Thursday, June 25, 2009

CAN WE TAKE GOD OUT OF SEX ED, PLEASE?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 2:11 PM

The Nation reports that the discredited abstinence education movement that flourished under the Bush administration is trying to rebrand itself now that federal dollars (and attention) aren't so easy to come by. Valerie Huber, who used to oversee Ohio's programs, makes an appearance — she's now executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association:

At an April 29 Capitol Hill briefing, Huber told the room that abstinence-only education is "not a 'just say no' message." "This is not abstinence only, this is a holistic message that prepares and gives students all of the information they need to make healthy decisions," Huber said. In fact, the NAEA isn't even calling its programs "abstinence only" anymore—now they're "abstinence centered."

Emphasis added, to illustrate how the God squaders are once again trying to obscure their real intentions. And their failures:

The NAEA is also jumping on the science bandwagon; on its AbstinenceWorks website, much of the home page is taken up by a graph showing the decrease in teen pregnancy rates, presumably to demonstrate its programs' effectiveness. The problem? The graph conveniently stops in 2006; the teen pregnancy rate in the United States has actually increased for the second year in a row.

Insert your own Bristol Palin joke here.

An article on a Christian web site (no longer online but quoted in a comprehensive ’05 post about Huber on the now-defunct blog Hypothetically Speaking) described the western Ohio mom's view this way: "Many organizations support abstinence, but it is abstinence until you feel you're ready or simply feel like it. In other words, we're all abstinent until we do it again. Valerie Huber is advocating a different code of morality — the biblical standard of abstinence until marriage."

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THE DON LIVES

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 8:00 AM

801d/1245879910-plusquellic.jpgBig surprise: The Don of Rubber City is still in the big chair.

Detractors can suck it, says Akron Mayor For Life Don Plusquellic of the latest attempt to depose him in a recall election on Tuesday. In 2007, the darling of the national mayoral set won his unprecedented sixth term. So it was no surprise to anyone — even his chief opponent, lawyer and ex-councilman Warner Mendenhall — that Plusquellic came away with about 75 percent of the vote.

At his downtown victory party at Musica, he recounted for the assembled suits something his grandmother told him when he was a star quarterback still made to earn his booze money at McDonald’s: “There will be a small percentage who, no matter how hard you work, they will never be satisfied."

Yes, if we linger too long on what the little people out in the neighborhoods want, how will downtown business interests flourish? “If we dwell on them,” he continued about his opponents, “if we let them set our agenda, God help us.”

His castle is starting to look pretty impenetrable.

8176/1245879547-flyerfront.jpgWarner Mendenhall, the Akron attorney who led the recall campaign on a promise to spread some dough more equitably across the city, raised just about $7,000 to Plusquellic’s $300,000 on the recall effort. And seemed at a loss for material just before the big day: He was sending e-mail blasts about “identifiably racist” flyers that Plusquellic had just mailed out with the warning “WHO’S TRYING TO TAKE OVER AKRON?” The flyers featured dark silhouettes that Mendenhall tried to say looked like black people. We really can't tell.

5486/1245879608-flyerback.jpgMendenhall also alleged that Plusquellic hadn’t given his Change Akron Now group all of the millions of documents they’d gone fishing for in Sunshine Law requests. And he tried to point out how Plusquellic allegedly told a cop that if the police union endorsed the recall they’d end up “driving sleds before they get new cruisers.” Scene wanted to get this from the mouth of the cop who heard this, anonymously or not, and Mendenhall supplied the number of a retired cop who didn’t return our calls.

The cops did end up endorsing Mendenhall, though. Everyone else, it seems — from Chief Pretender Cryssie Hynde to each and every downtown business interest — was all over Plusquellic’s jock.

But Mendenhall didn’t seem disheartened on Wednesday. He said he listened to audio files of the losing and winning parties Tuesday night, and it seemed like there was more merriment at theirs. “They had a party at Musica, and we were at the diner,” says Mendenhall, “but ours was the one that sounded like a victory party.”

Mendenhall’s wife, Kelly, announced her plan to run for an at-large Council seat this year, and Mendenhall vowed to keep Change Akron Now alive. If they have to keep making their own yard signs, then so be it.
“We’ve gotten campaign finance reforms in 2000, fought [successfully] against a tax increase in 2007 and most of us worked to get a charter change to keep our utilities local,” he recounted. “I think the folks we worked with on CAN came out feeling very empowered that we are not passive citizens,” he said. “And maybe that’s why there was a sense of celebration last night in the face of what looks like a massive defeat.”

Calls to Plusquellic’s staff went unanswered. That Musica sure can throw a party. — Dan Harkins

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DEALS WITHIN DEALS, SCHEMES WITHIN SCAMS

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Yes, this is how business is done around here, as county commissioner Tim Hagan was so fond of reminding everyone during the whole half-billion-dollar convention center give-away to his developer-friend Chris Kennedy. What he meant: behind closed doors.

9625/1245877134-ameritrust.jpgAnd so it goes with the Ameritrust building at Euclid and East Ninth. Commissioners bought the long-vacant building — which somehow manages to look like an Irish public-housing highrise and “architecturally significant” — in 2005 from Dick Jacobs for the grand price of $22 million. The plan: put in some money and have a brand-new-looking county HQ. But a few unforeseen developments screwed that plan up seven ways from Sunday.

County commissioners have reportedly thrown as much as $40 million into the building, but then said last year — with the Medical Mart/convention center issue boiling on the front burner and site selection still burning holes in key developers’ pockets — that they couldn’t afford to move forward and would acquiesce to the plans of a very-connected developer, Doug Price of the K&D Group. Price said he had a major tenant lined up to help him turn the old building into a hotel and gathering place, but then Price backed out early this week after that tenant bailed and any hopes of financing fell through.

But maybe this was the plan all along. Commissioners didn’t float the idea of buying a county HQ with sales-tax revenue, to make it an entranceway to the new convention center development, until after the Med Mart deal was done. This would necessitate a move and provide the cash flow, as Commissioner Jimmy Dimora told Cleveland Council members, “to fill another one of your vacant buildings elsewhere downtown.”

This was all before the lastest round of federal corruption indictments came down last week, though, which confirmed that Dimora and Auditor Frank Russo are indeed up to their doughy faces in what prosecutors allege is a fat mess of greedy shenanigans.

Now, Price looks like the worst possible person to have been sitting on the county’s Ameritrust crater, waiting for something that hasn’t happened. Not only are investigators interested in Dimora’s role in the Ameritrust sale and his dealings with K&D, but they allege Price paid Dimora and Co. a series of bribes for the county engineer’s office to locate to K&D’s Stonebridge development downtown.

Yeah, it might be wise for him to “just go away.” Maybe to Florida with Kevin Kelley.

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CUTTING BREAD WITH A SAW: THE SAD, STRANGE LIFE OF BERNIE KOSAR

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM

e448/1245690871-bernie.jpg

Dan LeBatard has a great feature on Bernie Kosar for the Miami Herald. While locally, all we got recently in terms of media coverage of Bernie's imminent bankruptcy filings were the financial details, LeBatard sits down with Bernie in Florida and recaps just how completely screwed up Kosar's life is these days — personally, socially, and physically.

If you listened to No. 19 call pre-season Browns games or make appearances on WKNR, you surely know that Bernie's voice is not one of a healthy man. You can hear the pain, the toll of alcohol, the stress of his messy divorce, all wrapped up in that endearing slur that Browns fans love.

What we know about his money is that he owes lots of it, to lots of people — somewhere between $10 and $50 million in total. From mismanaging his funds to being entirely too generous with friends and relatives, to taking a beating on real estate deals thanks to the miserable economy, Kosar is in a world of financial hurt.

That we know.

LeBatard's piece gives a ton of insight into the man we only know as a beloved public figure. For instance, he didn't know how to make coffee until recently.

And there's more. These are perhaps the best two anecdotes from the whole piece:

The IRS and the creditors and an angry ex-wife and an avalanche of attorneys are circling the chaos that used to be Bernie Kosar's glamorous life, but that's not the source of his anxiety at the moment. He is doing a labored lap inside his Weston mansion, the one on the lake near the equestrian playpen for horses, because he wants to be sure there are no teenage boys hiding, attempting to get too close to his three daughters. He shattered a Kid Rock-autographed guitar the other day while chasing one teenager out of his house because he doesn't mind all of the other boys within the area code thinking the Kosar girls have an unhinged Dad.

''There are a million doors in this place,'' he says. ``Too many ways to get in.''

And....


Do you know how to wash clothes, Bernie?

''No,'' he says.

Iron a shirt?

''No,'' he says.

Start the dishwasher?

''No,'' he says.

He just learned the other day, after much trying and failing, how to make his own coffee. This is a man who owned his own jet and helped found companies, plural. But when his new girlfriend came over recently and found him trying to cook with his daughters, she couldn't believe what was on the kitchen island to cut the French bread. A saw.

So, those are amusing, and it's always interesting to see how someone who a success at quarterback not because of his physical skills, but because of his cerebral acuity, doesn't know how to hang pictures on the wall or perform the most mundane of domestic tasks.

But the image of Bernie that emerges by the end isn't silly or unhinged or pathetic. It's one that any Clevelander could have guessed. He's self-deprecating, kind, a loving father, smart enough to know he'll come out of this, and too in love with the competition he long left on the field to get too far away from the game he loves. He carries his scars (broken fingers, broken ankles, screwed up back, countless concussions) proudly, and despite everything going against him, knows he'll survive. And he deals with all the usual issues of being a former superstar athlete now trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, still seeking that adrenaline and competition along the way.

He's not a perfect guy, by any stretch of the imagination. But we can identify with him. Guys and gals that fight their way through, making mistakes, trying to do better next time, but not always succeeding. That's why the love for Bernie is so palpable. It's not just about what he did on the field. He's one of us. Always will be. — Vince Grzegorek

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ALL THE GOOD NEWS THAT FITS INTO THE SPACE YOU PAID FOR

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 9:00 AM

masetta.jpgRussell Masetta wants you to know something, so zip it and listen: He founded the Nature Stone flooring business in 1988 on the principles of determination and family loyalty. So just forget about all this kick-backing mafia stuff that happened for all the years right before that, you understand? Or do you need it explained in person?

The founder of the Bedford business sprung for a half-page ad in Sunday's Plain Dealer to tell half the story of his upbringing. The ad, which had to have cost several thousand dollars, featured a story about his father, Andrew “YAYA” Masetta — local slow-pitch softball hero and cement finisher — who gave his son a start in the construction business at a time when he needed the incognito time.

When Andrew passed in 2004, Russell incorporated “YAYA” into his business logo (so small that PD designers had to use the symbol of a magnifying glass to point out that it was right there, under the “E” in NATURE STONE). It’s a lovely story, though, for an advertisement.

Scene is nervous but duty-bound to fill in some blanks.

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ROCK ’N’ ROLL SAVED HIS LIFE

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 8:00 AM

This week's cover story, "The Other Damage Done," describes some ways that musicians and fans have injured themselves via a life in and around music: chronic repetitive-stress damage, brain trauma, and the all-too-common phenomenon of hearing loss. While surveying over 100 music pros for the story, we came across one story of sudden trauma working out well for a victim.

2fa6/1245872454-mikeo.jpgFormer WNCX morning-drive DJ Mike Olszewski says his hearing loss allowed him to sit out a war.

"While I am not a musician, I have had music-related problems," he says. "On August 12, 1971 I sat in the second row in front of the bass amplifier at the Who's Public Hall show. No ear plugs. The effect was
immediate. I was affected by tinitis, a chronic whistling or whining sound and a hearing loss. Fortunately, it helped me stay out of Vietnam after failing the hearing test for the draft physical three times in 1973! I always swore I would thank John Entwistle, and when I met him for the first time in 1992, he seemed shaken that he caused my hearing loss. I explained to him that it probably saved my life! I still have hearing problems. Despite the fact it kept me out of Vietnam, I definitely would have taken steps to protect myself." — D.X. Ferris

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

UNDER PRESSURE, DIMORA STEPS ASIDE, BUT NOT DOWN

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 4:13 PM

3094/1245788134-dimora.jpgKing Dem Jimmy Dimora won’t step down as chairman, despite the allegations that he and other friends at the top partied on developers’ dimes and used his party hall to launder dirty money meant for favors. But he will step aside for awhile, starting July 1.

That’s the word from Cuyahoga County Democratic Party HQ on Tuesday morning, where executive director Mary Devring announced that vice chairwoman Pat Britt would take the reins for this year’s 58 municipal elections, while Dimora battles the Demons of Doing Business.

Devring insisted that Dimora made his own decision to send out this letter on Tuesday morning to party faithful: “I am doing this at this time for the good of the Party. I want to focus on my duties as Cuyahoga County Commissioner and to also clear my good name.”

That wasn’t good enough for Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern, who wrote Dimora later Tuesday and urged him to resign and not just disappear for awhile.

“It has become apparent to me that your effectiveness to lead the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party has been irreparably harmed,” wrote Redfern.

Without Dimora’s resignation, the party cannot formally pick another chairman. Actually, without Dimora, the party apparently can’t even wipe its own ass. — Dan Harkins

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