Ker-chop! Plain Dealer Metro columnists Joe Dirck and Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs have been given the ax by Editor Doug Clifton. Dirck was given the option of finding something else to do, but opted instead to leave the paper and move to Columbus, where his wife, former PD politics editor Mary Anne Sharkey, works for the governor. No hard feelings, though. "Clifton treated me fairly, and I hope he can turn the paper around," Dirck says. Scruggs is moving to minority affairs, a beat that will allow her to pursue many of the issues she addressed in her column. Resident curmudgeon Dick Feagler jumps to B1, part of a larger overhaul of the Metro section scheduled to debut later this month.
It may not bother the city administration that 59 Cleveland police officers were hired illegally last month. But the dumbfounded looks on councilmembers' faces at last week's Public Safety Committee meeting were matched only by their two-fisted rhetoric. "I think it's extremely shocking and disturbing that people who work for this city do not know what the law is," Council President Mike Polensek declared after Commissioner Gregory Wilson admitted his department had snafued the last round of civil service tests. Tim Melena picked up on the administration-bashing with, "It won't be the first time this mayor has decided the law doesn't mean anything." And Michael O'Malley nailed the larger issue: "This is a microcosm for what's happening in other departments. This constant turnover has created instability within the city government." Finally, the emperor's no-clothes are showing.
A heated international debate roars into town next week when U.S. Army Colonel Glenn Weidner, commandant of the infamous School of the Americas, goes up against author Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, who argues in School of Assassins that SOA should be shut down. In the wake of revelations that SOA graduates have been responsible for horrific military crimes in Latin America, Congress has threatened to cut the school's funding, prompting a rare Army PR campaign. "There are over 60,000 SOA graduates who have never been accused of anything," says Weidner. Nelson-Pallmeyer, noting that SOA protesters in this country are routinely jailed, counters, "Compare that to the SOA graduates involved in murdering people who have never spent a night in jail." Bring your appetite -- the blood &supl;n&supl; guts fly over lunch Wednesday at the City Club.
Freenet is back! Or at least an ambitious successor to Cleveland's groundbreaking free Internet service, which vanished into the ether when CWRU pulled the plug last September. At its peak in 1995, Freenet had an estimated 95,000 users plugged into local schools, libraries, and chat rooms. But the technical base was always thin, and usage dropped dramatically after other online service providers proliferated. Still, Dave Duffner, owner of Paradise Shore Communications, sees a need for a local electronic clubhouse. "Cleveland.com is just a front for The Plain Dealer," he says. "This will be themed for Northeast Ohio and run by Northeast Ohioans." The new Cleveland Public Access Network, scheduled to debut May 1, will offer free access to information boards, community events, and special interest groups. Follow the construction at www.freenetweb.com or shut off your computer and check out the real world.
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