Ed Hauser needed no introduction in Cleveland's government circles. The tireless kayaker-activist, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack last November at 47, fought for decades against anything that smacked of establishment collusion — especially if it had anything to do with the riverfront, particularly Whiskey Island. City and county leaders were leery of his due diligence, but came out, one after the other upon his death, to praise it.
"Ed was somebody who certainly spoke what he believed in," said Ward 17 Councilman Matt Zone. "He never minced words. You always knew where you stood with him."
So why not give the guy a street? And what better street than Whiskey Island Drive, the road that traverses the peninsula he fought so hard, and successfully, to preserve for future generations?
For a decade, as founder of Friends of Whiskey Island, Hauser rallied in support of saving the verdant Wendy Park portion of the peninsula for public use: the marina, the volleyball courts, the restaurant. Hauser became known as Mayor of Whiskey Island. Zone proposed last week, and on Monday council approved, a new name for the drive. At first, it was Ed Hauser Street, but Zone thought best to call it Ed Hauser Way, "because he finally had his way."
Mayor Frank Jackson and several others city leaders are expected to join Hauser's family and friends at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2, to dedicate the new street. Stick around afterward to enjoy the view. Ed would have loved that. — Dan Harkins
MSB MINUS MS?
Michael Stanley Band alumnus and co-founder Jonah Koslen and friends have assembled a show called Stage Pass Now that's an expanded, complete recreation of the MSB double-live album Stage Pass. They're playing the two-hour show at the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood) Saturday, April 18, and at the Tangier (532 W. Market St., Akron) Saturday, April 25th.
It's one of the Michael Stanley Band's signature records, though its title player won't be onstage. The Stage Pass Now lineup comprises Northeast Ohio veterans Donny Thompson (Easy Street Band), Bill March (Beau Coup and Koslen's Heroes), Rik Williger (the Short Circuits) and Van Eidom (Taxi, ESB).
"I told Michael what I intended to do, and he liked it," says Koslen, the lead guitarist who co-wrote and performed many classics with the bandleader from 1974-77. Koslen says he didn't ask Stanley to participate, because Stanley didn't seem interested in revisiting past glories. "He was more interested in [playing] his new material."
Koslen says the two remain close friends. The guitarist performed two songs with Stanley's Resonators at the Tangier last month. And Stanley's label, Line Level, has issued Koslen's last two releases.
The band will recreate the arrangements from the record, plus songs from the era. An expanded acoustic segment will include four extra tunes: "Ladies' Choice," "Blue Jean Boy," "Gypsy Eyes" and "Among My Friends Again."
Culled from four October 1976 sets at the old Agora Ballroom on E. 24th Street. Stage Pass was released by Epic in 1977. "It shows how great the band was," says Koslen. "It's a recording that holds together as a whole piece of music. I think it could be pointed to as a milestone in Cleveland music. I'm told all the time by people that it's their favorite live album." — D.X. Ferris
WNCX listeners were surprised to find a new addition to the morning show lineup Monday, April 6: Cleveland comedian Jeff Blanchard was the show's new co-host. His inaugural broadcast and its accompanying press release failed to mention that Blanchard had replaced Mike Olszewski, a 32-year broadcasting veteran with a textured old-school radio voice and a head full of rock history.
Olszewski looked fine at the Rock Hall induction Saturday, April 4, despite getting some bad news the day before. "People we saying, 'Are you still with 'NCX?'"crecalls Olszewski. "I said, 'well, as of yesterday ...'"
Olszewski had been with the station for three years, since it introduced the Mud, Mihalek and Mike lineup. The trio arrived after David Lee Roth tanked as Howard Stern's successor. Mudd was cut in July 2008. Mihalek followed in December. Olszewski says he asked to be released from his contract twice in the last year, but the station had refused. Five months later, things changed.
In the fall 2008 Arbitron ratings, the classic-rock morning show ranked ninth in the morning-drive slot, but was the second-ranked rock station, with a 4.2 share, behind WMMS's 4.5. (The 4.2 was identical to the station's ratings from fall '07 and had since bounced to 4.1 and 4.5.) 'NCX ranks No. 3 middays and No. 5 afternoons.
"They said 'We're just going to make some changes,'" says Olszewski. "I don't have any bad feelings. You go into it understanding that this is how it is, knowing that no job is ever 100 percent secure. Audiences come and go, and it's never personal."
He started off as a WERE intern in 1977, DJ'ed at 'MMS from 1988-94 and switched to TV in '94, reporting for WOIO and WUAB. He says he may return to broadcasting if the right opportunity arrives. But for now, he's concentrating on dual careers as an author and Kent State adjunct professor.
Olszewski, who has written a book about WMMS' long history and collaborated on a Donnie Iris documentary, has two new books ready. He and wife Janice teamed for TV Days, a look at Cleveland TV from the 1940s through the '80s. He and Richard Berg co-authored WIXY: The Story of Pixies, Six-Packs and Supermen, which looks at the Top 40 AM station that dominated Cleveland radio through from the mid-'60s through the mid-'70s.
"Right now, the academic career is a lot more inviting," says Olszewski, "and I don't have to get up at 2:30 in the morning." — Ferris
NO DEAL, SO PLAIN ARBITRATION?
The Plain Dealer's editorial labor union, the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild Local 1, has filed three grievances against the paper. If a settlement is not reached this week, the matter could go to arbitration. "Our positions appear to be unresolvable," says newspaper guild executive secretary Rollie Dreussi.
In the first and biggest issue, the union claims that the December layoffs of 27 editorial staff included senior employees who should have been protected by the labor contract. "We don't feel seniority was taken into account at all," says Dreussi. PD management did not respond to Scene's request for comment.
Another point claims that non-discrimination language about age was not followed in determining which employees were let go. "Older and more experienced employees were laid off," says Dreussi. "So we're contending [the PD has] discriminated on the basis of age — and maybe union activity."
In another issue, the Guild says managers (mostly editors) are doing the work of laid-off employees and active union members — from copy editing to page design — in violation of the labor agreement. This complaint includes the creation of some online material. The union contract says online work belongs to union members. But the contract has some vague provisions that allow non-union employees — from freelancers to managers — to contribute to exclusively "online venues" such as blogs, podcasts or chatrooms.
In March, PD management cut non-union employees' pay and instituted mandatory 10-day furloughs. The cutbacks affect more than a third of PD employees. Management has not presented the Guild with similar concessions.
If the grievances are resolved in the union's favor, some of the jobs cut in December could be reinstated.
"We don't want to see anybody laid off or see other people kicked out the door," says Guild Union chair Harlan Spector. "My position is: We need to defend the contract. I'd like to see some people get their job back without costing some people their jobs. The fact is, there's not enough of us to do the work that's required." — Ferris
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BECK IN BLACK? NOT QUITE
The $100,000 worth of news Beck Center for the Arts got from the city of Lakewood Thursday will help the organization's long-term prospects, but does little to alleviate the Beck's short-term cash flow problem. This prompted CEO Cindy Einhouse to announce on March 31 that the center needed to raise $150,000 or face the possibility of closure at the end of April. The announcement came the same day the organization was late in meeting its payroll. Foundation and individual giving were both lagging at a perennially difficult time of year for the finances of an organization with a $2.3 million annual operating budget and no endowment.
The $100,000 news comes in two pieces. The first is $55,000 worth of federal stimulus money targeted at energy efficiency. Beck can't use it for operating costs like payroll, but it will help deal with inefficiencies that go with its aging physical plant, which includes four buildings and something like 17 different heating systems. But as far as covering that $150,000 short-term cash need, don't look here.
The remaining $45,000 is a little bit like that money you used to have in the stock market — out of sight, out of mind and vanishing — except that in the Beck's case, it was debt, rather than money in the bank. The center had loans from the city totaling $45,000, and the city forgave them. The reason this doesn't matter to the center's cash-flow situation is that it wasn't paying on the debt anyway, and no one expected it to. (The obligation had been renegotiated in 2000 with payments deferred until 2010, which sounds like it was living in fear of a big payment due next year. But in fact, the Beck was expecting to renegotiate the debt again, says Einhouse, and the city had never budgeted for the receipt of payment, according to Mayor Ed FitzGerald.)
But shuffling obligations, Einhouse says, will make Beck's balance sheets look better for potential donors. The organization will go back to foundations and other donors with the news, hoping the confidence that builds will inspire further donations to cover the still-unmet $87,000 need from the $150,000 announced earlier.
In exchange for the investment, the city gets to use the facility for some public events, and much more significantly, gets three seats on the organization's board of trustees. This is the first time in the organization's history that it's had official municipal representation on its board of trustees. Artistic Director Scott Spence said the city's board presence is not likely to have an impact on programming choices.
So, in brief: The biggest arts organization on the West Side and one of the region's most innovative theater programs got some good news, but it is still very far from out of the woods. It's still looking for donations to keep operating and carry it into the summer, a financially an easier time for it because of income from summer arts class tuitions and ticket sales for big musicals — in this case, a studio-theater production of the cult movie Evil Dead, opening May 8, and a main-stage production of the musical about the man-eating plant, Little Shop of Horrors, opening June 26. — Michael Gill