Thursday, October 09, 2014

Here Comes the Judge!



Listen voters and you shall hear
Of candidate Jones’ incompetent career,
Getting less done from nine to five
Than any man now alive
On any day, in any year,
In one and out the other ear.
As Portsmouth city solicitor,
His performance was so poor
In the office and the courtroom,
He didn’t know his who from his whom.
In fact, he was so ill-suited for the job  
That he prosecuted Harald Daub
For allegedly shoplifting a shopping bag
From Aldi’s—Yes,  a shopping bag!—
But the jury unanimously acquitted
Daub, Jones having proved himself half-witted
And guilty of gross incompetence,
Revealing himself as very dense
By showing an Aldi videotape
Over and over again as if a rape
Was being committed, as if Daub
Was attempting to brazenly rob
Or commit a felonious assault
While doing a double summersault. 
But he was doing nothing of the sort,
As the jurors could see clearly in court,  
As shown by the security camera,
Which was very different from Jones’ chimera.
Having been found unanimously not guilty. 
Daub deserved an apology, not a penalty, 
For Jones had shown himself to be not Perry Mason
But Inspector Clouseau, avec très peu de raison,
Bumbling ahead without a clue,
Worthy of inclusion in The Fool’s Who’s Who.


A fool in court, without any ands, ifs, or buts,
Jones was a royal dunce when it came  to donuts.
His name will forever be Crispie Cremed
With the  roaches with which his donut shop teemed—
Roaches in display cases, on the counter,
More roaches than you would ever encounter
In roach motels or in greasy diners
Or in all the pantries in the Carolinas—
Roaches on the ceiling, roaches on the floor,
Roaches lining up impatiently at the door,
Roaches with reservations, roaches without,
Roaches without pull, roaches with clout,
All waiting to fulfill their crummy dream,
Of carte blanche at Jones’ Crispie Creme
Where appalling, unsanitary conditions
Led the neighbors to circulate petitions.
For the roaches, Crispie Creme was all the rage, 
But customers avoided it like the plague.
Now, if those roaches were allowed to vote
That would sure be all she wrote,
For Jones would be judge in a landslide,
With swarms of insects by his side 
Because roaches don’t know from incompetent.
To the  roaches Mike Jones was heaven-sent,
Which is why they’ll shout, “Here comes the Judge!”
And from him they will never budge, 
And in Portsmouth the future tense
Will be drugs, drugs, drugs and the usual nonsense—
Counseling Centers, half-way houses,
And judgeships filled with incompetent louses.

                                Robert Forrey, 2014

The kind of shopping bag Daub was falsely
accused of shoplifting from Aldi's

      Other relevant posts from River Vices

Donuts, Obesity, and Diabetes (click here)
La Cucaracha (click here)
From Dollars to Donuts (click here)
The Trial of Harald Daub (click here)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

KWJ's Three Harmful Legacies

First Harmful Legacy

"It was not long after the change back to the City Manager form of government that KWJ became President of City Council in which capacity, with his shaved head, he bore some resemblance to  Mussolini, il Duce, the dictator of Italy during the Second World War." 

I have already written a post on Kevin W. Johnson’s most harmful legacy in Portsmouth, (click here) which is the misnamed City Manager form of government. It should be called the City Council form of government. Under the City Manager form the mayor is either eliminated completely or retained as a political eunuch. The City Manager form of government increases the authority of the City Council. The City Manager, in the absence of a mayor, becomes  subordinate and answerable to the City Council, which has the authority to hire and fire him or her. The City Council has the authority to formulate the policies it wants the City Manager to carry out. Though Portsmouth had already tried and eventually rejected the City Manager form of government, KWJ, with his characteristically dictatorial tendencies, engineered the change back to City Manager in an off-year coup d'etat election without most residents being aware of what was happening.

It was not long after the change back to the City Manager form of government that KWJ became President of City Council in which capacity, with his shaved head, he bore some resemblance to Mussolini, il Duce, the dictator of Italy during the Second  World War. When the City Manager and other members of the City Council saw what a tyrant KWJ was, they united against him and forced him to resign as President of City Council. KWJ agreed to resign, but to save face he claimed he was resigning because of health problems. He reportedly has had health problems for some time, so they were probably not the real reason for his resignation.

 The City Manager form of government did not work in Portsmouth in the past, is not working now, and probably will not work in the future, not even if we had a city manager whose primary residence was in Portsmouth, not Piqua, some 150 miles away. If it were not for KWJ, Portsmouth would not have the albatross of the misnamed City Manager form of government around its neck.

Second Harmful Legacy

Another harmful legacy of KWJ is the virtual canonization of his late business and same-sex partner, Paul E. Johnson. In canonizing his late partner, KWJ, an inveterate politician, is trying to improve  the very negative image of himself he has created. I am not opposed to same-sex marriage, but I am opposed to anyone who thinks that same-sex marriages are made in heaven and acts, as KWJ does, as if his same-sex partner was a saint or at least someone who deserves to be memorialized with an annual “Paul E. Johnson Memorial Fund Soiree,” to quote the obsequious Portsmouth Daily Times reporter Frank Lewis’ description of what he claims is “One of the area’s favorite charity fundraisers.” Just what did Paul E. Johnson do for Portsmouth that prompted Main Street Portsmouth to memorialize him with an annual charity "Soiree"? In failing in the upscale antique business in Appalachia, was Paul E. Johnson a martyr to taste? Is that why he is being memorialized? Speaking of taste, the use of the phony French word soiree for the annual event underscores the pretentiousness of KWJ with his wine-tastings and his campaign to change the Portsmouth city seal because he wants something less gauche, something more au courant, as the French would say.  There is even a plaque on one the least historic and most commercial looking Portsmouth buildings that the most prominent same-sex couple in the city lived above before their upscale antique business went bust.

If I have this right, both Paul and Kevin Johnson were originally from Appalachia. But you can’t cross-pollinate Appalachia with San Francisco anymore than you can Peoria with Paris, as the Paul E. Johnson Soiree will annually serve to remind us. And speaking of bad taste, what about those ugly funereal flower pots that detract from the beauty and constitute a hazard for joggers along the Floodwall Murals? Adding insult to ugliness, those pots now display advertising plugs for Main Street Portsmouth and for KWJ’s apotheosized late partner.

Third Harmful Legacy

I will conclude briefly with KWJ's third harmful  legacy, which is the confusing charter amendment he has got placed on the ballot for next month’s election. That amendment seeks to repeal the spending restraints placed upon the city government in a previous charter amendment. Our city officials are so addicted to spending that if there were half-way houses for fiscal addicts, city officials would be confined to them. If Johnson’s charter amendment is passed, it will be one more reason why we will live to regret that KWJ ever returned to Appalachia. Don't  be confused by the language of KWJ's amendment, which implies we won't have money for sewers if his amendment doesn't pass. That is a canard that even the City Manager has has publicly said is not true.  As in the sample ballot below, vote against KWJ's charter amendment!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Drug Addicts and Clients, Prostitutes and Euphemisms

Who are the honest public officials and who are the political prostitutes? Who are the Salvation Army Ladies and who are the Shady Ladies? Who are the Scioto County Commissioners? They are the shady public officials who got Scioto County placed on emergency fiscal watch by the State of Ohio because of their fiscal mismanagement. One example of their fiscal mismanagement was when they provided the juvenile detention center in the historic Boneyfiddle neighborhood of Portsmouth,  rent-free, to Ed Hughes. The Scioto County Commissioners recently signed a letter of support for   Compass Community  Health (CCH), a front company for Counseling Center, Inc. CCH has applied to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to be reclassified as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

Why does CCH want to be reclassified as a FQHC? Soine Hash Program Director of CCH told the Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT) that one of the advantages of FQHC status is that it will give CCH "access to enhanced reimbursement for services provided." What the hell does "enhanced reimbursement" mean? If it's not clear what it means that's because it's a euphemism. A euphemism is a word or phrase used to cover up something unethical or illegal. For example if you form a business one of whose services is to provide drugs to drug addicts,  then you call that service "counseling" and you call your drug addicted customers clients.   Here's  another example of a euphemism. If a  hooker walks up and down John Street in a Salvation Army uniform she's  a euphemism. What  the euphemism "enhanced reimbursement" really means is that Ed Hughes will be able to squeeze even more money from the federal, state, and local  governments for housing, transporting, treating, and coddling addicts with the result that he will become even wealthier than he already is.

I have written a letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, urging them to reject the CCH request for FQHC status. I believe Counseling Center, Inc., and its front companies, are partly responsible for Portsmouth being not just anecdotally but also statistically, one of the worst cities for drug-abuse in the country. Because it has attracted drug addicts from other counties in Ohio as well as from neighboring states since its establishment ten years ago, the Counseling Center, Inc., with its medicine-man promise of miracle cures, has made drug abuse in the Portsmouth area worse, not better

Before HRSA grants CCH FQHA status, it should require Counseling Center, Inc., to make public verifiable statistics to justify its claims to miraculous recovery rates. Recidivism is notoriously high among addicts. Are Hughes' "clients" exceptions to that rule? In 2013, the FBI indicted forty-four individuals in the southern Ohio area–including three counseling center owners in a health care fraud and distribution scheme. On September 25, 2014, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials raided two Portsmouth counseling centers owned by Paul Vernier, an Ed Hughes wannabe. What is Ed Hughes? What is Paul Vernier? A humanitarian or a hustler? A drug counselor or con-artist? In Portsmouth it's hard to tell the sweet talkers from the street walkers or the Salvation Army ladies from the shady ladies. Before it grants CCH the FQHA status, the HRSA better be sure it knows the difference.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snuffy Says, "Just Say No to Counseling Centers!"

"I tolled you drugs iz the ruination of this nation!"

“Hey, Gramps, ‘gratulate  me,” my  gud fur nuthin’gransun sez to me who  I aint sean in a  munth of mondaze.
“Gratulate you? Wat fur?” I sez.”
“I’m a client,” he sez.
“Yur a wat?” I sez.
“A client,” he sez, like  sumbuddy impotent.
“Wat’s a client?” I sez.
“Sumbuddy who gits sum respeck,” he sez.
“You meen you aint a drug addick enymore?”
        “I’m not sayin that,” he sez, “but I dun turned over a new leef.”
“A knew leef? You  aint started ‘nuther marywanna plantasion haf  you?”  I sez. He surved six munths in the hoosegow fur growin’  weed in one of the hollers hearabouts fore the revenooers  swooped in like a flock of crows and burnt the hole crop and hawled him  away in  hancufs.
“Nuthin’ like that,” he sez. “I’m a residint in a hafway howse at the Counsling Senter.”
“The wat?”
        “The Counsling Senter  hafway howse,” he  sez.
        “Wat’s that?”  I sez.
“Thats wear the  clients live,” he sez.
“The clients?”
“That’s rite,” he sez.
“Acrost the rivur?” I sez.
“That’s rite,” he sez. “They take care of ev’rythin’ crosst the river.  Grub, cloase, medsin . . .”
“Medsin?” I sez spitious cuz I think medsins bin the ruination of this country. 
“Yes medsin,” he sez.
"Yore gramma Daisy Mae wuz fine till sum docktor  bak in the nineteen-sixtees give hur a medcin called Vallyum  fur hur ressless leg sindrome  and she wuz addickted fur the rest of hur life, God rest hur soul.
“The  medsin’s free,”  he sez.
“It aint Vallyum, is it?” I sez.
“No,” he sez.
“Watz it called I sez,” seein’ heez hidin’ sumpin’.
Not lookin’ me in the eye, he sez,  “Suboxycotton.”
“Aint that wat you waz busted fur sellin’ last summer?” I sez.
“No, that waz full strenth Oxycotton,” he sez. “This is wartered down Oxycotton.”
“Wartered down?  Why’re they  givin’ you watered down addicktin’ drugs?” I sez.
“You don’t think anybuddy can quit cold turkey, do you?” he sez.
“Your unkle Zeke qwit moonshine cold turkey plenty  of times,” I sez. “I never seed anywon who cud qwit easier than  Zeke.”
“Sure, Gramps, but drugs iz diffurint.”
“Diffurint!  I donut no wat this kuntrys cummin’ to. Moonshine was gud enuf fur yore father and it waz gud enuff fur my father, and we maid  it our selfs, and yore granma pitched in, stompin' grapes restless leg and all. We didn’t wate for  govinmnet handowts in some hafass howse.”
Hafway, Gramps,” he sez.
“Watever,” I sez.
“Life aint that simple anymore, Gramps.”
“Yore sure rite it aint,” I tells him. “And just wat govinment ajensee iz payin’ for all this?”
“The Department of Health and Human Services,” he says proud as a peecock, as tho he had a skulorship to Shawnee State.”
“Then how cum yore not at the hafway house now?” I sez. “Iz this yore semister brake?” I sez sarkastick.
“Coarse not,” he sez.
“Then why’re you hear?”
“Cuz the FBI raided the hafway house.”
“Wat in tarnasion for?” I sez.
“They ‘cused the owner of  cookin’ the books makin’ funny muney on Medicare and ‘rested him.”
“You meen won govinment ajency supplies the halfass  howse with drugs and muney and anuther govinment ajency raids the hafway howse for breakin’ the law?”
“I gess that’s pritty much it,” he sez.
“I hope you aint hear looking for a handout?”
“No, I aint,” he sez. “I just wanted to show you I ‘mounted to somethin’.”
“’Mounted to a client you meen?” I sez.
“That’s rite,” he sez.
“Then wat you goin’ to do? Go  back to cookin’ meth?”
“No, there’s plenty of  Counsling Senters  and  Ive been ‘cepted in another one.”
“So the Deportment of Hell and Hellish Servises, or whatever itz called,  pays the bills till  the Justiss Deportment or some other govinment ajency raids the hafass howse and 'rests the owner?”
“I gess that’s how it works,” he sez, like a client who duzn’t care who pays the bills as long as it aint him.

“Well, I’m glad you aint no client of mine,” I sez as he gows off and I waves to him and he waves bak and I sez to myself, “Wat’s this country comin’ too anyway?”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Multiple Chance Drug House

"Beware of snake-oil salesmen peddling miracle cures."

In a flyer distributed for the 20th anniversary of the Marsh House, Counseling Center, Inc.'s,  founder Ed Hughes wondered what the late Jim Marsh, after whom the halfway house is named,  would have said about the 20-year-anniversary and celebration. "I think he [Jim Marsh] would find it just perfect," Hughes wrote. Just perfect? The sign in front of the facility advertises "miracles." From what I have learned about Ed Hughes, I would say Counseling Center, Inc., and its Compass Point affiliate, rather than being perfect, are perfectly awful. As Mark Twain might have said, "Beware  of snake-oil salesmen peddling miracle cures." I believe the Council Center, Inc./Compass Point  is a curse and is one of the reasons Portsmouth has a reputation, backed up by statistics, of being among the most drug-ridden cities in Ohio. Counseling  Center, Inc., is a business, not a humanitarian operation, and the more addiction there is in Portsmouth the more prosperous Hughes' business becomes. Counseling Center, Inc., has attracted drug addicts from other  Ohio counties and from other states as well for a decade because Hughes knows how to get the government and the tax-payers  to pay for housing and feeding and transporting his "clients," as he calls his drug-addicted customers.

Business is so good that Counseling Center, Inc./Compass Point Housing keeps on expanding  in Portsmouth and beyond, buying residential houses and converting them into half-way houses, which lowers property values in the neighborhood because people don't want to live near these so-called half-way houses where, their critics claim, based on their personal observation, that at least some of the addicts continue to obtain drugs because of lax supervision. This is particularly the case, according to  Shawnee Sentinel reporter Wally Leedom,  at the Counseling Center's facility that claims to have the highest level of security, what he calls the Second Chance Drug House, which occupies the former juvenile detention center in Boneyfiddle, for which Hughes pays no rent to the county, according to Austin Leedom, Wally's father.   I am reprinting a succinct interview with a woman Wally Leedom posted last summer because it suggests that the Counseling Center's Second Chance facility is much less than perfect, in spite of the claim "We believe in miracles,"  and might more accurately be called the Multiple Chance Drug House.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

644 4th Street: The Turning Point?

The misinformed, misleading classified ad that
appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times, 9/9/2014

It is too early to say for sure, but something happened in the Municipal Building in connection with 644 4th Street  on Tuesday September 16th, that may turn out to be an important date in the history of the reform movement in Portsmouth. The scam sale of the Marting’s building a dozen years ago was the turning point in the struggle against the Johnson-Hatcher poverty-fueled racket that milked the state and federal governments of money that was supposed to alleviate poverty in Portsmouth but actually increased it. What happened on September 16th may be the turning point in the struggle against the new crook on the block, Thurman “Ed” Hughes and his rapidly expanding drug-fueled “counseling” businesses, which are supposed to be reducing Portsmouth’s dependency on illegal drugs but are actually increasing it.

The classified ad above, which I have enlarged,  appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT) where it was buried, in very small type, in the back pages where it would not likely be seen by neighbors living near 644 4th Street, in Boneyfiddle, or by anyone else either. But even if they had seen it, would they have known what it meant? In the deceptive language of the ad, the words “counseling” and “dormitory” and “client” are used but there is no mention whatsoever of drugs, addiction, or rehabilitation. Until just a few days before the hearing on the 16th, nobody in the 4th St. neighborhood had seen that ad or known about the hearing scheduled by the City Planning Commission (CPC) in the Municipal Building until somebody put a flyer with a copy of the ad under the door of a 4th St. resident, around September 13th, and within hours most of the neighborhood knew that 644 4th St., along with a house at 1327 Kinney’s Lane, were to be converted into "residences" for "clients" of Ed Hughes' lucrative counseling businesses. According to Austin Leedom, for the year 2012, Hughes reported income of over $19,000,000 (that's nineteen-million dollars!) to the Internal Revenue Service.

The CPC Lacks the Authority

About twenty-five people showed up for the hearing, more than had been expected, so it was moved from the Engineer’s Office to Council Chambers. The City Manager Derek Allen, who chaired the hearing, surprised everybody  by declaring at the outset  that Item # 1 on the agenda, Compass Point Housing's request to "utilize" the houses on 4th St. and Kinney's Lane for "dormitory style living for up to 10-14 "residents," was out of order because the CPC had no authority to authorize such a utilization and that the item should not have been on the agenda in the first place. The Counseling Center and its Compass affiliates—I would call them fronts, not affiliates—would have to take their request to convert 644 4th St. and 1327 Kinney’s Lane into drug rehabilitation “dormitories” to the City Council. The CPC lacked the authority? The hearing should not have been held? How could that be when the City Planning Commission itself had submitted and paid for the classified ad in the PDT?  Hadn’t the City Manager, who chairs the CPC, read the ad before it appeared in the PDT? And if the City Manager hadn’t read it beforehand, hadn’t the City Solicitor, and shouldn’t he, as the city's chief legal officer, have understood that it was a mistake to bring the issue before the CPC? But he apparently  didn't know.  Was this an example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing? Was this  snafu the result of the City Solicitor’s notorious cluelessness?

The City Manager’s announcement that the hearing was a mistake was not the only surprise. When he got a chance to say something, Craig Gullion, executive director of Compass Point Housing, said his organization was no longer interested in acquiring 1327 Kinney’s Lane, anyway, because it was too small for the 10 to 12 “clients” he had wanted to house there. Isn’t the size of a house the first and most obvious thing one notices, and wouldn’t the County Auditor’s website have provided the exact square footage for the executive director to determine whether 1327 Kinney’s Lane was a house he wanted to utilize? The size may not have been the only problem with the house. Since 1327 Kinney's Lane is owned by Municipal Court Judge Steven Mowery’s family, wouldn’t the sale of it to the Counseling Center/Compass Point Housing have raised the issue of his  possible conflict of interest, and might that not have been a possible additional reason why the Mowery property was not  suitable for a half-way house?

Boneyfiddle Saturated with Counseling Center, Inc.

The question now is whether the Counseling Center/Compass Point Housing is going to request the City Council to allow it to acquire 644 4th Street, which, if I understood correctly, they would need to do since that house is at present a private residence rather than a commercial property. But if they make such a request of the council and if they go ahead with their plans for 644 4th, they may wish they hadn’t because now as a result of those attending the-hearing-that-shouldn't-have-been-held, the 4th St. residents know what the Counseling Center and Ed Hughes are up to and they are strongly opposed to it, having signed a notarized petition to that effect that was handed to the CPC at the hearing. The Boneyfiddle district is now the most saturated Counseling Center neighborhood in Portsmouth. There is for starters the Counseling Center's Stepping Stone house for pregnant girls at the corner of Front and Court Street. Then there is the large Counseling Center facility located in the former Scudder School on the corner of 4th and Court Street, and not far from that is the Second Chance facility, at 521 5th Street, which previously had been a detention center for delinquents. In "Neighbors in Terror at Second Chance Drug House," Wally Leedom interviewed a middle-aged housewife who lives near that facility. She told him that drug deals go down  day and night through the metal fence. We owe to Austin Leedom, the retired but tireless former deputy sheriff and his son Wally deep thanks for being the first to expose the government-financed racket Hughes is running in Portsmouth and in other counties in Ohio.

When it comes to the patience of Boneyfiddle residents, 644 4th St. may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, just as the Marting’s building had been for for the whole city a dozen years ago. The 4th St. residents are united now and could lead a campaign against Ed Hughes’ rapidly spreading cancerous Counseling Center businesses. If they do, then we should be thankful that the misleading and mistaken classified ad appeared in the PDT, for out of its misbegottenness may grow a movement that might put Counseling Center, Inc., out of business, like the racketeering SOGP was by the FBI in 2012.
644 4th St.: the house the Counseling Center has designs on

Earlier must-read posts on Ed Hughes and the Counseling Center

"Just Say No to Ed Hughes" (click here)

"From Pill Mills to Counseling Centers" (click here)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Miracle on 2nd Street

318 2nd St. before . . .
and after . . .

Before you read further, look at  the webpage on  Facebook for 318 2nd St. Street (click here). What has happened architecturally at 318 2nd St. is not just a renovatation, it is a remarkable transformation, if not a miracle, especially in the interior. Going against the American grain, in which appearance is everything, the exterior of the new 318 is simple and unprepossessing. Contrast it in that respect with the Marting building, which is really three old buildings with a phony, pretentious soulless façade hiding a dark, dank interior.

The owners, Gary and Tim,  have turned the the former crack house into a state-of-the-art student residence that makes the dormitories in Hatcherville look like Hoovervilles, and they have done it, if what they told me is accurate, without the kind of public assistance, tax breaks, and  financial guarantees that Neal Hatcher squeezes out of local public officials, who are his political puppets. 

The history of  the building at  318 2nd St. reflects the history of Portsmouth in the last half century when hundreds of  buildings fell into disrepair, and ended up like orphans after a plague, the plague of drugs. For a while, the way a pimp might corral  desperate down-and-out dollar prostitutes, Shane DeSimone had bought 318 2nd St. from a Kentucky bank along with a number of  other abandoned Portsmouth buildings.  For a previous post on DeSimone, click here. But DeSimone could not keep up with the payments on the buildings, declared bankruptcy, and the city was stuck with his buildings, including 318 2nd St., which had been a crack house where drug deals went down at the back door day and night.The neighbors complained and the city condemned the building, which meant it was destined to be torn down. But like a prisoner on death row, it had to wait its turn before it could be demolished, and there were lots of others in line ahead of it. That’s when Gary and Tim bought the building for a couple of thousand dollars with the aim of raising it, like Lazarus, from the dead.

It would take many more thousands of dollars and a lot of work, but in  an incredible display of entrepreneurial  daring they took the risk. Some people thought they were loco,   but they displayed just the kind of entrepreneurial, competitive spirit that Portsmouth needs.  They hope that the members of one of SSU’s athletic teams might be tenants, say the women’s basketball team, because the building is ideal for a group of students who have bonded together, as athletic teams tend to do.   In the deal Hatcher has with SSU, he cannot lose, there is no risk, because the university guarantees that if the occupancy rate in Hatcherville residence halls falls below a certain percent, he will be reimbursed by the university. (For more on Hatcherville, click here.) Corruption and non-competitive sweetheart deals are the norm when it comes to buying and selling property in Portsmouth, as it was in the notorious sale of the Marting building.  Gary and Tim have no such sweetheart deal. But they have heart and imagination. They have a dream, a beautiful dream, and it looks like the dream is becoming a reality.