Mayor’s relative not a special hire, city declares

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

One of the city of Toledo’s newest employees is Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s brother-in-law, but the mayor and members of his administration contend the hiring received no special attention.

Lee Youster, 41, brother of Amy Finkbeiner, the mayor’s wife, began work Feb. 5 as a supervisor in the recreation department. He is being paid $35,226 a year and will coordinate recreation programs under Recreation Commissioner Mary Dixon’s guidance.

“I wanted to move back to the area so my two sons could be closer to their family,” Mr. Youster said. “I don’t even know that Carty ever knew I was applying. I didn’t call him up and say, `Hey, Carty.’ I wouldn’t go up to him and ask him for a favor like that.”

The mayor said he knew Mr. Youster was interested, but his brother-in-law was hired because he was the right man for the job. “He got the job because he’s worked for four major universities … and because he’s eminently well-qualified for the job. He’ll be a great addition to the department of recreation team,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Theresa Gabriel, the city’s acting director of parks, recreation, and forestry, said Mr. Youster followed the standard procedures in applying for the job.

“There’s been nothing underhanded,” she said. “I have a clean conscience about this, no matter whose brother-in-law he is.”

For the last nine years, Mr. Youster has been a strength coach at Oklahoma State University, where he dealt with athletes in all sports other than football. Before that, he had held similar positions at the universities of Kentucky, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.

He has a degree in health, physical education, and recreation from South Dakota’s Yankton College.

He applied for the job when it became vacant in September with the resignation of Marge Ratasky, who became director of the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark. The city human resources department forwarded Mr. Youster’s name and one other to park administrators as eligible candidates.

On Jan. 7, the two candidates were interviewed by two parks, recreation, and forestry department employees and a Toledo Public Schools representative. They rated Mr. Youster the best candidate, Ms. Gabriel said, and he was hired Jan. 15.

Mr. Youster said one of his first goals will be to create recreation programs to help disabled children in Toledo.