Breaking Tradition

Battered husband syndrome goes pro.

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Deanna Bartee
It's usually the woman who bears the bruises of domestic violence -- hence battered woman's syndrome. Yet one Akron homestead has taken a refreshingly woman's-lib approach to wife-beating.

Last month, 26-year-old Deanna Bartee pleaded guilty to felonious domestic violence after she stabbed boyfriend Gary Cook with a steak knife.

When police were dispatched to the home, 45-year-old Cook was found with stab wounds in his chest and forearm. It turned out that the couple had gotten into a drunken dispute. Like a good girlfriend, Bartee had already cleaned up her mess.

But it wasn't the first time Bartee put her man in his place. In 2004, she served a one-year sentence for attacking Cook. This time she's looking at up to five years.

Yet like a good wife -- er, boyfriend -- Cook told the judge that he still loved Bartee and would do whatever he could to make things work between them.

Now that's true love, Gloria Steinem style.

Fairy godfather
State Representative Barbara Sykes (D-Akron) says she accidentally voted in the wrong precinct last year. In cases of voting errors, the Summit County Board of Elections must decide if such matters rise to the level of a crime. In Sykes' case, it ruled 3-0 that it was an honest mistake.

"I think she just forgot," says board member Wayne Jones.

But to county GOP boss Alex Arshinkoff, it's a crime so heinous she might well have been groping college boys or something.

Arshinkoff, who sits on the board, didn't show up for the first vote. Apparently there was a Boy Meets World marathon on UPN, or he had a date with a nubile young man named Rico. But he wasn't through with Sykes, who happens to be running for state auditor.

You see, Sykes' opponent, state Representative Mary Taylor (R-Uniontown), has been very good to Alex. Her husband's construction company, Welty Building, has Alex on its payroll as a lobbyist. And in Alex's world, "lobbying" includes doing all you can to destroy the career of your wife's political opponent.

So Arshinkoff called the person he always calls in these situations: Jack Morrison, his personal lawyer and professional hatchet boy.

You may remember Morrison from an earlier episode, when he squealed on Attorney General Jim Petro for yanking his firm's University of Akron contracts after Morrison refused to donate to Petro's campaign. (It just so happened that Morrison got the contracts after he hired Arshinkoff's niece.)

The same week the elections board dropped the Sykes issue, an opening for a Republican member came up. Morrison was appointed. His first item of business: Challenge the vote. The board voted again, this time splitting 2-2.

"I just want to follow the law," said the ever-earnest Morrison.

Sykes' fate now rests with Secretary of State Uncle Tom Blackwell, who just made Arshinkoff his campaign chairman. We're pretty sure you can fill in the rest of this tale, dear reader.

Ohio's Mother Teresa
U.S. Senator Mike DeWine's latest campaign ad features a sweet, maternal-looking pediatric nurse named Mary Beth Thoburn, who says "Senator DeWine is a true champion for children."

Alas, Nurse Thoburn must not have seen DeWine's latest vote. Earlier this month, he voted for what's essentially a bailout for health-insurance companies, allowing them to blow off basic coverage for -- you guessed it -- kids.

The bill was trumpeted as a way to help small businesses provide coverage by allowing them to create special plans. But it seems more designed to help health insurers increase profits by killing off coverage for such frivolous luxuries as maternity care, cancer screenings, mammograms, and supplies for diabetics.

In Ohio, insurers could also ignore state laws requiring them to cover immunizations and well-child visits. However, kids will still receive a complimentary roll of duct tape for major lacerations.

DeWine's vote makes it doubtful that groups like the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics share Nurse Thoburn's opinion of him.

"Without these requirements, children won't get the basic health-care coverage they need, plain and simple," says Academy president Dr. Eileen Ouellette. "This Senate bill is not good for child health and it is not good for business."

But it's good for Mike DeWine, who will now get major jack from the insurance industry as a reward for his fealty.

We're pretty sure Little Suzie will understand. She'll be happy to go into a diabetic coma if it means more money for Mike.

The smog of whores
State legislators are rushing to pass new laws to increase pollution in Ohio. Best of all, it will only cost you another $100 million!

On Tuesday, the state Senate was poised to pass Senate Bill 265, which is supposed to "streamline" Ohio's pollution laws. But the bill was crafted behind closed doors by Republicans and their industry patrons. Do you know what that means, boys and girls?

It means that Ohio will now use the most lenient regulations when state and federal law conflict. That leaves so much to interpretation that a former federal EPA official believes the law could cost the state $100 million to implement. Senator Dale Miller (D-Cleveland) calls it the "Lawyers' Full Employment Act."

The bill also creates new rules for so-called "small sources" of pollution, which raises the limit from 1 ton to 10 tons of contaminants each year. "They could pretty much pollute to their heart's content, as long as they don't pollute more than 10 tons each year," Miller says.

But we can all be thankful that at least our air will be really, really dirty. $100 million is a small price to pay for that.

Where's the beer?
Last week, the Kent State Anti-War Coalition hosted a rally called Beer Not Bombs. Advertisements promised that everyone who attended would get free beer. Alas, when attendees arrived, not a single brewski was to be found.

When the group applied for a school permit, it mistakenly wrote that no alcohol would be present. Thus, Beer Not Bombs became We Still Got a Whole Lotta Bombs but No Goddamned Beer.

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