In Memoriam

. February 10, 2015.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: This is a political satire column.

As such, we take to this page every two weeks to skewer the powerful and the well-connected.  We work to connect the dots and sound the call that the
Emperor has, in fact, no clothes.

We try to provide equal opportunity in our acerbic bombast.  We have pointed out the foibles and hypocrisies of every recent Toledo Mayor, plus most members of Toledo City Council and the Board of Education, and others in between.  We are sometimes serious, sometimes downright bawdy, but hopefully never uninteresting. We have poked fun at Carty Finkbeiner’s name and Mike Bell’s penchant for the night life.  And we have made regular mention of D. Michael Collins’ drab wardrobe and even drabber public personality.

But all of it, every biting nickname, each carefully selected insult, all the finger wagging and tongue lashings and caustic barbs were intended in the frame of the raison d’être of the column. 
Political satire.  Politicians ask for it when they take on the role.  And it is a healthy cathartic of democracy to remind us all that, after the pomp and circumstance is stripped away, the powerful and the influential are just people, too. 

This is a column about humans in their social roles.  It’s about the absurdity of the public stance and posturing, the strengths and weaknesses of the human animals in positions of power—plus a pinch of social commentary and maybe a bit of public policy from the streets, shouted loud enough to be heard on the upper floors of the government buildings.

Nothing printed here is ever intended to be personal.

Rest in peace, Mike

It is with that in mind that we join the entire Toledo community in mourning the passing of Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Sure, we spent the past year making fun of him in his role as Mayor.  But let’s be honest.  It’s a tough job to ride herd on an 800-pound lumbering
behemoth like the bloated bureaucracy of a mid-size American city.  It has broken the backs of men as energetic as Carty and as beloved as Mike Bell.  It should come as no surprise that it was a challenge to Mike Collins.  It is a challenge to anyone, and most of us would likely run away with our tails between our legs.

Not so Mike Collins.  He took to the helm of our beloved Frogopolis with his characteristic grit and determination.  Nothing flashy, just guts and hard work.  He stayed true to his life story, true to the legacy of the big-hearted Irishman, the jarhead who cared deeply about his country, the cop who loved his hometown, the union head who believed in the value and dignity of work.  

Mike was never pretentious, but also never smaller than the room.  To the contrary, he was always just the right size.  And he told you not to call him by some honorific.  He was and shall always be, simply, Mike.

If things had turned out differently on the First of February we would probably be poking a few holes in the politician right now.  But it would be tough to poke holes in Mike Collins the man, the Libbey Cowboy, the Toledoan through and through.

Because Mike Collins was nothing if not a quintessential Toledoan.  With all the blue-collar rough-and-tumble, the working-class affinity for the common people that comes with being from the banks of the Muddy Maumee.

And he truly, deeply cared.  Yeah, it was a political slogan, that Kelly-green “Collins Cares.”  Maybe it’s hard for the administrative leader of nearly 3,000 city employees to directly illustrate the depth of his caring.  It was hard for each of us to see that Collins the Mayor cared on a daily basis.

And above all, thanks

Mike Collins the man wore his heart on his sleeve when it came to caring about Toledo, though.  Carty got all fired up when Toledo won empty accolades.  In contrast, it pained Mike Collins in a deeply personal way when things went wrong.  When two Toledo firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty, it hurt him like they were his own sons.  When a half-million people couldn’t drink Toledo’s water, he made fighting phosphorous runoff a personal crusade.  When it was hinted that the Jeep Wrangler might no longer be produced in Toledo, he made it his personal mission to change the Chrysler CEO’s mind.

And so on February First, he stepped humbly to a podium in what no one knew were the last hours of his life and warned Toledo of an impending brutal snowstorm.  He asked Toledoans to help each other through the crisis, to illustrate what a compassionate community we are.

Two hours later, two compassionate Toledoans answered that call.  They took pause in their busy Sunday to try to save Mike Collins’ life.  It is perhaps the most fitting tribute to the genuine compassion of Mike Collins the man, that a couple average work-a-day Toledoans answered the call to heroism—just like Mike Collins answered the call in a career of sacrifice to the public good. 

So here’s to the giving heart and joyful soul of Mike Collins.  May we emulate his example of selflessness and service.  May we thank him and his memory for all that he gave.  And let this be his epitaph.  A life lived well.

For all of us.