Valedictory Victory

Chardon kid lights up the prank meter.

Chardon school pranks hazardous landfills Garfield Heights military reservists Cleveland schools minority set-asides
As high schools prepare a fresh batch of grads for that unfortunate destiny known as Adult Life, Punch would like to salute one Chardon student with a promising future in insubordinate mirth.

Earlier this month, parents of Chardon High seniors received what appeared to be a letter from Principal Doug DeLong. Naturally, "DeLong" warned of the dangers of underage drinking at after-prom parties. But rather than urge parents on to greater scrutiny, he offered instead to put on an after-prom beer bash of his own. Students had to be 18 to be served -- it being Geauga County tradition and all -- but he promised buses would bring everybody home. Police would also be on-site to ensure that hammered kids didn't drive.

"I'd have to say it was one of the better pranks out there," acknowledges Assistant Principal Scott May. "Normally you see crickets being let out here. I'm kind of impressed, in a way."

But Chardon police aren't. They've opened an investigation -- which is Chippewa for "We got nothin' else to do" -- in hope of teaching the kids that there's no place for jocular saboteurs in Adult Life.

May, meanwhile, would settle for reimbursement for the follow-up letters he sent explaining that DeLong only does keg stands at faculty parties, and never with students.

City View is sinking
It probably wasn't the smartest idea -- building a shopping center on a large hazardous waste site. But that now may be the least of City View's problems. The mega strip mall is sinking.

When we last left this beacon of commerce in Garfield Heights, we noted that the mall had been built on an old landfill which was conveniently chock-full o' some of the most hazardous chemicals known to humankind. Residents near the site had been coming down with lethal afflictions for years, including rare forms of brain cancer. But the Ohio EPA ignored its own scientists and greenlighted the project anyway ["Tomb With a View," January 10].

Now, just a year after it opened, the mall has a whole new mess on its hands.

Take a walk behind Wal-Mart, and you'll see a long crack opening up in the asphalt next to the building, where the parking lot appears to have dropped six inches. It doesn't take a geotechnical engineer to figure out that the ground is sinking. But, what the hell, we found one anyway. "The landfill . . . shifted or sank," says geotechnical engineer Farrokh Screwvala, after examining a photo of the crack.

It's not uncommon for landfills to shift over time, he says. It's just uncommon for some idiot to build a $100 million mall on top of one. If the cracks spread or worsen, the owner of City View could be left knee-deep in crap -- literally.

"Often times it's not economically fixable," says Screwvala. "There have been buildings that have been abandoned for precisely the same reason."

Scene contacted a lawyer for City View's owner, New York grocery magnate Thomas Klein, but he refused to talk. "City View is certainly aware of what's happening on their site," says attorney Joe Reidy, "but has no further comment."

That's lawyer-speak for "You wouldn't happen to have any duct tape around, would you?"

Hosing our vets, Part 781
Just when it seemed like we'd run out of ways to screw our veterans, some Ohio employers are finding new ways to make the return from Baghdad suck just a little more.

State Senator John Boccieri (D-A Little Place Called the Real World) said last week that employers are ignoring federal laws that bar companies from hosing soldiers out of their jobs when they're called up to serve. While most employers "bend over backwards, more "reservists have come back, and their jobs have been eliminated," Boccieri says.

Soldiers can fight back by either a) throwing a live grenade in the boss' office or b) suing in federal court. But since the court system usually takes two or three years (and all your life savings) to resolve a claim, soldiers "usually walk away from the fight," according to Boccieri.

So the senator, an Air Force reservist who served in Iraq, has introduced a bill that would allow soldiers to sue in state court and jump to the front of the docket. The law would cut the process down to two to three months in every county but Cuyahoga, where judges need that much time for their lunch break alone.

Hard disappointment
When the massive $1.5 billion rebuilding of Cleveland's schools began, then-CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett hired Hard Hatted Women and the Black Trades Council to monitor the job. They were supposed to make sure the construction workforce was 20 percent minority, 20 percent district residents, and 5 percent women.

But according to Kelly Kupcak of Hard Hatted Women, her group didn't have any enforcement power. When they discovered there weren't enough women working, or that companies were counting secretaries as bricklayers, they couldn't do anything. "So we were just being pushy broads," she says.

To make matters worse, the district's point man was the mayor's brother, Nick Jackson, a career patronage appointee twice accused of sexually harassing subordinates ["The Face of Incompetence," October 11, 2006].

Finally, in April of last year, the district told Hard Hatted Women that it could no longer afford its services. And when Eugene Sanders took over as schools chief last July, he decided such work was best done in-house.

Chief Operating Officer Dan Burns says he's reviewing the program. He says that updated bidding rules require that companies list their minority subcontractors before they get the job.

But it appears that for the last six years, no one has been ensuring that work is spread to all kinds of people. "We don't really know how well they're doing," Kupcak says.

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