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The Babes of Bob

Taft dogged for being anti-chick.

Leave it to a woman to get her panties in a ruffle over something as silly as diversity.

State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-The Kitchen) is fuming over Governor Taft's recent appointment of eight men -- and not a single babe -- to a special study council on Medicaid. Just because more than half of Ohio's Medicaid recipients are women, Fedor thinks Taft should have appointed at least a couple of women -- or "skirts," as they're known in the governor's office.

"There are more than just white men in the world," Fedor says from her home in Toledo, where she belongs.

Taft spokesman Mark Rickel points out that three female cabinet members, appointed by Taft, also serve on the 17-member study group. The governor's eight recent appointments had nothing to do with gender, adds Rickel, noting that Taft's appointments are usually based on how much money people give him.

The goal is to get qualified members to shape Medicaid policy. And with all that baking to do, where's a broad gonna find time?

Blackwell's front group

Though Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Right Hand of God) is in charge of enforcing election laws, he's not known for following them. In 2004, he tried to use $15.3 million in federal voter-education funds to launch a statewide Ken Blackwell promotional tour. Now an opponent is wondering whether Blackwell is using a political-action committee as a front for his gubernatorial campaign.

Blackwell happens to be chairman of Citizens for Tax Reform, and his face is plastered on its home page. His campaign gave more than $11,300 to the committee last year. The group's Columbus address is the same as his campaign headquarters, and they have the same spokesman. It looks suspiciously like Blackwell's attempt to have two committees raising money at the same time. Bonus round: The tax group can do his dirty work.

It recently conducted a phone survey that seemed less about polling voter opinions than soiling Attorney General Petro's name. Sample question: Do you believe Jim Petro violates small children and grandmas, or just crippled people?

So Petro's campaign sent a letter to the Ohio Elections Commission last week. If its work on cleaning up Ohio thus far is any indication, it's expected to rule that Blackwell can disregard election laws, just as the attorney general doesn't have to enforce laws.

Blackwell spokesman Gene Pierce has assured the press that everything is kosher: "This is perfectly permissible under Ohio law," he said.

That should make us all feel much better.

Science minute

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic are finally theorizing what Punch has known all along: For optimal athletic performance, there's no substitute for junk food.

That's the inescapable conclusion of its just-completed study, in which 31 female rowers at Ohio State were given sugar prior to exercise: Half were juiced with the sugar found in fresh fruit, the other with a variety that naturally occurs in root beer, Pop Tarts, and other stuff way better than fruit.

The Pop Tart group performed much better over an eight-week span. Results of the study were lauded by the Greater Cleveland Bowling Association.

"I don't want to be quoted as saying it's an endorsement for junk food," says co-author Michael Macknin, chairman of pediatrics at Children's Hospital. But he's already plotting phase two. "What I'd like to do next is try different doses of sugar, and give them to athletes trying different kinds of activities."

Help yourself to our football team, Doc.

Bowled over again

It seems that Rodney Bowling's Arizona vacation was short-lived. The well-dressed scam artist, who ran fake reality-TV contests in Cleveland ("Reality Bites," December 21), was spotted in Tower City last month, handing out surveys about prepaid legal services to shoppers, while continuing to promise former employees and contestants that their checks are on the way.

Last week, Toyja Davis, a former employee whose daughter also competed in Bowling's One Mic competition, confronted the convicted felon in his Maple Heights home and demanded a check for her daughter's prize winnings. Bowling told her he'd FedEx the money to her house. One week later, she's still waiting.

"FedEx takes 24 hours or less," Davis says. "He told me he had a tracking number for the check and everything, but he never gave it to me. I'm getting really fed up."

After Scene's original story appeared, Davis says she received an initial $600 check from Bowling -- but only after she threatened to go to the police.

Still, Bowling says he still plans to pay everyone back. But as Punch spoke to him by phone, he said he was "packing his bags for Arizona" and hung up. He refused to answer further calls.

Do as we say . . .

Columnist Regina Brett is leading The Plain Dealer's crusade in favor of the residency requirement. Last week, she scolded police and firefighters seeking to overturn the rule that forces city workers to live in Cleveland. "If they bail out of the city, they will hurt the city they swore to protect and serve," she wrote.

That sounded a little odd, since it was just a few paragraphs after her admission that she lives in Cleveland Heights.

It brought to mind last summer's piece by fellow columnist Sam Fulwood, in which he slammed businessman Dan Moore for pondering a Cleveland mayoral bid and threatening to spend $1 million in attack ads against candidates who don't agree with his ideas. Moore lives in Cleveland Heights.

"Do you -- and others like you -- care enough about the city to make it your home?" Fulwood wrote from the comfort of his $267,000 Shaker Heights home.

It appears that some people don't really Believe in Cleveland.

Running scared

Congressman Bob Ney (R-Leavenworth) vowed last week to hold onto his congressional seat even if he is indicted in the bribery scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"I'm running -- if I'm indicted, I'm running," Ney told The Hill, then added, "You'll never take me alive, coppers!"

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