Where politics is all wet:
Cuyahoga Falls won the 2002 Art Modell Award for City of the Year [December 25] for the shamelessness and depravity of its racial politics. Yee-haw!
Pete Kotz has moved to the head of the class, hilariously shining the spotlight on this racist burg ("a little slice of Mississippi right here in Ohio"). Mark Poutenis's illustration of Caucasian Falls Mayor Don Leroy (his real middle name) Robart in a Ku Klux Klan robe probably has that city's legal defense team brown-bagging their pantaloons, because a low-income lawsuit filed against the Falls ["Unpleasant Meadows," October 30] is being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yikes. More bad news for the Trent Lott of Northeast Ohio. Hey, Mayor Robart, can you say "Clarence Thomas"?
James C. Berres
Lerner deserved better than this:
I just finished reading Kevin Hoffman's one-sided slam of MBNA and Mr. Lerner ["Lerner's Legacy," December 18]. He's entitled to his opinions. However, Scene should be embarrassed to have published this trash full of half-truths.
MBNA does offer credit lines up to $100,000, but those are very few. Had the student mentioned in the article actually been issued a $100,000 credit line, it would have made for a much more powerful statement. MBNA has financial specialists whose only responsibility is to travel to college campuses, educating students on financial responsibility and teaching grad assistants to do the same, so that colleges can set up their own classes. Sounds very responsible to me.
Then there was the part about MBNA being evil because they try to get people into debt. That makes about as much sense as Buddy being bad for trying to convince people to buy more carpet. MBNA is in the business of lending money. If it loans out more than a person can afford to pay back, MBNA loses, because it doesn't get repaid. Capitol One (mentioned in the article) has been a sub-prime lender, meaning it lends money to people who have had credit problems in the past. These credit lines are often secured or can be as low as $200 when unsecured. Oops, another oversight?
Then there are the politics. Whether good or bad, most industries, charities, and municipalities have lobbyists. I can't remember the last time I supported a candidate whose platform I didn't agree with, so why should a corporation be expected to?
Last, there is the legacy. MBNA strongly supports many projects in the community, with millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours. This is what Mr. Lerner was all about and, unlike Kevin Hoffman, I'm one person who is very flattered to be dealing with this company.
Throwing money toward social change:
David Martin's article on the Gund Foundation ["Where's the Love?," January 8] accurately captured the essence of the Gund outlook. He only missed one area: The Gund Foundation has a national reputation as one of the few large national foundations that will risk funds on projects that promote challenges to inequality. Many foundations will support initiatives to improve the lives of people on the margins. But few will support efforts to change the social conditions that produce too many people unprepared to participate in the mainstream economy.
As the Gund Foundation changes leadership, many people are watching to see if the willingness to shake up the existing political leadership will continue. Cleveland will lose one of its claims to moral authenticity if the Gund Foundation steps back in its support of cutting-edge advocacy.
Your top source for tax abatements:
David Martin's piece about the Gund Foundation's supposed generosity makes me wonder whether one of the Gunds' token $5,000 handouts made its way into Mr. Martin's pockets for writing such pandering drivel.
Most who follow Cleveland's well-to-do financiers will recall that the Gunds are wealthy. By my calculation, the reported $384 million in donations over the 50-year existence of the Gund Foundation averages $7.8 million per year -- an admirable amount, but a pittance for a family whose net wealth is in the billions. And, no doubt, the losing Cavaliers appear somewhere as a write-off on an IRS form.
Others may recall how much was given to the Gunds to get the Cavs "back downtown." Parking lots, a sweetheart lease deal -- all paid for by taxpayers. I question whether my bank would pay for my bathroom floor tile and car repairs the way the Gateway Corporation (read: taxpayers) pays for the Gund's Zamboni and suite "repairs." Somehow I doubt that I could keep using my house without ever paying for it.
I guess that not only does it pay to be rich, but you are also entitled to flattery and sympathy for not doing enough.
Jeremy L. Hersey
Robertson's "Operation Blessing" is a joke:
I've always been a fan of Tom Tomorrow, but I have a complaint about this week's cartoon [January 8]. The first three panels, featuring Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Osama bin Laden, were pretty accurate. But the last panel should have read, "Let's send Pat $500,000 in faith-based-initiative money, with an option for another $2 million later on."
Sad but true. The Thief-in-Chief granted half a million to "Operation Blessing," Robertson's supposed charity. Robertson's own pilots said in an interview with the Virginia-Pilot newspaper that almost all flights were dedicated to his African diamond-mining venture. He also left the door open for another $2 million grant. This for a huckster who swindles little old ladies out of their Social Security checks, but helps conduct smear campaigns for the Nazi Religious Right.
Talent searches should start at home:
After reading "A Midwinter's White Dream" [January 8], I must say that both parties have a point in the situation involving African American talent at the Cleveland Play House.
As an African American actor who has performed at the Play House, I have always found it disturbing that the Play House looks out of town first for equity talent and casts Cleveland talent only as extras. However, I think Laura Putre went to the wrong person to address this "problem." She went to the one individual who has not actively performed in years, namely Al Kirk.
There's more validity to Rasheryl McCreary's statements, because she is actively onstage and has endured the typecasting and lack of vision that some traditional theaters have. When it comes to casting, the Play House does leave out segments of black talent in Cleveland, but at the same time it is a professional theater and can't spoon-feed every actor in town. I do wish the Play House would look at home first, because there is talent among minorities in Cleveland. To say that they are being shafted is an understatement.
Hackett's a hack:
I just read Laura Putre's "A Midwinter's White Dream," and I'm very upset. I've been in show business for more than 40 years as a personal manager, motion picture producer, and screenwriter, as well as a literary writer.
Peter Hackett's arrogance is insufferable. His response is old, elitist, and racist. That's why I've boycotted the Cleveland Play House for years. Believe me, I've seen a lot of terrific theater, and the Play House was never at the top. His opinion of the Play House is wildly inflated.
As for Chuck Patterson, he's a sellout. He says that, as far as "talented and experienced" black actors are concerned, he's found slim pickings in Cleveland, which is why he casts most major roles in New York. He evidently knows nothing about the talent pool in Cleveland -- like Laura Greene, Halle Berry, Antwone Fisher, etc.
The Play House was an old white person's club 40 years ago, and it still is today. It will never be vital and relevant, as long as it has its present leadership and philosophy.
Al Kirk's suggestion to take one of the four Play House theaters and devote it to minority productions would be an excellent starting point for change. Maybe then, instead of 20 percent black patrons, you could shoot for 40-50 percent. After all, that's the percentage of African Americans in Cleveland.