Mar 30, 2006

Block Communications Could Face Multi-Million Dollar Fines, Criminal Charges

(Toledo, OH) A spokesman for the Ohio Bureau of Testing and Registration confirmed that Corporate Protection Services, an alarm installation company, which is owned by Blade owners Block Communications, is not in compliance with state licensing requirements.

BCI, owner of The Blade and Buckeye Cablevision, purchased the alarm company CPS in 1998. CPS provides security and fire alarm systems plus monitoring to thousands of Michigan and Ohio homeowners.

Barry Webne, general manager of CPS, insists that his firm is in full compliance with the licensing procedure of both states.

"We have filled out all of the necessary paperwork and paid all of the licensing fees," he said. "We had the Michigan license registered in the name of an employee because the state used to have residency requirements. I have no idea why our licenses do not show up in the records."

Records from the Michigan Bureau of Commercial Services indicate the current status of the license as "lapsed," and that the license expired on Dec. 2, 2003. State records also failed to reveal a license under the name of the individual employee Webne identified as the license holder.

Webne declined an offer to fax Toledo Free Press the licenses he claims to possess.

On its Web site, CPS claims, "CPS installers are fully trained, licensed, bonded an insured. CPS is the security company of choice of many builders in NW Ohio and SE Michigan."

Violating Michigan laws by selling, installing, servicing or monitoring alarm systems without a license is a felony that is punishable by a possible four-year prison term and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, penalties of up to $1,000 per violation could be assessed by the state.

A spokesman for the Ohio Bureau of Testing and Registration confirmed that CPS is not in compliance with state requirements.

"There are no records for a 'Corporate Protection Services' in our systems," he said. "If that company is performing work on fire alarm systems, then they are in violation of the fire code."

Steve Cartmill, a spokesman with the state fire marshal's office, said the state takes fire protection very seriously.

"Ohio Revised Code attaches a criminal sanction for doing work that requires certification and for which one does not possess the required State Fire Marshal certificate," he said. "Every individual engaged in a regulated activity also must carry his own individual certification, and must be working in association with a certified company while performing the work."

Ohio requires companies and contractors to register with the state and pass certification exams. Failure to follow the Ohio fire code can result in fines of $1,000 per violation and possible jail sentences; the state fire marshal can also petition Ohio county prosecutors to seek temporary and permanent injunctions against violators, effectively shutting down their business.

With thousands of customers in Michigan and Ohio, CPS could face fines totaling in the millions of dollars.

Addendum, 5:00 pm: A caller to the Brian Wilson show on 1370 WSPD who purported to be a technician with Corporate Protection Services said that he has maintained his personal license as a technician.

The caller then said that Kim Klewer, onetime owner and president of Coorporate Protection Services, was the person who should be blamed for corporate licensing lapses. In 2003 BCI spun off the commercial sales and installation business to a new coporation, Asset Protection Corporation, which Klewer now owns.

Within minutes I received a call from Mr. Klewer, who vehemently denied these charges. He indicated that he has emails dating back to 2004 that he composed reminding CPS of their obligation to maintain licenses.

He will be forwarding me a statement shortly.

Addendum, 5:50 pm: Here is the response emailed to me by Kim Klewer, former CPS president and current president of Asset Protection Service:

This is a follow up to your request for a statement referencing an assertion publicly made by one or more CPS employees that the licensing issues identified in your story today occurred under my watch & is my fault while president of CPS. Since I have been mentioned in connection with this, I feel I must respond, as follows:

I was President of CPS until 12-31-2003, at which time I formed APC (1-1-2004). CPS wanted out of the commercial security & fire installation & service business and basically rolled that part of the business to APC. CPS wanted to solely remain in the home and monitoring business. Which was agreed upon by all parties.

During the commercial transition beginning in October 2003, Mr. Webne (the new CPS General Manager) and other BCI management members were informed on more than one occasion that the CPS' Michigan License will require Mr. Webne to make application to the State of Michigan since it is the senior most management person who must personally hold the license for the company. As President of CPS the current CPS license would become invalid as soon as I was no longer a CPS employee. Mr. Webne assured us that he would follow-up with the State of Michigan.

We also advised Mr. Webne that we believed there was a grace period of a few months to get the license holder changed.

Not hearing back regarding CPS' Michigan status, I e-mailed BCI to ascertain the situation status of CPS' Michigan license. We were informed that CPS had a Michigan Alarm License. This was and is important to APC since CPS provides monitoring services for APC customers, including those in Michigan.

CPS' State of Ohio Fire Alarm License renewal occurs annually in the late winter or spring and is merely a renewal application and license fee. Each individual who works on a home or business fire alarm alarm must also be licensed individually by the State of Ohio.

Kim Klewer
President, APC


Anonymous said...

Serves the Blocks right. This must be what it means to be "block-headed."

Anonymous said...

Typical sleazy Block behavior. Doesn't surprise me.

Anonymous said...

Phuck JRB. Phuck Allan Block. Phuck glass block windows too, just because they have the name "Block" in them.

karen said...

Hey, I like my glass block windows!


Anonymous said...

Gee, is Kim Klewer any relation to your employer's art director Stacie Klewer????? Where's the disclosure? Looks like Tom Pounds learned everything he knows from the Block folk....all of you media types are biased and agenda driven

historymike said...

Whoa. A fair amount of Block-perturbation.

(laughing at karen)

I don't know that the Blocks have any culpability here; they do own the company in question, which makes them technically responsible, but they delegate to subordinates.

I have never met any of the Blocks, and I will reserve judgment until or if I ever meet them.

historymike said...

I am not sure of the connection - if any - between Stacy Klewer and Kim Klewer.

Stacy had nothing to do with this story. In fact, I rarely have contact with her; I do most of my work in the field and my "office" is my laptop.

Kim Klewer had nothing to do with this story until a CPS employee called the Brian Wilson show and maligned him.

And, the fact that the anonymous poster is attacking anyone named Klewer looks to be an attempt to create a smokescreen to cover possible criminal action.

historymike said...

For the record - Stacy Klewer and Kim Klewer are related.

Again, stick to the relevant story. If you look hard enough you will find all sorts of interesting connections between people that mean nothing, especially in a mid-sized town the size of Toledo.

Did you know, for example, that two Toledo Blade writers are related to Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates?

WOW! Every case the prosecutor's office handles should now carry such a similar discloure?

I think not. The Blade is smart enough to keep these two writers away from stories about Julia Bates. It's called journalistic integrity.

And it's what we excercise at the Toledo Free Press as well. There are certain topics about which I do not write for TFP because of the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Anonymous said...

Awww, the widdle Blockies are mad at Mikey.

By the way Mr. Anonymous, where is YOUR disclosure? You sound like JRB or Allan Block.

Stephanie said...

"By the way Mr. Anonymous, where is YOUR disclosure?"

Says as fellow anonymous. Hmm.

historymike said...


Anonymous #5 does have a point about anonymous #4, though. Anonymous #4 came on and tried to steer attention away from possible criminal wrongdoing by pointing out an irrelevant detail about Kim Klewer.

Bottom line - BCI and CPS had years to fix this and failed to do so. Then Webne told me - either by lying or because he was clueless - that he had all his state-mandated licnses to operate as a fire protection firm.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
historymike said...

Spam removal service.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
historymike said...

Look, Captain Spam:

I can delete 'em faster than you can post 'em.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
historymike said...

IP info on Mr. Spamalot:

Domain Name (Network)
IP Address 70.148.203.# (
Location Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Georgia
City : Cohutta
Lat/Long : 34.8678, -84.9195 (Map)

Language English (United States)
Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Firefox
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.8) Gecko/20050511 Firefox/1.0.4
Javascript version 1.5
Monitor Resolution : 1280 x 1024
Color Depth : 32 bits

Time of Visit Mar 31 2006 5:13:53 pm
Last Page View Mar 31 2006 5:14:06 pm

historymike said...

Mr. Spamalot is plugging a site that has a spoof URL. This is the registered URL:

The WHOIS info indicates he has a 2nd-party WHOIS-blocking service.

Danny Brown said...

Hey Mike:

Nice article.

Stephanie said...


"Anonymous #5 does have a point about anonymous #4, though."

Admittedly, but complaining about an anonymous posting while remaining anonymous oneself is not the most legitimate way to approach the matter.

Great job on Imbecile of Spam-a-Lot!

Berserker said...

I find this amusing, Mike.

Haven't you been turned down for a job by The Blade? Isn't that what you have said in another toledo forum?

Is that why you're writing for the rag that Toledo Edison owns?

I wonder what Toledo Free(Edison) Press will write when Toledo Edison raises rates in 2008?

I think Toledo Edison(Free) Press is just trying to stir up mud about The Blade before WSPD exposes them for the utility whore that they are.

historymike said...

Nice try at disinformation, Berserker.

1. I have never applied for a job at the Blade, and I find it hard to see myself working there. I did pitch a story to them once, and got the runaround, so I took it elsewhere.

2. I am a freelance writer whose work encompasses academia, journalism, and fiction. My career goals do not include a full-time position at a paper like the Blade, although I do enjoy writing in the genre of investigative journalism.

3. Toledo Edison does not own the Toledo Free Press. This is an outright fabrication. The Free Press does rent space in a building that First Energy owns, along with dozens of other Toledo businesses. Get your facts straight.

4. So the idea that possible criminal action on the part of a company that is in the fire protection business doesn't bother you, Berserker? And, if truth be told, the Blade started the whole mud-slinging business with the "news" story on Tom Pounds last year.

historymike said...

Toledo Talk poster GuestZero noted that identities "Berserker" and "Erie Island" seem to travel together.

"Erie Island" is the person who began to harp about the stupid rumor that FirstEnergy (the parent company of Toledo Edison) owns the Toledo Free Press.

I will probably regret pointing this out, since I will probably end up just igniting this ridiculous argument all over again, but readers should know the credibility of commenters.

Berserker said...

So, you do have a negative experience with The Blade.

So you got the "runaround."

Does that mean you have an axe to grind?

Frankly, GuestZero's claim has about as much credibility as Tom Noe, another friend of Toledo Free (Edison) Press.

How do I derive that toledo Free Press is a friend of Tom Noe? Well, take a look at the TFP Headline - "Noe answer's back" or some such crap.

I like your writing, Mike, but you're getting yourself involved with a bad group.

historymike said...

Thank you for the compliment, Berserker.

I have also been rejected/ignored by the following popular periodicals:

Salon, Time, Newsweek, Editor and Publisher, Slate, Counterpunch, Dteroit News, Village Voice, and US News & World Report.

In the last 12 months. There are probably more that I have forgotten.

Rejection, runaround, and being blown off are part and parcel of a writer's work, Berserker. I have had over 150 pieces of work published in the past five years, but I have probably had four times that many rejections.

Heck, you are lucky to even get a response in this business. At least the Blade had the courtesy to write back and give a non-commital answer.

As far as the Free Press goes, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of them as a "bad group."

They have treated me well, and we consistently produce a quality paper, especially given the fact that TFP is a weekly.

And the Noe story? TFP turned on the tape recorder and let him speak.

If it turns out Noe lied, then shame on him.

We just reported what he said.

Here's a link to the 4-13-2005 TFP edition with the Noe interview.

Show me where in this story the Free Press acted in a way that was inconsistent with journalistic standards.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link!

The headline:

"Noe Strikes Back!"

With a sub-bullet:

ON THE BLADE: "I will not let someone continuosly slander me the way they have."

So, the above represents a watch dog type of publication?

It is that kind of gratuitous support of a person like Noe in an obvious attempt at influencing public opinion on his behalf, that makes the people at TFP appear slimy to me.

Now, with accusations that TFP is receiving free rent from Toledo Edison, that makes me wonder what else is going on there?

Obviously, the startup cost for TFP was minimal, at the most. I think that some bar owners chipped in, along with Noe to start this publication.

It is no coincidence that a bar whose owner Pounds hangs with will have his establishment on the ground floor of their new building.

Once Toledo Edison is audited by the PUCO, then we will all see what they have been up to.

As far as journalistic integrity...
Once Noe's financing involvement with TFP is found through the current investigations, then we won't need further debate.

However, Mike, as long as they pay you well and on time, then there's no reason for you to be concerned.

Or is there?

historymike said...

This is the reason I hesitated to even start this discussion with you back up, Berserker / Erie Island / "Anonymous".

Thank you for your opinion. Have a nice day.