Spicy backlash delivered to mayor’s pizza protest

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

Has Mayor Carty Finkbeiner been eating too much Crazy Bread?

A day after the mayor called for a boycott of Little Caesars Pizza, defenders of the little guy in the toga have fired back.

On the front lines have been the pizza places themselves. One location was offering a large ham pizza – the “Carty Special” – for only $5. Others have renamed their trademark Crazy Bread as Carty Bread, or proclaimed March 30 as Carty Appreciation Day.

Rather than stop business, the mayor’s declaration seems to have unleashed slice after slice of pro-Caesar sentiment.

“We’ve gotten more than 100 calls today from people supporting us,” said Beverly Bradshaw, who with her husband operates three Little Caesars franchises in Toledo.

In a speech Monday at the Toledo Club, Mr. Finkbeiner said he wants Toledoans to stop munching the pizzeria’s products to protest the actions of the chain’s owner, the Ilitch family of Detroit. The Ilitches are supporting construction of an arena-amphitheater complex in Rossford, a move the mayor considers a threat to Toledo venues.

Aside from provoking water-cooler talk throughout the region, the mayor’s comments pushed at least one Maumee couple to action.

Sarah Pfleghaar had been upset with Mr. Finkbeiner for a variety of reasons, from his conduct on his recent Honduras trip to his stance on ignoring voters’ wishes on building a stadium.

But his edict on edibles was the topper.

“It’s almost an abuse-of-power issue,” Mrs. Pfleghaar said. “My husband and I were incensed.”

She took action. She went to a local Little Caesars and asked for a dozen large pizza boxes. Then she went to her neighbors on John Street in Maumee and asked if they would agree to engage in an act of protest.

She put the pizza boxes on stakes and erected them, like ersatz political signs, on her neighbors’ lawns.

On the boxes was written: “Combat ignorance (Carty). Eat Little Caesars.”

“We’re at the age where we can raise hell, and nobody can do anything about it,” Mrs. Pfleghaar, 67, said. Her husband, John, is 74.

“I’m too old to burn my bra,” she added.

Offended by the mayor’s pie preference is Julie Farnsworth, who manages the city’s Navarre Pool. Ms. Farnsworth called Mr. Finkbeiner’s comments “comical.”

Five years ago, she said, Mr. Finkbeiner’s budget stopped paying for the end-of-summer party she throws for swim-class students.

“I called around to all of the pizza places in town to ask them to give us some free pizza,” she said. “For some of these kids, getting pizza is not an everyday thing.”

Only Little Caesars was willing to give the children free pizza.

“Every other place said, `We’re not interested,”‘ she said. “For Carty to rip into them is just kind of comical.”

Mr. Finkbeiner did not return phone calls seeking further pizza pronouncements.