White Deal Blindsides Oglebay
Nuke the Huletts! Or at least the increasingly convoluted plans to save the historic iron-ore unloaders. At last week's contentious Landmarks Commission meeting, the White Administration finally jumped into the fray, hoping to quiet pesky preservationists by sweetening the Port Authority's offer to disassemble and store a single Hulett--for the modest sum of $500,000. The new deal trimmed the cost to $250,000, with the Port Authority eating $150,000, the city kicking in $50,000, and Oglebay Norton, which leases the docks, adding another $50,000. Just one problem: Nobody bothered to clear the deal with Oglebay President of Marine Services Stuart Theis, who was visibly surprised when it was announced. "I wasn't aware of that," Theis said with the painful look of a man being sandbagged. The Huletts got a six-month reprieve, and Theis made like Manny Ramirez with the press after the meeting, offering only a sheepish, "I was not contacted." Join the club.
The shoe store is on the other foot, so to speak, in Columbus these days, where the Richard E. Jacobs Group is waging a shopping mall war against Glimcher Realty Trust. The notoriously media-shy Dick Jacobs recently made a personal appearance at a community meeting to argue against a $52 million tax break for the proposed Polaris Fashion Place, which could sink nearby Northland, an aging Jacobs-owned mall. This is the same Dick Jacobs who needed $100 million-plus in public subsidies to build Jacobs Field, happily accepted a tax abatement and $10 million federal grant to build Society Tower, and had barely opened the glitzy doors of the Galleria before he was at the County Board of Revision asking for a $966,000 tax reduction. "Why should tax incentives be used in one area to destroy another area?" Jacobs complained to The Columbus Dispatch. "Northland was my first regional center, and I had no help from the city." But then, we all learn from our mistakes.
That breath of Balkan fresh air in town is emanating from 1111 Chester, where the diplomatic outpost for Slovenia was upgraded to a full consulate earlier this year. Consul Tone Gogala, an actor of 34 years' standing at the National Theater in Ljubljana, is working on new trade, educational, and cultural ties with the U.S., and clocking a hundred miles a week on local bike paths. Gogala will give a dramatic reading at the Ohio State Theater next week to coincide with President Clinton's visit to Slovenia, about which Gogala enthuses, "He will see that Slovenia is Western." And reassure the Slovenians we won't be bombing them.
Confidential to the Plain Dealer wordsmith who called this week: We feel your pain and understand your anxiety. With Denise Dufala's schmaltzy Sunday column on the chopping block, who knows what heads will roll? Already the "send us your hopes and dreams" gimmick has disappeared, and the remaining three stories of the globe-trotting millennium series have either been deep-sixed or recast as travel pieces. New editor Doug Clifton also has an axman's eye on special sections Everywoman, Next, and Health & Fitness, and moving plans for page two snoozers Dick Feagler and Elizabeth Auster. Clifton may be worrying the windbags, but PD troops are encouraged. "He actually talks to people," marvels one reporter. "He wants to know who you are and what you do and what you think of the paper. That never, never happened with [former Editor] David Hall."
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