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It Ain't About Race 

Black contractor group threatens one of its own.

Last year we introduced you to Norman Edwards, head of the Black Contractors Employers Association, whose aim is to bust city and county projects for discrimination.

But Edwards can't blame Whitey for his lack of work: He's been repeatedly accused of stiffing workers, subcontractors, unions, and creditors ["Slave to His Past," April 5, 2006]. Now he's sunk to a new low: protesting other black contractors.

Ozanne Construction has been black-owned since President Dominic Ozanne's father, Leroy, founded it in 1956. The company has worked on federal projects throughout the country, as well as at the airport, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Browns Stadium. It's done everything, it seems, but hire Edwards.

So last year Edwards sent Ozanne a letter promising to shut him out of any jobs won by other black contractors. When that didn't work, Edwards threatened Dominic Ozanne, saying he was going to "kick his ass," according to a police report. And in December, 12 members of Edwards' group stormed a job site at the Cleveland Clinic, cornering an Ozanne employee, and demanded jobs.

Finally, Edwards led a protest outside the company's offices. He saw Ozanne coming through a door and tried to grab him, but was blocked by a security guard -- at which point he allegedly called Ozanne a "black Jew" and a "faggot." We're guessing these weren't meant as compliments.

So the company sued to keep Edwards off its worksites. The order prevents Edwards from doing what has essentially become his job -- threatening and harassing anyone who doesn't hire Norman Edwards.

Whiskey title lost

If there's one thing Cleveland should kill at, it's drinking whiskey. With the largest Irish population this side of Boston, we were sure to contend for the crown when Jameson announced its top-selling bar in the world.

So who does the title go to? A bar in Minneapolis. This from a town largely populated by Swedes, whose only contribution to the world is the ability to help you move large furniture. According to Jameson, the bar burned through 12 bottles a day last year, surpassing even Ireland's storied dens of liquor and mirth.

In Lakewood, where four-leaf clovers hang from tavern windows year-round, the news was a devastating hit to morale (until everyone realized how wasted they were and forgot about it). "That's shocking to me," says a bartender at Merry Arts.

Celeste, a barmaid at Pug Mahone's, was ashamed to admit her best-selling shots are grape and cherry vodka, which real Irishmen use as mouthwash. "We're an Irish bar!" she insists.

At least the spirit of Ireland -- if not the official drink -- is still alive at O'Donnell's Pub. Bartender Marysa says customers come to her looking for the drink that will get them sloshed with swiftness and surety: the Monster Bomb. Made with equal parts bottom-shelf vodka and energy drink, the concoction is guaranteed to make all women beautiful and all men smaller than you.

Jameson, she says, is what the yuppies drink. "I would say the profile -- they are the hip kind of crowd . . . They're cute. They're pretty."

So let the Swedes have their metrosexual whiskey. We'll take two Monster Bombs, please.

12-year-old love

There's such a thing as being too smart for your own good. Meet poster child Nancy Marks.

The 63-year-old former principal was convicted in 1995 on statutory rape charges for having an affair with a 12-year-old student at Case Elementary. Last week, she volunteered to take the stand at a hearing to determine if she should register as a sex offender when she leaves prison.

But instead of showing repentance, Marks invoked the cupid defense. "I loved him too much," she told Judge Michael Donnelly. And that flame burns eternal.

She said she still loves the boy and hopes to resume the courtship when she's paroled. It wasn't a particularly smart play for a woman hoping to avoid checking in with the sheriff every 90 days for the rest of her life.

Defense attorney James Hardiman, who was overheard delivering his post-hearing analysis by the courthouse elevator, wasn't too pleased with his client's performance. "We told her not to testify, but she wouldn't listen. She's got an IQ of 140, and she can't answer a straight question."

Obituaries

Sam Fulwood column, pioneered laziness and unoriginality.

The Column of Sam Fulwood III, a malicious figure that for years wreaked havoc on The Plain Dealer's Metro section and dared readers to cancel their subscriptions, died last week. It was seven years old.

The Column's father, Sam Fulwood III, declined to discuss the untimely death, choosing instead to mourn privately. After a short bereavement leave, he is expected to assume new duties by writing a 17-part series on his recent trip to Pottery Barn.

The exact cause of death is unknown, but the Column was in declining health for years, suffering from acute irrelevance. Sources say the Column's paternal grandfather, Editor Doug Clifton, finally removed it from life support last week.

The Column is survived by Connie Schultz's Pulitzer, Kevin O'Brien's refusal to recognize global warming, and a newsroom full of people who haven't seen Fulwood since 2002, when he accidentally appeared at the office after mistaking it for a bakery. The Column's successor will be that of Phillip Morris, which previously resided on the paper's Forum page.

The Column will be remembered for its daring laziness and brazen massacre of craftsmanship. Historians believe its defining moment came in 2005, when Sam wrote a two-part series on his new car.

Final viewing took place last Thursday. Smaller services were held at breakfast tables around Northeast Ohio. Fulwood Watch, a tribute to the Column's trailblazing contributions to primitive thought and literature, will remain in perpetuity at www.clevescene.com/blogs/.

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