Monday, August 9, 2010

Akron's predictions for police layoffs, others are staggering

I don't know if I can find the right words to describe a layoff of 60-90 Akron Police Officers or more.  Probably because I'm friends with so many of them from over the years. I always tell people that Akron is a big city, but a small town - translation: we don't need six degrees of separation to know who is who.

The city's prediction of a year-end deficit of $4 million is staggering considering all the cuts we've seen in the last 18 months.  Early retirements, buyouts, etc .. shouldn't that have helped us beyond this?

I spoke in depth with FOP President Paul Hlynsky last week and then with Mayor Plusquellic by phone today. Both are passionate about their positions and both agree they want to save jobs, every single one they can.

But can they work together to make it a reality?

Whether it's 10 officers or 100, police layoffs will hurt the city. Without the Akron Schools to hire more (not going to happen) or some other revenue source coming in in the next few weeks (maybe the COPS grant the Mayor applied for in Washington), we ARE going to see layoffs in Akron in the next month.

One local leader told me there has been talk of a study to limit the department to two officers per every 1,000 residents.  That would give us a police force of around 400 give or take.  That's a lot less than we have now. Would a force that size really work in Akron?

City Hall has NOTHING to gain by cooking the books to make us look poor and let people go. 

APD has NOTHING to gain by playing chicken with a budget crisis.

Akron has EVERYTHING to lose if we can't find middle ground.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lynn France on Today Show

Lynn France, who first shared her story with Channel 3 News, shares her identity and more with the Today Show. What would you do in her shoes?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tiger, Tiger burning bright .. bringing $$ to Akron day and night

I can't complain.  Getting paid to go to Firestone Country Club for the first day of World Golf Championships week isn't tough duty, although there isn't much to report on day one.  The usual story -- and the one that I was assigned today -- is to preview the week's activities while looking at the economic impact of the events.

Only in this case it's eventS .. add the "s" at the end to include the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions this weekend.  And oh yeah, LeBron James has his bike-a-thon too.

Dan Colantone from the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce estimates the financial impact to the region at $30 million.  Big bucks for a big week for sure. 

I just wonder if it wouldn't be better to have the two major events on separate weeks rather than competing for air time and restaurant seats.

I was asked about security for Tiger so I checked with the tournament. Security is always tight for the world's number one player, and I was told by both the tourney folks and APD that his traditional plan is in place.  Honestly, I don't think anyone expects there to be trouble anyway .. but as a journalist, we get paid to ask.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Facebook's impact on divorce just as messy as ever

My story on a local woman discovering her husband's second wife on Facebook plays tonight at 11, but the more I think of her case -- and others like hers -- the more I wonder if FB helps or hurts cases like this.

On one hand, it adds clarity to a spouse's actions when you can see photos of them with another person or doing something they said they weren't doing. Tough to argue you never met "that woman" when there are photos of you two kissing on a boat.

On the other hand, photos and status updates can always be debated by one or the other so it creates even more objects for debate in an often messy process.

Either way it's painful.

In tonight's story, we'll meet "Megan" and hear about how she watched helplessly from Ohio as her husband's "business trips" to Florida led to him not only meet another woman but to marry her too -- all while still married in Ohio. Wedding photos were eventually posted on Facebook and soon thereafter pictures of the Ohio's wife's two children interacting with her husband's "second" wife were added as well. Can you imagine how hard that is to see?

I spoke with the husband's Florida attorney who says the hubby is claiming a clerical technicality that makes the first wedding null and therefor he's not a bigamist. Megan says that's a crock, but we'll let the courts settle that.

In stories like these, my experience is usually that the truth is somewhere in the grey area between the two parties' stories. In this case, it's just bizarre.

Either way, it's heartbreaking to see marriages ending period. To see FB as a part of the divorce process -- either as a vehicle to temptation or after-the-fact as an evidence-gathering tool -- just adds another obstacle that keeps some folks away from FB altogether when they could be using it as a great way to stay in touch with family and friends.

Wow .. I'm sooo overdue to write!

Just learned that this Blog was runnerup as "Best Blog" for Akron Life and Leisure Magazine. (Here's the cover from when I returned from Iraq a few years ago)

Clearly I am both humbled by those who voted and ashamed that my life has gotten so busy that I haven't written like I used to write .. so I promise to get back at it.

Heck the stories inside our newsroom alone will give you a chuckle ...

More later ..


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Akron flags send wrong message

Scribbles in my notebook ..

I realize the City of Akron is scraping together its pennies right now, but I was a bit miffed at the flags I saw flying over the snow and ice center on Triplett Boulevard. (see photo) The American Flag is tattered something fierce, and the City of Akron flag isn't much better. Maybe I'm a bit more sensitive as an Army veteran, but I really hope someone puts up new ones soon. If it's a cost issue, I'll bet a local citizen or two (or 100) would volunteer a replacement Stars and Stripes soon. I need to take a look around town to see if this is a city-wide problem or just at this location.

I can't seem to go more than three days without doing a story that has a social media element -- blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Makes me wonder how viewers who don't use social media react when they see so many TV stories involving these sources.

I was thrilled to see the city step forward on a deal to keep the All-American Soap Box Derby in town. Yes, I'm biased as a Derby Dad, but I've always believed it's one of the most unique, family-friendly events in the country. One more way to get the city's name out there in a positive light.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Former local news photographer Ken Love takes risk to fulfill dream

Ken's talent is real gift, and his drive to turn a bad situation into his dream job is certainly one that others could follow. Dick Dawson's guidance is good too, but I fear that too many folks aren't willing to take the risk.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Catching up .. long overdue

Blogging .. oh yeah, I remember how to do this. My schedule has become so much busier these days that it's been tough getting back in the habit.

Thanks to those of you who have been encouraging me to keep writing .. and to Phil for threatening to UN-bookmark me if I don't share more soon. Ha.

A few notes:

I'm still pretty sore from our "Channel 3 News at 7 Olympics" in which Monica Robins, Betsy Kling and I compete in 10 winter sports for fun. The series of stories will run each night during the Olympic games. We shot all 10 events in one day. Skis, skates, sleds, and even curling. It'll be funny for sure.

I'm not hearing any complaints about fire response during the months following the layoffs of 37 fire fighters. That's not to say that there aren't manpower issues or that the department doesn't desperately need these fire fighters back. Rather, I'm just noting that no complaints have surfaced.

I find it semi-amusing that the 18 Akron Police Officers now working in our schools as their full-time assignment are being forced to pay for a background check because "everyone who works in the schools must have one" .. or something to that effect. Hmmmmm ... me thinks having Akron cops doing background checks on their own seems a waste of time and money. Nes pas?

Last week, it was a pot-bellied pig .. and now we have hybrid wolves? Ummm what the heck? A few months ago I actually got a tip that the Akron Zoo was hunting for a bear that escaped. After shifting one of our videographers to head to the zoo immediately, I learned that it was a drill.
Interesting to hear Matt Patrick on the air at WTAM. Can't get over hearing him read other call letters.

Got my first "I can't tell you" from Lisa following her first meeting on the Akron School Board. Nothing like being married to a public official, eh? Of course, in my line of work, that goes both ways.

Felt bad for the North Ridgeville Police today. They were already stretched thin by helping cover President Obama's visit to Lorain County when they got a call of a homicide -- a 55-year-old man found dead in his home. Tough to meet all those manpower demands on the same day.