Scene & Heard

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rally Planned Against CSU President's 'Free Speech' Statement Regarding LGBTQ Suicide Fliers

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 4:10 PM

Last Thursday, a series of anti-LGBTQ fliers appeared on the Cleveland State University campus. The bills depicted a person hanging from a noose, surrounded by low-end statistics of LGBT suicide rates. At the top of the fliers: "Follow your fellow faggots."

That same day, the school opened its new LGBT Center, which will provide access to information and services for students. (October is also LGBTQ History Month.)

The general reaction was disgust, of course, but the administration chose to go a different route with its public statement. With President Ron Berkman at the helm, the school decided to insert a First Amendment clause into its official statement. "CSU also is committed to upholding the First Amendment, even with regard to controversial issues where opinion is divided. We will continue to protect free speech to ensure all voices may be heard and to promoste (sic) a civil discourse where educational growth is the desired result."

Berkman later added a second public statement to the record, calling the fliers "reprehensible" and adding that "the current legal framework regarding free speech makes it difficult to prevent these messages from being disseminated."

Tomorrow, CSU students and members of greater Cleveland's LGBTQ population and its allies will gather for a rally on the campus. The event: "Let President Berkman Know: Hate Speech Isn't Free Speech." The rally is set for 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the university's courtyard (just north of Euclid Avenue between East 21st and East 24th).

"Telling people to kill themselves isn't a controversial opinion, it's violent hate speech," organizer Molly Stachnik wrote. "CSU students and the community will not be intimidated by these posters and certainly not accept going to school somewhere were are safety and well-being are not valued."

Berkman was scheduled to meet with students this afternoon on the matter. WKYC has video of the forum here. Berkman is set to retire next summer.

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Xhibition Debuts Its Own Adidas Boot at Exclusive MOCA Event Tomorrow Night

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 3:03 PM

Xhibition, the sneaker, lifestyle and apparel store on West 25th in Ohio City, launches its own Adidas boot Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Museum of Contemporary Art at University Circle.

Xhibition is one of about 50 stores around the country that is part of the Adidas Consortium group, meaning they get the most exclusive Adidas sneaker releases. And many Adidas Consortium stores have gotten to collaborate with Adidas on their own shoe — like the Ultra Boost Mid Aspen from Brooklyn-based Kith, the tie-dyed NMD from San Francisco-based shop Nice Kicks and the EQT Support from the Berlin, Germany shop OVERKILL — and now it's the Cleveland store's turn.

Thanks to Cleveland's cold weather, Adidas wanted to make a shoe that represented the harsh city winters and teamed up with Xhibition to come out with a boot, the XHIBITION x Adidas Consortium Terrex Tracefinder.

The boot, which is gray and black with magenta or black laces is made of a boiled wool upper and suede and has Adidas signature Boost technology.

The MOCA event, running from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., includes a rock climbing wall. And sneakerheads that make it to the top of the wall will receive a free, limited edition Adidas x Xhibition T-shirt. The boot will also be available in a limited capacity for purchase that night before releasing on Saturday morning.

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In Honor of Gabrielle Union Moving to Cleveland, Michael Symon Serves Up Some Mabel's on the Tonight Show

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 2:03 PM

Last week on The Tonight Show, Gabrielle Union confirmed that she and husband Dwayne Wade are "in Cleveland."

Referencing the The Color Purple, Union explained, "Yes, Nettie and Celie have been reunited, and they are happy," of her hubby and his best friend LeBron James playing on the same basketball team again.

And while the Being Mary Jane actress and also producer was technically on Jimmy Fallon's show to tout her new collection of essays, We're Going to Need More Wine, Chef Michael Symon surprised Union with a tray of Mabel's Cleveland barbecue in honor of her new home.

Union appeared pleased to see Symon, saying that he'd called the Cavs move last time she was on his show, The Chew.

Watch the three stars crack open some Cleveland beers and gorge on BBQ right here:

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Comcast, Koch Brothers, Microsoft and Other Corporations Secretly Funded RNC Activities Last Year

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 1:41 PM

Conceptual designs for the RNC cloakroom at Quicken Loans Arena. - MPDESIGN CO., JOE MINEO CREATIVE
  • MPDesign Co., Joe Mineo Creative
  • Conceptual designs for the RNC cloakroom at Quicken Loans Arena.
A roster of major corporations slid through the back door and quietly contributed to the 2016 Republican National Convention — at a time when those very companies were facing public pressure to distance themselves from the circus. Comcast Corp., Microsoft, Koch Companies Public Sector, Chevron, AT&T and others offered almost $1 million in sum to the short-lived Friends of the House 2016 LLC, which funded and operated a secret "plush hideaway" for legislators within Quicken Loans Arena during the RNC last year.

The paper trail was uncovered by the Center for Public Integrity and through the court docket of a lawsuit against Nautica Entertainment for tortious interference with the promotion of a Kid Rock show and other "charity" events at Jacobs Pavilion last summer. The LLC's bank records were attached to that suit as a court filing. (The Friends of the House 2016 LLC bank records have since been sealed, though the Center for Public Integrity worked quickly to obtain them prior to that court order.)

According to those records, the primary purpose of Friends of the House LLC was to design and outfit an "exclusive office, lounge and gathering space for Republican lawmakers" that was ultimately located on the practice court at the Q. (The space is referred to as a "cloakroom" in design records.) The legal structure of the LLC hid the sources of its funding, whereas donations to the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee Inc. would have ultimately landed in the records of the Federal Election Commission.

Friends of the House 2016 LLC gave $923,100 to the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee Inc., though by then its corporate sources were masked.

Comcast Corp. paid $200,000 to help arrange the discrete gathering space for lawmakers. (Comcast of course would benefit considerably from a favorable President Trump, who has in the past threatened to break up past Comcast mergers and block future mega-deals.)

Koch Companies Public Sector donated $100,000 to Friends of the House LLC, after the well heeled brothers made a big show of skipping the RNC and refusing to pour any money into it.

AT&T gave $100,000. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America gave $50,000. Quicken Loans gave $50,000. A full list of Friends of the House LLC contributors can be found here.

We spoke with reporter Carrie Levine today about how she mapped the network of court filings and bank records. At the Center for Public Integrity, her beat revolves around the role of money in politics; last year, she and colleague Dave Levinthal reported on the political opportunities presented by "charity" concerts held adjacent to national conventions. With big bucks propping up an exclusive Rick Springfield show, for instance, the access to policymakers and their staffers is direct and private. Much like the atmosphere inside a cloakroom at a political convention.

"In September [2016], when the Republican Host Committee released its report listing donors and contributors and expenditures, I did a story about the report," she says. (See that story here.) It was in that report that Levine first came across "Friends of the House LLC." She mentions the contribution at the end of the article:

Notably, many prominent GOP donors — including the Koch brothers — aren’t on the [host committee's donor] list.

The host committee received roughly $1.5 million from two limited liability companies created within the past year: Convention Services 2016, LLC, of Tennessee and Friends of the House 2016, LLC, of Virginia.

Agents for the two companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Anyone who covers money in politics is interested in limited liability companies," Levine says, "because the question is, 'Oh, well, I've never heard of this company. What is it?' Sometimes it's something that's been around for a long time or a business that's familiar to a lot of people, and sometimes it's something new. And then the question is, 'Well, where does this business get the money that is then going into politics?'"

From there, Levine began working on the LLC's origin. That led to the LLC's registrant, political fundraising consultant Jeffrey Livingston. Court records revealed that the LLC was "established to manage and raise funds for hospitality activities and events during the 2016 Republican National Convention.” (Livingston is well connected to House Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional reps.)

The story lines converged on the court docket of the Nautica Entertainment lawsuit, in which Livingston's Concerts for a Cause charity group was accused of running a scheme with the venue to bilk Blue Star Productions out of $1 million in event revenue. Bank records for Friends of the House LLC were entered into the docket for about a month before a judge ordered them sealed.

In that window of time, Levine secured the documents and drew the connections between the LLC, the corporate contributors and the RNC host committee's revenue report.

For the public, Levine's report is a worthy callback to the RNC. Last spring and summer, as Trump's campaign veered toward the violent and alarming, major corporations were encouraged to back away from the RNC — after years of routinely chipping in to support national political conventions. Voters were met with headlines like this: "Microsoft Will Not Donate Money to Republicans’ Convention." (Microsoft gave $100,000 to Friends of the House LLC.)

“The immediate effect is it looks like it hid certain donors to the convention,” Lawrence Noble told Levine. Noble is senior director and general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for campaign finance reform.

Again, read Levine's full story here.

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Here's a Guy Doing the Nazi Salute at the Beachwood Library

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 1:35 PM


According to the Beachwood police, a report made on Oct. 9 indicated a suspicious person at the city's library. "An unknown male was observed inside the library taking pictures of the building and patrons."

What he did on the way out was the more unnerving aspect of his visit, though. While heading toward the exit, he allegedly said "Heil Hitler" and made a Nazi salute. Beachwood, of course, is home to a sizable Jewish population. He then drove off.

"We are no longer looking for him," a Beachwood police spokesperson told Scene today. "He was identified and is not considered a threat."
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CSU President Sorry He Wasn't More Sorry In First Statement on Anti-LGBT Fliers on Campus

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 3:57 PM

  • Courtesy of
  • Berkman
Yesterday brought the debut of a new LGBT center on Cleveland State University's campus. It also brought an assortment of hateful anti-LGBT fliers to the school. CSU President Ron Berkman issued a statement on the incident last night. As many students, and some of the general public, noticed, Berkman spent about as much time extolling the virtues of free speech and the First Amendment as he did on confirming that the university is dedicated to inclusion. What was missing from that statement? Any outrage or pointed criticism of the fliers, which depicted erroneous (on the low end) suicide statistics for the LGBT community and urged others to "follow your fellow faggots."

It seems Berkman has heard those complaints, or maybe acknowledged the shortcomings on his own, because he issued a second statement today (in full below) calling the fliers "reprehensible" and announcing an opportunity tomorrow afternoon for anyone to discuss their concerns with him and his staff.  

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Tina Fey Co-Producing New Film About Kent State Shootings

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 2:24 PM

  • Wikimedia
The tragic Kent State University shooting of 1970 will once again get the Hollywood treatment with a new film 67 shots, co-produced by Tina Fey.

Jeff Richmond, Fey's husband who attended Kent State, is also producing. And Jay Roach, a producer on Fey's Sisters, was nabbed to helm the project.

Based on the non-fiction Howard Means book, 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence, the film will take a look at what led to the shooting of four student protesters by the Ohio National Guard.

Roach called the upcoming film a cautionary tale, in a recent interview with Deadline.

“There was a prevailing movement in the country – they measured it with polls – where the vast majority of Americans blamed the students for what happened,” Roach said. “We have footage of the people on the streets saying, ‘I wish they’d shot them all.’”

No word yet if the movie will actually be filmed at Kent State.
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