Love Court

A steamy romance in Barberton City Hall.

Barberton office hanky-panky Dennis Kucinich Seabiscuit Spy Bar urban violence National City Bank predatory lenders
Hanging thongs from your lover's desk. Flashing each other from across the room. Escaping for quickies in the janitor's closet. 'Tis the sweet dance of office romance.

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates it. That would include employees of the Barberton Clerk of Courts office.

Last month, Deputy Clerk Konnie Beck and her supervisor, Martin Hyatt, fell into hot water after getting it on in a storeroom of the city administration building. An anonymous letter circulating through City Hall complained that the loving couple's amorous ways were freaking out their coworkers.

For months, Beck had been behaving more like a stripper than a pencil-pusher. With her desk facing Hyatt's, she flashed her boss often, hung her thong from his desk on his birthday, and once changed her blouse in front of the entire staff.

Clerk of Courts Andrea Norris declined comment, but is rumored to be shopping her office to Hollywood as the set for a new reality show. For your next challenge, you will disrobe and file the paperwork from 17 drunk and disorderly cases.

After the city launched an investigation, Hyatt received a 30-day suspension and was demoted from his supervisory post.

Beck got two weeks unpaid, but it appears she's no stranger to weirdness. Her personnel file reveals that she was fired by the Barberton Police Department in 1998, and the Copley Police Department in 2000 for "lack of performance."

But "performance," it seems, hasn't been an issue in her current job.

The upside of crisis
Though predatory lending has plagued Cleveland for years ["Who Killed Cleveland?" August 29], the collapse of the mortgage industry is providing unintended benefits.

Last week, the activist group ACORN staged a mock funeral outside National City's East Ninth headquarters. Dressed in black and toting a casket, protesters mourned the devastation caused by the bank's subprime loans. They demanded that National City board up and maintain its vacant, foreclosed homes, and fix the loans made by its First Franklin subsidiary.

In the past, National City execs likely would ignore the protest, preferring to sacrifice goats and virgins. After all, when Cleveland tried to pass an anti-predator law a few years back, this is the bank whose CEO claimed he would no longer lend in the city.

But with the mortgage crisis painting bankers as bumbling villains, National City is being coerced into a little more graciousness these days. It only took 20 minutes for high-ranking suits to appear on the sidewalk. ACORN leader Mariah Crenshaw sat down with David Fynn, a senior vice president. Though he wasn't exactly kind -- "He could not believe we came down there," Crenshaw recalls -- he agreed to examine ACORN's complaints.

By the next day, of course, National City was back in full denial mode. Spokeswoman Kelly Wagner Amen said the bank didn't own any of the vacant properties in question -- though county records suggest otherwise. She also wasn't sure the bank could help people with First Franklin loans, since National City sold off its predatory arm last year.

But the tide of public opinion isn't going the bank's way. When a cop asked what was going on, an ACORN member explained they were protesting predatory lending.

"Well, somebody should," he said.

Denny's Limp Biscuit
Congressman Dennis Kucinich likes to see himself as the Seabiscuit of the presidential race. Much like the storied race horse who emerged from ridicule to victory, Kucinich says that, despite polls that show him slightly behind the deceased Colonel Sanders, he's going to come from behind and win this thing.

Yet Kucinich might want to start shopping for a new analogy. He already used the Seabiscuit analogy in 2004, despite finishing more like Herbie the Lovebug -- if Herbie were to veer off the road and explode, setting fire to the $2.9 million in federal tax dollars Kucinich spent on his campaign.

And the famed horse wasn't nearly as skilled as the congressman at inventing polls that show him in the lead. In an interview with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough last week, Kucinich dismissed the real polls in favor of his own metrics.

After a recent candidates' forum in Los Angeles, "Everyone who watched it said clearly that I was the person who ought to be the next president," Kucinich said. His sample size: Four guys in dreads listening to open-mic poetry at the Phoenix coffee shop in Lakewood. (They didn't actually watch it, but they really dig Kucinich's stance on "medical marijuana and shit.")

Margin of error: Three pot brownies.

Dennis is also a firm believer in online polls, where by the magic of the internet you can vote for yourself 45,366 times. After another recent forum, Kucinich's office sent out a press release claiming an online poll showed he had "won" the debate, beating not only Hillary and Barack, but also some guy on MySpace named "Pimpology243," the backyard wrestler Thrillbilly, and the band Ron Jeremy's Schlong.

West Sixth shootout probe
It's been two months since the July 4th shootout on West Sixth that left one man dead, three injured, and seven Strongsville bachelorettes too scared to take their penis-hat parties downtown. No arrests have been made. And while police quickly joined Councilman Joe Cimperman and bar owners in blaming the shooting on Spy Bar -- the only club on the street that attracts a largely black crowd -- the cops are taking an odd approach to investigating their hunch.

While the shooting occurred in a parking lot used by patrons of several bars, witnesses have told police that the people involved came out of Spy. The media -- Punch included -- quickly dubbed the incident the "Spy Bar shooting." But two months into their investigation, detectives have yet to ask Spy's owners, managers, bartenders, doormen, DJ, or resident drunks about what they saw that night, says Subodh Chandra, Spy's lawyer and Cleveland's former law director.

Chandra says the cops' lack of interest shows that Spy's role has been overblown. Either that, or Donutland has been running a special for the last two months.

"I don't know each individual detective's investigative" techniques, obviously perturbed police spokesman Tom Stacho tells Punch. Asked if he could verify that detectives haven't interviewed anyone from Spy, Stacho responds ever so cheerfully, "I'm not going to waste my time. I'm busy."

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