Death of a Daycare

University Hospitals throws its workers' kids out in the cold.

Anger Management

Child Magazine recently named Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital the No. 3 pediatric hospital in America. U.S. News and World Report lists Rainbow as the No. 1 children's hospital in the Midwest.

But some employees complain that its parent organization, University Hospitals, doesn't care as much about the children of its workers as it does about its patients.

Last month, it announced the closing of the Kindercare center it subsidized at the Cleveland Institute of Art building on Euclid Avenue. The hospital said the center, which served employees' kids, cost $150,000 annually to operate and wasn't popular enough to justify the expense.

But the decision has left the parents of about 45 children scrambling to make new arrangements by June 30, when the center is set to close.

"The parents were disappointed that they could not continue to be served by Kindercare at that location, because many of them had had their children there for quite some time," says Dr. John Ferry, a hospital administrator. Kindercare has offered to serve the children at other facilities, but those are significantly farther away from the hospital.

A man whose child uses the program finds it ironic that the hospital system crows about being a great place for children, yet "When it comes to their own employees, they say, 'Find your own daycare.'"

More trouble for Monea

Last December, Scene told the story of Paul M. Monea, the guarded Tae-Bo mastermind who, even by infomercial standards, has not shown himself to be a man of honor ["Pitchman," December 4, 2002].

Tae-Bo's success prompted a number of lawsuits. The workout's creator, Billy Blanks, accused Monea of bribing his attorneys. Prior to that, the FDA had forbidden Monea from selling a pain-relief device he marketed as the Stimulator. It was, in fact, simply a gas-grill igniter.

Now the U.S. Attorney's Office has charged Monea with six counts of tax evasion and three counts of filing false returns from 1994 to 1997.

He is accused of concealing Stimulator income by depositing receipts in a second bank account and using offshore corporations. The government believes that Monea reported $75,000 in personal income one year when he made twice that, and that he misstated Stimulator profits on corporate filings by $2.5 million. Each count carries a maximum penalty of $250,000 and three years incarceration (five for tax evasion).

Monea may already have cut a deal. He waived his right to a grand jury, suggesting that a plea has been negotiated. Phone calls to his office and his attorney were not returned.

Congressman who?

West Side Congressman Dennis Kucinich is the least recognizable Democrat in the field of presidential hopefuls, according to a poll conducted by Washingtonian.

The magazine recently took photos of the nine contenders to Capitol Hill and the Pentagon City Mall. Passersby were asked to put names to faces. Only 33 percent pegged Kucinich, and those who did struggled to pronounce his name. One Hill staffer called him "that very strange member of the House."

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was named correctly by 93 percent of the sample, leading all comers. Reverend Al Sharpton came in second, with 83 percent -- though one person thought he was a pro wrestler.

Evil corporate media, part II

Last June, Scene predicted the demise of the Free Times in our typical understated fashion -- by using a picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud.

Four months later, the Free Times was dead. Scene's parent company, NT Media, purchased the dying paper from its parent company, Village Voice Media, and it was promptly shuttered. Village Voice, in turn, purchased the money-bleeding New Times Los Angeles from NT and closed it down.

But our mushroom cloud went up too soon. The feds started investigating the parent companies for anti-trust violations. Long story short: Rather than spend five years and a few hundred thousand in lawyer bills fighting the feds in court, both companies agreed to pay fines and sell the dead papers' assets on the cheap.

Now former Free Times Publisher Matt Fabyan and Editor David Eden hope to restart the paper in May. The new version, they're saying, will be a slimmed down replica of the old.

Punch contacted Eden to see how he planned to make it work this time around. But Eden, apparently still smarting from that whole mushroom-cloud thing, didn't play ball. He railed against Scene for not reporting how NT "violated U.S. anti-trust law in two cities." He then lapsed into an imitation of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: "You want a story? You want the truth? Try writing that and see if [Scene Editor Pete] Kotz lets you tell the 'truth,'" he responded by e-mail.

Adding insult to injury, Eden added: "As for talking to you, nothing personal, but let me quote legendary journalist and New Times Executive Editor Michael Lacey's comment to LA Weekly when asked about the closing of New Times Los Angeles: 'Go fuck yourself.'"

A follow-up call elicited several uncomfortably long pauses and a repeat performance of the stolen line.

One thing is certain: Cleveland will be getting yet another dose of evil corporate media. The new Free Times is owned by Times Publishing, a Pennsylvania company that owns the Erie Times-News and other media properties. It plans to build an alternative weekly chain.

Mobsters needed

The Station Street Café hosts many local bands, but few get an encore. According to a growing number of scorned musicians, the Mentor club has perfected a three-pronged business model for live entertainment:

1. Book bands to play.

2. Pull the plug on them midshow.

3. Skip out on payment.

"One band after another keeps telling this story. It's almost like sick entertainment value," says veteran guitarist Alan Greene, whose band was asked to stop playing during a February show, then was offered less than half the fee it had previously agreed upon.

A few weeks later, Greene sat in with Bill "Mr. Stress" Miller's band at Station Street. Miller spent the night haggling over money with club manager Tommy Snider. He ended up settling for half the $400 his band had counted on.

Snider admits Station Street frequently abbreviates gigs -- and pay -- when slow business dictates. But it's a practice that's led to rising resentment.

"I was pretty nervous to go out there," says singer Becky Boyd. "I almost felt like I was jumping over some kinda picket line." Boyd, too, has settled for shortened sets and less money.

Jane Garson Reed, manager of the Kevin Reed Band, is organizing a boycott in response to an incident at a March 21 gig. She says Snider refused to turn off the club's strobe lights, which posed a seizure threat to her son, drummer Kevin Reed, who has brain damage caused by an industrial accident. Tables were overturned, bouncers were summoned, and the band was forcibly removed without payment.

"I didn't kick the band out," Snider clarifies. "I tried kicking her out. The band is great. If they could get rid of their fucking mother, they'd be real slick."

Reed has complained to the Cleveland Federation of Musicians Local 4. "He tries to gyp every band that plays there," she says. But the local's better known for scrounging up horn players for a Gladys Knight show than for roughing up club owners. Even Reed admits it's little more than a symbolic move.

It wasn't always that way. In the '60s and '70s, when the union was run by the Mob, club beefs were promptly addressed by Local 4 "representatives." Nowadays, the union has no involvement with small clubs and the bands who play there -- which leaves little cause for optimism that Station Street's practices will change.

"There'll be plenty of young bands around who don't worry about the money," Greene says. "And he can get those guys forever."

Moss gets the boot

It's no secret that Councilman Joe Cimperman and his ward leader, John Moss, have been on the outs since Moss led the fight to keep a homeless shelter out of his Tremont neighborhood last winter. Nor did it help when Moss offered his assistance to residents fighting a similar project in Ohio City.

So few people were surprised when, at Cimperman's behest, the Democratic Party called a meeting last weekend to oust Moss. The ward's 24 precinct committee people had elected Moss to a second four-year term just last year, but 19 showed up Saturday to vote him out. They also voted to replace the vice ward leader.

Cimperman will now take over Moss's position. The councilman claims it has nothing to do with the homeless shelter, though he offers no specifics: "We're taking the ward in a different direction."

Moss ran Cimperman's first council campaign out of his house. "There's no question, it's sad," he says of his dethroning. But he remains philosophical. "If I had to choose between this and having a homeless shelter in my backyard, I'll go with this."

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