Thanks to a highly placed source, I can disclose the names of the dealers who will be honored by Ford Motor Co. in February for charitable service and community involvement above and beyond the call of duty.
These dealers will be feted at Ford's Salute to Dealers reception in Las Vegas at the start of the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.
-- Alton E. Blakely Jr. of Alton Blakely Ford-Lincoln in Somerset, Ky.
-- Gus Machado of Gus Machado Ford in Hialeah, Fla.
-- John Bergstrom of Bergstrom Ford-Lincoln of Neenah in Neenah, Wis.
-- Oscar Villanueva and Fernando Villanueva of Grupo Viamar in the Dominican Republic.
-- Sun Qingping of Shanxi Danchang Automobile Ltd. in China.
-- John Hynansky of Winner Imports Ukraine Ltd. in Ukraine.
Decades ago, when I got into this wonderful, wacky world of journalism, I swore a sacred oath of loyalty to the First Amendment, which included a promise never to reveal a confidential source... no matter what any judge threatened.
And I never have.
Ethically, I am compelled to reveal that my source is Edsel Ford, a member of Ford's board of directors and the driving force behind the Salute to Dealers program. (I'm sorry, Edsel, but my conscience got the better of me.)
Further, the little angel on my right shoulder demands that I disclose why Edsel Ford told me.
A few years ago, he recruited me to be part of the judging team that anonymously evaluates dealers, who are nominated by Ford sales reps from around the world.
I'm happy to do it because it's important. It also reinforces my understanding of how giving car dealers can be in their communities around the world.
One more admission: Because we evaluate dealers without knowing who they are, it's also a kick to find out.
Of all the Ford family members, Edsel seems to have the best relationship with dealers, probably because he worked closely with them when he was in sales and marketing and then later at Ford Credit.
Gee, I hope I haven't gotten him in any trouble.