsibility or if they offer any defense.

Interestingly, in emails made public during the whole fiasco, there are plenty of references about expediting payments to keep contractor and promoter Robert Croak from complaining to the mayor. So I can only wonder why it is that these employees had the impression they needed to skirt the rules to keep both the promoter and mayor happy? Perhaps the problem isn't that these individuals didn't follow the proper procedures, but that the mayor engenders such behavior among his subordinates?

The atmosphere created by Carty Finkbeiner is not one of responsibility and accountability - or even one of trust and competence. Don't get me wrong, there are excellent people in Toledo's city government who are responsible, accountable, competent and deserving of trust.

Carty's only 'job' was a football coach and he uses the same approach and governance as he used with his players. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that city employees are professionals, not high school or college students, and should not be treated as children on a playing field. The mayor does not encourage people to disagree with him or present alternative views. Despite saying otherwise, he gives the impression that his opinion is all that matters. Employees walk on pins and needles to avoid experiencing his wrath, deserved or not. As a result, if they think Carty wants something, they make it happen in any way possible. To do otherwise would risk their jobs and that's not something most can afford to do, especially in Toledo's economy.

So in their effort to accommodate the boss's instructions, they didn't do all they should. That is their fault and they deserve part of the blame. But the use of discipline is not supposed to be 'penalty,' rather it should be modification of behavior, especially with individuals who've not had previous problems following the rules and procedures.

If you truly want to change the behavior that led to this error, you need to change the way the mayor manages. It's his management and personality that have caused this environment and it is the only change that will effectively prevent such problems in the future. Sadly, the person who needs the modification in behavior the most thinks he's done no wrong and that offering up the heads of his subordinates (figuratively, though some would say Carty's capable of doing so literally) will be the end of the issue.

Only 490 days until his term is over.


Tim Higgins said...


Let's give credit where credit is due. The only thing that the Finkbeiner administration distributes better than checks for amounts less than $10,000 is blame.

We all should know by now that no one acts in this administration without the specific knowledge and instructions of our "Strong Mayor". Didn't he just say that it was he and not Council who would make decisions on vendors?

Roman said...

This is so transparent. These people, are clearly taking the blame for the Mayor. Finkbiener simply cannot be trusted!

navyvet said...

Carty is lower than a snake's belly in a wagon wheel rut....and he likes it.....

Robin said...

It's amazing that anyone wants to work for the city under Carty's administration. In all honesty, there isn't enough money in the world for me to put up with that kind of BS.

Carty, you need to suck it up and be a man. Take responsibility, instead of using your whipping boys.

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