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The Edge 

Port Boss Gives Lerner the Business
Finally, a city agency not slobbering to win the Who-Can-Bend-Over-Furthest-for-the-Browns competition! Now that the lakefront is crowded with tourist attractions, Al Lerner & Co. are in desperate need of parking space--and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority just happens to have a ton of it. In a remarkable spirit of real business negotiations, the Port Authority is finalizing a deal to open its big lot northwest of the new stadium--2,200 parking spaces, for which the Browns will pay an annual $200,000 or 50 percent of the parking fees, whichever is higher. And wonder of wonders! The Port Authority retains the right not only to audit the receipts, but to renegotiate the deal after one year. There are caveats: Longshoremen get priority access, even on game days. "If a ship is working, the Browns will not get near [the docks]," promises Port Authority Director Gary Failor. But the Browns get free use of a small lot directly north of the stadium--a safe harbor for vanity plates, gull droppings notwithstanding.

In this age of acrimony, it's a welcome respite to come across a civilized parting. Such was the November 1997 divorce settlement of Frederick Nance, the go-to barrister and longtime confidante of Imperial Mayor Mike White. Nance and his ex-wife, Paulette, were models of politesse: He kept the leased '97 Cadillac, the McDonald & Company brokerage account, and his Squire Sanders & Dempsey capital account. She kept the '87 Cadillac in the garage, the leased '95 Cadillac, and the house on River Stone Drive in tony Moreland Hills. Upkeep in that part of the world is notoriously expensive, so Nance is providing monthly support payments of $7,500, plus an annual $28,000 kicker, for a yearly total of $118,000 through mid-2002. Mr. Generosity also agreed to pick up the couple's outstanding 1990 and '97 tax loans and part with $183,000 of his Squire retirement package. And since no thoughtful husband ever lets his ex-wife pick up the tab, he gave her lawyer $5,000, not including tip.

And speaking of ace attorneys: The key behind-the-scenes player in the latest Plain Dealer psychodrama turns out to be Gale Messerman, who was hired by grumpy Editor David Hall to negotiate his exit agreement. Probably best-known for saving the butt (though not the arm) of former Tribe reliever Jose Mesa, Messerman reportedly wrestled The PD into anteing up the remainder of Hall's contract--in effect, about two and a half years' severance pay. "I don't want to get into the terms," says Messerman. "It was very amicable, and both sides are pleased with the results."

Hey, Mary Rose Oakar, you've just won a multimillion-dollar libel suit--what are you going to do? Run for state representative, if some anxious local Democrats have their way. The seat in question (District 13) is currently held by Barbara Pringle, who will become a victim of term limits in 2000. Pringle wants a woman to replace her and has also put out feelers to mayoral windmill-tilter Helen Smith. Taking a backseat, for a change, is a man--Kevin Kelley, an ambitious young mental health administrator who ran his own impossible dream for a Cleveland City Council seat in 1997. "I'm the best candidate," Kelley modestly insists, though he'd better hope that Oakar and Smith have had their fill of the minor leagues.

Impossible dreams and hot tips to edge@clevescene.com.

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