Sheriff Gerald "Nothin' to See Here" McFaul, for three decades the top cop in Cuyahoga County, is under the gun himself these days, with accusations of nepotism and work-time politicking by employees. And then a chance at PR redemption fell into his lap: The Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker human- rights group, sent McFaul a letter last week asking him to follow the lead of a handful of sheriffs across the land and stop evicting people from foreclosed homes until help arrives.
So there you go, Sheriff McFaul: a chance to shine, if only like a shooting star, here in crater-wracked Cleveland. Sheriff Tom J. Dart in Chicago's Cook County - joining the ranks of sheriffs as far afield as California and as close as Pennsylvania and Michigan - said to The New York Times that "law enforcement officers in Chicago will not evict residents from foreclosed properties."
Even Ohio has gotten some higher-ups on board, the letter noted. Sheriff Richard Jones of Butler County halted evictions and wrote Gov. Strickland about stopping the madness at least in the winter months, and U.S. Rep. Marci Kaptur of Toledo was quoted as saying, "Facing foreclosure? Don't leave. Squat."
The AFSC urges McFaul to take the "prophetic step" along with his contemporaries.
"We're trying to appeal to his conscience here by doing what's good for people and the economy," says Greg Coleridge, the Northeast Ohio AFSC's director of economic justice and empowerment. "This could be a way for him to look good and score some popularity points. But he should do this regardless of that, not just to save families, but communities."
Besides, he adds, this could also reduce the anxiety of deputies tasked with throwing the hammer down.
Sheriff Drew Alexander of Summit County got the same letter, and he's already been heard on Akron talk radio saying that his hands are tied by the law he's obliged to enforce. At least he's given it some thought. McFaul has not responded to the AFSC or to Scene's requests for comment. (A secretary snickered a little when we asked if he'd be in soon.)
County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, a strong voice for preemptive tactics in fighting the foreclosure crisis, likes the idea: "Desperate times call for desperate measures - and these are desperate times. Given the fact that we know that relief is coming [in a plan President Obama was expected to roll out this week] … I mean, how would you like being the last guy evicted right before they gave the relief that would have saved you?" - Dan Harkins
BIG NIGHT FOR LITTLE ANTHONY
Little Anthony and the Imperials were booked to play a Valentine's Day concert for military veterans at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum before it was announced they'd be inducted. So when it turned out they actually made the cut and would be among the five acts enshrined on April 4, the Rock Hall quickly scheduled a Q&A session for the afternoon of February 13.
A surprisingly full house showed up to hear Director of Education Jason Hanley interview Little Anthony Gourdine and three of his band mates (Clarence Collins, Ernest Wright and Harold Jenkins), playing samples of the R&B group's hits ("Goin' Out of My Head," "Tears on my Pillow") during the course of the 90-minute conversation. The interview touched upon the band's friendship with Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay), its appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and its connection to DJ Alan Freed (who gave frontman Gourdine his nickname).
"It was weird, sitting there listening to our music," said Anthony afterward, speaking in the Rock Hall's green room.
"I like that kind of stuff," said Collins. "It was like a history lesson on Little Anthony and the Imperials. That's incredible. They started from day one in 1958 up to today. It was like going to a class, and I had fun today doing that. It was a fun, fun situation."
Anthony said he sees his induction as his chance to make a distinction between R&B and doo-wop, and to point out that his band had nothing to do with the latter.
"When we came out it was called rhythm and blues," he says. "There was no such thing as doo-wop back then. Since we're from New York City, we got lumped in with it. They just threw us in a pot and no one bothered to see what the ingredients were. They were determined to put us in a little box. Now, I have the opportunity to talk about it."
And you can bet he'll have more to say about that matter come April 4.
- Jeff Niesel