Policing Mount Pleasant

City Hall has -- gasp! -- a good idea. So the feds killed it.

urban violence marijuana laws Pimp My Ride West Coast Customs Dennis Kucinich
The feds are cracking down on Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed, who violated a long-standing city ordinance -- not to mention tradition -- by having a decent idea.

Reed represents Mount Pleasant, where 15-year-old Arthur Buford tried to rob a man on his porch last month and ended up dead. Weirdly enough, Reed doesn't think gun-wielding teenagers are strong spokesmen for his neighborhood, so last year he started using his ward's block grants -- money traditionally spent for physical improvements -- to hire off-duty cops to patrol the streets.

The idea, in Reed's logic, was to "unleash our safety forces on these thugs -- to send a clear message."

It was the first good idea hatched in City Hall since they added Hostess Cup Cakes to the vending machine in 1972. After all, Cleveland is beginning to resemble Grand Theft Auto without a reset button. There's no use in cleaning up a park if people are afraid to go use it, Reed says.

The idea's caught on: Councilwoman Nina Turner, who represents Lee-Harvard, also hired extra security. Kevin Kelley, who represents Old Brooklyn, is working out the details as we type. "We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in our parks, and it wasn't long before there was graffiti there," says Kelley. "Instead of families taking their kids there, you've got 15-year-olds smoking and swearing." He wants to hire an off-duty cop to patrol the neighborhood's parks.

But he'll have to do it on a much smaller budget than he hoped. The feds, who issue the grants, recently informed the city that the money can't be used for security. Council members have to use their much smaller "social service" grants -- money traditionally marked for senior citizens and the occasional kickback.

The feds' logic baffles Reed: "Since when is fighting crime a social service?"

Zack Weed stwikes again
Sadly, it appears that Reed may soon be indicted for violating the city's anti-productivity law. And this time he deserves it.

Last month, Punch committed a grave faux pas when we called Reed to get his comment on a Cincinnati law cracking down on small-time marijuana offenders. Turns out he'd never heard of it. But he liked it so much, he swore he'd bring it to Cleveland ["Oops, sorry about that," April 4].

Still, we weren't too concerned. We'd watched enough Tom Meyer investigations to know that Reed would soon get hammered and completely forget about our conversation while sucking face with hot white chicks at the Blind Pig.

Au contraire. At a recent council meeting, Reed introduced the legislation, which would make possession of less than 100 grams of pot punishable by up to three days in jail. He hopes to have it passed before council's recess in June, prime weed-smoking season.

"It's to send a clear message that law and order is the way to go now," says Reed. "If you have one joint, there could be consequences to that."

Once again, Punch sincerely apologizes for our error.

Launder my ride
New details released in the upcoming money-laundering trial of Paul Monea ["Jailhouse Rock," March 28] show that the huckster tried to launder money through MTV's Pimp My Ride.

According to the feds, Monea told an undercover FBI agent -- who was posing as the go-between for a South American drug lord -- that he had connections at West Coast Customs, the body shop where the show originated. He asked the undercover if he'd be interested in "parking any money" at the shop. He even brought the agent to tour West Coast Customs last year.

The undercover decided to pass on the investment, but he later arranged for the sale of Monea's 43-carat "Golden Eye" diamond and Trumbull County mansion, formerly owned by Mike Tyson, in exchange for $19.5 million and a cigarette boat. Before the deal could go through, agents arrested Monea and his business partner, Stark County car dealer Michael "Mickey" Miller, and charged them with money laundering. (Miller recently copped a plea and is expected to testify against Monea at his trial.)

West Coast Customs never responded to Punch's request for a comment. But sources say the shop's artisans are currently working on a chrome neck-chain for Monea that reads "Property of Bubba."

See no evil
Since Scene wrote about two families falsely accused of child abuse by the same Akron Children's Hospital physician, several more families have come forward to say that they too had their children taken away after Dr. Daryl Steiner erroneously accused them of violently shaking their babies ["Guilty Until Proven Innocent," April 19].

One might think that for honesty's sake -- or pure damage control -- the hospital would launch an investigation into the wayward doctor. After all, Steiner has the kind of track record that makes trial lawyers salivate. And juries tend to sympathize with parents who have their kids taken through false accusations.

But when Punch called to see what steps Akron Children's was taking to protect innocent families, spokeswoman Laurie Schueler would not return our calls. It appears that separating infants from their parents by using false allegations isn't a major concern.

The elf sleeps in
Last week the Associated Press, hoping to definitively cast away the mainstream media's reputation of worthlessness, asked each of the 2008 presidential candidates about an issue of pressing national import: their sleeping habits. Specifically, the AP wanted to know how late in the morning politicos would have to wake up in order to consider it "sleeping in."

Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and the rest all gave suitably early replies like 7 a.m., to remind us how incredibly dedicated they are. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee even boasts that he's usually up by 4:30 a.m., when most of us are still trying to find our car after the bars close.

Meanwhile, local elf Dennis Kucinich likes to crash till 8:30. On good days, he and the missus enjoy getting up for brunch, then going back to bed till 4:30 p.m., according to Mrs. Elf.

That comes as good news to you, fair citizen. The more quality time Kucinich devotes to life between the sheets, the fewer hours he has to annoy the country.

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