Closed Door Policy

Letters published November 19, 2003

Closed Door Policy
Musta hit him where he lives: I was appalled to learn that Neil Thackaberry, artistic director of the Actors Summit Theater, has barred your theater critic, Christine Howey, from reviewing productions at his family theater [First Punch, October 29].

I have read Ms. Howey's reviews, and while she is not the second coming of John Simon (New York Magazine), she is as good as or better than other theater critics writing in northeast Ohio.

If Thackaberry expects his little company to mature into a viable entity, he will have to learn to accept the bad with the good when offering productions for public scrutiny. To bar Ms. Howey from the theater is childish.

During my career as a stage director (almost 300 productions), my work was exposed to a wide array of critics, including the late Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times. If I had imposed a ban on Atkinson, he simply would have purchased a ticket, seen the production, and written his review. Producer David Merrick tried unsuccessfully to ban several New York critics from his productions and failed. It was at that time that all major New York critics spurned complimentary tickets.

It might be wise for Thackaberry to spend more time rehearsing his actors, rather than worrying about the very subjective point of view of one theater critic.

Bob Belfance

There go more of our tax dollars: David Martin did a great job of telling the visiting-judge story ["Bench Warmers," October 22]. It's just another rip-off of tax dollars. When Senator Voinovich's brother died, Chinnock wrote a long, rambling letter to the Dispatch about how wonderful he was. Do you want to bet that's how he got appointed? Keep up the good work.

Ruth Costakos

Mencken Says
Maybe someone should ask Halle: I must inveigh against that squib titled "Better Living Through Leaving" [First Punch, October 29]. The premise that one should "flee" or "ditch" Cleveland to succeed is unjustified.

It was ironic that comedian Drew Carey was mentioned. That guy made Cleveland the focus of his TV series, and the motif worked rather well. Halle Berry probably isn't the least bit embarrassed to be associated with our beautiful metropolis.

In his 1926 Prejudices, H.L. Mencken could have been writing of hometowns as well as private residences when he reflected: "A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in its permanence, in its capacity of accretion and solidification, in its quality of representing, in all its details, the personalities who live in it."

William Dauenhauer

Kudos for Carlos
Still waters run deep: As one who watched Carlos Boozer grow up in southeast Alaska, I can testify that Erich Burnett's article, "Meet the Cavs' Best Player" [November 5], just retold what all of Alaska felt for this fine young man. He was clearly a class act. He would visit with young kids before and after the games, and would always say hi to everyone. I think that in the next few years, he will certainly be one of the best in the NBA and will do so very quietly. Thanks for the kind words for a very special young man.

Fred Reeder
Sitka, AK

Dems, Reps, and Dennis
$3 million's not a big enough bite: In the November 5 First Punch, Scene clipped Congressman Dennis Kucinich on his fund-raising chin. That was a good and accurate punch. With your second punch, in which you identified Ed Herman as Dennis's Republican opponent, that was not an accurate punch. Herman is one of three Republicans who will be on the Republican primary ballot. The other two Republicans are Bruce Cobbledick and Bill Smith.

When Scene threw the third punch, it may have missed. Punch stated that Dennis would use his $3 million to defend his House seat. I counterpunch: Dennis doesn't need $3 million to defend his House seat, if in fact that is what he plans. It is possible that Dennis will oppose Senator George Voinovich and bless his friend, State Representative Dennis Miller, with the opportunity to run for his seat. Or, like a child in a candy store, Dennis may waste his $3 million trying to buy the Big Candy Bar -- the opportunity to oppose President Bush.

Bill Smith

Verify That Verdict
Mudslingers should get the right dirt: The verdict was in long before Kevin Hoffman ever received one survey response for his article "The Verdict Is In" [October 29]. The premise was to find dirt and to be just plain mean. Someone had to be the least trustworthy judge, the most likely to say something offensive, the least efficient, the most annoying, etc. Why are attorneys rating jurists on attractiveness? Conspicuously absent were categories such as most efficient, most impartial, best docket, least reversed, and the most honest.

However, when slinging mud, your reporter should at least be accurate. Judge Bridget McCafferty is intelligent. Sure, it is fun to dismiss someone's academic achievements, but it is not good journalism. Sure, it's easy to print anonymous court gossip, but it's better journalism to check the facts. If the reporter had taken the time, he would have found that Judge McCafferty's opponent in her last election had a court docket that was ranked 31 out of 33 in 1998. He would have also found out, by contrast, that Judge McCafferty's docket continuously improved. In 1999 and 2000 (the only years for which I have the stats), Judge McCafferty tried more jury trials than any judge in the state. Of all these trials, Judge McCafferty has had only two trials reversed, one criminal and one civil.

Karen Gabriel Moss

Done In by the Distaff
And all without the Equal Rights Amendment: In Pete Kotz's column, "Bound & Gagged" [October 29], he writes, "You have to worry about the wild cards, like the judge whose ex drilled him in a divorce, and now he's taking it out on any woman who enters his courtroom." Kotz implies that a male judge is more likely to do such a thing than a woman judge. As any lawyer can tell you, the facts are totally to the contrary.

Turn to the article "The Verdict Is In" [October 29]. The three judges listed as the meanest and dumbest are Judges McCafferty, Saffold, and Sutula. A close fourth, according to others you cited, is Koch. Notice anything in common? They're all women. Don't tell me you failed to notice this.

For thousands of years, prior to the last 60 smarter and more "enlightened" years, women did not serve as judges. Now that women are serving as judges, are we better off or worse? As you mentioned, we lawyers can't speak our true minds on this issue, but there are so many lawyers, including other women, who can't stand to be in front of a female judge. It's commonly thought that most of them got where they are precisely because they are women. It makes no difference if this is true or not. That is the perception. While there are some lousy male judges also, this article speaks volumes about political correctness and where it has led us.

From your failure to highlight this glaring reality, and from Kotz's column, you give yourselves away as just another left-wing, PC newspaper. You're basically The Plain Dealer, only with less class. You consider yourself edgy, but here the facts are staring you in the face, and you don't even have the guts to call it for what it is. You should have used this article to really examine what people think of women judges or, for that matter, minority judges. Our society, having allowed itself to be bullied by feminists, ought to take stock of what's happened to our legal system.

You can print this in the Letters section if you so wish, but you must do so anonymously. I'm not that crazy.

Name withheld upon request
University Heights

Summit's Nadir
Stop the abusers: I am an employee of a humane animal organization. We were appalled to hear how the Summit County pound is treating animals ["House of Horrors," October 22]. Thank you for writing this article and informing the public about this horrible situation.

Working at an animal organization has given me an eye-opening experience as to how some animals are treated by their owners. There is one thing that Aina Hunter left out of her article: How do we stop these people that are working at the pound? I know of many people who would like to take action.

Sarah Marlett

Tears of rage: I just got done reading part of the article about the Summit County shelter. And I am crying and angry and sickened. To know what's being done at a place like that just makes me sick. I could not read that whole article, but I hope the shelter has fired most of those people and is in the process of making positive changes.

Jennifer King

Everyone's responsible: I read Aina Hunter's article "House of Horrors," and it touched me. I can't believe that animals are being so abused in a shelter. I blame the shelter for the abuse, but I also feel that people have to be held responsible. I have known people who drop off animals when they don't want them, and people who don't want animals once they are fully grown. People should not have an animal unless they plan to have it for life. I am writing because I would like to find out what I can do to help.

Sally Skrovan

Mobilize the community: My friends, family, and I are enraged about the abuses at the Summit County Animal Shelter. It's great that you have brought this to everybody's attention, but I was curious about whether there is anything that I could do. Could you please help me figure out what to do?

Leigh Albrecht

Alert animal rights groups: I just read Aina Hunter's article on the Summit County Animal Shelter. Why hasn't anyone called PETA about these heinous practices? Don't get me wrong, this needs to be brought out into the open. I commend you for that. But my biggest question to Sandi Regallis would be, why didn't she call upon some of these animal rights groups that are out there?

Jessica Ivy Shaw

Change the laws: I am writing to Scene after browsing "House of Horrors." I say browsing, because I read only a few sentences. I find any abuse toward adorable, defenseless animals is simply unbearable. They provide comfort and unconditional love. People who cause animals pain, death, and torture should get the death penalty.

It was too painful for me to read the entire article. Humans are supposed to be intelligent. I believe animals are way higher on the scale than humans. Is there something I can do to help the animals? The laws must be changed.

Gail Fonda

Editor’s note: You can register complaints with Summit County Executive James McCarthy at 330-643-2627. To get involved, go to the animal-welfare activists’ website at