Citizen Blackwell 

Bringing his unique brand of freak to D.C.

For those worried that Ken Blackwell has been living in a cardboard box since losing his gubernatorial bid, fear not. Ohio's former secretary of state and psycho-in-chief has found more suitable employ.

Blackwell is now waging war against sin as a senior fellow for the Family Research Council in D.C. It's a Christian lobbying group dedicated to such higher purposes as convincing people that gays are "going after their kids" -- and want to teach them to make really nice floral arrangements.

This is the same organization whose head, Tony Perkins, once gave a speech to the Council of Conservative Citizens, more commonly known by its former name: the White Citizens Council. (Memo to Ken: Have they figured out you're a black guy yet?)

Some of Blackwell's new colleagues include Timothy Dailey, who likes to compare homosexuals to "abnormal cells" and writes books like Dark Obsession: The Tragedy and Threat of the Homosexual Lifestyle. Others hear voices in their heads and talk a lot about Armageddon.

Blackwell, meanwhile, has been spending his time penning editorials, appearing on talk shows, and learning how to pay for his own lunch, now that he doesn't have any no-bid contracts to give out.

Fake pianist, union chief
When Harriet Applegate took over for John Ryan as executive secretary of the North Shore Federation of Labor, formerly the AFL-CIO, many applauded her rise.

Applegate was the first woman to hold Cleveland's most powerful union post, and a capable one at that. The mother of two has been working as an organizer since 1975. She also ran the Take Back Ohio Campaign, the union group that helped put Sherrod Brown in the U.S. Senate.

Still, some weren't too pleased by Applegate's arrival -- namely an angry band of musicians.

When Ryan announced he was leaving in February, he set strict guidelines for those who wanted his job. They had to be a dues-paying member, as well as a delegate to the AFL-CIO. Applegate was neither. "I knew she was not a member in good standing," says Pipefitters Local 120 member Bill Gallagher, who ran against her.

So when Applegate became a delegate for Musicians Local 4, claiming to be a professional pianist, Gallagher smelled a dying carp. Local 4 member David Zamos called to offer her some gigs. She laughed and told him that she hadn't played piano since she was a little girl. Zamos was miffed. "She lied," he says.

But that didn't seem to faze the North Shore Federation, which voted the imposter pianist into its top post on April 15.

Still, Applegate dismisses the old bait-and-switch as standard practice. "There are no technicalities amiss at all," she says. "It is typical for people to pick multiple cards from multiple unions. There are no ironclad rules for how to join a union. People join the carpenters union without being carpenters. It's nothing new. Maybe you ought to pursue the mental stability of these people who are trying to make mountains out of mole hills."

Strip for democracy!
Do you long to participate in democracy -- so long as you don't have to put down your beer? Now's your chance.

Citizens for Community Standards, a political-action committee formed by Ohio's strip clubs, will register voters and collect signatures in an effort to block the recently passed Stripper Bill.

The new law, which takes effect September 4, bans contact with customers and prudishly forces dancers to button up after midnight, as if there's something more nefarious about a.m. nakedness. But if CCS can collect 241,000 signatures by then, it will temporarily block the law and let voters have their say on the November ballot.

Finding 241,000 people to defend their right to be grinded won't be easy. So CCS will set up tents outside strip clubs to register new voters and collect signatures. It will mark the first time Ohioans can register and get lap dances in the same location since Destiny quit the Board of Elections in 2001.

"I think the people of Ohio have had it," says Sandy Theis, a former PD reporter and spokeswoman for the new group. "I think Ohio is ripe to fight back against this."

If the effort fails, the group will consider filing a lawsuit, Theis says. It's unclear which law firm would do the work, though several dancers are said to be this close to finishing their law degrees.

Abuse of the roo?
It pleases Rebecca Banner that her kids love the zoo, even if she wonders whether they spend too much time in the veterinary building. "They watch the Discovery Channel," she says. "They see animals getting eaten."

On a recent visit, they caught a sight nearly as gruesome -- a kangaroo having part of its tail amputated. The train running through the animal's enclosure ran over its tail, an employee told her. Happens four or five times a year.

Banner couldn't believe it. She asked zoo brass to reroute the train away from the roos before people started mistaking the stump-tailed survivors for hopping llamas. When the response was lukewarm, she called PETA.

Unfortunately, the zoo isn't KFC, so until they start serving kangaroos on whole wheat, don't expect the obligatory nude protest. Instead, PETA asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate.

But the USDA refuses to say what it'll do about the matter. Motto: We're the Government. We Don't Care, Because We Don't Have To. So PETA's been forced to file regular Freedom-of-Information requests to stay updated. "It's ridiculous," says spokeswoman Lisa Wathne.

The zoo says the kangaroo is recovering nicely, but it disputes the supposed savagery of the incident. After all, says spokeswoman Sue Allen, "You're talking about a couple inches taken off a four- to five-foot-long tail."

Tale of blow
When we last left David Leneghan, the Cleveland lawyer was accused of helping to steal his client's coffee business out from under her ["Coffee Clash," August 31, 2005]. He didn't want to talk to us then, nor does he likely wish to speak about his latest brush with the law.

Recently, the master barrister was caught by Parma police getting his masculine reproductive unit washed and waxed in a car outside the aptly named Swing Inn Bar & Grill. Or, as the good people at the Parma PD delicately put it, he was "engaging in offensive conduct likely to be viewed by others as inappropriate."

Leneghan pleaded no contest and was fined $123.

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