Been There 

Letters published April 14, 2004

Been There
A word to the wise:
I just finished "Hail to the Thief" by Tom Francis [March 24]. His reflections on the delights of a car break-in hit a nerve. I've lived in the Warehouse District for close to three years now, and I'll never forget that in the first six months, my car was broken into twice. The M.O. is always the same: a broken window, a rifled car, and various odds and ends gone. The downtown pawnshops must be doing a booming business.

For those readers who aren't up for the thrill of a car break-in, I would suggest avoiding Ampco lots at all costs. At a time when Cleveland really needs people to come downtown and spend their dollars (not to mention live there), companies like Ampco reap heavy profits by gouging for parking spots and then providing little if any security.

The result is often a $20 charge for a parking space, combined with a $500 bill to get the car's window replaced -- to say nothing of the personal effects the thief helped himself to.

After my second break-in, I kicked Ampco to the curb and found a new lot. This one is run by Imperial Parking and features fences, security cameras, and an on-site staff 24 hours a day, all for just $18 more than what AMPCO was charging.

David F. Lytle

A crying shame: I absolutely loved your article "Hail to the Thief." I feel your pain. Around 200-300 CDs were stolen from my 2,000-3,000 collection. It is so much more personal when someone steals something that you have collected over the span of 20 years. A few of my CDs I will never replace, because they were actually signed by the artist. Slowly but surely, I plan on buying back everything that was taken from me. After reading your article, I was almost moved to tears, because I really feel what you were going through. Great job with the article. I loved it.

Wadih Karim

Lead them not into temptation: Thomas Francis's "Hail to the Thief" was hilarious. I wish I could have had his sense of humor the two times my windshield was shattered and CDs, cell phone, etc., were taken out of my car, which was parked downtown.

Once it happened in the middle of the day. I can't believe that nobody heard a windshield get shattered. I too kept the brick used during one of the break-ins. It's a great conversation piece for passengers and would serve as a great "concealed weapon" if I run into the miscreant(s) who broke into my car. Of course, the Cleveland police were not helpful. As a matter of fact, they were annoyed that I wanted to file a report. And Queen Jane had the audacity to boast at her "State of the City" speech that Cleveland was safer in 2003 than it was in 2002.

I'm sure that if the police would accept reports on break-ins and take the lists of CDs stolen to The Exchange, CD Warehouse, etc., they would find a significant number of stolen CDs in the inventory. I don't blame the stores, but I have learned my lesson. I keep only homemade CDs in my car, and I park only in covered garages downtown. Then again, maybe the thieves are working for the auto-glass companies.

Greg Schmid
Olmsted Falls

What Took So Long?
Fifteen years and still no answers:
In "Rags to Rip-offs" [March 17], Chris Maag did a gutsy job of asking all the tough questions the people of Berea have been asking for years. Why have The Plain Dealer and News Sun conveniently avoided this story?

The toughest question remains unanswered. After 15 years of chronic problems and hijinks, why does the city of Berea keep awarding these guys multimillion-dollar contracts?

Greg Miller

Through a Glass Darkly
"Dead-on" is dead wrong:
The letter that said The Passion of the Christ is a "dead-on" portrayal of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus [March 17] was totally ludicrous. Since none of us were alive when those 12 hours took place, a completely accurate historical portrayal of said 12 hours can never be done. Why is there still such controversy over this movie? Can it not be considered art for art's sake? Everyone will take away something different from all dramatic performances, and to insist that it is "a dead-on portrayal" is rather myopic.

Robin Licker
Cleveland Heights

The Imposing Party
Brainwashers and bigots:
Congratulations to John Farina for finally realizing the Republicans never really wanted him or his kind in their party ["The Enemy Within," March 3]. Unfortunately, it was not enough for him to hear it from his gay friends and acquaintances. It took a personally insulting action by the party's figurehead to make John jump from that ship.

As a young adult, I realized the Republicans were nothing more than a brainwashing party. They continually try to impose their views on all of us. There are too many items to mention, but think about every civil liberty we are on the verge of having compromised by Bush and the GOP.

In reply to the anonymous coward whose hate mail Scene published in response to Pete Kotz's article [First Punch, March 10]; I would be proud to be a "liberal faggot," rather than a thoughtless terrorist like you! I would hope the Republicans would be more accepting of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people than of someone who hides behind moronic ranting by stereotyping race and sexuality.

Randy Jasinski

Scraps vs. poison: As a gay man who grew up in a Republican family, I well understand the conflict John Farina has been going through ["The Enemy Within," March 3].

There is no question about which party is more likely to give a fair hearing to the gay community. While it's true that Democrats have been content to throw the gay community scraps from the table, the vast majority of Republicans have offered us nothing but poison.

The actions of "moderate" Ohio Republicans like Jim Trakas -- who addressed the 2002 Cleveland Pride Rally, telling everyone how great the Republican party is, and then stabbed the gay community (and Farina) in the back by voting for Ohio's Defense of Marriage Act -- demonstrate the hypocritical depths the Republicans will sink to. Early in his first term, Governor Bob Taft allowed a provision banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to expire. Now, President Bush has endorsed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. "Compassionate conservative," indeed!

It should be noted that the great majority of Ohio's Democratic officials voted against Ohio's DOMA, that Democratic Cleveland leaders passed the city's ban on anti-gay discrimination, and that voters in Democratic-dominated Cleveland Heights passed that city's Domestic Partner Registry.

So, my question to gay Republicans who, unlike Farina, have not yet seen the light: How many times do you need to bang your head against the wall before you realize you'll feel better when you stop?

Hank Drake

God has nothing to do with it: In response to "The Enemy Within": When we discuss gay rights, religious beliefs are flown as the protector of the sanctity of marriage. I have yet to hear one word in support of repealing divorce laws. Why not? Wouldn't that help sanctify marriage?

Those opposing gay marriage say that marriage was designed for a man and woman to procreate. Does this mean that couples past child-bearing age should not be allowed to wed? Should we force couples to undergo fertility testing and forbid the sterile to marry? If someone stood on Capitol Hill and called for either of these measures, they would be booed off the podium. Yet these same arguments can be used against gays, and all is right with the world.

Fight your good fight. Just leave my God out of it.

Shalene Shimer

Government should butt out: It seems to me that both sides in the gay-marriage debate are wrong. The opposition says that if government extends marriage to gays, then government must extend it to polygamists, etc. The gay community says that they lack the right to marry and want to claim all the benefits government grants marriage. What they lack are the special privileges government grants to heterosexual couples. In essence, the government says, "Here is a big bag of goodies, but you can't have them unless you conform to our standards." This infringes upon not only gays, but even single people such as myself. Thus, even if we extend such privileges to gays, we still avoid equal protection by discriminating against unmarried people.

The best and simplest solution is as author David Boaz suggests: privatize marriage. Can anyone honestly claim that the blessing of Judge John J. Donnelly is what gives one's marriage meaning? What needs to be done is to take marriage back to what it was for the greater part of history, which is simply a private union. This is the only way to have equal rights: Get government out of the business of giving special goodies to adults who conform to certain relationships, and stop government from defining which relationships we adults can and cannot enter into.

David Mooter
Shaker Heights

More Views on Blues
The tip of the iceberg:
I'd like to applaud Aina Hunter on Scene's series on Warren's "Blue Mob" [February 25 and March 3]. While I personally had no real involvement with the WPD (except when they tried to strong-arm me into displaying political signs for their selected hacks on my property), as a former resident and business owner from Warren, I'm glad someone has finally shown the journalistic integrity to expose this embarrassment.

Tragically, Hunter's articles merely scratched the surface of what is wrong with Warren and Trumbull County. The department's brutal behavior could not continue if the corrupt elected officials and courts did not choose to look the other way. I have been approached by the FBI on a number of occasions. They have assured me that they will bring these people to justice, and I believe they would have done so already, had not the events of September 11, 2001, forced the FBI to refocus their manpower.

Amazingly, the Warren Tribune Chronicle is well aware of the goings on of Warren's Finest and their protectors, but chooses not to report them. Herein lies the real tragedy. The people have become very accepting of this kind of behavior. I wish Scene's articles were required reading for all the residents of Trumbull County, but I'd be willing to bet the feedback Hunter has received from Warren has been derogatory or threatening.

Congratulations on a terrific job. I look forward to reading more from Aina Hunter in the future.

Mike Polk

Try living without them: Aina Hunter's article was filled with terrible, one-sided views. Hunter quoted two attorneys who are not respected in the community. I live in the city on the northeast side, and rarely am I fortunate enough to see an officer, because of the way crime is in this city. Just look at stats to see where the crime is.

Hunter made Mr. Kimble seem to be an upstanding citizen. Wow, I bet Hunter could sell oceanfront property in Arizona easier than that. His recent drug arrests should indicate just what Warren is like. I'm moving, and I hope the officers just shut down. Then let's see what it's like in this wonderful city. Just do the community a favor, and stop making victims out of the problems.

Sheri Skaggs

A tale waiting to be told: I'm glad someone stood up and exposed the truth of what's going on down here.

Laurence Haley


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