Wednesday, November 26, 2003

John Ford Explains It All For You

State Senator and perennial Memphis embarassment John Ford is once again showing his true colors. It's not enough that he waves guns at and makes threats to City utility employees who are unlucky enough to cross him. Nor that he's legend for speeding at up to 90mph along I-40 between Memphis and Nashville, again armed and willing to threaten State Troopers who have the misfortune to think that they should apply traffic laws to him. Nor that his complex marital problems seem to end up in local courts on a clockwork basis. Or even that, when the local child care scandal touched his interests, he alone was able to sit in on closed meetings with the Governor and State regulators.

This time, Nashville's Phil Williams of News Channel 5, WTVF, did an investigation of abuse of State-paid FedEx shipping accounts used by legislators. He found that:
The Memphis Democrat has spent almost $2,200 in the past year to overnight packages by FedEx. That compares to $18,000 spent a year for all 132 members of the legislature.
That's right, the average was $136 and he managed $2200. It gets better:
Billing records show that Ford's office has allowed his ex-wife Tamara Mitchell Ford to repeatedly use the state's FedEx account. Included are more than a dozen overnight packages she shipped at state expense to her family in South Carolina.

And that's not all. Taxpayers also paid for her to FedEx packages to court officials in Alabama where she faced DUI charges, packages to a resort in Orlando, even to overnight her credit card payments to American Express....

The senator himself also keeps the FedEx trucks running, overnighting packages to lots of constituents named Ford: Joseph Ford, Kemba Ford, Michael Ford, Michelle Ford, Maxine Ford.
When called and questioned, Ford had this to say:
"Don't call me today, tomorrow or ever -- you understand?" Ford says. "Don't call me back. If you do, I'm going to consider it harassment and file charges against you."
Classic Ford threat and bluster. During their investigation of the child care scandal mentioned above, the Commercial Appeal's Mark Perrusquia attempted an interview that failed with such spectacular obscenity and threats they printed the entire thing for their readers.

Memphis television station Channel Five WMC took up the story today and even managed an on-camera interview with Ford. It's more classic Ford:
"Once you're elected, it becomes part of your salary package. It's no longer so called vis-à-vis taxpayer dollars.... The fact that I may send something to a relative. They're my constituents also.... When I get something from Neiman Marcus.... Generally, it was something I sent back. They sent the wrong thing. Put a fed-ex and send it right back."

Why not use a personal fed-ex account?

"This is my personal account. I can do that."

Why rush a package back though? Why not send it regular..?

"Because I wanted to. That's my prerogative.... By the way, who's to say that J-Crew and Neiman Marcus was personal? I haven't told you that. Well was it? I'm not going to answer that question."
It's like a Saturday Night Live skit. From the present unfunny era.

John Ford is everything we should fear in an elected official. He uses the office for personal enrichment and sees it as "his" office, not a public trust. He uses the power and connections of his office for himself and his friends. His sense of entitlement is beyond boggling.

To the rest of Tennessee, I can only tell you that many of us in Memphis, though obviously not most or he wouldn't be re-elected, are deeply ashamed of this man. Please forgive us.

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