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Developer Drops Deadbeat Deal

Never mind! In a letter to Economic Development Director Chris Warren, Forest City Enterprises has formally rescinded its attempt to weasel out of a $9.2 million loan repayment to the city. Both Imperial Mayor Mike White and deposed City Council President Jay Westbrook were willing to settle for an early $3.9 million buyout, but after new President Mike Polensek publicly nixed that number, the developer quietly backed off. Council's new hard-ass posture hits full stride this week with hearings on the cost overruns at Lerner Field, which, up to now, have been a shell game. "It's voodoo economics," Polensek says of the administration's shifting tally, the latest of which conveniently excludes about $31 million in short-term construction financing. "We have to establish an accurate baseline figure." Even more interesting -- though probably impossible to quantify -- is how much work was done at the new stadium by city crews. "The water department and Cleveland Public Power were there, and public service crews were working on it the entire week before the opening," says one councilmember. The neighborhoods should be so lucky.


Was it worth an estimated $350 million for a corporate playground that gets used eight times a year? It will be harder to pose that question if the Browns can attract high school state football playoffs to the stadium, an idea the club is actively considering. "We don't want to say anything publicly until things are confirmed," says Browns spokesman Todd Stewart. "At this point, all we're saying is that we are looking into a number of options regarding other events at the venue." A St. Ignatius game would certainly bump the odds of a hometown victory. Just don't bring any banners.


The reassignment of Lt. Edwin Smith hasn't ended speculation over who engineered the Police Academy shooting test fiasco. Smith was busted back to the Sixth District after the news broke that several officers -- almost exclusively black females, according to police sources -- cheated on the annual test required to carry a firearm. Normally, officers who fail to demonstrate proficiency with their duty weapon have it taken away until they can pass a retest. In this case, sources say, the officers flat-out failed the test but were given passing grades anyway. Chief Martin Flask reportedly went ballistic when he found out, ordering a retest for Thanksgiving day, overseen by himself and officers from Internal Affairs. Their investigation is far from over, as is department gossip that someone higher-ranking than Smith gave the directive to pass the cops who couldn't shoot straight.


How are working conditions at WOIO/WUAB? Apparently so unpleasant that the latest defector, reporter Kristin Smith, resigned in early November knowing full well, according to a lawsuit filed by station owner Raycom National, that it would cost her $20,000 (three months' salary and moving expenses) for breaking her contract. Oddly, Raycom filed the suit but neglected to notify Smith, who has not only left Cleveland but the TV news business. "I was really burned out after this last job and wanted a lifestyle change," she says. News Director Tony Ballew did not return a phone call, though he graciously provided Smith with a security escort out the door. Keep smilin', Cynthia and Jack!

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