"Frivolous and unjust." That's how Lorain County Commissioner David Moore described the lawsuit against him in U.S. District Court last year. It accused Moore's mortgage company of a pattern of defrauding its clients ("The Commissioner's Racket," August 7, 2002).
Unfortunately, Judge Paul Matia didn't see the frivolity. First, he refused to punish the lawyers bringing the suit. Then he declined to throw out the suit. While Moore wasn't personally involved in the alleged fraud, Matia ruled that the commissioner was "at least tangentially involved" and chose to provide "vague assurances" rather than deal with the claims.
Additionally, Matia noted, plaintiffs had provided another witness, who dealt with Moore personally on a loan in 1996. "The totality of this evidence, spanning a period of at least four years, suggests that fraud has been an ongoing problem within the organization," Matia wrote. The judge also pointed to language in the company's training manual, which seemed to suggest the company condoned dubious behavior.
With a trial date looming, Moore opted to settle the suit quietly last month, according to court files. No word on how much the savvy businessman had to shell out to make it go away.
Hot lesbian action
When Cincinnati radio geek Billy Cunningham spoke almost longingly of Madonna's tangling tongues with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the MTV Video Music Awards, Punch at first considered it a sign of progress in Ohio's grudging stumble toward gay friendliness.
Sitting in for vacationing Glenn Beck on his nationally syndicated squawkfest (heard locally on The Big One), Cunningham, who seemed obsessed with what he'd seen, made a startling admission for a God-fearin' conservative: men, as well as many women, are hardwired to enjoy watching "hot lesbian action," he said.
"If you're truthful to yourself, truthful to your biology, truthful to America," Cunningham said, "your answer is going to be yes. Hell, yes."
An astute caller pointed out that, by Cunningham's logic, he should also understand that gays are born, not brainwashed by The Nefarious Homo Agenda. Cunningham, of course, couldn't quite grasp the point. And he soon reverted to form, calling intimacy between men "an abomination" and predicting that acceptance of homosexuality would lead "not just to the end of civilization, but the end of humanity."
Beck tried to distance himself from Cunningham when he returned from vacation. Sure, guys dig hot lesbian action, he said, but "that's the darker side of us."
Punch's advice: If you ever find yourself alone in a men's room with either of these guys, flee at once.
More CSU drama
Creative writing instructor Neal Chandler was fired August 28, just as fall classes began at Cleveland State. CSU won't say why, according to spokesman Brian Johnston, nor is Chandler talking.
But one administrator says the most serious questions surround the adjunct prof's penchant for inflating his job title. At various times, he supposedly referred to himself as a director and an associate professor. Such minor fudging wouldn't seem a fireable offense in the real world, but it's a big deal in hierarchy-driven academia, where sphincters clench like hydraulic vise grips, and money and privileges are entrusted to those with the most impressive credentials.
It's an even bigger deal when you fudge your title to the guys who handle Fulbright grants, as Chandler allegedly did. But Nancy Gaynor, Fulbright's director of external relations -- i.e., PR lady -- says she's unaware of the allegation. "This is the first we've heard of this."
Chandler, who co-founded Imagination, an annual conference for aspiring poets and novelists, has been credited with bringing Northcoast writers to the attention of big-name authors like Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones).
He also taught classes in the English department. This fall, he was scheduled to teach a course in creative non-fiction. Funny thing is, his Ph.D. is in German, not English. He's also hasn't published very much, which is the almighty benchmark for keeping a professorial gig -- even if nobody actually reads your stuff. Besides some short stories, the only writing Punch could find is a journal of Mormon thought he produces from his office on Shaker Square.
Still, he was a popular instructor. One student emphasized that it wasn't necessarily his writing that earned him his reputation, but his mentoring of students. "Dr. Chandler is a guiding light to many of us," says Ed Malone. "I do not know all the circumstances, but -- and I say this without exaggeration -- he was loved."
Speaking of wayward professors, the Columbus Dispatch was forced to apologize last week for a July column in which an Ohio State prof cribbed passages from a nuclear energy group's PR guy.
Tunc Aldemir believes he didn't do anything wrong. In his world, you have to rip off more than 150 words to qualify for plagiarism. Besides, he was just using the flack to translate highly technical science into something we schlubs could understand, he says.
Problem is, these same passages appeared in at least four other papers, where they were attributed to other authors. And readers might feel just a bit scammed, knowing they were reading the spin of a nuke PR guy -- who will say whatever he's paid to say -- instead of the words of a supposedly neutral man of science.
Yet Aldemir's logic presents a window of opportunity to enterprising students. It now appears kosher to claim the works of Shakespeare, Flaubert, and Feagler as your own -- as long as you keep it to under 150 words.
The nanny punches back
Lutheran Hospital anesthesiologist Emad Atalla has been found guilty of domestic violence in Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court.
Nadia Ponsones says she met Atalla through an ad he placed for a nanny. After she and the doctor became lovers, Atalla beat her on several occasions ["Crude Operators," June 3]. In one instance, Atalla kicked her after dropping her to the floor, she said.
At trial, the defense tried to argue that Ponsones was an employee, so the domestic-violence statute didn't apply, according to Sagamore Hills Police Chief Dale Struhar. Judge Lisa Coates rejected the argument, and the jury found Ponsones to be a convincing witness. "Nadia made the case," Struhar says.
"I am so happy," says Ponsones.
Coates sentenced Atalla to 180 days in jail, probation, and a $200 fine, but he will serve no time. The judge suspended all but three days and gave him credit for the time he served after his arrest. It appears that in Cuyahoga Falls, they still take an 18th-century view of beating women.
Atalla faces an additional charge of disseminating harmful material to juveniles. A nanny hired after Ponsones fled the doctor's home reported that his 7-year-old daughter had access to sexually explicit material stored on his computer.
Atalla, who is Egyptian, may face deportation proceedings as a result of his conviction. The INS is investigating, says Struhar.
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