Monday, January 05, 2009

Finkbeiner's state of the city address

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner will give his state of the city address today to the Toledo Rotary Club. The primary audience at this speech is business. Tomorrow night, he'll give the address to the public.

I could go on about the whole two speeches and the segregation of our community, but I'd rather focus on the content.

A state of the city should cover the good and bad that is going on inside the borders. But as it is given by a politician, it also needs to address what the candidate promised to do to better the conditions of the city and give an accounting of the progress the elected official has made toward those promises.

Quite some time ago, I saved a listing of Carty's promises from his campaign website. I'm including them here so you can be an objective judge of his performance, based upon what he said he would do. As you read the news coverage of his speech - and his actual speech if made available - you can compare it to his goals and make your own decision on the state of Toledo.

"I will outline our mission and agenda:

Our mission

The Finkbeiner administration will unite and promote, in every way possible, a clean, green, and safe city with vibrant colors everywhere – a city that inspires our citizens to improve our neighborhoods, educate our children and create jobs that offer a future in their hometown.

To accomplish our mission, we will:

1. Work with the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Medical University of Ohio and Owens Community College to develop a “technology corridor,” creating the jobs of the future.

2. Develop the marina-housing-restaurant-entertainment project on the east side of the river that voters approved in September, 2001. The Marina District project will act as a complement to The Docks, which we built in 1995.

3. Seek private-sector developers to build a new sports arena in the city.

4. Meet with the ownership of Southwyck Mall to forge a compact leading to a revitalized mall in 365 days.

5. Meet with the ownership and property owners in the Westgate-Cricket West district to define the future redevelopment of this area.

6. Nurture small-business development, and establish a 25-person business advisory council, consisting of our best and brightest small-business leaders, to advise the administration on how it can help business develop in our region and eliminate government obstacles. This advisory council will review council legislation passed during the last 25 years, and we will rescind any laws that have hampered job creation.

7. Work with Ann Arbor and Detroit public and private leaders to create an automotive R&D corridor linking our cities. The purpose – job creation.

8. Fill the vacancies and voids in the Central Business District with new entrepreneurs and businesses, using tax breaks and incentives..

9. Encourage and promote a regional government to include, city, county and suburban governments all under one roof, in as many ways as possible.

10. Establish a grass-roots neighborhood program, in which every neighborhood has representation in City Hall and will be involved in decisions impacting them. This will be modeled after the Dayton program.

11. Develop a “neighborhood pride” program to encourage home ownership, civic pride and urban beautification. This program will include neighborhood competition to honor outstanding efforts to improve properties.

12. Restore the urban beautification program on main streets and in city parks while expanding these efforts into neighborhoods. We will raise $250,000 annually from the private sector to accomplish this.

13. Revitalize the urban-blight program, and return the demolition program for blighted housing to 300 demolitions annually.

14. Commit to hiring more police officers, so Toledo will no longer have the fewest police per 1,000 residents of any major city in Ohio.

15. Will actively and personally work to restore the Erie Street Market as a centerpiece of downtown revitalization.

16. Implement a city Gateway project that will utilize the resources of the city as well as the private sector to improve the appearance of the main entrances to the city.

17. Increase emphasis on repairing potholes more swiftly and permanently.

18. Commit to prioritize city Capital Improvement dollars to resurface city streets, with a target of 40 miles per year.

19. Commit to return every phone call to citizens within 24 business hours, and respond to specific concerns within 7 business days.

20. Establish monthly “Meet the Mayor” nights that will rotate locations throughout the city.

21. Establish a City Hall mentoring program that will pair city officials with young people seeking such guidance.

22. Establish privately funded, summer youth-development programs in city parks.

23. Develop a summer-job program for high school students, working with the Chamber of Commerce.

24. Seek commitments from our local companies to hire college students as “interns” during the summer months.

25. Develop job training and retraining programs for the unemployed and underemployed while working with corporations, labor unions and our universities.

26. Work with public and private school leaders to assure that new and/or improved academic campuses become the stimulus that creates family oriented neighborhood living opportunities around the academic setting.

27. Encourage adaptive reuse of vacated school properties into neighborhood community centers.

28. Monitor the levy requests of TPS to assess that the taxpayer is getting his money’s worth from their product.

29. Work with county officials, local civic leaders and regional organizations to seek ways to share resources, reduce costs and improve economic conditions in Northwest Ohio to the benefit of all.

30. Pursue further discussions on establishing a regional water/sewer authority to serve our area while ensuring Toledo residents a reasonable return on their infrastructure investments.

31. Will appoint a health and fitness honorary chairperson to promote a “healthier lifestyle” in Toledo.

32. Establish a courageous and bold committee to define how utility rates can be reduced in Northwest Ohio.

33. Restore the minority health commission to improve the life expectancy and general health of those impacted.

34. Seek “loaned leaders” from the business and union sectors to seek ways to reduce city costs and implement modern systems to promote increased productivity.


Toledo needs a leader who not only hears, but listens to, the voices echoing throughout the city. Toledo needs a leader who not only sees problems of joblessness and lost vision, but sees solutions involving the creation of jobs and growth. Toledo needs a leader who will awaken this city to the great dreams that helped turn this once-stagnant swamp into a jewel set along both shores of the Maumee River. And Toledo needs a pro-jobs, pro-growth, pro-Toledo citizenry. It is a time for citizen/heroes. It is a time for each and every Toledoan to take up the cause of building a better, stronger Toledo. With every Toledoan’s help in this endeavor, I seek to be your Mayor – your leader."

Now, you may decide that some of these goals or promises are not what a mayor should be doing - so you may be glad Carty's hasn't accomplished these things. But when evaluating his performance, we need to judge him by what he said he was going to do - not by what the private sector has done, even in spite of him.


Carol said...

I remember that list - and I remember hearing him say those things in my presence.

Carty's failure to achieve those goals is, IMO, that he CAN'T achieve those things as he's way too busy having to control every aspect of city/county/state government. Even if only in his mind.

Unfortunately, Carty's attitude/personality is parallel to a Napoleon Complex. And that's not healthy for Toledo.

Tim Higgins said...


They say that you only have to hit .300 to get into the Hall of Fame. Sorry Carty.

The speeches over the next couple of days however, ought to be instructive examples of creative fiction, and probably a better Fractured Fairy Tale than any of those that I have ever written.

Expect these one act plays to be performed with spirit, with enthusiasm, and with volume; as the city's cheerleader attempts to rally a crowd that has already left the stadium.

Maggie Thurber said...

"...the city's cheerleader attempts to rally a crowd that has already left the stadium."

That's really good!

Tim Higgins said...


My hope is that you will receive just recognition for the work that you you do. It is likewise an expression of gratitude for what any of those reading these postings contribute to the discussion get to say in your (and our) behalf.

None said...


MUO hasn't existed for 2 and a half years now. Small point, but spread the word.

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