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Pay Scales of Justice

A proposal to raise judges' wages . . . off the backs of crime victims.


If Ohio's judges were subject to the same job standards as the rest of us, salary reviews would be pretty ugly.

Cleveland attorneys frequently complain that Cuyahoga County judges are lazier than the night staff at Hollywood Video. "So many who do so little," says one lawyer. Even the state's highest court could use some extra job training. A New York Times investigation last year called out Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O'Donnell for voting in favor of his campaign contributors a shocking 91 percent of the time.

But this being Ohio, a track record of unfettered incompetence naturally entitles one to a raise. "Our judges are simply vastly underpaid," says state Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati).

Earlier this year, Seitz sponsored a bill to increase judicial salaries. Municipal judges, for instance, would go from $111,000 to $118,466. Seitz believes Ohio judges' pay should be on par with other states, which is sort of like arguing that the Burger King fryer boy should be paid as much as the chef at Ruth's Chris. And to pay for the raises, Seitz proposed dipping into the state fund for victims of violent crime, which pays up to $50,000 in benefits to families for things like burial expenses, lost wages, and bereavement counseling.

At a time when Cleveland's murder rate is on pace to beat the record currently held by Rwanda, you'd think that money might come in handy. Seitz was under the impression that the fund was running a surplus, but he naturally didn't bother to check, since speculating makes life so much easier.

Turns out the fund stands at $17 million, less than half of its 2005 level. "Current reports indicate there is a danger of running into the red," says Chris Davey, spokesman for Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Moyer, "which would be a bad thing, of course."

But Seitz still seems to be struggling with this whole money shortage concept. He says he's open to using money from a court technology fund, then using the victims' fund to reimburse that.

Problem solved . . . wait . . . huh?

Sweet gig, dude!
At an age when most young men are struggling to swear off Flabongos, 21-year-old Andy Winemiller has become the second-most-powerful guy in Lorain City Hall.

When Mayor John Romoser recently lost his reelection bid, he decided he didn't want to waste any more time searching for someone qualified to fill a vacant service and safety director post. So Romoser turned to the Heidelberg College junior, whose experience consists of a one-month internship in the mayor's office.

The job involves overseeing Lorain's police, plowing, animal control, and basically everything else that's really, really important. Though Winemiller still lives with his parents, he's believed to have permission to stay out late, should the job require it. "Fuck it," said Mayor Romoser of the appointment. "It's only Lorain."

Winemiller's salary will jump from $7.50 an hour to $7,500 a month.

A few good men
As you may have heard, Las Vegas is experiencing unprecedented population growth, spurred by a bustling technology industry and America's love for breakfast buffets. As a result, the city's police department is in the midst of a hiring frenzy. And it's hoping to find a fertile new market to hire those cops: Cleveland.

As you also may have heard, Cleveland is experiencing unprecedented population loss, spurred by a stable of leaders barely qualified to run a Sunoco. As a result, local law-enforcement agencies are hiring fewer officers and even cutting jobs.

Realizing that there's no hungrier organism alive than an out-of-work Irishman with a fondness for shooting things, cities across the country have identified Cleveland as a prime recruiting area. Dallas, Atlanta, and Corpus Christi all have administered police tests in Cleveland, says Steve Loomis, president of the patrolmen's union. Now it's Vegas' turn.

Recruiter Angela McClelland says the department will test applicants at Tri-C in late November. Anyone who passes will be flown to Vegas for more tests and — presuming they don't wind up passed out naked in the desert with an unconscious stripper named Porsche — they could be in Vegas' police academy by May.

Vegas cops, McClelland says, start at $47,500 a year — a few thousand more than Cleveland's. She confirms that the salary is not paid in $5 chips from Circus Circus, although she seems to agree that that would be pretty cool. Officers aren't bound by a residency requirement, which means they don't have to work second jobs at a laundromat to send their kids to Catholic school. They will also get to encounter a fascinating criminal element unknown to Cleveland: prostitutes with actual teeth.

"Where do I sign up?" Loomis asks.

Unfortunately, Vegas does require its officers to respond to 911 calls, which could be a deal-breaker for many of Cleveland's finest.

Honest, fair, everywhere
Last week, as maintenance workers were servicing a jet at Hopkins, they discovered an early Christmas present in the cargo hold: five kilos of cocaine. Drug-enforcement officials were notified. But because nobody came forward to claim the package, they chose not to announce the discovery, hoping it might help them bust the sneaky smuggler.

But somebody also had the bright idea to tip off our heroes at Channel 19, which splashed footage of the bust all over the airwaves. After all, nothing rocks the November sweeps like a few quick cuts of Bolivian flake.

News director Dan Salamone says the feds never explicitly told him not to do the story. "The feeling was that this was not going to interfere," he says.

But the DEA seems less than pleased with the plastic-hair crowd blowing its little secret. "I'm not going there," a spokesperson tells Punch.

In the meantime, anybody missing five bricks of blow should call the DEA and ask for the Lost & Found Department.

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