Time to lose those lousy prints, already: Hallefreakinlujah! Kevin Hoffman and Tom Francis's article "Strange Love" [September 17] nailed it. So many Clevelanders are psychologically imprinted with years of negative messages about their town and all the things they supposedly don't have. The negativity is becoming part of our collective attitude about ourselves. It just ain't so.
As a transplant to this city some 17 years ago from another big Midwestern town, I initially dreaded the move: Cleveland! You want me to move to Cleveland? Happily, I discovered this town to be thriving with coolness, 'cause, as Hoffman and Francis put it: "We don't try, therefore, we are."
Your synopsis of traffic, entertainment, and our cost of living -- especially as you related it to accessibility -- was great. I've done extensive traveling and business in all the cities you compared, so I especially enjoyed your cross-examination of those issues. You got to the core of your message quickly and with humor.
Please figure out how to e-mail the article, complete with drawings, to a zillion college-age-oriented electronic bulletin boards across the U.S. I think you'll be doing a real service to the future of this town. Thanks for a great article.
Over time, that overtime adds up: In response to "Hacked Off" [September 17]: One of the dirtier little secrets of officers who work in the downtown area is the practice of issuing tickets to cab drivers, just to collect overtime for court appearances.
One of their favorites was the "cruising and soliciting" violation. Those cops know that the accrual of points is a prime concern of any professional driver. They issue tickets for offenses they know won't stand up in court. Rather than waive these tickets, we're forced to plead "not guilty" and schedule a second court date, for which the officer is subpoenaed. The case gets thrown out or plea-bargained, he gets four hours overtime, and we get no points -- but at least a $150 fine. I'd like to see the amount of overtime payments received by officers in the second and third districts, compared to other parts of town. I would almost bet that a good portion of that overtime was due to tickets issued to cabbies.
To be fair, cops seem to be a lot more lenient now than they once were. Three years ago, I picked up a passenger who flagged me down in front of an East Bank bar. An officer came up to my vehicle, snatched open the door, and ordered the passenger to get out because he wasn't at a cab stand. I wonder what kind of impression of Cleveland that left on this out-of-town guest.
The cabstand thing is a joke. All you have to do is pass by the Greyhound station, the Marriott, the Ritz, or the Embassy Suites hotels to see how the cab-stand signs are ignored.
Not These Guys
A fan weighs in: Sarah Fenske's article "Father Knows Best" [August 27] is so far from the truth. Anyone reading the story and knowing Tom and Scott Berlin would agree. They would never think about doing anything illegal, immoral, or damaging to each other's career. End of story.
On Behalf of Mike
The charges have been paid: We appreciated Sarah Fenske's article "Brother's Keeper" [September 10] on inmate Michael Swiger. As volunteers in the prison system for many years, we have been exposed to many men.
Michael is a truly repentant man, who lives what he speaks. He consistently has a positive attitude with everyone he meets. Just recently, we heard another inmate give an unsolicited public statement that Mike was such a positive role model for him. Other inmates present agreed.
We are in favor of criminals paying their just dues to society for their crimes. Michael's sentence, however, was based on "charges," not on conviction. We believe that he has truly paid his debt to society. Thank you for reporting his situation in an objective manner.
Vic & Eva Bell
Grace for all: I thought Sarah Fenske's article "Brother's Keeper" was very well balanced. She portrayed Michael as the gentle caring person that I know, not as a vicious killer. I am sorry that in our anxiety to punish someone, evidence is ignored or distorted.
It is also sad that the Pratts are not able to forgive a repentant sinner. We are all in need of God's grace. Michael has become an inspiration to those of us who know him.
Mary Janet Smith
An Old, Bad Trip
It could end more than a cough: Unfortunately, there's nothing new about cough-syrup abuse ["Weird drug news, Part III," First Punch, September 17]. The stuff is way more dangerous and hallucinogenic than anybody would imagine -- or drug companies will admit. While I was at Kent State, I wrote an exposé on the stuff, which won an award from the Press Club of Cleveland. I talked with a number of users and couldn't believe it myself, at first. The story can be found at www.burr.kent.edu/archives/1997/ spring/cough/cough.html. The bottom line is, cough syrup is extremely dangerous. Any parents who notice the Robitussin DM disappearing, make a note of it. Your kid could be lying in a coma somewhere. While it sounds ridiculous, it's no laughing matter.
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