Below are excerpts of e-mail responses to the Dec. 29 “Twin Pack” questions (an abbreviated version of “Half a Six Pack” and “Six Pack to Go”). Each question has five responses from readers. (Sorry, but Russ serves as the “gatekeeper” — he determines the five answers to accompany each question.) In order to make this a reader-friendly feature, some lengthy answers submitted by readers may have been shortened.
1) Using the traditional A to F grading system, how did Jack Ford fare in his first year as Toledo's mayor? C+. The mayor is short on communication with his constituents. He needs more publicity about what he is doing and has accomplished. On the plus side, 2002 was his first year in a very difficult economic year. Nothing has fallen apart on his watch. Let's hope the mayor jacks up his communication and accomplishments in 2003. I would give Jack Ford a C. If Carty (Finkbeiner) were still mayor, Southwyck would have either one or two new anchors on the dotted line and already be under renovation, or Fallen Timbers would be in the process. Carty got a lot of flak, but we wouldn't have the Valentine Theatre, Erie Street Market, etc., without him. Jack Ford is a nice man but not a dynamic leader! Give him a C. One more year like this and he will be in the F column. Jack Ford gets a C. His only accomplishment, that comes to mind, is having not gotten in trouble. He has to do something to get a better grade. Successful handling of the financing problems of the Commodore Perry and the Hillcrest is one thing. C-. No major controversies, but I can't see that forward progress has been made. So Toledo hasn't embarrassed itself, but has there been any bright shining moments? Southwyck is still mired in depressed loneliness, orange barrels are up way too long, downtown is nowhere. Come on, Toledo, light a fire!!!
2) Knowing that I will be keeping a copy of your e-mail for verification purposes, what is your boldest prediction for 2003? I hate to say this and pray it won't come true. I hope I am wrong: The United States will again be the target of a terrorist attack that will make Sept. 11 look minor in comparison. The body count will be unthinkable. We will NOT go to war in Iraq. Too much to lose on both sides. I think this time Iraq's leaders know we will not stop at the border. I hope I am wrong but I fear a catastrophic terrorist event in '03. Nuclear, biological, or chemical. I do not think it will be in the U.S., though I wouldn't rule it out. And I don't think it can be prevented — by Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals. There are evil people who are hellbent on taking us back to the 7th century. Please save this prediction and show me I am wrong. Our national leader may be able to now pass tax cuts while increasing spending on a missile-defense system, and maybe a war in Iraq. Eventually, the economy will really tank as the housing market plays itself out and consumers stop spending. The phrase “It's the economy, stupid” will begin to bite the derriere of a Bush once again. All three “Axis of Evil” governments will fall this year. Saddam Hussein will be gone by Easter, Iran's oppressors will be pushed out by their own countrymen (with zero U.S. involvement), and North Korea's dictator will not be able to stand under the international sanctions that will be pushed by the Bush administration. And I want to include my wife Molly's prediction: Dow 9500.
Perhaps everyone involved in this slow death spiral has finally come to the conclusion that Southwyck Shopping Center should be put down, but no one wants to take the first step. The owners, the tenants, and the local government probably see the handwriting on the wall, but they don't want to say so for fear of being blamed. … It's just like a car that has 172,000 miles, a bad fuel pump, no muffler, suspicious blue smoke coming out of the tailpipe and no coolant in the system. You say, “Thank you for your years of faithful service but it's time to move on.” Junk the car and buy something else. The junked car is Southwyck and the new model is Franklin Park. Sorry, Mr. Lemmon, but I have a different view of Southwyck. You mentioned that most of the stores were empty, but just how many shoe stores and jewelry stores does one shopping mall need? I currently live in Orlando, Fla., but I was born in northwest Ohio and lived there until 1990. I just wanted to say that I was surprised today when I read your column. Not surprised because of what's happening to Southwyck but, to be honest with you, I was surprised that it was still “there.” I used to shop there quite often, maybe five or six times a year, back in the 1980s. But the last time I was there, I could tell it was on its way “down the tubes.” That was, I'm sure, more than 10 years ago. I suppose that's why I was surprised that it was still open. Well, as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever. It's too bad. Thanks, you brought back a lot of fond memories of Southwyck. I'm glad it was there when I was! Southwyck's owner has no one to blame but himself for the sad state of his mall. Toledo City Council can perform perfectly with fewer members!
While Toledo's mayor and city council continue to fiddle over Southwyck's “life-support system,” isn't it about time to take a serious look at that dismal stretch of Reynolds Road, from Dorr Street to the Ohio Turnpike? It is a planning abomination. We saw “Phantom of the Opera” last night. Wow! It was terrific. We had seen it probably six years ago in Toronto, and this performance was just as good, with all the great effects. It was great to see it sold out last night and I know ticket sales are hot for the entire run (Dec. 26 to Jan. 19). Visited the art museum last weekend. A Toledo gem. Jim Tressel is one heck of a coach. If John Cooper had been coaching Ohio State this season, the Buckeyes wouldn't have been in the Fiesta Bowl. The best of “Happy New Years” to you and your wife, Russ. It's been fun “spending” Sundays with you this year.