Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Friday, December 05, 2003

Now the Recount is Over

It's now official. Lakewood's West End Plan is defeated. The recount and absentee ballots and other stuff took a week longer than expected. But the measure was defeated by a scant 47 votes.

A five-hour recount and inspection of more than 16,000 ballots yesterday did not change the outcome of the Nov. 4 vote on the West End development proposal.

Appearing on the ballot as Issue 47, the proposal to raze a 20-acre neighborhood for an upscale shopping and condominium complex failed by 47 votes. The final tally was 8,205 in favor of the plan and 8,252 against.

Witnesses and lawyers representing both sides of the referendum examined ballots for evidence that some had not been counted or had been tallied for the wrong side. They also examined more than 600 provisional ballots that had been cast - but not counted - on election day by residents who did not update voter registrations. Myke Clarett, of the Ohio secretary of state's office, told both sides the elections recount should be open. "At any time you have a question, ask," Clarett told witnesses.

After the inspections, Donald McTigue, a lawyer for proponents of the project, and Gerald Phillips, a lawyer for opponents, conceded that each side had found one ballot in their favor.

The incoming mayor is still expressing some hope that a scaled down version of the project can go forward without tearing down some 55 homes.

I'm sure this won't be the last heard of this.

No Escape

I'm the last one still standing in the house. The wife went down, hard last night with the same stomach virus or flu that felled our daughter. I am next. I'd say the waiting is the worst, but after the night the wife had, I know it won't even be close.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Pride In Northeast Ohio

Where tolerance is always showing itself in new ways.

The FBI is investigating several threatening and racist letters that have been sent in the past two years to black NFL players, including one prominent Miami Dolphins player who received a letter in September.

According to a memo distributed to NFL players last week by the league's security department, and obtained by the Palm Beach Post Wednesday, every piece of the hate mail comes from the same person, and postmarks show the correspondence was sent from Erie, Pa., Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio.
In a letter obtained from the FBI by ESPN, the writer decried interracial relationships between black men and white women, but did allow for those involving Arab or Hispanic men. "At least their skin color is closer to whites," the letter said. "It is RACISM when black men don't want their own black women."

"We will attack the black man with any white girl to castrate and kill him," the letter said. "We will use detectives and police to find you."

It was signed, "Angry Caucasian women."

Cleveland is 75 miles from Youngstown and 106 miles from Erie. From Youngstown it is about 100 miles to Erie. I guess I'm assuming the a-hole to be in Youngstown rather than Erie or even Cleveland because, it is more in the center of the two.

My own impressions of some of the people in Youngstown from when I was living there a few years back, have nothing to do with my opinion (much).

The Odds of Me Getting to Watch

Are not as good as me hitting the Powerball.

I suppose it's possible I could get an invite to the right Superbowl party, but I don't see the wife agreeing to plop down $20 for the halftime pay-per-view event:

Lingerie Bowl 2004

Models/actresses will participate in a 7-on-7 tackle football game in lingerie. There are some "names" in the, uh, teams.

The Lingerie Bowl website shows the two squads, Team Euphoria and Team Dream, wearing "uniforms" of matching lace-trimmed bras, panties and garters, with the players' numbers sewn over the left bra cups. Former Sports Illustrated swimsuit babe and ex-Sylvester Stallone fiancé Angie Everhart is the captain of one team. Model/actress Nikki Ziering captains the other.
[Lawrence] Taylor is the Team Euphoria coach, and Eric Dickerson is the Team Dream coach. Sure, the Lingerie Bowl might seem a little borderline at first ... er, blush. But as long as L.T. is involved, you know this is going to be nothing but class.

The site (very heavy on flash) lists tour bus dates leading up to the event. It isn't coming to Cleveland, though. I'm leaning towards rooting for Team Euphoria. They have not one, but two "Cassie"s on their team.

It lists Dodge as a corporate sponsor, and it appears that some of the proceeds will go to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR, though they don't seem to be bragging about it). How bad could it be?

Yankee Dealings

I'm just not wild about the move by the Yankees to give up Nick Johnson in a deal to acquire Javier Vasquez. Vasquez is a very good pitcher, but it really hurts to see the Yankees give up yet another young player. Especially since he was one of their few disciplined, contact hitters, rather than a free swinger.

As others have pointed out, a lot of this has been the result of George Steinbrenner reasserting his control and impulses. Signing Giambi, acquiring Mondesi, the pending deal with Sheffield. All sluggers, which the Boss has a sick fascination with. It is starting to resemble a lot of the Yankee moves in the early 80s, which led to the bad times of the late 80s.

As a Yankee fan, I question some of the moves because I wonder how much it helps the team in the long and short term. The farm system is getting rather barren, the team has been aging quickly, and the offense is getting streaky rather than consistent. As a baseball fan, it borders on disgusting because this moves the Yankees payroll to that much more ridiculous heights. Johnson was only in his second year in the majors, while Vasquez is eligible for free agency after this season. Add in the additional bullpen signings and probably Gary Sheffield, and you are rapidly closing in on $200 million for payroll -- driven in part, by savvy moves by the Red Sox.

No sir, I don't like it.

Streisand's A Loser

In her lawsuit to keep her house from being included in aerial photographs of California's coastline. (via Volokh) She even has to pay the defendant's legal fees. It took six months, but the lawsuit was thrown out on 1st Amendment grounds.

Also, check out Volokh, for the story on the bizarre Louisiana school punishing, a 7-year old student for explaining to some classmates why he has two mommies (he used, and explained the word "gay"). Work forward from here to here to here.

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

For East Cleveland and it politicians.

Federal agents swarmed to Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor's house and City Hall yesterday in search of the mayor's financial records and other documents.

Onunwor said eight FBI agents awakened his family about 6:30 a.m. and scoured his Fenemore Road home. The agents seized tax and other financial papers, campaign expense records, $700 in cash and his cell phone, Onunwor said.

"I'm cooperating with them, and I will continue to do that, even when I feel it's a witch hunt," Onunwor said in an interview outside his house. "I have not done anything wrong."

About 2 ½ hours later, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents began combing Onunwor's office and other offices at City Hall. Investigators from the office of the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development joined in as the search team grew to about 20.

I've mentioned East Cleveland before in the context of their fear of legal gun shops. In the course of this, I mentioned that it is "the most depressed part of all of Cuyahoga County. The schools make the Cleveland City Schools seem top notch. A city of just 3 square miles, East Cleveland is completely broke. Years of mismanagement of the city finances and an ever shrinking tax base have taken such a toll, that no one really knows what to do about it. Boarded up houses and plenty of crime abound. A very unsafe and poorly run city." I left out the fact that it's decaying condition has only been exacerbated by excessive cronyism and corruption by the remaining politicians. When other inner-ring suburbs seek to raise taxes, they invariably cite East Cleveland as the bogeyman their city could decay towards.

Of course, much of the corruption has been with regard to low income housing, development and business grants. It, sadly, is the only real source of money coming to the city. So it is likely that the raids relate to federal monies that have been scammed with the assistance of local politicians. In fact, the article heavily suggests it.

One city official said the investigation appeared to stretch beyond East Cleveland and focus on instances in which outsiders might have influenced government contracts. Onunwor declined to say whether investigators were pressuring him to testify against anyone.

FBI spokesman Robert Hawk declined to comment yesterday. Cleveland U.S. Attorney Gregory White confirmed that yesterday's searches were part of a criminal investigation, but he declined to comment on targets and said he had no timetable for completion.

Investigators also searched for records involving former East Cleveland Community Development Director Cecelia George, correspondence regarding city contracts and any photographs showing Onunwor or George with people named in the May subpoena.

Onunwor fired George two years ago after HUD asked about possible conflicts of interest involving employees and contractors paid with federal grants. George, who denied having any conflicts, was not available yesterday.

This will be something to watch over the next year or so.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Rites of Passage

Every parent must go through it. Sooner or later it happens. A true moment between parent and child. Yes, that's right. My daughter vomited on me today. Not that baby spit-up. I'm talking food and chunks.

Personally, I wouldn't have minded if it had waited another 15-17 more years. You know, she comes home drunk from some party and proceeds to throw up on my shoes when confronted. I think I could have dealt with that. No. This one came early.

She'd been fussy about eating since last night. Battled me over morning oatmeal, and even threw her Cheerios off the high chair tray. She did have a little chicken soup with me, but not much. Later she took an extended nap, and seemed much more pleasant. I took a chance and managed to convince her to have lunch -- her favorite, apple-mango-kiwi baby food. About an hour later, she was trying to get into the stereo cabinet. It was around 4:45. I picked her up and --- blumph!!

Right over both of us. She started screaming, and I headed to the bathroom. Two steps from the bathroom, and -- blumph!!

Put the screaming and pained girl in the tub while I ran out of the bathroom to get her washcloth. While doing this, I was trying to get my now ruined t-shirt off, and noticing the vomit on my jeans was a particularly vibrant shade of milky-orange. Idly noting some of the chunks of celery and carrot that she had from the chicken soup. The stuff smelled of the sticky-sweet baby food mixed with the stomach bile. Mmm.

Back to the bathroom. Run water over the washcloth in the sink, while stripping Angie out of her clothes. She's still screaming, and quite pissed that I am not holding her. The clothing is piled in the far corner of the bathtub, and I continue to annoy her by cleaning her face and arms. Then I still don't pick her up, because I still need to get my jeans off, and clean my arms.

Finally, I pick her up and work to calm her down. Cleaning the clothes and the rug will wait a little bit. Angie in her diaper, me in my boxers. She finally calms down enough to let me get some clothing on. And even gives me a chance to stain treat the rug. Finally, it is her turn to get new clothing on. Of course, this upsets her anew. She starts screaming, and that was what the wife walked through the door to see.

No fever or anything. She just has some bug. Tomorrow's going to be a lot of fun.

Great Quote

From Jon Stewart during his interview with Senator Tom Daischle:

The Republicans just pushed through a huge entitlement bill [the prescription drug/medicare]. And the Democrats are blocking black and hispanic judges. Now I don't know about you, but this is like Bizarro-world.

Daischle laughed and only addressed the first part. He totally blew off the other issue.

Waiting for the Jack-In-The-Box to Spring

Given the dribblings of the Cleveland Plain Dealer as to what is happening with the plans for a Cleveland Convention Center , version 2.1, I'm not surprised that there was nothing in the paper about the meeting yesterday between labor, business and civic "leaders" who want to push for the new beast. Not surprisingly, there was nothing on the web sites of the biggest backers, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association and the Ohio AFL-CIO. I imagine, at some point, the plans will be suddenly sprung on the public -- maybe after the new year. The brilliant planners will think that if they keep it off the radar until maybe a couple months before the ballot they have a better shot at controlling the debate. I think it will blow up on them, again.

I really wish there had been a big press conference and story today. It would have been timed so perfectly with this news from the City of Cleveland.

Tomorrow will be the last day of work for more than 720 Cleveland employees, who are losing their jobs as part of the city's effort to plug a $61 million deficit.

They will be sent home two weeks earlier than expected partly because city officials fear a wave of sick calls once workers get their pink slips. The city would have to shell out overtime pay to cover work shifts, further driving up the deficit.

City officials are also worried about possible office sabotage, such as employees changing access codes to computers.

No official press release on the Mayor's site, yet.

How they expect to get any support from Cleveland City Council or the Mayor at this time is beyond me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Cleveland Convention Center -- City / County Conflict Coming

Two days after an editorial on the ongoing push for a new convention center, is an article on the subject. It looks like the Cuyahoga County Commissioners will place the new tax for the convention center on the March ballot. The raise in the bed tax will go through, without a hitch because that doesn't have to face a public referendum. The raising of the sales tax is now out. Instead they want a 2% raise to the tax on sit-down meals at restaurants.

Dozens of labor, business and civic leaders will formally kick off support for a new center at a meeting today, the biggest and broadest gathering yet to push for the project. They will start crafting a strategy to win over voters, and they want to waste no time.

Their rallying cry: A new center will generate jobs. But they face a tough task making their case to voters, many of whom will be wary of boosting taxes and skeptical of the benefits of the project.

Businesses and groups are expected to contribute about $1 million for advertising in support of this.

What's interesting, is that the article makes it seem like there is wide backing for the new CCC, and only the CCC. A seeming reversal for some -- especially Cleveland City Council President, Frank Jackson, who had previously said he still wanted his local pork projects. That is, until you reach the end and realize that no one from the city (Mayor's office or City Council) have said anything in the article actually supporting the new CCC plan.

This is brilliant. The city government appears tepid towards the whole thing at best, but it is going to get shoved forward.

Big labor and corporate interests are in bed together on this, and have settled on pushing the "jobs created" aspect. How original. They are going to push for a tax to fund a new Convention Center when the City of Cleveland is looking at a $60+ million budget shortfall and hundreds of layoffs. Think people are going to be that eager to give local government more money right now.

The whole thing looks even more disorganized and messed up than over the summer.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Still Lurking

Of course, some things are always good to snap me back to attention. How about a Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial on the continuing push to get a new convention center. News to me about this continuing push. The only paper in town isn't reporting anything, but the editorial board sure is in the know:

Mayor Jane Campbell and the county commissioners are working on an agreement to govern the construction and operation of a new hall.

That pact needs to emphasize professionalism and accountability and not allow whatever project might emerge to become a trough for favored contractors or political pals. Everyone involved still seems sufficiently embarrassed by last summer's convention center fiasco that they are eager to prove that they can get something worthwhile to the voters.
That's why it is encouraging that city and county leaders finally have asked for a thorough study of the national convention and meetings market and Cleveland's niche in it.

Campbell has indicated she also wants the study - to be conducted by the Minneapolis-based consulting firm Conventions, Sports & Leisure International in cooperation with Cleveland State University - to look ahead, predict what the future needs of meeting planners will be, and suggest how a new facility here might meet them. She also has encouraged the consultants to consider all existing meeting sites, including the I-X Center, Gund Arena and the CSU Convocation Center.

Wow. Wouldn't it be nice if this was actually reported as a story? There's nothing in their recent archive, nor in their "Convention Center" section. Somehow all of this escapes the reporters for the Plain Dealer, but the PDEB has all the details.

A more suspicious and conspiracist kind of guy would almost suspect that the Plain Dealer is doing its best to sit on as much of the details as possible to keep people in the dark for a while longer. Glad that I'm not that kind of guy.

The editorial itself says nothing new. It says that a new convention center is needed, but no one is making a good case for it. God forbid, the PDEB actually explain why it supports a new convention center other than the fact that the business leaders want it.

Back but Down

Sorry, I've been a little bummed lately after watching Pitt go down in a pathetic prime time performance Saturday night. Whenever I start to think too much about it, I feel my mood swing back and forth between depression and anger. This is not good. I'm still trying to regain some perspective on this.


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