Absconding on a Budget

Union leaders just can’t steal the way they used to.

Catch That Kid
The labor movement hasn't been the same since its leaders misplaced their ability to steal properly. Take the case of Allan Spates, former president of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Local 5-1250.

In December, he was indicted for allegedly stealing dues and abusing the local's debit card to the tune of $30,000. But when he failed to appear in court last month, U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott sent deputies to Spates's home. All they found was an empty house and some children's toys in the backyard. It appears that Spates and his wife Valeria, a Plain Dealer employee, skipped town. "I don't believe he's in the area still," says Elliott, "but I have no doubt we'll be able to find him."

Considering that the couple has five children, the 30 grand is expected to cover about 11 days' worth of groceries. An APB has been put out for all Geo Metros that have run out of gas on the freeway between here and Massillon.

An airball for Loc
1989 was a good year for the Cavaliers, who won a franchise-best 57 games before "The Shot" knocked them out of the playoffs. It was also a good year for Tone Loc, the stout, gravel-voiced rapper, whose song "Wild Thing" made him a sensation.

So when Loc was offered the mic for a half-time performance before a sold-out Gund crowd last week, the notion seemed oddly poetic: Two fallen titans finally rocking packed houses again. Alas, warm nostalgia quickly turned to sour milk.

Only moments into Loc's rendition of "Wild Thing," sound problems unnerved the singer. His R-rated discontent was broadcast on the JumboTron, and he seemed to have forgotten his lyrics amid the snafu. Before the first butchered chorus, boos were raining down from those who weren't already in line at the bathroom.

"We tend to err on the side that maybe people were still cheering for Carlos Boooozer," offers the ever-upbeat Tad Carper, Cavs' PR chief. In a move Carper calls mutual, Loc's scheduled performances during the third and fourth quarter were nixed. The arena's sound system, he adds, worked flawlessly before and after Loc's show.

"I think the situation with Tone was more along the lines of a freak accident," he says, perhaps referring to the scenario that resulted in the hiring of a rapper who hasn't had a hit in 15 years.

Remedial robbers
The first rule of criminality: Never plan a robbery where the best-case scenario is a score of $37 and a baker's dozen of chocolate crullers. Rule No. 2: Always remember that cops love doughnuts the way fat kids love cake. Violate these laws, and you'll soon be taking summer school at a penal institution near you.

That appears to be the fate of Greg Schowth, Thomas Schowth, Kristina Passmore, and Doug Ellis, who are accused of robbing the Donut Connection at 14129 Puritas Avenue. According to police, the robbers accosted a 61-year old clerk in the early a.m. hours, held a knife to her neck, and took her to a back room, where they demanded cash. A lookout stood guard with a pellet gun -- presumably to fend off any chipmunk who decided to play the hero and intervene.

But a pastry mart with a little old lady working the graveyard shift tends to hit a soft spot in the hearts of First District cops. Officers Gary Hesceo and Dave Gorczyca were conducting their regular ride-by in front of the shop when they got a call about the robbery -- just as our beloved morons were fleeing. The crooks were nabbed within blocks.

Officials say they will be required to pass remedial classes before they're admitted for their freshman year at Lucasville.

Barbershop, Cleveland-style
Screenwriter Don Scott is back in the first chair. After the success of his Barbershop script, he's returned to pen Barbershop 2, Back in Business, with much of the same man-talk and off-color punditry you got in round one.

Scott, a University School graduate and a native of Cleveland, took much of his inspiration from his favorite barbershop, Magic Shears, on 2089 Clague Road in the heart of Lee-Harvard. "That was just the spot to go to, like every three weeks or so," says Scott. "Just to go in, talk shit, and get your hair cut."

He still stops in to see his old barbers, JR and Greg McCullogh, but he doesn't hop in the chair. "I haven't had a haircut in years -- I got dreadlocks now."

Don't cry for me, Eastlake!
The only thing more predictable than the early retirement of Eastlake Mayor Dan DiLiberto (which could happen at any moment) is the public explanation he will offer: That his faltering health is all that kept him from making good on his grandiose vision for the city.

Not that Punch is skeptical, but besides a bad ticker, even worse political karma may have aided his decision. First, there's the minor-league baseball stadium. DiLiberto said it would cost $15 million; the price is now nearing $25 million. There's the monstrous deficit, which has devoured city jobs and city services. There's the formerly docile city council, which has traded in its rubber stamp for a blowtorch. Finally, there's that little recall campaign Eastlakers have embarked on, just in case the mayor decided to tough out his term through 2005.

Donald Trump said it best: "You're fired."

But if you want to call it a "retirement," that's fine, too. Who can blame DiLiberto? He owns a condo in Fort Myers, Florida, a land with no lake-effect snow or roaming packs of unemployed city workers thirsty for revenge.

Blight be tasty
Business owners love to whine about Cleveland's continuing slide. But Nick Attar, owner of the Rockefeller Deli in the Rockefeller Building at West Sixth and Superior, has decided to capitalize on it.

The 17-story structure was erected by John D. Rockefeller in 1905 to house the city's booming coal, iron, and shipping companies. Now, at age 99, it's hobbled by neglect. Most storefronts are empty and the lobby looks as if it was last remodeled during the Eisenhower administration. So Attar decided to capitalize on the building's decline. He's hung signs inside the deli that read "The Rockefeller Deli. Where the rich and famous used to meet." He's also mounted a photo of Nelson Rockefeller, pictured in front of the building with a weary frown.

The whole vibe doesn't exactly beckon diners as the place to do your next million-dollar deal, but Attar insists there's a bottom line score here: "We have good food."

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