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Published: Wednesday, 7/2/2003

Ford backs Chabler over questioning of port board actions

Mayor Jack Ford yesterday defended Jerry Chabler's position on the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors against a fellow board member's call for his resignation.

Mr. Ford said that Mr. Chabler has the right to question board operations - even if that means calling for a city takeover of Toledo Express Airport, something the mayor has not endorsed.

In a June 20 letter to his fellow board members, Daniel Smith blasted Mr. Chabler's “despicable conduct” in suggesting that the port authority examine returning operation of the airport to the City of Toledo. The city owns the land and leases the airport to the port authority for $1 a year. Mr. Smith said Mr. Chabler should “strongly consider” resigning.

Mr. Ford, responding to an editorial on a radio station that commended Mr. Smith's position, said he doesn't always agree with Mr. Chabler, noting that two men “are clearly in two different political camps.” But, the mayor said, “his questioning of the operations [of the port authority] is a legitimate role for board members to do, particularly a board like this that's in the public arena.”

“The idea that the airport should be given back to the city requires a lot of thought and due diligence on our part,” Mr. Ford said.

“He can say it, it can be looked at, and it can be dismissed. I don't think any board member should be muzzled just because they ask some tough questions.”

Mr. Chabler was appointed to an unfinished term on the board by then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner in 1999, and reappointed to a four-year term in 2001.

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