Convention Sweepstakes 

Let's market Cleveland to all those gay Republicans!

Ohio's Largest Shrinking Newspaper reports that Cleveland is among four cities in the running to host the next Republican National Convention. One of the issues that will be taken into consideration is local attractions.

The Plain Dealer lists the Rock Hall, Playhouse Square, the Warehouse District, East Fourth Street, and Cedar Point. But it left something out -- the attraction that is sure to put Cleveland over the top. As reported in Scene, Cleveland will soon be home to the world's finest gay bathhouse.

Between National GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman; the White House's favorite gay male prostitute, Jeff Gannon; 12-term Congressman David Dreier; ineligible bachelor Matt Drudge; Rush Limbaugh, who can't maintain a relationship with a member of the opposite sex; Karl Rove, who has never been seen with a woman; Ann Coulter, who has an Adam's apple; Michael Savage, who apparently took his name from a gay porn star; and the tens of millions of Republicans who protest too much when it comes to gay issues, Cleveland should be a shoo-in -- or should I say a swish-in?

Jeff Fritz

Tribe Fan Declares Free Agency
He's pissed -- and he's available to root for your team.
I can't take it any more. The Indians (or should I say their owners?) have destroyed another summer. The only Indians going home are their fans after another loss.

This team has been re-built more than Joan Rivers' face and I for one don't have the patience to see how this present "surgery" on the team turns out. I'm tired of waiting for the bandages to come off.

I realize the trading deadline has expired, but I can still exercise my option. I am declaring myself a Free Agent Fan. I want a new team to support. The team that I choose (or chooses me) should be competitive, fun and, above all, dedicated.

The White Sox come to mind. You gotta love Ozzie. Detroit? Why not? From worst to first -- plus, if they win the Series, it's conceivable the fans will burn Detroit to the ground. Maybe the Reds -- enough of the DH. Junior has the purest swing in the game. Maybe even the Yankees. I'd like to see if Joe Tore can smile if they win.

Anyone out there willing to take me up on my offer? I'm dying to get back in the game.

Scott Monachino

Open Letter to the Kiwanis
I am writing to ask why the Kiwanis in Cleveland are trying to steal our Oktoberfest from the German community. As a long-standing member of numerous German groups here in Cleveland, I am appalled that the Kiwanis is usurping and exploiting the name "Oktoberfest" when the German community is being excluded from participating in any meaningful way. The fact that the Stadtverband, the umbrella organization for all of the many Cleveland-area German groups, was told it could have "an exhibit table for free" is an intolerable insult to all German-speaking people here in Cleveland.

Oktoberfest is our community's primary source of generating revenue and helps us throughout the year in terms of financial viability. If the Kiwanis steal this, where does that leave us? I ask you, would it be proper for the German community to take over the Hungarian Festival, or if the Polish took over the Irish Festival? The answer is an emphatic NO!

Taking the next step in our inductive logic, why is it acceptable to have the Kiwanis assume control over an obviously German-oriented annual event? Two of the ideals of the Kiwanis -- to encourage the Golden Rule in all human relationships and to promote higher social, business, and professional standards -- are certainly not being pursued in this instance.

While I definitely support the Kiwanis' goal of increasing righteousness, justice, patriotism, and goodwill as a sound means of building strong communities, I fail to see where the theft of a major event from the German community is increasing justice or righteousness. In fact, it only serves to weaken our community. Is this the goal of the Cleveland Kiwanis?

Were it not for the leadership of Germans during the Revolutionary War and the contribution of German immigrants throughout our nation's history, we most likely would not even be a nation. You, this country, and I owe a lot to the sacrifices made by the German-speaking peoples.

Let's be honest: You and I know that the Germans have been victimized for many decades and continue to be misrepresented and exploited. Is this the reason why the Kiwanis have no compunction against exploiting the Germans again for the financial gain of your own group? You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Paul Holt
DANK President

Dino's Plea: Why aren't the hair bands coming to Cleveland?
I recently found out that there are a lot of '80s hair/rock bands and artists of today playing in Burgettstown, PA. All the way until December! Korn, George Thorogood, Aerosmith with Motley Crue, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Twisted Sister, Roger Waters and many others. Many of these artists are not coming to Cleveland. Why not? Why don't the concert venues go out and get these artists to play here? We are the rock and roll capital still, right?

Dino Mancini

They're Still Pissed: The victims of Blaine Zahand keep rolling in.
When I first talked to Raia ["Stripped Off," May 31], it was through one of her "Con Artist" MySpace pages. I hadn't talked to Blaine in months since moving out of Ohio and was happy to hear from who I thought was him. I accepted the invitation for "him" to be my friend and left a comment about how it was awesome to hear from him. Shortly thereafter, I got a reply asking me if I had read the page and if I knew what kind of person Blaine was. After I read what was on the MySpace page, all the weird actions and events that I had experienced with Blaine finally made sense.

I initially started talking to him in late July or early August of 2005. I met him online and just chatted. Eventually I gave him my number and we would talk briefly or text each other. He told me he worked for the Playhouse and coached soccer. He said he really liked kids and was a single guy trying to find a girl who would actually treat him right.

He always seemed to know what to say to make any person, really, fall for him. And in another situation I might have. But I have gotten very picky when it comes to guys and not very patient. He also gave me this weird vibe that I couldn't explain and wouldn't let me get close to him.

He wouldn't return my calls right away. He was either really responsive or really neglectful. He would call me obsessively and want to see me all the time, then would fall off the face of the earth and start to back out of plans or "get too busy" and forget to show up. I just didn't allow myself to get that into him.

He told me one day that his "sister" Seana needed a job. I told him that I could probably help her get one at the bank I worked at. He e-mailed me Seana's resume, but I told him that she had to go online to fill out an application before they would see her. He got really weird when I asked him to have her do that. He kept asking me for an employee ID and other personal information. I really just didn't feel comfortable giving him much more than my last name. I checked in every few days with HR, but Seana never applied.

In mid-October, it was my birthday and I invited him to come to the Tradesman Tavern to hang out with me and some of my friends. He called the next day and told me that he was up there but couldn't find me. He had bought me a card and a present and wanted to give it to me. I wasn't keeping my eye out for him, but I never saw him either way.

Two days later I got a text from his phone saying that it was his sister Seana. Blaine was in jail, she said, and needed bail money. After all the broken plans and barely knowing him as much more than an acquaintance, I said only that I was sorry to hear it and wished her good luck.

It makes me relieved that my guts led me in the right way with this person. I just feel completely horrible that other people were not as lucky.

I think what he and his wife do is disgusting. In a perfect world, they will get what they deserve times ten. I am very proud of Raia for doing what she is and will help her achieve the justice she and the other girls deserve.

Sarah Montgomery
Phoenix, Ariz.

She's Out Five Grand
I'm another one of Blaine's girls - another one who got used and then dumped by the wayside ["Stripped Off," May 31]. I'm one of those girls from MySpace. I'm not a stripper. I've never been an exotic dancer. I'm 24 and a student at Cleveland State.

I was used for probably close to $5,000. Most of that is on one of my credit cards. So not only am I in debt because of him, my credit is going down the drain. I currently work two jobs, barely making payments on my bills, barely affording school because of what he did to me. I even found out he used most of the money I gave him to buy himself a brand new TV.

I was also duped by the whole "my sister Seana, who is actually my wife." I found out through his ex-girlfriend Cindy (also the mother of one of his how many children) after I had been used that Seana and he were actually married. He even gave me a ring that I was told had been his dad's wedding band. I found out through Cindy that it was more likely to be his original wedding band to Seana. Lucky me.

His brother wrote that he probably believes his own lies. I want to argue that statement and ask: if he believes his own lies, how did he get both his wife and his friends to help him rob girls of their hard-earned money? Because not only did Seana call me or instant-message me telling me they needed bail money, but his friend Kevin called, too, asking me when I was showing up to give Seana the money.

This guy has ruined my life. My credit is steadily declining, I'm barely keeping my head above water. I'm a college student, not a millionaire. I continually question just what I'm going to do to rescue myself from this horror for which I blame myself. I've been trying to pick up the pieces for almost a year now and failing miserably.

I would truly like to see Blaine behind bars so he doesn't ruin any more innocent, naive girls' lives, like he did mine.

Suzie Dowst

My Money's Not Dirty
Sometimes I wish people like Mat Cocktosten [Letters, June 21] would actually ask me personally the questions he may have. Unlike Blaine Zahand, I wasn't afraid to talk and tell the truth.

Yes - I admit I made a mistake. I trusted someone I thought I knew. As far as what I used to do to take care of my child without the help of welfare is no one's business. I did not do this story for just myself. I did it for all the girls that I spent countless hours with on the phone or on the Internet while they poured their confused feelings out about the whole ordeal. Not all these girls were dancers. Actually most of them were not.

And if anyone knows who Blaine is, they would know what a sweet, caring person he seemed to be. In all honesty I thought I owed this guy, who was not a customer at the club but someone that I spent hours bonding with and who did a number of great things for me. We had what some people may call a "relationship."

Of course, I did not want to give his so called sister any money. She seemed just as sweet as he was. I thought I knew Blaine enough, after four months, to help him. After all, he was not the kind of person I could see doing anything bad enough to actually get arrested. No way - not Blaine. But anyone who cares for someone who they think they trust would give that kind of money. And it's sick how his wife is in on this whole scam. She has been introduced as his sister many times. So what kind of woman is she?

And as far as my money being dirty, well, that's funny. Because if you ask anyone who I am, they will tell you exactly how it is. I don't hustle. Bottom line: I provide for my daughter. I am trying to get into school and have been for the past few years, but anyone who is a single mom, knows the struggles with work, school and child care all at the same time.

And in my mind, I feel Blaine already got what he deserved. He no longer can deny what he and his wife did to these poor girls. Females that they targeted were ones who would do anything for anybody. Just kind-hearted people. If anyone really knew the whole story, it would blow their mind.

I guess I will stop there for now. But to anyone else, all I have to say is maybe you should ask questions before you assume certain things. I now know that you cannot judge anyone until you are in that predicament. Thanks to everyone that supported me and the other girls that helped me through all of this.

Raia Rivers

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