The Edge

Party Invite Jolts, Publicist Bolts

Bitter pill! Former TV newsman Dave Buckel has parted ways with Medical Mutual, which he joined as a PR flak to help with the messy transition from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Buckel was well-liked by his colleagues, but reportedly shut out of the management loop. The final indignity came last fall, when a departmental invitation was issued to an employee party scheduled to end when "Dave Buckel is sober enough to drive home." Buckel did not return phone calls, and Medical Mutual would say only, "The company does not comment on personnel matters and considers the contents of [his] resignation private." There was a brief whiff of litigation in the air, but Buckel is now said to be more interested in retiring to Florida. Mai tais, anyone?

A good whack across the knuckles to The Plain Dealer, which was named to the American Society of Journalists and Authors' "Warning List" last month. "Publications on the warning list are there because they don't pay their freelancers on time," says ASJA newsletter editor Tim Perrin. A peek at the confidential ASJA website shows the niggardly daily was cited specifically for paying writers two months after publication. "I don't think we're an especially slow pay, but I've taken steps to streamline the process," says Editor Doug Clifton, who surely cannot be happy about sharing a disparaging listing with the likes of Log Homes Illustrated. Checks, anyone?

What is it about Imperial Mayor Mike White that enrages people to the point of throwing coffee pots, fists, or, in the case of Ward 21 Councilman Michael Dolan last week, heated accusations of lying? It might have been forcing Dolan to stand in line with the rest of his constituents to address His Highness, listening to a litany of complaints Dolan has been trying to get City Hall to respond to for the past two years. With the mayor ordering instant action from his staff, Dolan looked ineffectual and finally hit his boiling point in front of a packed neighborhood hall. It was Dolan's brusque encounter with chief of staff Judy Zimomra on his way out that made the morning headlines, though tellingly, the only other people who thought he "manhandled" her were administration lackeys. But the real highlight of the evening was dueling food analogies. "The proof is in the pudding," White said, citing a rare appearance on the West Side as evidence of his concern for Ward 21. "The pudding has been pretty lousy-tasting," Dolan shot back. "I hope you learn the recipe, and the pudding will be edible." Spoons, anyone?

Not all mayoral encounters are so unpleasant. Just two weeks ago, Dave Campbell, Cleveland's self-appointed president of the homeless, was working at the car wash near East 55th and Chester when White wheeled in his green SUV. Flashing back to the holiday television shot of White, clad in a white turtleneck, overseeing the eviction of homeless protesters from Public Square, Campbell pulled a white sweater from his ever-ready bag of clothing and waved it. When White rolled down his window, Campbell asked him if he had seen the paper. "Which one?" White asked. Campbell proudly produced the current issue of Scene, with his picture on the cover. "Maybe I ought to ask you for your autograph," the mayor quipped. But Campbell, wise in the ways of celebrityhood, declined. "I didn't want him to have my endorsement." Hot wax, anyone?

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