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Scene & Heard

Friday, October 19, 2018

An Ohio Man Ate 400 Skyline Chili Coney Dogs This Year and is Somehow Still Alive

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 3:55 PM

  • Courtesy of Skyline Chili
After Ben Cohn's friends dared him to eat an entire party sub by himself on New Year's Day, he declined the challenge but swore to instead eat 400 Skyline chili-topped dogs before 2018 was over.

On Oct. 18, Cohn completed the challenge, 74 days early.

In case you're not privy to Cincinnati's Skyline chili, it rivals the pierogie and the buckeye chocolate as Ohio's greatest culinary contribution. It's a chili with a hint of cinnamon frequently served over hot dogs or spaghetti noodles, not joking.

Regardless, Cohn loves the regional treat and told WLWT5 that he was picking up Skyline so frequently, the workers could all recognize him by voice and his traditional order of "four cheese coneys, no onion, no mustard."

Cohn reportedly spent 291 days consuming a daily average of 1.37 Skyline coney dogs, though he didn’t eat one daily. While the Harrison location was his typical spot, he did snag some dogs during baseball season at the Great American Ballpark during Cincinnati Reds games. If Cohn took a day off, he would make up for it by consuming 4 to 10 coneys in a single sitting.

In honor of his accomplishment, his mom embroidered a shirt and Skyline Chili corporate sent him a gift basket in appreciation.

If you are up to challenge Cohn's record, the Cleveland-area has its own Skyline Chili restaurants in Brooklyn and Lyndhurst. 

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Ohio Student's Homework Assignment Leads to 20-Year Sentence for Child Rapist

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 2:17 PM

  • Vanguard-Sentinel Career & Technology Center Promotional Photo

Anthony Knight is going to spend the next 20 years behind bars after a remarkably brave student at Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Center in Fremont, Ohio, wrote about her experiences as a rape survivor for a class assignment.

Students were asked to write an essay about obstacles in their lives they'd overcome, and this particular student disclosed that she had been sexually abused as a child.

A teacher handed the assignment over to children's services and the Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office, who then opened an investigation.

Knight plead guilty on three counts of rape, but was indicted on 12 counts. The student's essay detailed Knight had abused not only her, but her two sisters as well. It was determined that he had sexually assaulted the three sisters over multiple years, when they were as young as 7 years old.

On Tuesday, County Common Pleas Court Judge John Dewey, sentenced Knight to 20 years in prison and ordered Knight to register as a Tier III sex offender annually for the rest of his life.

Detective Sergeant Kenneth Arp told WTOL in Toledo that the family had confronted Knight when the alleged incidents were to have occurred, but did not report the crimes to authorities.

“I think that these types of things happen a lot more often then what the average person might think that it does,” Detective Arp told WTOL. “I think that if you talk to different investigators around the area they will tell you that they work a lot of sexual assault cases similar to this. This one happens to have a positive outcome and unfortunately a lot don’t, but I think it sends a great message.”

Detective Arp is hoping that this case will show survivors of sexual assault that law enforcement is dedicated to thoroughly investigate these cases. The women were initially reluctant to pursue the charges as they had not reported it in the past, but Arp noted they showed a lot of courage by coming forward.

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If Ken Johnson Had a Shred of Dignity He'd Resign Immediately

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 10:11 AM

Ward 4 Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson
  • Ward 4 Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson
Cleveland.com's Mark Naymik must be extremely confused. His several exposés on Ward 4 Councilman Ken Johnson's prolonged and wanton misuse of public dollars have had zero effects. But Johnson's behavior should be treated like the scandal it is.

Late yesterday afternoon, Naymik published yet another story about Johnson's misdeeds in office. Johnson, it turns out, has been receiving $1,200 a month from City Council in reimbursements for what he calls "ward services." This is the maximum allowable amount for such reimbursements. Go figure.

For the past 2.5 years, a full-time employee of the city's recreation department, Robert Earl Fitzpatrick, who also happens to live on Johnson's street and once shared an address with him, has supposedly been performing these services. No one with a brain believes that any services have been performed. Council has been cutting Johnson the checks, and it's unknown what Johnson has been doing with the free money. Splitting it with Fitzpatrick? Taking it all for himself? 

This is just the latest bullshit. This whole saga started when Naymik reported back in July — JULY! — that Buckeye-Shaker Development Corporation was in dire financial straits and had become essentially a grass-cutting operation that employed those who had "direct conflicts of interest" with Johnson, including one of Johnson's sons, who also serves as Johnson's council assistant.

The conflicted employees of Buckeye-Shaker couldn't be paid with Federal Funds and were costing the organization $180,000 per year. A small auditing firm, in a letter that was sent to the city, said that this was the "root cause" of many of the organization's financial woes, and it would not be able to stay afloat much longer. 

Naymik's stories have been published steadily since then. They are always greeted with amazement by residents and greeted with proportional silence and assent by Johnson's colleagues, who seem pleased as punch to let their public office be thus debased.

They can rest assured, though, that their office is being debased. These stories should be regarded with supreme embarrassment by Mayor Frank Jackson and every last member of City Council. Johnson's behavior is almost certainly criminal; and if not, represents sustained abuse of his elected office.

Cleveland leaders need to wake up! This should not be controversial at all. Johnson's behavior is outrageous! Naymik's very first story should have triggered an investigation! If he had even a shred of dignity he would have resigned long ago. But in Cleveland, he must know that he'd receive zero pressure to stop doing what he's been doing.

The poor residents of Ward 4! They've been bullied and manipulated by this leisure-suit loser for decades. Johnson's been doing next to nothing for at least as long as I've been covering the city. Literally, the very first story I pitched when I walked in the door at Scene in January of 2013 was "Where is Ken Johnson?" because he never showed up to council meetings. This guy's a joke.

He needs to resign. Full stop. Jackson and Kelley need to force it if he won't do it himself. Critically, he must forfeit his right to appoint a successor. That should be absolutely non-negotiable. Why would anyone believe that Johnson even has the capacity to appoint a replacement who gives a shit about representing Ward 4 — and not just his family and friends — in good faith? Residents of Ward 4 must be allowed to pick a representative for themselves and rid themselves of this stain.

(Once again, props to Naymik for shining this long overdue spotlight.) 

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ohio GOP Starts 'Getting to the Heart of it All' RV Tour ... By Sending Candidates' Wives to Campaign

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 3:02 PM

  • Mike DeWine's Twitter Account

The Ohio GOP started their "Getting to the Heart of It All" tour yesterday, the party's traveling campaign on an oversized vehicle not unlike the Democrats' #PeopleFirst bus. But the major difference between the red and blue campaigns are who will inhabit these touring vehicles. The Democrats have candidates traveling by buses to meet Ohioans in order to talk about their stances on important issues. The GOP?

They're sending their wives.

Fran DeWine, Tina Husted, Darlene Yost, Lauren LaRose, Andrea Faber, Amanda Sprague and others as are traveling the state to rally Republican voters to the polls. The tour, paid for by DeWine Husted for Ohio, arrived in Chagrin Falls today at The Popcorn Shop, in what appears to be the closest rallying location to Cleveland.

The GOP sending their wives out to campaign on an official tour demonstrates some of the key differences on gender between the two parties.

The Republicans have an exclusively male ticket and are sending their wives out to campaign together like it’s the 1950s. Meanwhile, the Democrats are electing women up and down the ballot, including two on the statewide ticket, and are actively trying to put women in positions of power.

In the Ohio House of Representatives, women make up just 15 percent of the Republican side compared to almost 40 percent for the Democrats. Ohio’s Congressional delegation includes just three women, all of whom are Democrats.

Since the 2016 election, marginalized voices have been pushing harder than ever before to be heard, and that includes running for elected office. Legal decisions about women's health are still being made by people who are not women, and Ohio's Republican ticket for the 2018 election would keep it that way. It wouldn't be such an issue if the sponsoring candidate, Mike DeWine, didn't already have such a sordid relationship with women's rights.

Dewine has been in opposition to a woman's right to choose, even in cases of rape or incest, and supported the controversial Heartbeat Bill. He's voted in opposition to women's health care, including pre-existing condition protections, without which, women could be charged more for the same insurance simply because they are a woman. DeWine spoke in opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, as well as expansions to family and medical leave.

While the intentions are probably in the right place, having wives support their husbands this bus tour shows how the Ohio Republican ticket views women —as wives not candidates.

If that's not strange enough, while the women are on tour, they're using their male counterparts' Twitterfeed to promote the event and offer updates...

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Cuyahoga County Judge Dismisses Suit Against Facebook in Steve Stephens Easter Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 2:56 PM

Steve Stephens
  • Steve Stephens
Earlier this month, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCormick dismissed Facebook from a suit that would have held the tech company liable in the shooting death of Charles Godwin, Sr. last Easter.

The shooter in that case, Steve Stephens, broadcast the homicide in a video he posted to Facebook. He then led law enforcement on a two-day manhunt that culminated in his suicide in Erie, Pa.  Lawyers for the Godwin family argued in a January suit that Facebook had a legal responsibility to notify authorities once Stephens made his murderous intentions known in a post minutes before the shooting. 

Facebook's local lawyer argued in a motion to dismiss that the tech giant had no such responsibility. And even if it did, there was no way the company could have interpreted Stephens' post as a credible threat, or one that they could have done anything to prevent.

"There is no doubt that Mr. Godwin's murder was a senseless tragedy, and his family has Facebook's deepest sympathy," the motion read. "But there is no basis in law or logic to hold Facebook liable for that tragedy."

Though Facebook is no longer legally liable, the Godwin family lawsuit also seeks damages from Stephens' estate. Those claims were unaffected by Judge McCormick's ruling on Oct. 5.  

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ODOT Will Increase Fines on Contractors That Cause Traffic Jams by Not Finishing Work Before Rush Hour

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 2:03 PM

This past Wednesday morning the hellish asphalt shitshow otherwise known as I-480 became even clusterfuckier after an ODOT contractor failed to finish overnight work before the beginning of morning rush hour (by ODOT policy, that's 6 a.m.) Lanes were left blocked as the sun came up and backups, as they do, ensued.

It was the third time in the past month or so when a contractor's tardy work caused traffic jams that snaked across freeways and side streets.

Two previous instances involved Burton Scot's work downtown. This week the culprit was Kokosing Construction.

In a statement, the department said:

ODOT is frustrated by an uptick in construction companies, working by contract on behalf of our agency, continuing overnight work through the morning rush hour. This is NOT permitted under the terms of our contract.

This morning the Kokosing Construction Company kept lanes closed on I-480 near Granger Road beyond the permitted time, causing long delays for motorists. ODOT will firmly address this incident with the contractor. At this time, the fines for this morning’s infraction have not been calculated.

In order to ensure construction companies are not making these business decisions at the expense of the time and safety of the travelling public, ODOT is rolling out statewide contract standards with stiffer disincentives for contractors who keep travel lanes closed longer than allowed.

The disincentive formula, which will be applied statewide and written into new contracts moving forward, will calculate fees for each stretch of highway under construction based on the route’s traffic volume (both passenger vehicles and trucks) and the number of lanes in each direction. Higher-volume routes, such as urban interstates, will carry higher disincentives in order to ensure construction companies are not creating countless hours of travel delay in order to save money on projects. The formula will be adjusted regularly for inflation.
Increased penalties sounds nice in theory, and ODOT announced today it had come up with a number for Kokosing — $12,000. Which doesn't sound like the amount of dollars that would serve as a real deterrent.

For comparison sake, according to the Ohio Checkbook, the state paid Kokosing, annually one of the three or four biggest recipients of contracting work in the state, $245,412,251.96 in 2017.

So, yeah, we imagine things might not change.

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Jim Renacci Didn't Pay for Campaign Flights on Cleveland Strip-Club Owner's Plane

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 1:42 PM

  • Scene Archives

A few weeks back, news emerged that Jim Renacci had hired Don Ksiezyk, former Cleveland strip-club owner, as his personal pilot to fly him around the state on his campaign trail.

The Columbus Dispatch reported in September that Renacci supposedly paid a total of about $2,500 between January and June for the trips according to campaign-finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

As it turns out, Renacci hasn't properly paid for these flights.

A review from Associated Press identified nearly a dozen instances of Ksiezyk flying Renacci to gubernatorial campaign events before he dropped out for the Senate race where the candidate didn't reimburse him for travel costs.

Renacci spokeswoman, Leslie Shedd, told The Tribune that Renacci did pay for fuel and maintenance costs, but campaign finance experts said the value of travel itself — estimated at $2,500 an hour based on current rates — must be reported separately.

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