Dear Mayor Jack Ford,
Your recent remarks tell me we need to talk, though I always figured a longtime pol like you would have, if not a sense of humor, at least much tougher skin.
Maybe not. So let me ease your mind about how and why you pop up in this column. Yes, I sometimes mention your political star has turned more tin than silver, more dull than shiny. I was amused by the references you made to me in your State of the City speech and assumed you were amused too. But when I saw the latest Toledo Journal, I realized you aren't amused. You're "irritated" with me.
"●'It's even personal, in a way,' he said about Ms. de Boer's columns."
Personally, I'm rather fond of Carty Finkbeiner - and I was MUCH harder on him as mayor than I've EVER been on you. Personal? Oh, puleez.
You know full well I was quick to cheerlead for you. Or did you forget how, after your first post-election news conference, I said it was "oddly refreshing not to automatically smirk as I heard the man who will be the city's first black mayor state his belief that, yes, one of the things a mayor can do is 'give hope.'●"
But if your mayoral standing suffers from a failure to live up to high expectations you yourself set, don't point fingers at me. You're the one who said:
"I ran on the [platform] of transformation. I said, 'Look, if I'm just going to be another mayor, I can just stay in as [statehouse] minority leader and run my string out.'●"
I've long said (and written) that you're one of the brightest, best-read, most intellectually curious politicians I've ever met - which makes it even more curious why you keep these traits so well-hidden.
If I've questioned your political style, it's because I listened as many Toledoans beat me to it. I never wrote a grumble-about-Jack column until a chorus of voices - including a number of your biggest supporters; trust me, you'd be surprised - grew loud enough to persuade me that, no, it wasn't just me: Lots of people thought Mayor Ford was sputtering.
By your own admission, you are a low-profile guy. Great news for your blood pressure, but a major handicap for your re-election campaign. Personal? C'mon - most politicians need costly polls to mine the kind of voter feedback I deliver to you free. You couldn't possibly imagine I cheer for Carty to win back the helm of Toledo, do you?!
Oh, and while I've got your attention, please set some of your supporters straight about that fried-bologna sandwich business. A letter in Sojourner's Truth, signed by "members of Toledo's African-American community," accuses me of racism.
They feel this way largely because, in a recent satirical column about stylistic differences between you and Carty, I had you order that downscale sandwich over turkey. But remember? Your first day as mayor?
We had a long interview in your office. You were kind enough to order in sandwiches: turkey for me, fried bologna for you. I kidded you about this (you were The Health Mayor then, remember?) and later teased you about it in a column.
I even heard you, during a subsequent public appearance, poke fun at yourself for liking fried bologna. Then again, this all happened back when you still had a sense of humor.