2005 becomes The Year of the Homo.

Gay Tuesday 

2005 becomes The Year of the Homo.

In 2004, George W. Bush used anti-gay marriage initiatives to win reelection in Ohio and elsewhere. But a scant year later, openly gay politicians cleaned up at the ballot box.

Call it The Year of the Homo.

In Cuyahoga County, three queer candidates were elected last week, the first time any openly gay politician has won a seat in the county. "It's definitely huge," says Mike Shea, spokesman for the Stonewall Democrats, a gay political group. "I think it sends a signal to the social Republicans that want us back in the closet. We're here, we're queer, and this is our state too."

The winners included: Joe Santiago, who beat Nelson Cintron for the Ward 14 Cleveland City Council seat; Nicki Antonio, who won an at-large Lakewood council seat; and Mark Tumeo, who took the Cleveland Heights council seat of Jimmie Hicks Jr., the moron who sued his own city to block a domestic-partner registry approved by voters.

Cuyahoga County wasn't the only electorate to embrace gays. Joe Lacey won a seat on the Dayton school board, and Mary Jo Hudson won a seat on the Columbus City Council, giving gay Dems a clean sweep in the five races they ran.

The only loser was a gay Republican in Toledo. But if you're a gay Republican -- which is akin to being a black Klansman -- you're a loser no matter how the vote goes.

The politics of rape
Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder, 52 Ohio House members are sponsoring a bill that would outlaw abortions at public hospitals -- even if the women are victims of rape or incest.

Under the proposal, a woman would have to be dying before a publicly funded abortion could save her life.

Not surprisingly, the measure appears to have won overwhelming support -- without anyone actually reading it. Representative James Trakas (R-Independence) said he signed up as a co-sponsor without realizing the bill pounded rape and incest victims.

But thankfully, proponents are doing little more than scamming their conservative supporters. Most hospitals don't even perform abortions -- 95 percent are done at clinics, meaning the bill will affect only the very poor and sick. And most procedures are paid for out of pocket, says Linda Jane, development director at the Preterm clinic in Cleveland. Though Medicaid is supposed to pay if a poor woman's life is in danger, or if she's a victim of rape or incest, getting reimbursed by the government is nearly impossible due to red tape.

So what's the point of picking on the few desperate women who actually get publicly funded abortions? "It is really political posturing," Jane says.

Platinum still in business
If you're one of the hundreds of car-warranty buyers who got ripped off by Platinum Warranty and Anthony Hodel ["Platinum Tony," October 12], you can stop by and say hi at the company's new Middleburg Heights offices.

Though the company's name has changed -- it's now called Automotive Research Corporation, doing business on the web at roadwarranty.com and warrantyausedcar.com -- it hasn't changed its ways.

After all, while Platinum was filing for bankruptcy to avoid paying you, Hodel's salespeople were already on the phone hustling new business.

So says Olivia Strong. She, Hodel, and a handful of Platinum employees covertly made the move from the company's old BP Tower office. Strong, who quit last week, says Hodel instructed employees never to admit he ran the firm or give out its address. If asked, they were told to say that Automotive Research was based in Nevada.

"Nothing is new except the name and the number," Strong admits. Even Platinum's main account, online lender RoadLoans, is the same.

Last month, Hodel told a bankruptcy judge that Platinum had lost the RoadLoans account and, with it, nearly all its income. Without RoadLoans, Hodel argued, it was best just to kill the company off. But a RoadLoans salesperson obviously didn't get the memo. She admitted to Punch that her company was still doing business with Hodel. "They used to be called Platinum Warranty," she said.

So Punch paid a visit to Automotive Research, located at 7261 Engle Road, Plaza South, Building Two, Suite 400 (the double doors on the right after you get off the elevator). The office is unmarked, and the building directory lists the tenant as Ohio Appraisal.

When we knocked, a woman opened the door just wide enough to appear extremely suspicious. "I'm looking for Anthony Hodel," Punch said.

"There's no one here by that name, sir," she replied, shutting the door in our face.

Cleaning up East Cleveland
Of all Ohio's newly elected politicians, no one will inherit a more haunted house than Eric Brewer, mayor-elect of East Cleveland. The EC's last mayor, Emmanuel Onunwor, is in federal prison for taking bribes. The current mayor, Saratha Goggins, once stabbed her boyfriend to death. And the city's finances give the word "shambles" a bad name.

Brewer will be lucky if he doesn't find any bodies under his desk.

Yet somehow, he's pumped. "I'm gonna have a ball," Brewer tells Punch. It must have something to do with all the people he'll get to fire.

He wouldn't name names, but you get the feeling anyone who ever made eye contact with Nate Gray, and plenty of others, should be working on a résumé. "They can leave now," Brewer says, "and . . . save themselves the embarrassment of being terminated, and in some cases prosecuted."

Some people have already got the message and left, including some Brewer "was hoping could stay, so I could show them the door."

In the meantime, he's warning current employees not to steal anything on their way out. Seriously.

Blog rolling
The Plain Dealer scored what seemed to be a major scoop last week when it accused Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) of plagiarizing an internet blogger. Yet the blogger is now accusing The PD of writerly malfeasance of its own.

The micro-flap began when The PD busted Brown for swiping the words of blogger Nathan Newman in a letter he sent to Senator Mike DeWine, denouncing the labor record of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Newman wasn't available for an interview the day the story ran, but after he saw the piece, he made clear that he didn't mind Brown's borrowing. "I put together a list of cases and sent it out all over the internet, encouraging people to use this in talking about Alito," Newman says.

What does bother Newman is the way The PD sandbagged him when he refused to play his appointed role as victim.

Initially, The PD was extremely complimentary of his writing. But by the time the paper got around to writing an editorial on the subject, Newman had become an "internet dilettante" -- which we're pretty sure is a fancy way of calling him a pussy.

"This is what happens," says Newman. "The media creates a victim. And if the victim doesn't cooperate, they attack the victim."

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