Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Volunteer Fired from Ohio State Fair for Making Fun of Rob Portman's Hair

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Smoky, in the wood.
  • Smoky, in the wood.

Day in and day out politicos line up before a firing squad of criticism and complaint. For such a flak-filled profession, you'd think they'd have developed the skin of the larger pachyderm set. But it seems someone deemed a low blow aimed at Rob Portman — delivered in the voice of a cartoon bear, no less — was too much dig for the US senator to handle.

This all went down at the Ohio County Fair. The Columbus Dispatch deals out the specifics. For 10 years, retired-teacher Paul Hammock has volunteered at the annual event in a special capacity: he enlists his vocal chords to do the voice of the 14-foot Smokey the Bear statute that lords over the proceedings and shouts out to people in the audience. Other fair workers would pass him names and info on who was close to the bear, and Hammock, from a hidden booth, would knock out quips in between reminders that only you can prevent forest fires.

Last Friday, none other than Senator Portman came walking by the bear.

Hammock said he welcomed Portman and made one of his standard jokes about how Smokey stays young-looking by dying his gray hair.

He said he then added something like: “That’s a little trick you might want to try.”

Hours later, Hammock got a call at home from the volunteer coordinator from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Don't bother coming back, was the message. The reason? His comments to Portman had been offensive.

Now, the retaliation isn't coming from Portman, according to Portman. In an interview with the Dispatch he said he thought Smokey's slight dig was funny. It seem the action was taken by ODNR; when pressed by the paper on the dismissal, the agency's spokesperson said Hammock was axed for “failing to confine his remarks to fire prevention.”

Tags: , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation