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The Edge 

Pointing the mayoral finger; None for the books; Act naturally.

The mayor-council catfight rose to new levels last month when Hizzoner's Office released a report -- large enough to be used as a weapon in a bar fight -- refuting a Plain Dealer story in which council members accused Big Mike of holding up civic projects for political purposes. The report doesn't exonerate the mayor, whose assholic sensibilities are in part to blame for this "all-out war," as one White aide describes it. But it does show that a bumbling council also shares responsibility, a point omitted from the PD story. The Edge, however, is more interested in the epic battle to come, when the two sides go toe-to-toe over who gets to play on the monkey bars during recess.

Though "compassionate conservative" has all but locked up our Oxymoron of the Year Award, use of "student-athlete" at the U of Akron is looking like a strong dark horse bet. The school has a pathetic record of graduating athletes, particularly black males. Of the 49 who entered Akron from 1990 to 1993, just 16 percent graduated. The school also ranked among the worst in Division I in graduating football players, black or white, with a meager 24 percent. Don't presume that things are much better at the state's largest sporting institute in Cowtown, however. Ohio State graduated just 18 percent of its 66 black male athletes over the same years.

Now that Ohio voters have approved the $400 million environmental protection referendum, look for lawmakers to raid the kitty. An instructive tale comes from Michigan, where a similar issue passed in '98. Legislators, quite naturally, concluded that cities like Detroit and Flint had already resolved their issues with Mother Nature. So they turned to more pressing matters -- namely, creating a program to buy back old lawn mowers, otherwise known as the Unimaginative Way to Score Points With Suburban Voters Fund. Considering that our legislature is barely on speaking terms with Ms. Nature, it's only a matter of time before the John Deere Riding Mower Subsidy is born . . . Jerry Seinfeld was to make an unannounced appearance during a George Wallace show at the Improv over the Thanksgiving weekend. Due to the miracle of modern air travel, however, Seinfeld was grounded in New York . . .

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