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Friday, October 15, 2021

Plant-Based Proteins May Be Coming to Taco Bell

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 4:06 PM

Taco Bell is introducing a plant-based "Cravetarian" menu in Detroit. - COURTESY TACO BELL
  • Courtesy Taco Bell
  • Taco Bell is introducing a plant-based "Cravetarian" menu in Detroit.
Is there anything better than biting into a Cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell after a night out?

Honestly, no.

Well, if you're a vegetarian, you might not have ever got to experience the pure joy of this — until now.

Taco Bell is testing its new "Cravetarian" menu exclusively in Detroit all this month.

Cravetarian is an extension of the chain's vegan and vegetarian-friendly food options. While the fast-food chain has offered refried and black bean substitutes for its menu items, it is now formally introducing a plant-based protein meat alternative.

The Cravertarian menu will include plant-based Taco Bell favorites such as the Nachos BellGrande, Burrito Supreme, Crunchwrap Supreme, and Crunchy Taco Supreme.

The seasoned meat alternative is approved by the American Vegetarian Association and is certified vegan.

Taco Bell will be testing in the Detroit market through Nov. 10 at select locations.

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Architectural Justice Gallery & Cafe in Strongsville Will Be Permanently Closing in November

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 2:35 PM

A cooking class at Architectural Justice - PHOTO BY KARIN MCKENNA
  • Photo by Karin McKenna
  • A cooking class at Architectural Justice

Architectural Justice will be closing its Strongsville location, which offered a cafe, cooking classes and high-end home decor and furniture, as of Nov. 7.

Retail operations will be moved to its Medina location.

The announcement:

Over the last four years, we have shared many great experiences with both our guests and our staff. We appreciate our communities patronage and also the hard work and dedication from our team both past and present.

It’s with mixed feelings that we are announcing the closing of Architectural Justice Gallery & Cafe in Strongsville. The good news is that you can still visit us at our Design Center in Medina where we will be moving our retail operations.

Our last day of restaurant service at our Strongsville location will be November 7th.

We are having a moving sale at our Strongsville location Tuesday, Oct. 19, which will run through Nov. 7. All events scheduled at the Strongsville location through the end of October will continue as planned. Gift cards will be honored at either location for in-store merchandise, products, and design services.

While the ‘Gallery and Café’ comes to a close, Architectural Justice continues to expand.

As the announcement notes, as redesign demand has kicked into high gear across the region, the Medina outpost has already and will continue to expand its products and offerings.

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Ohio Republicans Push to Waive Gun Training, Permit Requirements for Concealed Carry

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 1:59 PM

A protester with his gun and flags - GRAHAM STOKES/FLICKRCC
  • Graham Stokes/FlickrCC
  • A protester with his gun and flags
Both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly are plodding forward on legislation to waive training requirements to carry a concealed weapon.

While current law allows state residents to openly carry a weapon, it only allows those 21-and-up to obtain a concealed carry permit after completing an 8-hour training course and passing a background check.

House Bill 227 and Senate Bill 215, which contain some important differences, would waive these permitting requirements, including the training

The effort, if successful, would continue Ohio’s steady relaxing of its gun laws over the last 20 years, which has included launching the concealed carry program in 2004 that required 12 hours of training; passing “pre-emption” legislation in 2006 which blocks cities from enacting gun laws stricter than those at the state level; and removing the duty to retreat (passing “stand your ground”) in 2020, which removed the requirement for a person to seek retreat before responding to a perceived attack with deadly force.

On Thursday, the House Government Oversight Committee held its fourth hearing on the permitless concealed carry legislation.

Over several hours, members of Moms Demand Action, an anti-gun violence advocacy group, made their case against the bill. They argued it will inevitably increase rates of gun violence. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office reports roughly 1,200 concealed carry applications are denied each year for reasons set in code, like criminal histories, civil or temporary protective orders, or others.

What, they asked, will happen to those applicants if there’s no more licensing process?

“It allows guns in the pockets of lowlifes,” said Sieglinde Martin, an MDA member.


Micaela Deming, an attorney with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, said domestic violence misdemeanor convictions and protective orders are the second highest reason that would-be gun owners fail background checks. Waiving the permitting requirements, she said, would mean the loss of a key screening mechanism to remove guns from these domestic offenders.

Gun lobbyists and enthusiasts argued that the public safety threat is overblown. Law breaking gun possessors, they said, will continue to break laws regardless of how strict or lax they are. The bill is about enshrining Ohioans rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“I don’t think there’s anything in the bill that says, ‘If you’re prohibited from carrying a [concealed] firearm, suddenly now you can' — if you’re prohibited, you’re prohibited,” said Rep. Shane Wilkin, a cosponsor of the bill and committee chairman overseeing its hearings, in an interview.

“Those that are going to carry that are not mindful of the law regardless of what it is, are going to carry regardless.”

After the hearing, Wilkin said he didn’t know if the bill would be up for a vote at its next hearing but said he wouldn’t rule it out.

Lawmakers on the committee were generally warm to the legislation. Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Butler Twp.) said it’s “kind of bizarre” that it’s legal to openly carry a weapon in Ohio, but becomes illegal if you put on a jacket that covers it.

Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) needled one witness who said states that legalized permitless concealed carry experienced higher levels of violent crime than those that did not. He asked whether that could be the effect of other legislation like legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

The Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee, meanwhile, has held two hearings on similar legislation from Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott).

A key difference from the House version: The Senate bill would also establish procedures for a pretrial immunity hearing for people facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit related to their use of force in purported self-defense.

The hearing, which would come before any trial, provides a substantial advantage to the accused: It would tell the court to assume the accused used force in self-defense and requires prosecutors (in a criminal case) to prove beyond a reasonable doubt or plaintiffs (in a civil lawsuit) to provide “substantial evidence” that the person did not use force in self-defense.

If the prosecutor or plaintiff fails in this, the accused would be considered immune from the charge or lawsuit. If they succeed, the proceedings will then move toward a trial.

Although bill proponents say otherwise, courts have generally held that licensing requirements to carry concealed weapons do not violate the Second Amendment.

In a 2003 Ohio Supreme Court opinion (that preceded Ohio’s first concealed carry law), Justice Paul Pfeifer, writing for the majority, was blunt in a majority opinion.

“(The law) does not unconstitutionally infringe the right to bear arms; there is no constitutional right to bear concealed weapons,” he wrote.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major opinion, now seen as a Second Amendment landmark decision, overturning a Washington D.C. law that prohibited residents from owning a firearm in their homes. However, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, an icon in conservative legal and political circles, noted in his majority opinion that the right to bear arms isn’t infinite.

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” he wrote.

“(There is no constitutional) right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is responsible by law to handle some of the administrative work in Ohio’s concealed carry program. In a statement, a spokesman said Yost has not yet taken a position on either bill and is actively monitoring them.

“By any measure, Ohio’s concealed-carry licensing system has succeeded in combining safeguards that protect the public and provisions that uphold Americans’ right to bear arms and protect themselves,” he wrote in the 2020 annual report on the program.

Twenty-one states allow inhabitants (residents only in North Dakota) to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, according to a count from the U.S Concealed Carry Association. This includes neighboring states of West Virginia and Kentucky.

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.

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Arbitrator Rules Beachwood Police Officer Fired for Shooting at Fleeing Shoplifting Suspect Will Get Job Back

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 1:42 PM

Rogers drawing his weapon before firing at the suspect - BEACHWOOD POLICE
  • Beachwood police
  • Rogers drawing his weapon before firing at the suspect

An arbitrator ruled this week that Beachwood police officer Blake Rogers, who was fired by the city after shooting at a fleeing shoplifting suspect in the parking lot of Beachwood mall in March 2019, will get his job back, but only because the city of Beachwood failed in multiple ways to abide by the termination process and failed to document specific ways in which Rogers violated city policies.

"Although the arbitrator’s opinion is that [Rogers] was not justified in using deadly force in this incident, the City did not prove the grievant violated all of the policies listed in the termination letter," the ruling reads, "and also made numerous due process errors: the grievant was given disparate treatment compared to officers involved in [a previous] incident; it assumed differing positions regarding whether the car was moving towards the grievant, depending upon whether it was prosecuting Jones or terminating the grievant; it did not prove the bystanders in the parking lot were in any danger of being struck by the grievant’s shots; the grievant was not provided sufficient information to defend himself against the charge of being dishonest; and it considered discipline which, according to the contract, should have been expunged."

Rogers, who was placed on paid leave ($92,000 salary) for the two years between the incident and his termination in February 2021, will also receive backpay covering the months after he was fired.

The shooting drew little attention until July 2020 when Channel 19 published a story with full dashcam video of the incident, only made available by Beachwood after months of battles over the public record, which showed Rogers firing at the suspect, who had stolen a $59 hat, at close range and continuing to shoot at the car as he chased it.

By that time, it had already been more than six months since the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations had finished its investigation of the incident and delivered its report to the city. That report, however, wouldn't be made public as the city kept the findings private, citing an apparently nonexistent policy of reviewing incidents for discipline only after a grand jury had considered the case.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury in Oct. 2020 declined to file any charges, at which time Beachwood reviewed the BCI investigation and proceeded with the termination process. The arbitrator said in its ruling that the city failed in that process to provide specific ways in which the offier violated city policies.

The ruling also said that the city's prosecution of the suspect complicated its case against the officer: It couldn't argue that the car posed no threat to the officer, and thus he should be fired for shooting at the suspect, and argue that the car did pose a threat to the officer as it sought charges against the suspect.

Outcry from the community came swift, especially during the summer of 2020 as social justice protests swept the nation in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, with op-eds and council meetings filled with angry comments over both the officer's behavior and the city's handling of the incident.

Later, Rogers sued the city, the suspect sent a demand letter in anticipation of a lawsuit of his own, and the police union filed an appeal.

Their defense, and the one Rogers relied on in his suit, was that the suspect posed an immediate danger to the officer and attempted to run him over. The city argued, and the arbitrator agreed, that he used unjustified force as he ran after the vehicle and continued to fire at it.

Councilman Mike Burkons, who has battled with city leaders and his colleagues since he took office, said the city screwed up from the start in the same fashion it has bungled other issues.

"I think many mistakes were made by the people who saw the footage and decided to keep it from the public," he told Scene, "while for 13 months also trying to follow union rules to have this incident reviewed and the person terminated properly."

He contends the city also failed in letting the BCI report sit unreviewed for a year and a half, the entire time during which Rogers was on paid leave, when no written policy prevented them from beginning the termination process prior to the grand jury's decision.

That the suspect was fleeing in a stolen car, that he was found with a gun when he was finally arrested, none of that should matter in how Rogers' case is dealt with, Burkons said. All the officer knew at the time was the guy was suspected of stealing a $59 hat.

"If you're upset about George Floyd, you should be furious about this," he told Scene.

“We are currently exploring all of our options, including a possible appeal,”Mayor Martin S. Horwitz and the law department said in a statement. “We will be consulting with our outside counsel on the issue of re-instatement.”

According to public records obtained by Channel 19, Rogers' supervisor had previously wrote that the officer had a “noted a pattern of policy violations and unsafe behavior. This behavior may be a careless disregard for policy or Ptl. Rogers could be experiencing 'tunnel vision' while engaged in stressful/emergency type calls.”

In a statement, Gwen Callender,the  executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said: "We have been eagerly waiting for this day to have a neutral arbitrator issue his award after considering the evidence presented by the city and by the union. We are eager for the city to reinstate Officer Rogers to continue his record of loyal and professional service to the citizens of Beachwood."

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The Big Egg Has Permanently Closed

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 12:40 PM

The Big Egg has clsoed - VINCE GRZEGOREK/SCENE
  • Vince Grzegorek/Scene
  • The Big Egg has clsoed

The Big Egg, the legendary once-24/7 diner at West 52nd and Detroit, has permanently closed as of today, according to a note taped to the door of the restaurant.

Enjoying two distinct lives — one as the original, beloved greasy spoon with as many devotees as health code violations that closed in 2002, and the second iteration, opened some seven years later with a fresh interior redo and little carried over from its first life other than the name and egg-shaped menu — the Big Egg had been a part of the near west side since at least the early 1950s.

L-R ... Tony Yacovella ... Robin Coleman - waitress ... Nick Cantola ... Billy Merrell ... Russ Whisenant ... all work for Cleveland Stevedore ... None of the above work at night -" - CLEVELAND MEMORY PROJECT/ 1978 PHOTO
  • Cleveland Memory Project/ 1978 photo
  • L-R ... Tony Yacovella ... Robin Coleman - waitress ... Nick Cantola ... Billy Merrell ... Russ Whisenant ... all work for Cleveland Stevedore ... None of the above work at night -"

As Scene wrote in 2002: "It was perhaps the only eatery to win Cleveland magazine's Silver Spoon Award and get shut down by health inspectors just 14 months later."

A one-time favorite haunt of Flats revelers after a long evening of boozing, and any and all Cleveland night-owls awake for reasons good and bad and eager for hash browns and eggs at 3 a.m., the original was beset by cleanliness issues in the late '90s.

"[Previous owner] Sam Hamadeh says patrons were driven away by devastating PR the Big Egg encountered in 1997," Scene wrote in 2002. "That July, the city closed the place for five days, citing some 42 violations. The problems made it into The Plain Dealer and TV news; the results were catastrophic. 'When they tell people not to visit a place, no one will,' Hamadeh says. 'It did long-term harm.' He briefly ran TV commercials to combat the reports, but they weren't enough."

When his license expired and he chose not to renew it, he told Scene: "It's going to be a shock for the city of Cleveland. But they don't deserve it here."

After Saigon 88, Pho Que Huong or Long Phung took stabs at operating in the space, The Big Egg returned in 2009 without 24/7 service and without its preceding problems with ownership by brothers Jimmy and Ahmad Labadibi.

It had lately operated, like many restaurants, on limited hours. The North Olmsted location remains open.

  • Scene

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Medina is the Closest Location for BMV's New 24/7 Self-Serve Registration Kiosk

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 11:28 AM

Self-serive kiosks have been deployed - OHIO BMV
  • Ohio BMV
  • Self-serive kiosks have been deployed

The joke is that waiting in line at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is like entering the first circle of hell, but salvation may be at hand for those interested in simply renewing their vehicle registration.

Earlier this week, Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, as part of InnovateOhio, and Ohio BMV Registrar Charlie Norman introduced a novel idea: self-service kiosks.

These kiosks — currently only at nine BMV locations across the state, with the closest Northeast Ohio location being in Medina — will allow users to "conveniently renew" their registration without the wait or interacting with a human.

"InnovateOhio's goal is to change the culture of state government so that every service is designed with the customer in mind," said Husted in a release. "The service announced today offers a convenient way for Ohioans to quickly and easily renew their vehicle registration so they can continue on with the rest of their day."

The locations:

Deputy Registrar, 3481 E. Broad St., Columbus
Deputy Registrar, 990 Morse Road, Suite A, Columbus
Rhodes Tower Lobby, 30 East Broad St., Columbus
Deputy Registrar, 972 N. Court St., Medina
Meijer, 7150 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights
Meijer, 2200 Tiffin Ave., Findlay
Meijer, 1391 Conant St., Maumee
Riesbeck's Food Market, 800 Howard St., Zanesville

Some kiosks will be open 24/7, so if, for whatever reason, you need to renew your registration at 2 a.m., you can.

The kiosks also provide printed registration cards and validation stickers.

You'll pay a $4.95 each for four vehicles plus a 1.95% processing fee for using a card. (They won't accept cash.)

The BMV says they plan to expand with additional locations if all goes well with the nine pilot kiosks.

"The BMV is dedicated to improving the overall customer experience by providing our customers with access to innovative solutions that better meet their diverse needs," said Norman in a release. "The BMV Express Kiosks are another important step we're taking to give Ohioans more convenient options to choose from when they are deciding how to interact with state government."

In 2019, the BMV introduced an online check-in system, which allowed customers to reserve their spots online, rather than braving in-person wait times. Like magic, you can just get in line at before you head out the door.

For more information about the new kiosks and other fun BMV stuff, visit

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Why on Earth is Marty Freaking Sweeney Endorsing Justin Bibb? And Why on Earth is Bibb Accepting?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 10:54 AM

Martin Sweeney addresses the Lakewood Democratic Club (3/29/18), - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Martin Sweeney addresses the Lakewood Democratic Club (3/29/18),

Marty Sweeney, the former Cleveland City Council President who groomed current Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and who recently weaseled his way back into local elected office—Marty Freaking Sweeney, folks, perhaps the richest and most enduring symbol of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party's rot—has endorsed Justin Bibb for Mayor.

“For the past ten months, Justin has shown he will listen to the concerns and ideas of residents and community stakeholders,” said Sweeney, in a statement provided by the Bibb campaign. “I met him over a year ago on my front porch and since then I’ve watched him crisscross the city taking hundreds of questions in backyards, on front porches and in virtual forums. Justin Bibb is ready to listen and lead on Day One.”

The Sweeney endorsement is a curious, in fact shocking, development for a number of reasons. In the first place, Sweeney is tribally affiliated with Kelley. They are both Irishmen of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party's old and corrupt school. Kelley was not only Sweeney's majority whip on city council, but his protégé and heir. It was Kelley who, alongside the frail and cowardly Bradys, conceived and orchestrated the plot to reinstall Sweeney on County Council earlier this year, a disgusting episode.

On the flipside, the Bibb campaign surely knows that Sweeney's endorsement matters very little from a vote-total perspective. It's possible they're sensitive to Kelley's Issue 24 critiques and see profit in gaining influential supporters on the white West Side, whomever they may be. But Bibb is also far ahead in the polls, has looked more assured in recent campaign appearances, and has built momentum in recent days with high-profile endorsements. For the campaign, the aim with the Sweeney endorsement is less to keep their foot on the gas and more to place it on Kelley's throat. It's about asserting dominance and gloating about it, having fun getting under his skin. Even your old pals are jumping ship.

This is not a particularly becoming look, but the Bibb team has reason to feel spicy. Kelley continues to patronize and belittle Bibb in candidate forums, not only criticizing his use of "buzzwords" but asking rhetorically whether or not Bibb knows how government works. (Bibb told Dan Moulthrop Wednesday that the biggest challenge of the campaign trail has been keeping his composure.)  Coupled with the Kelley campaign stunt yesterday, in which Kelley's team mocked Bibb's lawyer after he sent a cease and desist letter regarding Kelley's characterizations of Bibb's stance on Issue 24, the Bibb team probably wanted to send a message to Kelley in the shape of a giant middle finger.

Sweeney did the trick. He's too stupid to understand that his endorsement is mostly being used to taunt a former ally, and too self-interested not to leap at the prospect of allying with a presumed victor. (It's gross all around!) Because he likes feeling important, Sweeney gets to be Brutus, delivering what the Bibb campaign surely regards as a poetic dagger, turning the tables on Kelley by urging residents to "ignore the political rhetoric about experience."

“Justin Bibb and his team will bring the real change we need to tackle violent crime, poverty, housing and other major quality of life issues,” Sweeney said, in the statement. “It’s always been about safety and services and things have not changed. Justin is the right leader at the right time.”

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