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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

FINKLE, HERMAN - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

FINKLE, HERMAN (Apr. 1891-Oct. 1952), "Little Napoleon of Ward 12," was city councilman for 35 consecutive years and considered a ruthless, corrupt sergeant of the Republican machine. By his death he was recognized as a most knowledgeable and able councilman. Born in Detroit, Mich., son of Samuel and Sara Epstein Finkle, he moved at age 11 to Cleveland, graduating from Cleveland Law School in 1913. Finkle became law partner and brother-in-law to Republican organization "Czar" HARRY BERNSTEIN†, and was the protege of boss MAURICE MASCHKE†. In 1917, Finkle ran for council in his 12th ward, easily winning with Republican machine support, which helped him get reelected 18 times. In 1921, Finkle became Republican floor leader, holding that position until the Democrats took over city hall in 1932. Finkle was associated with land, patronage, and financial scandals, and several unsuccessful attempts were made by the to oust him from council.

Finkle's behavior seemed to change soon after the death of his only daughter, Betty Jane, in the mid-1930s. His interests extended to city-wide problems such as street lighting, establishing health centers, mass transportation, airport development, and minority-rights issues. As minority leader of the council, he was able successfully to pass legislation. Finkle's expertise was in city finances, and he served many years as chairman of the powerful finance committee. By the 1940s, many, including the Citizens League, lauded Finkle as a respectable political leader. He declined to run for mayor several times, and was still a member of council at the time of his death.

He married Delia Gold on 20 June 1917. Finkle was buried in Mayfield Cemetery.

Herman Finkle Vertical File, WRHS.

Last Modified: 04 Mar 1998 04:15:24 PM

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