Wednesday, December 9, 2009

LAKEWOOD'S CHAIR MAN OF THE FLOORED

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 1:56 PM

For over a year, Steve Jambrozy has been trying to get someone's attention, but his topic is about as unsexy as it gets: library chairs.

The Lakewood resident has complained about the "very quick, small wheels on ultra-light chairs" in the main Technology Center of Lakewood Public Library's main branch to an array of Lakewood officials, including former library director Ken Warren, Councilman Mike Summers, and Lakewood School Board member Linda Beebe (the school board is the fiscal sponsor for the libraries), just to name a few.

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The chairs in question are Herman Miller stacking Caper chairs, which were originally shipped with U5 soft wheel casters that, according to the manufacturer, are suitable for both carpeted surfaces and hard floors. They retail for approximately $150 each.

There is no question that the casters glide very quickly across a hard floor. Jambrozy says he has documentation for 48 falls courtesy of the chairs occurring between June 2008 and September 2009. Apparently, the chairs can easily roll out of (ahem) target range, as if an invisible prankster is pulling the chair out from under someone who is about to sit down.

Jambrozy has fielded replies indicating there have not been sufficient occurrences or injuries to warrant action. He was told that patrons need to be able to seat themselves. Jambrozy persisted nonetheless, taking particular exception to a November 27 Plain Dealer article wherein Grant Segall notes Lakewood Public Library's four-star rating with the Library Journal.

When I tried to verify any of Jambrozy's claims with current library director James Crawford, however, things got cagey. Crawford politely took my calls, but would not discuss the Herman Miller chairs or any associated complaints. So I put my questions in writing and e-mailed them to him. After a few days with no response, I placed a follow up call.

Crawford said that he did not intend to answer any of my specific questions about the chairs either on the phone or in writing, but that library staff had tested new braking casters on two of the chairs and was satisfied with the results. Citing patron safety as a top priority, Crawford said the library intends to upgrade all the Herman Miller chairs and hopes the manufacturer will furnish the new braking casters.

There is a cliché close to the surface of this, but considering that Jambrozy, a 1981 Lakewood High School grad, once ran through the LHS cafeteria wearing only a monster mask, jock strap and Stroh's badge, I think he deserves a little more street cred than you can pile onto a lone squeaky wheel. — Erin O'Brien

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RECESSION IN REAL TIME

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 1:16 PM

This is like something from a sci-fi movie about a pandemic:


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"P.S.: PLEASE SEND SALAMI"

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Lots of folks organize drives to send things to troops overseas — but we're guessing that Cleveland Heights institution Mister Brisket is the first to focus on salami:

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The idea’s genesis came about during a conversation we had with Max Chandler of Cleveland Heights. Max’s son, Cormac, is the crew chief aboard a Medivac helicopter. Based in Kandahar, one of Cormac’s major responsibilities is to evacuate wounded troops from battle situations. Max expressed an interest in sending food to his son. Since it has to be an item that won’t spoil, we decided on salami. Soon we saw the potential to expand this shipment not only to Cormac but to the rest of the men and women serving with him. We hope you’ll seriously consider assisting us in our “Salamis to the Troops” drive. Each salami purchased will arrive to a member of our armed forces along with a note from your family and Stadium mustard. In addition, you’ll receive a gift certificate for a free sandwich as our way of saying “thanks.” For more info (and to see a very funny picture):

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OHIO DEMS BOAST STRONG ROSTER, WITH ONE EXCEPTION

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 10:57 AM

The Ohio Democratic Party brought its “Knockout” road show to Cleveland Monday night, the last stop on a tour of the state to generate enthusiasm for the 2010 campaign. Next year, all statewide offices will be up for election, as will two state supreme court seats and George Voinovich’s U.S. Senate seat. And the ODP is hoping to make as strong a showing as it did in 2006, when it took back the governorship as well as three of the four non-judicial statewide offices.

Around 300 people — many of them longtime party activists, along with a scattering of elected and party officials like Cuyahoga County Recorder Lillian Greene and county party executive director Mary Devring — gathered at Pickwick and Frolic on East 4th Street to hear speeches by state Treasurer Kevin Boyce and secretary of state candidate Jennifer Garrison, and a Power Point presentation hosted by state party executive director Doug Kelly. While Boyce was well-received, attendees seemed unenthused by Garrison’s harping on Republican candidate Jon Husted’s residency issues, which most were probably unfamiliar with. (He’s been accused of not living in the state Senate district he currently represents). Since Husted is known for his hyper-partisanship and would likely revert to the same disenfranchisement tactics that former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell pioneered, there were many more powerful arguments she could have made. The scattered, half-hearted applause she received showed that she will probably be the weak link in a ticket whose challenge will be to energize progressive base voters in an off-year election. (We’ve previously documented her radical anti-choice stances).

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THE POP STOP

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 8:00 AM

If the opening of a vintage store for pop-culture junkies marks the transition from up-and-coming neighborhood to must-visit shopping destination, then Collinwood’s Waterloo Road has arrived. Last month the already hipster-friendly strip (anchored by the Beachland Ballroom) welcomed Star Pop, which offers a variety of used and new cool stuff, including Star Wars action figures, top-shelf sports gear, old tin toys, vintage kids’ books, and a Harley helmet still in its original box.

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Owner Troy Schwartz, a Cleveland native, has been trading toys, antiques, and art full time since 2001. He scours Northeast Ohio estate sales and attics to keep in-demand items out of landfills.

As of this writing, the store had rows of games for assorted Nintendo systems, cheap Harry Potter hardbacks, Disney DVDs and videotapes, old-school roller skates, North Face outdoor gear, and a collections of biker jackets (including a red one if you want to go for the Chrissie Hynde look).

Schwartz laughs, recalling one regular who brings her 6-year-old son to shop. He always quickly picks out a toy — but then he’s stuck in the store while his mom browses. Eventually, the child is the one dragging the mom out of the store.

“A customer came in, looked around, and told me, ‘Man, you really veered off track from what you were intending,’” says Schwartz. “I said ‘No, you believed someone who told you it was a toy store. It’s a pop-culture shop — things that I think are cool, and my experience tells me that other people enjoy.”

Star Pop’s grand-opening party Saturday, December 12, from 6-10 p.m. (The store opens at 2 that day.) It’s open Tuesdays through Sundays, and stays open late to accommodate foot traffic from concerts at the neighboring Beachland, which regularly spills over into record stores Music Saves and Blue Arrow Vinyl and (pop) art store Shoparooni. — D.X. Ferris

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

FORECLOSURES WORSE AMID BANK APATHY, FED DELAYS

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Federal lawmakers came to Cleveland this week for a grim analysis of how foreclosures continue to devastate the region. The lawmakers — part of a domestic policy congressional subcommittee — listened to a panel of local officials who shared stories of ongoing attempts to alleviate disaster for homeowners and neighborhoods.

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“I’m sad to say that this state and this county haven’t been in worse shape,” Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis told the subcommittee during a hearing at the U.S. federal courthouse in Cleveland. “This is an endless war. We are losing that war.”

Rokakis’ bleak assessment is based on rising figures for 90-day loan payment delinquencies and pending foreclosures, locally and throughout Ohio. While much of the prior focus was on the problems created by sub-prime loans, the rise in unemployment means that more people with traditional loans are facing foreclosures and delinquencies. And more people are finding that their homes are worth less than the balance on the mortgage.

Rokakis’ says the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has failed in Ohio. The program to assist homeowners has serviced about 650,000 loans nationwide, but only a fraction of those loans have been permanently modified.

Michael Dudley, a Garfield Heights councilman, also bemoaned the loan program and begged lawmakers to intensify education efforts for homeowners who get lost in a sea of bureaucracy, misinformation and apathy. Dudley says banks have misled some of his residents, telling them they could delay loan payments while they waited for their loans to be modified — then continuing to charge interest and and tacking on penalties. “We need to get something that’s going to educate these people,” Dudley said.

While officials say loan counseling works, one Ohio group says even that outlet for troubled homeowners could soon be diminished. Mark Seifert, executive director for Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), said federal funding for foreclosure counseling in Ohio will be slashed in half.

"These cuts will severely cripple ESOP’s ability to continue to serve the thousands of people we serve each year,” Seifert said. He also criticized HAMP, saying that his group had helped with 400 cases of loan modification. To date: only one permanent loan modification.

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SURE, YOU'RE NOT WORKING, BUT ARE YOU REALLY UNEMPLOYED?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 1:10 PM

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