Outsourcing Browns Camp

Could Berea be jilted for the friendly confines of Cowtown?

Given the Browns' no-name players and their ripening legacy of sucking, now would seem the perfect time to reach out to Cleveland fans.

Turns out they may be courting Cowtown instead.

Officials from Ohio's top minor-league market met with the Browns last month in hopes of wooing the team's training camp to Columbus as early as next year.

"There's some interest, obviously," says Mike Brown, spokesman for Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, who declined further comment.

In today's NFL, training camp is more than just the worst two weeks of a player's year. As inflated egos and heightened security increasingly keep fans at a distance, camp is where the seeds of goodwill are sown. Fans can actually chat with players and get autographs without a $35 courtesy charge.

The Browns are mum on talk of a move, saying that much of their top brass -- namely new GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel -- haven't even experienced a camp in Berea yet, let alone considered moving elsewhere.

But last year the NFL expanded its teams' marketing radius -- previously restricted to 75 miles from a city -- which put Cowtown up for grabs between the Browns and Bengals. Since '97, Cincy has trained in rural Kentucky, the better to court the all-important Appalachian foothills demographic.

"There's a lot of good Browns fans down in Columbus, and we're always looking for ways to reach out to them, but moving training camp isn't one of them right now," says Browns spokesman Bill Bonsiewicz.

Camp opens July 29 in Berea. Go meet the new players while you can.

Priestly advice
Never underestimate the Catholic Church's gift for putting its worst face forward.

When Punch reported last month that John Carroll police had shut down kiddie lemonade stands that were competing with the school's own concessions ["Crushing the Competition," June 8], Lakewood resident Tina Georgeff considered it a not particularly "Christian" act. So she wrote John Carroll's president, Father Edward Glynn, to complain.

"I never write letters of complaint," she says. "This was my first one. I didn't write in a fit of rage or anything."

Georgeff expected to get maybe a form letter or a plea for money in return. Instead, she got a personal valentine from the good father.

"Dear Ms. Georgeff," Glynn's letter began. "I find it more than unusual that you rely on Scene magazine for information and also disappointing but not humanly surprising that you then express negative judgments about an institution and individuals on the basis of the misleading, inaccurate and false statements in the article."

Of course, Glynn never actually says what facts were wrong in the story. But he was more than willing to explain what's wrong with Georgeff.

"In your judgmental rhetorical questions with their tone of self-righteousness you imply that you know something about building community," he wrote. "Perpetrating slander does not build community. It contributes to destroying community."

Georgeff was horrified by the response. "I felt attacked," she says. "He didn't really respond to my questions."

Survey says
A recently leaked poll conducted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shows that Ohio Senator Mike DeWine has little chance of DeWinning come 2006.

The poll showed that a paltry 31 percent thought DeWine deserved reelection, while 42 percent believed he should be replaced.

Unfortunately for Dems, there aren't many stars who can capitalize on DeWine's misfortunes. About the only one thought to have a chance is Sherrod Brown, and he's flirted with running so often that he risks being charged with sexual harassment.

The only good news for DeWine is that he's far from the most wretched Republican in the state. That honor goes to Governor Bob Taft, who notched an unprecedented 76 percent unfavorability rating, making him slightly less popular than head lice.

The Husted Heisman
Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted has plenty of time for fishing with lobbyists in Florida. But he doesn't have time for Regina Scolaro.

Scolaro sued Cleveland's Catholic Diocese in 2002, alleging that a priest molested her in the mid-'80s. But since state law bars people older than 20 from suing over abuse suffered as a child, she was out of luck.

So last week Scolaro, who now lives in San Francisco, traveled to Ohio to see why Husted is intentionally stalling a bill that raises the age to 38 and provides a one-year window allowing anyone to sue for abuses committed after 1970 ["The Sin That Keeps On Giving," April 27].

But Husted -- recently ensnared in yet another scandal involving legislators living large on the lobbyists' dime -- gave Scolaro his best Heisman. First he ignored her e-mails, she says. Then he had a staffer call back to blow her off. The message: The Speaker's too busy. But he'd be happy to have someone who doesn't know anything serve you tap water, nod, and smile.

"I appreciate it," Scolaro says, meaning she doesn't appreciate it at all. "But I'm trying to find out from the source as to why it's being stalled. I want to hear it from him."

Punch's advice: Dress up like a lobbyist and arrive in a 35-foot yacht. Speaker Husted will be right with you.

Not funny
Robbing a theater devoted to improv comedy is not considered lucrative work. Most nights, thieves can expect to take home little more than black tights and empty Zima bottles.

But two men hit the jackpot when they broke into Cabaret Dada on West 6th Street after a performance by Last Call Cleveland on July 1. A few grand generated by the event was stolen from an office safe.

This comes as a particularly nasty jolt for Dada, which celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year. The theater has been struggling to fill seats for weekend shows. It seems that Cleveland hasn't particularly cottoned to the cabaret's unscripted, unrehearsed, long-form sketches. And it's not easy promoting high-brow humor on the same street as Sushi Rock.

But local theater nerds are fighting back. A benefit is planned for the first weekend of August. Meanwhile, pictures of the bandits -- pulled from surveillance cameras -- are being printed on fliers and T-shirts.

Dada funnyman Jim Fath describes the suspects as two men -- one thin, one fat. "Like Laurel and Hardy," he says, "but black and not funny."