Speaking of occasional paperwork problems: Callers to Cuyahoga County Democratic Party headquarters last Friday were greeted by a message from Ameritech, informing them that the phone line had been temporarily disconnected. The reason: The party hadn't paid its bill. "I did pay the bill -- it just didn't get there on time," says accountant and party treasurer Chris Green, offering an eerily familiar excuse. "We weren't even that late. It was just a little late." Like being a little pregnant.
Next up on the columnist chopping block at The Plain Dealer: Elizabeth Auster, who has been floundering in rotation with Dick Feagler on the Forum page. Though Auster's demise has been common talk at the paper, the move is still "under discussion," according to Editor Doug Clifton. Apparently the holdup is what to do with Auster, who is said to be lobbying for a slot in The PD's Washington bureau. Unlike other departing columnists, Auster does not enjoy the support of her colleagues, some of whom resent the special treatment she was given under former Editor David Hall. Meanwhile, the search for a new Metro columnist continues apace, with prospects ranging from feature writer Connie Schultz (unlikely) to Akron Beacon Journal columnist Regina Brett (possible) to Miami Herald humorist Dave Barry (wishful thinking). But far and away the best move at The PD is this week's reassignment of Bob McAuley, who will head up the paper's new medical reporting team. As assistant to the editor, McAuley had no taste for filing lawsuits to gain access to public records -- one reason the paper's City Hall coverage had grown notoriously weak in recent years. Now the roadblock is gone, Clifton is up for a good legal scrap, and weasels hiding public information may finally be flushed out of their holes.
Surest sign of spring during the dark days of February: The Tribe pocket schedule, which blossomed on counters and racks around town last weekend. Conspicuously absent from this year's cover, which features action shots of Robbie Alomar and Omar Vizquel, is Manny Ramirez, last season's offensive hero. "We market our all-star players signed to multiyear contracts," says Bob DiBiasio, Indians VP for public relations. "Robbie had an awesome season last year, and Omar is the most popular player on the team." Would Ramirez's shaky contract status with the club have anything to do with his absence? "I wouldn't read anything into Manny not being on the schedule," DiBiasio says. "That's a bit of a reach. Actually, that's a huge reach." Just like those leaping catches Manny flubs.
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