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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 3:50 PM

c101/1238531251-gbeck.jpgHuffington Post reports that FOX News whackjob Glenn "Bury Me in Bay Village" Beck ...

has been using his airtime to broadcast a right-wing conspiracy theory about the Obama administration setting up 'concentration camps,' as part of a secret plot to establish totalitarian rule. Curiously, Beck's criticism of President Obama's economic policies seems to have been ripped directly from the plot of FOX TV's past hit series The X-Files (1993-2002) and the films based on the series (1998, 2008).

Read the rest here.


Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 12:24 PM

To drum up some regional support for the upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, Positively Cleveland hosted what it called a “fam tour” (fam as in familiarization) with area journalists last week. The day started with the Rock Hall press conference about the Inductions that included handing out a proclamation to Parliament/Funkadelic’s Bootsy Collins and the O’Jays’ Walter Williams, both of whom are already inducted. From the Rock Hall, a bus took the writers out to the Beachland Ballroom where co-owner Cindy Barber talked about how she and partner Mark Leddy, who quietly manned a pair of turntables and spun old-school soul singles, had transformed the Croatian dancehall into the area’s most happening music joint. Their hope, she said, was that the entire Collinwood neighborhood would become a haven for artsy types.

8b1f/1238517546-lawrence.jpegAs if to prove her point, she took everyone on a tour of the area shops, including the indie record store Music Saves, the unique toy and T-shirt shop Shoparooni and the newly opened vintage vinyl store Blue Arrow. The group also visited Exit Stencil Records, the local label and studio manned by Ryan Weitzel. From there, local musician and scholar Lawrence Daniel Caswell (pictured) took over, leading the group out to Zombie Proof Studios, the East St. Clair loft space where his band, This Moment in Black History, has recorded at dirt cheap rates. Then, as if to provide contrast, he led everyone next door to the more refined Ante Up Audio, where one of its well-dressed owners noted that millions of dollars had gone into the state-of-the-art gear there which has attracted national acts such as Dave Matthews and Kelly Clarkson). Pulled from a Chicago studio where Loverboy and Def Leppard once laid down tracks, the mixing board alone is worth a small fortune.

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Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Blender magazine folded last week, placing Cleveland-based Alternative Press indisputably in the top three glossy monthly rock mags.

e2e5/1238502094-apcover.jpgThe independently owned AP consistently ranks second in book-store sales, behind Rolling Stone, above Paste, and far beyond Spin. It doesn’t have the size or cachet of Rolling Stone or Spin, but it has the best track record for breaking bands, especially since the millennium turned: It has single handedly owned the Warped Tour generation, and has served as the other three mags’ tip sheet, chronicling bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. In the late ’80s, AP also caught the alternative wave before there was a word for it. The magazine even got hip to Metallica relatively early — the band graced the last gatefold cover in 1988.

As Rolling Stone and Blender downsized, AP held its own. Blender’s February issue had a mere 76 pages, down from 120 a year earlier. AP’s had 120 — down just eight pages from its February 2008 issue. Founder/president Mike Shea says newsstand sales are down 7 percent, well below the industry average that’s closer to 35 percent. AP’s circulation is holding steady at just under 300,000. While Blender cover photos alternated pop stars like Lil Wayne with “celebrities” like Tila Tequila, AP kept ferreting out emo and punk up-and-comers like A Day To Remember. Shea says they’ll remain on course. (Full disclosure: this writer has contributed to AP here and there.)

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Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM

c8d7/1238473952-hartmann.jpgIt’s becoming increasingly clear that the jailhouse snitch who testified that he heard Brett Hartmann confess to killing Winda Snipes was lying to get out of jail sooner—committing perjury ("Deadline," March 25). But Summit County prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh is still pushing to have Hartmann executed on April 7. Apparently, she’s learned nothing from the Clarence Elkins debacle.

Here’s the transcript of the e-mail exchanges between the lawyer for the jailhouse snitch and Hartmann’s attorney. We left in the typos:

From: Richard Vickers
To: Thomas Adgate
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 10:22 AM
Subject: Brian Tyson

Dear Mr. Adgate
I am an investigator with the Federal Public Defender's Capital Habeas Unit. I am assigned to the Brett Hartman capital case. … On March 5, 2009 the Ohio Parole Authority recommended against clemency for Hartman. Hartman's case for clemency is now before Governor Strickland.

We continue to seek information to present to Governor Strickland that would support commutation for Hartman. Yesterday we were informed by a media source that you may have information regarding your former client, Bryan Tyson who testified at Hartman's trial regarding a jailhouse conversation in which Hartman admitted killing Winda Snipes and removing her hands. Because Hartman made no inculpatory statements to investigating police, Tyson's testimony detailing a "jailhouse confession" by Hartman was powerful evidence in the state's case.

Our media source claims that you have information that Tyson did not testify truthfully. It is our understanding that prior to Tyson testifying against Hartman, you advised Judge Callahan that Tyson would perjure himself.

Hartman's execution on April 7 is inevitable unless we can provide compelling evidence that he may not be the perpetrator of Winda Snipes's murder. If Brian Tyson did testify falsely, such in formation would be of great assistance in our plea for clemency. Please contact me at **** so that we can discuss this matter. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 12:08 AM

For more than a year now, county leaders have negotiated in private to secure Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. as the one-and-only overseer of the planned Med Mart/convention center facilities for Cleveland. Since then, the media has tried to get a grasp on the billion-dollar deal — about $600 million of which will go to MMPI for construction, rent, management and upkeep — only to be told: piss off.

The Plain Dealer threatened to sued and just worked out a deal last week to have the development contract and all draft proposals in their hands at least a week before commissioners finally seal the deal in blood. But that’s not good enough for some. Brian Bardwell, a Strongsville-based journalist and executive director of Citizens For Sunshine, filed suit against commissioners last Friday to make the material available to all.

“These guys are playing around with millions of dollars and it’s not okay to say, ‘We’re going to hide these records until a week before we vote on this.’ When the entire county government looks like it’s ready to start operating out of the county jail, I’m not willing to trust them anymore.”

He realizes that the records may be released this week, before the county would even have to respond to his suit, “but, under the law, this is the best we can do.”

Bardwell says his budding organization plans to keep shining light on the dark recesses of the public record — from police records in Twinsburg to billion-dollar tax give-aways. “We have to make sure to enforce this law on a small scale if we expect it to be enforced when something big comes up.”

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has the Sunshine Laws posted here: Oh, you’ll be tested. — Dan Harkins

Monday, March 30, 2009


Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM

For nearly 20 years, Rick Burns waited patiently for the police to return to his auto body shop across the street from the station to show him photos of the man he saw with Amy Mihaljevic the day of her abduction. But they never came.

Burns maintains that a strange man with shaggy hair parked a sedan in his personal space, closest to the Bay Square plaza, on October 27, 1989. He remembers the date because it was also the day he brought his newly restored truck to the shop to show off to his buddies and was miffed to find his spot was taken. Burns says the strange man later pulled around the shop, to the pumps, where he was standing. In the back seat was a young girl he believes to have been Amy Mihaljevic. The man asked Burns for directions to I-480 and then left.

Two days after Amy disappeared, FBI agents came to Burns’ shop and took all the receipts for the previous two months. They took his statement. And that was that. He never heard from them again.

Last week, at the request of Channel 5’s investigative reporter Duane Pohlman and this reporter from Scene, Burns reviewed a series of photographs of suspects and non-suspects. Without hesitation, Burns picked out former Amherst middle school science teacher Dean Runkle as the man he saw at his shop that day. In November, Scene identified Runkle as the prime suspect in this case after speaking to sources familiar with the investigation and with Runkle himself, who now manages a Wendy’s in Key West.

Bay Village police have so far downplayed this revelation, stating that Burns’ memory is not reliable. But Burns isn’t the only eyewitness to ID Runkle. A girl from Amy’s school saw Amy with her abductor that day. Recently, she was shown a lineup of thirty-some individuals. She, too, went right to Runkle’s picture. Later, she told Scene that his picture was so similar in appearance to the man from her nightmares that she wished the police would take a hard look at him. Following our coverage in November, the FBI did send an agent out to Florida to re-interview Runkle, but instead of sending someone intimately familiar with the case, they sent an agent from headquarters with little to no experience with the investigation. — James Renner


Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 3:59 PM

4e58/1238444327-serpentinicropped.jpgBob Serpentini, Mr. American And Proud of It, is apparently so American that he’s in danger of defaulting on millions of dollars in loans provided by GMAC financial services to his Aurora dealership. Defaulting on loans, after all, is the new cool thing to do in this country, especially when corporations are being handed fat bailouts ever other week. Strangely, though, Serpentini doesn’t seem to be cutting back on expenses — his slick mug is all over tube and getting the Winterhurst rink in Lakewood Serpentini Arena couldn't have been free.

Managers at Serpentini’s dealerships told Scene that they’re still selling cars. But a spokesperson for GMAC says the company will no longer loan Serpentini the cash he needs to put more cars on his lots. “The Aurora location is in dealership default,” explains Sue Mallino; GMAC auditors are currently keeping tabs on the books there. “Typically, we provide companies with three months to sell off their inventory, pay back the money, or sell the store. We’re working with this dealer to give him more time to get through his financial difficulties. In the meantime, we’re overseeing the inventory.” GMAC is also still providing loans to customers looking to finance purchases at the dealerships.

When reached by phone, Serpentini downplayed GMAC’s tough stance. “They’re out here all the time,” he says. “We’re still selling cars.”

What of the other three stores, in Strongsville, Tallmadge and Orville? Other lenders such as Key Bank finance the cars at those dealerships. Key Bank reps would not comment on record.

Of course, Serpentini could always sell off his share of Rattlesnake Island, the private club he oversees on Lake Erie (a quasi-socialist utopia staffed with young Russian women on student visas). And just for fun, here's a little background on Mr. American's politics, which suggest that anything even sounding like "bailout" would offend his deeply patriotic sensibilities. — James Renner


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