Rum Reports Roil Airwaves


Move over, Edward R. Murrow! Jeweler-turned-journalist Larry Robinson's foray into Cuba last week bent ears from here to Havana, and not just for the "rum and Coke were flowing" flavor of his reports. Robinson was identified as a National Public Radio correspondent on WKYC-TV, an appellation WCPN Community Relations Director Tara Renk is quick to disavow. "He's an occasional program contributor," says Renk, who is hard-pressed to name another. "Larry is kind of an animal unto himself." In fact, Robinson's periodic phoners from the latest international hot spot or Cleveland Orchestra tour have become an eye-rolling embarrassment among the staff at WCPN, to which he is a significant financial contributor. "It's like, if you've got the bucks, we'll put you on the air," says one staffer. "I'm strictly an amateur," allows Robinson, who nonetheless has also managed to talk WKSU and WOIO-TV into airing his travelogues. "It's the most fascinating thing I've ever done." Try reporting on your buddy Mike White sometime.


The deal-breaker in the South High settlement came not from recalcitrant parents, according to defense attorney Dan Shields, but from an offer originally made by the Cleveland school district to transfer two of the 11 suspended students to an alternative school in Maple Heights. Timothy and Tabatha Braddock never attended the school. But when district officials warned it might be risky for them to return to South High, their parents decided to take up the offer -- with the proper placement testing. The district balked, and negotiations to reinstate all five of the newly exonerated students collapsed. Their return poses a potential problem for South High teachers, according to social studies instructor Donna Lavdis, who says she and her colleagues calmed students by assuring them that anyone who posed a threat had been permanently removed. Still, she supports the students: "If they were not involved, they should come back." Social stigmas notwithstanding.


The gloves are definitely off in the bold new City Council Finance Committee hearings, where firebrand Fannie Lewis ripped the White administration a new one last week with a sharp tongue lashing-cum-Bible lesson. Convinced that her ward was snubbed in a recent city recreation directory, she read from Ephesians 6:1-13, which speaks of "the devil's schemes" and "spiritual wickedness in high places," and told Parks Director Alfred Miller, "You and the mayor hate me!" Perhaps moved by the spirit of the season, Lewis added, "I feel sorry for you and anyone who works for this administration." As do we all.


Master of His Universe: Normally, publishers don't flaunt the control they exercise over the printed word. But if Plain Dealer President and Publisher Alex Machaskee can tout himself as one of Cleveland's most powerful people in the pages of his own paper, why can't Cleveland Magazine Publisher Lute Harmon send out this metaphorical honey of a Christmas card? At least the Inside Business staff look happy in their winter wonderland -- and how many PD writers can say that?

Snow globes and hot tips to edge@clevescene.com

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