Jimmy's Machine

You're paying for the Democratic Party's labor.

In last week's cover story on Commissioner Jimmy Dimora ("King Cuyahoga," January 31), Scene chronicled the rampant patronage in county government, where workers have long been used as free campaign labor for the Democratic Party.

But according to one former intern, our thesis was wrong. The labor isn't free. You pay for it.

"I got paid," says the intern, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of exposing the patron who got him the job, "which was totally handed to me via nepotism . . . I campaigned, on county time, for [former County Commissioner Tim] McCormack's bid for mayor. Besides the fact that I'd be receiving overtime -- I later found out interns aren't eligible -- I wanted to further my career."

He campaigned three or four times while on the clock. It worked like this: A supervisor would round up workers, go door-to-door in West Park, then out for beers afterward.

But the intern doesn't put the blame solely on Dimora. He says the county is loaded with ladder-climbers following in the chairman's footsteps.

"Sure, we can skewer Dimora, but what about the middle-management pantywaist biding his time until he's the big fish? There's thousands of them, and they'd all really love it if you came out in support of their boss' campaign for mayor. It's from 3 to 5, but don't worry; you don't have to clock out."

No parking in rear
Lorain isn't a town where the word "fabuloussss!!!" springs to mind. So when Tim's Place opened 22 years ago, the city's only gay bar naturally ruffled feathers.

Owner Tim Draves says Lorain cops smashed a sign as a welcoming gift. He didn't expect people to change overnight. But after two decades, he was hoping they might evolve a few inches.

Yet the concept of evolution appears lost on Mayor Craig Foltin. Last summer, he erected "no parking" signs outside the bar, though city law allows it. It was such a candy-assed play that even Lorain's thriving gay population -- consisting of approximately four people -- responded by saying, "That's gay!" After all, parking is allowed just down the street on either side.

"It's like Mayberry out here sometimes," Draves says.

So council passed a law forcing Foltin to take down the signs. But the mayor vetoed it, claiming parking near the bar was causing accidents. "I'm getting a bad rap," Foltin says.

As well he should.

Council President Ken Shawver researched the claim, finding not a single accident in front of Tim's Place in the last five years. Now he's left to wonder why the mayor -- a Republican, but not known as the Paleolithic variety -- has gone sphincter.

"They're not bothering anybody," Shawver says. "If you close them down, then they're gonna want to go somewhere else."

In Lorain, it's a safe bet they'll just stay inside and water their plants.

Us? Work?
New Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is making enemies fast by suggesting that fixing Ohio's electoral system may require people to do actual work.

Brunner wants to overhaul staffing at polls, which are currently manned by stray zoo animals. Her plan includes shortening shifts, creating statewide training, and recruiting high school kids -- a move analysts say would double the pot-smoking in polling-site bathrooms.

But her so-called poll-worker "draft" is what's worrying people. It's sort of like jury duty, but without free bagels or the thrill of holding a stranger's life in your hands.

Spokesman Patrick Gallaway says it's just one possible "alternative" to the current system, which a recent audit revealed as "steaming excrement."

But critics say it's a violation of Ohio's 24th amendment, which provides the inalienable right to stay home, not give a shit, and watch the state slowly become northern Uruguay.

"Do you want disgruntled people there who would rather be anywhere else?" asks the ACLU's Gary Daniels, who's always been fond of Uruguay. "It strikes me as being a recipe for disaster."

Terrorists in Westlake
A Way Special Exclusive Investigation by Punch reveals that the Westlake zoning board is an incubator for terrorism. That's the only possible conclusion after the board denied a request by Pat O'Brien Chevrolet to erect an 80-foot pole, replete with American flag, at its dealership along I-90.

"This is the greatest country on earth," says O'Brien. "I want people when they drive by to realize how lucky they are" -- and maybe trade in their Prius for a Silverado.

But city law bans poles larger than 35 feet, an obvious attempt to make America look weak and diminutive. And zoning board chairman Richard Edmister says there can be no exceptions -- even for the very symbol of this great country -- since that would require free thinking, which terrorists are against. He then screamed "Allah Akbar!" and shot his pistol in the air.

Under the scapegoats
On January 24, election board employees Jacquie Maiden and Kathy Dreamer were convicted of mishandling the 2004 presidential recount ("Guilty by Association," January 31).

In reality, they were simply following orders from superiors, who in turn were following rules dating back to 1981 -- and approved by Assistant County Prosecutor Reno Oradini. Now the two women face up to 18 months in prison.

But according to investigative memos between Oradini and his boss, Prosecutor Bill Mason, the original plot was to crucify election board director Michael Vu. When they couldn't hit Vu, they took out two lower-level workers. (Vue announced his resignation on Tuesday.)

You can see the documents for yourself -- and how justice is done around here -- in C-Notes at clevescene.com.