At last week's county commissioners meeting, Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones couldn't understand why the county had agreed to advertise at a Lake Erie Monsters hockey game for a county program that encourages African Americans to be foster parents. "I'll be honest, if you look around …" He was cut off with laughter from the pews. With Ringleader Dimora in sour spirits of late, Jones has kept the torch burning. - Harkins
That's not to say there's a lot to joke about at HQ. Commissioners wanted to know from their human-resources guy how many employees had agreed to a buyout seeking to avert layoffs. So far, 185 employees have agreed - a long way from the goal of 850. Commissioner Tim Hagan warned that across-the-board salary cuts and maybe layoffs would be needed if the goal isn't met by the last quarter of the year. "It's not an easy time, and we're trying to make this as undisruptive to families as possible," he said. Presiding Common Pleas Judge Nancy McDonnell says the courts are having just as much trouble getting employees to accept an official goodbye right now. "With the economy what it is, a lot are worried that, six months, a year down the road, they're going to say, 'Man, that was a bad idea, and now I've got no job to go back to.'" - Harkins
New state Senator Nina Turner, formerly Cleveland's Ward 1 councilperson, turned out legislation last week in Columbus seeking a state study of racial disparities in drug sentencing and jailing. Scene first wrote about this last year ("Disparate Times," July 30, 2008), then the PD drove the point home hard in the fall. It's time to know how this happens and for legislators to do something about it, because County Prosecutor Bill Mason sure doesn't seem inclined to. - Harkins
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