It's the hot development trend, loaded with multimillion-dollar projects. And it's still growing, thanks to politicos and lawyers. Yep, it's the prison biz, fueled by new laws and new crimes. Hey, everybody wants more prisons. But nobody wants to live by one.
Cuyahoga County has to build a jail somewhere--and cheap, since voters nixed a jail tax in November. So the county commissioners and Sheriff Gerald McFaul decide to check out the long-vacant Richman Bros. clothing factory on East 55th. Natch, the local residents are skeptical, so they protest. This leads the county to ask Mayor Mike White to help explain the project. After all, most of these criminals come from his city. And since these ain't felons, they still could vote for him.
But Hizzoner washes his hands of it, leaving the county a month to find a site or lose $9 mil in state funding. Ah, but then County Commissioners Jimmy Dimora and Tim McCormack decide to postpone a vote on the mayor's new $325 million trolley bus line, the Euclid Corridor Improvement Project. Since the ECIP must apply to the feds by March 30 or kiss off $200 mil in fed pork, Hizzoner blew a gasket. He said if the commish crew derailed this bus deal, they'd have to "live with the consequences." Wow, and who might administer these consequences? Our obedient Bucharest boob-tubers and Jacor jesters? They're probably already checking Dimora's water bill payment record.
Any consequences usually start with the voice of Clevo's corporate elite, The Pain Feeler. Our Town Daily heralded the impasse with a big "Euclid Ave. plan in peril" headline. Ho-ho-ho. "Elites' government contracts in peril" is more like it. Luckily, comrades, one of Mouth's teeth caught Dimora and city council's Joe Cimperman and Fannie Lewis on WERE-AM/1300's Direct Source show last week. And we've got the juicy bites that never make the nightly news.
Seems Dimora ain't too jazzed about the ECIP project anyway. Quoth the Commish: "Living in Bedford Heights, I'm not gonna drive my car to University Circle, hop on a trolley and go the rest of the way downtown." Logical, but the Bedford Beard better not say that the next time Al Gore comes in for a Dem fund-raiser. Dimora wants a guarantee the county won't get stuck with the overruns, like at Gateway. And he had the nerve to say, "I wanna know how they're gonna pay for this project." As for the jail project, he said the media made up this jail/ECIP link, and that this hoosegow will only house "non-violent misdemeanants."
Cimperman had a different jail tale, saying, "The Sheriff wants to make the whole thing part halfway house, part work-release, and part jail."
Councilwoman Lewis's response? "Cimperman is a pawn for the mayor," and he's just "stirring people up" for Hizzoner. Mouth can't be sure about that, but we can't top Fannie's on-the-money analysis: "If the county will sit down with the mayor and let him control the money, there'd be no problem."
The report's in on the Akron Cultural District proposed for the Main/Market intersection. Surprise, surprise, the Boston-based consultant hired to collect input gave it a thumbs up. So Mayor Don Plusquellic and his insiders gave the $200 mil project a green light for further research. That means the main library, the art museum, and the Akron Civic Theatre still could get new headquarters. It also means the movie multiplex and IMAX pushed by developers Robert Stark and Herb Newman are still in line for public money.
Well, more research is definitely needed. But didn't last month's public hearing on this deal turn into a "don't move the Civic" session? True, but the Bostonian's got that covered. He says the meeting was loaded with citizens from the Progress Through Preservation group. And he calls them "extremists." Yep, showing respect for history is considered extreme in this era of the Stalinist historical rewrite. And the insiders' idea to move the ornate innards of a seventy-year-old theater is not extreme?
The Right to Rock
Let there be rock. It took two council meetings, a school board meeting, threats from the ACLU of Ohio, and a lot of energy from students at Streetsboro High School. End result? Student-run WSTV-FM/88.9 gets to hold its April 24 benefit concert featuring Mushroomhead, Dolly Trauma, Hate Theory, and N.D.E.
It all started when Mayor Sally Henzel buckled to lobbying by church zealots and refused to grant the concert a license. It ended last week when City Council passed a license exemption for school-sponsored entertainment by a 6-1 vote. The mayor seems to have learned something about the resolve of this rockin' "political action committee," since she didn't bother to veto the bill. And what have we learned here, comrades? Government likes to work quietly, while the media do their duty distracting the public with sports fanaticism and soap opera court cases. But guess what? If you pay attention, speak out, and ask questions, you can get results!
Shell Game Sham
Yo, Senator George Voinovich is showing his face to the D.C. media. Mouth caught him on CNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews, where the subject was "saving Social Security." Yeah, it ain't a sexy issue like strippers, rockers, or jockers, but you're paying through the nose for it, so listen up. Your uncivil servant has some truth you won't get from the establishment media.
The federal government owes $655 billion to the so-called Social Security Trust Fund. The District of Corruption politicos have lied about these funds ever since LBJ's fiscal '69 budget altered the accounting methods. Today, the projected Fed Gov surplus for fiscal 2000 is $133 billion. But if SS funds are removed from the big general slush fund (as they were until '69), the feds have a $5 billion deficit! Hey, you "borrow" a few billion here and there, and in thirty years, it adds up to $655 billion.
Well, believe it or not, King George V pushed a righteous idea on Hardball. He wants to put SS funds in "a lockbox and guarantee 100 percent of that money will be used for Social Security." Gee, that's how it was supposed to operate, and it did for the first 35 years. Columbo Congressman John Kasich musta never researched those early years, cuz he said, "For the first time, we are making the argument that government should not take any of the money that comes in." For a D.C. denizen, that's a radical concept.