David W. Martin did a fine job of capturing the essence of Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic ["Mayor for Life," May 21]. Plusquellic is vain, egotistical, profane, and pompous. He's also a man who has spent a great deal of time (and tax dollars) in an attempt to place his personal stamp upon the city. It's clear to all who have dealt with him that he measures his worth by the amount of bricks and mortar he will leave behind.
It is this mindset that has bequeathed to future Akron citizens a $30 million baseball stadium that was originally presented by him as a $10 million project. As is Plusquellic's custom, he did not seek voter approval; he simply had it rubber-stamped by the city council that he governs through fear and intimidation.
Two of his service directors have brought shame to our city. Ray Kapper pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court. Joe Kidder resigned, after it was revealed that his house was constructed at below-market value by a firm that received a no-bid city contract.
When Akron voters passed a campaign-finance reform package in 1998, Plusquellic took the issue all the way to the United States Supreme Court in a cynical attempt to overturn the will of the people. He was ultimately unsuccessful. Thank goodness the justices are not so easily bullied as his council minions.
Great leaders have faith in their people. They lead by the example provided by their public conduct. Jimmy Carter and Mahatma Gandhi are examples. Plusquellic is more of a dime-store Mayor Daley with an overdrawn checking account.
If Bryan Williams's coalition of Republicans, Independents, and reform Democrats succeeds in defeating Plusquellic, I hope he exits with more grace than he has governed. However, I am not holding my breath.
Mike Parsons, former councilman
Chains gain when bargains reign:
Elaine Cicora wrote about chains taking away from independent restaurants ["Chained Up," May 22], and I totally agree with her.
My wife and I go out to eat at least once a week. We love the local restaurants (favorites: Rachel's Caribbean Cuisine and Phil the Fire), but local establishments often close early and we have to eat at Applebee's and Outback. But to the chains' credit, their food is consistent (maybe bland, but consistent) and reasonably priced.
The restaurants that your paper and others generally rave about are those geared to the 25-45 crowd. They also overcharge for making the food look like a picture. As much as people like that, remember the main reason people go out: It's to eat because they're hungry. That presentation is all scattered to the winds, once you take those first bites.
As a result, chains are making big in-roads. Tell me in all truth: When you're hungry, do you want a small amount of potatoes that look like Picasso designed them? The chains have realized this and are capitalizing on it.
The good word on the Street:
I'm a security worker at the Station Street Café. I've seen firsthand what's been happening with these bands. I'm writing to point out a few things that I feel are being misrepresented.
On the matter of the Kevin Reed Band: During a break from playing, a DJ turned on dance music and the dance-floor lights. Yes, there were strobe lights. That's when Kevin Reed flipped a table with drinks on it and began yelling and waving his fists. Security responded to someone being disorderly. When we found out what was going on, we told the DJ to turn off the lights. We felt that Mr. Reed should leave because of what he did, but management told us to leave him alone.
Contrary to Stacy Kingan's letter in the May 21 issue, the club wasn't packed. [Kingan was commenting on a letter of response to First Punch, April 16.] There were about 50 people in attendance -- a far cry from packed. Scene has heard nothing good from the bands that play at Station Street, probably because the bands that leave happy don't feel the need to write letters. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. But most bands walk away happy.
I know that some bands, no matter what they got, it was too much. We've had bands that won't advertise their own show, have told people not to show up, or are just plain horrible. We've had bands that will chase away a crowd and then expect more than $500. I don't know where the sense in that is.
What I do know is that Tommy, my manager, tries to treat every band fairly.
Got doctorates, didn't get joke:
Your First Punch article ["Fleeing Cleveland," May 28] regarding the relocation of Athersys to the Research Triangle Park (RTP) area of North Carolina was objective until the last sentence: "You know Ohio is in trouble when companies see Mayberry as a step up in the world."
In fact, this month Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill ranked again among the top 13 academic institutions in the U.S. for research-grant funding, with two other NC institutions not far behind (N.C. State and Wake Forest). RTP also has one of the highest concentrations of Ph.D. workers in the country. This month, Forbes named RTP the number-three area of the country for tech-business development.
Leave the Mayberry references for people stuck in the 1950s. I tend to think that an intelligent North Carolinian believes the Cleveland Clinic is a better representation of your area than Drew Carey is; likewise, perhaps your readership deserves a more informed opinion of RTP.