Saturday, December 31, 2011

Earthquake 4.0 centered in Youngstown-Warren area; prepare for analysts to center on brine wells. http://ping.fm/03bnB

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TRAFFIC: The ramp at Wilbeth Rd. on I-77 South is CLOSED due to flooding.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

OSU learning it will not be allowed post-2012 bowl, Big Ten title games from NCAA. buckeyes

Monday, December 19, 2011

From Ohio.com - Paul Winter says no to UA, stays at Wayne State. http://ping.fm/t0T5N

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hearing a lot about icy conditions in Stark County, I-77 and elsewhere... Be safe tonight!
There is a report of icy roads on SOUTHBOUND Route 21 at Eastern Road in Norton.
It won't be perfect, but I-77 NB into Cleveland would probably be a better bet than using I-271 NB.
Again, a different snow story in the Cleveland area. Heavy snow in the I-271 corridor, particularly.
A little more snow in the Akron area, but we're told it's not causing any major headaches or tieups.
There's not a LOT of snow in Cuyahoga County (north of I-480), but enough to slow people down and make it interesting on the roadways.
With wet pavement and cold weather even in Akron, be careful driving out there...could still see slick spots.
No traffic problems in the Akron area, but if you're headed to Cleveland...there's a lot more snow, and slow traffic in spots.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

TRAFFIC: Gilchrist Road seeing major delays in both directions under the bridge at 76 due to a car that flipped over.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

These soldiers WON'T be home for the holidays. They'll be serving the country. (Update, with audio): http://bit.ly/s0OLVE

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The University of Akron men's basketball team loses a close one up I-77 at the Wolstein Center...Cleveland State 69, Akron 66.

Friday, December 9, 2011

AUDIO - Auditor about Akron's fiscal plan: "We need blueprint, but what we have is sketch on back of a cocktail napkin." http://ping.fm/Kxafi

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TRAFFIC: Flooding has Barber Rd. CLOSED b/n Norton Ave. and Morgan St. and Rt. 303 in Streetsboro CLOSED b/n Jefferson St. and Stone Rd.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Herman Cain suspends his presidential campaign. ABC News will have more all day on 1590 WAKR and on AkronNewsNow.com...

Friday, December 2, 2011

The IRS says it has millions in refunds in can't deliver. Here's the way to search Ohio names: http://ping.fm/v2tcJ

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nice update from Chris Keppler -- see for yourself why CAK is growing at such a great rate. http://ping.fm/Ymth7

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ohio State Urban Meyer announcement carried live on 1590 WAKR approximate 5:15 p.m.
TRAFFIC: Copley Road is closed between Storer and Noah Avenue due to an early morning building fire.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Call Rob Ianello former University of Akron football coach...he has been relieved of his duties today.
Keep watching AkronNewsNow.com for the latest updates in this case...
Summit Co. Medical Examiner's office says 47 year-old Timothy Kern of Massillon died of gunshot wounds to the head, a homicide.
UPDATE: Summit Co. Medical Examiner's Office confirms ID of body found in Akron is that of Timothy Kern, linked to Craigslist killing case.

Friday, November 25, 2011

UPDATE Another body found in Noble County after one's found in Akron, both could be linked to Craigslist murder: http://ping.fm/uGuF9

Monday, November 21, 2011

TRAFFIC: All lanes are now OPEN on 76 West at State St. A portion of the highway was closed after a load of bricks were dumped on the roadway.
TRAFFIC: Police opened the left lane on 76 West at State Road. Still heavy traffic past the Kenmore Leg.
TRAFFIC: 76 West between Barber and State Road is now closed due to a load of bricks on the roadway.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

TRAFFIC REMINDER: Crews are working on I-76 WESTBOUND in Brimfield, between Route 18 and Route 43. One lane open, const. ends at 1 PM.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Unholy Friday night: both Walsh, SVSM fall in football regionals. More details coming @AkronNewsNow...
We're told if you're on Manchester Road and can get to Cormany Drive, you might be able to rejoin Manchester via Portage Lakes Drive.
ROAD CLOSURE: Manchester Rd just south of I-277 near former Young's...accident has forced closure of the road. ALT: 277 to S. Main to 619

Thursday, November 17, 2011

UPDATE Akron now pushing back opening of Smith-Riverview roundabout to 4p to finish road striping.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TRAFFIC: Closing out your rush hour drive with clear roads.
TRAFFIC: You will have plenty of time to get to work this morning. No major delays ahead.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TRAFFIC: Storm caused problems with traffic lights southbound on the Y-Bridge and at the intersection between Darrow Rd. and Newton St.
TRAFFIC: Picking up some heavier traffic on the roads for rush hour. No major delays ahead of you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sad update to yesterday's "Ride For The 3095" story - a man riding to the starting point was killed on his motorcycle. More: http://ping.fm/YwptZ

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Laria widening Akron court clerk lead, Drew winning Stow Mayor's race. Issue 14 now down 494 vote with a few precincts left to count.
Statewide voting: All issues sliding down to defeat with Issue 2 leading the way, a 2-1 loser.
Stick a fork in these races: Plusquellic wins a seventh term, Issue 2 getting creamed statewide 63-37%. http://akronnewsnow.com/news/local/item/9136-vote-2011-your-results
Plusquellic coasts, Laria pulling away and APS Issue 14 holding on -- by a slimmer margin. http://ping.fm/7Hwvs
Done: Mayor Plusquellic wins seventh term, holding nearly 3-1 lead over Hensal with more than half the vote in.
Laria takes early lead over Omobien as first precincts are counted following early votes. http://ping.fm/gcvs5
Early voters love Dems but Akron Muni Clerk race the exception, very close. Early voters love school issues -- all of 'em.
Here we go now -- first taste of early voting results in: http://ping.fm/VCyMx
One-stop page with Summit County & Akron election results from @AkronNewsNow - http://ping.fm/UCTqo
BREAKING from @CNN - Italy's beleaguered prime minister Berlusconi agrees to resign.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Verdict reached in trial of Jackson Dr. Conrad Murray. Coverage on 1590 WAKR expected around 3:45 p.m.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Barberton PD arrests 15-year old half-brother in murder, rape of 3-year old Makayla Jones last summer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

UPDATE 271SB open all lanes to 71SB after earlier truck overturned. Time to motor on...
271 SB to 71 - one lane now open after truck overturned, big slowdowns remainder of the afternoon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

NBA scrubs all games through end of November due to lockout, talks not progressing far enough per David Stern.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Animals held by the Columbus Zoo after release by a Zanesville exotic farm owner are now heading back to his widow. Developing...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scrubbed by Mother: no Game Six of the World Series with rain in St. Louis tonight.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

UPDATE: FirstEnergy - all 1800 West Akron power customers should be back up after earlier outage, caused by snapped electric pole.
We still have reports of a power outage in the Wallhaven area of Akron, nearly to Highland Square...let us know if you're on your smartphone
GOOD TRAFFIC NEWS: Akron police say they've cleared the earlier accident on ROUTE 8 SOUTHBOUND at Glenwood Avenue.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I-77 NORTHBOUND at Vernon Odom is now CLEAR. Akron police tell us the individual is no longer in the roadway.
AkronNewsNow is monitoring both Facebook and Twitter this afternoon, if you have any update on what's going on at I-77 NORTHBOUND/V. Odom.
The reported tieups on I-77 at Vernon Odom are NORTHBOUND. Anyone who has driven in that area, please let us know on FB or Twitter.
AVOID: I-77 at Vernon Odom Blvd., reports of someone in the roadway that has traffic at a standstill. Took a while to confirm with APD.

Friday, September 30, 2011

APD reporting SR 59 MLK Jr. Blvd. westbound traffic at N. Howard now reopen after bad midday wreck.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Count me a happy camper. Indians exercise option for Acta, another year of Mannyball on the way!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Both earlier accidents near the Central Interchange - 77 NORTH near Wilbeth and 76 EAST near Inman - are clear, per Akron PD...
A PLACE TO AVOID: I-77 NB and I-76 EB near Central Interchange...a couple of accidents are tying things up near Wilbeth and near Inman.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ernest Angley Ministries jet has landing gear issues during routine qualifying at CAK. No injuries but loud bangs & debris...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Plusquellic holding lead, Genet in Barberton and Drew in Stow. Tight race in Ward 8 with Keith leading Hardy, in Ward 7 Kamer leads Merlitti.
First numbers coming in, Plusquellic 61-35% over Williams with early voting/absentee results. Genet 60-39% Barberton, Drew 53% in Stow...
Severe Thunderstorm Warning for northeast Portage County until 915 tonight; high winds possible.
My story, with database: IRS Cracks Down On Local Groups http://ping.fm/NEqrC http://ping.fm/aZR8b
I-76 West ramp to I-77 South closed for three hours due to disabled semi per APD.
Akron daycare worker charged in hot car death of 13-month old girl. http://ping.fm/xB52A

Sunday, September 11, 2011

MORE on LAX-JFK flight concerns: ABC News reporting AA flight 34 landed safely; the pilot called for a fighter jet escort. Noone harmed.
BREAKING via ABC News: security alert American Airlines LA-NY Kennedy; reports people locked themselves in restroom. Fighter jets on standy.
Continuing coverage from ABC: President Obama now in Shanksville, PA for memorial. http://ping.fm/HJGbd

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One of the alleged shooters in Carmella Holley death indicted; not enough evidence yet against the second suspect. DEVELOPING

Kasich: Profile in Courage? #fail

The Kelley Williams-Bolar case has dominated news coverage, commentary and published opinion for nearly a year now, leading up to Governor John Kasich's decision Wednesday to bump her felony convictions down to misdemeanors. "When I first heard of this situation, it seemed to me the penalty was excessive for the offense," the Governor told reporters after his decision was released.

Apparently, the Governor hadn't done much thinking beyond the "first heard" and the message he's sending ought to alarm anyone looking for a message that the state's Chief Executive is as much a protector of the taxpayers as he is a final arbiter of justice.

There was outcry when Williams-Bolar -- convicted by a jury of tampering with government records for her lies to get her daughters enrolled in Copley-Fairlawn Schools and receiving school lunch benefits -- was found guilty, then sentenced. The law is pretty clear on government records tampering being treated as a felony, but the facts of the case didn't seem to stand in the way of a good story fitting an editorial slant here in Akron and around the country.

It was a slam-dunk in the word of editorial and commentary writing: hard-working, African-American, single mother, student working on her degree singled out by an uncaring system that wouldn't give her a break. What's not to love about jumping on the bandwagon of Akron's version of Les Mis? Plenty of people did, especially the national media relying on a slim outline of facts to base it's opinion.

As opposed to the jury of Williams-Bolar's that actually sat through the entire trial. Or the Copley-Fairlawn school board, lawyers, and administrators who took more than a year to try and get the case resolved, as it did with every other family with residency issues.

Or the abused prosecutors who quickly came to realize Williams-Bolar and her father had no intention of taking responsibility for their actions but, instead, opted to play craps with the justice system and see if they could get a better deal. Or the abused judge who gave Williams-Bolar one of the most lenient of sentences on her convictions when the Williams-Bolar's defense crapped out.

Or most of you who've commented on this story the past nine months, especially after the facts ignored or discarded in the first round of editorial outrage started to come out.

Or the Ohio Parole Board, which spent months compiling evidence and conducted a hearing that showcased the following:
  • Williams-Bolar's depiction of her education status revealed a career student of more than two decades, with assistance in the tens of thousands of dollars. How many other students are able to tap the system for so long and for so much?
  • Williams-Bolar's inability to tell the truth on where she lives, even to the point of using her father's Copley Township address to renew her driver's license less than two weeks prior to going before the Parole Board;
  • Williams-Bolar's inability to communicate with credibility to the Parole Board, or a jury of her peers, that she truly accepted responsibility for her own actions;
  • Williams-Bolar's unconscionable and despicable claim she'd been "deployed" to avoid confronting her situation with the Copley-Fairlawn School Board. She's not in the military, and from my perspective this was the worst of her strategies used to avoid responsibility;
  • That Williams-Bolar was afforded every opportunity -- from the start, middle, and finish -- to do the right thing.

The facts do matter in this case, but they've been glossed over by a narrative that has more to do with a social agenda and vision than they do with the State v Kelley Williams-Bolar. It's apparent from Governor Kasich's comments, reported in the Columbus Dispatch, that his decision was not based on the rule of law. It's apparent from Governor Kasich's comments, reported by the Dispatch, that his decision wasn't based on the facts. It is apparent, from Governor Kasich's comments, that his decision was based more on an editorial viewpoint slanted by ignoring the facts.

What is even more disturbing is the insinuation that the Governor acted in a political manner based on racial politics.

After a speech yesterday in Cleveland, Kasich said he is “very sensitive to the notion that we want our African-American community to have as much opportunity as we can. Now, what she did was wrong, but in my opinion, it did not rise to the level of a felony."  - Columbus Dispatch September 8, 2011


- - -

Does this mean Valerie Ziemba of North Canton, who was also convicted by a Summit County jury of felony charges relating to scamming food stamps and welfare benefits at about the same time as Kelley Williams-Bolar, isn't entitled to the same "opportunity" because there's no sensitivity to her race? Ziemba was sentenced to 10 days in jail, four months house arrested, two years probation and ordered to repay $14,427 to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Williams-Bolar got a trip to Dr. Phil.

We frequently hear the phrase that America is a nation of laws, not men. Apparently the laws making tampering with government records a felony don't apply when your friends include Congressman Jesse Jackson, who urged his friend John Kasich to look on this case "...from his heart and saw a child of God, not an offender." Apparently the taxpayers of Copley-Fairlawn, who follow the rules, aren't a consideration when enforcing the law. Apparently even Ohio's own BMV, which administers drivers licenses, isn't a consideration when a motorist convicted of using a false address to obtain benefits she is not deserving of employs the exact same strategy just days before appearing before the Parole Board to show why she is deserving of consideration for clemency.

There are some who will note the Governor's decision shows moral courage. I offer it provides the opposite, with a view of political expediency. This was a decision where race, friendships and opinion formed before the facts were even known mattered more than the rule of law. Where compassion depended on sending a message that the "we want the African-American community to have as much opportunity as we can" instead of the opportunity to reinforce the seemingly outdated notion that we are responsible for our own actions, and the justice system is more than a roll of the dice to catch a better deal.

Where some see Kelley Williams-Bolar as a symbol of oppression, I see a symbol of a grifter mentality that hurts rather than strengthens the system of a safety net designed to help those in need. Those who seek help lift themselves and their families out of their present circumstances rather than using it as a way of life. Where getting is part of going forward and improving to the point where individuals do more than take.

Governor Kasich, acting as a judge in the case of the State v Kelley Williams-Bolar, had an opportunity to show courage by showing us he would consider all that came following the initial narrative defined by national pundits with ill-informed opinions. His rapid decision reflects his mind was made up long before this nation of laws -- and not men -- even started.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MORE on commutation for Williams-Bolar: http://ping.fm/P3w6S
BREAKING Governor Kasich busts Williams-Bolar felony convictions down to misdemeanors, says it's not "...a pass. It's a second chance."

Friday, September 2, 2011

MORE Akron baby girl dies in hot car, was left behind with daycare worker moved four other children. http://ping.fm/yHrHr
CONFIRMED: 18-month old baby found in hot car dies; APD now investigating. http://ping.fm/Z4ix3
Akron police on scene on Russell Street; baby left in hot car dies. From Eric Mansfield, WKYC: http://ping.fm/vdRCn
READ the Ohio Parole Board's decision, and more, rejected Akron School Mom clemency bid: http://ping.fm/whCGa
BREAKING Ohio Parole Board recommends Williams-Bolar NOT be granted parole by Governor Kasich.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

UPDATE Triumph of the First Amendment

Last week, we were still scratching our heads over the story out of Cincinnati following a Town Hall meeting from Congressman Steve Chabot, where his staff and a Cincinnati police officer confiscated video cameras and cellphones from citizens attending his public meeting -- in a public space.

To say the imagery of police action stopping the open exercise of the very First Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights was extraordinary, especially in our backyard. The policy was quickly modified, but still left unsaid (at least in this writer's view) is the severe dampening impact and unconstitutional behavior of a police officer, sworn to uphold the law, using his power of authority to strip citizens of their rights.

At least in Boston that question has been answered.

The U.S. District First Circuit Court of Appeals weighed in on the 2007 case of Simon Gilk of  Boston who, exercising his First Amendment rights to record police arresting a suspect on Boston Common, was arrested for violating wiretap laws among other charges. 

Yeah, that Boston Common. Boston's Central Park. With Common to denote it's perhaps one of the ultimate of public spaces in a city often described as the "Cradle of Liberty."

The Commonwealth quickly dropped some of the charges, and a city judge dumped the rest. Which shows the power of the courts when someone with a law degree gets involved. Unfortunately, officers don't have someone with a law degree by their side when making decisions. Despite dropping the charges, Gilk felt it left open the power of the police department to detain, question, and arrest anyone exercising their First Amendment right.

Here's a big problem for the police: Gilk is a lawyer. He's not just some regular citizen recording from their front yard, such as Akron's Sarah Watkins, who was arrested for doing the very same thing from her own property earlier this year. Gilk's story bears watching in this video from the American Civil Liberties Union; it includes Gilk talking about his experience as well as the actual video he shot with his cellphone:




Just to be clear, here's what the First Amendment looks like -- with my emphasis in boldface:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." - First Amendment, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights

Seems pretty clear this section of the bedrock of our laws targets government from stopping citizens from exercising in their freedom of speech rights. But, and not surprisingly, some law enforcement agencies take the position citizens using cameras and microphones on public right-of-way violates the rights of the public employee.

A federal court now says otherwise, with a decision that addresses the narrow and specific issue of whether Boston's police officers violated a citizen's civil rights through the action. The answer is yes, they did. Such actions by the public "fits comfortably" with the principles expressed by the First Amendment. Police should not have arrested the man with the microphone. By extension, police shouldn't stop citizens from using cellphones, cameras or recording equipment to show them at work. 

HERE's a link to get a .pdf view of the Court's decision

Oddly enough, officers defending themselves in the now-federal case argued they shouldn't even be questioned because they had qualified immunity. Boston's federal appeals judges tossed that issue aside; qualified immunity doesn't apply when denying civil rights, and make no mistake: the freedom of speech is a basic civil right. Actually, it's the first.

The First Circuit noted the issue in it's narrow form: "...is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police officers carrying out their duties in public?" The court says the answer is "...unambiguously in the affirmative." For anyone needing a translation, that means yes. It's your right. And police or other public officials stopping you from doing so, even to the point of arrest, are violating your rights.

The First Circuit spreads it's judicial authority over Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico. It's opinion does not cover the ten other districts serving the rest of the United States, but it sends an important and powerful message to those who would muzzle the ability of citizens to exercise their most basic of rights.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

TORNADO WATCH until 500 a.m. for Summit, Medina, Portage, Stark and Wayne http://ping.fm/Iprga

The Failure of the First Amendment

A couple days ago, a Congressman held a Town Hall meeting. Police -- at the direction of the Congressman or his staff -- confiscated citizen cellphones and video recorders in order "to protect the constituents" but left a TV station's camera alone.

Don't take my word for it; the video is pretty self-explanatory and worth watching.



Last year it would have been Democrats targeted by Tea Party activists; this time it's Republican Steve Chabot of Cincinnati targeted by Progressive activists.

Since this happened, Chabot's spokesman Jamie Schwartz says they won't confiscate cameras or cellphones in the future. Video recording was banned, Chabot's office says, because sometimes people ask questions with personal details that should remain personal. The news media cameras could stay because the media could be "...expected to respect people's privacy."

That politicians don't want to be caught on video saying something stupid, or looking stupid, isn't a surprise. They manage to do so quite nicely, with or without video, and most understand it's the way democracy works.

Reminder:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

My boldface enhancing the Oath of Office members of Congress take upon a new term. It's important, those words to "support" and "defend" the Constitution, which includes this language to lead off the Amendments:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." - First Amendment, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights

Most police officers also take an Oath of Office, and that sworn duty usually includes language relating to the Constitution. In this case, what exactly does "protect constituents" mean? Is it the same as "that's what they want," as noted by the police officer? Security reasons? When a TV station camera is filming the entire exchange?

In a public school -- a school gymnasium -- where one would assume during games played by children their parents are free to use cellphones and video cameras to share the experience?

During a public meeting, in a public venue, held by a public official -- with a public police officer enforcing "what they want."

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" apparently was enough for the Chabot entourage and this police officer to leave the media alone, but they only got it half right.

- - -

This is a disturbing trend, the open disdain for the rights of citizens to monitor their government at work -- whether it be Congress or the police. And it's a trend that should unite those of us in the media to stand up and speak out when any citizen's most basic, most Constitutional right is violated.

Last January here in Akron, a police officer who ignored a superior's command to ignore a women filming him -- from across the street, on her own property -- and arrested her. Phil Trexler's excellent reporting here in the Akron Beacon Journal jump starts the story, which continues on appeal.

In July, a similar story grabbed headlines and a quick response from the news media (including RTDNA, the Radio Television Digital News Association) when a police officer in Suffolk County, New York arrested a photojournalist for daring to follow along with the aftermath of a high-speed chase. Again, let's go to the video:



My friends in law enforcement don't like it when cameras catch cops doing bad things. I can't blame them. I don't like it when cameras catch reporters doing bad things, either, but a cornerstone of the American way of life is the central theme of the public right to know.

While video or audio from a 9-1-1 call may not tell the complete story, they are important tools that allow the folks paying the bill to see and hear for themselves. It cuts both ways; it condemns those who would abuse their power, but it also illuminates and protects those from abuse. Just ask any police officer about the impact of dash-cam video when used to prosecute drunk and reckless drivers. It's made their job not only more efficient, but more just.

This First Amendment is what distinguishes the U.S. Constitution from those in so many other nations; the belief that the people ultimately hold the cards, and the people can be treated like adults to digest what they see, hear and read to decide for themselves.

Hiding the wheels of justice, or hiding a Congressman from his own constituents, is a no-brainer abuse of the U.S. Constitution these public servants take an oath to uphold. It's the bedrock of a free and open society, which is why totalitarian governments move so quickly to quash freedom of speech and expression. Those who abuse power know the truth, that freedom is empowering.

There is no exclusivity to abuse of power. Last year, Democrats didn't like the Tea Party using such tactics such as video recording a congressional Town Hall meeting; this time outside of Cincinnati, it was a Republican targeting Progressives employing the same strategy. The label of liberal or conservative, Tea Party or Progressive, doesn't matter when the central issue becomes an abuse of the power granted these public servants by the very Constitution they swear to uphold. That covers those elected such as Steve Chabot, as well as those appointed such as the police officer caught on tape openly abusing the U.S. Bill of Rights.

As long as we keep silent on such issues -- not only as members of the media but also as fellow citizens -- we encourage such abuses, and embolden those who would impose their version of orderly dialogue on a system the founding fathers clearly envisioned as a sometimes messy but always necessary component of democracy. Too many of our forefathers spilled their blood to have it any other way.

When Chabot holds his next meeting, folks asking personal questions will be asked to come forward after the public meeting to share their details. It's a good, common sense approach that a more constitutionally-aware adult would have reached before trampling over the rights of the people to exercise their public business in public.

Perhaps the oath of office should include a history lesson, too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

LIVE on 1590 WAKR: Anthony Sowell jury recommends death on all 11 murder counts. Judge to make final decision later.
Thanks again for patience; still working out kinks. Here's direct link to local stories from AkronNewsNow: http://ping.fm/eQj8I
AkronNewsNow back up; still bugs to work out but thanks for your patience as we continue to fix tech issues. http://ping.fm/O6nM9
HAPPY NEWS we'll have a switch thrown in the next 30 minutes on a new version of http://ping.fm/cbSUs while working out tech issues. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We are aware that the websites for AkronNewsNow.com, WONE, and WQMX are currently down. We are working to get them fixed. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, August 8, 2011

BREAKING: APD arresting the second shooter for the death of Carmella Holley.
LIVE now on WAKR: Copley PD shooting briefing. Streaming on AkronNewsNow.com: Akron's mayoral debate.
Program change: WAKR live coverage of Copley PD at noon, joining Mayoral debate in progress. Streaming full debate online: http://ping.fm/hCnls

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

One arrested, one sought in Holley shooting. Police blame "bad blood" between two men. http://ping.fm/VkjcL
One arrest made in 11 year-old Carmella Holley shooting, one being sought, along with any helpers. More soon on AkronNewsNow.com.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

11 year old Carmella Holley is remembered in a candlelight vigil, where she was killed by a stray bullet. More on AkronNewsNow.com later...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MORE details on shooting of 11-year old Akron girl at play; she's in critical condition. http://ping.fm/ietlR

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2011 Special Election Results http://ping.fm/K8PV9
64 percent of the vote is in, and voters in Medina County are voting against the tax levy for Wadsworth City Schools. More information to come on AkronNewsNow.com

Crisis Averted? Hardly...

Been reading a lot recently on the "What Would Jesus Do?" string, primarily aimed at how the budget crisis in Washington (and yeah, it's still a crisis when you spend $1.40 for every dollar taken in) impact those who need the help the most.

It's a very legitimate question, with two driving forces:
  • Unless you want to wind up like Czar Nicholas II of Imperial Russia or King Louis XVI of France, it's helpful to make sure most people have the basics;
  • It's also the right thing to do. The measure of a society isn't always found in the grand monuments it builds. The true, enduring legacy is how it treats those in the underclass, and their ability to find opportunity to improve their lot in life.
It's the latter point most use to describe America; this idea that regardless of political, social or economic station anyone, from any family, can lift themselves to achieve greatness. This romantic version of the individual winning through hard work and dedication is a beacon that still attracts millions from around the world who seek a better life.

King Louis XVI oversaw the demise of the bloated French aristocracy because the government spent like there was no tomorrow -- and the payday for the upper class was not pretty, thanks to Monsieur Guillotine. Nicholas II and his family didn't realize their royalty also made them responsible for the peasant class, when when there was no bread left the fires of October 1917 consumed them to the point where they were wiped off the face of the earth.

On a recent trip to New York, I had a great conversation with a cab driver. Not a surprise -- New York cabbies say the most interesting things -- but this talk came with a man from Liberia who fled that nation's civil war, landed in Dallas, won a green card, moved to New York and drove it's streets to make ends meet. Why, he wondered, did he have this opportunity as a mere immigrant and why weren't ordinary Americans taking advantage of this opportunity to earn for their families? He says it's why so many taxi drivers, hotel maids, construction workers and service employees experience the American dream thanks to a green card. Here, he can work. And save. And raise a family without worrying about his children pressed into an army at gunpoint to kill their cousins.

In all the talk the past weeks, we've missed the point this is still a great country, with a great message. We've let what passes for leadership in America portray the 2011 version of the dream. We've become paralyzed by the divisive politics the power-brokers and their consultants practice on a daily basis on talk radio, talk television, and op/ed pieces. We seem more interested in what divides because, like reality shows so cheap to produce, it's the most efficient way to draw ratings.

America's public leadership is turning into "The Amazing Race" only with our money and our futures tied into the outcome.

The numbers are so daunting; the public journalism site ProPublica recently posted a by the numbers piece titled Our Sputtering Economy and it isn't pretty:
To break this all down to simple math you use everyday when running your own house, here's the state of the United States on a balance sheet the bank would ask for:
  • Annual spending (est.) for 2011 $3,800,000,000.00
  • Annual revenues (est.) for 2011 2,173,700,000.00
  • Total: -1,626,300,000.00
Let's add in the estimated federal debt: $15,476,000,000.00

Making it easier to relate to, drop all those zeros and imagine it's the kind of money you make. Your annual salary is $21,737 a year. That might be what you would make in your first job, fresh out of high school. But you are spending $38,000 a year. You're already $16,263 in the hole.

But wait, there's more.

In addition to already being in the hole, you are already in debt and owe lenders $154,760.

How much of that salary do you think will go to paying the debt more than seven times what you make each year? During the height of the easy housing money craze, banks were lending money to folks who no way, no how could make those kind of payments back. They didn't care. In the short-term, it looked like there was a lot of business in moving houses. Lots of bonuses, too. And the housing bubble burst and left millions in foreclosure, or in homes they can't afford, and the rest bailing out the ones who lent the money or created the government programs to begin with.

When President Obama talks about balance, he's absolutely right: we all know, deep down, that a system bailing out managers so ready to take risks with other people's money is crazy. Too big to fail, however, changed the equation on private businesses paying for their own mistakes. But the answer is not in the type of class warfare that paints the rich as ripe for the taking. That's the type of thinking that left blood on the streets of Paris and Moscow, those grand revolutions.

I'd prefer the revolution of an America where the tired and huddled masses came to build a new future.

The question shouldn't be how to fix this budget mess as cold accountants would suggest, because those decisions have no heart and have no justice. The bottom line doesn't care who it hurts, only that the bottom line finishes in the black rather than red. Conversely, truly helping build an opportunity society that can lift people out of poverty without bankrupting those making the social investment also means respecting those paying the bills. And at this rate, Washington has demonstrated it has little respect for those it expects to pay for it's mistakes.

Recent studies have noted poverty rates haven't budged much since the Great Society's War on Poverty started in the 1960s. It enables a society to expect someone to provide the fish dinner rather than encourage, in the biblical, to teach one how to fish. Our leadership talks innovation, but in the long run they are as dependent on the vicious infighting over pennies when arguing over tax policy than the dollars found in encouraging growth.

Our leaders need to stop thinking small. They need to show the testicular fortitude to think big and risk going home when we voters, consumed by self-interest, punish them for seeing a larger picture. This is only going to get worse as the swell of the Me Generation baby boomers hit Social Security and Medicaid age, and if politicians thought the AARP lobby was powerful now wait until they get a load of the constituency expecting their payday the next 15 years.
JUST IN: word from New York that Moody's will keep the U.S. Credit Rating at AAA, but with warnings to watch spending. Developing...
LIVE now on 1590 WAKR and AkronNewsNow.com - President Obama on debt deal approval.
MORE Senate says yes, expecting President Obama reax soon. Continuing coverage on 1590 WAKR. http://ping.fm/sU2EZ
Senate votes aye 74-26, President Obama upcoming LIVE on 1590 WAKR and www.WAKR.net stream.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SB 8 at Carroll/Buchtel area blocked due to wreck, down to one lane. Might be awhile before fully re-opened.
Missing Bath Township man found alive, crews trying to rescue him. @WEWS http://ping.fm/UYL7j
Akron post offices part of mass USPS closing announcement: Chapel Hill, Downtown, East Akron, Downtown and Maple Valley. http://ping.fm/hX5aX

Monday, July 25, 2011

After 32 years of service with the City of Akron, CSPA President Chuck Victor will be retiring at the end of August.
Debt talk tonight during Indians game on WAKR: it's on the web http://ping.fm/dOxp7
BREAKING NEWS: Akron school board members move to start the process of putting a levy on the November ballot. More soon on AkronNewsNow.com
Report from @WEWS - alleged Kent shooter found dead in Cleveland hotel room. http://ping.fm/YNCBQ

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flash Flood Warning until 10p for Summit and Geauga Counties; Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Medina and Wayne until 8p.
Verdicts in Sowell trial: guilty, guilty, guilty...
Judge Dick Ambrose reviewing jury forms before announcing Anthony Sowell murder verdicts.
Anthony Sowell verdict coming down in moments; jury entering the courtroom after two days of deliberations in Imperial Avenue Killer case.
Summit Red Cross keeps Akron, Barberton, Rimer CLC cooling centers open. Akron puts theirs on regular hours citing low demand.
Akron scaling back "cooling center" hours; only six people in past few days taking advantage. Back to normal this afternoon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NFL Commish says Canton's induction ceremony will "go on as planned", but not enough time to prepare for the game.
NFL cancels Canton's HOF game this year, despite impending labor peace: http://ping.fm/PxPov

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Akron-Canton Airport has reopened. All commercial traffic was shut-down for several hours this morning due to flooding.
All commercial flights are suspended from the Akron-Canton Airport due to flooding for at least four hours.

http://ping.fm/NksOf

Monday, July 18, 2011

Portage and points east severe thunderstorm warning extended until 530 p.m.
Northern Summit, northwest Portage under severe thunderstorm warning until 4:45 p.m.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Playing Nice

Today's been an interesting day; at this point 24 hours ago, the Mayor's office was pushing their side in a campaign battle of words (not a war yet; two months until the elections) over jobs and then new police chief James Nice grabbed a headline.

Or two. Or three.

The Chief, who served as a F.B.I. agent prior to retirement from the federal service and taking the top cop job here, called New Franklin PD Sunday night after someone tossed a sledgehammer through the window into a bedroom of his home. We should note the Chief doesn't live in Akron, but instead lives in the New Franklin jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction part of the story is what has folks in a Twitter. Following their response to the call, which Chief Nice notes was appropriate (they were "real nice and looked around," per a single-page report to Akron Law Director Cheri Cunningham) he called APD and asked if a detective and crime scene crew could review. A supervisor, Nice reports, suggested an overnight detail to watch his home if anyone came back with more than a sledgehammer.

New Franklin PD tells AkronNewsNow.com they came back the next day to review the case, but were turned away from Akron PD members working the scene. Ironically, this is the kind of jurisdiction flap that usually involves state or national (like the F.B.I.) fighting with local police. It's important to note that while Akron police have mutual aid compacts with neighboring departments, there doesn't seem to be a call for mutual assistance.

Chief Nice seems to have a better understanding of the jurisdiction can of worms he's opened by inviting his officers to New Franklin, instead of calling the Summit County Sheriff. I'm guessing the propriety of using Akron city resources (the time spent by APD officers) on a case outside the city limits will be reviewed as well, overtime or not. Use of city resources outside the city limits usually doesn't set well with auditors for one, and taxpayers for another. Ask any road supervisor using city crews to fix his driveway.

There's a perception in some quarters this represents treatment that's different for Nice, that he's getting more attention than we might see if someone threw a hammer through our window. Such consideration can, sometimes, trip over the line and become "look the other way" abuse of power, the kind Cuyahoga County officials such as Jimmy Dimora will have to explain in court.

There's a fine line between special consideration and abusing privilege. All said, there's an issue which bears just as deep a thought: Chief Nice, just like others who work so hard to keep us safe, deserves more than cursory treatment. And Akron is right to make sure he gets it.

Some will argue public officials are just like the rest of us. That is true -- to a point. We elect them because we see ourselves in them. The American model has citizens elected by popular vote to work for the greater good, neighbors shouldering the burden, especially on the local municipal level.

But we don't have a right to expect public officials and workers to put their lives on the line for us, exposing themselves and their families to danger at home or off-the-job, because of the very job we expect them to do for us. Not without our taking reasonable and appropriate steps to safeguard them, as they safeguard us.

You have to take Jim Nice at his word when he believes prior undercover work targeting gangs in Akron may put him at risk. It's no understatement to suggest law enforcement officers, those working on and with gangs in particular, have every reason to fear retaliation. One doesn't need a sledgehammer through a bedroom window to figure that out.

Whether Chief Nice lives in or out of Akron is beside the point. Whether a few hours of city time is spent trying to find those responsible isn't the point, other than making sure it is done legally and doesn't stray across the line of what's right.

The point? Nice is deserving of a safe and secure place to live and spend time with his family, with efforts taken to assure his safety. It isn't asking too much that reasonable efforts be taken to protect and serve the safety of those who protect and serve us. Asking detectives from Summit County's largest police department to investigate whether their Chief is the target of violence because of work he did in Akron while with the F.B.I. is appropriate and reasonable. The offer to "sit on" his house for a night or so to see if the knuckleheads who tossed a sledgehammer and broke windows in his home isn't a waste of time or city resources when it's one of our top law enforcement officials. In fact, it's appropriate and reasonable whenever the brave men and women who carry a badge, just like Jim Nice, are at risk for doing the people's business to keep us safe.

Being a police chief -- being a police officer -- isn't the same work as the job you and I may have. Unless, of course, your job is to stop people from doing wrong and, when you can't stop them, catch those who are a menace or hurt others and make them pay the price of justice.

You don't always make friends with bad people when you put them behind bars, or cost them money, or administer a dose of living-with-others in harmony lessons. Sometimes you piss them off, and they come after you.

When they do, we need to return the favor and protect our own.
UPDATED 9-1-1 audio, letter from Nice he feared someone was trying to kill him in B&E attempt. http://ping.fm/JpxFt
NEW listen to 9-1-1 call from Akron PD Chief Nice following attempted B&E at his home. http://ping.fm/eJOQT

Monday, July 11, 2011

West Nile mosquito netted in Tallmadge; skeeter spray scheduled for tonight in one-mile radius, includes some of Goodyear Heights.
Developing: Plusquellic wants Council vote on sewers without final decision from federal judge.
Reports of power outages in Stark County as the storms move through, downed lines should be treated as live and dangerous.
Big thunder, lightning, rain hitting Akron but worst of storm south of Canton. http://ping.fm/DMiEq
Heavy weather on the way, now hitting Toledo. LIVE radar here: http://ping.fm/94zRf

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Cavalcade of Casey

Webster's defines "cavalcade" as the following: "a : a procession of riders or carriages b : a procession of vehicles or ships. 2. : a dramatic sequence or procession."

We've certainly seen that the past few weeks.
You couldn't get away from it, other than turning every device off. Ignoring every newspaper display. Fast-forwarding beyond every news break on television. Switching radio stations on the dial to iPod or CD play only.

The Casey Anthony trial, like the O.J. Simpson trial, gathered fever pitch to the point where people stopped what they were doing when the verdict came down. A friend tells me she was at the Magic Kingdom outside Orlando, and even at Disney World things ground to a halt as workers and visitors alike were glued to cellphones.

In the aftermath, it's providing a thought-provoking picture of the state of the news media.

It wasn't too long ago when "capital J" journalism newsrooms would have steered clear of stories with such public obsession. But on the day Casey Anthony is sentenced, NPR online's most-commented story is "Casey Anthony Found Not Guilty of Killing Her Daughter." The New York Times featured a full-color photo , at left, of Anthony in the courtroom as the verdict was read, front and center, just below the masthead.

Can Bill Moyers Journal be far behind?

This isn't a seismic shift among the media on how to use social media, or whether the newsroom web wunderkind got the bulletin on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. etc. etc. It's a fascinating look at the continuing evolution of what's news, the diminishing power editors have in determining what's on the front page, and the growing power the consumer appetite for stories has in determining the editorial decisions publishing, broadcasting and web newsrooms must make.

Those institutions that wouldn't have spent ten seconds on stories such as Casey Anthony not so long ago now belly up to the pop news culture bar, albeit without the gusto and off-the-charts performance we're seeing on the television cable talk channels. Or the network talk shows (radio and television) for that matter.

Here in northeast Ohio, for example, the ongoing trial of Anthony Sowell for the murders of eleven women continues. Coverage has been above the norm, led by all four commercial television stations and of particular note the Plain Dealer. The work by the newspaper team and Cleveland.com is evident in this index of their coverage, providing a comprehensive view of the case from many angles. It was enough to merit a full hour of in-depth discussion on WCPN's Sound of Ideas program, not your usual public radio fare. But then, finding eleven bodies isn't your usual fare, period.

But we haven't been subjected to the shrieking guest list exhibited on Nancy, Dr. Drew and Jane.

Our local reporting has been thoughtful, audience-respectful coverage. It's what I suspect most local news organizations provide their respective audiences during the "big story" although the crush of media mob-style coverage can be a difficult thing to remain independent from. Locally, we saw the same in the case of Jessie Marie Davis and resulting trial of her boyfriend, Bobby Cutts, Jr., for her slaying.

Full disclosure: I was one of the on-camera folks on the Grace program during the trial, as was former reporter/anchor Tina Kaufmann and the Akron Beacon Journal's Phil Trexler.

When the circus comes to town, it's tough to not act like a clown.

The Nancy Grace types of the broadcast news/entertainment world don't purport to be journalists; there's no "capital J" in what they do, and what they do has an audience. A strong audience.

The Associated Press reports HLN (the network serving up Grace, Velez-Mitchell and others) scored high when it came to "capital R" with their coverage of the case. The highest number of viewers since CNN put "Headline News" on the bird in 1982, more than four and a half million people -- more than double the usual. On the day Anthony was found to be not guilty of murder and manslaughter, The Nancy Grace Show scored it's highest audience ever at nearly three million people.

Is it good journalism? I'd say not, especially watching the un-credible punditry leading up to the verdict and the howling afterward. But the changing face of the media means it isn't my decision. It's yours. You hold the power in determining accuracy and credibility when you hit the on button and pick a channel.

Is it good television or radio? If the metric for "good" means the number of people watching and listening, then the Casey Anthony coverage hit a home run for those organizations that went all-in and didn't mind going over the top.

There was a time when media organizations were a reflection on their society. It was reasonable in the 60s, 70s and 80s to picture the BBC as quintessential stiff-collar Britain, or the Guardian as liberal English. The same could be said for Japanese, French, German, and Italian media: if you really wanted a taste of those nations, watch their television. Even reading, watching or listening to state-controlled media such as Pravda, Radio Moscow, or CCTV in China would help form a picture of what life was like in those countries.

From the 60s on, we had people like Chet & David, Uncle Walter, Peter, Dan and Barbara to show the kind of stuff we were made of. 60 Minutes carried forward the Murrow standard. All (then) three networks had outreach beyond America's borders through radio and television. CNN added to the mix, then MSNBC, then Fox.

Was our society a reflection of them, or were they the reflection of us? If the latter, watching HLN this week is like looking into a national mirror.

How's that looking for us?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fred Quigley's Independence Lesson

It took a Vietnam War veteran -- and a slew of really, really bad publicity -- to remind a northeast Ohio homeowners association and the former politician who runs the place just what Independence Day means.

The story of Fred Quigley's fight with the "Villas of Taramina" is textbook Americana: one man's war waged to honor why he went to war to begin with.

It's a story that seems to play itself out annually across the country, and in 2011 it was right here at home. As a matter of fact, right down the road from where I live.

The "Villas" is a collection of cluster homes just off Ohio Route 82 in Macedonia, which likes to bill itself as the "Crossroads of Ohio." It's a nice enough place, so nice in fact that Coblentz Homes points with pride to the awards for design for their development aimed at "active adults" looking for the kind of "exclusive community" so attractive to "discriminating buyers."

That's all well and good, and more power to 'em. But the problem was one discriminating buyer who felt he was being discriminated against because he put up a flagpole to actively fly his flag. You know, that flag he fought for. That flag some of his friends died for. That flag that covers some of the caskets of the sons and daughters returning home from their generation's wars.

Yes, that flag.

The Homeowners Association first played hardball, expressed by the former Mayor of Macedonia and former Director of Development for Summit County, Joe Migliorini. Threats of lawsuits because the flagpole doesn't meet those "exclusive" rules and regulations. Besides, neighbors didn't like it. Exclusive to them apparently meant you couldn't put up the flag of the nation you live in, the nation you work in, the nation you retired in, because it seemed to be against the rules of the community you lived in.

But Fred Quigley understood what the flag meant, and why blood continues to be spilled for it.

America is different than other countries, what our flag represents is different from what other flags may represent.



This is a place where all of us are free, to an extent not found in many other corners of the world, to express ourselves openly without the threat of government retribution. Whether that government is the one we elect or the one put in place when a developer hands things over to a homeowners association.

Frankly, I'm surprised it took the Association as long as it did to cave and write Quigley telling him the fight was over before it wound up in court. I'm surprised former Mayor and county official Migliorini didn't step in earlier and publicly defuse the issue before it got to the point where veterans groups joined Quigley in defense of the Stars and Stripes.

Lawyers and managers of Associations will shake their heads because the rules weren't followed to the letter, ignoring a bigger picture: are the rules more important than the issue of your display? These issues include the flying of the flag, but also the display of Christmas lights during the holiday season -- and yes, I mean Christmas lights, not "holiday lighting displays." Or talk of religion in a public place, like a school.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules a cadre of small-minded wackos from the a small church in the Midwest has the right to protest, even when their words are hateful and cause pain to the families of our war dead who grieve past signs declaring it's God's punishment. And a homeowners association wants to stop a veteran from putting a flagpole on his property to fly the flag?

It's a true WTF moment.

The Constitution we honor this weekend says the government shall make no law infringing on our free speech. We accept you can't yell fire in a crowded theater; we allow laws on the books against inciting to riot. Fred Quigley's case is neither of those examples, unless you are afraid to call out the twisted rationale that so easily hands over our rights to those who would paint "the rules" as more important.

Fred Quigley wasn't inciting violence. He wasn't yelling "fire" by flying Red, White and Blue. But he was providing us a very basic lesson we should all take to heart: one person, in America, still makes a difference. Individual freedoms are worth fighting for, whether with associations of neighbors or those who hold the power. Because it's still the power we give them. And it's always ours to take back.

Thanks, Mr. Quigley, for the timely reminder that the long July 4th holiday isn't just for cooking out, laying back and chillin' out.

It's Independence Day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Akron School Board votes 6-0 to offer Firestone head football coach Tim Flossie supplemental contract for 2011-2012, despite superintendent David James recommendation against

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Former Stark Treasurer Ziegler ordred bac to the job; nice story @WEWS from Tina Kaufmann. http://ping.fm/qRnWp
Uh, never mind. No bridge lift closing S. Main Street this weekend after all. http://ping.fm/CUa8H

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Warren fire that killed six now blamed on charcoal BBQ grill. http://ping.fm/shdSE

Take A Swing At This!

Sure, we’ve got multiple wars, budget uncertainty, deficits hanging over the heads of our grandchildren, political squabbling...but thank God for golf’s foursome with a sense of humor.

These four guys -- Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Ben Crane & Ricky Fowler -- more than make up for a missing Tiger.

Fun. With GOLF, no less.




U.S. Open starts today.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No more Lee Jackson Field for Zips soccer; say hello to FirstEnergy Stadium Cub Cadet Field. http://ping.fm/iIGvb
MORE Calise found guilty, all five counts, in toddler death. http://ping.fm/NiDdX
Tiffani Calise found guilty in death of toddler she was babysitting.
Calise toddler murder verdict in; jury now at lunch, expecting an update on decision around 1p.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thanks, Mayor Plusquellic!

And Warner Mendenhall. And Paul Hlynsky. And Mike Williams. And Kelley Williams-Bolar. And LeBron James.

We've been blessed here at the Rubber City radio ranch to have forward-thinking and community focused leadership that not only allows but encourages us to practice broadcast "old school" news coverage. We still think the basics, such as issues before city and county councils or school boards. This type of news matters, even when it isn't sexy.

We see the fruit of our labors annually when journalism groups -- such as Ohio's Associated Press Broadcasters -- recognize those in our profession. This past weekend, the news department of AkronNewsNow.com, WAKR-AM, WONE-FM and WQMX-FM were honored with awards (Marcy Pappafava and Joe Jastrzemski, at left) for Outstanding News and Sports Operations, Best Continuing Coverage (for following the City Hall-FOP year-long drama in 2010) and Best Reporter and Anchor kudos to Joe Jastrzemski.

These awards reflect a lengthy string of recognition for building a website -- and rebuilding a broadcast news outlet -- that will question authority, ask questions and work to present alternate views on public issues. It's what citizens should expect from the media, even during economic downturns and the tumult coming with the media transition seen when institutions (such as the press) are forced to respond more to the demands, or neglect, from their audience.

That said, we couldn't have done it without our readers and listeners. We couldn't have done it without the rich editorial content Akron seems to provide, either.

Whether it was the ongoing battle between City Hall and Akron's police union (2010), the recall fight between the Mayor Plusquellic and Change Akron Now critics (2009), or even going back to Tina Kaufmann's national-award winning investigative work on Akron's Hot Spots (2009) or coverage of the 2008 Elections, 2007 storms and flooding, even the 2003 Great Blackout, the news tapestry depended on many larger-than-life figures and events. Including larger-than-life egos and agendas.

Akron deserves vigorous debate on public issues; it's citizens deserve more than perfunctory coverage often provided by news organizations who don't call this place home. It deserves the next generation of talk show hosts, reporters, editors and news anchors who understand our audience isn't the person behind the podium but the person in front of the screen who reads, watches and listens to their world around them.

Last week, the Mayor took on bloggers who, as "total freaking idiots" post to the web "sitting in their underwear, in the mom's basement.". He was careful to note he wasn't painting that mental picture in our minds, just repeating what others have said. He was responding to critics when announcing new jobs for Akron. It was meant to be dismissive, but in point of fact it shows just how powerful the First Amendment can be.

Just as the Mayor is free to express his opinion using the bully pulpit of his public office, anyone -- sitting in their underwear or wearing a tie at their desk -- has the same right.

So thanks to Don, Warner, Paul, Mike, LeBron and the rest of the gang for award-winning times last year. Here's to Kelley and Edward -- Don, Mike and LeBron again this year, too -- for getting us off to such a good start in 2011. Thanks Governor John and Ohio Democrat boss Chris for keeping the wildfires burning in Columbus. Many thanks, President Barack and Speaker John, for keeping hope and debate alive in Washington.

At times it's soap opera, but it's always real. Your passion keeps our keyboards busy. The media would have a hard time staying relevant, topical and entertaining without you. I suspect you would have a hard time, too, without the stage set for the roles you play in the public drama.

Our uniquely American penchant to speak freely without fear of stormtroopers kicking down our doors couldn't have done it without you.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

OHSAA call of Hoban-Holy Name 1p state semifinal on-air on WAKR and streaming online here: http://ping.fm/XbGz5
Williams jury gets lunch, time to talk in his records tampering and theft trial. http://ping.fm/7IOdk
Jury getting case in Edward Williams theft and records tampering trial.
Here's the REVISED URL in the Stephens shooting report: http://ping.fm/h4106
Link to revised story on @AkronNewsNow noting FBI ruling not of justification, but lack of evidence on "willfull."
Our story updated: apologies for use of word "justified" -- incorrect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Cleveland sports pals won't like it...but The King Deserves The Ring. http://ping.fm/5ZKuo

The King Deserves The Ring

The local media finally had a tag line it could push to a frenzy: "Cavs to Mavs" was the battle cry for all the LeBron haters. As if that would make a difference in the story line that started last summer with "The Decision."

The wound is apparently still raw, if one were to believe the spewing sports talk hosts in that city to the north. Clevelanders must still be avenged, they think, for the unthinkable crime of Cleveland's native son taking his talents to South Beach.

Except he wasn't, isn't, and will never be Cleveland's native son. He's Akron, and he hasn't abandoned his hometown. He just found another place to work. One where he'll recognize the professional rewards that come with his profession.

I'll admit to being one of those who would have liked to see someone else win the NBA title this year, but not because of hating LeBron. I would have enjoyed seeing a medium market team work it's own magic (hint) as a message to the way the NBA does business.

But that said, I also think it'll be great when LeBron visits and has a chance to bring another trophy to show Akron.

The Cleveland LeHaters would like you to believe LBJ never delivered on the championship for the Cavaliers, and that's true. He did, however, do so multiple times when helping bring home state championships to the high school he attended in his hometown. Let's not forget he also shared those MVP trophy days -- twice -- with his friends and family. In Akron.

The whiners would like you to remember the LeBron who stiffs restaurant workers on tips and otherwise displays some of the boorish behavior we often see with other athletes. They would like you to remember the LeBron who would hold up the team jet from away games, the player who demanded (and got) treatment above and beyond from management. Those stories are also true.

What they leave out, however, is a simple fact: LeBron, like so many young people of his age, left northeast Ohio behind to seek greater fame and fortune elsewhere. LeBron is the prototypical child of a region that doesn't seem concerned their sons and daughters take flight unless they throw footballs, hit baseballs or dunk basketballs.

There's no question LeBron's decision to stay with the Cavaliers would have left us with a better season than we got but likely a similar result: still waiting for that trip to the altar.

Does anyone seriously think a repeat of LeBron and Shaq in 2011 would have given us that different an outlook from 2010? LeBron did what champions do: he played the game to win. Dan Gilbert's post-Decision bluster that we'd see a title before LeBron will sound pretty empty by the end of next week.

So fly high, LeBron; play well with your friends and accomplish the goal you set when you realized the road to the title wasn't on I-77 but at the end of I-95. Your critics will cringe when you enjoy the fruits of your labor, but they won't be able to take away that ring. You had the vision it would come, just not here.

Note I didn't say just not here at home. Because Akron's still home, and we've seen LeBron the Champion play out before.
Not a surprise. Dispatch: Williams-Bolar nowhere near teaching goal at UA. http://ping.fm/sfyOJ

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Something Memorable

Memorial Day just around the corner, a time when he reflect on those who are no longer with us. It's based on the end of the Civil War, but has come to mean more as we give thanks for the men and women of all stripes who protect, serve, and nurture.

It's the "nurture" part I'd like to keep in mind this weekend.

Probably lost in the shuffle of all the storm and usual "don't speed or drive drunk" stories we'll see this weekend is this news release from the Fund for Our Economic Future.

Northeast Ohio's Rate of Local Government Spending is 70 Times the Region's Population Growth, 2.8 Times its Inflation Rate and 2.4 Times its Economic Output

This is a very depressing read.

The Fund is the group made up of 100 or so foundations and public-interest groups concerned that we in Northeast Ohio have lost sight of what kind of world we're leaving for the next round. They've actively engaged in talking about what it costs to live the NEO life, and in particular the really crappy deal we seem to be getting for our money.

Mainly because it isn't our money. It's the money from our kids. And the money from their kids. The bottom line is we are sucking the well dry, digging deep to take what might sustain the next generation, and sucking that to the bone too.

Mpst reasonable folks will understand the need for government to spend more on safety net programs during tough times, but it's also reasonable to expect the money isn't being flushed down the rat hole. The report notes, in northeast Ohio's 17 counties alone, there are "...868 separate entities spend $20 billion dollars to run themselves..." -- a poster child for new thinking and pressure to advance smarter government management if ever there was one.

At a time when Ohio is among the nation's leaders in losing people -- know any families where young people are begging to stay here for their economic prosperity? -- the Fund's report notes local government spending outstrips the rate of population growth by 70 percent. This is what we mean when we talk about unsustainable. Fewer people, more spending. More "public investment" paid for by fewer customers.

In the private sector, this means the company is on a fast track to go out of business. In the public sector, it means the next generation would be crazy to stick around and pay the bill for our feckless behavior, lack of accountability and inability to choose leaders who focus on the future.

We are a region of fiscal crack addicts, and the pusher is the government we elect at the most local level. These foundations making up the Fund have been making the case over the past few years for the need for radical change in the way northeast Ohio does its public business. At a time when Ohio is clearly no longer the driver for economic growth it once was, and at a time when northeast Ohio seems to be engaged in a spiral of mediocrity and leadership paralysis largely devoid of innovative thought, the burden falls more and more to these foundations to help fill the need.

Remember this when it's your time to vote for the future. Decisions you remember to make now become the conditions the next round has to live with. Maybe that should be this year's lesson for Memorial Day: remembering not only those who's sacrifice we honor, but what we actually used to be.
If you have any pictures of storm damage, especially in Cuyahoga Falls or any of the other places where the weather hit, send them to news@rcrg.net

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PHOTO: hail yes. AUDIO: funnel but no touch downs. The latest weather update. http://ping.fm/yPgQl
Word from Cuyahoga Falls PD: two funnel clouds reports but no touchdown confirmed; tree and other debris, no injuries at this time.
Reports of storm damage in Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just To Be Safe...

Can't go anywhere without the "end of the world" story. A California preacher says Saturday at 6:00 is the start of the Rapture, with the unhappy ending coming in the weeks and months ahead.

We've had quite a bit of conversation on this story. Some in the newsroom think it's a waste of time to even mention. Others thing -- with furrowed brow -- that we should engage our readers and listeners in the deeper discussion of Revelations and Rapture talk, and the impact of doomsday theology.

Me?

I think there's a degree of fun to all this, so sorry my furrowed friends. It's also worth reporting, so sorry squared to my news elitist buddies.

There's a rich history of doomsday in Christian theology; Google "end of the world" and you wind up with "about" 483 million references. "Doomsday 2011" only nets "about" 10,100,000 references.

All this talk is enough to make some empty their bank accounts and spread the word. I think "empty their bank accounts" is a phrase that ought to rank pretty high. These doomsday scenarios are great business, from Hollywood to talk show topics to just filling time on late-night TV. Even the government's Centers for Disease Control got in the act, with a spoof on how to prepare for the coming zombie invasion.

For my money, I'm going with the free viewing on YouTube.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

DEVELOPING Southwest to discontinue AirTran CAK-Milwaukee service in wake of merger deal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Party Boys

Maybe this was the conversation in your house: "Really? He didn't know? He didn't tell her until seven years later?" Another politician, another scandal. Why don't they learn?

Unless it's a really, REALLY large rock you've been living in the past few days the big news isn't about war, the economy, the environment, or even the NBA Draft.

It's all about Arnold and Maria. The Terminator and a blood-line link to Kennedy legacy and royalty. And infidelity.

Rich Hollywood Star (RHS) allegedly targeted by woman who works for him; they have unprotected romps (you know what that means) around the house when wife and family are away. Worker becomes pregnant but RHS allegedly thinks it's her husband's child. She stays in the employ of RHS family, eventually retiring after 20 years of service. Word gets out after RHS -- who then became GOC (Governor of California) eventually faces the music after he's out of office. Wife of RHS devastated, separation ensues, nation natters on, cable television has something other than Casey Anthony to obsess over.

Add Schwarzenegger to the list of political notables sullied and soiled, along with Eliot Spitzer, Marc Dann, David Vitter, Jon Ensign, Wayne Hayes, Bill Clinton -- for their treatment of spouse and family. Their word to love and honor meant little. Should it matter to us?

Anyone who thinks public officials are superhuman and exempt from the same temptations and stupid behavior we see in our own families has another thing coming. But should it be something to consider, or even hold high as a determining factor, when it's time to hit the ballot box?

You choose to pay for movies or watch television programs with these fallen stars; it's hard to turn on the TV on any given weekend and not come across an action flick with Arnold battling human and alien enemies. You need only switch on CNN at night to check out Spitzer as pundit-reformed-disgraced politician. Dann, Vitter, Ensign and Hayes are Washington examples of Boys Gone Wild, and despite Clinton's status as the king of such scandals in our lifetime he's now largely revered as the President who actually managed the government without leaving us drowning in debt.

Does the personal foible translate into the professional weakness? What's worse, the slip or the silent cover-up? Or are we voters tiring of these scandals to the point where we realize it might be unrealistic to expect better of our leaders?

What's more important, electing them based on remembering where the money in their wallet came from or them remembering where they dropped their pants?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Don Doesn't Want To Hear

The story of the City Hall shuffle this week -- Communications Director to Chamber of Commerce liaison, Assistant Law Director to Communications spot, Chamber of Commerce liaison to Economic Development -- is very inside politics. It does raise a few questions, however, on just who had the ear of the person who made all this happen.

Those following the inside soap opera of inside politics, and not just the Plusquellic Administration but any political organization, quickly get used to seeing faces come and go. The bureaucracy of government is where you'll find those with long service records; political operatives, however, come and go. It's true for the White House. It's true for the Statehouse. It's true for City Hall.

The key question in any reshuffling, however, is whether it makes the operation of the office and mission of the organization stronger. To that end, any shuffling in the Communications end carries with it some gambling. Those who serve as go-between for politicians and the media usually find themselves in no-win positions. Advocate blindly for the boss and reporters will quickly grade your credibility accordingly. Advocate for the reporters and the boss will question your loyalty.

The reporter side aims to reveal, question and confront; the political side aims to set direction, accomplish the mission and protect the boss. There is always tension between both, and it's that tension that distinguishes the American style of governing from most other countries. It isn't always pretty, but it establishes up front how the people's business is still up to the people.

Mayor Plusquellic faced a conundrum: insiders tell me he didn't have faith his message was getting out. He didn't have confidence his agenda was the agenda. Someone had to pay that price, and it wasn't going to be him. Frankly, that requires a level of introspection even the hardiest of politicians don't attempt. Leaders need a straw man to knock about, a punching dummy to exorcise frustration on. In most political offices, that winds up being the communications person. In this political office, that was what Mark Williamson did.

But unlike political offices in far-away Washington or Columbus, where the communication liaisons change frequently, Williamson is different. He's not the faceless spokesman, or the contact-du-jour you find at the offices of the Representative or Senator. His was a face the community was familiar with, for decades on television and nearly as long from City Hall. Williamson himself, as with Plusquellic, has become a local institution of a sort. Despite the Mayor's misgivings, giving such an institution the outright boot holds far more political headache than finding a place for him elsewhere.

Out of sight, out of mind. J. Edgar Hoover used to do this in the F.B.I. with agents who disappointed, famously sending them to Billings. Josef Stalin sent his to Siberia. Not to belittle the public servants who toil for us in far-off regions, but it's reasonable to note military officers who fail but can't be canned ought not be surprised when they are reassigned to a radar installation overlooking the Bering Straits. In private industry, it may be some department close to the restrooms where an offending executive is banished to do little harm. This is the price when the boss loses faith.

It is entirely within the purview of the boss to make sure the team in place serves the needs of the boss, especially if that boss faces one of the more challenging re-election bids just four months away. This the reason civil service doesn't extend to political at-will positions such as Deputy Mayor, or Chief of Staff, or even Communications Director. This Mayor -- and ones to follow, regardless of the outcome in September -- deserve the right to choose his own leadership circle. Moving those pieces like those on a chessboard not only comes with the territory, it helps keep the rest of the team on their toes and often brings in renewed focus and energy.

But in this case, there's one aspect the Mayor should be thinking about which may escape the ego of office: do you still have someone close to you, someone you trust, someone who can close the door and speak frankly about your decisions and actions? Is there a member of your circle with the fortitude to call you out, and your leave to do so, in the same kind of language and approach you employ with others? Who is your sounding board, someone who has credibility and wisdom to not only affirm when you are on the right path but also point out the wrong direction?

Legend has it that triumphant Roman leaders, hailed as conquerors, would have a slave with them in the chariot as the thousands heaped adulation. The slave would whisper "Look behind you, remember you are only a man" or "Remember that you are mortal." Every leader needs that critical element of someone who doesn't buy the hype, someone who knows the value of no often eclipses the ease of yes, someone who understands metal for the sword is stronger after the hammering and out of the forge.

Bill Clinton had his James Carville. George Bush had his Karl Rove. Barack Obama has his David Axelrod. Who plays that role with Don Plusquellic? His confidants in years past have moved on to other positions in the community, and while they may still be close enough to be considered "inner circle" are they close enough for the daily whispering required? Joel Bailey, Joe Kidder, Ray Kapper, even Tom Sawyer provide wisdom and alternate viewpoints, but they are advisers and not everyday actors. In the heat of the moment when decisions are made, are those other voices in the second floor Mayor's suite of offices strong enough to assume that role, taking with it the abuse that comes from being the bearer of bad tidings?

Those who know Don Plusquellic's hard-driving personality know this is neither an easy nor pleasant job.

With a plain-spoken Williamson out of sight, Plusquellic must make sure he still has someone by his side, not only willing but with the credibility and freedom to be able to cut through his sometimes acerbic personality and go beyond the toxic antics of politics.