Last week Mrs. A, not Mr., was fined $2,900 by a Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court magistrate for the big-ass Bush-Cheney campaign sign in the yard of their Hudson home.
The four-by-eight-foot sign violated Hudson zoning laws. But instead of standing up, Arshinkoff let his wife take the hit. So how does he feel about getting the old ball and chain in trouble? Bad, he says, but he couldn't ask other people to put up signs if he didn't ask his wife.
Yeah, that explains it.
The missus won't actually have to pay the fine while the ACLU appeals her case. Arshinkoff thanked the organization for its help. "I too am a protector of the Bill of Rights," he announced, since nothing in that document precludes selling out your wife.
Denny's rising star
Though Congressman Dennis Kucinich managed to get about four votes for the Democratic presidential nomination, his stock on the national political scene has nonetheless soared. Last month, he was invited to that hotbed of civil rights, Montana -- where 2,752 black people reside in a state the size of Russia -- to speak at the Human Rights Network's Martin Luther King Jr. Day fund-raiser. Kucinich was apparently filling in because the group's first choice, a kid who sells costume jewelry at the mall, couldn't get anyone to cover his shift.
In fact, Kucinich's stock has risen so high that he's expected to be named grand marshal of Parma's annual Juneteenth Parade.
"Don't feed the bums"
You may soon see signs like this -- though with a bit more tact -- as part of the city's effort to eradicate panhandling downtown. The mayor's office is in talks with city council and homeless agencies to introduce an "aggressive solicitation" ordinance. A draft of the ordinance bans "aggressive" panhandling in public areas and prohibits even friendly panhandling near ATM machines, bus stops, outdoor restaurants, pay phones, and the like. Violators would be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor for a first offense and subject to possible fines and jail time.
But Brian Davis, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, says other cities have done much the same, only to discover their impotence in the face of a superior foe.
Columbus enacted an almost identical statute, but had to introduce a stricter ordinance last year because the old one wasn't working. Dayton requires panhandlers to apply for a license and wear it in a five-by-six-inch frame in plain view. The city also considered scarlet letters and yellow Stars of David, but dropped these ideas because of their lack of originality.
"They're businesspeople," says Davis of the panhandlers. "They know what the government regulations are, and they go up to the line and don't cross it. You move the line, and they'll do something that's just as annoying."
Mad scientist breaks pact
Dr. Ian Wilmut is the guy who cloned Dolly the sheep in 1997. Last week, the British granted Wilmut a license to begin cloning human embryos. This comes as a surprise to Kent State students who witnessed his speech at the university in 1999.
At the time, Wilmut maintained he had no plans to clone humans. During the Q&A, one student asked him directly if he thought cloning humans was ethical. "Luckily, that situation would never arise," said Wilmut. "Therefore, I don't have to answer that."
The good doctor now defends his change of mind, saying the benefits far outweigh any fears that we may inadvertently create the Antichrist or some other soulless harbinger of doom. His work with cloned embryos could lead to a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease. Besides, the embryos are destroyed after experimentation.
Or so the Germans would have us believe.
Those cute little goyim
Punch doesn't want to be a yenta, but what's up with the Rock Hall's meshugana suit against the Jewish Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for trademark infringement? Listening to the museum's lawyers is causing us tsuris.
"It's a well-known trademark principle that putting your name in front of another name is a trademark infringement, like you can't call something a Jewish McDonald's because then people would think it is McDonald's that is kosher," says Regan Fay, the hall's goyisha lawyer. "It would be like saying the Jewish Oscars or the Jewish Football Hall of Fame."
Oy. And the problem is . . .?
Hate mail of the week
"Your editor should be shamed for using the cutline 'village idiot' beneath a picture of President Bush. He is our president; whether you like him or not, he should be shown the respect that goes with the office. Insulting him puts you in a class with Michael Moore, Ted Rall, George Soros, and such is not a class that any person of intelligence should want to be within. I know right now that you do not care, but I will no longer be reading your publication."
A not so gallant fight
Hudson Hub-Times reporter Jennifer Reece was a bit trigger-happy when she wrote a front-page story about prominent lawyer Dean Hoover being convicted of zoning-code and public-nuisance violations on the same day he was appointed to the city's planning commission. The charges stemmed from a nasty tiff between Hoover and the city in 2002 over work being done to his law office. In Hudson, a scandal like this makes the Nate Gray corruption case look like bingo night at the nursing home.
But Reece overlooked the fact that the building in violation is owned by a company in Hoover's wife's name, which is legalese for "my ass is safe." Technically, the convictions were levied on the company, not Hoover. So the paper issued a retraction as soon as the mistake was discovered. Still, Hoover thinks he was intentionally maligned and has sued for libel.
He says he was "shocked and embarrassed" when he saw the article, which is legalese for "cha-ching!"
"I have little choice," he says. "I'm a lawyer, and this newspaper has accused me of being a criminal. I cannot ignore the situation."
Finally, an honest lawyer.