Friday, June 29, 2007

Connie Schultz Gets Some (Polite) Payback

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 3:23 PM

What’s it like to have a Pulitzer winner swing her prize at you in print? Some folks at The Plain Dealer just found out. PD columnist Connie Schultz’s new memoir hit bookstores last week. And His Lovely Wife chronicles the 2006 campaign of her husband, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. But Schultz also ruminates on her employer’s campaign coverage and takes some swings at colleagues in the process. Some co-workers are called out for breaking basic rules of journalism: Reporter Steve Koff, Schultz writes, wrote a critical story about the letter without even giving Brown a head’s up. Bill Sloat, then the paper’s Cincinnati reporter, called then-editor Doug Clifton when he learned that Schultz was married to a congressman. But anyone who read the paper knew Schultz and Brown were married, Schultz writes. “Does he not read the paper he writes for?” Schultz asked Clifton. But perhaps no one takes more heat than editorial writer Joe Frolik, who broke the 11th Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick To Someone You Had Thanksgiving With.” Frolik, Schultz writes, is a close family friend, yet he spared nothing in a blistering attack on Brown in the early stages of the campaign. What’s worse: He didn’t even tell them it was coming. “I knew that Sherrod’s race would be scrutinized at every turn,” Schultz writes. “But I could not accept that after more than 20 years of friendship, there was no warning that my friend’s column was coming.” Punch would have responded a bit less politely, perhaps introducing the hood of Frolik’s car to our good friend Mr. Tire Iron. But Schultz, apparently well balanced, tells Punch that she alerted Frolik that the passage was coming. “Joe and I have made our peace,” she says. Which may be the adult thing to do, but it isn’t as fun. – Joe P. Tone

It's Easy to be Zen when you Drive a Beemer

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 3:17 PM

Last week, 100 yoga practitioners descended on Edgewater Park with their rolled up mats, designer shades, and bottles of Evian. The day marked the beginning of the Summer Solstice. By Hindu tradition, the yogis were there to perform 108 salutations to the sun. But most weren’t exactly sure of the day’s meaning, preferring to concentrate on how buff their arms looked while performing the equivalent of 108 pushups. One Indian couple, used to celebrating the real Solstice every year, seemed a bit confused to see 100 mostly white, mostly skinny girls twisting their bodies into weird shapes, while trying to pronounce “Adho Mukha Svanasana,” which is Hindu for “I could use a Michelob Ultra Light about now.” “I really don’t get the yoga trend,” Sudah Bhojani admitted. At 7:30, the sweat-drenched yogis finished their salutations and wished each other peace and happiness, though perhaps not freedom from jealousy. As they headed to their cars, one woman piled her mat into the back of Beemer, which had a Yogic symbol pasted on the window. “It’s totally easy to be zen when you’re driving a Beemer,” one Yogi whispered loudly to her friend. – Rebecca Meiser

Respect for the Dead: It's Illegal in Cleveland

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 3:11 PM

When we last checked in with Cleveland Memorial Gardens, the city cemetery resembled more muddy marsh than tranquil home for eternity [“Burial At Sea,” November 8, 2006]. Tombstones were completely submerged in water. The grass was unwilling to grow. At the time, Maureen Harper, spokeswoman for Mayor Frank Jackson, said the city hoped to fix the grounds by mid-November. But it appears they never got around to it. On Memorial Day, Mike Jackson headed out to the cemetery to decorate relatives’ graves with flags and flowers. But thanks to drainage problems, he was unable to fix flags anywhere near his family plots, which were heavily caked in mud. He immediately called the city to complain. “I was just fed up,” Jackson says. “The headstones were sinking.” David Mitchell, the city’s cemetery manager, told Jackson there was little the city could do to correct the problem, since effort, imagination, and respect for the dead are all against city statute. “He told us that my loved ones were in one of the best sections in the whole cemetery,” Jackson says. “I couldn’t believe it. He’s nothing but a salesman for the city.” While Mitchell and Jackson talked, three families came to bury their loved ones in distant plots. “I asked him he’d told those families about the land’s problems,” Jackson says. “He didn’t say a thing. It’s just so wrong.” – Denise Grollmus

Ken Lapine takes the Lazy Lawyer Defense to New Heights

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 2:52 PM

It’s odd that Joanne Schneider is credited with creating Ohio’s largest Ponzi scheme [“The $60 Million Pyramid,” April 19, 2006]. After all, she hired attorney Ken Lapine of Roetzel & Andress, one of the state’s most prominent law firms, to advise her on the legality of her rather innovative methods of fundraising. Even after the state sent Schneider a cease-and-desist order from issuing her IOUs, Lapine apparently never told his client to stop taking money from more than 700 investors, who she had no way of repaying. Instead, Schneider continued to collect investments, while Lapine’s firm raked in almost $1 million in fees. Now Schneider faces 163 counts of fraud. And while Lapine has done his best to skirt responsibility, it doesn’t appear that his impressive array of Stupid Lawyer Tricks are working this time around. Receiver Matthew Fornshell, who represents Schneider’s stiffed investors, filed a lawsuit against Roetzel & Andress, accusing the firm of malpractice. Until recently, Lapine has refused to reveal anything about his work for Schneider, claiming attorney-client privilege. But that all came to an end when Schneider waved said privilege, giving Lapine nothing else to hide behind. After being deposed by Fornshell’s lawyer last month, Lapine is now invoking the Lazy Lawyer Defense. He says he never really scrutinized Schneider’s dealings, or bothered to see if she had the loot to pay back investors, even though he had her bank statements. It seems that Roetzel & Andress, $1 million in fees only buys you donuts and a little sucking up. It doesn’t actually buy any effort. “To say that her counsel were not aware of every aspect of that project is just not based in fact or logic,” says Schneider’s attorney, Ian Friedman. “This has been Schneider’s position since day one, and now this is finally being revealed to everyone else.” – Denise Grollmus

Coming to a Wallet Near You: Another Taxpayer Fleece

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 1:30 PM

Commissioners Hagan and Dimora know the words and The Plain Dealer is providing the music to the latest "fleece the taxpayers for their own good" notion. The spinmeisters have started the push to get an increase in sales tax to finance a medical mart, something that private interests could afford to build themselves. If the Commissioners go forward without the O.K. of voters(which is what they'd love to do) they should be booted out of office for their arrogant, self-important attitudes. Blayne Vilk

Mikey G's Weekend Entertainment Picks

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 1:17 PM

This weekend’s top arts and entertainment picks around town, from the guy who’s paid to pick them: Friday: More than 200 varieties of vino from across the globe will be poured at this weekend’s Cleveland Wine Festival at Voinovich Park. Reds, whites, and zinfandels from Australia, France, and Italy are on tap at the second-annual outing. In addition to all the sipping going on, the fest features cooking demonstrations by some of the area’s top chefs -- who’ll pair specialty dishes with different varietals. Plus, more than 30 Ohio vineyards are spotlighted in a special area. Saturday: At the first-ever Larchmere Flea Market and Festival, the highfalutin art area’s shops and restaurants peddle their goods, while the locals set up tables full of their own merchandise. Everything from specialty yarn (at Fine Points), vegetarian eats (at Café Limbo), and indie reads (at Loganberry Books) will be available from vendors. Most of the region’s famed antique and craft shops will also set up booths featuring old-school and handmade items. Sunday: On his third album, Continuum, John Mayer streamlines the sweet talk and laid-back pop of his past records and slips a new dynamic into the mix: solid songwriting and general amiability. Working with drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino -- who both helped shape 2005’s left-field live blues outing Try! -- Mayer effortlessly weaves political pop (“Waiting on the World to Change”), sensitive singer-songwriter ballads (“Gravity”), and white-boy R&B (“Vultures”). Continuum rocks about as much as its predecessors (which means it doesn’t rock at all), but Mayer’s singing and guitar playing are significantly amped this time around. He plays Blossom Music Center. --Michael Gallucci

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bobby Cutts, Racially Persecuted? Naah.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2007 at 6:13 PM

Bobby Cutts Jr. is an asshole. That’s something we can all agree on. For those of you who don’t watch local news or the 24-hour cable channels dedicated to missing white women, Cutts is the Canton cop charged with murdering his girlfriend and unborn child. But here’s something else Cutts can be labeled: Newspaper war instigator. Seems the man voted Most Worthy of Having His Balls Kicked In has sparked a battle out west. This week, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell and former Clevelander Neil Steinberg have been going after each other over a column Mitchell wrote. In it, she pointed out an apparent discrepancy in the coverage of Cutts and that of Christopher Vaughn, a suburban Chicago man accused of gunning down his wife and three kids. Mitchell’s premise is that before Cutts was charged, we knew he was a piece of shit because news stories trolled out the skeletons in his closet. In the case of Vaughn, it was slower going before the public learned of his assholeness. There’s a clear explanation of this, Mitchell asserts. Cutts is black. Vaughn is white. That column sparked a rebuttal by Steinberg. Without mentioning her name, he wrote that to “claim that Cutts was portrayed in a negative fashion 'because he is black' while Vaughn was displayed positively 'because he is white' is to a) cry wolf and b) succumb to an inverse kind of racism...," Regardless of how you feel about Mitchell’s premise, there’s a more plausible explanation. Cutts had a record. He was placed on probation once for breaking into the home of his ex-girlfriend while she was shacking up with Shawn Kemp (proving that he also had criminally bad taste in women). In another case, he faced criminal charges for allegedly giving a gun to his cousin, an ex-con, though he was later cleared of the charges. Vaughn didn’t have a record. And though there was a cloud of suspicion swirling around him since the deaths of his wife and children, many of his friends and acquaintances waited until he was charged to talk about what a dickhead he is. Obviously, it’s ind of easier to make the case someone sucks when he’s got a paper trail, regardless of whether he’s black or white. I’m just saying. – T.K. Kim

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