Officially, The Plain Dealer reports the news. Unofficially, publisher Terry Egger supplies the muscle for a mighty journalistic machine, able to influence policy in the Greater Cleveland area (or at least pretend to). By nearly all accounts, the source of that influence is his vast network of connected staffers.
Regina Brett, Columnist
Most recent previous job: Cashier at the Tinker Box in Ravenna
Connection: Married to PR man Bruce Hennes, whose clients sometimes find themselves featured in The Plain Dealer.
Little-known fact: Replaced Connie Schultz's Pulitzer with a chocolate replica months ago.
Laura DeMarco, Friday! Magazine editor
Most recent previous job: Cobre Verde groupie
Connection: Married to Arts & Entertainment reporter John Petkovic.
Little-known fact: Once killed a man just to watch him die.
Rachel Dissell, Juvenile courts reporter
Most recent previous job: Muckraking at the Daily Kent Stater
Connection: Married to freelance photojournalist Tim Harrison.
Little-known fact: Can still name all five New Kids on the Block.
Joe Frolik Editorial writer
Most recent previous job: Brent Larkin's valet
Connection: Married to Book Editor Karen Long.
Little-known fact: Sometimes flattens Kevin O'Brien's tires, then giggles quietly when O'Brien blames urban youth.
Pat Galbincea, Sports reporter
Most recent previous job: Little-league umpire
Connection: Married to general assignment reporter Barb Galbincea.
Little-known fact: Closeted Steelers fan.
Barbara Galbincea, General assignment reporter
Most recent previous job: Stock-car driver
Connection: Married to sports reporter Pat Galbincea.
Little-known fact: Co-workers not sure whether she realizes that she always stresses the first syllable of "assignment."
Tim Harrison, Freelance photojournalist
Most recent previous job: The Picture People at Chapel Hill Mall
Connection: Married his college sweetheart, Rachel Dissell.
Little-known fact: Dips his fries in Wendy's Frosties.
Michael Heaton, "Minister of Culture"
Most recent previous job: Masseur for the Rattlesnake Island Club
Connection: Son of venerable Plain Dealer sports writer Chuck Heaton.
Little-known fact: Shares grooming tips with Michael Stanley.
Karen Long, Book Editor
Most recent previous job: Part-time barista at Borders
Connection: Married to editorial writer Joe Frolik.
Little-known fact: Loves James Patterson.
Mike McIntyre, "Tipoff" columnist
Most recent previous job: Bowling alley pinsetter
Connection: Married to Metro Editor Elizabeth McIntyre.
Little-known fact: Always plays the inside straight.
Elizabeth McIntyre, Metro Editor
Most recent previous job: Comic-strip model
Connection: Married to "Tipoff" reporter Mike McIntyre.
Little-known fact: Secretly in love with Bill Engvall.
John Petkovic, Arts & Entertainment reporter
Most recent previous job: Geauga Lake swing choir
Connection: Married to his editor, Laura DeMarco.
Little-known fact: Most-listened-to iPod track: "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd
Karen Sandstrom, Arts & Entertainment reporter
Most recent previous job: K-tel Records rep
Connection: Married to freelancer Carlo Wolff.
Little-known fact: Bought original "Dogs Playing Poker" at a Christie's auction.
Connie Schultz, Columnist
Most recent previous job: Communist party organizer
Connection: Rumored to be romantically linked to Senator Sherrod Brown (she's often seen leaving his house early in the morning).
Little-known fact: Voted for Paul Hackett.
Chris Stephens, Staff photographer
Most recent previous job: Courtroom fingerpaint artist
Connection: Married to Scott Stephens, education reporter.
Little-known fact: Freaked out by the moving photos in Harry Potter movies.
Scott Stephens, Education reporter
Most recent previous job: Forensic plumber
Connection: Married to staff photographer Chris Stephens.
Little-known fact: Secretly believes some children really should be left behind.
Carlo Wolff, Freelance music critic
Most recent previous job: Roadie for Dink
Connection: Married to Arts & Entertainment reporter Karen Sandstrom.
Little-known fact: Reads The Five People You Meet in Heaven at least twice a year.
— James Renner
THE LOCAL DIRT: YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT PLAY
The Internal Revenue Service has implicated John Carroll, vice president of construction and facilities at Metro Health Medical Center, in what appears to be a contract-steering case. A hospital contractor, the East-West Construction Company, apparently gave him more than $60,000 in gifts. Here's a defense strategy, Carroll: Blame Metro for paying you so much - $195,000 a year - that 60 large in swag seemed trivial.
William Desveri, the chief building inspector for the city of Lorain, was arrested last Friday and charged with bribery and dereliction of duty, for allegedly issuing improper building permits. Until now, he has remained in office, despite the fact that he had failed to disclose prior felony convictions for fraud, forgery, theft and writing bad checks. Maybe the ability to think like a criminal isn't always an asset.Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed was sentenced to 10 days in jail on Thursday (for his November 2007 DUI, his second). Reed also received a 50-day suspended sentence, one year of probation and a $500 fine, and will lose his license for one year. Said Reed after sentencing, "I was blessed to not have killed anybody." Yes, Zack, it was you that the Almighty was looking out for that night. We don't know what kind of shape his liver is in, but the narcissism gland has held up well.
Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr, a trustee of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, has issued a written request to the District's Executive Director Julius Ciaccia seeking documents related to an FBI investigation into millions of dollars in sewer contracts. If Ciaccia denies his request? "I'll call my lawyer," Starr said. Might as well start dialing.
The Ohio Ethics Commission decided that Lyndhurst's mayor, Joseph Cicero Jr., and pool director, Julie David, acted improperly when they hired almost a dozen relatives for city jobs last summer. But now that it's been explained to Cicero and David that they shouldn't have done that, the commission plans no further action. In related news, Zack Reed introduces a bill that would grant the ethics commission jurisdiction over elected officials' DUIs.
Forest City unveiled its new design for the planned convention center. To shave a few pennies off the half-billion-dollar, publicly funded construction project, which the residents of Cleveland balked at, they decided to get rid of the stilts and not charge the county for "air rights." Um, thanks?
MASON TO START HUNTING BIG GAME?
A few weeks ago, County Prosecutor Bill Mason, along with a bevy of local, state and federal agencies, announced more mortgage-fraud-related indictments. The press release barked out the names and egregious tactics of loan flippers, speculators and outright lying borrowers. But where are the big-time players - those subprime lenders and mortgage brokers who pocketed oodles of money while systematically laying waste to Cleveland's neighborhoods and ravaging Cuyahoga County's economic and housing base?
Last year, Mason's office busted a mortgage-fraud scheme centered on home buyers, mortgage brokers and title companies that duped banks into approving loan applications. Then 61 defendants were indicted.
Now Mason's working with the eight-month-old Mortgage Fraud Task Force, made up of 15 federal, state and local law enforcement bodies, including the Ohio Attorney General, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The task force has promised to expose the "thieves ripping apart our community." But so far, cases have been brought against only low-level operatives like borrowers, isolated speculators and flippers and a handful of loan officers.
Mark Seifert, executive director of ESOP, a housing counseling and advocacy agency, isn't impressed. "These are like the drug dealers," Seifert says. "What about the kingpins?"
Through a spokesman, Mason promises that this is the "first of many indictments." And indeed, word on the street is that something really big is about to come down. For the sake of Cleveland, let's hope it's true.
— Charu Gupta and Dan Harkins
SPIES DON'T LIKE US
Congressman Dennis Kucinich called for investigations into cases of federal agents infiltrating peace groups to keep tabs on their undoubtedly subversive activities. An agent responds:
"If you're against the war — or any war, really — then that's all the proof we need: You're dangerous and need to be kept under constant surveillance. If you have a problem with that, move to Canada and live with the moose and Of Montreal. This is America. We'll have no candyassing on our watch.
"You think Kucinich is going to catch us? We'll just grow our operatives' hair even longer, and they'll look even more like the patchouli-steeped hippies they're sent to track. They've been trained to roll a joint faster than Tommy Chong.
"Bluster all you want, Congressman Peace Train: 'I think that most people would be upset to know that police were spying on lawful citizens and infiltrating peaceful organizations, rather than chasing down real criminals. At a minimum, such police spying is clearly a waste of taxpayer dollars and a diversion from the mission of protecting and serving the people. I want the subcommittee to determine how widespread these activities are and who ordered them.'"
"In security parlance, that would require a 'need to know.' And you, Mr. Kucinich, have a need to shut the fuck up before we tell everybody what we know about you and that redheaded English muffin of yours with the tongue-ring hole and satisfied smile."Who ordered all of this, you ask? Why, it was your Big Brother and your Own Personal Jesus, still married after all these hard-won years. Impeach us if you can."
— Dan Harkins