Monday, February 27, 2012

The Dimora Trial Mix Tape: All the Best Stories in One Place

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 11:09 AM

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Courtroom trials are a snooze. Seriously. If you’ve ever ridden the benches through a complete legal proceeding from jury selection to guilty/not guilty, you know the average trial is low on regular dramatics; mostly, we’re talking about long, detail-logged witness testimony and interminable pitched battles over fine print. Even when backlit by the kind of human depravity that’s marked the public career of Jimmy Dimora, the day-to-day slog between lawyers and witnesses is more likely to put you to sleep than hook your attention.

Which makes courtroom coverage — again, even when we’re talking about a trial as chin-deep in depravity as Dimora’s — a hard sell, newsmaking wise. Besides the geriatric-in-a-walker pace of Justice, the same news coming out of Dimora’s trial was everywhere. All four of Cleveland’s TV stations and the Plain Dealer had corps of reporters filling up notebooks with the same daily revelations, not to mention freelancers, columnists and editorialist firing off from the sidelines. The result was a bit over-saturating. Too much Dimorapalooza.

Luckily for us news consumers, some of the local outlets — under the whipcrack from editors and station directors, no doubt — went beyond just parroting the daily details. They found unique, odd angles on the mess. Now that Dimora’s defense has waved the white flag and everything looks like it will be over soon, we’re going to run through our favorite outside the box Jimmy-related news reports.

The Painful Explanation of the Obvious: In early February, the PD team covering the trial took a breather from manning the usual news factory to look at something that went without saying, but once said, made for an awkward read: Jimmy Dimora doesn’t respect women. Or, er, guess we should say he doesn’t respect “broads,” “talent” and “layovers,” just a few choice tags Jimmy had for the opposite sex. Again, we never suspected Dimora had a Gloria Steinem reader in the tiki hut’s bathroom, but this angle paints a good picture: here Dimora’s misogyny was being broadcast daily to the courtroom via the wiretaps, and Jimmy was surrounded by women who were pretty much controlling his fate: female judge and jurors, female investigators and prosecutors, not to mention the shambles of his support system, a female defense attorney and his long suffering wife. It’s like a white trash version of the end of 8 1/2.

The Puppet Show: This one grabs the throne. From the cheap seats, putting together a nightly puppet show of the Dimora trial just seems batshit crazy at best, a shameless ploy for a little attention at worst. But 19ActionNews might have hit on something with this, besides the probable rating surge, that is: the puppet thing literalizes the cartoon-vibe Dimora, Russo and company ooze out at the end of the day. When this is all over, we’re going to remember these guys more as the outlandish characters they puffed themselves into rather than anything resembling actual, sympathetic human beings.

The Tour/Culinary Tour: The idea of mapping the kickback-fueled ramblings of Dimora and Russo was a popular one — so popular two outlets hit it. Cleveland Magazine struck first, with their “Map of Fallen Stars” in the January issue. The chart outlined the local spots that played a role in the federal case against the county big wigs. Then, a month and a half later, the PD — they must have lost their January issue of Cleveland Magazine — came out with an article listing the food joints Dimora and Russo enjoyed, proposing one day “a county corruption culinary tour of Cleveland.”

The Righteous Excoriation: “Biggest Loser” might be a titled you could throw at a lot of the heavyweights who fell from their heights in the corruption scandal. In a February column, PD writer Mark Naymik basically melted off Kevin Kelley’s face, tagging the former as the most pathetic character in the whole mess. The scathing take down rightly presents the former Parma school board members not as a wise-guy member of the inner circle, but a “gofer” with his lips firmly glued to Dimora’s ass. “Kelley fetched ice, food, limos and women for Dimora. He picked up the tab for dinners with Dimora, including one he didn't even attend,” Naymik wrote. “Dimora acknowledged his loyalty only once, throwing him a prostitute when Kelley was short on cash.” That truly burns.

The Gaddafi Cameo:
Not all the weirdness surrounding the trial happened in the courtroom proper. On paper, the only thing Jimmy Dimora’s antics lacked was an international angle, but that would come out durning the trial as well, at least in the spectator seats. Newsnet5 noticed a group of strangers in the peanut gallery. Turns out, the individuals were a Libyan delegation hosted by the State Department. They made the trek to Akron to see how the Americans handle corrupt politicians, but we understand they still think the Libyan way is better — hauling them out from a drain pipe followed by a mob-dished sentencing.

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Speaking of Jimmy Dimora, Cuyahoga County Corruption

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