Best Advocate for Local Kids

Jim Lardie

With his white hair and round belly, Jim Lardie looks like Santa Claus, and he's been almost as generous to kids. For the past 30 years, he's run a nonprofit advocacy group called For the Children, which acts as a watchdog for the pathetic morons who pass as city school officials in our town. When Cleveland had a board overseeing how school construction money was spent, Lardie was a fixture at the meetings, demanding copies of public records. His thoughtful, straightforward ideas -- such as establishing a finance committee, so that school-board members can actually keep track of how they're spending our tax money -- earn him respect from board members and activists alike.