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Oops, Sorry About That 

Punch unwittingly provides the city with a very bad idea.

For once, the cluelessness of Cleveland leaders was working to our benefit -- at least for potheads.

A Cincinnati law enacted last year made possessing even a joint punishable by up to 30 days in the slam. When the law was renewed last week, residents and some council members protested, claiming that jails were so packed that stoners were being incarcerated, while violent criminals were set free. (Not heard from were the approximately 50,000 Cincinnati potheads who merely responded by saying, "Ah, shit," since they were too lazy to get off the couch.)

Thankfully, Cleveland council members don't read the paper past the comics and apparently had never heard of the law -- or Cincinnati, for that matter. Until Punch called, that is.

We rang Councilman Zack Reed to ask him if Cleveland was considering a similar law. It wasn't necessarily for publication -- we just wanted to know if we should clean the roaches from our ashtrays.

"No, I didn't even know this was going on," said Reed.

Pheeww!

"This might be a tool that we need to look at."

What?

We attempted to backpedal. So, anybody rig any decent contracts lately? [Nervous chuckling]

But it was too late. Reed had already asked council's lawyer to put something together. "I'm glad you placed it on my radar screen," he said.

Of course, this being Cleveland, the lawyer likely hasn't done any work since 1993 and isn't about to start. But if by some divine miracle he does, Punch sincerely apologizes in advance.

Dirty diamonds
It appears that Paul Monea's 43-carat diamond isn't the only jewel-turned-dirty ["Jailhouse Rock," March 28].

On March 27, 20-year-old Dandre Turk and three buddies waltzed into Rogers Jewelers in Canton and ganked a $30,000 diamond ring, then quickly rode off into the sunset in a stolen minivan. (They were very secure in their masculinity.)

But minutes later, they were nailed by the state troopers on 77 North. Alas, the diamond was nowhere to be found. So guards kept a close eye on the suspects at the Stark County Jail.

The next day, a gleaming 2-carat diamond framed by an 18-karat gold setting emerged from Turk's bowels. How did police know they had the right ring? "It still had the price tag on it," says Major Dave Zink.

Which leads to today's teachable moment, boys and girls: Stay in school, don't do drugs, and always take incriminating price tags off the stuff you steal.

Fending off the strippers
Maybe it's just us, but we're getting the feeling that Bath doesn't welcome strip joints.

Last month, the township passed new rules governing the freedom of consenting adults. Owners, dancers, and even cashiers at adult businesses must now submit to a $200 registration process that even requires applicants to list their tattoos and piercings.

Aside from the obvious motive -- i.e., someone in Bath government has a very weird fetish -- it seemed a curious move by the township. The affluent town may have 10,000 doctors and one LeBron James, but it has not a single strip joint or adult bookstore -- not even a Hooters, for chrissakes.

Administrator Bill Snow says they're simply trying to keep it that way. The 29-page ordinance was recommended last fall by former Attorney General Jim Petro -- a stunning revelation that indicates he may have actually worked during his tenure.

All of which means the businessmen of Bath will have to continue making the 20-minute commute to East Akron for all their happy endings.

The new slavery
The Ohio legislature, having exhausted its obsession with creating colorful license plates, is taking on a more advanced pet project: human trafficking. But as trendy as the subject is -- trafficking, you may have heard, is the new slavery -- their help is not particularly welcome.

Representative Kathleen Chandler (D-Kent) is pushing a bill that specifically criminalizes human traffickers, requires training for local police, and provides money to help victims.

"This is a form of modern-day slavery," says Lindsay Fello-Sharpe of Cleveland's Rape Crisis Center, who testified in favor of the bill last week.

While trafficking is often associated in far-off lands with commercial sex or forced labor, advocates believe it's happening in a city near you. Last year, Scene wrote about two underground clubs where vice cops believed underage girls were being coerced into turning tricks -- part of a traveling circuit that stretched from Toledo to Buffalo ["Nabbing Daddy," January 11, 2006].

But while no one favors trafficking -- the pro-slavery platform is so 1850 -- lawmen aren't pleased by the legislature's meddling. An Ohio prosecutors' group says such crimes are already covered by kidnapping and prostitution laws. Having to prove "human trafficking," a difficult-to-define crime, might make convictions even harder to come by.

"Normally, when you're talking about new crimes, the prosecutors are all for it," says Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). "This bill creates more problems than it solves."

Kremlin personnel moves
For years Alan Seifullah was the voice of obstruction for the Cleveland schools - the PR chief charged with stonewalling public records requests, treating obvious questions as personal insults, and spinning tales about fake attendance figures and disappearing money.

But new CEO Eugene Sanders prefers his PR less Kremlinesque. So Seifullah resigned his post, citing nebulous "health concerns."

Sadly, sucking at your job is the quickest route to promotion in Cleveland government. Last week, the school board appointed Seifullah to the Cleveland Public Library board, believing they've finally found someone who can destroy the last successful public institution in this town.

In related news, the library announced that it will no longer provide information on books, nor will anyone be admitted without a subpoena.

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