Hell to Pay

Letters published February 23, 2005

Because of Winn-Dixie
More tales of fun with King Nothing: I just read the great story on receiver Mark Dottore ["King Nothing," February 9]. Having been an employee of Fortran Printing, I witnessed almost everything the other companies in the article went through.

Judge Russo said she did not know of the problems with Dottore, but when we tried to contact her, we were told not to bother her. Dottore also told us not to bother the judge. Why did it take Judge Russo almost a year to recuse herself from the Fortran case, since she had recused herself from the Snyder case because of her dealings with the Dottores? And if the court appoints the receiver, why didn't Russo just replace Dottore? By recusing herself, she just dragged out the case, giving Dottore more time to bill for his and his lawyers' fees. It seemed to me that Dottore was in charge, not the judge.

Like the other companies, our health coverage was dropped without us finding out until people were refused payment on medical bills. When finally confronted, Dottore indeed told us we had no coverage. But during the nearly three months that we had no coverage, the money was still being taken out of our paychecks. Dottore has never paid us back this money and seems to think it's not a problem.

This whole experience has made me lose trust in our court system.

Dan Kellums

No help from the weasel: I, too, was one of Mark Dottore's vicious dealings. I was an employee of Fortran printing for 22 years. When Mark came in, he thought he was King Shit and sucked the life out of the company. He was taking our insurance money and putting it in his pocket. I am a diabetic, and I rely on my insurance. After I bitched about that money, I was let go because, in his words, I was a cancer.

I contacted Judge Russo. After a couple of calls, I was told that if I called her chambers again, I would be arrested for contempt. I called that weasel Dennis Kucinich's office a couple times. He said he didn't want to get involved. Then I find out Dottore was a big contributor to his campaign.

So I contacted the state attorney general's office and the governor's office, and they both turned me away. Where is the justice in Cuyahoga County?

Pete Kastanis

Smoke Gets in His Eyes
Lighting up the public smoking debate:
We feel compelled to respond to Pete Kotz's recent column "Dead Men Drinking" [February 9]. Assertions in the column stated as fact are at best in dispute and at worst dead wrong. Economic issues associated with smoking bans have been examined carefully, and for Kotz to cite anecdotal and undocumented evidence is not responsible journalism.

The column also gave short shrift to health risks. Workers exposed to secondhand smoke are 34 percent more likely to develop lung cancer. We need to stop pretending the health warnings are somehow made up. They are real.

The risk is particularly real for restaurant and bar employees. In no other job would this type of health hazard be permitted. In the same way that bar and restaurant owners cannot choose whether to follow food, fire, building, and employee-safety laws, they should not be permitted to choose whether their employees and patrons should face clear health hazards.

Public smoking has become so well established that some just assume it's an earned right. In reality, it is a dinosaur, inconsistent with almost every other protection we provide workers and patrons.

Matthew Carroll, Director
Cleveland Department of Public Health
Terry Allan, Commissioner
Cuyahoga County Board of Health

For the right not to reek: I don't think that Lakewood bars will be in jeopardy with a smoking ban. I do enjoy a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. But what I enjoy even more is waking up the next day not reeking of stale smoke.

I work in a non-smoking bar. I travel to Ontario frequently, and there are smoking bans there. I'm pretty much used to it. I think people would be surprised to know it's really not that bad.

Vera Durejko

The fresh air of smoky bars: I was very pleased to see "Dead Men Drinking." It's nice to finally see someone exposing the truth on what is going on in Lakewood. The supporters of this ban are trying to fight for the right to clean air, while the hospitality association is simply trying to fight for its freedom of choice and to run its business as it sees fit. Thank you for your revealing and informative article. It was a breath of fresh air.

Madison Tompkins

It takes a council to snuff out smoking: Great piece. Every bar owner that I have talked to thinks that this is a terrible idea. As Lakewood Council President Seelie said last week: If going non-smoking is going to boost sales, why hasn't anyone done it on their own? But I wouldn't leave it squarely on Demro's shoulders. The rest of council seems to support this. Councilman Dunn jokingly said that the only business to lose sales will be dry cleaners.

Shawn Juris

This smoker is fuming: I find it unbelievable that Pete Kotz would compare a smoking ban in Lakewood to suicide. As a smoker, it insults me to imply that I would stop patronizing an establishment because it doesn't allow smoking. It's also pretty sad to infer that I would waste gas to go to a neighboring city.

Kotz's subjectivity reeks throughout the story. He refers to the bans in Toledo and Tempe, Arizona, that led to lower revenues. Tempe's sales tax increased from $3,212,000 in 2002, when the ban was enacted, to $3,227,000 one year after the ban. The mayor also was quoted as saying that the smoke-free ordinance "has been a very positive public-policy change for our community."

Kotz did not mention similar bans in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston that had no negative economic impact, and in some instances saw revenues rise slightly.

The next time you write an article, try something most journalists have been taught: objectivity.

Randy Mauskopf

Lighting up with grandfather: We have already gone down swinging in Centerville -- a Dayton suburb -- over a smoking ban. The do-gooders used the threat of voter turnout against our spineless city council to get a ban that only exempted the three bars, two taverns, and one bowling alley that currently exist. Even though no future bar will be allowed to have smoking, the ban fanatics still cry that those places they never patronize get to continue to have smoking.

Peter Flaherty

Standing up to the smoking police: How refreshing to read an article from someone not afraid of the smoking police, who discount the Toledo experience of the neighborhood bar owner. According to a recent article in The Plain Dealer, those owners lost a large percentage of their business, leaving any intelligent person to ask two questions: Why would they lie, and why would they go to the considerable trouble of an election if they were reeling in all that promised new money from non-smokers? You remember them: They're the people just dying to come to the neighborhood bar with their children in tow, but alas, could not because of all that smoke.

There's also a level-playing-field argument to be made. In California, one bar sues the other if they smoke under the table, so to speak. It's called unfair business practices. I don't know what is worse: the Patriot Act or the health police.

Maureen Nolan

That Crazy Voice Guy
Unveiling a weirdo's mystique:
I stumbled across "Midnight Hustler" [January 19]. The photo threw me off center. But when you described the graveyard-shift voice I've heard while watching early morning shows, I knew exactly who you were talking about. In fact, there have been times when I've had my finger on the "next channel" button just to switch from hearing Brown's pitch. Thank you for giving me the inside story on someone who's become the Cy Miller of this decade (only he seems more congenial). Good job.

Marji Juba

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