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The Art Modell Awards 

Our 8th annual celebration of depravity and weirdness.

[The scene: The city's best and brightest convene for an opulent buffet at the downtown Ritz.]

Greetings and welcome to the 2007 Art Modell Awards, where tonight we pay tribute to those doing their best to turn Cleveland into a satellite nation of Jena, Louisiana.

Before we begin, let's offer a warm shout-out to Sam Miller, who's footing the bill for tonight's ceremonies. [Applause.] Unfortunately, Jimmy Dimora invested our banquet fund in his niece's dog-grooming operation after being told it would create 26,000 new jobs. It was an honest mistake, wasn't it Jimmy? [Laughter.]

In exchange for covering our deficit, the county has agreed to buy one of Sam's abandoned buildings for $22 million. After tasting those crab legs, I'm sure we can all agree this is a pretty good deal. [Applause.]

As a housekeeping note, I'd also urge people to avoid the fifth-floor men's room. Ever since that Idaho senator was busted at the Minneapolis airport, Carl Monday has been trying to recapture the magic of his Berea Library investigation. So if you see a guy pretending to fix the urinal, that's Carl. Just act like you don't notice the camera crew.

Now, without further ado, let's move on to tonight's honorees.

Our first winner needs no introduction. As president of the Cleveland City Council, Martin Sweeney has boldly taken the city to . . . well . . . ah . . . OK, let's just say he's done a lot of important stuff that's too numerous to mention at this time.

But his crowning achievement came this fall, when he was accused of sexually harassing council clerk Emily Lipovan.

Unlike most men of his stature, Marty didn't just hit on curvelicious blondes by staking out the ladies' room at Tequila Ranch. You're feeling me on this, aren't you Zack Reed? [Laughter.] No, he wanted to show a new, sensitive, equal-opportunity Cleveland, the kind of place where a City Council president will go perv on anyone, be it an aging policy wonk or a 67-year-old PTA treasurer.

Alas, some didn't appreciate Marty's enlightened approach to sexual predation. When the public caught wind of his secret plan to pay Lipovan $56,000 to go away, he was forced to hike the payoff by four grand.

Which leads us to tonight's teachable moment, ladies and gentlemen: Always keep such sloppy records that no one knows where the money's going. Isn't that right, Mike White? [Laughter.]

So without further delay, the Modell Committee is pleased to announce this year's winner of The Only City Council President in America Who Can't Get Chicks Award: Martin J. Sweeney! [Thunderous applause.]

Marty, would you like to say a few words? No? It appears Marty is a bit preoccupied with macking it to the coat-check girl. So let's just move on to our next honoree.

Surely you know him from the Warehouse District. He's the urbane councilman you always see with a drink in his hand and a covetous glint in his eye. Be it any night of the week — at least when he's not in jail or rehab — you can find Zack Reed on the prowl, pawing the finest feminine flesh this city has to offer.

Councilman Reed has been a one-man self-esteem boost for the entire region. He's hit on virtually every woman under the age of 30 within a 400-mile radius, leaving them feeling wanted and desired, though perhaps a little creeped out.

Sadly, one minor mistake did him in.

As any respectable ladies' man knows, you need a quality ride to get the quality females. But the same cannot be said of the professional hammered driver. After all, when one is passed out with the engine running on the side of a major thoroughfare, one is a lot more conspicuous in a BMW than, say, a panel van from a heating contractor.

Yet if there's anything the great Art Modell taught us, it's that the effort counts, since actual success is like really, really hard. So tonight we present the Tom Coyne Award for Best Hammered Public Official Who Should Really Find a More Discreet Means of Transportation: Zack Reed!

Unfortunately, Zack's currently in rehab. So accepting the award on his behalf will be Three John Carroll Coeds Whom He Once Hit on at Ultra!

Before we continue, Ritz management has requested that I make an important announcement. Everyone receiving silverware tonight is being asked to put down a deposit. Given the reputation of tonight's crowd, the hotel wants to ensure that all of its property is returned by the end of the evening.

With that in mind, can someone help Betty Montgomery empty her purse?

Now, let's continue with the festivities.

When we list the many treasures of our fair city, one entity inevitably rises to the fore: the Cleveland Orchestra. This august body is known worldwide to those who enjoy music invented by ancient hair-farmers from Vienna.

Yet concertmaster William Preucil, in the finest tradition of Cleveland, did his best to screw it all up. First he turned the orchestra into the county auditor's office, hiring as many unqualified relatives as possible. You want me to play Schubert's Polonaise in B flat? Get lost, pal. I'm on break.

Then Preucil chose to hit on his promising students at the Cleveland Institute of Music. For as we've learned from our first two honorees, what's the point of being an important guy if you can't creep out chicks?

You're laughing over there, Kucinich. You're thinking this school would be a great place to find a fourth wife, aren't you? [Applause.]

Unfortunately, when the young women began to complain, the institute was forced to pay one student's tuition at another school.

It was but a small price to pay for the continued employ of the great Preucil, who is to sexual propriety what Mel Gibson is to contemporary Judaism.

I believe that's a message we can all get behind.

So tonight we honor William Preucil with the prestigious He May Be an Even Bigger Pervert Than Martin J. Sweeney Award!

We initially asked William if he wouldn't mind knocking out a song or two on his fiddle. But when the Modell Committee was informed that he didn't know any Bon Jovi, it wisely rescinded the invitation.

Instead, let's take a moment to enjoy the musical stylings of the Michael Stanley Band, who will be performing Soulja Boy's seminal hit, "Crank Dat." [Applause.]

Our next honorees are known as monetary magicians, the kind of guys who make Tom Noe look like Alan Greenspan. For if you ever have millions of dollars that need to disappear, there's only two people to call: County Commissioners Jimmy Dimora and Tim Hagan. [Wild applause.]

This year, our heroes really outdid themselves. They spent $34 million on a new county headquarters, only to discover that — ooops! — they didn't have the money to finish the project. [Laughter.]

They awarded an asbestos-removal contract — nearly $1 million more than the lowest bidder — to a company that's repeatedly been caught violating the county's minority-hiring laws.

They also announced plans for a new medical mart, then put the project in the capable hands of Superlawyer Fred Nance. He's the same guy who negotiated the city's purchase of the I-X Center for $66 million, even though it was valued at only $33 million. [Laughter.]

But their greatest triumph lay in blowing off that pesky little bastard we call democracy. Knowing that voters would never pass a sales-tax increase to pay for a convention center, our heroes decided to just approve it on their own. And you know how this will turn out, don't you boys and girls?

[Crowd in unison:] "All the money's going to Sam Miller!"

Very impressive, class. A round of Black Velvet for everyone! Just bill it to President Kucinich's campaign fund. Denny, if a little old lady in Cudell asks where the money went, tell her you had some more important speaking engagements in Maui! [Laughter.]

So tonight we present the prestigious Never Leave Unattended Spare Change or Family Heirlooms Around These Guys Award to Jimmy Dimora and Tim Hagan!

Can someone please help Dimora pull his face out of the potato-salad tray? We don't have insurance in case he suffocates.

OK, people, I'd like to get serious for a moment. That means you, Trivisonno. Quit throwing chicken at Denise Dufala. It's going to take $700 worth of hair spray just to get her ready for the news again tonight.

As we all know, America is fighting a valiant war against terrorism. Though our president is about to find Saddam's weapons of mass destruction any day now, a grave threat remains at home. Who among us knows when the next suicide bomber will decide to blow up more secretaries and mail-room workers, with the promise of 72 virgins and an imitation-mahogany bedroom set in the afterlife?

That's why commissioners left the county's emergency evacuation plan in the capable hands of Melissa Rodrigo. So when she was entrusted to save our citizenry in the event of a terrorist attack, she did what any good government worker would do: She simply copied Kansas City's plan and pawned it off as her own.

Thanks to Melissa, be assured that in the event of, say, a radioactive bomb attack on the Terminal Tower, residents will know to immediately take I-70 west to Lawrence, where they will be housed at the University of Kansas. Those without personal transportation will be prepared to hitchhike east to Arrowhead Stadium, where they will be provided with Kansas City Chiefs' apparel. And if either of these options proves unworkable, simply dive into the Missouri River and some guys with boats will pick you up, if you can tread water for two weeks.

Now, don't you feel safer? [Applause.]

Indeed, Melissa's the kind of leader that, were she the plant manager at Davis-Besse, would simply crib her employee safety manual from The Simpsons.

Wait . . . doesn't FirstEnergy already do that? [Rim shot.]

Sorry about that, people. No Modell Awards are complete without a FirstEnergy joke. It's in the bylaws.

So tonight we present the We're Pretty Sure Mullah Omar Could Think Up a Better Evacuation Plan Award to Melissa Rodrigo!

That concludes tonight's awards. But before you leave, the Ritz has informed me that the lab tests are back, and Martin Sweeney has indeed spiked the Jell-O salad with a date-rape drug. So if you're feeling drowsy, vulnerable, and female — or male, but at least not that hairy — Martin Sweeney has graciously volunteered to drive you home. He'll provide the Courvoisier.Goodnight, people! Drive safely!

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