BY RON WILLIAMS
The Packet received a letter with harsh words about Columbus Mayor Robert Smith. The Packet doesn’t print letters that aren’t signed by the person writing it. I agree with that reasoning. It isn’t fair to make allegations against anyone unless you’re willing to sign your name to it (especially so close to an election). When I write something in this publication, you’ll notice that my name is always attached to it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re gonna write it, you need to sign your name to back it up.
With all of that said, readers of The Packet also know if I know something to be true, I’ll write about it. I’ve long maintained (along with many others) that Robert Smith is a bully. I’ve known him and members of his family for about 45 years. Up until about a year ago, I’ve maintained a cordial relationship with him. Now, he walks by me without speaking. And that’s OK with me. I care not whether someone likes me or not. I’ve been known to beat him up (so to speak) in print and he isn’t fond of that. And I’ll not back down from any of that. I’m not out to win favor with elected officials or anyone else that needs a printed smack in the head from time to time. But it’s also important to remain fair.
So I’d like to discuss some of the points brought out in this letter. (Signed only as ‘Wild Turkey’. That’s not what we meant about signing a letter)
The letter writer asserts that Mayor Smith “beats up mentally retarded helpless people and laughs about it! (I’m not aware of any such thing and if it’s so, then the letter writer won’t mind signing their name to such a claim. RW)
The letter writer further states that, “we need a mayor who respects all citizens and refuse to abuse his power as a city leader.” (That could probably be alleged about any and all municipality mayors in this state. Not saying they don’t respect citizens or abuse their powers, just that it would likely be alleged about anyone. It’s a matter of speculation. RW)
Another opinion from the letter writer states, “we need a mayor who is a law abiding citizen, not an Al Capone gangster who attacks, beats, strangles and terrorizes people” (Now this is where I started losing interest! That is quite dramatic, there. Quite a bit to the extreme. RW)
“We don’t need a mayor who has no respect for police officers, highway patrol officers or other city and state employees.” (The letter writer has a legitimate complaint, here. The reference to “highway patrol officers” likely stems from an incident several months back where Robert Smith reportedly called local judges and highway patrol commanders seeking help for one of his troubled sons. When the highway patrol commander explained that he couldn’t help, Mayor Smith reportedly told him that the highway patrol needed to “stay the hell out of Columbus.” RW)
Again…such an episode as that to many Columbus residents is being a bully. To others, it’s “standing up to The Man!”
But some will be surprised to know (and others will not) that Robert Smith has become quite powerful. Many people actually ‘like’ the way he handles things with an iron fist. They ‘like’ the fact that he’s someone who likes to maintain control. They ‘like’ the fact that’s he’s a micro-managing mayor who has a hand in everything involving Columbus. They ‘like’ the fact that he ‘meddles’ into all city affairs. They believe that’s what a mayor is supposed to do! In other words…Robert Smith is not “standing up to ‘The Man!’ Robert Smith is ‘The Man!’
To many, Mayor Robert Smith has done much for the city of Columbus. He has certainly (with a lot of help) cleaned up and beautified parts of it. But just like sweeping dirt into a corner where people can’t see it, there are parts of it out-of-site that remain in dilapidated conditions. If you keep sweeping dirt under the rug, it’ll eventually show its ugly bulge.
All of this means nothing come June 4th. Regardless what I say, this letter writer says…or any other media says…it is what it is! Regardless the scuttlebutt, regardless the perception, regardless the bullying, regardless the speculation, regardless the allegations, the lies, the truth or even the half-truth’s, June 4th will tell the tale.
It’ll be Robert Smith still in control come June 5 and beyond.
Remembering Mike Pratt
I was as shocked as anyone to hear about the death of Mike Pratt. Mike was a great guy. A great father. He was a good man. He was always there, and I mean ALWAYS, when you needed him. He was a work-a-holic! If someone needed something done involving public works in Columbus, Pratt got the job done. And he tried real hard to avoid the politics that came with his job. But, in his position, that wasn’t always possible.
We’ll all miss Mike Pratt.
Ron Williams is a staff writer for The Columbus Packet. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed in Ron Williams’ columns are the author’s and are not those of The Columbus Packet or Packet Media, LLC.0