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Pundit Bolts, Paper Molts

Sharp cookie! The columnist makeover at The Plain Dealer has gone cutthroat with the signing of Regina Brett, a lifestyle commentator who penned her final column for The Beacon Journal last week. Brett, a soft touch whose musings on everything from breast cancer to irradiated meat are scheduled to start later this month, is only the latest defector from Akron. Other recent BJ losses to The PD include reporters Bob Paynter (investigative), Mary Vanac (business), and Sheryl Harris (consumer affairs). Budget cuts by BJ owner Knight Ridder have fueled the exodus, as has the perception of greener pastures under new PD Editor Doug Clifton. On the other hand, at least two star BJ reporters have turned down PD offers. Don't put that makeup kit away yet.

The key to nailing the new juvenile detention center site was getting Forest City to sell the 16-acre parcel of land at East 93rd and Quincy, which it was holding in anticipation of further Cleveland Clinic expansion. County commissioners plotted the acquisition like generals, first lining up political support from juvenile judges and Ward 6 Councilwoman Patricia Britt, who liked the green campus look of the new facility. Then they had the land appraised, and offered full value at $2.75 million. Initially, Forest City refused to sell. But the commissioners countered by threatening eminent domain. Facing a powder keg of opposition that even Mayoral Pal Mike White couldn't defuse, Forest City had no choice but to take the deal. The County hopes to break ground by year's end for the facility, which will cost between $45 million and $50 million -- about $16 million less than last year's ill-advised high-rise.

It's never the same old crap in the UAW Local 2400 newsletter, which recently featured a "Restroom Peeking Form." Hiding in the john is a time-honored factory work dodge. But 2400 President John Reichbaum says managers at the TRW Valve plant have taken restroom policing to odoriferous lengths. "The guy's in there doing his business, and the manager is peeking through the door without saying a word to him." Aggrieved scatologists were encouraged to fill in the following: "I saw [name] peeking through the crack and/or under the stall door in the [location] restroom . . .," and so on. No comment from TRW, but Reichbaum has apparently proven the power of the press. Since the form was published, he says, the snooping complaints have stopped.

Names in the news: U.S Representative Patrick Kennedy, spotted ducking out early from the President's Playhouse Square speech Monday, hauling four cartons of food with an aide to a waiting van . . . WUAB Newscaster Cynthia Tinsley Douglas, being chased in common pleas court by her old agency, Beverly Grant & Associates of Tampa, for $2,800. No comment from either side, other than Tinsley's assurance that "It's about to be cleared up." . . . Penton media CEO Tom Kemp, shaking up the troops during a meeting last week to announce Penton's move to the Bond Court Building, where an office worker was clubbed to death last year. When concerns were raised about security, Kemp promised video cameras and key cards -- and if that's not enough, "I'll provide you all with your own baseball bat." No comment from Kemp, whose managerial batting average quickly dropped to a dismal .000.

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