Pity the Pervert 

A sex offender sues over secondhand smoke.

Cleveland schools CEO Eugene Sanders
  • Cleveland schools CEO Eugene Sanders
It appears the fight against wholesome and nutritious tobacco products is being taken all the way to prison.

In 2001, Frank Edmonds Jr. was sent to North Central Correctional after being convicted of sexual battery. Despite his apparent lack of interest in women's health, Edmonds was definitely concerned about his own. The asthmatic requested a non-smoking cell. Guards told him to shut up and make some license plates.

Edmonds began complaining of chest pains, believing secondhand smoke was to blame. In 2002, prison officials finally moved him -- to another smoking unit. There, Edmonds claims, he "almost had a stroke" -- which is apparently like "almost being a rapist." Fed up, he filed suit a year later, seeking $2 mil for emotional stress and medical costs.

Edmonds was released from prison in 2004 and now works at the Brook Park Ford plant, which may explain the company's latest slogan, "Built Ford Tough . . . By Asthmatic Perverts."

During opening remarks at his trial this month, attorney Edward Gilbert acknowledged that when he first looked at his client's case, he thought, "Hey, it's a prison. It's no country club. So he sucked up a little smoke? So what?"

So whattaya doing in court, Edward?

Eugene opened his wallet?

The crowd at last week's Heisman ceremony in New York featured former winners Paul Hornung and Marcus Allen, Pride of The 'Ville Troy Smith, and . . . new Cleveland schools CEO Eugene Sanders?

That's right. Sanders, who wasn't even around when Smith attended Glenville, is the latest guy talking about slashing costs and saving money. Yet there he was at the $500-a-head Heisman dinner -- on a school night, no less!

According to district spokesman Alan Seifullah, Sanders claims to have made state history by actually paying his own way. But since school officials tend to be as forthcoming as Syrian diplomats, Punch wasn't buying.

Kacey Sisca, who helped organize the dinner, says Sanders' name wasn't on the list of invited dignitaries, and there's no evidence he bought a ticket. "He could've come as a guest of someone else," she offers helpfully.

Hmmm. But guests don't usually pay their own way, do they?

Something smells fishy

Lake Erie commercial fishermen should be resting easy. State bills to put them out of business seem to be dying a slow death in committee hearings. But, as Ohio officials are fond of saying, "If at first you don't screw the little guy, try, try again."

It all started when a few of the fishermen pled guilty to poaching yellow perch last year. Legislators responded with bills to "buy out" (see "tear from their cold, bloodless hands") every license and open the lake solely to sport fishing ["The Battle for Lake Erie," September 6].

Now that those efforts appear stalled, the suits figure they'll just kill the fishermen the old-fashioned way -- Death by Regulation.

Substitute bills would triple license fees and force fishermen to equip their boats with expensive catch-monitoring devices. But the real killer is a provision that would revoke the license of anyone who gets cited by the Division of Wildlife three times in 10 years.

Dean Koch, who wasn't implicated in the poaching sting, says that's virtually impossible, since Wildlife officers hand out tickets as freely as condoms at a gay pride parade. Koch has been pinched more times than he can count, once for netting just one undersized fish.

"With the way the Wildlife people are, they could write you three citations all in one day," says Koch. "I don't think it's fair to put all these restrictions on the innocent people that never done anything."

A very special honor

The Ohio House last week passed legislation to give black fraternities and sororities their own specialty license plates.

This is quite an honor. If the measure gets past the Senate, organizations like Alpha Phi Alpha will join a select group of honorees that includes the Eagle Scouts, the Future Farmers of America, the zoo, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rotary, scenic rivers, cattlemen, bald eagles, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, smallmouth bass, Smokey Bear, some lamp in Toledo, cats, dogs, kids, and only 50 other very special groups.

This important distinction will allow black frats and sororities to stand out from the remaining 26 drivers who still have standard Ohio plates.

In related news, regular frats continue to fight for their own specialty plates, but have been stymied by their insistence that they include the slogan: "Freshman girls: Get 'em while they're skinny."

OSU-Florida, priced to move

Tickets for Ohio State's Championship Game are moving slower than Cosey Coleman on a trap play. So brokers are passing the savings on to you: For the low, low price of half a year's mortgage payments, you can see the Buckeyes take on Florida in Phoenix on January 8.

Prime tickets are priced to move at $5,000 a pop, according to Scott Merk of Merk's Tickets in Cleveland. And pocket change buys you a nosebleed seat for just $1,500. (For those who favor the pro game, the same $5,000 investment can snag you 250 seats to the Browns' Christmas Eve tilt against Tampa. Treat everyone you know!)

A cynic might argue that five grand for three hours of football does not constitute rollback pricing, but Merk says it could have been worse: An Ohio State-Michigan rematch would have jacked tickets upwards of $8,000 each (advertised price does not include alcohol or bail bondsman services).

"You're always gonna get more action for [Ohio State and Michigan], because we're in the Midwest going to a warm climate," Merk says, noting that Florida fans historically suck at supporting their team in bowl games, a suckage not believed linked to weather.

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