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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Bibb Vows to Improve Winter Weather Plan, Says He Inherited Broken System

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 at 5:57 PM

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb vowed to do better in response to criticisms about the city's winter weather planning after the massive snowfall Sunday and Monday. Though the city deployed every vehicle, plow and driver at its disposal, the response "wasn't good enough," according to Bibb. 

"I inherited a broken system in need of significant overhaul and investment," he said in a recorded video statement. "I heard you. We need a new snow removal plan to ensure that we are better prepared for the next storm."

Bibb, who is currently in Washington D.C. for the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, said he intended to meet with officials in the Department of Public Works and Public Safety, as well as newly minted COO Bonnie Teeuwen, to iron out an enhanced plan that will no doubt focus both on street plowing logistics and sidewalk clearance for pedestrians. He said an announcement could be made on updates as early as next week.

He said he would not squander this opportunity to deliver on one of his flagship campaign promises: getting "back to basics" and restoring high-quality city services that residents depend on.

"My number one priority is the safety of all Clevelanders," he said.

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Cleveland-Based TransDigm Under Microscope Yet Again for Outrageous Price Gouging

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 at 1:58 PM

Shared by the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Reform. - INTERNAL TRANSDIGM DOCUMENTS, "THE ART OF DEFENSE PRICING 101"
  • Internal TransDigm documents, "The Art of Defense Pricing 101"
  • Shared by the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The Cleveland-based aerospace and defense contractor TransDigm was under the microscope Wednesday yet again for what the Federal government contends is "egregious price-gouging."

Based on an internal Department of Defense audit, TransDigm is alleged to have received nearly $21 million in excess profits on contracts for spare airplane parts. For many of these parts, TransDigm is the exclusive provider to the U.S. government.

TransDigm, whose chairman and founder W. Nicholas Howley makes more than $60 million every year in total compensation, was in the hot seat last year as well for the same reason. A previous audit found that TransDigm had received more than $16 million in excess profits, based on a small sample of its recent contracts.

According to testimony from former TransDigm employees,  the company is perceived as the "cancer of the industry." Its aggressive pricing practices include acquiring subsidiaries that are sole-source providers of particular parts and then, once they've obtained monopoly status, jacking up the prices. These and other observations were included in material released by Carolyn B. Maloney, who chairs the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The government has little recourse, as TransDigm not only controls a monopoly position but also strategically pursues contracts under a $2 million threshold that would require it to provide cost data with the government.

Chairwoman Maloney introduced the meeting yesterday by announcing new legislation to ensure that the government isn't overcharged by predatory companies like TransDigm.

TransDigm officials, who repaid the $16.8 million in excess profits last time around, said they would do so again if it was discovered that anything was amiss in their own accounting. But they argued that the Department of Defense's audit relied on "arbitrary standards" for reasonable profit margins.

According to internal TransDigm documents shared by Maloney, seeking continually inflated profit margins was the company's bread and butter, even if it meant laying off its own employees or lying to government officials to achieve them.

"I’m just full of BS," one TransDigm salesperson wrote in a 2018 email shared by Maloney, "and [the DOD] took the bait.” Washington correspondent Sabrina Eaton noted in her coverage of the hearing that the committee's Republican representatives sided with TransDigm, arguing that their Democratic colleagues were blaming one company for a "systemic problem."

But this problem has become a blatant pattern with TransDigm. It is evidently so ruthless and underhanded that they don't even command respect in the world of military contractors, an astonishingly low bar to be unable to clear.

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a member of the committee, upbraided TransDigm Executives Kevin Stein and Nicholas Howley during her remarks.

“At the time when American families were and still are struggling with the financial burden of the pandemic, TransDigm paid the two executives here around $90 million, while at the same time laying off, furloughing, cutting the salaries of its other employees.”

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The Sleepy Rooster in Chagrin Falls Lands on Yelp’s Top 100 U.S. Restaurants of 2022 List

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 at 11:26 AM

  • Courtesy the Sleepy Rooster

The Sleepy Rooster, Craig and Sarah Fitzgerald's breakfast and lunch cafe in Chagrin Falls, was a quick hit when it opened mid-pandemic in 2021.

Scene dining editor was among the early fans when he reviewed the restaurant last summer, and the meal lingered all year as one of his favorites, finding a spot on his list of the best things he ate in 2021:

Rise and shine at The Sleepy Rooster - PHOTO BY DOUG TRATTNER
  • Photo by Doug Trattner
  • Rise and shine at The Sleepy Rooster

Craig Fitzgerald is wise enough to know when and how to play the chef card. Most of his culinary school chops are reserved for ingredient selection, technique and execution in the kitchen rather than wild creativity on the plate. It’s breakfast after all. In the stellar biscuits and gravy, those flaky house-baked comfort cakes are smothered in peppery sausage gravy, which seeps into the crispy home fries, which also are exemplary. 
He's not alone.

Yelp this week released its annual list of the top 100 U.S. restaurants and the Sleepy Rooster found its way to No. 41 in the rankings as the lone Northeast Ohio inclusion and just one of four in the state. (The methodology here: "To create Yelp’s Top 100 US Restaurants list, we first reached out to Yelpers for their favorite dining spots. Then, we ranked each by total number of submissions, ratings, reviews, and geographic representation, among other factors.")

Here's the Sleepy Rooster's entry:

Fine dining meets brunch at this unique restaurant, which focuses on breakfast specialties served into the afternoon. Everything is made from scratch, including biscuits that would make your grandmother jealous. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts, Chef Craig Fitzgerald sources as many ingredients locally as he can, and uses them to build his own takes on eggs Benedict, pancakes, fritattas, and hash, along with fun lunch items such as a fried-bologna sandwich with onions and mustard.

Cuisine: American (New), Breakfast & Brunch

What they’re known for: The Goetta, a German breakfast sausage made with beef, pork, oats, and spices, is made in-house and served with eggs.

Yelpers say: “This has only happened twice in my life: The [biscuits and gravy] at The Sleepy Rooster made me cry…. Everything else is good there, too.” —Casey S. 

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Upcoming Cleveland Open To Feature Particularly Strong Player Field

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 at 9:12 AM

Mikael Torpegaard, OSU alum and Danish tennis star, hits a backhand during the 2020 Cleveland Open Final. - TOPNOTCH MANAGEMENT
  • Topnotch Management
  • Mikael Torpegaard, OSU alum and Danish tennis star, hits a backhand during the 2020 Cleveland Open Final.
This year’s upcoming Cleveland Open, an ATP Challenger tour event now in its fourth year, will feature a notably strong player field.

Players competing this year are typically ranked between 150th and 300th in the world. At the Cleveland Open, they'll battle for ATP rankings points along with modest prize money.

This year’s tournament player list boasts 10 players ranked inside the Top 150, and of those, there are some big American names that have been ranked inside the top 15. By the conclusion of this year’s event, which starts at the end of the month, 16 of the top 22 American men’s players will have competed at the Cleveland Open.

Jack Sock, a former world No. 8 and U.S. No. 1, Sam Querrey, a former world No. 11 and US No. 1, Yoshihito Nishioka, an ATP Tour title winner and No. 2 Japanese player in the world and all three previous Cleveland Open Champions (Max Cressy, Mikael Torpegaard and Bjorn Fratangelo) are slated to compete.

The weeklong tournament takes place at the Cleveland Racquet Club, an intimate, casual setting. Early rounds start on Jan. 31, and the singles final takes place on Feb. 6. Tickets are free Monday through Thursday and are available for purchase Friday through Sunday.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Opening Tonight: Indie on East 4th Street

Posted By on Wed, Jan 19, 2022 at 2:57 PM

Indie is now open on East 4th Street. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
  • Douglas Trattner
  • Indie is now open on East 4th Street.

Tonight's the big night for Indie, the music-themed eatery that took over the former Greenhouse Tavern space on East 4th St. Owners Gabriel Zeller and Julie Mesenburg will officially open the doors at 4 p.m. Going forward, the restaurant will be open for dinner seven nights a week, along with Saturday and Sunday brunch.

The husband-and-wife team are also behind Char Whisky Bar in Rocky River, Avo Modern Mexican in Ohio City and Lago at Lakeside, a seasonal operation in Marblehead.

To the many diners who have made their way through this iconic space, the changes are dramatic enough to stop one in his or her tracks. And for lovers of independent music, the dining room offers near limitless eye candy in the form of 240 framed concert posters that span the musical spectrum. Thanks to QR codes, guests will be able to dig into the backstory on each of the posters.

The restaurant seats approximately 100 diners on the main floor and front mezzanine. The rear mezzanine has been closed to dining and will open as a snug spirits lounge a few months down the road. The final piece of the puzzle comes in the form of the rooftop lounge, which will come online in spring.

Indie features a Southern-styled menu starring appetizers like green tomato hush puppies, spoon cornbread and braised and seared pork belly with slaw. Mains include a shrimp Po' Boy, chicken and waffles, a seafood boil and Hatch chili mac and cheese. Parties of four or more will want to consider the whole fried chicken dinner with all the fixings or the Country Picnic, a platter loaded with cooked and cured meats, cheeses, pickled veggies, nuts, spreads, preserves and breads.

Brunch fans can look forward to a weekly brunches with evolving musical themes.

The cocktails, all created by Mesenburg, will have a musical tie-in as well. Drink names include Hey Jealousy, Bloodbuzz Ohio and Here Comes the Night Time.
Indie is now open on East 4th Street. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
  • Douglas Trattner
  • Indie is now open on East 4th Street.
Indie is now open on East 4th Street. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
  • Douglas Trattner
  • Indie is now open on East 4th Street.

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Mayor Bibb, It Is Time: Deploy the "Snow Patrol" Within the Cleveland Division of Police

Posted By on Wed, Jan 19, 2022 at 2:23 PM

  • NPS/Neal Herbert, via Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons

Twelve inches of snow in Cleveland is the amount that now evidently qualifies as apocalyptic. After Sunday night's dumping—an enormous, but not unprecedented accumulation—the city all but shut down. The RTA suspended bus and train service for the entire day as its vehicles were stuck and stranded across town, thus restricting travel for the thousands of Clevelanders who rely on public transit to get to work, (many of the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse event staff, for example), and those who ordinarily drive but dared not brave the perilous roads, or who couldn't extract their vehicles from on-street parking spots or their own impenetrable garages.

CMSD, which all indications suggest is on the brink of psychic collapse for reasons pertaining to Covid-19, was closed Tuesday and Wednesday because road and sidewalk conditions were still in such rough shape. Everyone has been advised to stay indoors when at all possible. 

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, roughly 70% of the city's ~10,000 streets had been plowed, according to the City. By Wednesday morning, that had risen to 90%, with the city saying it had plowed 265 of the total 292 subsections and that trucks were continuing to salt the main thoroughfares as plows finally reached languishing side streets.

As ideastream's Nick Castele noted, Bibb was communicative throughout Monday, alerting the press of the snow removal plans in the morning and sending out two robocalls throughout the day to update residents on plowing progress and urge them to stay inside.

But mountains of snow remain. Even as the streets have now been largely cleared, and warmer temperatures have begun to melt the most vertiginous embankments, walking anywhere is a challenge, even for the most mobile and appropriately outfitted Clevelanders. The situation at bus stops is a nightmare. Though the city said it had partnered with the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and that DCA's Ambassadors were hard at work shoveling around bus stops downtown Wednesday morning, no such fleet of hourly workers were thus engaged in the city's neighborhoods, where there are also bus stops and sidewalks.

Bibb and his newly minted COO, Bonnie Teeuwen, have promised to learn from this storm and be ready to employ best practices when the next major snowfall arrives. (They should also be ready for the terrifying pitches of ice that will no doubt arrive when the rain and melting snow refreeze overnight.) 

In this context, the Mayor  has a golden opportunity before him, one that aligns with his campaign messaging on public safety and one that would be extremely helpful: Deploy police officers working desk jobs and others who volunteer as a new, emergency snowmobile-riding tactical unit: the Snow Patrol. 

One of Bibb's key public safety gripes on the campaign trail was the misallocation of staffing resources within the Division of Police. He said that far too many officers are sitting behind desks and that they should be reassigned to foot patrols, increasing their visibility in Cleveland's neighborhoods and promoting a "community policing" model that is theoretically designed to build trust between residents and law enforcement.

Mr. Mayor, it is time. Scatter these desk cops to the snowy streets of Cleveland armed with ski goggles and shovels and salt. Charge them with clearing the driveways and walkways of the elderly and infirm, coordinating community plowing in areas far from the main thoroughfares, mini-plowing bike lanes, making clear and accessible RTA stops, and triaging as vehicles skid and slide through the elements.

Empower this Snow Patrol, working in tandem with the 24-hour snowplow operators, to work as winter meter maids as well, ticketing businesses who fail to clear the walkways in front of their establishments. Give them cool snowsuits and branded hats. (Maybe Balto-inspired?) While you're at it, discontinue the mounted unit—free the horses!—and don't bother buying a tank with ARPA dollars for crowd control. One more military-grade vehicle will only exacerbates tension between residents and the police.

Instead, order the snowmobiles! Order the shovels! Unleash the Snow Patrol.

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Boss Chickn Beer to Open its Seven Hills Shop Tomorrow, Jan. 20

Posted By on Wed, Jan 19, 2022 at 10:13 AM

  • Heather Doeberling
Heather Doeberling and Emily Moes have been riding high since trading in their popular food truck for a brick-and-mortar chicken-and-beer joint. The pair opened Boss Chickn Beer (120 Front St., 440-532-7660) in Berea about four years ago. Last year, they added a second location in Bay Village (27321 Wolf Rd., 440-455-9686), which has performed better than expected.

Next up for the team is Seven Hills (7305 Broadview Rd.), in the Aldi's Plaza. The restaurant opens for dinner tomorrow, January 20. They will start with dinner-only service and add lunch and Sunday hours in a few weeks.

In terms of size, the Seven Hills location is the largest, followed by Berea and then Bay Village. All of them feature the same great food, craft beer and open-kitchen concept. The restaurants are known for serving exceptional chicken wings, breaded tenders and vegan versions of pretty much everything. Everything that goes into the fryers is 100-percent gluten-free and the vegan items have dedicated deep fryers.

Look for Scene's Dining Review of Boss Chickn Beer next week.

Boss Chickn Beer to open Seven Hills location on Jan. 20. - HEATHER DOEBERLING
  • Heather Doeberling
  • Boss Chickn Beer to open Seven Hills location on Jan. 20.

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