The Browns have purchased the remaining tickets so Sunday’s season finale at home against Jacksonville can be shown on local television.

It will be carried by WOIO Channel 19.

The Browns did not apply for an extension as they did last week. They haven’t been blacked out locally since the final game of 1995, after it was announced the franchise was moving to Baltimore.

Carol Biliczky

Alesha Hall learned two new skills on New Year’s Eve: how to stumble and how to ”juggle” wisps of cloth.

”Juggling is easy,” clown Mike Salvino soothed Alesha and other children who sought to learn the fine art of clowning at the Shoppes at Akron Centre. ”Look, she’s a master at it!”

Salvino’s fuzzy orange hair, lopsided hat and giant blue and yellow shoes made him an instant attraction for Alesha, 9, of Akron and other merrymakers who turned out for the wide variety of events at First Night on Thursday.

But Salvino and his co-clown son, Vince, were only two of the attractions as partyers rang in the new year in downtown Akron.

Blocks of the city were alive with families who moved from venue to venue to decorate face masks, listen to harmonica music, watch Irish dancing and learn vegetable carving.

This year’s theme was A Night of Firsts. Entertainers were either new to First Night or were debuting new works.

The newbie events included a songwriting workshop by local acoustic roots band Hey Mavis, with new songs premiering later in the evening. Golden olden events included the First Night Idol competition for high school students.

Akron city officials launched the inaugural First Night party 14 years ago as a way to spark interest in downtown.

The city was following in the footsteps of Boston, which invented the First Night concept in 1976. Other cities followed around the world.

The Akron event has attracted as many as 30,000 people in its early years, according to event officials.

This year, a First Night official said Thursday afternoon that 3,000 buttons had been sold, but that that was a wildly incomplete count and that many buttons were distributed to supporters at no cost.

This year, the Downtown Akron Partnership, which sponsors First Night, hoped that 15,000 people with buttons would attend. Children under 10 did not need buttons.

Promoters have been tweaking the festivities over the years to make them more user-friendly.

While some First Nights have had as many as 33 venues, this year’s celebration was limited to 10.

Communications director Lisa Knapp said people didn’t like to have to travel so far from venue to venue to see all the acts they wanted, so organizers condensed the footprint.

Still, this year’s celebration had 93 entertainers, the same as last year.

But the event offered a little bit of something for everyone — from two fireworks celebrations to fortunetellers to forecasts that the future will be brighter than it has been.

”Make and take” was big: Many venues offered children the opportunity to concoct their own creations out of cloth, pipe cleaners, feathers, cardboard, face masks, confetti and glue.

Peyton Crook, 7, of Green, glued red fabric hearts onto a white pillow cover into which she would insert her dream for the coming year — it was lots of love, she told parents Jason and Keri Crook.

”We were looking for something fun to do. This had a lot to offer,” Jason Crook said.

Geoff Guider of Stow glued swatches of red fabric onto his ”dream pillow” as his wife and children concocted their own creations.

His wish for the future was more practical: a good year for the stock market.

 


Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or [email protected].

 


Upload your photos or videos from First Night by using the link below.

If you attended First Night please tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Happy New Year wishes from Pat McManamon here.

>>First Night on Twitter
>>Upload your First Night photos and videos

One of Akron’s New Year’s babies is back where she started.

It was 23 years ago Friday when Lindsay Mayes’ grand arrival at 12:02 a.m. gave Akron General Medical Center the honor of delivering Akron’s first baby born in the New Year.

Now Mayes is delivering health care at the hospital where she was born.

The region’s first baby of 1987 recently started a job as a nurse in the progressive intensive care unit at Akron General.

”Full circle,” she said.

Nurses in the area’s maternity units enjoy a friendly competition each year to deliver the first baby, said Joy Burt, director of postpartem services at Akron General.

”It’s a fun-spirited thing,” she said. ”Sometimes they’re calling the other hospitals to see who’s getting the closest. They’ll call between 11 and 12 and say, ‘How many people do you have in labor?’ ”

If Mayes’ mother had her way, the New Year’s baby of 1987 instead might have been the region’s last baby born in 1986.

Kimberly and Samual Mayes were eager for their only child to arrive after 23 hours of labor on New Year’s Eve.

The doctor finally determined a Caesarean section would be needed.

”Do you want your tax deduction or the New Year’s baby?” the physician asked.

”Tax deduction,” the exhausted mother-to-be quickly responded.

”I wanted to be finished sooner,” she recalled with a laugh.

But in the end, Lindsay Dawn Mayes arrived two minutes after midnight, weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces.

The distinction earned the Seville family a photo in the next day’s edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, as well as news stories on Cleveland TV stations and Akron’s Channel 23.

Mayes also received a special ”First Baby of the Year” bib from the hospital.

Her parents kept the bib and tapes of the news stories, along with a framed copy of the newspaper that proudly hangs in their bedroom.

”It’s kind of a good birthday to have because people don’t forget your birthday,” Mayes said.

On the day she was born, her parents watched from a hospital room as their favorite college team, the Penn State Nittany Lions, upset the University of Miami Hurricanes for the national championship.

”That was just a good day in our book,” her mom said.

Mayes now wears Penn State scrubs and socks to work at Akron General.

She earned her nursing degree in May from Malone University and applied for jobs at numerous hospitals, including Akron General, where she was working as a nurse tech.

In July, the hospital hired her to care for stroke patients and those transitioning between the general hospital floors and the intensive care unit.

”We were very pleased when she came here,” her mother said. ”We had excellent care when we came here. The nurses were excellent.”

Mayes works the overnight shift from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

As one of the newest nurses, she knew she’d work holidays.

”I said, ‘I just have one request, that I don’t have to work New Year’s Eve or New Year’s because that’s my birthday,’ ” she said.


Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or chpowe[email protected].

Heather Hollingsworth

FAIRWAY, Kan. (AP) — Anne Epperson thought little of it when she flipped her daughter’s convertible car seat around so she could face forward after her first birthday.

But if car seat advocates get their way, parents like Epperson will be delaying the switch, possibly for years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is revising recommendations that they hope will clear up confusion over how long children should spend riding rear facing in car seats and make them safer in the process.

Some experts, citing a much-touted 2007 study, say tots are being put at risk switching to the forward-facing position at 1 year of age and 20 pounds, currently the minimum guideline from the pediatrics group and the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

That’s because the extreme forces in some frontal crashes can jerk the heads of forward-facing children away from their immature bodies, creating a risk of spinal cord injuries. Rear-facing children are safer because their entire backs absorb the force of the crash.

The issue becomes confusing because both groups also advise that children are safer if they remain rear facing until the upper height and weight limit of their car seats. Many seats top out at 35 pounds in the rear-facing position, a weight many children don’t reach until somewhere between their third and fourth birthdays.

It’s rare in the U.S. for children to remain rear facing that long, although several countries require their youngest passengers to ride rear facing until they are 4 or 5 years old and 55 pounds.

The issue has attracted growing attention since a 2007 article in the journal Injury Prevention showed that U.S. children are five times less likely to be injured in a crash between their first and second birthdays if they are rear facing.

“We rarely if ever see spine injuries in children in rear-facing car seats,” said Dr. Marilyn J. Bull, the contributing pediatric researcher in the study. “We will see head injuries or we will see a few other injuries, but the vast majority of serious injuries occur when children are forward facing.”

The AAP is still discussing how it is going to revise the recommendations.

Dr. Dennis Durbin, who is leading the effort to update the group’s policy on child passenger safety, said the emphasis will be more on remaining rear facing to the upper weight limit of the seat. The academy is hoping to introduce the new guidelines late next year.

Durbin said he is well aware of the research and said one of the goals with the revision is to reorder the policy and “really state what the ideal is.”

That’s good news to safety advocates.

“When it is written one year and 20 pounds, parents don’t pay attention to the rest,” complained Pam Holt, the previous chairwoman of the National Child Passenger Safety Board and the trauma prevention coordinator at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Mo.

Count Epperson among the confused parents. The 35-year-old said she doesn’t recall getting advice to keep her 23-month-old daughter or 3-year-old daughter rear facing longer.

“I’ve read a lot of books, but I’ve never heard that,” Epperson said as she picked her daughters up from a church daycare in the Kansas City suburb of Fairway, Kan. “I had no idea.”

Pediatricians get some of the blame, said Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, part of an American Academy of Pediatrics committee that helps educate parents and doctors about injury prevention. The Albuquerque, N.M., pediatrician said some are still promoting old guidelines that say children must be turned forward at a year.

Hoffman, also a certified car seat technician, came across a mother recently whose pediatrician had given her that old advice, and she balked when he suggested she keep her 1-year-old son in the rear-facing position.

“I don’t care what you think,” she told Hoffman. “You aren’t my pediatrician.”

Stories like these make activists shake their heads. Motor vehicle crashes are the single leading cause of death for U.S. children, claiming an average of about four lives a day. Hoffman said it is tragic that “people are not operating on the best information they possibly could.”

“The bottom line is that in a crash, a child who is rear facing is going to have all the crash forces spread over their entire back, from the tops of their head to the tips of their toes,” Hoffman said. “And spreading all that force out over such a wide area significantly decreases the risk of injury.”

Experts said part of the problem is that parents often have viewed switching their children to the forward-facing position as a rite of passage.

“It’s like graduating from preschool into kindergarten,” Hoffman said. “They view it as a good thing. What we need to do is work on changing people’s attitudes so that they recognize that every step you make from rear facing to forward facing to booster, you lose some safety, and that people should switch only when absolutely necessary. It’s not necessarily a negative step but neither is it a positive step.

“And the fact of the matter is the kids don’t know any different. And if our first priority was to keep the kids as safe as possible, it would be a no-brainer.”

Associated Press

NEW YORK: Stocks are edging higher on the last day of the year as weekly unemployment claims fell to the lowest level since July 2008.

The welcome news about unemployment Thursday comes as investors look to wrap up a strong year for the market. Markets are closed Friday.

The Labor Department says claims for unemployment benefits fell by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 432,000 last week. Analysts had expected claims would rise.

Trading is expected to be quiet as investors await the arrival of 2010 to draw clues about the direction of the markets.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 4 at 10,552.52. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up 1 at 1,127, and the Nasdaq composite index is up 1 at 2,292.

I thought about posting lists of favorite shows, movies and so on for the decade. But, well, I got lazy. And have been on vacation. And have played too much Wii. But here are nine pop-culture items (aren’t you very tired of top tens?), in no special order, that helped get me through the last decade:

1. The MP3 and music downloads. My latest is an iPod, currently loaded with 6,000 songs from downloads and transferred CDs, some organized into playlists, others just there for the mood swing. It’s at the point where I am having to clear out some things, or to transfer downloads to disc, because I know that I will want to put more in there. And while I love the pilgrimage to record stores (I’ll try to get by in January, Time Traveler), I also love the impulse of hearing a song on the radio or TV, then hopping online to download it and relish it more. And that I can take so much with me when I travel.

2. “Love Actually.” I have worn you all down with my praise of it, but it remains my favorite movie of the decade.

3. The films of Clint Eastwood. If I had to choose the Director of the ’00s, as I have already argued in one of my videos, Eastwood would most likely be it. Like Springsteen, not always great. But in what for many would be waning years of age, he has offered us “Million Dollar Baby,” “Gran Torino,” “Flags of Our Fathers/Letters From Iwo Jima,” and more films beside. Try to find someone else who matches him in terms of consistent quality during steady output. Also, he reclaimed “Invictus” from Timothy McVeigh.

4. Bruce Springsteen. He wasn’t always great in the decade. But he gave us “The Rising”; a great live album (from a tour I took my sons to), and the Seeger sessions, as well as serving both as a social-historical conscience and a lover of rock music.

5. Cable dramas. Since individually they might dominate a list like this, I offer collectively the likes of “The Sopranos,” “The Shield,” “The Wire,” “Mad Men.” You may insert other names — “Deadwood,” say, or “Carnivale.” I might, too. I have singled out these four as exemplars because each has had moments of joy and anguish, has asked tough questions about our culture, and presented transcendent scenes. Think of the “family meeting” on “The Shield,” or Don Draper falling for his own mythmaking in a slide show, or the final moments of “The Wire,” or the challenging (if infuriating to some) end of “The Sopranos.”

6. The DVR. Malcolm X Abram and I have a long story in Sunday’s Beacon Journal about the decade in tech, and the DVR is in there. Hard to believe that less than 10 years ago I was still piling up videotapes, often unlabeled, hard to sort through, erratic in picture quality. The DVR has its difficulties — and I have had a lot of problems with getting them to perform consistently — and I still have a couple of VCRs set up for checking out archives. But the DVR has shone for its ease of use and its siren cry to watch things instead of leaving them to rot in a tape pile.

7. Rediscovering literature. I have tried to be well-read, if only to make up for gaps in my knowledge. As Paul Johnson says of Winston Churchill, “There were always gaps, he felt, in his knowledge, which he eagerly filled when vital books were recommended to him.” But my heavy lifting tended toward nonfiction, and American history and politics, leaving still enormous gaps. So when I started back to school a little over a year ago, I found myself wrestling with Edith Wharton and Henry James, Lord Rochester and Alexander Pope, Aphra Behn and Frances Burney, with Hawthorne and Melville looming in January. I can’t pretend to have understood it all — Pope was especially difficult — but I loved the act of grappling with it, and found pleasures I did not expect, arguments I had not had to make. Somewhere in my pop-culture soul is the old college English major, and this time I have freed him with more purpose than he had close to 40 years ago.

8. The great online conversation. YouTube, Facebook, blogging, Twitter, podcasts, vodcasts — you know I’m a fan and participant. I love this massive chat we are all having, regardless of place and background; it’s not always civil, or even fun, and the idea of keeping up across all venues can be exhausting. (My other blog has suffered badly from neglect.) But I keep wanting to talk, and to listen, and through the whole process to learn.

9. The “Harry Potter” novels. I was slow getting to this dance. But I am not one for devouring print series of anything, and these demanded my attention, and then kept it. As I have mentioned before, the bride and I went on a vacation where I hauled along the first few for beach reading; before the vacation was done, I had finished what I had brought and hit a bookstore for the next volumes. And yes, I was in one of those midnight lines for the last book. What a joy to see people embrace epic reading in that way.

BEREA: When Maurice Jones-Drew heard that Jerome Harrison had run for 286 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago, he used the third-best performance in NFL history as a teaching moment.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ star running back from UCLA, Jones-Drew considers Harrison a close friend. They competed in the Pac-10, Harrison spending his final two seasons at Washington State after attending junior college. Both were drafted in 2006, Jones-Drew in the second round and Harrison in the fifth.

Both have defied the NFL bias against smaller backs. Jones-Drew stands 5-foot-7 and 208 pounds, while Harrison is 5-foot-9 and 205.

”At the Senior Bowl, I was 5-93/4. They’ve taken that three-quarters away from me,” Harrison said. ”I don’t worry about it.”

So when Jones-Drew heard that Harrison ”went crazy” against the Chiefs, he propped himself up in front of the television and studied Harrison’s highlights for 20 minutes.

”There would be a hole there, but you wouldn’t see it. As soon as he went to it, it would open up. Boom!” Jones-Drew said on a conference call Wednesday.

”Jerome Harrison’s been doing that for a while now. I don’t know how you guys just found that out, but I remember him in college. He tore UCLA up for 280, 290.”

Actually, it was a career-high 260 yards in 2005, when Harrison finished second in the nation in rushing with 1,900 yards.

The Browns (4-11) will try to win their fourth consecutive game for the first time since 1986 in Sunday’s season finale at home against the Jaguars (7-8). And Browns quarterback Derek Anderson said the offensive strategy will vary little from the previous week, when Harrison followed up his historic effort with 148 yards on a team-record 39 carries against the Oakland Raiders.

”Stay on the same page, control the ball, make good decisions and let the little dog run,” Anderson said.

The Jags may do the same with Jones-Drew, who ranks fifth in the league in rushing with 1,309 yards and fourth in yards from scrimmage (1,677). He has a team-record 15 rushing touchdowns; 18 teams in the league have fewer.

”Every play’s a kick return for this guy,” Browns linebacker David Bowens said of Jones-Drew. ”He’s dangerous. No one can tackle him. Their offensive line is big and physical. . . .You can’t find the doggone running back. When we do, we have to tackle him.”

Both Jones-Drew and Harrison had to wait their turn. Jones-Drew spent the previous three seasons behind Fred Taylor, while Harrison sat behind Reuben Droughns in 2006 and has backed up Jamal Lewis since 2007. Taylor signed with the New England Patriots this season, clearing the way for Jones-Drew, while Lewis went on injured reserve Dec. 2 with post-concussion symptoms and Harrison took over.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said running backs coach Kennedy Pola, who spent 2004 with the Browns, was instrumental in convincing him that Jones-Drew could be an every-down back.

”The obvious question was: ‘Is he going to be able to be more than a specialist?’ ” Del Rio said. ”Anytime you’re dealing with a shorter athlete, the big questions are: ‘Can he block? Can he pick up the blitz? Will he block? Is he willing? Is he capable?’ Kennedy Pola was very confident of that.

”Within the first week of training camp when we put the pads on, and you saw the ferociousness he blocked with, the way he’d go after people, the physicality he ran with, you could see more than just a scatback. [He’s] an every-down back, a guy who will do all dirty things, the tough things, inside running, blocking. Whatever you ask of him, he’s been sensational.”

Browns coach Eric Mangini was mentored by Bill Belichick, who charted ideal size requirements for each position while in Cleveland. But Mangini has seen several who broke the mold, like Leon Washington, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Ray Mickens, Aaron Glenn and Asante Samuel.

”You have the ideal height, weight and speed, but then you have to look at production, playing speed versus timed speed; there are so many exceptions to the rules,” Mangini said. ”I’ve seen some big guys play small and a lot of small guys play big.”

Harrison’s previous single-season best was 246 yards in 2008, while Jones-Drew’s was 941 yards as a rookie. Harrison takes 735 yards into the finale against Jones-Drew, just voted to his first Pro Bowl.

”My favorite running backs are guys like Jones-Drew, [Darren] Sproles, LaDainian [Tomlinson] — smaller backs, guys people say are too small,” Harrison said of the San Diego Chargers’ Sproles (5-6 and 185) and Tomlinson (5-10, 221). ”I really appreciate and respect what they’re doing.”

But Jones-Drew said even a 1,300-yard season hasn’t lifted the chip from his shoulder.

”I don’t know when size is not going to be a question of mine,” Jones-Drew said. ”I hope it stops.”

Blackout averted

The Browns purchased the remaining tickets so Sunday’s game could be televised locally (WOIO, Channel 19). They averted a blackout for the fourth time this season. The last time a game was blacked out was the 1995 season finale.

Brownies

Mangini said it appears unlikely that rookie receiver Brian Robiskie will play Sunday with an ankle injury suffered against the Raiders. He was among six who did not practice, with the new addition being linebacker Titus Brown (hamstring). Harrison (hip) was limited, along with safety Mike Adams (elbow). . . .Receiver/safety Mike Furrey is the Browns’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, given annually since 1970 to recognize community service and excellence on the field. Mangini said Furrey’s biggest project was a holiday toy drive, filling a tractor-trailer with $45,500 worth of toys. ”I never felt it’s something we should be getting rewarded for. It’s something we should be doing every day,” Furrey said. . . .Asked whether he had any New Year’s resolutions, Mangini hedged at first, saying he had a few hours left to think about it. Much looser than usual during the past two days, Mangini then offered, ”No bus rides to Hartford.”


Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected]. Read her Browns blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/browns/. Follow the Browns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ABJ_Browns.

My dog is a rot mix. He is a rescue and needs love and attention. He has a small scar on his snout. He is very timid and afraid of things. He needs to be home and I need him home. Please help. He went missing from North Hill in Akron on Dec. 28th. I miss him.
330-962-7006 or [email protected]

Associated Press

KITTANNING, Pa.: An Ohio man has been sentenced to 11/2 to 3 years in prison for pepper spraying an employee who caught him shoplifting at a western Pennsylvania Wal-Mart in May.

Fifty-two-year-old Paul Smartt Jr., of Solon (SOH’-luhn), Ohio, was sentenced on a charge of robbery Tuesday. He had pleaded guilty in October.

Police say Smartt opened a box containing a fan at the Wal-Mart in East Franklin Township, and put two digital cameras inside it before he went through a checkout lane. Smartt paid for the fan and was leaving when the cameras triggers security alarms.

Police say Smartt resisted an employee’s attempt to stop him by using pepper spray.

Smartt apologized at his sentencing. He will serve two years on probation after his prison sentence.

Carol Biliczky

Alesha Hall learned two new skills on New Year’s Eve: how to stumble and how to ”juggle” wisps of cloth.

”Juggling is easy,” clown Mike Salvino soothed Alesha and other children who sought to learn the fine art of clowning at the Shoppes at Akron Centre. ”Look, she’s a master at it!”

Salvino’s fuzzy orange hair, lopsided hat and giant blue and yellow shoes made him an instant attraction for Alesha, 9, of Akron and other merrymakers who turned out for the wide variety of events at First Night on Thursday.

But Salvino and his co-clown son, Vince, were only two of the attractions as partyers rang in the new year in downtown Akron.

Blocks of the city were alive with families who moved from venue to venue to decorate face masks, listen to harmonica music, watch Irish dancing and learn vegetable carving.

This year’s theme was A Night of Firsts. Entertainers were either new to First Night or were debuting new works.

The newbie events included a songwriting workshop by local acoustic roots band Hey Mavis, with new songs premiering later in the evening. Golden olden events included the First Night Idol competition for high school students.

Akron city officials launched the inaugural First Night party 14 years ago as a way to spark interest in downtown.

The city was following in the footsteps of Boston, which invented the First Night concept in 1976. Other cities followed around the world.

The Akron event has attracted as many as 30,000 people in its early years, according to event officials.

This year, a First Night official said Thursday afternoon that 3,000 buttons had been sold, but that that was a wildly incomplete count and that many buttons were distributed to supporters at no cost.

This year, the Downtown Akron Partnership, which sponsors First Night, hoped that 15,000 people with buttons would attend. Children under 10 did not need buttons.

Promoters have been tweaking the festivities over the years to make them more user-friendly.

While some First Nights have had as many as 33 venues, this year’s celebration was limited to 10.

Communications director Lisa Knapp said people didn’t like to have to travel so far from venue to venue to see all the acts they wanted, so organizers condensed the footprint.

Still, this year’s celebration had 93 entertainers, the same as last year.

But the event offered a little bit of something for everyone — from two fireworks celebrations to fortunetellers to forecasts that the future will be brighter than it has been.

”Make and take” was big: Many venues offered children the opportunity to concoct their own creations out of cloth, pipe cleaners, feathers, cardboard, face masks, confetti and glue.

Peyton Crook, 7, of Green, glued red fabric hearts onto a white pillow cover into which she would insert her dream for the coming year — it was lots of love, she told parents Jason and Keri Crook.

”We were looking for something fun to do. This had a lot to offer,” Jason Crook said.

Geoff Guider of Stow glued swatches of red fabric onto his ”dream pillow” as his wife and children concocted their own creations.

His wish for the future was more practical: a good year for the stock market.


Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or [email protected].

Wilson Huhn

     Jordan Fabian of The Hill reports that thirteen state Attorneys General – all Republicans – have written a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatening legal action if the health care reform legislation is enacted with the exception singling out the State of Nebraska for favorable treatment under Medicaid.  The AGs contend that the exception for Nebraska violates the Constitution.  I agree that this particular provision of the Senate bill is unwise, unfair, and unappealing.  But is it unconstitutional?
(more…)

Associated Press

  TOLEDO: Developers of four new Ohio casinos have completed a deal to buy a 44-acre site for a casino in Toledo.Penn National Gaming Inc. said Wednesday it plans to open the Toledo casino in the second half of 2012.

The site for the new casino is along the Maumee River, near downtown Toledo.

Ohio voters approved a ballot issue that allows for the construction of casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo.

 

The Reverend

Lots of lists are being written about the decade that’s ending tonight. The aughts, the decade has been officially labeled.

Should be called the ought-nots.

My favorite list is entitled “The top ten worst things about the Bush decade.” Many readers, I’m just so certain, will enjoy reading Juan Cole’s list.

Here’s Cole’s #1 top worst thing about the Bush decade…..

1. The constitutional coup of 2000, in which Bush was declared the winner of an election he had lost, with the deployment of the most ugly racial and other low tricks in the ballot counting and the intervention of a partisan and far right-wing Supreme Court (itself drawn from or serving the oligarchs), and which gave us the worst president in the history of the union, who proceeded to drive the country off a cliff for the succeeding 8 years. And that is because he was not our president, but theirs.

Throughout Juan Cole’s other 9 top worst things about the Bush decade, he defines who the “theirs” are in that last line. The oligarchs who run our country.

An oligarchy is….”a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.”

Those same oligarchs make appearances in each and every one of Cole’s “top ten worst things about the Bush decade.”

Conservatives believe these oligarchs are intellectualized, liberal prima donnas seeking to bring down America anyway they can through “socializing” all aspects of the national economy.

Liberals understand that, if the money is followed, the American oligarchs are easily identified. They are those who bring tax rates on the wealthy down to historically low levels. They are those who conjured up the Enron’s and the WorldComs and the Dotcom bubble, the deregulation of finance, the mortgage crisis, the bank and insurance failures….and benefitted from all of it.

Oligarchs are those who defend and encourage national spending of $1 trillion annually to fuel the military industrial complex, a danger long ago warned about by a Republican president.

Oligarchs are those who work together to prop up and expand health insurance and pharmaceutical companies’ profits through legislation favorable to Wall Street. They are those who protect and defend the profits of energy companies, resisting every attempt to move away from carbon dependency.

Oligarchs are everywhere present when it comes to defending and protecting huge tele-communications corporations….helping to deregulate everything, so that consumers pay even more while being sedated by the “competition is god” nursery rhyme.

And don’t get me started on the incestuous relationship the U.S Treasury and the FED has going with their Siamese twin oligarch, Goldman Sachs. I might have to use cuss words…and then where would we be?

Read Cole’s list.

I will be tending to a family funeral for the next two days, but will then be back with my version of 2009’s biggest story.

Bill Lilley

Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank President/Chief Executive Dan Flowers remembers the projections his staff compiled three years ago as it was preparing to move into its new warehouse/office.

”We thought by Year 9 in the new facility, we’d hit 17 million [pounds],” Flowers said. ”That projection at that time seemed a little bold.”

Flower said it was hard at that time to imagine distributing that amount of food in one year — particularly because the food bank had just hit the 10 million-pound level.

And it was even harder, he said, to imagine how the food bank would acquire that much food to meet that level of demand in the eight counties it serves.

The food bank, however, operates on demand, not projections.

It’s not 2015, but already the projected peak has been surpassed.

As of Tuesday, the food bank had distributed 18.44 million pounds this year. That represents a 15 percent increase from 2008, when the food bank distributed 16 million pounds of food.

”To see us hit that milestone just two full years of operating in the new building is very significant,” Flowers said. ”If someone in the old building would have told me we would be at 18 million pounds in two years, I wouldn’t have believed them.”

Flowers said he believes there were several factors contributing to the spike in demand.

”Unemployment has been the primary driver of all these new people coming in,” Flowers said.

Flowers said that six of the eight counties that the food bank serves are ranked in the top 20 in terms of percentage of increase of unemployment claims in Ohio.

Tuscarawas County is ranked third with a 115 percent increase, and Carroll County is seventh at 97. Stark County is 14th with an 81 percent increase, and Summit County is 55th with a 36 percent increase.

Summit County is sixth in the total amount of claims distributed.

Another startling statistic is the number of programs that jumped on board with the food bank in 2009. The 93 new programs push the total to 438 that the food bank distributes to in the eight-county area.

Summit County, which has received more than 7 million pounds of food in 2009, had 51 new programs pop up this year, including 25 sites with the Blick Clinic and 14 with Hope Homes.

”Having 93 new programs to take care of is astounding,” Flowers said. ”I’ve been with food banks in Flint [Mich.] and Akron for 12 years, and the most I had ever seen added in one year before was 35.

”A lot of agencies in the area that didn’t have food distribution programs before are starting programs of their own to distribute food. The demand is that great.”

Flowers said a potential problem in 2010 is that while the demand will increase, the food bank has uncertain factors in its supply.

”We got 400,000 pounds of food from the [federal stimulus program] this year,” Flowers said. ”That won’t be there in 2010, and we’ve got to make it up.

”We had some windfalls this year that really helped. We got an increase in the state budget. That was a surprise because there were a lot of others who had cuts to their funding.”

Helping to fill the shelves were charitable contributions by Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.

”And our local food donations were up,” Flowers said. ”The people in this area are wonderful when it comes to helping others.”

Flowers said that as the demand for food increases, it creates a domino effect.

”Distributing more food also means an increased strain on our equipment,” Flowers said. ”And in some cases, it simply means we need more equipment.

”And we need more volunteers to work the equipment.”

As the organization concludes 2009, Flowers said, he remains hopeful and confident it will meet the demand again next year.

”In the end, it’s simply a balance between people coming to ask us for food and the community’s ability to help provide the food.”

 


Bill Lilley can be reached at 330-996-3811 or [email protected].

 

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo.: A trucker and his son told investigators they tortured and killed a 20-year-old Ohio man in the trucker’s basement with the help of several other people, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday seeking first-degree murder and other charges against the men.

Authorities have been holding 38-year-old Chester Harvey Jr., of Laddonia, and 19-year-old Chad Michael Harvey, of Eolia, on one count each of abandonment of a corpse since shortly after finding the body of James William Boyd McNeely in the trailer of Harvey’s semi.

Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger declined to comment Wednesday about a possible motive for the killing, where in Ohio the victim was from or how the defendants knew the victim.

But in a court filing last week, authorities said a tipster told investigators that Chester Harvey killed a man, later identified as McNeely, whom he picked up in his truck somewhere in California. The tipster said Chester Harvey was keeping the man’s body in his rig’s trailer while he figured out how to dispose of it. The tip led investigators to the body.

In their court filing Wednesday, prosecutors said three other men charged with kidnapping in the case — Robert Nicholas Allen, 52, Jackie Don Moss, 44, and Darrill Kirtley Lynn, 45 — took McNeely from Chester Harvey’s home to a home in Farber and kept him there.

Prosecutors said the Harveys retrieved McNeely and brought him back to Chester Harvey’s home on Dec. 17, where they restrained him on a mattress in the basement. They said Chad Harvey, who was armed with a shotgun, and others stayed in the basement and watched McNeely to ensure he wouldn’t escape.

Prosecutors said both father and son told investigators that throughout that night, McNeely was kicked, hit and threatened with death.

They said the father and son told authorities that Chester Harvey suffocated McNeely with a trash bag while Chad Harvey and others in the basement wrapped wire around McNeely’s throat, according to the probable cause statement.

Prosecutors did not identify who else they believe was in the basement and took part in the killing.

In addition to the charges pertaining to McNeely’s slaying, Chester Harvey has been charged with one count of kidnapping after prosecutors say he held his wife and several children hostage, including a 9-year-old son who is on dialysis and in a wheelchair.

Chester Harvey’s attorney, Justin Carver, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. Chad Harvey has not retained an attorney.

Allen, Moss and Lynn were being held on one count each of kidnapping in Audrain County Jail on $50,000 bond. Shellabarger, the prosecutor, said he did not know if any of them had attorneys, and no attorneys were listed for them in online court records.

 

Associated Press
WEST CHESTER: Authorities in Ohio say a store employee found the head of a lamb inside a microwave oven on display at an Ikea home furnishings showroom.

Police in the Cincinnati suburb of West Chester say they believe the discovery on Dec. 16 was the result of a prank. By the time officers arrived, store employees had already disposed of the head.

An Ikea spokeswoman says the small lamb’s head was removed quickly and the kitchen products display area was thoroughly cleaned.

Police have not identified any suspects. They say store surveillance video was not helpful.

Authorities note that several specialty food markets in the area sell lamb’s heads.

John Higgins

In the 1970s, Edgar L. Garrigan Jr. played a key role in shaping Summit County’s form of government: an elected county executive and an elected county council governed by a charter.

Mr. Garrigan, a World War II Marine in the South Pacific, a former state senator and an insurance executive, died in December in Florida. He was 84.

Summit County was the first and only home-rule county in Ohio until November, when Cuyahoga County voters adopted the charter form of government.

Cuyahoga became the second in Ohio to replace the Civil War-era model of three elected, at-large county commissioners combining both legislative and executive powers.

In 1970, Mr. Garrigan, a lifelong Republican who served as a state senator in the 1960s, chaired the Summit County Charter Commission.

Reformers wanted to replace the county commissioner model, an arm of state government, with something like a city’s mayor and council.

That first charter commission recommended radical changes that included selecting all county offices — except for executive, council and auditor — by appointment rather than election, including the sheriff and prosecutor.

Voters rejected that proposed charter, which was opposed by officeholders who feared for their jobs, union leaders who feared diminished political clout and citizens who feared losing their right to vote.

Mr. Garrigan was elected to a new charter commission in 1974.

That commission got off to a rocky start. Ten of the original 15 members resigned after learning they could not simultaneously serve in public local or state offices while serving on the commission.

Mr. Garrigan told the Akron Beacon Journal in May 1975 that this time around, the commission’s proposed charter would be less radical.

”It’s going to be modest, easy to understand,” Mr. Garrigan said. ”It won’t rock many boats.”

That attempt, however, also failed at the polls.

In 1979, another charter committee that included Mr. Garrigan tried a third time and succeeded.

The pro-charter efforts of the Akron Regional Development Board, a civic group called Goals for the Greater Akron Area, and the League of Women Voters of Summit County — with the editorial support of the Beacon Journal — proved so overwhelming that opponents did not even organize an anti-charter campaign.

Voters gave 62 percent approval to make Summit the first county in Ohio to replace the commissioner form of government with a charter.

Cremation services for Mr. Garrigan were handled by Beyer Funeral Home in Key Largo, Fla.


John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or [email protected].

CLEVELAND: It has been a case of now you see him, now you don’t for Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson this season. The 6-foot-1 Gibson, who hit a single, yet pivotal shot against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, has become a victim of a deep bench and the numbers game associated with it.

Gibson, who ranks second in the league in 3-point shooting, has watched consistent playing time evolve into being called on less and less. During the Los Angeles Lakers game last week, he received the dreaded ”coach’s decision — did not play” on his stat line.

”[Gibson] is a guy who should play a lot of minutes. It’s hard for me to play six perimeter guys and four big guys,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ”If I try to do that, the minutes are going to be disjointed and it would be hard to get a rhythm.”

One of those perimeter players is Delonte West, who has slowly worked his way back into Brown’s rotation after dealing with personal issues. In the meantime, Gibson has to do what’s expected of bench players.

”There’s going to be an odd man out. It just happens to be [Gibson],” Brown said. ”But. . .not only is he a terrific guy, but he’s a pro and he keeps himself ready. And when he came out on the floor [Wednesday], it’s a big shot he made at that time [cutting the Hawks’ lead to two points]. It gave us great momentum.”

No protest, yet

 

The Hawks left Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday planning to protest to the league over an error in the shot clock. With about two minutes left in the game and the Hawks ahead by one, Cavs point guard Mo Williams missed a shot. The Hawks rebounded, but the shot clock didn’t reset properly, denying them the allotted 24 seconds.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson said they would lodge a protest with the league, but as of early afternoon Thursday, they hadn’t. A league spokesman said it would investigate should there be a protest.

A quick payoff

 

A 3-point shot clinched the sixth victory in a row for the Cavs on Wednesday but it certainly came from an unexpected source in forward Anderson Varejao.

It was his first 3-point basket in 19 attempts in his career and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, with the Cavs and Hawks tied and 17.2 seconds left in the game.

Varejao, LeBron James and Brown all joked that the play to Varejao was the plan all along. What few realize is that the Cavs forward, along with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and former Cavalier Joe Smith, all used to practice the shot when John Kuester was an assistant with the Cavs.

”You just worry that he’ll fall in love with that shot,” Brown said.

Birthday celebration

 

James’ 48 points Wednesday on his 25th birthday were the third most scored by a player on his birthday. He came close to second-place holder Dominique Wilkins, who had 53 points on his birthday on Jan. 12, 1987. James didn’t come close to the record held by teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who scored 61 points on his birthday on March 6, 2000.

James, however, does have the highest point average for games played on his birthday, with 35.3 points in four games.

All-Star results

 

James continues to lead the Eastern Conference in votes for the NBA All-Star Game and ranks second only to Kobe Bryant of the Lakers in overall balloting.

James has 1,579,530 and Bryant enjoys a relatively slim lead with 1,606,032.

James leads all of the East’s forwards and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat leads the conference’s guards. The top center in the East: Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, followed by O’Neal.

The All-Star Game will be played in Dallas at the new Cowboys Stadium on Valentine’s Day.

 


George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/thomas. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CavsABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CavsABJ

 

Kathy Antoniotti

A Canton man who was hired to escort school buses for the Massillon High School band has been charged with causing a chain-reaction accident involving two of the buses in November.

Doc Shaffer, 55, has been charged with impersonating a peace officer, impeding the flow of traffic and having improper lights on the motorcycle he was operating as he escorted a caravan of seven buses from a playoff game at InfoCision Stadium in Akron on Nov. 28.

Deputy Wes Dobbins of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said Shaffer caused the accident on southbound Interstate 77 that injured 21 people and caused one of the buses to catch fire.

Dobbins said Shaffer was in back and on the left side of the buses when a red SUV moved in between the last two buses in the caravan.

”He ordered the SUV driver over and ordered him to get out of the way,” Dobbins said Thursday.

Shaffer allegedly forced the driver from the center lane to the right lane occupied by another car. That caused the SUV driver to swerve right then back to the left, Dobbins said.

Shaffer’s alleged actions caused the driver of the sixth bus in the seven-bus caravan to slam on the brakes. That bus was rear-ended by the last bus.

The driver of the SUV was not charged in the incident, Dobbins said.

Shaffer, who owns a funeral escort service, said he has been working as an escort for several Stark County schools for the past few years.

”I am not guilty of any of them charges,” Shaffer said Thursday.

”I’ve been doing this for 30-some years. I know what I’m doing,” he said.

The sheriff’s office claims Shaffer was wearing a uniform that resembled a deputy sheriff’s and was operating a three-wheeled motorcycle equipped with red and amber lights that had stars affixed to all the sides to resemble a sheriff’s vehicle.

”All the witnesses refer to him as an officer,” Dobbins said.

Shaffer, who disputes the charges, said he’s been wearing the same uniform with the same patches for years.

”They have Stark County Escort Service in the middle of them,” he said.

Shaffer said he was merely trying to get closer so he could tell the driver he was in a school bus caravan and not trying to force the SUV driver into the right lane.

”You’d have to be out of your mind to do that,” said Shaffer.

”You can’t hit a car — you’d be killed,” he said.

Shaffer said he did not charge the school district for the escort service he provided.

No one answered phones at Massillon schools’ administration offices Thursday afternoon.

Tim Ridgely, Massillon High athletic director, refused to comment when he was reached on his cell phone.

Shaffer, who said he legally changed his name from David A. to Doc A., acknowledged that he was the David A. Shaffer of Canton who was found guilty of operating illegal red flashing lights in 1996.

When told that there were other traffic violations in the court records for David and Doc Shaffer, he said there are other David A. Shaffers.

According to Stark County court records, Doc A. Shaffer, who has the same birth date and address as the David A. Shaffer in the 1996 offense, was charged in 2006 with violation of laws regarding stopping after an accident, exchange of identity and vehicle registration, driving on a suspended license and driving left of center. Three months earlier, the same Doc A. Shaffer was charged with driving on a suspended driver’s license and reckless operation. In 2004, he was charged with speeding.

After the 2006 incident, his driver’s license was suspended for 180 days except for work.

Shaffer is to appear in Barberton Municipal Court on January 8 to answer to the current charges.


Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or [email protected].

Steven S. Brooks

Having given up long ago on resolutions concerning better diet and exercise habits, I like to focus my goals for the New Year to things that interest me. Specifically, that means cars. I have several perennial resolutions such as:

 -Checking the tire pressures on my daily cars weekly

-Automatically replacing the wiper blades on my wife’s car every three months

-Driving my old cars more often

-Selling (or just getting rid of) some of my piles of old parts

 Every year, I also try to come up with a couple new things to accomplish, just to keep things interesting. My dream this year would be to attend Europe’s largest automotive swap meet in Essen, Germany and/or (preferably and) go to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England.

 What are your auto related plans for 2010?