The morning after a kook gunned down the Damageplan guitarist and three others in a Columbus nightclub, Ohioans for Concealed Carry was on the soapbox, decrying the state law barring guns in bars.
If each of the 250 people rocking Alrosa Villa had been packing heat that night, reasons OFCC spokesman Baus, one of them could have blown away the perp. Or at least sparked a very impressive imitation of a Fallujah firefight.
"These people were lucky, and they were lucky because there was a policeman nearby," Baus says. "Nobody's trying to say we know for sure what would have happened if a [concealed-carry] license-holder had been there, but we are saying that people deserve the right to defend themselves no matter where they are."
The moral of the story: Guns don't kill people with guns. People don't kill people with guns. Or something like that. And it's a damn shame.
Pick up the damn phone!
If you're searching your Sunday soul for where the Browns went wrong this season, try this fumble: Bill Walsh, God of Football, tells Punch that Butch Davis called him in the preseason for help.
Davis had just signed Walsh's Pro Bowl protégé, Jeff Garcia, to a trillion-dollar contract, and Davis wanted the Genius to come to Cleveland with Garcia's operating manual. How do you work this thing? It won't stop running around!
Walsh says he returned Davis's call, but never heard back. Walsh is a humble genius, but he's also an old man, so he's not one to mince words. "It wouldn't have hurt had I gone back there," he says, by which he means he would have helped Garcia fit into the offense, which would have led the Browns to the Super Bowl, which would have sparked economic prosperity in Cleveland, which would have solved most, if not all, of the world's ills.
Pick up the damn phone, Butch!
Blue mob probe
Somebody besides Scene and civil-rights lawyers has picked up the stench emanating from the Warren Police Department, where officers have a penchant for beating the breath out of people for fun and fulfillment ["Blue Mob," February 25 and March 3].
The feds announced last week that they were investigating the department, though Justice Department spokesman Eric Holland would spill zero details.
"Everyone's sort of stunned," says lawyer Richard Olivito, who represents brutality victims. "You just get to a point where the federal courts are not exactly warm to the civil-rights cases." Olivito is now blowing kisses to John Ashcroft, whose departure, he says, helped make this investigation possible.
Meanwhile, the folks down in Warren are thrilled. "This is two government bodies, working together to improve," Warren Mayor Michael O'Brien told the town newspaper as his paper shredder began to overheat.
Breaking news . . .
Last week, Akron's Beacon Journal discovered a new subculture invading our schools. Apparently, some kids like to dress up in black and wear heavy makeup. They call themselves "goths."
The article, written by Carol Biliczky, tried to dispel rumors that these kids may worship Satan. "The clothes are black, the music is angry and the mood is dark" writes Biliczky, describing this exotic and elusive lifestyle. "Seventeen magazine -- this isn't."
A check of the paper's dateline confirmed that it was a current edition, which is odd, since goth kids have roamed Chapel Hill Mall for more than a decade. Did Beacon writers just mistake them for Johnny Cash fans with weird hair until now?
Stay tuned for next week, when Biliczky launches her latest investigative report: "Grunge: Young People Who Rarely Bathe Offer New Musical Stylings."
A proposal to open a Blue Note jazz club in the former Centrum theater on Coventry seems to be dead. A source says Cleveland Heights officials never took up Blue Note's president on his offer to pitch the project in person. Of course, they wouldn't have had much to talk about anyway: The company was looking for $500,000 in welfare to pay for renovations, a sum that caused spit takes throughout City Hall.
After numerous on- and off-the-record conversations, Punch gets the impression that Centrum owner Charles Zuchowski and city officials are fed up with each other. Rumor has it that Zuchowski intends to sell the property to a company that sees a sports bar in the old theater's future. 'Cause if there's one thing Northeast Ohio needs, it's another freakin' sports bar.
Crisis of the week
Cleveland, already an industry leader in generating poor, undereducated fatasses, has a new feather in its cap: It's among the nation's top growth markets for dying prematurely, according to a study chronicled in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Thanks this time goes to ozone, the gas created when auto emissions combine with sunlight. According to the 14-year study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, when ozone levels increase, people die, mostly from cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. And Cleveland, naturally, is among the nation's foremost producers of ozone -- currently first in the Midwest standings, with a comfortable lead over second-place Pittsburgh.
"Somebody's always going to find something wrong," says DeAnn Hazey of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. "I think it's all in the attitude. It's what people make of it."
So maintain a positive attitude about dying young, and keep on investing in Cleveland.
It's not easy to run a business in Youngstown, which, along with Mogadishu, are the only two cities to win more points than Cleveland for incompetence and corruption in this year's Winston Cup. That's what Jamie Lundt learned when he tried to open a towing business on Midlothian Avenue.
The property is zoned industrial, but the planning department said it wasn't the right kind of industrial zone for a towing company, so it refused to let Lundt open.
His mistake: He appears to be in a strip-joint-only zone. Next door sits the gentlemen's club A New Affair. According to city code, all strip joints must be 500 feet from a residential neighborhood. Angry at the city, Lundt measured it and found the nearest house just 300 feet away.
Lundt squawked to the city, but got no response. So he painted "Save R Neighborhood" and "Close the Illegal Go-Go Bar!" in giant letters across the front of his vacant building.
City Hall wasn't happy. Planning director Bill D'Avignon tried to get a special ordinance giving A New Affair a pass on the zoning law -- though he wouldn't do the same for Lundt's towing business. Then the city charged Lundt with criminal graffiti. Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains also sent Lundt a letter threatening him with jail if he didn't appear at the prosecutor's office at 10 a.m. December 10.
But this being Ohio, government officials didn't have a clue what they were talking about. The graffiti charge was bogus, since state law defines graffiti as painting stuff on someone else's property without the owner's consent. Anyone familiar with a little thing called the First Amendment knows that Lundt can write whatever he pleases on his own building. And no prosecutor in the country can order someone to appear; only judges can do that.
"It was complete bullshit," says Randi Barnabee, Lundt's attorney.
Touch of Gray
Last week, The Plain Dealer reported that former Cleveland parks director Oliver Spellman was charged with accepting bribes as mayoral chief of staff in Houston. What the paper didn't report was why Spellman resigned from that job. Spellman had to leave the employ of Houston Mayor Lee Brown -- the former Clinton drug czar -- after failing a drug test.
Houston Press broke the story two years ago. Spellman blamed his problem on alcoholism, for which he had sought treatment. "Did I make some poor choices?" he said in an interview last year. "Probably."
One of those poor choices was getting to know Nate Gray. The Cleveland parking magnate -- the center of a nationwide bribery case that's already netted East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor and Cleveland Councilman Joe Jones -- allegedly paid Spellman $2,000 and put him up in a Vegas hotel to land an airport shuttle-bus contract. This time, what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas.