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The Edge 

Hospital Hit Squad Nails Clinic Nabobs

Surprise visit! Sly emissaries from Slavic Village Development took their lobbying campaign for St. Michael Hospital directly to Cleveland Clinic board members last week, hand-delivering petition packages to their mansions in Shaker Heights and Gates Mills. According to SVD staffer Bobbi Reichtell, the group had pleasant chats with a houseman for board President Al Lerner, the wife of board Chairman Mal Mixon, and the housekeeper of Clinic CEO Floyd Loop. But Loop was apparently not amused, since the group got a call the following day from Gates Mills police. "They said they had the package, which Dr. Loop wanted picked up as evidence, and told us we were trespassing and not to come back," says Reichtell. The ungracious Loop missed a nifty photo album, featuring "the faces of Broadway and Slavic Village," and an invitation to meet with the group. But their message got through. "It was like a warning shot," says Reichtell. "You better deal with this community, because we're not going away. And we know where you live."

Latest celebrity support for Sam Reese Sheppard: Sister Helen Prejean of Dead Man Walking fame, who made a brief appearance at the trial Friday before heading out to Parma for a speech at St. Francis de Sales. Prejean has known Sheppard and his friend Abe Bonowitz, an anti-death penalty activist handling Sam's PR at the trial, for 10 years. Asked about the long-term implications of the trial, she quipped, "I don't know about that, but it's amazing to see Sam and Abe in suits." Prejean drew a crowd of about 500 at St. Francis, where she signed and sold 200 copies of her book and left a hefty dose of inspiration. "I signed up five new pen pals for guys on the row," marveled Fr. Neil Kookoothe afterward. That's row as in death.

Lists of any kind were verboten when David Hall was editor at The Plain Dealer, so it was no surprise to see his byline in last month's Columbia Journalism Review, complaining about the magazine's recent listing of America's best newspapers. Did the fact that The PD failed to make the list influence his thinking? "I would have written that even if The PD had been first on the list," he insists. "The idea that you can rank newspapers is silly." Also missing from the CJR list: Hall's previous paper, The Record, of Bergen, New Jersey, where an editor who worked under him complained, "That son of a bitch is the worst newsman in the country." Hall decided not to pursue an academic chair and is still in Cleveland, unemployed. He took the past year off, he says, "to let the air out of the bag." So to speak.

Why did Kent State students ask convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal to speak at the university's May 4th Commemoration ceremonies? "There's a possibility that his death sentence is a result of his political beliefs, and we know that people ended up dead here because they were speaking out on critical issues," says Kent Student Anti-Racist Action spokesman Kris Perch. "So we see a direct connection between people being killed for their political beliefs." No honoraria for the speech, being delivered via audiotape, though Perch allows his group "may make a donation." The cash line starts on the left -- far left.

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