Lock a group of hot-blooded firefighters and lusty young policemen in a party facility with a generous supply of ladies and liquor, and what's likely to happen? Something along the lines of the fracas that reportedly erupted at a downtown hotel the night of February 27, apres the first annual "Guns and Hoses" soiree.
Sponsored by the departments' bagpipe bands and joint charity fund, the bash for the boys in red and blue offered an enticing St. Patrick's Day warmup for just $10: cash bar, Irish step dancers, and a healthy contingent of caring young nurses, all in the cozy confines of Grays Armory. After a particularly rousing evening, one of Cleveland's finest allegedly ended up in a room at the swanky hostelry, escorted by either one or two women (depending on whether a cop or fireman is telling the story).
Alas, Cleveland firemen apparently had prior claim on his companion(s). Two of them allegedly appeared shortly thereafter, damaging the door in the course of making a sudden and dramatic entrance. "None of your cop buddies are here to help you now," they astutely observed, then proceeded to administer a severe beating.
Spokespersons for all parties are being characteristically coy. The Cleveland Police Department is either unwilling or unable to produce a report on the incident. When the subject was raised with the Cleveland Fire Department, the phone abruptly went dead--an accidental disconnection, no doubt. But subsequent calls elicited no better results.
The subject of considerable good humor at Cleveland fire stations, the altercation nonetheless has firefighters concerned that it might cost them the traditional courtesy extended by traffic cops when they stop a fellow professional for speeding.
If only The Plain Dealer offered homeless delivery of its Sunday edition, with the heartwarming page-two puffball "Denise Dufala's People," Theodore Jackson might have a cardboard box today.
In her January 25 column, ace newsreader Dufala lauded the efforts of Christopher Schramm, a socially conscious designer who helped the homeless Jackson insulate his street shelter, located at the freeway ramp near East 30th and Superior. But it was publicity Jackson didn't need. Not long after, according to staff workers at the Bishop William M. Cosgrove Center, Jackson came in complaining that his box had disappeared, apparently carted away by the fastidious Ohio Department of Transportation.
ODOT spokeswoman Karen Lenehan confirms that Jackson's shelter was on the cleanup list, though she says the agency received a complaint about it in December, weeks before it was mentioned in superjournalist Dufala's column. Timing notwithstanding, Lenehan insists that ODOT did both the community and Jackson a favor, characterizing street shelters as dangerous "garbage piles."
Were Jackson still around, he'd probably disagree. But he's vanished too. Of course, even if Jackson had seen the column, there's no guarantee that he could have saved his hovel. But he might have salvaged the $90 he had stashed inside.
Memo to Dix & Eaton: Al Lerner isn't helping himself by sucking on that big cigar, which makes him look like a geriatric David Modell. Do your client a favor and buy him a patch.
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