By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
It should have been a satisfying ending to the Kudlicki tribulations. Unfortunately, there was another chapter to the registration affair that didn't end on a happy note--rather one of rage, specifically spite vented by the mayor.
A few days after Bodzin so effectively addressed the council about the Kudlicki outrage, Mayor Kirk received at his home an offensive handwritten letter that opened with a racial slur: "Definition of a Nigger: an ignorant black person whose conduct flaunts [sic] societal norms."
The letter, which carried the signature of Frank Bodzin, went on to complain that his name had been mispronounced by the mayor at the September 13 meeting.
Bodzin insisted that he did not write, endorse, or even know anything about that letter until this month, when council members, who had learned about the nasty missive from the mayor, asked him about it.
"I didn't know anything about it," Bodzin says of the letter. "I never use the N-word."
It does seem unlikely that Bodzin wrote the letter, according to council members and city staff members familiar with his usual correspondence. The letter is handwritten. Almost all of Bodzin's letters are produced on an old, easily identifiable manual typewriter. Also, the letter refers to Bodzin in the third person, an odd grammatical structure if he had written it. Finally, the letter's signature bears no resemblance to Bodzin's.
Perhaps more significantly, council members Donna Blumer and Paul Fielding say they have never heard Bodzin speak in a racially derogatory manner. And Blumer, who faced him as an opponent for her council seat, recalls that he was extremely proud of the endorsements he received from black groups.
But Mayor Kirk, upset by the letter, wouldn't even listen when he tried to explain that he did not write it, Bodzin says.
In a response dated September 20, the mayor wrote to Bodzin and made his anger about the racial comment plain, even to the point of making an implicit threat:
...Given the content of your letter I more fully understand your motive and sentiments and you can rest assured that the least of your problems in the future with [sic] be my pronunciation of your name.
"That last sentence is pretty disturbing," Blumer says.
At an October 11 council hearing, the denouement to this sorry story finally played out. Bodzin stood to address the council. Before he started to speak, however, the mayor left.
"I'm sorry the mayor walked out," Bodzin said. "I have been wronged. I have been accused of writing a letter I have no knowledge of.
"Contrary to his campaign rhetoric," Bodzin jabbed, "the mayor continues the blame game."
With that, mayor pro tem Max Wells cut Bodzin off. "Your time has expired," Wells told him.
But four other council members--Fielding, Don Hicks, Charlotte Mayes, and Blumer--came to Bodzin's defense. "I don't have a great relationship with you," Hicks told him. "But I don't believe you wrote that letter."
The mayor returned to the council chambers in time to hear the members' support of Bodzin.
"I will accept your disavowal of that letter," Kirk told Bodzin. "I hope whoever is the perpetrator will come out from their cowardice."
Bodzin, unsatisfied, complains that it was a lukewarm apology at best.
Sieg Kudlicki, meanwhile, has received a formal letter of apology from the city about the $7 check fiasco.
But, he says, "I threw it out.