Bob Bytes Back Archive: 8/14/1996 Call Him Mace Ventura

8/14/1996
by Bob Fitrakis

Channel 4’s investigative series “Trouble on 12th Avenue” aired last week. Producer Joel Chow and investigative reporter Rich Skidmore provided viewers with some of the year’s most provocative video footage. Despite the standard denials, obfuscations and wild tales told by police officials, their own videotapes tell a different story. Still even more damning is the Internal Affairs paper trail left by the officers accused of “excessive use of force” on May 18.

The series’ first segment focused on an incident involving Kevin Lennon. Lieutenant David Wood, who investigated Lennon’s complaint against Officer Robert Coffman, wrote in his June 7, 1996 memo to Chief James Jackson that: “When I first viewed the film it appeared that Officer Coffman’s strike to the subject’s back was improper. After careful review, this investigation [sic] it is obvious that his actions were necessary and proper. I recommend no further action necessary.” No surprise.

The police tapes, obtained by Channel 4, clearly show Officer Coffman coming in and punching Lennon as he’s being carried away by other cops. You can hear the words “Enough, Bob,” from a fellow officer, which brings what appears to be a swipe from Coffman towards the cop advocating professional behavior.

Coffman is not always keen on professionalism. On February 9, 1994, Coffman ran a license tag number for a Sergeant Watkins for “personal use.” He was “counseled.” Perhaps the police should have spoken with Becky West, who on April 17, 1993, was injured in Coffman’s custody. That was ruled an “accidental injury.” Or they could have talked with Tony Delpra who filed a complaint for an incident on May 13, 1991 when he was “struck in jaw” by Coffman. This was, of course, “justified.” Or they could have talked to three different mothers on two different occasions who charged that Coffman pointed his gun at kids during raids on their homes. And the list goes on.

Officer Michael Stalnaker knees Lennon on the tape. Another of Columbus’ finest, he has since 1987 either Maced or had 13 “excessive use of force” complaints. Whether it was an “unfounded” shove against Paul Collier “causing him to hit his head,” or the “justified” use of a “flashlight” against Robert Walker, or the “justified” kicking of Tim Hemmert in the stomach, for some reason citizens seem to unfairly single out Stalnaker. With all the “justified” force being used by the officer, it’s no wonder it slipped his mind to report he kicked Hemmert. His “written reprimand” was, no doubt, unwarranted. So many unruly citizens, so little time.

The second segment shows that there’s always time to take a young lad-in this case, George Sandrock-to “the whipping post.” Different officers; same pattern of behavior. Sandrock suffered contusions on his nose and upper left eye and a laceration over his right eye that required stitches. This, for not dispersing quickly enough while on a private porch behind party fencing per police instructions. According to police reports, Sandrock’s a real ass-kicker. He stood his ground, cussing out cops, despite “two verbal orders” directed at him by Officer Jimmie Barnes. After Macing Sandrock, in Barnes’ version, the youngster attacked his riot shield with his fist and head. Yes, indeed, Sandrock swung his “fist so hard at Officer Barnes that he lost his balance and fell into the riot shield.”

Just ask Officer Eric Moore, who attempted “to restrain Mr. Sandrock’s arms and legs while he was kicking and swinging his fist at the officers.” And Officer Martin Malone also saw Sandrock “resisting.” Now, anyone who saw the video saw the officers push Sandrock over the railing, hold him there, and beat the hell out of him. The Allman Brothers classic Whipping Post would have been appropriate background music. But who’s going to believe a lying punk like Sandrock when you have three officers like Barnes, Moore and Malone.

Since 1990, six citizens have complained after Barnes Maced them; three persons “accidentally injured” themselves in his custody in the last year and a half.

At least Moore “accidentally shot himself in the leg” and was reprimanded on April 1, 1990. Add to that nine Moore Macings- including Macing a man in Florida while Moore was on vacation. A written reprimand resulted from Moore’s Florida adventure. Stir in seven citizen complaints, all very similar, all found to be “unfounded” allegations. These involved “rude and obnoxious behavior,” “alleged theft,” and forcefully pulling police out of their cars. Toss in seven more force complaints, including pulling Joseph Cook from his car and putting a gun to his head, and three-including Sandrock-“accidentally injured” prisoner complaints in the last three years.

There’s still more with Malone: 17 complaints since 1987 for Macing, excessive use of force, and an injured prisoner.

And the third and final segment dealt with Criminal Justice student Shammas Jones who was videotaping the police activity away from the fray and was allegedly attacked by Officer David Dennison. Dennison’s attack on Jones was “justified.” Just like his 10 Macings since March 1993.

But how do they justify the police officer caught on tape shooting “knee-knockers”-rubber bullets designed to be shot into the ground and bounce up-directly at students and yelling, “There you go, eat that!”

Police investigators admit they came to their conclusions on “justified” Macing and use of force on 12th Avenue by only using the least damaging tape. This is unjustifiable.
CORRECTION
Last week Bob Bites Back mistakenly stated that Judge Deborah O’Neill had met with “the late J.F. Wolfe.” The column should have read “the late J.W. Wolfe.”

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Free Film And Discussion, Today, Cheney’s Law, Bexley, Ohio

Come join us to see the FREE film:
TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2008 – 7:30pm
Cheney’s Law
at the Drexel East Theater, 2254 Main St., Bexley
Discussion to follow screening in the Drexel Radio Cafe next door
253-2571, truth@freepress.org

For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power. Finally, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Justice Department and the White House made a number of controversial legal decisions. Orchestrated by Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, the department interpreted executive power in an expansive and extraordinary way, granting President George W. Bush the power to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy — without congressional approval or judicial review.

“The vice president believes that Congress has very few powers to actually constrain the president and the executive branch,” said former Justice Department attorney Marty Lederman. “He believes the president should have the final word — indeed the only word
— on all matters within the executive branch.”

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/cheney/

Sponsored by the Drexel East Theater, the Free Press, and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund

June 14 Podcast, Bob and Harvey Show

ON IMPEACHMENT, Ohio’s Kucinich, Reasons To Impeach

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday, June 11 to send articles 
of impeachment against President Bush to the Judiciary Committee for 
review. The impeachment resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, 
requested a recorded vote on the motion around 3 p.m. Wednesday, and 24 Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in voting to send the 
impeachment measure to the committee. The motion passed 251-166. 
Kucinich also introduced articles of Impeachment against Richard Cheney 
last year (H Res 333).
 
To those who believe that Impeachment is a waste of time, I offer this 
quote:
 
“I don’t agree that impeachment divides, and I don’t agree that it 
diverts. … I do think, however, that the failure to act now, given 
the litany of abuses and the seriousness of abuses, could simply set 
the groundwork for future presidents to do the same or worse. If we 
want to preserve our democracy, then we have to act to hold the 
President and the Vice President accountable.”
— Elizabeth Holtzman, four-term Congresswoman, former House Judiciary 
Committee member, and coauthor, The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A 
Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens
 
TWO IMPORTANT REASONS TO IMPEACH:
1) A President under impeachment proceedings cannot grant immunity to 
others in the executive office, such as Rice, Cheney, Addington, 
Meiers, Bolton, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and of course, Karl Rove.
Article 2, Section 2, gives the President the “Power to grant reprieves 
and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of 
impeachment.” Article 3, Section 2, says, “The trial of all crimes, 
except in cases of impeachment; shall be by jury.
(Source: www.abanet.org/publiced/impeach2.html)
 
2) Impeachment may be the only way to prevent this administration from 
taking military action against Iran.  (Establishment media not 
reporting on this, for more info google search “military action against 
iran “2008” or http://www.truthout.org/article/bushs-deadly-diplomacy
 
IF YOU SUPPORT IMPEACHMENT, PLEASE CALL JOHN CONYERS at 202-225-3951.
Or call Pelosi, Reid, or your local congressperson via the Capital Hill 
switchboard 202 224-3121
 
Dennis Kucinich says: “It is now imperative that the Judiciary 
Committee begin a review of the 35 articles. I will be providing 
supporting documentation to the committee so that it can proceed in an 
orderly manner.”

“The weight of evidence contained in the articles makes it clear that 
President Bush violated the Constitution and the U.S. Code as well as 
international law,” said the Ohio lawmaker, whose efforts to impeach 
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been largely ignored by the 
mainstream media.”
http://rawstory.com/news08/2008/06/11/kucinich-judiciary-committee-must-begin-review-of-impeachment-articles/
 
Kucinich’s action made an immediate splash on the Internet. For 
example, at progressive website Democratic Underground, the historic 
performance quickly garnered an astonishing 56 separate threads on the 
most-recommended list.

By noon on Tuesday, RAW STORY’s article on the subject was the top 
political story of the day at digg.com and the 10th most popular for 
the last year. A separate article at afterdowningstreet.org was also 
high in the ratings. Both sites, as well as Kucinich’s own webpage, 
were experiencing slowdowns due to the volume of traffic.

However, the mainstream media were far more reticent in their coverage 
of Kucinich’s resolution — much as they were following the release last 
week of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the 
administration’s misuse of prewar intelligence. For example, the 
Washington Post and USA Today had short items in their blog sections, 
while other major outlets merely ran wire service coverage from AP or 
Reuters.
Entire article:  http://www.infowars.com/?p=2654
 
My Personal comments:
My friend John Judge, executive director of Coalition on Political 
Assassinations, is working closely with Kucinich’s office on 
Impeachment.  Bob Fitrakis of the Columbus Free Press wrote the 
sections of the Impeachment resolution pertaining to election fraud.
Besides calling John Conyers, you can sign the on line petition 
supporting impeachment here:
www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/354405305?z00m=15406666&s_kwcid=impeachment|1395328440
 
More information at www.groundsforimpeachment.com/
If you have a friendly Congressman, it would also help if you could ask 
if he will co-sponsor H Res 1258.
 
Thanks!
Pete Johnson
President, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism

 

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Brunner Moves In The Right Direction

6/16/08

by Bob Fitrakis

Ohio Secretary of State recently released a report that seeks to safeguard Ohio’s 2008 presidential election. A tall task after the open theft of the 2004 election by her predecessor.

The Brunner report as usual is a mixed bag. She’s responding to the Everest Study of electronic voting machines which showed the Ohio election system vulnerable to fraud and error. She was in a showdown with the Republican-controlled Statehouse who refused to give her the
$64 million she wanted primarily for precinct-based Optiscan machines.
In the game of chicken, Brunner was afraid to decertify the machines because she feared the Republicans wouldn’t give her the money to replace them.

Some of her recommendations seem to come directly from the consent decree that I authored in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case pending in the State of Ohio. The case charges former Secretary of State Blackwell with manipulating the 2004 election as the agent of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign, but also included 50 proposals for election reform to ensure free and fair elections in Ohio.

To her credit, she’s attempting to improve the county voter registration databases as well as fixing and promoting the polling sites. These were both problems in the inner cities in 2004. She’s also promoting more use of absentee ballots and early voting and is now requiring security plans from each county, particularly in regards to ballot access including the memory cards. This concern for chain of custody issues is long overdue. She’ll also be requiring an audit and has the ability to order every county to do a post election audit. I’m hoping she has the courage to demand a true random post-election audit.

So she’s moving in the right direction. But the result will depend upon how the final directives look.

Columbus, Ohio, Cheney’s Law, FRONTLINE Documentary, FREE FILM NIGHT!

JUNE 24, 2008 – 7:30pm
Sponsored by the Drexel East Theater, the Free Press, and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund

Drexel East Theater, 2254 Main St., Bexley
Discussion to follow screening in the Drexel Radio Cafe next door
253-2571, truth@freepress.org

For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power. Finally, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Justice Department and the White House made a number of controversial legal decisions. Orchestrated by Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, the department interpreted executive power in an expansive and extraordinary way, granting President George W. Bush the power to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy — without congressional approval or judicial review.
Now, as the White House appears ready to ignore subpoenas in the investigations over wiretapping and U.S. attorney firings, FRONTLINE examines the battle over the power of the presidency and Cheney’s way of looking at the Constitution.
“The vice president believes that Congress has very few powers to actually constrain the president and the executive branch,” former Justice Department attorney Marty Lederman tells FRONTLINE. “He believes the president should have the final word — indeed the only word — on all matters within the executive branch.”

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/cheney/

One Good Thing About Reagan

By Bob Fitrakis

Thank God for the feds. In a little over two decades they’ve made the elusive “two toke” wonderjoint a common reality. On Friday, June 13, the Columbus Dispatch reported the University of Mississippi findings on the potency of today’s marijuana. Back when I was in college in 1976, the average THC content was less than 1% – .69%. As of this year, it’s up nearly ten-fold, at 9.6%. While the Dispatch laments the “effect” such potent pot will have on “teens” – they need to blame the man they endorsed for President two times – Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Or, we could go back a little further to the man the Dispatch worshipped, Richard Nixon. Remember Nixon’s idea in the early seventies to douse the cheap and impotent Mexican weed with the lethal drug paraquat? Thus was the end of the “nickel bag.” You could smoke the entire bag and still be straight when you went home at midnight to pass your parent’s inspection. The stuff was so bad in Redford Township where I lived, the police wouldn’t even confiscate it for their parties, instead preferring the rare Thai stick. Rather, they would throw it in the dumpster behind the police station.

Reagan’s bogus “war on drugs” – a cover for disenfranchising aging hippies and minorities – led to its logical conclusion. More potent marijuana with a high THC factor. With most marijuana laws based on “weight,” not potency, the logical thing to do was to have less pot on you. Therefore, your stash had to be stronger. According to the University of Mississippi, the potency of marijuana was around 1% when Jimmy Carter left office. Within three years of Reagan’s drug war, the potency had quadrupled to nearly 4%.

During the drug war years, the cost of marijuana soared past that of gold by the ounce, while crack dropped to as low as $3 a rock in places like Detroit. Most smalltime dealers and suppliers realized they could grow their own in small quantities rather than buying an ounce of pot for between $500-$800. Why import a potentially deadly and impotent weed from Mexico, when you can grow your own more potent here at home?

While Reagan destroyed auto manufacturing jobs in the US and outsourced jobs to Mexico and Communist China, his only real success in terms of “Made in America” product was high quality homegrown chronic. While the cars by the Big Three automakers were increasingly thought of as junk in comparison to German and Japanese vehicles, US pot dealers took it seriously that quality was Job One. Think of the legendary Meigs County brand or the famous and highly sought after Columbus Woody Haze bud.

It was Ronald Reagan who let the Purple Haze genie out of the hookah pipe. And while Dispatch writers fret about the potency of the new pot, you can bet secretly many of them are dreaming about taking a toke or two in retirement.

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Obama Must Learn From Kucinich’s Election Theft Impeachment

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
June 11, 2008

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced 35 articles of impeachment against George W. Bush.  Two of the articles deal with the fact that Bush was never elected, and in fact stole the election of 2004 in Ohio.  They should serve as a cautionary notice to the Obama campaign that this year’s election could also be stolen. 

Kucinich’s courage in introducing these articles is underscored by the fact that the Congress should have removed Bush from office years ago.  From lying to the world to perpetrate the war in Iraq, to violating the Constitution on scores of basic civil rights and liberties issues, to fostering a regime based on unprecedented corruption and robbery, George W. Bush would be known as the worst president in the history of the United States if in fact he had been elected president.

But these articles of impeachment contain charges that come directly from the independent reportage on the stolen 2004 election that appeared first at www.freepress.org and in other non-corporate and internet-based media throughout the United States.  Ironically, though these facts have finally penetrated to a proposed Congressional indictment of the nation’s chief executive, they have yet to be reported in the “mainstream” corporate-owned media.

Kucinich’s Article 28 charges Bush with “tampering with free and fair elections,” along with “corruption of the administration of justice.” Article 29 charges him and his staff and political cronies and underlings with “conspiracy to violate the Civil Rights Act of 1965” (co-author Bob Fitrakis, attorney-at-law, helped draft these Articles 28 and 29 based in part on information that was first posted at www.freepress.org).

Many of the specific charges leveled in the bill of impeachment can be traced directly to conflict of interest charged raised in Ohio by grassroots election protection activists before, during and after the 2004 voting.  Bush deserves impeachment, Kucinich writes, for “willfully allowing his agent, Ohio Secretary of State John Kenneth Blackwell, the Co-Chair of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign, to ensure that uncounted and provisional ballots in Ohio’s 2004 presidential election would be disproportionately concentrated in urban African-American districts.”

The impeachment document also notes that “in Ohio’s Lucas County, which includes Toledo, 3,122 or 41.13% of the provisional ballots went uncounted under the direction of George W. Bush’s agent, the Secretary of State of Ohio, John Kenneth Blackwell, Co-Chair of the Committee to Re-Elect Bush/Cheney in Ohio….In Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, 8,559 or 32.82% of the provisional ballots went uncounted….In Ohio’s Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, 3,529 or 24.23% of the provisional ballots went uncounted.”

In our numerous conversations with Rep. Kucinich since the Ohio-centered theft of the 2004 election, he has made it clear that he fully understands the depth of planning and coordination that went into the hijacking of the presidency.  Based on sophisticated coordination between Blackwell and White House consiglieri Karl Rove, the GOP launched a high-tech blitzkrieg on the electoral process.  Their tactics ranged from removing more than 300,000 registered Ohio citizens from the voter rolls, to short-changing inner city precincts of needed voting machines, to rigging electronic vote counts, to calling a phony Homeland Security alert to several score other tactics, many of which continue to surface.

The tragedy of this impeachment is that it did not occur in 2004, when the independent media filled with the first revelations of what really happened in Ohio.  Two new election protection documentaries, David Earnhardt’s UNCOUNTED and a new release coming from Emmy-award winner Dorothy Fadiman, make the experience even more indelible.   

The Bush catastrophe is now winding down, having exceeded all expectations in its destruction of the fabric of American law, economy and ecology. But if Barack Obama allows history to repeat itself yet again in 2008, this nation will plunge even deeper into the depths.  The only way to avoid that is to proceed with this impeachment  in all its potential force.  At very least, this Congress must thoroughly expose and act on what was done to our sacred democratic process in 2004.  As we have since learned, the world cannot afford to have this happen again. 

Full text of the resolution can be found at: Articles of Impeachment


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available via www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared. They also co-wrote, with Steve Rosenfeld, WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO, from The New Press.

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June 14, Richard Hayes Phillips At Free Press/Green Education Fund Second Saturday Salon

June 14
Free Press/Green Education Fund Second Saturday Salon

Join other progressives for an evening of socializing, food, drink, Bob and Harvey radio show recorded live!
and “Witness to a Crime” presentation/book signing by Richard Hayes Phillips.

6:30pm-midnight
Free Press office, 1000 E. Main St., Columbus, Ohio
parking in rear or next door at the Salvation Army
 253-2571, truth@freepress.org

Below link to further info about Richard and And RFK Jr. and Mark Crispin Miller video on 2008 elections mentioning him.

http://neocon-panic-attacks.blogspot.com/2008/05/witness-to-crime-richard-hayes-phillips.html 

Bob Bytes Back Archive: 8/07/96 Out Of The Frying Pan

8/07/1996
by Bob Fitrakis

Governor George Voinovich couldn’t “stand the heat,” so “he got out of the kitchen.” The Guv got out of the VP stakes because of the growing contract-steering scandal with links to organized crime figures in Cleveland. One look at Voinovich’s FBI file would’ve had Bob Dole muttering “Bob Dole’s not about these type of people.” Voinovich would not have been able to withstand the national press scrutiny. His former chief of staff, Paul Mifsud, could’ve been mentored by Spiro Agnew-same type of construction kick-back problems.

The national press wouldn’t have muzzled their bloodhounds like the Dispatch is now doing with Bob Ruth. Remember, the Guv’s spokesperson, Mike Dawson, called Mafia associate and loan sharker Carmen Parise a “very, very good friend of the Governor.” Parise was an associate of James T. (Jack White) Licavoli, reputed organized crime boss. The Guv nominated Parise to the Ohio Turnpike Commission, but he withdrew after the Akron Beacon Journal profiled his past.

The Guv then chose Umberto Fedeli. Fedeli would have you believe that he’s a humble civil servant paid $5,000 a year to serve as commission chair where he works 20-30 hours a week and has to put up with nosy reporters. Like the ones at the Plain Dealer who want to know why people getting the construction contracts from the Turnpike Commission are switching their insurance to the Fedeli Group Insurance Company.

Fedeli is the sole owner. S.E. Johnson Companies has received $55.4 million worth of turnpike contracts since January 1995, and has wisely switched their insurance to Fedeli. Can you say quid pro quo? Fedeli is refusing to say who else holds turnpike contracts and buys insurance from him. Just another bad unethical appointment by the governor? No! It’s how the brothers Voinovich (Paul and George) routinely do business in Ohio.

And “Landfill” Lashutka has followed the governor’s lead. Tens of thousands of dollars of illegal and questionable contributions pour into the campaigns of Lashutka and Cindy Lazarus. Then Columbus Service Director Herb Mack signs an illegal $250,000 contract with Mid-American Waste Removal, the source of the illegal funds. Mack resigns. But in June, Lashutka appoints Mack to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). Say you’re Les Wexner and want your own New Albany interchange for say, $300 million. Guess which is the first body you’d visit to get them on board? Mack’s the mayor’s man. He knows how the game is played.

The coverage of Ron Poole’s soliciting-a-prostitute incident also speaks volumes about central Ohio politics. It’s the mayor’s guy-not Judge Deborah O’Neill. Contrast the Poole coverage to the Dispatch’s blatant attempt to use hearsay and gossip to run O’Neill out of local politics. Better yet, ask yourself why, when the name of Judge Steve Hayes-Woody’s boy-appeared on the client list of an exclusive Columbus call girl ring, and he was caught on video pulling into the bordello, was there no call for a hearing on judicial misconduct.

Having been on the campaign trail with O’Neill in 1992, her great sin is obvious. She met with the late J.F. Wolfe, who wanted her to take a dive in the race against former Dispatch reporter Judge David Cain. When she refused to drop out of the race and kicked Cain’s candied behind, her troubles began with the Wolfe Family Newsletter.

The Wolfes immediately had Cain reappointed to an open seat and he never missed a day on the bench. And he brazenly clung to the perks of seniority-check his parking space-despite technically being the newest judge at the time of his appointment. Cain led the charge against O’Neill when she was recently accused of judicial misconduct. There is no level of cover-up and deception the Big D won’t stoop to in protecting their good ol’ boys.

Meanwhile, the ever-pious governor continues to push his blatantly unconstitutional school voucher program. The Voino-voucher plan, dearly beloved by the Dispatch, includes religious schools, in violation of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no laws establishing religion….” The ruling by Franklin County Judge Lisa Sadler, a former Voinovich executive assistant, would be laughable if it wasn’t so ludicrous and pernicious. Remember, Machiavelli advised the Prince not to take religion seriously, but to be the first one out on high Holy Days to worship.

But hey, the Guv is Carmen Parise’s and Umberto Fedeli’s “shepherd … they shall not want.” Alas, let me leave you with the words of the governor’s “very, very good friend” Parise from a taped threat to Teamster driver Jerry Lee Jones. “The day after this [Teamster] fucking election, you motherfucker, nobody is going to bust your fucking head but me, from here down to your prick.. . . . Every time you turn around, I’ll have someone give you a fucking beating. You understand me?” Jones was later assaulted by a co-worker. I understand Parise…and why Voinovich dropped out of the Veep stakes.