The King's Kourt
What's the rumpus about our Guv, King George V? Sure, George Voinovich thrashed his U.S. Senate opponent Mary Boyle at the polls. Hell, the King outspent her almost 7-1, so no shock there. But what about these new money-laundering allegations from the Guv's '94 campaign?
Count on Mouth to chew it down to juicy bite-size gulps. There's the Guv's longtime pal and campaign treasurer. He said the King approved a plan to funnel $60,000 to a friendly pipefitters union official. There's the V Group, headed by the King's bro, Paul Voinovich. (Ya knew he'd be in there somewhere, eh?) A Fed grand jury is investigating whether the V Gang used corporate funds for partisan political purposes. That's where this money-laundering allegation turned up.
And it gets funkier. The Guv listed the $60,000 as "voter program development services" on his campaign finance reports. Who said this guy ain't creative? And here's a real knee-slapper. The Guv initially appointed this pipefitter to an $80,000 gig on the Ohio Industrial Commission. But it was rescinded when the guy turned out to be a convicted felon--from a previous stint in the Ohio bureaucracy.
Mouth's had a lotta fun ripping the King's Big Brotherly proposals. But we've always viewed him as semi-senile but honest. His past problems have been due to lax oversight of the power brokers he appoints. Like former Chief of Staff Paul Mifsud, who spent six months in the slammer for concealing a kickback. Mifsud was also a former V Grouper.
Ah yes, the very virtuous V Group. They've built mucho jails and other government projects around Ohio, ever since the King's ascension to the state throne room. V Gang leader Prince Paul V has had loads of allegations swirling around him for years. Some of his government projects in Summit, Mahoning, and Jefferson counties have been investigated. But nothing ever sticks. So far.
Hey, this is serious stuff, comrades. Too bad the penalty could be a mere love-tap. If found guilty, the Guv would pay $10,000 and be removed from office. Ah, but since this was a state campaign, he can't be removed from a fed office like U.S. Senate. So, this basically means the King rolls merrily into Washington. About all you can hope for are some fun TV spots from the King's Senate opponents in 2004.
Wow. Mouth's gotta send out a satisfied belch to our local media on last week's election coverage. Comrades, there was a real opening in our Iron Curtain. The Plain Feeler offered healthy coverage on mucho races, ever since the Tribe season ended, and even our Bucharest TV stations joined in during the last week.
Here's the real shocker. Several local TV reporters found their way to Columbus! Yep, local news directors allowed at least six reporters out of Bucharest, and that merits a salute. We spotted TV3's Monica Robins and Steve Miles, TV5's Michael Settoni and Adam Shapiro, and TV8's Donna Davis and Belinda Prinz. And there wasn't even a sporting event to cover in Columbo! Just an election that impacts 11 million Ohioans.
Besides that drunken nut who interrupted Lee Fisher's concession speech, the night's big highlight for Mouth's channel-surfing teeth was the commentary of George Forbes on TV25. See any of that three-hour collaboration with TV3 on Channel 25? It looked hastily thrown together production-wise, but the content was great. Especially when Forbes was on the chat-panels hosted by TV3's Tom Beres. The former council prez's take on the mourning dove issue? "They're pigeons."
And how about Forbes's reported support of Repub Bob Taft? "Aw, I'm a Democrat, I'm a Democrat." Heh-heh, but he sure knows how to do business with big-time Repub supporters like Dick Jacobs.
How's this for a deep cut on the political establishment in Akron? Issue 11, the Dollars & Democracy campaign finance reform initiative, passed by almost 2-1. Yeow, draw blood, you Rubber City rebel voters! Hmm, not good for Mayor Don Plusquellic, who opposed it. And so did city council.
Campaign reform obviously ain't gonna happen in Congress, so it's gotta start at the local level. In Akron, it started with petitions circulated by Catholic and Quaker groups. Hallelujah, why can't Falwell's Fundamentalists tackle something productive like this?
The Mayor Don said these reforms will draw constitutional challenges in court. Good, that'll wake up more voters. Some reforms may survive, like shortening the fund-raising period. Or limiting money from outside Akron to 25 percent. Hell, just limit everyone's donations to races where you live, work, or own property. Then you won't have six of Al Ratner's Illinois relatives giving to the Clevo mayor's race.
That $300 contribution limit is sure to be struck down on free speech grounds. And sending all leftover campaign funds to charity or the Akron general fund is a bait & switch. Mouth appreciates these religious groups' work, but the Akron general fund?! Puh-leeze! Whoever came up with that musta been hittin' the sacramental wine.
What's this? A Clevo City Councilman challenging the multiplatinum supergroup Gunds 'N' Jacobs? Yep, it's that young buck Joe Cimperman, a frisky first-termer in downtown's Ward 13. Jammin' Joe has rattled a few chains so far in his debut tour, adding a rockin' edge to Council's old "Rubber Stamp Waltz."
Know that 252-room Courtyard by Marriott that Gunds 'N' Jacobs plan to build behind Jacobs Field? Cimperman wants a few changes in the Gateway leases before council approves this hotel project. If the Gunds can calculate their arena rent and, say, Gateway owes them $1.9 mil, who'd wanna change that lease?
But Cimperman's concern centers on the Gateway parking garages, which are a wee bit behind the projected revenue. Yeah, it's shocking that a government prediction would be inaccurate. But we're only $15 mil in the red so far. This garage lease gives G 'N' J the evening revenue, while giving the city the daytime revenue and all the bills. Gee, how could we be in the red with those terms?