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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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Not Now

My parents are visiting this weekend. I have the NEOhio Blogger Bash at the Olsens tonight and some actual paying work to do (no, really). I don't have time for this today.
The Cuyahoga County commissioners are expected to divert nearly $400,000 from the region's tourism agency to a fledgling body studying how to build a new convention center in Cleveland.

Commissioners have scheduled a vote Tuesday on a measure that would direct a maximum of $33,000 a month in bed taxes to the newly minted Convention Facilities Authority, an 11-member body that will decide on the site, size and financing of a new convention center.

They really are just counting on people throwing up their hands and just saying, "Fine, build it. Anything so we don't have to read or hear about it anymore!"

Friday, August 20, 2004

Following The (Lack of) Money

Things don't happen in a vacuum. Pete Rose released a book this past January, admitting he bet on baseball after years of denying it. Most of us believed that it was a cynical ploy to finally get back into baseball and make money off the admission.

Should have known better. When it comes to Rose, it is always about the money. Now it becomes clearer why he needs the money... again.
Pete Rose owes almost $1 million in back federal taxes, but he is making monthly payments on the debt, his representative said Friday.

The Internal Revenue Service filed a federal tax lien in Broward County on Tuesday alleging that baseball's career hits leader owes $973,693.28 in back taxes from 1997 to 2002.

Ross Tannenbaum, president of Dreams Inc., the marketing firm that handles Rose's business affairs, said Friday that the lien is against a home Rose owns in California. He said the filing is not an indication that the former Cincinnati Reds star and manager is in danger of returning to prison over his taxes.
Back taxes from 1997-2002. Rose knew this would be coming. He needed money. A book retelling his same lies would do nothing. For Rose it wasn't about getting into the hall of fame. It was about getting more money: from the book, and he hoped back into baseball as a coach or -- if a team was stupid enough -- manager.

Nice to tie off that loose end.

The Strawman

The News-Herald Editorial Board with another editorial lamenting the state of Eastlake politics. This specifically takes aim at the recall petition for Ward 1 City Councilwoman Lynn Moon Curtis. I live in Ward 2, so I didn't sign the petition, nor can I vote on the expected recall vote in November.

First the editorial reminds the reader that the "competent" Mayor Spinner will not seek to have the interim tag removed in November, because of all the negativity and bad political mood. That sets the stage for their argument against the recall.

When the guy who started the petitioner was contacted by the N-H for the story, this was what he said.
"She's been rude to people at council meetings. She's even threatened us by saying if we didn't vote for the levy, they would take the money from us anyway," Boyce said.

"She hasn't come up with any ideas to stop this mess we're in, except to get more money. It's not personal - it's not like I hate her. What it comes down to is accountability. She was the chairwoman of the finance committee when the financial mess happened."
Guess what part the N-HEB jumps all over?
Rude? Is that malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office? Hardly. It sounds more as if someone's precious feelings have been hurt.
Now I like some good sarcasm as much as the next guy, and that was a stupid thing to say on the guy's part -- so he deserves some mocking for that. His larger point was that she didn't want to hear objections to the new taxes. What about the more important argument that as chairperson for the finance committee she should have been more aware of the problems and there needs to be accountability?

Well the N-HEB ignores the chairperson aspect and only asks why just go after her and not other councilmen who were there. That of course ignores the fact that the guy can only petition to recall the councilperson from his ward. He can't go after other wards. That is up to the residents of each ward.

I love this argument by the way:
Curtis has been on council since 1995 and ran unopposed in 2003 for a four-year term that will expire at the end of 2007. Isn't a regular election the proper time to elect a new council member if there are problems with a sitting member?
And if the problems don't get revealed until after the election? Because the news of the deficit didn't come out until the beginning of 2004 -- after the 2003 election. Basically, she either was totally ignorant of the problem or was willing to help keep it hidden until after she was safely elected for 4 more years.

The N-HEB may not like recalls and they may be very rare, but it is not like there is anything illegal or improper occurring. The recall is really the only way to call this councilwoman to account for her role. Curtis has made unsubstantiated claims that the people gathering signatures were misleading signees -- no one has come forward to back that claim. She also alleges that they might be targeting her because she is a woman. Uh-huh.

It's a Plot Against Us...

Because, no one involved in unions would ever do something illegal like this.
The chief of the Cleveland AFL-CIO said Thursday that he is angry that as many as 50 apparently fraudulent voter registration cards were sent to the Summit County Board of Elections from the union's offices.
According to John Ryan, executive secretary of the Cleveland AFL-CIO, there is malfeasance from the outside afoot.
"Some person wanted to give a bad name to the labor movement or it's some person who is a bizarre troublemaker who was trying to play a joke on the system," he said.
I bet it was those darn nefarious Nader fake signature signers.

Community Development

I don't have a lot of positive thoughts regarding the administration at Case University from my law school days (not the faculty, which was excellent). A very insular school that didn't treat its students with any respect or concern. Even less so to the surrounding community. I have noticed in the last year, though, that the school has been making a strong effort to integrate better in the University Circle community. Setting up free wi-fi in the whole campus area, permitting residents of the area to join the campus gym at a good price, and now trying to encourage people who work for Case to live in the area or at least in the city limits.
Case will provide full-time, regular university employees up to $15,000 toward the purchase of a home near its University Circle campus and up to $10,000 toward the purchase of a home anywhere in the city.
Employees who purchase homes in Cleveland wards 6, 7, 8 and 9 will receive the maximum assistance, $15,000. These neighborhoods, adjacent to campus, run roughly from the lakefront south to Euclid Avenue and from Chester, Payne and Superior avenues on the west to East 131st Street on the east.

The $15,000 is provided over a six-year period, with the first installment of $7,500 to be used as a down payment or for closing costs. The remaining five payments of $1,500 each will be distributed annually.

Similarly, employees eligible for $10,000 will receive a first payment of $5,000 for a down payment or to cover closing costs, with five payments of $1,000 annually.
If Cleveland is going to increase its population (or even stabilize it), it will take more efforts like this. There aren't a lot of incentives to live in the city limits. Of course, it will still be tough slogging for people with kids. The idea of voluntarily sending them to most of the Cleveland Public Schools is warm thought.

Liner Notes

My grandma was trying to get rid of a lot of her old albums. She had long put them on tape, and wanted to get rid of them. My aunt had looked into selling them, but since they were not in mint condition, and it consisted mainly of operas and musicals, they weren't in demand. I know someone who loves and collects old albums so I'm giving them to him.

A few of the albums were from the late 50s/early 60s of Israeli folk music. Sure Israel was a little more than 10 years old, but everyone had to have folk songs. I scanned some of the covers.

Not a lot to find out about Lea Deganith. She was raised in Israel well before it became a state. The great photo, though, was taken a mile outside of Beersheba. Posted by Hello

Not a lot about the Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe. Apparently, this is one of their lesser known works, as compared to "Songs and Dances of Israel." This album was to celebrate the redevelopment of the Negev region. The liner notes on the back of the album point to both the developing beautiful Elath as a port city with new farms connected by the road from Beersheba to Elath, "a symbol of this magnificent enterprise: a black strip of asphalt that penetrates the mountains, the sand dunes, and the wilderness." Hard to imagine, today, liner notes celebrating a highway.Posted by Hello

Theodore Bikel is a successful character actor -- still alive -- who migrated to Israel with his parents in 1938, when he was 14.

When I saw his head shot at his web page, I knew where I had last seen him -- as the Russian Rabbi on an episode of Babylon 5. Turns out he also appeared in one of the B5 movies in heavy make-up as a Minbari leader. Posted by Hello

Like the album before, the clothes worn by the girl in the field , is that of socialist/workers chic. Israel was a lot bigger into socialism then, and the kibbutzes were considered the great symbol of Israel, and a success of socialism (reality was and is a lot different). They now, look more like conforming military style garb, though if you notice, no one even has a place for firearms. In Israel, at anytime sadly, that is idealistic fantasy.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Eastlake is Filled with Idiots

At least that seems to be the impression I get from the latest News-Herald editorial. The topic, ostensibly is about electing a new mayor this fall, but it is really about complaining about the failed levy.
The choice will not be easy. The voters are confused and angry.

Their heads are spinning - no pun intended. Sadly, there is no real hope for the future until the city gets its politics and its leadership straightened out.

The voters are so confused that by turning down a 2.3-mill police and fire levy Aug. 3, they actually brought upon themselves garbage collection fees that will be higher than the additional property taxes they would have paid.

As I said before, it would appear that the N-HEB are the ones that are confused. The voters saw the levy and the promise as the sham it was.
There certainly is no glimmer of hope for the future in any of the seven people who have already come forth and announced they will run for mayor - nothing to inspire even a scintilla of confidence suggesting the type of leadership the city needs to pull itself up by its bootstraps. If there is a true leader among them, that fact is well camouflaged.

The city's politics have gotten ugly. Any hints indicating positive outlooks are rapidly crumbling as negativism and mud-slinging take center stage.

The city with an aging, shrinking population of just over 20,000; with a debt topping $3 million; and potential long term financial problems with the stadium (as always completely absent from any discussion by the N-HEB of Eastlake problems). Yet there are possibly 7 people willing to run for mayor and do some major cutting of the budget and making even more people unhappy. And there are plenty of people trying to run for City Council seats. I don't know, looks like a positive and possible leadership to me that so many are willing to step up and work to fix it with clear evidence that the voters won't just go along with more taxes as the solution.

As for the negativism, I don't know, maybe they're talking about me? The only political negativism that I've heard, read or seen is a recall petition for a city councilwoman who may be running for mayor (and take a look at some of the comments below the story for some sense of what people think).

This editorial seems more like a condescending tantrum that the people of Eastlake don't know what's good for them -- unlike the N-H Editorial Board.


A Rare Concurrence

Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell is not particularly well-liked. She isn't hated either. She is just the mayor. She doesn't really polarize the voters. Whether intended or not, she has become a caretaker mayor. She has talked of some big projects but nothing beyond plans has really come of them. Partially because she came in while the recession was pounding on the area, but a large reason for that was the budget she inherited back in 2002.

The outgoing Mayor Mike White had been there for 12 years. As he left office, he announced that the budget had a nearly $12 million dollar surplus. This was a total lie. Within weeks after taking office, the budget was found to be a complete mess and there was a deficit of several million. The accounts were in complete disarray and the deficit wasn't even clear -- was it a couple million or $10 million. Mayor Campbell and her budget staff actually managed to get things balanced in that first year by some cost cuts and finding some squirreled away rainy day funds the city had.

The most recent state audit came out, and the accounting and budget for the city got almost a spotless report, that the Plain Dealer Editorial Board notes and commends. I have to agree, because this has probably been the best and most important thing Mayor Campbell could accomplish.

It seems amazing, in hindsight, that Mayor White could have gotten away with screwing the city accounts so much that no one really knew what the city coffers actually had. Yet he did. In large part because he was in charge for so long with his people doing the work. His great luck was to get out of office before the debt got so he couldn't hide it. Imagine what would have happened if he had stayed another term.

Actually, you don't have to. Just look at Pittsburgh. The mayor there hid a growing budget problem for years, and gave away juicy union contracts to insure his survival even when the city couldn't afford it. Now Pittsburgh has a $60 million deficit and a couple state oversight boards trying to get it out of the red.

Mayor Campbell is not much of leader, but she is a competent politician.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

If You Can't Convince Them, Confuse Them

That seems to be the approach of some old apologists for anything. Take this meeting by Johann Hari with Antonio Negri (via Hit & Run).
Here is a typical Negri sentence, selected at random: "The analysis of real subsumption, when this is understood as investing not only the economic or only the cultural dimension of society but rather the social bios itself, and when it is attentive to the modalities of disciplinarity and/or control, disrupts the linear and totalitarian figure of capitalist development." After 400 pages of this, I feel like I have been raped by a dictionary of sociology.

I try to think of a polite way to remind him of the fact that every communist revolution of the 20th century lead to tyranny and mass murder. And a nice way to say that communism was a betrayal of the democratic values of the left. I fail. I blurt it out. "These communist regimes are waiting for a historical revision. They may not be seen so negatively in the next century," he says, as though this was perfectly obvious.

Negri recently described the Soviet Union as "a society criss-crossed with extremely strong instances of creativity and freedom", which is more than he has ever said for any democracy. He even says that the Soviet Union fell because it was too successful. I point this out, and he replies: "Now you are talking about memory. Who controls memory? Faced with the weight of memory, one must be unreasonable! Reason amounts to eternal Cartesianism. The most beautiful thing is to think 'against', to think 'new'. Memory prevents revolt, rejection, invention, revolution."

He leans back as though he has brilliantly rebutted any critique of communism. So, is he seriously saying that we should never look at history, that the left should carry on as though communism was a great success, that we should not reconsider our values at all? "Look, a truth is a collective action on the part of persons who campaign together and who transform themselves," he says. This doesn't seem to correspond with what I asked him at all, but then I remember reading his essay, "In Praise of the Absence of Memory". I had assumed that I had misunderstood it, but now it becomes clear that he really does believe that it is better not to remember inconvenient facts, to "maintain a subjective point of view... because memory dulls the spirit. Memory is a prison". If you have to choose between history and communism, ditch history.

I don't care if the guy is 71, he still needs to be smacked some more.


Local Mayoral Choices

I've noted once, twice or a dozen plus times recently the financial problems in my burb of Eastlake. The problems, are apparently daunting enough to keep the interim Mayor George Spinner, from seeking to fill the remainder of the term. This looks to cause the number of people seeking the position (which pays $84,200 per year) to increase.

Already in the race: Stephen Komarjanski, a former councilman and longtime critic of the Eastlake ballpark; Michael A. Semik, another former councilman; and Mark A. Walker, a longtime fireman.

Present councilwoman Lynn Moon Curtis has taken out a petition to run, but not filed. So has Laura DePledge and Daniel Matheke.

The article says, that with Spinner not running, another councilman, Ted Andrzejewski, will.

I only have 3 years in the city, and not that much knowledge of the personal relations these people have with the voters. So take this for what it's worth. I'm hazarding a guess that Komarjanski might have an early edge (and not just because one of his supporters reads this blog and invited me to the opening of his headquarters a couple weeks ago, but I couldn't make). His longtime criticisms about the costs of the ballpark and fiscal risk makes him look very good right now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

It's Like Ikea, Only With Guns

I mentioned that I was visiting my in-laws this weekend. Zanesville, Ohio is 55-60 miles east of Columbus on I-70. About 80 miles east of Zanesville is Wheeling, WV. This coming weekend, a new Cabelas opens its doors in Wheeling, and the promotional catalog was in the Zanesville Times-Recorder Sunday edition. This is only the 12th store Cabelas store to open. They are giant outdoors/hunting superstores. Great fun to wander through.

Well I was looking through the catalog and found myself amused about this item. A game caller that uses MP3s. You can even download calls from the maker's website. You can even download the sound of a 12 gauge shotgun blast. Amuse your friends.

I love seeing technology adapted for all aspects of life.


Where Every Drunk Knows Your Name

Former Brook Park Mayor and town drunk, Tom Coyne, has checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic. I guess he felt it beat turning himself into the authorities for violating his parole. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, but the police are not going to California to arrest the idiot.

In his film debut, check out the video from the police cruiser (Windows Media) of the police trying to rouse Coyne and get him to pull up his pants.

I Can't Wait Until He Is Sober Enough to Explain

The former Mayor of Brookpark hasn't had any comment on his being found drunk and naked in a driveway.

A more detailed story on the condition that Coyne was found.
An incoherent Coyne was shirtless and laying with his trousers and underwear wrapped around his ankles at 2 a.m., when a Columbia Road resident spotted him, police said. Coyne was using his balled up shirt as a pillow.
Someone apparently just dropped him off there. His car was no where near the scene. Sounds like a frat prank, except Coyne is 54. His blood-alcohol level was o.274. Yow.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Free To Advertise Pitcher Night

Over a year ago, the US District Court for W. Pennsylvania upheld a dumb Pennsylvania law that prevented college newspapers from accepting ads that promoted the sale of alcohol -- beer companies, liquor companies or local bars advertising a "ladies night." The Pitt News responded by running the drink specials from all the local bars on a weekly basis as a news item. At the end of July, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed the decision (PDF, July 29, 2004, No. 03-1725), finding the ban an unconstitutional restriction of the paper's 1st Amendment rights.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has decided against appealing the decision. It was a dumb law, because even if you want to reduce college drinking, this law wouldn't do it. There are plenty of other media outlets for college students to check, and for bars and alcoholic beverage companies to advertise. Nice to know the Pitt News can get some advertising revenue.

"They suspect alcohol played a part."

Brook Park, one of the many Clevelad suburbs had one of the longest serving mayors, and was aiming higher until a DUI ended things. Looks like things haven't changed.
North Olmsted police found former Brook Park mayor Tom Coyne nude on the side of a road early Monday morning.

Officers said Coyne was lying on the ground on Columbia Road at about 2 a.m. He was said to be unresponsive.

Police do not believe foul play was involved. They suspect alcohol played a part.
You think? The wife called me from work with this one.


Today's Must Read

P.J. O'Rourke one-on-one with Colin Powell. Not even going to excerpt because you should read all of it (via Layne).

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Away From Desk

Weekend trip to see the inlaws. Only dial-up available and I just couldn't take it.

Not sure how this week will be for blogging. May actually have some paying work (finally); college football has begun practice so I'm doing a lot of stuff about Pitt; cleaning the house a bit more as my folks come out for a visit; belated birthday celebration (mine); and just exercising the old liver in anticipation of the 3rd Annual Blogger Bash at the Olsens.


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