Thursday, October 22, 2009


Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 2:53 PM

The Columbus Dispatch reports on Northeast Ohio Republican Matt Dolan, who won't leave the sidelines for his party's latest political football toss:

Two Republicans joined all House Democrats yesterday in voting to delay Ohioans' income-tax cut, while new data show that state government is operating today with 1,500 fewer employees than just four months ago.

And in the most impassioned speech in an afternoon of debate over how to fill a looming $851 million hole in the two-year state budget, Rep. Matthew Dolan, R-Novelty, urged his colleagues to set aside partisanship and not turn the debate "into a gotcha moment."

"We are nothing more basically than a pass-through entity to counties," said Dolan, who, along with Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, broke with his caucus to support the bill. "When we beat our chest and say we need to cut more state spending, all we're saying to our counties who provide the essential services to our constituents is, 'You find the money somewhere. You go to the taxpayers.'

"All you're doing is putting the burden on property taxes and local sales taxes."

The PD adds:

Dolan gave an impassioned speech urging fellow lawmakers to "set aside our sacred cows" and think about the big picture to work to turn around Ohio's reeling economy. He said that reliance on federal stimulus money in the current budget creates a "tidal wave" of revenue problems down the road that made it essential to delay the tax cut.

"If you want to play politics with this vote, then go ahead, but grab a life jacket because that wave is coming," Dolan said. "And make sure you grab a couple more because that wave is going to hit Ohioans hard."

It remains to be seen whether President Obama's stimulus package will turn out to be the catastrophic failure that many Republicans have predicted (often to the point of sounding eager). But we have to admire Dolan's willingness to act on his concern in a way that will make him very unpopular among his delusional peers. — Frank Lewis

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Steve Schimoler
  • Steve Schimoler
Cleveland wants to break into the cooking-based reality-show business, and it has extra muscle to help. Crop Bistro owner Steve Schimoler has partnered with some high-powered producers for Feed My Team, a web series that presents professional athletes cooking a meal for a restaurant full of their teammates and friends. The first episode films at Crop (1400 W. 6th St.) at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 26. Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas will cook for 70 fellow Browns, family members and food fans. Gourmands and sports fans can visit for tickets to be in the studio audience. The neighboring Mercury Lounge (1392 W. 6th St.) will broadcast the event live and host an afterparty. Admission is $10.

Joe Thomas
  • Joe Thomas
For each episode, the athlete will choose a favorite dish. Before taping, Schimoler will coach the jock in the hectic kitchen environment, putting him through his paces with stoves, cutlery and cuisine. The Crop chef says cooking is a full-contact job too.

“It’s a monster workout,” says Schimoler. “It’s hot; you’re moving fast. You’ve got this great environment where a pro athlete is throwing down in a kitchen. There’s a lot of teamwork and a great chemistry — you get a lot of high-fiving. I always say cooking is a sport.”

Nehst Studios, which is producing the series in partnership with Schimoler, plans to air the first episode in late November. They’re hoping to do 12 episodes for the show’s first season using Cleveland athletes first and then tapping visiting opponents. — D.X. Ferris

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 12:33 PM

So many ballot issues, so little time. Tri-C is here to help:

The voting public can learn more about the state and county issues on this November’s ballot during the week of October 26 at each Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) campus. The hour long forum will allow experts representing each issue to present the propositions. There will be a question and answer session following each issue presentation.

The Ballot Issue forum will run from noon until 1:00 p.m. at each Tri-C campus the following days:

Monday, October 26: Western Campus in the North Galleria in the Student Services building, 11000 Pleasant Valley Road, Parma

Tuesday, October 27: Eastern Campus Performing Arts Center in the Liberal Arts building, 4250 Richmond Road, Highland Hills; and Metropolitan Campus Metro Campus Center Student Lounge in the Student Services building, 2900 Community College Avenue, Cleveland

Wednesday, October 28: Eastern Campus Performing Arts Center in the Liberal Arts building, 4250 Richmond Road, Highland Hills; Western Campus in the North Galleria in the Student Services building, 11000 Pleasant Valley Road, Parma.

Parking is available in designated visitor lots on each Tri-C campus for $1 for a two-hour time block, or a hangtag permit can be purchased for 75 cents. For more information, contact 216-987-2046 (East), 216-987-4610 (Metro), or 216-987-5428 (West).

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Supporters of Issue 2 like to claim that their opponents want to force veganism on Ohioans. That's nonsense, of course, but even this wing-and-burger-lovin' omnivore is thinking about cutting back after reading this report from the Worldwatch Institute. Seems that our bottomless appetite for meat may be even worse for the planet than our obsession with SUVs:

Whenever the causes of climate change are discussed, fossil fuels top the list. Oil, natural gas, and especially coal are indeed major sources of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). But we believe that the life cycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised for food have been vastly underestimated as a source of GHGs, and in fact account for at least half of all human-caused GHGs. If this argument is right, it implies that replacing live-stock products with better alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. In fact, this approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations — and thus on the rate the climate is warming—than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change. But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

… [L]ivestock (like automobiles) are a human invention and convenience, not part of pre-human times, and a molecule of CO2 exhaled by livestock is no more natural than one from an auto tailpipe. Moreover, while over time an equilibrium of CO2 may exist between the amount respired by animals and the amount photosynthesized by plants, that equilibrium has never been static. Today, tens of billions more livestock are exhaling CO2 than in pre-industrial days, while Earth’s photosynthetic capacity (its capacity to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by absorbing it in plant mass) has declined sharply as forest has been cleared. (Meanwhile, of course, we add more carbon to the air by burning fossil fuels, further overwhelming the carbon-absorption system.)

The full report is here. — Frank Lewis

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Soon after Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted and murdered in Pakistan in 2002, those who loved him set out to honor his life by doing no less than changing the world. One of the Daniel Pearl Foundation’s ongoing efforts is FODfest (for Friends of Danny), “a touring celebration of music’s ability to build a connection in community between all of us.” The month-long tour visits Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., Kent) October 29. Billed as “part concert, part song-swap and part jam session,” FODfest’s Kent stop will feature Evie Morris, SONiA (Disappear Fear), close Pearl friend Todd Mack and others yet to be announced. For ticket information call 330.677.5005. — Frank Lewis

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Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

You expect some grisly images around Halloween, though they’re a surprise when you’re talking about pumpkins. Paul Walsh, owner of Doylestown’s Walsh Farms, says competition is getting fierce in the business of big orange fruit. For the past three years, he’s been losing boom-season business to big chain grocery stores, which sell pumpkins cheap.

“They’re cutting my throat,” says Walsh, taking a call at 11:30 on a Thursday morning, six hours into his work day. “They’re playing the whole game to get [customers] in the store. You’re not going to go to Acme and just buy one pumpkin.”

This year, Walsh has a great crop, but it isn’t going anywhere. So far, 2009 has been his worst season yet for sales. The economy remains down, and the weather isn’t cooperating — it snapped from warm and sunny to cold and wet. Families are buying pumpkins closer to town for less money.

In the past at Walsh’s farm, full-sized pumpkins cost six or seven bucks. Twenty minutes north in Akron, Giant Eagle sells large pumpkins for $5.99. Marc’s lets big ones go for $3.99. At Acme, any size pumpkin is $2.99. So Walsh has been forced to slash prices and make deals. He’s offering a big wheelbarrowful for $30. The cucurbita pepo aren’t the only draw at the farm, but they’re important. Harvest season, says Walsh, accounts for 80 percent of the farm’s annual revenue.

And this time of year, it’s not just a farm. On weekends, Walsh Farms hosts the equivalent of a small-scale country fair. Hundreds of families park cars in a field and stay one to three hours, working their way from attraction to attraction: a corn maze, inflatable jumping tents, a two-story slide, tractor rides, a petting zoo, hot chocolate and funnel cakes. Most of the activities are free. Proceeds from pumpkin sales used to offset the operating expenses. This year, the free stuff is getting most of the traffic.
“It’s not the people,” says Walsh. “It’s the economy. Both mom and dad have to work to make ends meet.”

So does Walsh, who’s on the go until 11 at night. He also landscapes and processes deer. The farm has been a family business for three generations. Walsh’s grandfather, Edward Walsh, bought the first 40 acres of the farm in 1936. Now it’s 360 acres, with an adjacent horse farm that the Cleveland Clinic uses for cancer-patient therapy. Walsh runs the farm with his mother, Shirley, and brother Jim. (His father, Robert, died two years ago.)

The family farm was Walsh’s career choice. After playing football at Chippewa High School, he says, he passed on a full scholarship to Clemson to attend Ohio State, where he received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture. While the Buckeyes hit the gridiron, Walsh spent fall weekends back home in the fields. When American farmers were hitting hard times, he stuck with it, believing farming had a future.

Now that he’s seen the future, he doesn’t care for it. Some local farms provide pumpkins to corporate grocery stores, which they sell at a loss. Walsh says he’s never been tempted to chase a piece of that action.

“I don’t believe in that, the middleman making more money than I am, making money off somebody’s back,” says Walsh. “Whatever I can’t sell directly to the public, I can’t grow.”

Walsh says the rides and the food and pumpkins all add up to pay the bills. And, he notes, a day on the farm is cheaper than high-priced hot dogs at a Browns Stadium.

“The world’s going to hell in a hand basket,” says Walsh. “There’s not a lot of affordable things a family can do together. I have one here.” — D.X. Ferris

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Monday, October 19, 2009


Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 2:48 PM

Our collective disregard for the consequences of rampant drilling is nothing new:

BOWLING GREEN - Thousands of wells from the Ohio oil boom at the turn of the 20th century are surfacing in Wood County as dangerous relics that may threaten public health, county commissioners were warned recently. …

To demonstrate the potential for water contamination, [Mike Coyer of Black Swamp Oil Field Services] offered a clear jar of liquid to Commissioner Alvie Perkins.

"Shake it," Coyer said.

The agitation stirred a flurry of dark sediment to discolor the liquid black. Coyer told the commissioners the jar was filled with a water sample from a ditch near Devils Hole and Mercer roads north of Bowling Green, where an old oil well was improperly sliced down to rest several inches below ground level. The sediment was likely decomposed sewage and debris that had settled in the open well, he said.

Mr. Williams, owner of Able Well Drilling and Pump Services, said he often finds such contaminants in aquifers near old oil wells as he drills fresh water wells for customers in rural Wood County.

Read the rest here. — Frank Lewis

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