Friday, March 29, 2013

Rally For Reform Set For Monday Morning In Public Square

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 10:20 AM

  • Forrest
Animal protection advocates will congregate in Public Square at 7:30 a.m. April 1 to raise awareness for the struggle against Ohio's low-ball animal cruelty laws.

April is "Animal Cruelty Awareness Month" and such a time of reflection is needed greatly in the state of Ohio. Momentous things are happening, but the Statehouse is still digging its heels into the muck and lurching forward at little more than a glacial pace.

Tricia Ringolz, the coordinator of community affairs for PAWS Ohio, is promoting Monday's rally as a way to highlight a dire problem in our state that flies under the radar far too often:

Sadly, Ohio ranks 34th in animal cruelty laws within the United States (ALDF 2012). Animal
cruelty has been scientifically shown to be in direct relation to violent crimes and anti-social
behavior. Early intervention is the key to prevent victimization of children, domestic violence,
and animal cruelty.

On a related note, Raymone Clements' trial in federal court begins Monday. His heinous criminal past, which includes shooting his bull mastiff Forrest last November, brings him before the court on charges of possession of ammunition and firearms as a previously convicted felon.

His trial begins at 9:30 a.m.

Forrest quickly became the new face of animal protection reform in Ohio, along with dogs in similar situations, like Herbie.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bishop Lennon Granted Me Unprecedented Access — WHY?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 4:44 PM


If you haven't read our profile on Cleveland's Bishop Richard Lennon, published in this week's issue of Scene, it's blowing up all around the country and you should read the whole thing immediately!

Just kidding guys. It's an in-depth piece which covers a great deal of the Bishop's views and rehashes the parish closing crisis here in Cleveland while following Lennon through a typical day at the office. I've already received a few emails asking how I was able to "access" the Bishop in the way I did. Folks wondered why he was willing to talk with me when he's generally so tight-lipped (or worse) to media outlets.

It went like this.

I approached the Diocese's communications director Bob Tayek with my pitch. I told him I was interested in doing a story on the Bishop. And right off the bat, I indicated that it wouldn't be a Lennon-bashing piece, that I was much more interested in the man than the controversies surrounding him.

As such, I said I'd prefer to spend some concerted time with him. I said I'd be happy to do a single hour-long interview, but expressed my opinion that I'd be able to write a much better story if I actually followed him around for a day.

The Diocese was initially hesitant. Tayek asked me to be more specific. I sent him a link to this piece in Vanity Fair which chronicled a day in the life of President Obama while also discussing perceptions of the presidency vs. the reality of the job.

My aim was similar, I said. I wanted to humanize the Bishop and shine some light on what a Bishop does all day. I mean, I had no idea.

I should say also that I very overtly identified myself as a practicing Catholic — which I am — to sort of align myself on the Diocese's team. I wasn't some renegade Athiest out to destroy the Church. I was a journalist who'd endured the same frustrations as other Catholics in the region and I wanted to learn more about the guy in charge.

They seemed somewhat taken, if a bit surprised, by my earnestness and candor and invited me in to have a sort of "pre-meeting" with the Bishop himself to discuss what they were calling my "parameters."

I met with Tayek and Lennon and once again outlined my aims. Lennon was incredibly cordial and open. He showed up drinking a can of Diet Coke, and asked immediately what parish I was from. (The assumption, I guess, was that I was Catholic. I honestly think I wouldn't have gotten very far if I gave him a blank stare.)

But after chatting for a bit, Lennon seemed much more amenable to the story idea than Tayek, who — fairly, perhaps — was skeptical about the quality of Scene as a publication. He didn't know if the Diocese ought to be associated with a magazine which prints the sort of racy classified ads we print.

The Bishop waved that concern away.

"He has no control over the ads," he said.

The story almost didn't happen though, on account of schedules. We both found ourselves extremely busy, and some days were non-negotiable for both of us. We managed to find two Fridays which we thought would work and the second one — the Friday I ultimately spent with him — included a bit more diversity in terms of meetings and responsibilities. We both thought that one would be better, though I had to forego a trip to Columbus that weekend. (I had intended to go see Justin Morrow and the Earthquakes take on the Crew in Columbus for another Scene story.)

Both Tayek and Lennon were extremely helpful throughout the day. I was granted almost complete access, with the exception of one very confidential financial conversation and the tail end of the sexual abuse meeting, during which I was asked to step outside as a courtesy, as they were discussing an individual case.

I think entities (governmental, religious, corporate etc.) tend to assume that journalists are out to get them, and it's been my experience that candor and specificity on the front end can produce really positive results. That's not always possible, I'm aware, but in this case, I was able to establish a much more meaningful, honest rapport with a guy who'd I never really taken the time to do anything but sneer at.

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Updated: Downtown Sushi Rock Not Reopening as Planned

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 3:08 PM


Despite assurances to the contrary, it is now patently obvious that Sushi Rock in the Warehouse District will not reopen this fall as planned. The space on W. 6th Street currently is available for lease.

The once-swanky sushi restaurant and club opened 13 years ago this month. When it abruptly closed its doors last July, the owners vowed that the move was temporary and that the club would reopen after a major renovation.

A prepared statement from management reads: "The Downtown Sushi Rock will not be re-opening at this time in its
previous location. The Space is currently available for lease. We are so proud to have been one of the founding businesses in the warehouse district. We started our concept on West 6th street and were able to grow into multiple locations including Beachwood, Columbus and South Florida. We thank the community for their years of patronage - without them our success would not be possible. Cleveland is going through a lot of changes right now, and we felt that our upscale dining concept was no longer a good fit for the location on West 6th. We are seeking possible new locations for the future, and will be sure to keep everyone posted."

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Man Denounces Laws of Physics and President Obama, Border Patrol Calls Secret Service (Updated)

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 10:51 AM

The green tunic and leggings are underneath the texas tux, probably
  • Image: Sandusky Register
  • The green tunic and leggings are underneaeth the texas tux, probably

Update: Neither Robert Pierce nor his wife were arrested or charged with any crimes after their misadventures in Marblehead and Robert's protestations that gravity doesn't exist (oh, and that whole maybe, sorta threatening President Obama thing).

But a fun little ancillary bit of news arrived this morning: Catharine Pierce has made national news before. She was the infamous g-string gardener of Boulder, Colorado that fascinated the nation back in 2010.

We look forward to her next embarrassing moment in the media spotlight. — Grzegorek


Last Saturday, a man alternately claiming to be Dwight Eisenhower’s illegitimate son and Peter Pan terrorized the patrons of Avery’s Café in Marblehead, reports the Sandusky Register. When his misguided ranting—which included proclamations like “Gravity doesn’t exist” and “Bayshore Road is the gateway to hell”—escalated to threats of killing President Obama, café employees called Marblehead police, who promptly turned Dwight Jr., aka Robert Dale Pierce, and his wife Catherine over to Border Patrol for questioning by the U.S. Secret Service.

A police report said:

“I received a call from (a cafe employee) who stated that he had a male and a female in Avery’s Cafe and they were making threats towards the President of the United States… He also advised that they were heading to Washington, D.C., to make some things straight. (The employee) also stated that the couple seemed very unstable and his staff feared that this couple may follow through with the threats.”

Police found a .22-caliber rifle, a bag of rounds and six bottles of oxycodone in the Pierces’ Colorado-plated rental car, as well as a “container of suspected marijuana seeds” in Pierce’s pocket. What can we say, the Lost Boys like to party. Obama’s security detail ain’t got nothin’ on those marijuana seeds, so we’re relieved the couple’s in custody. Also, advice to Pierce: blame it on that punk Rufio. Works every time.

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ICYMI: Browns Broadcasts Move to Different Radio Stations

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 10:51 AM

The Cleveland Browns' broadcasts, long the province of Clear Channel's WMMS and WTAM, will show up on a trio of other radio stations this season. Interestingly enough, two rival sports stations will each have a hand in the new operation.

Via the News-Herald:

The Browns will be broadcast on CBS Sports Radio's WKRK-FM 92.3 The Fan on the FM side, and ESPN WKNR-AM 850, two industry sources confirmed.

...Such an agreement is rare, because the two stations are rivals. Many things will need to be worked out, including how they'll sell advertising.

Clear Channel's outfits, for their part, seem to be widening their Tribe broadcasting load. The media conglomerate also retains rights to Cavs games.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Plans Come to Light for Shuttered ChopHouse Space

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 4:09 PM


When the Cleveland ChopHouse & Brewery closed on the first of the year, it was a shock not only to Cleveland diners, but to the employees of the long-running Warehouse District eatery. CraftWorks, the corporate parent of the ChopHouse, opted to shut down the operation, leaving many wondering what would happen to their jobs and the high-profile space.

When news of the closure came to light, Alan Kneidel, former general manager of the Chophouse, and Frank Day, co-founder of Rock Bottom Brewery, immediately contacted one another to discuss possible future plans. Within a few short minutes the pair forged a partnership and the Cleveland Chop was born.

"We both have a strong belief in the renaissance of downtown Cleveland," explains Day, a seasoned restaurateur and innovator with concepts across the country.

Cleveland Chop "is much more than a steakhouse," adds Day, referring to an extensive menu that will combine the high-end feel of a steak house with great happy hours and affordably priced small plates. Former Chop House chef Dave Gutfranski will be back on board as chef.

The space currently is undergoing a renovation that will expand the bar, add a private dining room, and strip the brewery equipment. There will be no brewing at this chop house.

"We are excited to be part of this neighborhood and designed the bar menu and its prices to create a true neighborhood place," says Kneidel. "We are going to have a great happy hour."

Kneidel is also thrilled to be reunited with many of his former employees, who will be returning to work at the new restaurant.

Look for a late April opening.

With reporting by Jason Beudert

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This Week in Controversies

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 3:39 PM


City Council members met Tuesday morning to express their individual anxieties about the new ward map concocted by President Martin Sweeney and consultant Bob Dykes without contributions from the public. In a vote Tuesday afternoon, council approved the map 17-2 with Joe Cimperman and Mike Polensek voting against.

Cleveland will be downshifting from 19 to 17 wards in 2014, pursuant to a city charter which mandates that council seats correlate to population. Councilman Jay Westbrook’s retirement made the West Side districts much easier to draw, according to Dykes. But the proposed East Side looks funky.

In an effort to preserve the historic Glenville neighborhood, Collinwood was further fractured, and the new ward 10 is straight-up bananas, long and tumored and stretching from E. 40th all the way to the Richmond Hts. border.

The most distressing element of the morning’s meeting was the hysterical level of insecurity on display. After public comments, council members felt the need to establish their leadership credentials at length for residents in attendance, misinterpreting legitimate concerns as personal attacks.

Also strange that the map is apparently inflexible. Why even bother meeting if, when council members ask for minor changes (which wouldn’t affect Sweeney’s guiding parameters), Sweeney says no. “This is the reality we’re faced with,” he said.

Kudos to Brian Cummins. While other councilmen congratulated themselves or expressed calculated “sadnesses,” Cummins pressed Sweeney and Dykes on numbers and tactfully indicated his disapproval of Sweeney’s methods.

He even campaigned to reposition his Ward 14 to achieve greater Hispanic density, thereby increasing the chances of a Hispanic councilman (one who would necessarily have to replace him). That’s looking out for the city. That’s real leadership. (Sam Allard)


The decrepit plaza on the northeast corner of West 117th Street and Clifton Boulevard was demolished last fall, paving the way for ..."some" sort of development. But several new details put the oft-beloved and vacant Fifth Church of Christ Scientist in the crosshairs of Carnegie Companies' seemingly cookie-cutter Shoppes on Clifton project.

The development company's rough plans were publicized this week by Neighbors in Action, a citizen group trying to work with all stakeholders for the best possible future. The group has attempted to work with Councilman Jay Westbrook, who represents the neighborhood, to no avail.

What the current plans reveal is an expanse of parking, several proposed retail slots and utterly no Fifth Church of Christ Scientist. Demolition of the city-owned church is a hot topic as these plans move ahead, though no permits have been pulled. Sources have a Giant Eagle Express homing in on the church's site. No commercial names accompany the development plans, however.

Additional working meetings are expected in the coming weeks, wherein developers will continue to flesh out this approach. (Eric Sandy)


Former County Prosecutor Bill Mason’s departmental oversight found itself the victim of a smattering of criticism and finger-pointing last week.

Led by attorney John McCaffrey, an independent outfit published a study of the department at the “immediate” request of current Prosecutor Timothy McGinty.

"We felt it was our public duty," McCaffrey tells Scene. Begun in October, the one pro bono draft - the final draft - was completed Dec. 12. They interviewed nearly all of the department’s employees and spent “hundreds of hours” in that process and compiling the report.

The document reveals a labyrinthal structure over at the prosecutor’s office. Mason, as interviewees would explain, was firing off haphazard decisions that didn’t make much sense. And those employees, in turn, are left with a massive hair ball of confusion. The office, per these findings, seems like an experiment in non-sequitur and doublespeak.

"He could trust us to call balls and strikes," McCaffrey says of McGinty’s call to investigate. A straight-and-narrow perspective on the post-Mason department was needed, given what seemed like smoldering wreckage left in his wake. A noted Cleveland lawyer adds that McCaffrey and his crew are close pals of McGinty, so that surely helped the process along. (Eric Sandy)

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