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Carl Monday Is Everywhere 

Don't call the police. Call the investigator.

When a woman plowed her pickup into the Justice Center parking garage recently, she figured she could make a clean getaway. She backed up, then hopped on the freeway and headed east. Little did she know that someone was in hot pursuit. The name's Monday -- Carl Monday. [Cue the Tomorrow Never Dies soundtrack.]

Sources inside Channel 19 say Monday and a cameraman were originally headed to bust a 13-year-old kid masturbating in the bathroom of a Quizno's, but after witnessing the crash, Monday decided to go after the big score.

When the woman stopped her truck in University Heights, Monday approached with camera rolling. "Nice driving job, ma'am," the master of sarcasm said. "How come you didn't stick around?"

But this villain was a sly one herself. "I have a heart condition," she gasped, leaning against the truck and panting.

Unfortunately for her, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool Carl Monday. The ace investigator called the woman's bluff, dialing 9-1-1 for an ambulance. Sure enough, she refused to go to the hospital, then drove off. She was later found cursing, "Carl Monday and that damn mustache!"

There's a moral to this story: If you're ever in danger, don't call 9-1-1. Call Carl Monday (216-367-7311), whose average response time is 15 minutes faster than the Cleveland Police.

Aloha, Dennis!
Since blowing through $2.9 million in taxpayer campaign funds for his 2004 presidential folly, you'd think Congressman Dennis Kucinich would be a bit more judicious this time around, seeing as how he's supposed to be a Man of the People.

After all, that money could have done a lot of good in Cleveland, where people just blocks from Dennis' office are looting abandoned houses for copper piping, just so they can afford bullets to shoot someone.

But that would take all the fun out of running for president. Which is why the U.S.S. Kucinich recently set sail for a much less depressing place to waste our money: Hawaii. The islands were actually Dennis' second choice, until an aide reminded him that a Princess Cruise ship doesn't technically constitute being within the country.

It seems Hawaii is the one state where Dennis doesn't need to convince people he's a legitimate candidate, and not the new mascot for Geico Insurance. The little guy received one-third of the Aloha State's primary vote in 2004, which has the same electoral significance as finishing third in the city of Reminderville.

Kucinich's island-hopping schedule included lunches, speeches, and plenty of time for relaxing poolside. "Another round of Mai Tais for Mrs. Kucinich and I. My room number? Uhhh, just charge it to that old lady on West 85th Street."

Unfortunately, all good taxpayer-funded junkets must come to an end. Dennis wrapped up his sunny vacay with stops in Las Vegas and Southern California, where he courted the all-important raw-foods and yoga vote. But Hawaiians hope it's not the last they see of the little elf.

"We hope to have him back again after this to celebrate his victory here," says Erik Kvam of Hawaii for Kucinich 2008. Something tells us that as long as Uncle Sam's picking up the check, you'll see him a lot sooner than that.

New lows in astroturf
Last week, upstanding citizens from Parma to Independence pelted Punch with outrage over the latest TV commercial for Hardee's Patty Melt.

The sandwich is served on round rye bread -- i.e., "flat buns" -- which is apparently a bold innovation in fast food. So Hardee's commercial stars a blond high-school teacher (picture Britney Spears circa 1998), sporting a skin-tight dress and librarian glasses, shaking her booty as the young men in her class praise her, um, buns.

"I like 'em really hot, I like 'em really flat," they rap. "Flat buns, I like flat buns."

The Justice Department is now weighing charges for crimes against inventiveness. (See the commercial at blogs.clevescene.com/cnotes/.)

But conservatives were more alarmed by the salacious theme. "They were referring to ladies' buns," says Concerned Citizen Warren Carter of Independence. "It was really unbelievable."

More unbelievable was the unimaginative protest. It's called an astroturf campaign, when one group -- in this case the American Family Association -- urges its members to bombard the media to make it look as if a groundswell of public indignation is rising like a majestic -- though very pissed -- eagle. Suddenly Punch was being hammered by e-mails.

But American Family apparently doesn't believe its members can articulate their own outrage. The e-mails, which arrived from across the metro area, all contained the exact same language. Punch called police, fearing we were being stalked by the Stepford Wives.

This is the same group that launched a boycott of Ford for hiring gay people. If we don't stop them now, American cars will soon have tasteful interiors!

As Dick Feagler would say, they just don't do righteous indignation like they did in the old days.

Attack on charter schools
For years, Ohio politicians have responded to the charter-school problem -- the problem being they suck -- in the same manner your drunk uncle responds to Thanksgiving dinner: by falling asleep and drooling on himself.

But last week, Attorney General Marc Dann, ignoring the Columbus tradition of leaving things in worse shape than you found them, began cracking down on the state's leading producer of failure. He sued two Dayton schools, asking courts to strip them of their non-profit status because, legally speaking, they totally blow. Over six years, the two schools chewed up $17 million in taxpayer dough, The Plain Dealer reported, while consistently spitting out students who could hardly tie their shoes or rob a check-cashing store.

Dann spent months investigating how his powers could be used to shut down failing charters, says spokesman Leo Jennings. Attacking the schools' non-profit status -- without which the schools can no longer operate -- was Dann's best bet.

"These two won't be the last," says Jennings. "I can't really quantify how many there may be, but I can assure you that these will not be last."

And, yes, the targeted schools could include those run by David Brennan's White Hat Management, the 16,000-student beast responsible for burning hundreds of millions of state dollars while failing students by the busload.

Brennan, a reliable Republican sugar daddy, avoided scrutiny by paying off former Attorneys General Jim Petro and Betty Montgomery. But he won't be purchasing Dann. "Even if David Brennan went crazy for a minute and forgot who he was and forgot who Marc was, and accidentally made a campaign contribution," it wouldn't make a difference, Jennings says. "He will look at every charter school in the state through the same lens."

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