Sabra Pierce Scott is among the many Cleveland City Council members who incessantly yap about providing good work at union wages for city residents. But, naturally, this doesn't apply when she's doing the hiring.
Scott and her husband, Randell Scott, the city streets commissioner, are building a house at East 98th and South Boulevard. When Punch visited the site last week, we found an all-Amish crew at work. Forgive our cynicism, but we're pretty sure these guys aren't from the East Side or carrying union cards.
Randell assures us that the builder is black, but he won't say who he is, and he'd prefer that we quit asking questions. "He's black," says Randell. "I don't know where he's from. I was introduced to the gentleman, and that's it."
Randell insists that his wife has no input into the building of the home, though he may let her pick out the drapes. "I decided to do this," he says. "I decided the builder. This is purely on me. My wife and her politics have nothing to do with this."
Plus, says Randell, "He's black."
Debbie doesn't do Akron
Bad news, Akron. The days of public-access porn will soon come to an end.
The City Council has just signed off on new rules requiring that all public-access producers show proof of residency. Council also wants all programming to feature locals, meaning no more sex clips filmed outside the city.
Which, of course, is just plain mean, since nobody wants to watch people from Akron having sex.
For years, Councilman Michael Williams has tried to shut down Illmatic TV, a half-hour show featuring re-edited adult movies. Illmatic has aired for a decade, late at night on weekends. But Al Henderson, Illamtic's producer, lives in Canton. So Williams can finally rest easy come April 1, when the new rules take effect.
But the city appears to be attacking more than just porn. Anthony Hudson produces more than 20 shows for Time Warner public access. Most of them are politically-charged programs critical of local officials. On April 1, Time Warner will start charging $25 per tape, per week. For Hudson, a free public service has just become a $500-a-week hassle.
Hudson claims they're doing this to silence his opinion. Internal memos from Time Warner back up this claim.
An e-mail sent from local programming manager Tom Lukes to an employee named Avis Boyd recommended action against Hudson's programs, saying, "Once again, Mr. Hudson chooses to bad mouth Warner Cable to Warner Cable customers."
Fighting for bowling
Sometimes a councilwoman has to go to the mat for something she believes. For University Heights' Frankie Goldberg, the time is now. And the thing is . . . bowling?
The owners of Cedar Center Lanes plan to shut the place down in May. Marc Glassman Inc., which runs the alley, says the building will be torn down by developers revamping the strip mall. "They tore down Browns stadium, and the Browns had to leave," says Glassman official Glenn Rickon, employing the most depressing comparison he could dig up.
But officials at Coral Company, which is renovating the center, say they have no plans to touch the bowling alley. And Goldberg isn't going to let Glassman Inc. just shut it down without a fight.
"It's almost like an institution," she says, calling the alley a "multicultural place where people gather for good times." Punch wanted to remind her that we're talking about bowling, not baseball or bull-fighting, but she just wouldn't shut up about bowling.
"I have gotten phone calls from constituents who want to see bowling in the Heights," says Goldberg, who last rolled a 112 without the bumpers!
She now has the mayor on her side, and they plan to urge Glassman Inc. to keep the lanes open. If that doesn't work, which it won't, she says she'll find someone else to bring bowling to the Heights.
After that, who knows what's next for Councilwoman Goldberg? There has to be a Radio Shack shutting down somewhere.
Compliment of the week
"You guys report what the newspapers are afraid to report. You are the Channel 19 of newspapers."
-- Anonymous caller, in response to "A racist slice of whup-ass," First Punch, March 16. Scientists believe it was meant to be a compliment.
It's good to be Maag
It's not easy gaining entrance to Cleveland's most exclusive bars. All those velvet ropes are just impossible to get around. But one sly fellow has developed a guaranteed method of entry: pretending to be Scene writer Chris Maag.
The Maag wannabe apparently acquired a few Scene business cards, and has been coolly flashing them at bars around town. The man may have gotten away with his impersonation forever -- except he started demanding free drinks.
If this actually worked, Punch would be mooching shots as we speak. But club owners aren't particularly impressed by losers like us. So they complained to Scene management.
Publisher Ramon Larkin subsequently issued the following warning: "If someone comes into your joint claiming to be Maag, but does not order dainty fruit drinks or try to engage you in a tedious conversation about the Sub-Saharan agrarian policies, he is not Chris Maag. Please contact the nearest authorities."
A dead man can still dream
Major League Soccer officials recently named Cleveland among four cities vying for an expansion team that would start kicking around those funny balls in 2007.
Cleveland is competing with Seattle, San Antonio, and Houston. Columbus apparently dropped out when someone realized that they already had an MLS team.
The three other cities seem like formidable foes for Northeast Ohio, since their economies suck way less than ours. But Paul Garofolo, who's leading the Cleveland charge, says it shouldn't be a competition at all. He points to a letter of intent that Bert Wolstein signed with the league in 2003, after pledging to build a 25,000-seat stadium in Summit County.
Problem is, Wolstein died last May, leaving his family and Garofolo to bring (even more!) pro soccer to Northeast Ohio. Garofolo already runs the Cleveland Force, which sources say is an indoor soccer team.
Garofolo hopes the league will honor Wolstein's letter. He's negotiating with Summit County to buy 100 acres between the Turnpike and Interstate 271, and is exploring ways to raise public and private financing to build the $110 million stadium.
"They can decide what they're going to honor," Garofolo says of the league. "That's totally their call. I hope that they are sympathetic to what's happened."
Yes, that was William Shatner you saw in a commercial for Sesny Law Offices. Yes, we know it's freaking you out. No, he's not really a Cleveland lawyer.
Hudson attorney Tom Sesny recently hired a Boston-area ad agency to find a recognizable spokesperson for his law firm. Which means that somewhere in Massachusetts, there was a meeting where some tool pitched the idea of having Captain James Tiberius Kirk fish for injury claims in Ohio. Luckily, they shot the spots before Shatner won the Golden Globe for Boston Legal and his price (and self-respect) went up.
Now, the 30-second spots are airing on local stations, causing people to do a double take. After all, we've become used to those Friedman Domiano & Smith commercials where lawyers do their own terrible acting.
"People love it," says Sesny. "The first day it aired, I was getting calls asking, 'How did you get Captain Kirk?'"
Sesny claims to have a whole catalog of new Shatner commercials. None, however, will feature the Evil Kirk we saw in episode 39. "No evil Kirk," says Sesny. "I don't think he'd approve of that."
Judges gone wild
The Akron Mayor's Ball is usually a tame affair, where politicos and their yes-men munch stuffed artichoke hearts and raise money for the Summit County Democratic Party.
This year, it offered a chance to see judges gone wild.
One ballgoer witnessed an unidentified judge dancing to Salt 'n' Pepa's "Push It."
"That's scary," says bailiff Shauna Corder.
Organizer Christine Higham refused to verify claims of public figures poppin' it. "I wasn't in the room, so I can't verify or deny whether they did the Macarena or not," she says.
DJ Jeff Cox, who supplied the tunes, firmly denies it. "They did the Electric Slide, that's it," he says.
He also refused to discuss allegations of Mayor Plusquellic doing the Cabbage Patch. "Look, I didn't know anyone there except the organizer of the event and maybe the mayor. That's it. I don't want to talk about it."
But that's not what one witness says: "It was so weird. They were playing all this music from when we were in middle school, and these politicians were getting down to, like, Boyz II Men and stuff."