Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Akron votes today on mayoral recall, ancient feud

Akron voters will decide today whether to recall longtime mayor Don Plusquellic -- the Sexiest Politician in Greater Cleveland, as his fans call him, or "King Don," as the haters say.

The recall leaders accuse Plusquellic of all sorts of tyrannical behavior, but don't have one specific explosive charge of abuse of office. They just don't like the guy. The pro-Plusquellic faction says he's Akron's indispensable man.

I have no opinion about this fight, except that I think it's cool that a recall committee includes a college student known only as "Miss Tia" and is using a "fake Bass Pro deal" as ammo.

Brent Larkin, who retired as editorial page editor of the Plain Dealer a few weeks ago, got back in the game with a reported commentary in the Sunday paper. He knocked on doors in a swing neighborhood of the city and proclaimed Plusquellic Ohio's best big-city mayor (with a sideswipe at Frank Jackson about Eaton leaving Cleveland).

Plusquellic's archenemy, Warner Mendenhall, is masterminding the recall campaign. The two men have been at war for about 15 years now. This is the climactic battle.

Reading about it takes me back to 2000, my first year in town, when I interviewed both men for a story about an Akron ballot proposal. Mendenhall and his allies claimed the mayor ruled Akron through fear.

"We beat them before, and we'll beat them again," Plusquellic replied. "I'm not going to stand for the crazies taking over the city, if I can help it."

Yeah, I'd say they don't like each other.

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