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Family Values

The 11th Commandment: Republicans shalt not adopt.

If a bill proposed last week by Senator Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) passes, Republicans in Ohio will be barred from adopting children.

If it sounds like a joke, it's meant to be, but Hagan went so far as to ask fellow senators to co-sponsor it. "I'm serious enough that I ran it through the process," he says.

The stunt is a response to Republican legislation that seeks to ban gays from adopting, an idea Hagan calls "homophobic and immature."

The decision to target gays is particularly weird given that the state has 2,784 children awaiting adoption and another 19,430 in foster care, Hagan says. "I have no empirical or scientific evidence that Republicans are less able to raise a child, just as they have no scientific evidence that gays are less able to raise a child."

In response, Governor Bob Taft's daughter Anna is petitioning the Senate to expand the bill's scope to include biological children.

God and cars
The state of Ohio may be losing millions in bogus investment schemes, hemorrhaging jobs by the minute, and watching its schools fall into chaos, but at least we have God on our side.

Last year, a group called Moms for Ohio led a petition drive to create a specialty license place that reads "One Nation Under God." It was the moms' way of saying they wanted to keep the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance. Plus, they worried that people who missed the final score of the Civil War might still believe we were Two Nations Under God.

Since it didn't involve much work -- the essential ingredient to a good idea -- lawmakers were happy to oblige. Democratic state senators C.J. Prentiss and Eric Fingerhut were among the many co-sponsors of the bill, which was introduced by North Royalton Republican Robert Spada. Apparently, sucking up to religious exhibitionists is a bipartisan endeavor. The new plates went on sale last week.

"We are very grateful to live in a state where, despite the many challenges we face, our elected leaders are willing to take the time to stand up for the traditions and values that so many of us treasure," reads a press release from the moms.

Sammy Pulitzer
With Connie Schultz on leave, perhaps indefinitely, The Plain Dealer's Pulitzer hopes now rest squarely on the shoulders of columnist Sam Fulwood III.

Within the friendly confines of the paper's Superior Avenue HQ, this is a scary proposition, not unlike pinning the Tribe's playoff hopes on Rafael Betancourt.

So in a recent shakeup of local news coverage, editors cut Fulwood from three columns a week to two, hoping that it would either cause a 33 percent reduction in sucking, or at least get Fulwood to leave his house on occasion.

Needless to say, Sammy Pulitzer has stepped up. Judges referred to a recent column, in which Fulwood declared that "Hate messages deserve disdain," as a "brave throw-down to the many who believe hate messages merely deserve our bemused disgust." They also praised a column about his daughter's departure to college as a "tour de force on remedial parenting concepts."

Perhaps worried about revealing trade secrets, the master would only provide Punch with a terse "no comment." But editors are considering reducing his column to once a week in hopes of giving him time to dust the shelf where his Pulitzer will reside.

CSI: Columbus
It's no wonder Jim Petro wants to be governor. Being attorney general's tough when you actually have to, like, do stuff.

After years of sitting on his ass -- What? Nobody showed me a job description -- bad publicity has forced The Laziest Man in Law Enforcement™ to actually behave like an attorney general.

He fought to close the International Preparatory School, but only after Scene started a media storm about how the charter school had been looting the state for millions a year ("Dream Killer," July 27, 2005). His crowning achievement was freeing convicted murderer Clarence Elkins from prison. He was only seven years late on that one.

Now Petro is proudly announcing the "thaw"-ing of another unsolved murder.

Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, in charge of producing headlines for Petro, linked DNA in the 1999 rape and murder of Akron's Rhonda Jones to family friend Bouchard Kindall.

But due to the fact that Petro only discovered real work a few months ago, Jones' family will never know the motive. Kindall was shot to death outside an Akron bar last summer.

If it's any consolation, they can at least be sure of Petro's motives. With the FBI probing claims that he sold state law contracts like stereos at a chop shop, be assured that between now and the election, there will be more semen tested at the BCI lab than on The Montel Williams Show.

Snowjob
The Better Business Bureau has released its list of Cleveland's Top 10 asshole businesses, as defined by their number of unresolved customer complaints in 2005. Among the winners were Kronheims Furniture, which gimped through an extended going-out-of-business sale at its numerous locations, and major players such as OfficeMax and Electrolux, whose sheer volume assures them of annual recognition.

But the top prize for customer disregard goes to Heights Snowplowing of Highland Heights. Danny Nero's company managed to rack up the area's second-highest number of unanswered complaints, without the benefit of even an internet presence.

"They flat-out took money from people and didn't show up to do the work," says David Weiss, president of the Cleveland bureau. "He hasn't responded to a single complaint. That is an enviable record."

Nero also doesn't respond to praise: Punch's calls to inform him of his prize went unreturned.

Math, anyone?
No one expects Cleveland school officials to be good with numbers -- especially when they can't make them up.

Last fall, Scene requested a list of all the retired administrators and teachers who had been rehired by the district. The goal was to find out how many people were enjoying the benefits of both a salary and pension ("Golden Years," February 22). Even with a five-person staff supposedly dedicated to media and community relations, it took the district a month and a half to produce a response.

"I don't have all this information at my fingertips," says communications chief Alan Seifullah. "There are some things, unfortunately, that take even longer than yours."

In the end, the list of 37 names wasn't even accurate. One listed teacher said she left the district a year ago, and at least three other retirees identified by the teacher's union didn't appear on the list.

It's nice to know our government's working efficiently.

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