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Botched Bank Heist 

It wasn't a banner day for the armed-robbery industry in Lorain.

Last week, Louis Ceron Jr. decided it might be a good idea to knock off the Lorain National Bank branch on Kansas Avenue. So he gathered up the trusty tools of his trade — a red ski mask and a pistol — and set a plan for some wholesome American criminality. He'd sneak in right before 5 p.m., when the bank was closing and nearly empty, then stick his gun in the nice lady teller's face and make off with a small fortune. Perhaps he'd even score a complementary desk calendar.

But apparently precision is not a prominent field of study in the Louis Ceron Jr. School of Armed Robbery. He neglected to properly set his watch, which was running a little slow. By the time he was ready to launch his caper, employees had already locked the doors. So Ceron nonchalantly took off his mask, ran across the street, and sped off in his '91 Taurus.

At this point, a more introspective criminal might have viewed the incident as cause for self-reflection. Showing up late to one's own robbery might be divine indication that one is better suited for less time-sensitive crime, such as food stamp fraud.

But Ceron chose to think on the fly, which is not recommended in the owner's manual. He called police to report his car stolen, claiming that he was driving down Kansas Avenue when he decided to pull over to look for his cell-phone charger. Just then, a robber ran up to the car, ordered him out at gunpoint, and sped off in his ride.

Lorain cops instantly knew the claim was bogus: No one in their right mind ever steals a '91 Taurus. Not even in Lorain. That's first-day-at-the-academy stuff.

Ceron was busted the next day.

Foodie Conspiracy
Not everyone was as ecstatic as Clevelanders when Michael Symon, owner of Lola and Lolita, was declared the Next Iron Chef on the Food Network last week. Behind the scenes there was more drama than at a sorority formal.

For the last episode, producers brought in three new judges: Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, and Masaharu Morimoto. But off camera, the show's original judges — New York restaurateur Donatella Arpaia, Bon Appétit columnist Andrew Knowlton, and Cleveland author and chef Michael Ruhlman — were also critiquing the final.

While all three Iron Chefs declared Symon the winner, Arpaia and Knowlton threw their weight behind competitor John Besh. The final call went to Ruhlman, who sided with his fellow Clevelander.

Arpaia and Knowlton were not happy about the ruling. According to Ruhlman, Arpaia accused him of unfairly voting for his buddy. She was "pissed," Ruhlman says. But he insists his personal friendship with Symon had nothing to do with his call.

"Had the [three Iron Chefs] overwhelmingly praised Besh and said his dishes were definitively better than Symon's, I was prepared to give my vote to Besh," he wrote on his blog.

But while foodies spent last week talking conspiracies, it was clear who really won. Lola and Lolita were both booked solid.

Cash for Protesters
When you're about to have an operation as deeply personal as an abortion, there's nothing quite as unnerving as facing a crowd of protesters screaming "baby killer" and other unintelligible things about going to hell. But at the Preterm clinic on the East Side, the protests have become a fund-raiser.

Under the clinic's "Pledge a Picketer" program, donors can make contributions based on crowd volume or the frequent appearance of their favorite nut. For example, one donor paid $10 every time a particularly vociferous guy named Ernie showed up. "We're trying to turn an unfortunate situation into something positive," says spokeswoman Linda Jane.

With an average of 70 protesters a month, Jane says the fund-raiser has yielded nearly $6,000.

Marc Dann Killed Jesus
It's become one of the more formulaic moves in investigative journalism: A reporter makes a public-records request for all e-mails sent by a certain government official, hoping said e-mails will provide something juicy, corrupt, or at least weird enough to make a story.

Unfortunately, reporters have been doing this for years, which means government guys have become a little reticent about putting juicy, corrupt, and weird stuff in writing. But that didn't stop Dayton Daily News reporter Laura Bischoff from taking a shot. Last June, she requested all internal e-mails sent by Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann during his first six months in office.

"I wanted to get a glimpse behind the scenes," says Bischoff. "I didn't know what to expect."

Bischoff spent hours upon hours combing through more than 4,300 e-mails, while Dann and his staff waited anxiously for her story to appear. "There is no corruption in this office," says spokesman Leo Jennings. "I could have told her that."

Indeed, Bischoff uncovered no corruption, but she did discover something even more alarming: Sometimes politicians swear just like the rest of us!

[We will now take a brief intermission from this story so that you, dear reader, can engage in some prolonged gasping.]

In one e-mail, Bischoff revealed that Dann used the word "MF'ers" to express his anger with two state employees. In another, Jennings referred to a flattering speech Dann was to give to a group of trial lawyers as a "bj."

"She looked at 4,300 e-mails, and that's what she comes up with," chuckles Jennings.

But like all minor mishaps in politics these days, the story did allow the opposition party to invoke the old This Is An Outrage/I'm Highly Offended/I Demand a Public Apology move.

In one e-mail, Dann wrote to Jennings about an unflattering editorial that appeared in the Youngstown Vindicator. "Jesus had it better on Good Friday," the Democratic attorney general quipped.

From a literary standpoint, it's a fairly clever line, especially coming from a politician, whose gifts for poetry tend to rival the repair manual of a 1986 Volvo. But since Dann is Jewish, Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine immediately spun the comment as some kind of bag on Christianity.

"His remark comparing a bad press day to the crucifixion of Christ is outrageous and inappropriate," DeWine announced to the media, before naturally demanding a public apology.

Asked when that apology might be forthcoming, Jennings was a bit elusive: "I have better things to do."

Internal e-mail translation: "That &^%$#@ Kevin DeWine can $#@*&$^&*^$!!!"

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