All that was missing after last week's furor over alleged racism in the Cleveland Police Department was a stash of Nazi gold and dog-eared copies of Mein Kampf jammed under squad car seats. Alas, a subsequent sweep of the sixth district police station yielded only two white-guy totems posters of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Marilyn Monroe, tacked to the wall of the weight room. Both were removed, perhaps in the hope of building an alternative Kennedy-conspiracy case.
A more productive place to look for racist behavior might be the TRW Valve Division plant on East 185th Street, currently on the selling block as part of the company's larger effort to unload its entire engine component business. With their jobs on the line, the 570-plus plant workers were understandably cranky at a meeting last month, in which management unveiled a new production system. When one employee questioned the system, according to an internal UAW newsletter, a management lackey responded, "Are you stupid compared with other people in the world who are already doing this? Are you from the Congo?" Many of the workers are black, and as one attendee notes, "A lot of people were offended." Production techniques have been under discussion at the plant, acknowledges TRW spokesperson Fran Dacek, though her sources recount the meeting differently. "Other TRW plants and other industrialized countries use the new system," she says. "The idea was, we're smart enough to be able to do that too."
Speaking of cranky employees: John Carroll is about to get whacked with a gender discrimination suit by Christina Murray, the university's human resources director. Murray is alleging male preference in the school's hiring practices and salary structure, based on some intriguing numbers compiled by her lawyer, Kevin Roberts. According to his figures, 22 of JCU's 34 male administrators earn more than the highest-paid of its thirteen female administrators. The average male salary, he claims, is about twice the average female salary. "And if you look at the national statistics, three out of four women are below the average salary level, whereas only three out of ten men are," argues Roberts, who says he tried to settle with the school's outside legal counsel, Jones Day Reavis & Pogue. "They just ignored us," says Roberts, a Squire Sanders & Dempsey alum poised for a blue-chip courtroom battle with a distaff Jones Day employee, no doubt.
Everyday problems of discrimination and racial unrest seemed far from the idyllic reaches of Woodstock '99 last week until a riot broke out Sunday night and nearly killed Adrianne Ambrose, a West Side jewelry wholesaler who went to the music disaster as a vendor. "It was one of the worst experiences of my life," says Ambrose, who found herself under siege by rioting looters, helicopters, smoke, and fires that crept as close as the neighboring tent. "It looked like a war!" she fumes. Ambrose and her five-woman sales staff went into combat mode, encircling their wares with a barricade of tables, ready to flee if the mob overran them. Still, one of her most enduring memories is of the innocent mud play. "You have to have a mud pit at Woodstock, right?" she says. "Well, this one started when people knocked over some of the Port-o-Potties. It was the most disgusting thing you can imagine." Until the Tribe's next road trip to New York.
Mud balls and hot tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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