Nader sends soapy present to wash out mayor’s mouth

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Some people think Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s mouth needs to be washed out with soap. Now he’s got the means to do the job.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader gave Mr. Finkbeiner an early Christmas present yesterday: a bar of soap to protest the mayor’s use of vulgarity in a recent news conference.

“Is there a Mayor in the United States who expresses his public temper as if he is playing pool badly in a bar?” Mr. Nader asked in a letter to the mayor. “If so, please identify your peer.”

Mr. Nader has been critical of the mayor for the last year about the Jeep deal, which he considers to be “corporate welfare” for DaimlerChrysler AG.

The soap joke dates to the mayor’s Dec. 8 news conference, in which he angrily denounced a Dec. 6 Blade article on the Jeep project. Mr. Finkbeiner, who has long been known for his temper, used a vulgar term to describe what he thought Blade editors should have done with the article.

“There is … a feature of your coarse verbosity that is fairly consistent over time. You direct your sneering, barnyard language away from corporate executives and their corporations and focus on the people you were elected to serve,” the letter reads.

Because any good chiding requires a prop, Nader representatives delivered the bar of soap to the Government Center yesterday. “A cleaner tongue may induce a cleaner mind – at least that is the aspiration behind the gift,” Mr. Nader wrote.

Mr. Finkbeiner, in a response relayed through his spokeswoman, had a simple response: “I wish Ralph Nader a Merry Christmas, and I hope in 1999 he has better things to do.”

In a separate letter to Daimler Chrysler Co-chairman Juergen Schrempp, Mr. Nader asked the carmaker to better reimburse the homeowners whose neighborhood is being destroyed to make way for the expanded Jeep plant. He threatened to hold a news conference in Stuttgart, Germany to publicize what he calls “corporate welfare” if Mr. Schrempp does not respond to the letter.

The mayor left yesterday for Washington, his third trip there in a week, to attend a holiday event hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton. The flight was paid for with city funds but cost only $20 because of accumulated frequent flier miles. His ground expenses could not be calculated last night.