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History Repeats 

But With One Key Difference: Today, No One Cares When Their Neighbors Are Evicted

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Yeah. Where is the outrage?

It's taken years to get Washington to act with authority on the foreclosure crisis, and it's hard to tell whether President Obama's new plan will go far enough to save the day. But maybe things wouldn't have sunk to these depths if people were revolting like they were back when the Depression was weighing down on everybody's lives.

The Nation recently dipped into its archives to feature Cleveland in a story about early struggles to get judges to issue moratoriums on foreclosures, comparing the wave of angry protests in the 1930s to today's more subdued maneuverings. The story showed a picture of the house at 11413 Lardet on Cleveland's East Side surrounded by some of the 10,000 fedora-topped protesters who faced "tear gas, clubbings and gunfire" to keep a man who'd lost his job from having his family tossed on the street by foreclosure.

"This is a crowd that won't scatter," the original 1933 Nation story stated. "By the end of the 1930s, farmers' and home-owners' struggles had pushed the legislatures of no fewer than 27 states to pass moratoriums on foreclosures."

It's hard to tell how close to that goal the modern movement will get. Sheriff Gerald McFaul, finally weighing in on a request by the American Friends Service Committee to stop evicting people from foreclosured homes, sure isn't feeling any heat from the people. "I'm at the will of the court," he claims. "When the judges tell me to stop, I'll stop." Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander responded the same way to the AFSC request, even though several sheriffs across the land - including Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones - have stopped their deputies from performing foreclosure evictions, with no legal recourse.

When asked about the matter, Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka is cryptic about the moratoriums, referring Scene to the new story in The Nation.

"This was all ages, husky Hungarian housewives, everybody," marveled Pianka. "We're not seeing a pushback like that. All those people, they got there without e-mail, without Blackberrys, without all the means of communication we have today. There weren't even that many telephones then, and they all were able to get to the same spot."

It's almost as if Pianka is hoping to witness some elevated outrage to bolster the post-communist efforts of groups like ACORN as they push county judges to act more aggressively. Or maybe he's just noting how most people can't seem to muster the concerted passion to care for anyone but themselves anymore.

There is some heat, though. The Nation noted that a group of housing coalitions protested at the Justice Center at the beginning of the year, calling for a moratorium. At that protest, a graveyard of Styrofoam headstones represented the various neighborhoods wracked by foreclosures. But no tear gas was needed. Not a single bullet was fired. The next month, Sheriff McFaul had another 1,000 houses to empty out. - Dan Harkins

'THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME'

Youngstown middleweight Kelly Pavlik beat Marco Antonio Rubio into submission Saturday night, February 21, dominating a nine-round fight, with the WBO (World Boxing Organization) and WBC (World Boxing Council) titles on the line. Rubio's team called uncle, and he didn't even bother coming out for round 10. It was Pavlik's first fight following his first career loss, an October non-title upset by veteran Bernard Hopkins. Pavlik's loss was Youngstown's gain.

Before the Hopkins fight came together, there was talk of Pavlik fighting in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. This fight, far less anticipated, took place in Youngstown's Chevrolet Centre (spelled with an "re" to convey extra class and specialness). Y-town's resident hero was contractually obligated to fight Rubio, a respectable if not stellar up-and-comer. HBO and Showtime passed on the fight, which aired on pay-per-view for $44.95 a pop. The match wasn't big, but the tickets were hot: 7,200 seats sold out almost immediately. Promoter Bob Arum noted the take from the gate was higher than that of a recent Madison Square Garden title fight.

Friday and Saturday, downtown Youngstown took on the kind of supercharged atmosphere of a tailgate party. Cleveland residents, out-of-town media and Pittsburgh boxing fans (including members of the Steelers) helped create what hotel managers and restaurant owners called "a good night." Rooms weren't sold out, but most of the Pavlik Nation was already home. Most important, it was certainly the town's biggest night since early in the Reagan presidency.

"The atmosphere was explosive," says Lori Greenwalt, a lifelong Youngstown resident, one of Pavlik's merchandise managers and owner of Civics social club, the unofficial Shrine of All Things Pavlik. "Everybody was there. It was the biggest night I can remember, ever."

Returning Youngstown royalty included 1980s lightweight great Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, who interviewed Pavlik after the fight. Pavlik - now 35-1, with 31 KOs - said he'd like to fight in the area again come summer, depending on what kind of fight his handlers can arrange. Possible matchups include a title unification with German IBF (International Boxing Federation) champion Arthur Abraham.

"What a way to bounce back, in front of your hometown," said a victorious and visibly relieved Pavlik from the ring, belts draped over each shoulder, proudly wearing a white Buffalo Wild Wings ballcap. "It's been electric here … There's no place like home." - D.X. Ferris

LOCAL DIRT

Sam Miller just won't quit. Apparently, he thought funding the county commissioners' campaigns was enough to guarantee that the Medical Mart complex would be built at Tower City. Ever since Commissioner Tim Hagan surprised everyone by supporting a plan to build the MedMart on the site of the old convention center, Miller has been trying to throw a wrench in the gears, demanding the selection process - get this - be more open to the public. The commissioners seem unfazed, though, so Miller's taking his case to the press. According to an inside source, Miller was recently granted a chance to pitch his proposal to editors at The Plain Dealer. And, as blogger Bill Callahan (callahansclevelanddiary.com) noted, only recently - like, last weekend - has the PD openly wondered what else the county might do with all the money that will go to Hagan's project. "This would have been an excellent question in June and July 2007, when the MedMartConCenter sales tax was 'under consideration' by the County Commissioners," Callahan wrote. "In fact, some of us asked it. But not The Plain Dealer."

South Euclid City Council approved a $15,000 pay bump for Meg Martines, its community-center director, last week, to the chagrin of South Euclid Oversight, a small coalition of local activists who feel that money could be better spent. In South Euclid, after all, $15,000 can buy you a foreclosed home. And fix a lot of potholes. Finance committee chair Moe Romeo explained that the $40,000 (plus benefits) salary Martines took when hired was "extremely low." Also extremely low? The unemployment checks your out-of-work constituents are receiving these days.

The anonymous acerbic blogger behind PoliticalScience216 has just formed a Facebook group called Recall Dimora, complete with a Dimora poster in the Obama "HOPE"-poster style. Group members are encouraged to post their thoughts about the Cuyahoga's most reviled county commissioner. Patrick O'Malia writes: "As a former employee of the county, I have to say Jimmy's ego and asswipe demeanor are no match for his tiny girth!" Oh. No. You. Di-in't!

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