McCloskey claims Blade, Szollosi pressured decisionWritten by Matt Zapotosky | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Embattled District 3 councilman Bob McCloskey said another councilman last week offered him an easy but unethical way to avoid negative media coverage from The Blade
The offer: support at-large councilman Frank Szollosi for the council presidency, and The Blade would back off, McCloskey said.
”I got a call from Mr. Szollosi stating that if I would support him, ’our friends at The Blade’ would take the heat off me,” McCloskey said. McCloskey, who recently declared his own candidacy for council president, has been the subject of several articles and editorials in The Blade detailing two pending lawsuits in which he is named a defendant.
One suit claims McCloskey is violating city term-limit laws by giving up his District 3 council seat for an at-large one — extending his council service by two years. The other suit claims McCloskey accepted an ”extraction payment” of $100,000 as a condition of his support for an East Toledo re-zoning issue, which ultimately failed.
Szollosi emphatically denied McCloskey’s allegations and called McCloskey’s decision to enter the council president race ”selfish.”
”No, I never said that to him; that’s not true,” Szollosi said. ”I wouldn’t support him for council president … beside the fact that I think there are other candidates — including myself — some of things that he’s involved in at this point would just create too big of a distraction for moving forward.”
Szollosi said he has had conversations with McCloskey asking for his support and has had conversations with The Blade, but he never told McCloskey his support would cause The Blade to stop reporting on his lawsuits.
Szollosi declined to say whether he has talked to The Blade about McCloskey in general, but he said the issue of taking pressure off McCloskey has never been the subject of a conversation with The Blade.
”I’m going to leave my personal conversations with The Blade just that,” Szollosi said. ”I speak to a lot of people about city business and colleagues and about decisions that I make. Have we had conversations about Bob? Well, I’ve had conversations with a lot of people about a lot of things.”
Tom Walton, vice president and editor of The Blade, also said conversations about discontinuing coverage of McCloskey never took place.
”No, the answer is no, there was never any such conversation as far as I’m aware of, and I’m kind of offended by the insinuation,” he said.
McCloskey said his conversation with Szollosi took place by phone Wednesday of last week, the week of Dec. 4.
Szollosi said he has had phone conversations with McCloskey, but he did not ask for McCloskey’s support by phone. He said when he asked for McCloskey’s support, he did so in person.
McCloskey told Toledo Free Press ”I will take a lie detector test anytime” to prove he is telling the truth about the phone conversation.