WE DEMAND RESPECT
An open letter to Chris Kennedy:
Your recent remarks directed toward Cleveland leadership found in the March 29, 2009, edition of The Plain Dealer are offensive and crude at best. I have been a loyal advocate of the Kennedy family since the campaign and subsequent election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States of America. I admired and respected Robert Kennedy for his inclusive actions and quest to establish right relationships between and among citizens within this great country; and I have suffered along with many others in this community as tragedy, illness and other afflictions have affected your family.
Mr. Kennedy, I disagree with your sweeping assumption that "Cleveland lacks strong leaders." Congressman Louis Stokes, David Abbott, Dr. Lolita McDavid, Sam Merrett, Randell McShepard, Barbara Danforth, Pastor Edward Cryer, Barbara Esperon, Bruce H. Akers, Scott Wolstein, Pastor Nate Ortiz, Steve Wertheim and Stanley Miller are a few examples and certainly not an exhaustive listing of our esteemed elected/former elected, faith-based, corporate, nonprofit, medical and community leaders.
It is understood, we have not met, nor have you met the general population of greater Cleveland; otherwise, you would not have questioned our mentality. We are a people of hope and aspiration for a better life for our children. We are a people who desire employment with a decent living wage, affordable homes, safe and clean communities, clean water and a safe food supply, superior medical care, superior schools — and we demand respect.
Reverend Charissa Prunty
DANCING TO "JIG"
Thanks for exposing what is really going on at the Jigsaw ("The Jig Is Up," March 18, and updates, including this issue). It is pretty sad because the Jigsaw is actually one of the best spots in town for live music, and hopefully someone buys it and treats their employees the right way. I play in a band, and when I say that after we found out about employees (some are our friends) not getting paid, it was a no-brainer to pull out of doing any shows at the Jigsaw, until each and every one of these employees are paid what they are owed. Hopefully someone buys this Cleveland landmark and runs the business the right way. We can't afford to lose any more good things in this town.
I read your article "The Jig is Up," and I wanted to commend you on this story. It is unfortunate that these things happen. I see no logical reason for this other than mismanagement or the heart being in the wrong place. I have been a Scene reader for many years, from back when the "musicians wanted" ads dominated the back pages. I have been involved, in one way or another, for years in the Cleveland music scene, all along believing that we can again make a difference. Gone are the days of real grassroots efforts to help out the talented (and not-so-talented) songwriters and musicians who just want a place to play, record and maybe get a little local radio play and some mentoring.
It was an exciting proposal when I heard of the plans and the partnerships being formed to "help the music scene." Finally, some people with guts, moxie and some cash that can build it up! But alas, as your article so eloquently put it, "the jig is up."
As one of the bands Phil was making big promises to (including evaporating regional tours), I wanted to say that your cover story saves me the trouble of having to explain to people what went down. Great read.
STOP THEM BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE
An open letter to Governor Strickland:
I am writing to urge you to postpone Brett Hartmann's April 7 execution by lethal injection. I read James Renner's summary in Cleveland Scene of Mr. Hartmann's trial in the 1997 murder of Winda Snipes ("Deadline," March 25). Several points impressed me:
1. The remarkable unreliablity of "forensics expert" Rod Englert's testimony and qualifications (he had no formal science education, and some of his conclusions amounted to mere speculation);
2. Judge Michael Callahan allowed an inmate who shared a cell with Hartmann to testify that Hartmann had confessed to the murder in a private conversation, despite the fact that the snitch's lawyer warned Callahan that his client was about to commit perjury;
3. Shoddy investigative work and followup by the detectives handling the case, especially their failure to look thoroughly into Jeffrey Nicholas's alibi for the entire day of the murder (Nicholas was Snipes' boyfriend at the time, and a neighbor heard him arguing with Snipes shortly before the murder, " ... yelling about cutting the bitch's fucking throat");
Governor Strickland, I ask that you please read James Renner's article in the current Cleveland Scene and look closely into this case. Too much evidence has been ignored, some of what has passed for "evidence" stretches the bounds of fairness and credibility, and there is still vital evidence that needs to be gathered (especially DNA testing of hairs found in Snipes' blood.) Mr. Hartmann deserves the chance to prove his innocence before it's too late.
David A. Debick
Editor's note: Hartmann was granted a stay by an appeals court. See the Scene&Heard section of this issue for an update, and watch for more on the Scene&Heard blog at clevescene.com.
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