Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SURE YOU'RE PISSED, BUT WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO ABOUT IT?

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2009 at 2:58 PM

Are you just generally pissed off about everything and think we’ve got to get back to the way it was done in the ’60s — getting out in the streets and making fiery speeches? Then the Bail Out People Movement might be just the thing for you. Founded this spring in New York and headquartered at the Solidarity Center there, the group is sponsoring a “People’s Economic Summit” in New York May 31, prior to the UN Summit on the World Economic Crisis, and a “People’s Summit and Tent City” in Detroit’s Grand Circus Park June 14-17 to counter the National Business Summit taking place at the Detroit Economic Club. Among the things they’re aiming to address: providing jobs, health care, housing and education for all, stopping foreclosures, restoring social-services funding, demanding moratoriums on layoffs and plant closings, ending racism, sexism and attacks on LGBT people and immigrants, stopping police brutality, getting U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff too (though probably not the college football's controversial bowl championship series).
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The Cleveland chapter of Bail Out People Movement is holding a community speak-out at noon this Saturday at Market Square Park across from the West Side Market. On the agenda: to assemble a Cleveland delegation to the Detroit event and to spotlight its main theme, “bail out the people not the banks.” The press release adds, “The speak out will also raise demands against racism; sexism, gay, bisexual and transgender community; raids on immigrants; police brutality; time limits on public assistance; cutbacks, plant closings and layoffs.”

Among the sponsors listed are the Peoples Fightback Center, Cleveland Jobs With Justice, the Baldwin Wallace Food Justice Council, Fight Imperialism — Stand Together and Abdul Qahhar of the Cleveland Chapter of the New Black Panther Party. Power to the people, right on! Call the Cleveland BOPM at 216.531.4004 for more information. — Anastasia Pantsios

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SANTIAGO IN FOR ANOTHER BATTLE

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins, whose Old Brooklyn ward was shattered into four pieces when Council President Marty Sweeney redistricted away two of his toughest critics, isn’t letting little things like losing most of his voting block get in the way of bigger things like winning a second term.

b8d7/1243365756-santiago.gifOn Tuesday, Cummins became the eighth candidate to pull primary petitions to run in the newly formed Ward 14, which incorporates a small part of his old ward but is primarily the Hispanic-heavy stomping grounds of regularly embattled Councilman Joe Santiago (pictured) — who narrowly survived a recall effort last year at the hands of his predecessor, the hot-headed Nelson Cintron. Get ready for a showdown.

Santiago and Cintron have been duking it out ever since Santiago came aboard in 2006, lobbing grenades at each others’ camps. Santiago narrowly defeated Cintron in a recall effort in 2007.

But there is a lot to be answered for over in Clark-Metro — like Santiago’s tendency to manhandle hard-working CDCs but bend over for the bar owners. And why does Santiago have a grand nude statue in his backyard that used to welcome visitors at Moda, huh? The shuttered West 25th Street bar was owned by Emad Simli, convicted in 2006 of money laundering and drug charges. Simli was using Moda to launder his money and provide a base of operations.

Santiago vociferously supported another bar, La Copa, to the point of looking more like the first blind Councilman in Cleveland and not the first openly gay Councilman. We’re not saying this former Naval aide at the Pentagon and V.P. at Tremont West Development Corp. doesn’t know what he’s doing. We’re just saying …

Now Santiago is wrapped up tight in the ongoing federal corruption sting. His campaign manager was Rosemary Vinci, whose still-young heart just gave out after being exposed as a former strip club manager hired by sting-targeted county Auditor Frank Russo and Commissioner Jimmy Dimora as a “liaison” to City Hal. The feds wanted to know all about Vinci and her friendships within the city’s power establishment.

And of course, the first indictment to come out of the corruption probe is building inspector Richard Huberty, who says he’ll plead guilty to bribery and extortion involving deals he cut around town, including at — you guessed it! — La Copa.

It looks like his former colleagues might have abandoned him too, after whole-hearted support during the recall effort. Even though Santiago has benefited in the past from the Sweeney-controlled Council Leadership Fund to thwart the recall, we wonder if Cummins might just sneak a sucker-punch in, what with Santiago and Cintron all hating on each other like they have been.

“Clearly,” says Cummins, “the negatives have gone against them. It’s been a lot of years these two have been going at it, with so many people going for that seat — and for whatever reason, getting things accomplished there has been tough.”

Aaaaaand they’re off. — Dan Harkins

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COULD LEBRON PLAY IN THE NFL? HELL YEAH

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 2:02 PM

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It's been up for debate before. Could LeBron have played in the NFL? He was a standout receiver at St. Vincent St. Mary. His body is a rock solid fortress of athleticism -- 6'8" and over 250 pounds. When he donned a Browns uniform for those State Farm commercials around the Super Bowl there was some lighthearted chatter. And now, ESPN has brought out the big guns, seeking the opinions of everyone from scouts to Bill Parcells on the question. Here's the first part of the story.

Mark Murphy hasn't merely witnessed the finest receivers of his generation. He has experienced them.

Murphy's 11-year career at strong safety was good enough to get him into the Green Bay Packers' Hall of Fame. He has covered, tackled and occasionally been scorched by legends.

On the subject of greatness, he knows what he's talking about.

"I've been around a lot of great receivers," Murphy said. "I tell people that I rate my top receivers — coaching, playing or watching — as James Lofton, Jerry Rice, Steve Largent and LeBron James."

Murphy wasn't delivering a joke or some abstract concept. He meant James, the NBA superduperstar, simply was that spectacular on a football field. Murphy saw it as the defensive coordinator at James' alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron, Ohio.

The opinions vary from "could be All Pro" to wondering whether Lebron could stand the constant physical battles of the game. But, naturally, no one wanted to bet against LeBron. The consensus being: It wouldn't surprise anyone if he was great. — Vince Grzegorek

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Friday, May 22, 2009

FRIDAY MONKEY BLOGGING: EXCUSE US, PRIMATE BLOGGING

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2009 at 9:00 AM

b53f/1242938638-daniel1.jpgTechnically orangutans aren't monkeys — they're apes, like gorillas and chimps (and humans). But the FMB team has decided to make an exception for Daniel, the undisputed star of The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The little guy just celebrated his third birthday last month, and while he's becoming more and more independent, he still spends quite a bit of time clinging to his mom Kayla.

Daniel is an energetic orangutan who still gets away with more than his older siblings, sister Kitra and "adopted" sister Kera. And he's getting better at climbing up, down and around his habitat under the geodesic dome at the center of The RainForest.

Daniel's birth was carefully planned, as the Zoo works with others to manage an orangutan breeding program that aims to perpetuate the population of endangered orangutans. Bornean orangutans face the prospect of extinction due to habitat loss in their native Asia.

More photos after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN: THE MUGRIDGE OBIT CONTROVERSY

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Like funerals, obituaries are not for the dead, but for the survivors. I was reminded of this by the reaction to our report on the recent passing of musician and Grog Shop co-founder Matt Mugridge.

Since that report appeared in the May 13 issue, we’ve received dozens of e-mails, phone calls and comments on our blogs from outraged relatives and friends of Matt’s. Clearly the report touched raw nerves, and not in the way that any newspaper ever intends, in that all of the feedback has been vehemently negative.

Virtually all who commented argued that we should not have noted the manner of Matt’s death — though some allow that if we felt we absolutely had to, we should have left out the details. Most responders have also lambasted us for ending the report with an anonymous quote from a friend, characterizing the death.

In hindsight I agree that the last paragraph was out of tune with the rest of the article, and unnecessary. The information as presented did not deepen anyone’s understanding of Matt’s life or death, and as we’ve since learned, caused considerable heartache to those who knew him best. That this came from Scene, which Matt loved, according to his brother Michael, added an element of betrayal as well. So on behalf of Scene, I offer condolences to all his relatives and friends for their loss, and sincere regret that we contributed to your pain.

We’re republished the obituary in the May 20 print edition, without the final paragraph of the original version. — Frank Lewis

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STOP THE PRESSES: CITY COUNCIL RUBBER-STAMPS MEDMART DEAL

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 10:38 AM

The medical mart/convention center marriage is a no-brainer, huh? No need for competitive bidding? First of its kind!? A win-win?!?! All this and more is finally stinking up the place like the bullshit it always was. Sadly, it’s too late.

Cleveland City Council president Martin Sweeney, ever in deference to the Powers That Be, scheduled a series of no-nonsense-please committee meetings on Monday afternoon, just hours before a final vote to sell the city’s downtown mall site for $20 million to the county, the very last legislative “hurdle” to the county’s med-mart deal.

After Sweeney finished reading the legislation like a drunk auctioneer, county comissioner (and reigning Democratic county boss) Jimmy Dimora cracked, “You’d make a good clerk of council someday. You read well.” Sweeney’s face reddened, and there was nervous laughter all around, as Dimora jiggled like Santa at the expense of one of his chief elves. (You may recall that Sweeney’s first council clerk, Emily Lipovan, resigned a few years back amid complaints of Sweeney’s alleged sexual and religious harassment. Good times.)

Dimora spent a lot of time petting the “august body” for “a job well done,” pointedly adding, “and continued success to all of you in your election bids.” A few nervous cackles: Dimora can influence whether an incumbent’s re-election bid is a cakewalk or a struggle. “And the couple of you that aren’t going to have a ward [due to council downsizing]. Oh well, that’s life.”

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ACCEPTABLE CARBON EMISSIONS: TALKING ABOUT THE GREEN ECONOMY

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 8:42 AM

It’s weird: It is the best and worst of times — if you’re an urban planner, union organizer, comedian, county commissioner, Democrat or even, yes, an employed journalist. To all these people and more, what’s actually happening — economically and class-wise, anyway — is the worst of times they’ve seen in their lives, followed by what they hope will be one of the best evolutionary steps in this American baby’s life. Work, in other words, is on their minds. And money.

“What’s frightening about the economy today,” said Josh Bivens, of the Economic Policy Institute, “is that everybody’s doing badly.”

But Uncle Sam is on the way. And like always, everyone’s got their doo-dad to sell. Municipalities have their prime projects at the top of long lists of job-creating priorities. Contractors and other business interests are jockeying for position with boxes of steaks and free pool tiles. And laid-off workers are creaking out of the fetal position in hopes of the classified section taking up some space again.

You better believe the think tanks — at least half of them — are hard at work persuading the right people to direct the anticipated $800 billion in economic stimulus toward the creation of well-paying, green-leaning jobs and the eventual reformation of the long-belittled middle class.

“What’s critical here is the choice of policies,” said Wendy Patton of the Apollo Alliance, a sponsor of the event, which is pushing for $300 billion over a decade toward sustainable energy independence. “With the right policies in place, this green energy renaissance can bring good-paying jobs back to Ohio.”

Policy Matters Ohio, the North Shore Federation of Labor and the Center on Wisconsin Strategy also had their stamps on the platform-building that went on Monday at Crowne Plaza Hotel downtown, where more than a hundred policy tinkerers — from union leaders and workforce developers to counselors, planners and strategists — joined forces for “Labor in the New Energy Economy.”

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