Musicians lend a helping hand

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 25

“There’s not a real good medical plan for a jazz musician.”

So says Joan Russell, co-owner of Murphy’s Place, the downtown jazz club. But jazz has a long tradition of health care that doesn’t include HMOs or Medicare: the benefit jam for someone who is ailing. (Think Live Aid, only for one guy.)

One of the finest examples of the form will be on display Sunday, when an all-star group of musicians gathers at Murphy’s for a seven-hour jam session to benefit legendary Toledo pianist Claude Black.

Black, a youthful 65, had prostate surgery on June 16 and, while he’s recovering nicely, he still has a lot of bills to pay. Donations will be taken at the door.

More than 40 musicians are expected from Toledo, Detroit, and New York. They will all be coming to pay tribute to Black, a world-renowned, world-class piano player who has banged the ivories alongside such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Hartman, and Kenny Burrell.

“I still remember my first job, in 1949, with Billie Holiday,” said Black, who was working in Detroit as a teenager at the time. “She had left her piano player in New York, so I sat in.

“I wasn’t so good at the time,” he admits. “I was just lucky. I was shook up, oh my God!”

Black’s steady gig for the last few years has been at Murphy’s, the site of Sunday’s benefit, playing in the house band with bassist Clifford Murphy and drummer Sean Dobbins. He’s been busy recuperating, but he expects he’ll be able to sit in for a song or two Sunday.

Toledo’s Jimmy Cook and Jim Gottron will handle the show’s musical arrangements – not an easy task, considering the number of musicians and the length of the show.

Under doctor’s orders, Black will continue to rest and relax for another couple of months. But after that, he’ll start popping in at Murphy’s again to play. He’s also hoping to spend some time speaking to and playing for children in Toledo schools.

Black is the most consistent player she’s ever worked with, Russell said. “Other players, if they play six nights a week, they might have off nights. Not Claude.”

More than 40 jazz musicians will play from 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday at Murphy’s Place, 151 Water St. Donations will be taken at the door. Information: Call 241-7732.

Gunman shot by police

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

After a chase through a residential area, two Toledo police officers fired on a man who pointed a rifle at them yesterday in West Toledo, shooting him multiple times, police said.

William Metcalf, 32, of Alma, Mich., who did not fire at the officers, was taken to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where he was listed in serious condition last night.

Acting police Chief Mike Navarre said the suspect appears to have been shot five times in the arm and leg.

The incident began about 1 p.m. when Officer Reid Werner saw a pickup truck traveling west on West Sylvania Avenue, near Lewis Avenue. Bottles were spilling out of the truck’s bed, breaking on the pavement, according to Lt. Leo Eggert.

The officer stopped the truck and asked to see the driver’s operator’s license. The driver did not have one, but gave Officer Werner what police believe was a fake name.

When the officer could not confirm the man’s identity by checking records, he asked the man to step out of the truck.

The man drove away, westbound on Sylvania.

Officer Werner called for backup and began to pursue the truck, which turned north on North Lockwood Avenue, a residential area.

As the truck continued up Lock wood, its passenger opened his door and jumped out, fleeing on foot.

The truck turned right onto Martin Avenue.

After turning, the truck spun out of control, police said, and stopped in the middle of the street. Officer Werner pulled his car up to the truck. Then, according to police, the suspect opened his door and pointed a 30-30 rifle at the officer.

“I’m not going to jail,” the man said, according to Lieutenant Eggert.

At this point, Sgt. Don Clark arrived, stopping his car behind Officer Werner’s. He got out and moved behind his unit’s right rear.

The officers pulled their 9mm handguns and asked the suspect to lower his rifle. When he did not, they opened fire. Officer Werner fired once; Sergeant Clark, 7 times, police said.

The other suspect, who jumped from the moving truck, was captured by officers outside a pizza restaurant on Sylvania Avenue. He was questioned at the police department’s Northwest district station and released.

Officers marked several bullets and bullet fragments strewn across Martin.

A gun blast, presumably from Sergeant Clark, smashed a hole in the rear window of Officer Werner’s police car.

As is the case anytime a Toledo officer fires a gun, the incident will be investigated by the department’s firearms review board, which will judge whether the shootings were justified. Sergeant Clark and Officer Werner are veteran officers.

“It doesn’t appear to be a questionable shooting,” Chief Navarre said last night. “The police and witness accounts match up.”

This was the fourth time police have shot someone in the line of duty in 1998.

Two of the shootings happened on Feb. 13, including the high-profile case of Joseph Chappell. He killed two women, shot at and wounded two firefighters, stabbed two children, and shot at police before three officers shot and kill ed him at one of Toledo’s busiest intersections.

Earlier that day, a man in the back of a police car wiggled free of his handcuffs, moved into the front seat, and tried to drive away. During a struggle with an officer, the officer’s gun fired, hitting the suspect in the side. The shooting was judged to be an accident.

On Jan. 30, police were called to the apartment of LeShawn Pitts, 18, a suicidal Davis College student. When Mr. Pitts began waving a shotgun at officers from his window, three officers fired a total of seven shots at him.

One nicked him in the arm; the others missed. Mr. Pitts then shot and killed himself.

Obituary: Aloysius Szewczykowski

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Aloysius “Ollie” Szewczykowski, 87, a longtime leatherworker who loved playing and watching baseball, died Saturday at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. He was 87.

The cause of death was liver disease, family members said.

Mr. Szewczykowski was born and raised in Toledo’s old Polish neighborhood on the south side and left school early to work and help his family financially.

He worked at a series of jobs before being hired at the Textile Leather Co., where he worked for 45 years until his retirement in 1975. For most of that time, he was responsible for mixing leather dyes, his daughter Joanne said.

Throughout his life, Mr. Szewczykowski loved baseball, she said. He played for many years in the Old Timers Association, pitching in games against other local club teams.

And when he grew older, a lifelong devotion to the Detroit Tigers grew even more intense, as he would spend many nights watching their games on television.

“After he retired, he played a lot of solitaire and watched a lot of Tigers’ games,” his daughter said.

He loved to bowl, she said, and spent many days fishing on the Maumee River or Lake Erie with his wife, going after perch.

The couple continued fishing together until they were well into their 60s, she said.

Mr. Szewczykowski loved spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grand children, and had a strict role in the family household.

“He was always the one who sat us down and made us do our homework,” his daughter said. “Mom took care of the house, and he took care of the homework.”

Surviving are his wife, Virginia Mary Szewczykowski; a son, Gene Szewczykowski; two daughters, Bernadine Overly and Joanne Szewczykowski; a brother, Ted Szewczykowski; a sister, Cecelia Gzik; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Arrangements are being handled by Sujkowski and Son Funeral Home, 3838 Airport Hwy., where the body will be from 2 to 9 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be held there Wednesday, followed by a Mass at Regina Coeli Church. The time of the service and Mass are pending.

History, progress collide on battle site; 2 cities tug at Fallen Timbers

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

All there is to see are slowly moving cars, a few bushes, and endless rows of beans.

But Dr. G. Michael Pratt can see the past.

“Over there would have been the original line of Indians,” he says, pointing at a small thicket off in the distance. “The major fighting would have happened about there, from those trees to there.”

Dr. Pratt knows these things because he’s the man who discovered that on this patch of land in Maumee, in 1794, two armies met. It was called the Battle of Fallen Timbers, and it changed American history. And he wants to make sure others know about it too.

“Even after I’m dead, some body’s going to remember,” he said.

The question, it seems, is whether they’ll just be able to remember the battlefield, or if they’ll be able to walk across it. When the city of Toledo asked developers to make it an offer for the battlefield late last month, it made Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s intentions clear: to sell the land to developers who will fill it with factories and businesses.

Mr. Finkbeiner repeatedly has said his goal is to make money from the sale of the battlefield. The city has had to foot the bill for the disastrous 1987 land deal that put the battlefield into its hands – an agreement that saw Toledo spend more than $14 million for land the courts said it could not annex.

Twice now, men have fought over Fallen Timbers. Their tales twist together; talk of armies and Indians segues into progress and development, then back again.

Left to decipher it all is an array of professors, politicians, businessmen, and history buffs. They will decide which is more important: the site of a 204-year-old battle or the millions of dollars to be made by selling it.


It was a tornado a few years before the battle that earned the spot the name Fallen Timbers. When U.S. General Anthony Wayne and 3,000 soldiers slowly made their way through the thicket of felled trees on the morning of Aug. 20, 1794, they knew that the enemy – a confederation of eight Indian tribes fighting to keep whites from settling on their lands – was close. Historians can’t agree how many warriors were at Fallen Timbers; estimates range from 400 to 1,600, including a small number of British Canadians dressed in Indian garb.

General Wayne faced a daunting task. The last two armies to try to control the Indians in the Northwest Territory had been decimated – with more than 1,500 casualties.

But General Wayne justly inspired fear in the Indians, who knew of his prowess in battle and his attacking style. Little Turtle, a superior tactician in his Miami tribe, told his fellow chiefs six days before the battle that General Wayne was “the chief who never sleeps…. We have never been able to surprise him. Something whispers to me it would be prudent to listen to his offers of peace.”

The first sighting on the day of the battle was about 11 a.m., when Ottawa and Potawatomee warriors fired on an advance team of Americans several hundred yards ahead of the rest of the army. The Americans turned and, as planned, ran back to the rest of the force, drawing the Indians into a chase.

By drawing out the Indians, General Wayne had forced them from their strong defensive position – a powerful, well-structured line – into the chaos of running among the fallen timbers. And they were running straight toward Americans waiting for them.

General Wayne ordered a bayonet charge. Indians started to fall, overpowered by more advanced weaponry and a superior plan. The ones who remained turned and ran east, toward the mouth of the Maumee.

It was a short battle. When it was over, it was not yet noon.

The Indians were running toward Fort Miamis, a British fort in present-day Maumee, two miles east of the battle site. They believed the British would help the fight, or at least give the Indians refuge inside the fort’s walls.

They did neither. The Indians kept running. Soon, General Wayne’s troops made it to Fort Miamis too, but seeking to avoid a war, he and the British commander simply exchanged insulting letters.

After a few days, General Wayne advanced back up the Maumee River, heading toward what he would later name Fort Wayne. He had lost 44 men; the Indians had lost 40 or 50. The numbers were similar, but their effects were not. General Wayne headed west a conquering victor. The Indians had begun to understand their fate.

Historically, the Battle of Fallen Timbers was less important for its casualty count than for how it convinced the Indian forces that white settlement was unstoppable. General Wayne had burned their fields, and food was scarce that winter. And the British response at Fort Miamis showed the Indians that their “allies” were unwilling to give full support.

Within a year, with the Treaty of Greeneville, the natives had agreed to let whites take southern and central Ohio, as well as the most desirable parts of the rest of the state. And, historians say, the fate of the Midwest’s Indians was sealed.


General Wayne couldn’t have known, of course, that 200 years later, the site of his victory would feature such terrific access to an interstate highway.

The battlefield’s proximity to I-475 and the trail that bears Anthony Wayne’s name has long made it a prime candidate for development. When the city of Toledo, worriedly looking to expand its industrial base in the late 1980s, tried to find fresh land, it turned its attention there.

In 1987, in a arrangement since vilified by nearly everyone in city government, Mayor Donna Owens and City Manager Phil Hawkey spent more than $14 million to buy 1,130 acres of farmland in Monclova Township. The idea was to annex the land into Toledo’s borders to give factories – including a new Jeep plant – someplace to go.

But the purchase met one snag after another, most notably a judge’s ruling that the city could not annex the land because it was not contiguous with Toledo’s borders. The industry that was supposed to flock to the site didn’t materialize, and the city set about selling off small parcels to businesses, trying to recover its investment.

Then, in 1995, came a discovery city officials privately consider a roadblock, but historians might call one of northwest Ohio’s most significant finds. Dr. Pratt, an archaeology professor at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, was given permission to dig through a patch of land he had long suspected was the site of the battle.

A historical marker had been set up on the south side of the Anthony Wayne Trail years earlier, on park land. But some historians had believed the battle took place on the north side.

Dr. Pratt and a group of volunteers spent days sifting through soil and running metal detectors across the land. They found tell-tale signs of an army’s presence – arrowpoints, bullets, buttons from army jackets. Some of the buttons still were spaced evenly apart in a row, all that was left from a fallen soldier hurriedly buried or left to die as the forces ran down river.

By September, 1995, after plotting artifacts and running through data, Dr. Pratt could safely proclaim: “We have found the Fallen Timbers.”

This was a problem for the city of Toledo. The battlefield Dr. Pratt found was located in the middle of its land, the property it had been pushing as the potential site of a shopping mall, or a factory, or an office park.

A loose-knit group of history buffs began talking about the need to preserve the battlefield to commemorate the conflict. They found an important ally in Maumee Mayor Stephen Pauken, whose city had annexed the battlefield.

Mr. Pauken, with the support of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur and U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, has pushed for the land to be turned into a historical park affiliated with the National Park Service. Senator DeWine has twice submitted federal legislation that would give that affiliated designation to Fallen Timbers, Fort Miamis, and Perrysburg’s Fort Meigs.

But, in a March letter to Mr. Finkbeiner and Mr. Pauken, Senator DeWine said negotiation would “need to bring the two cities together” before the designation could go forward, as Toledo officials fear it would make the land unsellable.

That’s a tough proposition, because Mr. Finkbeiner and Mr. Pauken have had an often tempestuous relationship over the battlefield. Their letters back and forth are filled with tense language, with the Toledo mayor at one point accusing his colleague of “highly inappropriate” meddling in Toledo affairs and “a most adversarial approach.”

Each side has, for more than a year, had a standing offer to the other on the table. Mr. Finkbeiner has offered to donate 15 acres of the battlefield for a monument. It would be located along a ravine where little fighting occurred, but which marked the rear guard of the advancing Americans, and which would be more difficult to build on.

As a counter, Mr. Pauken and other supporters have offered to buy the land at $15,000 an acre, a commitment of more than $2.5 million.

That’s the price per acre the city got the last time it sold some of its Maumee land. In January, The Isaac Group Holdings, Inc., purchased 430 acres just west of the battlefield, across Jerome Road. The Isaacs Group and another developer propose turning the land into a mall and an office park.

A $15,000-an-acre sale still would provide the city of Toledo with a healthy profit on the land, Mr. Pauken said. When the battlefield was purchased in 1987, the city paid $1.22 million for 177 acres – a cost of $6,921 an acre.

Mr. Finkbeiner, however, said he did not consider the Maumee mayor’s offer to be a serious offer, because “no legal presentation has been put in front of us.”

He said the city of Toledo has been “extremely generous” with its offer of 15 acres, and said that no one else has “offered anything of value.”

Mr. Pauken said Friday that Mr. Finkbeiner’s comments are “absolutely ridiculous.”

“I am insulted and ashamed to be from the same county as a guy who can’t recognize the contributions of so many legitimate people,” the Maumee mayor said.

Toledo-area real-estate professionals and developers said Mr. Pauken may be underestimating the land’s value.

“Realistically, if the mall gets built, this property will be worth even more than $50,000,” said Mark Zyndorf, president of Zyndorf/Serchuk, Inc., a commercial-industrial real estate and development firm.

“The value today is closer to $50,000 than $15,000. If they keep the property, it’s not going to do anything but go up.”

Mr. Zyndorf estimated that the Isaacs Group would probably be able to sell land adjacent to the new mall for more than $100,000 an acre.

Mr. Pauken said getting a developer to lay out that kind of money for the land will be next to impossible because of the battle’s historical significance.

“That particular site is so well established as an important historical site that no developer is going to touch it,” the mayor said. “When developers call our office, once they’re told what happened there, they say, `Thank you very much, do you have anything else you can show us?”‘

But real-estate professionals said there are plenty of developers that would be willing to make an offer if it makes financial sense.

“If you’re Walt Disney and you’re very public relations sensitive, maybe they’d resist,” said Harlan Reichle, Jr., a managing director for CB Richard Ellis, Reichle Klein, a local commercial real-estate firm. “But if you operate in a segment of the market where public relations is inconsequential to your success, no, it’s not going to have anything more than perhaps a marginal impact.”

The biggest impact of developing the battleground, historians say, would be the loss of part of America’s heritage.

“All my sentiments and natural biases are in favor of keeping that land as pristine as possible,” said Dr. George Knepper, a retired professor of history at the University of Akron who wrote the state’s definitive history, Ohio and Its People.

“Why do they have to pick on a site with this much significance?” he asked. “Isn’t there a less significant area out there?”

Dr. John Dann, director of the prestigious William Clements Library at the University of Michigan, said this month that the Fallen Timbers battlefield needs to be preserved as an important part of America’s heritage.

He and a group of eminent American historians have called for the preservation of the battlefield, saying it would be “a crime” if it were lost.

“Fallen Timbers was a real turning point in American history and led to the white settlement of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and even Illinois,” Dr. Dann said.

What will happen to the land is uncertain. By the end of the month, developers will submit their proposals for the property to Toledo officials. The Isaacs Group still will have a first right of refusal, and any potential purchase would have to be approved by Toledo’s city council.

Several council members said they would not vote on selling the battlefield until a series of public hearings, at which citizens would be allowed to voice their own objections.

“I don’t want to see it turned into office parks,” council President Peter Ujvagi said. “But the reality is that we have a fiscal reponsibility.”

Mr. Pauken said he will continue to fight for National Park Service affiliation and for preservation.

And Dr. Pratt will continue to tell people about what happened 204 years ago, long before development and history seemed to be on a collision course. He said plenty of archaeological work still needs to be done on the land, but officials won’t let him dig on it again.

“They have a lot of options, but so far it seems they don’t really want it to be preserved,” he said. “I’m not sure why.”

Fallen Timbers grounds for sale; Developer sought for historic site

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

The city of Toledo has put one of the Midwest’s most historically significant battlefields up for sale.

Last week, the city asked developers to make offers for 434 acres in Maumee and Monclova Township. The southern third of that land is the site of the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the 1794 conflict that helped open the region to American settlement.

Historians, archaeologists, and area leaders have called for the site’s preservation. One scholar said development on the battlefield would be “a crime.”

But the city’s invitation to developers asked that the site be used for industrial and commercial purposes.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to maximize our return on the land,” said Barry Broome, the city’s acting director of development.

Dr. John Dann, director of the prestigious William Clements Library at the University of Michigan, said last week that the Fallen Timbers battlefield needs to be preserved as an important part of America’s heritage.

“Fallen Timbers was a real turning point in American history and led to the white settlement of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and even Illinois,” Dr. Dann said.

He and a group of eminent American historians called last week for the preservation of the battlefield.

“Fallen Timbers proved for the first time in the history of the nation that its army would and could defend its frontiers,” Dr. Dann said.

The land is the last remnant of a late 1980s land deal, in which Toledo bought 1,130 acres of farmland outside the city limits in an attempt to make space for industry. But the city ran into a dizzying array of obstacles, including a judge’s ruling that the city could not annex the land. It has spent the last several years selling off portions of the land to developers.

The 434 acres for sale are all that remains.

Some city leaders have said that development on the land can only increase the flight of industry to the suburbs. To stave off that flight, the city is asking all developers who submit proposals to commit to development projects in Toledo’s downtown or Warehouse District.

“We feel the market is telling us this is pretty valuable land, and there is a need for more commercial, retail, and entertainment downtown,” Mr. Broome said. “Obviously, our first responsibility is a fiduciary one to the taxpayers.”

Five years ago, Heidelberg College archaeologist G. Michael Pratt identified the battlefield site – northwest of the intersection of I-475 and the Anthony Wayne Trail – and found a slew of artifacts from the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The conflict pitted U.S. troops against Native Americans and opened much of Ohio to westward settlement.

Maumee Mayor Stephen Pauken has advocated turning the 185-acre battlefield into a national historic site, affiliated with the National Park Service.

In contrast, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has made a standing offer to donate 15 acres of battlefield land for a monument. His spokeswoman, Mary Chris Skeldon, said Mr. Pauken has “never accepted the offer.”

“[Mr. Finkbeiner] has an obligation to the citizens of Toledo whose tax dollars have been used to purchase the land,” Ms. Skeldon said. “He feels he needs to obtain the highest reasonable price for the land.”

Mr. Pauken could not be reached for comment last night.

The last sale of the Toledo-owned land was on Jan. 19, when 430 acres were sold to The Isaac Group Holdings, Inc. About a third of that land was then sold to General Growth Properties, Inc., a Chicago-based developer, for a shopping mall.

The Isaacs have an option on the battlefield land, and have the right to match any other developer’s proposal before Jan. 23, 1999.

But company Vice President Zac Isaac said his firm has no interest in doing anything with the land until Toledo, Maumee, and historians come to some agreement on how the land’s historical significance should be handled.

“We would like to have the two cities resolve the use of that land prior to any commercial development,” he said. “At that point, we will decide what to do.” Until then, the Isaacs are busy attracting tenants to their land west of Jerome Road, tenants that would set up near the planned mall.

Mr. Isaacs said the process is going well, although no formal agreements have been signed.

Those tenants would open their facilities about the same time the mall does, Mr. Isaacs said. The mall’s developer has said it expects that will be in 2000.

Developers interested in the city’s land have until July 31 to submit their proposals, although Mr. Broome said he is considering asking officials to extend that date 30 days to give developers more time.

When the proposals are in, a six-member committee appointed by the mayor will evaluate them and make a recommendation to city council.

Teen who killed clerk on a whim admits murder in plea agreement

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

A 16-year-old boy who told police he “want ed to know what it was like to kill someone” pleaded guilty yesterday to murdering a 7-Eleven clerk last year as she walked home from work in East Toledo.

Vicente Guevara pleaded guilty to the May 12, 1997, murder of 23-year-old Karen Thompson. The mother of two had just finished her shift at 2 a.m. when Guevara, a member of the Crips gang, shot her once in the back of her head with a sawed-off shot gun, with no apparent motive.

Emergency crews found her body four hours later, in the 600 block of Woodville Road.

A trial for Guevara had been scheduled for Monday, but prosecutors and defense attorneys reached a plea agreement yesterday after evidence surfaced regarding “the element of prior calculation and design” in the crime, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Wittenberg said.

The plea agreement reduced the most serious charge from aggravated murder to murder. Guevara pleaded guilty to a fire arms specification on the murder charge, and to charges of aggravated robbery and felonious assault, both linked to a stabbing in Prentice Park on April 16, 1997.

Guevara will be sentenced on July 23 at 2 p.m.

If Judge Wittenberg gives him the maximum sentence for all crimes, he could be sentenced to a mandatory 36 years to life. The minimum he could receive would be 18 years to life.

In either case, he would spend more time in prison than he has lived. He will not be eligible for early parole, or be able to receive a sentence reduction for good behavior.

Mary Sue Barone, an assistant prosecutor who handled the case, said the Thompson family is comfortable with the agreement.

After explaining the boy’s rights, Judge Wittenberg asked Guevara to describe and explain his actions on the night of the murder.

“I walked up behind Karen Thompson and shot her,” he said.

Judge Wittenberg: “Was there a reason you shot her?”

Guevara: “No.”

Judge Wittenberg: “What did you do after you shot her?”

Guevara: “Went home.”

In his testimony, Guevara admitted to the park stabbing, which was prompted when Guevara and a friend saw Stephen Marquez, 16, sitting on a bench in Prentice Park. He was waiting to walk his mother home from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, police said.

Young Marquez was wearing a Dallas Cowboys jacket that Guevara wanted.

“We just walked up to him and started fighting with him,” Guevara said.

He then took a butterfly knife and stabbed young Marquez in the neck. Guevara testified that he did not know his victim, as was the case with Ms. Thompson.

Guevara said he walked away without taking the jacket because it was soaked with the boy’s blood.

He showed little emotion during yesterday’s proceedings. Guevara, who was a 15-year-old Waite High School freshman at the time of the shooting, had left money and a paycheck in Ms. Thompson’s pock et.

Court records showed he had been troubled throughout his life, with a history of school suspensions, gang activity, and violence. He began drinking at age 11, was a father by 15, and has been described by teachers and officials as a menace to society.

One year ago Thursday, Juvenile Court Judge James Ray turned Guevara’s case over to adult court, saying the boy cannot be rehabilitated before he turns 21, when the juvenile system would have to release him.

Under Ohio law, a juvenile cannot receive the death penalty, even if he is tried as an adult.

ACLU sues over flyer ban at Government Center

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 12

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has filed a suit against the agency that manages One Government Center, accusing it of illegally stopping free speech on its grounds.

The class-action lawsuit, filed yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, says the Ohio Building Authority illegally prevents political groups from distributing leaflets outside the building, which houses government offices for the city of Toledo, Lucas County, and the state of Ohio.

OBA rules strictly limit where and when groups can distribute information, including requiring that groups provide a list of all their distributing members and give 48 hours’ advance notice to building managers. Activists who have tried to distribute literature said the rules effectively prohibit political activity.

Named as plaintiffs in the suit are Ohio Citizen Action, an environmental and consumer activist group, and Annette Majewski, its northwest Ohio program director.

Ms. Majewski said that on at least three occasions in 1997, representatives of her group attempted to distribute leaflets outside the building’s main entrance. The leaflets concerned an ordinance before city council that would have allowed the city to join a lawsuit against Envirosafe Services of Ohio, Inc., which was accused of contaminating land and water at its facilities in Oregon.

Ms. Majewski said building personnel examined the flyers, said they were political in nature, and told her, “You can’t pass this out here,” directing her to the city sidewalk on Jackson Street.

Mark Habernan, the assistant director of the Ohio Building Authority, said the agency has a “blanket” policy against distribution of political materials on the grounds of its buildings.

“It’s always been our attempt to keep the building neutral,” he said.

Harland Britz, ACLU general counsel in northwest Ohio, called it “a basic violation of constitutional, First Amendment rights.”

Rockabilly band keeps its edge

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 48

Ben Friedman has had enough.

He’s sick of watching upper-middle-class boys start dull alt-rock bands so they can whine about their problems. And he’s tired of seeing Nashville pump out cloned country music stars who sing about lost love at the ripe old age of 13.

But instead of just complaining about it – which is what most music critics have been doing for about five years now – he’s doing something about it.

Friedman leads the Cigar Store Indians, a rockabilly band playing tonight at the Citi Lounge in Perrysburg. They play music from rock and roll’s first trimester, back when country and rock were still cobbled together in the music of people like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

“We’re just hillbillies trying to be cool,” Friedman said in a slow Southern drawl from his home in Georgia.

The Indians are not Friedman’s first project. In the late 1980s, he fronted I.B.M., an alternative band signed briefly to MCA.

But when that band broke up, Friedman decided that he wanted his next act to focus on the music he grew up with, “what my mom and dad made me listen to in the back of the car.”

Thus were born the Indians, formed from a group of kindergarten friends from Crab Apple, Ga. Their second album, “El Baile De La Cobra,” was released Tuesday.

The band plays more than 200 shows a year, and they put on a near legendary stage show, full of gyrating pelvises, shaking bodies, and sweat.

“I’m having such a good time on stage, I think that plants little seeds out there in the audience that makes people forget about some of the things that went on in their day,” Friedman said.

One of the traditional problems with rock abilly is that so many of its songs sound alike. But the Indians sidestep that problem through strong songs and a host of little touches that show they’re trying to make the sound their own.

Certain songs, like “Forget” and “Little Things,” have a distinctive old country feel, as if they came from the hands of troubadours like Faron Young or Johnny Horton. But they don’t fit in with the polished pablum – carbon-copy cowboys and a row of indistinguishable blonde women – the Nashville music scene has been putting out.

“There’s no way we could be a country act right now,” Friedman said. “Nashville has just decided to close the door on a lot of music and go into another area.”

There’s enormous irony, of course, in that the Indians have been trying to make music of an era, music they’d call “timeless,” at a time when rockabilly is suddenly, inexplicably, hip again.

Quasi-rockabilly acts, ranging from the Rev. Horton Heat to some acts on the periphery of the just-won’t-die swing movement, seem to be everywhere.

Suddenly, rockabilly is hot. Friedman doesn’t care.

“We don’t try to be pretentious with all this stuff,” he said. “`We’ve been doing this for six years, playing this kind of music. We didn’t try to be cheeky, or cliche, or flavor-of-the-month. This is just our version of what American pop music should be.”

New housing inside Toledo has believers

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

Don Monroe is trying to prove a point.

Home builders tell him they can’t make money building in Toledo. The real money is out in the suburbs, they say, where green pastures have been giving way to backyards for decades.

He’s not buying it.

“You can make just as much money developing this city as you can out in the middle of some field,” said Mr. Monroe, the executive director of River East Economic Development Corp.

Two years ago, Mr. Monroe and leaders from two other community groups, Housing East Redevelopment Corp. and Neighborhood Housing Services of Toledo, decided to try to prove their point by building homes and condominiums along the Maumee River.

They would build the first new subdivision in East Toledo in 35 years, and without any government subsidies. They would call their $6.5 million project Starboard Side.

They’ve run into a host of problems, and they’re years behind schedule. But they still believe they can pull it off and show the area life exists within city limits. “We’re going to build houses like what you’d see in Perrysburg Township or Monclova Township,” said Bill Farnsel, executive director of Neighborhood Housing.

When the project began, none of the three partner organizations in the Starboard Side Limited Liability Corp. had been involved in a housing project of this scope. Housing East and Neighborhood Housing deal with housing issues, but not in the startup of subdivisions. And River East spends its time attracting companies to East Toledo, not homeowners.

The idea was to buy roughly 10 acres of city-owned, riverfront land and build about 20 condos right on the water, with a beautiful view of the downtown skyline framed by the Anthony Wayne Bridge and a large wooded area across the river.

Behind them, across Miami Street, would be a similar number of single-family homes.

The homes would sell for $110,000 to $140,000. Condos would start at $160,000 and shoot up to $325,000 for those with a hankering for all-marble bathrooms and other luxuries.

Two banks, National City and Key, have expressed interest in financing the $6.5 million project, Mr. Monroe said.

He said banks feel comfortable dealing with the three, long-established community development groups that are involved in Starboard Side.

The three groups’ goal for the homes is to keep growing middle-class families living in East Toledo, the kind that yearns for a big yard and an extra bedroom, from moving to the suburbs.

“There are so many people leaving for the suburbs because they can’t find the housing they want and need in Toledo,” said Tom Bowlus, Housing East’s executive director. “We’re packed in, and it’s tough to find a space for those homes in the established neighborhoods.”

Mr. Monroe said the homes would promise large yards, spacious lots, and “a suburban feel.”

With the booming housing market in places like Monclova, Perrysburg, and Springfield townships, many developers have left places like East Toledo behind. The last subdivision built there was a 16-house addition on Lott Court in 1963.

“What we’re trying to do is prove you can come into the city and build, and still make a lot of money,” Mr. Monroe said. To prove their point, they’ve refused to take any subsidies available to developers building low-income housing. “We are showing that anybody can do it, even without a dime from the government,” he said.

When Mr. Monroe and the others first proposed Starboard Side in June, 1996, they said the condos and houses could be on the market in a year’s time. Obviously, that hasn’t happened.

The latest problem developed when an old grain elevator on the property had to be removed. Truckloads of dirt were taken in to fill the elevator’s foundation. Later tests showed that the imported dirt was contaminated with PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, which have been shown to cause cancer.

Developers were faced with trucking away the dirt at significant expense at a time when most of their predevelopment money had been spent. But Mr. Monroe said EPA guidelines say the levels of PCBs are low enough – 9.5 parts per million – to allow developers simply to dump a foot of soil on top of the contaminated dirt.

But that solution still leaves what has been the biggest stumbling block so far: acquiring a 50-foot swath of land on the development’s eastern edge. The land is owned by Conrail and is the site of an abandoned rail line.

Starboard Side developers didn’t think they’d need the Conrail land at first. But when they drew up plans for the subdivision, they realized that they could build only 14 single-family homes without the added land. They can build 20 homes, on larger lots, with it.

For two years, Conrail, city officials, and developers have been trying to figure out the best way to give control of the land over to the project. The process has been made even more difficult by the fact that two competitors, CSX and Norfolk Southern, are splitting up Conrail – and all its rail assets – in a deal valued at up to $20 billion.

The Conrail difficulty leaves a battery of bureaucratic barriers that could delay any significant construction for years.

First, to begin building, developers must have a site plan approved by the Toledo plan commission.

But to have that plan approved, they must own all the land on the site. So they’ve got to get control of the Conrail land.

To get that, they’ve got to get eminent domain proceedings started.

And for that to happen, according to city officials, will take months.

“Hopefully, in the spring we’ll be able to get things filed,” said Rick May, the city’s real estate manager. “It’s a very complicated thing, appropriating railroad land.”

Conrail officials said it usually takes three to six months to transfer a parcel of land once eminent domain proceedings begin. Then, with the added time plan-commission approval takes, it could be fall, 1999, before infrastructure work could begin and 2000 before anyone could call Starboard Side home. The railroad and developers seek ways to speed the process.

The delays apparently haven’t frustrated leaders of the three nonprofits. All three men say they have been distracted by their own jobs with their own nonprofits. And none has extensive experience in the nuances of subdivision development.

Their belief in the project’s purpose – revitalizing East Toledo, putting a dent in suburban sprawl, and showing builders it can be done – has kept their spirits up, they say. “This is the first time any of us have tried doing anything like this,” Mr. Farnsel said. “But this could be the way we show others how to keep people in the city and in East Toledo. It’s a terrific project.”

Blade staff writer Jeffrey Cohan contributed to this report.