Bathing in Corruption

Letters published August 29, 2007

Cleveland Water Department The Raspberries Diamond Shamrock Fairport Harbor toxic waste residency rules
Who wants to drown in a flood of graft? "Why Are We Still Paying Him?" [August 15] is a great piece of investigative reporting by Lisa Rab.

So many opinion leaders are touting Cleveland's water system as a wedge to open up surrounding towns to the idea of regionalism with the city. What a joke. Don't these geniuses realize that one of the biggest obstacles to further municipal integration with Cleveland is that the city's government is not trusted? When it's not viewed as being grossly incompetent, Cleveland's government is thought to be overtly corrupt. Whichever the case may be, it would be irresponsible, to say the least, for other municipalities to put their trust in a utility run by the likes of Julius Ciaccia.

Peter Skurkiss

Pension for Pakistan?
How far would you go for a little security?
I do agree with much of what Robert Nagy [Letters, August 15] had to say. If you want people to stay in Cleveland, improve the schools and give employees property-tax breaks. We do it to keep a company in town; why not do it for employees? Trust me, a convention center isn't going to bring people back.

But I take exception that "the vast majority of the working public" would not tolerate being forced to live in the city where they work. For the city employee benefits package and that awesome pension plan -- anyone besides auto workers remember what a pension even is? -- I would gladly move to a city. How much is your health insurance for a family of four, Robert? Thirty dollars a month? Do you know that for most people it's more in the neighborhood of $300-plus per paycheck?

I understand cops and firefighters make very little. I know our firefighters haven't had a raise in seven to nine years. But I know thousands of people who would gladly take a normal city job and live in Pakistan if they had to.

Tony Rinicella
West Park

Road Hazard
It's not even safe to jog past the place:
My father recently brought me the article about the toxic levels of hazardous materials on the old Diamond Shamrock site ["Badlands," August 1]. I lived on Bacon Road, just east of the plant, from 1993 to 1996. I used to run along the streets close to the water. I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in 1995. I was 17 years old. I underwent a year of chemo and lost part of my foot.

I am curious if there are any community groups looking further into the incidence of cancer in this area. I am now 30 and live in University Heights with my husband and one-year-old, but was pretty shaken up by your story. Nice work.

Lisa Salamon
University Heights

Blow Him a Raspberry
Michael Stanley plays one mean-ass riff:

Justin Farrar's article ["Why the Hype?" August 15] on how the Raspberries are overrated was certainly a bipolar bit of writing and another in the storied tradition of our town's music writers' continuing quest to disparage anything that doesn't happen to be called Pere Ubu.

Were the Raspberries a "success"? Let's see . . .

First of all, the Berries could (and still did on their reunion tour and album) back it up live, which, unfortunately, seems to have become a lost art.

Four Top 40 singles, two Top 20 singles, one Top 10 single, millions of albums sold, and the ability to impress both Springsteen and John Lennon? That pretty much works for me.

Were the matching suits a good idea? Not exactly my cup of tea, but if you had to choose between those suits and wearing red plastic flowerpots on your head, which way are you going? Years on the road have convinced me that the ladies tend to gravitate more toward the suits.

Any guitar player worth his salt would kill to have played Wally Bryson's intro to "Go All the Way" (and any other number of great guitar parts). No guitar player I know owns the first eight bars of a song like Wally.

Did they make great albums? Definitely not -- too much filler. But back then it was all about singles, and in that regard these guys were masters.

As music lovers (and I fully realize that we're into "to each his own" territory here) we ought to just be proud of the fact that Cleveland gave the world such a great "power-pop" group (a term lovingly coined by the strangely critic-proof Pete Townshend), one of the all-time-great power trios (The James Gang), and Eddie and Gerald Levert, two of the greatest R&B singers of all time.

I never wanted to have the Raspberries pick out my wardrobe, tell me how to end the war, or mine my soul. I just wanted to turn 'em up and make the dashboard shake. That was more than enough for me, and for that I thank them. And how did your band do?

Michael Stanley

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