Friday, July 24, 2009

That Musta Been Some Health-Care Speech

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 9:33 AM

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Walking up the long and luxuriously paved hill to Shaker Heights High on Thursday afternoon with my two-year-old daughter Isabel in a stroller, a peanut-butter cookie smeared all over her face and dress, I’d never felt angrier at the president I helped to vote into office.

Of course, how angry could I have been? But still: You don’t want to see me? After all you’ve been through?

I called to reserve a spot on Wednesday morning for your big local unveiling of a Health-Care Plan to Save All Health-Care Investors, the one you crafted with all those dozens of insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists who came to the White House in recent months to be thanked for your victory against Hillary. The ones you still doesn’t want to talk about?

Cheney did something like that with the energy lobby and the Dems were all over it. And rightly so. But this health plan is a plan that’s better than the plan we’ve got, so I’ll get the word out like a good little drone.

One of your spokeswomen on the press release told me later that day that basically the mainstream media had this one covered. All filled up. Good thing somebody could be there to record it all.

But you let me in last year twice, and even let me come and go to smoke when you wanted all the press we could stomach. You even let that guy with the goiter in on Thursday, and he said some not-nice things about you on the way out. But me and my big-eyed Isabel — we watched it later in our minds’ eyes.

At the gates, Isabel sadly couldn’t woo anyone with authority. But we tried. And so we talked to people outside, liberals and conservatives alike, and you know what, B? They all fucking love you. Except for that little cluster of tax-whining poster-boarders, huddled around their champion, the guy holding the one with your picture as Jesus, warning passersby to “BEWARE FALSE IDOLS.” They hate you, and we know why: You’re not Sarah Palin. But the guy’s right, if only about the false idols thing. “Was he wearing a halo in there today?” he asked the throngs leaving the forum. Most people laughed. Good one. “Thank God He’s come,” one woman shouted over her shoulder. I think she was talking about you.

One girl was telling someone in her phone how she touched your hand. Not sure if she rehashed the talking points. Remember when I touched your hand? Isabel might never know how that even feels now.

A young black kid walking with a male mentor picked up one of the orange NO PARKING signs and carried it away as a souvenir. The man didn’t even question it. And why should he?

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sun Sets on Community Newspapers

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 9:00 AM

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Sun Newspapers announced plans for a substantial “reorganization” in June. The chain claimed it would continue covering 72 Northeast Ohio communities but would do it by slashing its work force and products. The changes will eliminate around 100 jobs and 11 newspapers.

The Sun papers plan to announce full details over the next two weeks. Executive Editor Linda Kinsey told Scene she wouldn’t comment until after July 30. But some details could officially emerge as soon as Thursday.

Some papers will cease publishing; some will merge. The reorganization plan vaguely declared that Sun will continue to publish 11 “mastheads” once the plan is implemented — “masthead” being publishing lingo for “staff box.” It doesn’t necessarily mean 11 distinct newspapers, but one preliminary plan from inside the Sun offices says the reconstituted Sun Sentinel will cover Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville.

According to the breakdown, the Parma Sun Post will now cover Independence, Parma, Parma Heights and Seven Hills. The West Shore Sun will cover Bay Village, Rocky River and Westlake. The Sun Post-Herald will cover Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Twp. News Sun will cover Berea, Brook Park and Middleburg Heights. The Sun Star Courier will cover Brecksville, Broadview Heights, North Royalton and Strongsville. The Brunswick Sun will cover Brunswick, Brunswick Hills and Hinckley. The Medina Sun will cover Medina. The Chagrin Solon Sun will cover Bainbridge, Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, Russell and Solon. The Sun Press will cover Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

The two financially strongest papers will remain unchanged: The Sun Press will continue covering Beachwood, and the Sun Messenger will cover South Euclid, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Village, Mayfield Heights, Highland Heights and Gates Mills.

In June, Sun CEO Keith Mathis filed paperwork with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services projecting the elimination of 115 jobs, including 30 reporters, 26 sales reps, three photographers, and dozens of support staff and skill positions. Some entire departments were cut. The new organization eliminates some of the few remaining lines between the Sun papers and The Plain Dealer, which is also owned by New York-based behemoth parent company Advance. Plain Dealer employees will now handle all accounting, payroll and retail duties. The PD will also deliver Sun papers to homes.

The entire non-union newsroom was offered buyouts. The buyouts were a standard package — a set number of weeks’ salary per years of service, plus continued benefits. Enough writers and editors took it to prevent forced layoffs.

The staff that remains will have some heavy lifting to do. The 22 papers currently have an editorial staff of about 50. The reorganized papers will reportedly have a staff size closer to 35. Currently, 11 people have editor titles. The new papers will have four editors and four assistant editors.

Despite the departing co-workers and an increasing workload, spirits are surprisingly high. The buyouts diffused months of building uncertainty. “Morale is better now that it was in the spring,” says a Sun writer. “The people that are going to stay are really committed to staying.” —D.X. Ferris

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Veggie U Bash Stuffs Local Foodies

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 11:38 AM

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About an hour west of Cleveland, in the shadow of Ohio’s vacationland in Huron, is the Chef’s Garden and Culinary Vegetable Institute, a family owned farm and training facility devoted to producing top quality vegetables for use in restaurants.

Not only is the Garden dedicated to using sustainable agricultural farming, the Institute has developed Veggie U, a not-for-profit educational program that teaches fourth graders around the country about the importance of healthy eating habits. The program does not come cheaply, and for the past seven years the institute has hosted its Food and Wine Celebration to help raise awareness and money.

More than 1,100 guests attended this year’s benefit on July 18, which featured more than 50 food and wine stations. Some of the region’s top chefs — including Touch Supper Club’s Jeff Fisher, Luxe’s Marlin Kaplan and Moxie’s Jonathan Bennett — participated.

Each chef created a small dish, making fine use of the Garden’s countless vegetables and seasonings. Micro greens were a popular ingredient, adorning several of the chefs’ creations (including dishes with tuna, scallops and duck). The most inventive dish was Pier W’s Regan Reik’s copper salmon tartare, which featured tiny fennel hyssop ice cream balls that brilliantly mixed the ingredients’ two temperatures.

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In addition to the tasting stations, the event also featured a silent and live auction, cooking and wine demonstrations, and a star chef cook-off.

But the entertainment did little to convince the attendees to abandon the tasting tent, which stayed crowded until the end and would have benefited from more walking room. Regardless, the fundraiser was a foodies mid-summer night dream, whisking city dwellers away from the hustle and down to the farm for a night of overeating and mingling. —Aaron Mendelsohn

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Friday, July 17, 2009

WORLD'S LONELIEST BROWNS FAN VISITS

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 10:20 PM

Like many Browns’ fans, Gordon Sparks is excited about the upcoming season. He even thinks new coach Eric Mangini will get the team into the playoffs. He's surprisingly excited for a guy who lives in Plymouth, England. A BBC radio personality, he flew into town this week and will spend two weeks here working on a story about Cleveland that he’ll turn into an hour-long BBC radio special that will air sometime this fall. (He arrived just after a visit from an Irish travel-show crew.)

a9df/1247883922-09gordonsparks.jpgSparks arrived in Cleveland on Monday, July 13 and has spent the week running around town. Upon his arrival, he had dinner at the Chop House and spent some time visiting the various bars and nightclubs in the Warehouse District. The next day, he toured the Rock Hall and then went up to the Collinwood area, where Beachland co-owner Cindy Barber gave him a tour of the eclectic shops in the neighborhood. Later that evening, he went to the Winking Lizard on Coventry, where he was shocked to see he could get a pint of Hoppy Otter, a beer from a brewery not far from where he lives. He attended the sold-out Veronicas show at the Grog Shop. From there, it was on to La Cave du Vin for a nightcap.

Sparks spent the rest of the week running around town in his rental car, checking out everything from the Cleveland Museum of Art to the Polka Hall of Fame and the Greater Cleveland Slo Pitch Softball Hall of Fame. He also spent a day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sparks, who’s called Plymouth Argyle soccer games for the past 25 years, will also provide play-by-play commentary for the NFL regular season game that takes place this year at London’s Wembley Stadium; he’s one of the few British sports commentators who understands the American sport. Here’s to hoping his prediction that the Browns make the playoffs is
an informed hunch. — Jeff Niesel

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PROGRESS? IN CONGRESS?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 4:52 PM

It may be Friday but at least a couple of Ohio’s elected officials aren’t starting the weekend early.

This morning, Dennis Kucinich introduced an amendment to the health-care bill to the House Committee on Education and Labor that would allow individual states to institute single-payer programs if they chose to. And for those who try to claim Dennis never gets anything done, the amendment passed 25-19 with 12 Democrats (including 11th District Congresswoman Marcia Fudge) and 13 Republicans (remember they used to be big on states’ rights?) voting for it.

Progressive Democrats of America has the story:

The amendment now has to pass scrutiny of the full House and Senate. But it’s a start: If one brave state takes the plunge (Ohio?), who knows where it might lead. Canada’s universal coverage began in a single province.

Meanwhile, Senator Sherrod Brown posted a column today at Huffington Post advocating for a coordinated national policy to retain manufacturing-sector jobs and create new ones, and to revise trade agreements that have cost Ohio hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the last couple of decades.

He says, “Later his month, I'll be introducing the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment (TRADE) Act, which would ensure our trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, South Korea, or with any nation create a level playing field for U.S. manufacturing.”

That will be music to the ears of Ohioans, who have shown an understandable distaste of NAFTA, CAFTA and similar free-trade deals, and elected Brown in large part because of his opposition to them.

Don’t say we’re not getting our money’s worth from these guys. — Anastasia Pantsios

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WHY GOLDMAN SACHS IS LAUGHING AT ALL OF US

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 3:21 PM

Baffled by all this talk about Goldman Sachs and TARP and TALF and such? Matt Taibbi breaks it down:

Ask yourself this question: has borrowing money gotten any cheaper for you this year? Did someone from the government walk up to you after you foreclosed on your house or missed payments on your charge card and, as a favor, just because you’re so cool, jack your credit score back up to the 99th percentile and invite you to start all over again? Because that’s what happened to these assholes. They made every bad move you can think of and they not only got a clean credit slate but a vitually [sic] ceiling-free spending limit.

Read the whole thing here. — Frank Lewis

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NOT THAT KEVIN KELLEY

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 3:14 PM

ea40/1247858159-theotherkelley.jpgCleveland's Ward 16 Councilman Kevin Kelley is one of the few members who's running unopposed this year. If he were he'd be spending a lot of money on billboards and flyers proclaiming, "I'm not that Kevin Kelley!"

"Thank God," he says. Doesn't Kelley — Council's majority whip — mean "Thank Council President Marty Sweeney?"

He laughs. But no. "With all the troubles that are befalling that other Kevin Kelley" — federal corruption target and former county IT nerd J. Kevin Kelley, who investigators allege was chief bagman for county commissioner Jimmy Dimora and auditor Frankie Russo — "this is the year i needed it to work out this way." — Dan Harkins

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