When the Securities and Exchange Commission criticized Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro for blowing off its warning that the state was paying inflated brokerage fees on its investments, he defended himself by claiming a staffer conducted a "thorough review of investment information."
But last week, a public-records request forced Petro to reveal his definition of "thorough." It turns out the whole investigation could fit on a postcard.
"There's a half-page of handwritten notes; that's the entire file," says Senator Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township). "Petro said he had done an investigation. It wasn't much of one."
It started with the revelation that the scandal-plagued Bureau of Workers' Compensation had been scrutinized by the SEC. An agency lawyer criticized Petro's inaction after he was told that the BWC was paying as high as 6 cents per trade, when average commissions nationally were between 4.8 and 5.1 cents. This may not seem like much, but when you're talking about multimillion-dollar deals, it's a whole lotta jack.
Petro claimed to find no malfeasance. Instead, he put the burden on the SEC to come up with more evidence, because God knows an attorney general can't investigate crime.
Yet when Dann demanded that Petro turn over "any and all memoranda, e-mail, faxes, reports, or other documents" detailing his initial investigation, the AG produced something shorter than the average grocery list.
On the plus side, the handwriting was really neat.
Jane's so street
If Mayor Jane "I'm Down With the Peeps" Campbell was at all curious about where she stood with black voters, promoter Don King's boxing card at the Gund should put her wondering to rest.
Before the fights, the announcer told the crowd that the event was being billed as "An Evening With Jane Campbell." There was a momentary shriek of excitement -- fans apparently thought Campbell was going to go a few rounds with a heavyweight. But when the mayor emerged from the arena's bowels without her gloves, the mostly black crowd let out a thunder of boos normally reserved for child-rapists.
The announcer then introduced certified whackjob -- and Cleveland native! -- Don King, who received a boisterous ovation.
After Cleveland's Ray "Rainman" Austin won his heavyweight bout, Campbell climbed into the ring for photos with King and the fighter -- images that should soon be available on eBay. (Keyword search: "What the fuck?")
An amateur schmooze
Campbell was once again trying to schmooze black voters last week at the dedication of Bump Taylor Field, the new artificial-turf home of the Glenville and East high schools. In her brief remarks, Campbell told the crowd how, as a graduate of the University of Michigan, she always rooted for the Wolverines.
Then again, what good is a lifetime of loyalty if you're trying to score votes?
Since a handful of Glenville graduates now attend Ohio State -- Michigan's bitter rival -- Campbell informed the crowd that she now roots for the Buckeyes. The crowd responded with a quiet, confused murmur.
Great seats available
Tribe fans have been content to observe the team's playoff surge from a safe distance. Despite their scintillating play, the Indians rank 11th in American League attendance, just a shade above the Parma Heights Over-40 League.
So the front office has turned to late-season promotions to get bodies in seats: tickets for five bucks, free after-school admission for kids. In a three-hour publicity stunt last week, 10,000 fans bought discounted tickets from Mike Trivisonno. (Officials estimate that 15,000 would have come if Trivisonno hadn't been there.)
It just goes to show that if you put a winning product on the field, people will come to see it -- provided they're lured with gimmicks.
"We're just trying to get creative to keep the energy here at Jacobs Field," says Tribe spokesman Curtis Danburg. "We're definitely open to a lot of ideas."
Upcoming promotions include Pinch-Hit for Casey Blake Night and a special Scratch Your Testicles Like the Pros youth clinic.
Worse than E. coli
As soon as city officials heard that Cleveland would be housing 1,000 Katrina victims, Mayor Jane dusted off the red carpet. Each evacuee would be given a free medical assessment, a personalized bundle of necessities, and a cot at the convention center -- until they could be relocated to apartments outfitted with new furniture and clean dishes.
And just to make their adjustment easier, each family would have its own personal caseworker, along with a community volunteer, who'd introduce them to the city and help them find employment.
It was the kind of deal that had many Clevelanders praying for a hurricane here.
But in terms of interest, it appears that our fair city runs a distant second to E. coli. "We had everything set up," says city spokesman John Goersmeyer. "Then FEMA suspended the flights, because at that point, no one wanted to come here."
At a press conference last week, Campbell said that the city's efforts weren't in vain. Apparently, FEMA is forcing at least 500 evacuees to move to Ohio. Some may even come to Cleveland -- if we force them by gunpoint into the trunk of a Buick.
"People will not be imprisoned here," Campbell promised.
No more chatter
A chat room on The Plain Dealer's website, cleveland.com, mysteriously disappeared last week. Fans of ChatXtra were left with only this cryptic explanation: "ChatXtra is no longer available on cleveland.com. We apologize for the inconvenience."
Punch tried to investigate. But Denise Polverine, editor-in-chief of cleveland.com, said she didn't have time to explain. She was too busy editing nola.com, the website for the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans.
Fine, play the Katrina card. Make us feel guilty for asking. Meanwhile, your online readers are still waiting for answers.
"I used to chat in ChatXtra," wrote someone in another cleveland.com forum. "Where is everybody?"