Union Squawks, Hyatt Balks
This is a union town, buster, and you can either get with the program or forget about turning the old Arcade into a snazzy Hyatt Hotel. That's the word from Local 10 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees union, which wants a guarantee that, once the 109-year-old architectural gem is converted to a corporate snoozebox, it can come in and organize hotel workers. Negotiations are reportedly rocky. "Hyatt has threatened to pull out of the project," says Local 10 President Ken Ilg. Just to complicate matters, local trade unions have thrown their considerable bulk into the fray. Cleveland AFL-CIO Executive Secretary John Ryan recently sent a letter to City Council asking members not to support the $53 million project unless Local 10 gets its prenuptial agreement. Ilg, the point man in talks with Hyatt and the project's developer, LR Development of Chicago, sounds confident. "What we find is that, if we call their bluff, a deal can be worked out," he says. Spokesmen for both Hyatt and LR declined comment, citing the sensitivity of the negotiations. Where is Jesse Jackson when you really need him?
Even the boys in blue were bewildered by Imperial Mayor Mike White's management shakeup of the Cleveland Police Department last week, which hit with the impact of angel food cake. Half of the command staff of sixteen was changed, including four demotions. But there was more punch in the rumors flying like cream pies before Friday's announcement, which erroneously had Chief Martin Flask in the dumper. If Flask does go, it's more likely to be into a cushy private sector job, like predecessors Rocco Pollutro (MBNA) and Eddie Kovacic (Gateway). Meanwhile, the consensus in the department is that the shakeup signifies nothing more than the mayor's obsessive need to meddle. "He was all done fucking with the school system," sighed one veteran cop, who dismissed the machinations this way: "You're in, then one day you get a letter saying be out by 4:00 and have the car back. It's [like] corporate America."
Another week, another story in the Coventry Road Shopper, a.k.a. The Free Times, about Marhoullister Nichouls, the young African American whose lefty lawyers tried to turn nine felony counts for assault into a referendum on police brutality. Even after Nichouls pleaded out to a single felony, Associate Editor Lisa Chamberlain continues to flog the story, comparing Nichouls to Rodney King and Amadou Diallo (the victim of a 41-bullet blast by New York police). What Chamberlain has never mentioned is that her husband, attorney Brad Greene, works at Friedman & Gilbert, one of the firms representing Nichouls. A conflict of interest? "Only if it had been Brad's case," says Chamberlain. "He wasn't part of it. I didn't even hear about it through him." Give Chamberlain credit for keeping Nichouls on the hot seat. A month after the plea bargain had apparently settled the case, the Shopper gave him an entire page to complain about injustice and out-of-control coppers. Within a week, city prosecutors were hauling Nichouls back into court for traffic violations.
No cheesecake at Lerner Stadium! Browns PR Director Todd Stewart confirms the disheartening rumor that the new team won't have cheerleaders. "We didn't have them in the past, so we won't have them now," he says. "We're trying to keep with tradition." Hopefully that doesn't include losing the big one.
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