Scene & Heard

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Report: Uber-Like Contract Work Overrated

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 8:34 AM

  • Pixabay

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The nation is making progress toward full employment, according to recent data, but don't credit the so-called gig economy. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows the impact of tech companies such as Uber has been overrated.

Lawrence Mishel, a distinguished fellow with the Institute, said widely publicized hourly earnings for Uber drivers frequently leave out expenses the independent contractors have to cover, including more than 30 percent in fees the company takes off the top, health insurance premiums, and significant wear and tear on their vehicles.

"And they have to pay extra taxes for Social Security and Medicare that regular workers don't," he said, "and it turns out they get paid around $9.21 an hour. And that's in spite of the fact that half the Uber drivers actually have a college degree."

Uber drivers generate nearly $25 an hour in passenger fares, but Mishel said the company takes more than $8 of that upfront in fees. The standard mileage expense for gas and maintenance dings drivers for another $5 an hour, and after taxes and a bare-bones benefits package, drivers walk away with just over $9 an hour. Mishel said that's significantly lower than the $32 an hour on average that private-sector workers get, and it's also well below the $15 an hour earned by service-occupation workers.

A spokesperson for Uber said the report ignores the flexibility drivers say they value and cannot find in traditional jobs.

The report also suggested that the gig economy may not be the future of employment, a boast Mishel said platform-based companies frequently make. He said Uber, with more than 800,000 drivers in a given year, accounts for as much as two-thirds of the total gig economy. But drivers only work three months out of the year and 17 hours per week, on average. For most drivers, Mishel said, it's about earning supplementary income.

"So you can't have a future of work of things that supplement your main job," he said. "The future of work has to be people having their main jobs."

Mishel acknowledged that Uber has had a big impact on the transportation sector, but said it would be unwise to count on tech platforms to reverse the biggest challenges facing a majority of the nation's workers: wage stagnation over 40 years, and pay disparities for women and people of color.

The report is online at
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Westlake Teen Changes How We Discuss Inequalities of Gender and Sexuality With MVMENT Magazine

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 4:12 PM

"Bathroom Pass" by Hannah Hachamovitch - COURTESY OF MVMENT MAGAZINE
  • Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
  • "Bathroom Pass" by Hannah Hachamovitch

After the unfortunate tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, young Americans fought back and have started a revolution of teenage activism. But even before the March For Our Lives event took the country by storm, there was MVMENT.

Run by high schoolers and college students, and made specifically for students, MVMENT magazine works to engage readers with personal stories, opinion pieces, investigative journalism, photography, artwork and other media, so that people can become better-equipped in the fight against rape culture, gender inequality and sexuality discrimination.

Vinayak "Vinny" Kurup, an 18-year-old Westlake resident, is the editor-in-chief of MVMENT.

"Our goal is to empower people to share their personal experiences while simultaneously educating people on how to be better allies to combat the inequities that our society has normalized," Kurup tells Scene.

"We’ve Got Diverse Souls" by Reed Herring - COURTESY OF MVMENT MAGAZINE
  • Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
  • "We’ve Got Diverse Souls" by Reed Herring

Kurup attends a boarding school on the east coast, and was inspired to start the magazine in response to national news articles discussing campus assaults within boarding school communities.

"The personal privilege I have is that I am a male, I'm from a higher-income family, I attend a boarding school, and short of being white, I'm at the top of the privilege spectrum," Kurup says. "It's important for us to recognize that the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and women in general are marginalized voices that need to be normalized."

Victims of sexual assault come from all races, genders, sexual orientations, gender expressions, religions and socio-economic statuses. While many face risks of assault at higher capacities than others, MVMENT believes that the epidemic is impacting humanity at large.

"You hear a statistic like one in five women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault or rape by the time they finish undergrad, and that's a massive statistic," Kurup says. "If someone told me that one in five gallons of milk was not milk but rather something else, I'd never drink milk again in my life."

"Whenever we think about these issues, it's never localized. It's always 'somebody else on some other campus in some other place,' and it's treated like a distant problem despite the reality being the total opposite." says Kurup.

"I started to realize that I myself had unknowingly been a proponent of this culture. By remaining silent when someone was called 'gay' as an insult or congratulating a male friend for sleeping around, I was feeding into a culture that thrives in silence and festers due to ignorance. I knew a change needed to be made."

'Vulnerability' by Brooke Ripley - COURTESY OF MVMENT MAGAZINE
  • Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
  • 'Vulnerability' by Brooke Ripley

The MVMENT website holds its staff and readers accountable stating, "It is also very possible that the readers, contributors and editors of MVMENT have, at times, perpetuated rape culture. Examining your own role in perpetuating this culture is uncomfortable, but it is vital. We believe that without having these conversations and challenging ourselves, we are allowing this culture to thrive—not by malice, but by ignorance."

"There's Two of Me" by Reed Herring - COURTESY OF MVMENT MAGAZINE
  • Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
  • "There's Two of Me" by Reed Herring

Started in the summer of 2016, the online publication geared toward a generation that frequently consumes its news from Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, MVMENT is also completely coded by the students that run the magazine.

"We wanted to create something that was designed with the user in mind, the user being a high school or college student," says Kurup. "All of our issues are designed mobile first and are meant to look good on a phone. We spent a year working on the infrastructure to make sure this was something people could look at while they were walking around campus, on their commute or sitting in their room."

MVMENT is completely volunteer run, with staff and contributors from schools all over the country.

"Nobody that works with MVMENT gets paid, and there's a purity to what we do," says Kurup. "People participate because it's important to them and they believe in what we're doing. Sometimes people say it's the first time they've ever been given a chance to talk about their experiences, and we take that very seriously."

With two published issues and a third arriving on May 27, MVMENT is always looking for campus ambassadors to continue spreading the message and publication across the country as well as individuals looking to help in other areas.

If you or someone you know is a high-school or college aged student looking to get involved, you can email Vinny directly by clicking here.

To learn more about MVMENT and how to contribute, you can visit their website here. You can also like MVMENT on Facebook and Instagram for updates regarding future issues.
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Ohio Man Sentenced for Threatening Mass Shootings in Las Vegas

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 3:45 PM

Update: A Cuyahoga Falls man was sentenced today to 17 months in prison after sending texts late last year threatening a mass shooting event in Las Vegas. The texts, which he sent to his estranged wife not long after the historic Vegas mass shooting by Stephen Paddock that left 58 dead and 851 injured, were turned over by his wife to investigators.

Wei Li's lawyer said his client was depressed and acting out because his marriage was falling apart.

U.S District Judge Christopher Boyko responded by saying these threats, in these times, must be taken as serious ones, "especially in today's society because of all the carnage across the country."

As reported, Li will likely be deported after his sentence is completed — he came to the U.S. in 2012 to attend graduate school; his wife has filed for divorce — and Boyko said he would have handed out a stiffer sentence otherwise.


(Original story 11/16/17): Wei Li, a 28-year-old Cuyahoga Falls man, was arrested and charged in federal court with counts of interstate threatening communication and destruction of evidence in connection with texts he sent his estranged wife threatening "historic" mass shootings at the casino in Las Vegas where she worked and a local church, according to

FBI investigators say that Li sent the texts to his wife on Nov. 6, stating that if he didn't receive his green card, he would kill her and others. He included photos of himself holding weapons, including a rifle, and a list of Vegas casinos.

"There are 1,000 people in our church," he said in one message. "I will make the biggest in history."

The woman reported the messages to authorities and Li was interviewed last week. He copped to sending the texts but told investigators he wasn't serious, and that he didn't own a rifle — a gun he'd previously owned was stolen years ago, a claim that checked out. Li deleted all the messages during the interview before handing over his phone, then lied about deleting them before admitting he did because they were "bad."

He was arrested and booked into Summit County Jail before being transferred to federal court. His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday in Youngstown.
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Helen Hunt Has a Rockin' Start to Her Time Filming in Cleveland

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 2:58 PM

Helen Hunt may be busy making a movie in the Land, but that doesn't mean she's not making time to get to know the city.

Hunt first indicated she was in Ohio last week, tweeting a photo of watching the Riverdale season finale while on a lunch break from shooting her upcoming horror film, I See You. Hunt tweeted, "Oops ... Is that blood on my hand?," letting her followers know that this upcoming film will in fact be a "scarrrrry movie."
The Oscar winner seemed to enjoy her visit at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame over the weekend as well, posting on both her Twitter and Instagram accounts a photo of John Lennon's glasses, as well as a photo of her in front of the Hall of Fame, tweeting, "If you haven't seen it, get here!" 
Hunt's upcoming film, I See You, is a horrific thriller which stars Hunt as the wife of a lead investigator in a child abduction case whose husband (Jon Tenney) is struggling to forgive her infidelity. Meanwhile the couple's family is plagued by strange phenomena. The film is currently in production in Lakewood, Ohio.
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Look Out for Hot Air Balloons This Memorial Day Weekend in Chagrin Falls

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 2:40 PM

  • Photo via Wikimedia Commons
A Memorial Day Weekend tradition, the Blossom Time Festival illuminates Riverside Park with carnival rides and activities, along with the event we've all been looking forward to, the enchanting Chagrin Falls Balloon Glow.

Thursday at 8 p.m., watch as fire perks up nearly a dozen colorful balloons bringing a dazzling spectacle to the night sky above the Chagrin Falls High School grounds. The much-anticipated balloon launches and races continue the balloon fun both Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Then a Taste of Chagrin, featuring almost two dozen vendors and food trucks, takes over the city's Triangle most of Saturday, and a parade marching down East Washington Street is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

The free festival runs Thursday evening through Sunday night with special events each day. Be sure to check out the general schedule or the specialized Facebook events, including daily music lineups.

For a Balloon Glow preview, be sure to watch the video below:
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Man Now Charged With Felony in Beachwood Place Mall Shooting

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 12:45 PM

  • Scene Archives

Patrons of the Beachwood Place Mall were thrown into a whirlwind of terror on March 17, when a robbery and shooting took place in the parking lot of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Today, prosecutors have approached a grand jury with eight charges against Jamallee McKinley Jr. including aggravated robbery, felonious assault and weapons charges. According to court records, the prosecution is urging the judge to order McKinley to relinquish a .45-caliber Glock pistol and more than $8,500 in cash seized from his arrest.

McKinley also faces a separate charge for possessing a gun as a convicted felon from previous charges of drug possession and trafficking convictions.

According to the Beachwood police report, McKinley and another man drove a rental van to the valet parking line and had an altercation. McKinley's gun went off three times and struck the other man in the knee. What caused the altercation is unknown to the public, as is the source of the $8,500 confiscated upon arrest.

Cleveland makeup artist Angie Franklin was working at MAC next to the Saks Fifth Avenue when the shooting occurred.

"It was such a scary experience, I saw a crowd of people yelling and running into the mall toward our store," she tells Scene. "My coworkers and I rushed to the stockroom with our customers waiting for instructions from the police, it was terrifying."

This incident is unrelated to the second shooting less than a half hour later when Brandon Wood accidentally fired his gun inside the mall after attempting to obtain his car keys. A piece of shrapnel struck a 17-year-old-girl in the leg. Wood pleaded not guilty to his charges of inducing panic.

"That second shot was what really scared us because we thought someone was in custody already," says Franklin. "It's so wild to find out the second shot was unrelated to the first."

McKinley is set for a June 4 arraignment hearing in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
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Cleveland Cosmetic Company Macy and Mia Collaborates with WWE Superstar for New Makeup Line

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 12:24 PM

'Playtime is Over' Collection from Macy & Mia and Ashley Sebera - COURTESY OF MACY & MIA COSMETICS
  • Courtesy of Macy & Mia Cosmetics
  • 'Playtime is Over' Collection from Macy & Mia and Ashley Sebera

Cleveland stylist and makeup artist DJ Victory has been beautifying Northeast Ohio for many years out of Enzo's Salon & Spa in North Royalton, including her jaw-dropping signature extension color work. On June 1, Victory's own cosmetics line Macy & Mia releases a makeup collection called 'Playtime is Over' in collaboration with Seven Hills' Ashley Sebera, aka WWE Superstar Dana Brooke.

The cosmetics line features five products: the 'Determined to Glow' highlighter palette, 'Dana' lipgloss, 'DJ' lipgloss, 'Eyes on the Prize' 3D lashes, and a lush, waterproof mascara.

"When we sat down to create the products, colors, and names in the collection, we immediately thought of the word 'Strong,'" Victory tells Scene. "Having been through many obstacles in our lives, we wanted to really show the determination her and I both have and how much stronger we are today."

Having a friend like Ashley Sebera/Dana Brooke has allowed DJ Victory's Macy & Mia cosmetics line to appear on national television through WWE.

"I know that a few of the ladies really like my products and that makes me so happy," Victory says. "They probably wouldn’t know of my products if it weren’t for Ashley so I’m incredibly grateful for her introducing Macy & Mia to the Glam Squad and the ladies of the WWE."

Many of the Macy & Mia products are high-quality, affordable and cruelty-free. Named after DJ Victory's beloved pets, she donates 10 percent of all retail sales to Pay it Forward for Pets, a 100 percent non-profit organization focusing on animal rescue, pets for Vets, pets for senior citizens and humane education programs.

Most cosmetics companies are located on the West Coast, but Victory's Macy & Mia is located right here in Cleveland.

"It’s extremely difficult and extremely rewarding," she says. "This industry is very, very competitive and I’m a very tiny fish in a very large body of water. I have high hopes though."

'Playtime Is Over' will be available on the Macy & Mia's website June 1 at 9 a.m. EST.
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