County elections director Michael Vu has always seemed like that smart foreign-exchange student, the Asian wunderkind with a brain the size of a vintage Cadillac. Or so the stereotype goes.
But after the election board's repeated fiascos -- and a City Club event last week -- Punch has reached a startling conclusion: Not all Asian guys are brilliant.
That was apparent after Vu appeared at a panel discussion on electronic voting. The host introduced him as a black belt in martial arts (though offered no word on his SAT scores or deftness at origami).
If only Vu's quickness on the mat translated to his political bobbing and weaving. Voting-rights advocates, concerned about a recent Princeton study that says Diebold machines could be hacked more easily than a 1996 version of America Online, have asked the elections board to post vote tallies from each precinct at polling places on Election Day in November. But Vu said the board won't because -- get this! -- it would be too complicated to tape paper sheets to the doors of polling places. "It could be a steel door and not a windowed door," he told the wide-mouthed audience.
His comment was followed by complete silence. One lady laughed as if somebody had just farted. Vu then proceeded to whip out a digital camera and take 200 pictures of a telephone booth.
Revenge of the fundies
Ohio's strippers were dancing on tables earlier this year when news broke that the so-called "Community Defense Act" had died in the legislature. And why not? The bill, spearheaded by the same Cincinnati conservatives who brought you the gay-marriage ban, would have outlawed lap dances and forced strip clubs to close before midnight, devastating a $200 million industry and putting hundreds of women named Devon out of work.
But you don't become the state's leading producer of oppressive moral judgment by giving up at the first sign of trouble. So the group Citizens for Community Values announced recently that it will give up on the legislature and go straight to the voters.
The new measure's language has already been approved by Attorney General Jim Petro (R-Like, Whatever), and CCV has begun circulating petitions. If they can collect 150,000 valid signatures by mid-November, the industry-killing measure will be on the ballot in 2007.
They want "a total shutdown of adult businesses," says Angelina Spencer, director of a national strip-joint trade group. "Once they get adult entertainment and gays, I'm quite sure they'll focus on fashion, birth control, art, music, and media."
Rewarding New York
Upset that so much of Ohio's money is being sent out of state, Senator Ray Miller (D-Columbus) was especially lathered last week when the state controlling board approved a $2.2 million school construction contract for BBL Construction Services of New York.
But there's a simple explanation for the board's choice. The Ohio School Facilities Commission, a panel appointed by the governor, has a habit of doling out contracts to pals of the Republican Party. No bids necessary. Just a fat check and a note that reads "Bob Taft is dope."
With that in mind, our friends from New York have fulfilled the application requirements brilliantly. Since 2000, BBL's employees and political-action committee have given $39,000 to the Ohio Republican Party. (All this from a company that doesn't even live here to enjoy the potholes!) They also gave $2,500 directly to Taft, just in case the $39,000 ass-kiss wasn't clear enough.
In return, BBL has received contracts to manage construction projects in at least a dozen Ohio school districts.
Though the rest of state government seems muddled in abject failure, at least we know the patronage system is still working properly.
Nick Zuber, impostor
Attention, local music venues: Be on the lookout for an über-dweeb cleverly disguised as an earnest musician trying to infiltrate your club.
Nick Zuber, a 21-year-old from Painesville, recently tried to land a gig at the Lime Spider, a prime indie stage in Akron. When the club -- probably worried that Zuber was as creepy as his name -- ignored several e-mails, the kid fired off a note to club management, claiming that the Spider "doesn't care about local musicians and looks down upon them as if your better than them. I'll be sure to remember your email and share it with the whole local music scene in the Lake County area." (Side note: The Lake County music scene is burgeoning. It now has four whole guys playing harmonica on Bill's porch, up two guys from last summer.)
If that wasn't enough, Zuber then pulled the old "I work for a free weekly" move. Why people keep using this, Punch has no idea; even the people who actually work for free weeklies don't tell people they work for free weeklies. It's a total game-killer.
Nonetheless, it's the go-to move of the desperate and pathetic, and Zuber went straight to it, writing: "I also work with Scene magazine, so look for an article about your awesome venue and how it LOVES its local talent. Thank you and God Bless."
Of course, Nick Zuber doesn't work for Scene. And when Scene wrote him a note politely asking him to knock that shit off, his tough-guy act suddenly disappeared, and he demurred like any good John Mayer fan should.
But you can still make fun of him at www.myspace.com/33570394, his MySpace page, which we highly recommend.
Thank you, Nick Zuber, and God Bless.
Let them eat cake
Last week, the Bushies kicked us in the nuts -- and then in the teeth.
First, the GOP announced that it had chosen Minneapolis-St. Paul over Cleveland to host its 2008 convention. Landing it could have meant a big economic windfall, since prostitution sales were expected to spike by 300 percent.
Then the Timken Company of Canton announced it was slashing 700 jobs.
Coincidence? Punch thinks not.
Timken is well known for its ties to national Republicans -- Bush in particular. Former company leader W.R. "Tim" Timken Jr. raised at least $200,000 in campaign contributions for Bush in 2004. Bush even used the Timken plant as a backdrop for a speech urging people to embrace his tax cuts.
A year later, Timken closed the plant. Meanwhile, Little Timmy's fund-raising bought him a job as ambassador to Germany.
Can you imagine what would have happened if the Republicans had chosen Cleveland for the site of its convention? Suddenly, The New York Times would be using Canton as a national symbol of how average workers were being shafted by Bush's trade policies and millionaires who land cushy gigs eating bratwurst.
Okay, so Punch can't prove there was a conspiracy. But since when do we in the media need evidence?
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