Sunday, April 12, 2015

Feldman's Legacy

[For the light it throws on the current city manager's role in Portsmouth, I am reposting an article  from 2005 on former city manager Barry Feldman, who was fired and then rehired after the councilmen who fired him were recalled. Feldman went on to write a Ph.D. dissertation on the city manager form of government at the University of Connecticut.  One of his very important conclusions was that city managers must abandon the idea that they can function effectively by being non-political. That was the ideal on which the city manager form of government was founded--that the chief executive in city government should be non-political. If there are cities  where that ideal can be a reality, Portsmouth is definitely  not one of them. Derek Allen showed  almost immediately when he became city manager that he will be politically active and he couldn't survive if he wasn't. As city manager, he is in an untenable position, because his survival depends upon the support of a majority of the council. Just as the city council hired him, they can fire him. He is a better politician and more intelligent than most of the council and he can continue as city manager, but only as long as he has the support of the majority of council. Politics being what politics are, that support will not always be there. He has a six-shooter, but that sixshooter has no bullets, and no matter how much faster he might be on the draw than anyone else on the city council, the dumbest and slowest of them, when they are a majority, can get rid of him because they do have the bullets, constitutionally speaking.  Feldman was one of the smartest city managers Portsmouth ever had, but he got out as soon as he could because he knew the politics of Portsmouth was like Ebola and as smart and political as he was, he didn't have immunity.]

Feldman after being suspended by City Council

     The 1980 newspaper photo above shows Barry Marvin Feldman after he was suspended by the Portsmouth City Council. Feldman was Portsmouth’s city manager for 4 1/2 years, from Jan. 1977 to August 1981. Prior to coming to Portsmouth, he had been city manager in Lincoln Heights, a small, troubled community north of Cincinnati. He had been city manager of Lincoln Heights for only seven months, from April to November of 1975, but for some reason, somebody in Portsmouth thought he was qualified to be city manager of our much larger, much more politically volatile, river city.
     Feldman’s turbulent tenure as city manager illustrates two important lessons about Portsmouth's past. First, he proved that the head of any public agency or institution in Portsmouth – whether it be city manager, mayor, or president of Shawnee State University (think of Clive Veri)– no matter how inexperienced, unqualified, or dishonest he may be (I’m not suggesting Feldman was all three), could remain in his job just as long as he was part, or was at least willing to serve the interests of, Portsmouth’s ruling clique. Because that clique controlled the local media in 1980, and thereby monopolized the news, they controlled the public’s perception of who the good guys and the bad guys were. Right to the end, the Portsmouth Daily Times and WPAY and WNXT portrayed Feldman as a good guy, the heroic victim of three malevolent councilmen.

     Those who saw things differently didn’t have many ways of making their case publicly. Getting a letter-to-the-editor published was virtually their only hope. In a type-written draft of what appears to be an unpublished letter-to-the-editor, Andrew Clausing claimed that not long after he was first elected to the city council, in 1978, the supporters of a controversial mall project were meeting with Feldman without letting Clausing know. “Many times Mr. Feldman and his cohorts had secret meetings,” Clausing wrote, “and your First Ward councilman [Clausing himself] was not even included.” The City Solicitor Richard Schisler, obviously trying to protect Feldman, accused the City Council of firing him without just cause. Clausing claimed they had just cause: Feldman had failed as an administrator. “He is in fact a poor administrator,” Clausing wrote in the draft of his letter, “and the end result will be that you and I will suffer by paying higher taxes, more welfare and less employment.”

Making Fun of Feldman

Clever political cartoonists opposed to Feldman had to settle for passing their drawings from hand to hand, like a samizdat underground flyer in the Soviet Union. There was no chance they would be published in the Daily Times and there were no alternative publications at that time. One anonymous unpublished cartoon from 1980 shows the long-haired Feldman mauling the taxpayers of Portsmouth on behalf of Jacobs Visconti and Jacobs, the Cleveland developer.

  Feldman axing taxpayers

     In 1980, the City Council fired Feldman not once, not twice but three times, but the city solicitor and a court of common pleas judge and the Citizens for Good Government, a front for Portsmouth’s ruling clique, managed to keep Feldman in office through legal and political maneuvering. In another cartoon, Feldman and his backers are depicted as being protected from the wrath of the citizenry by the umbrella of the courts.
     In fact, the ruling clique used the media to turn the wrath of the electorate against the three councilmen and used legal maneuvering to keep Feldman in office long enough to recall the councilmen. Under the council-manager form of government, the city manager is supposed to serve at the pleasure of the council. “If the manager is not responsive to the council’s wishes, the council has authority to terminate the manager at any time,” as the Santa Ana, California, website puts it. The Ohio Supreme Court eventually ruled the City Council had the authority to fire Feldman, but by then Clausing, Daub and Price had been recalled and replaced by pro-mall council members who supported Feldman. Another cartoon shows the four council members as puppets of Feldman and the powers-that-be after the recall of three honest councilman.

Councilmen as puppets
     In spite of being fired three times, Feldman could have stayed on for another four years, had he wanted to, because he had the support of the ruling clique and the media. He had proved how far he was willing to go and how much pressure he was willing to live under to further their interests. But perhaps in the interest of himself and his family, he chose not to remain in Portsmouth any longer than it took him to find another job. He was probably smart enough to know “the Mall” had become a fiction that nobody was going to be able to turn into a reality. Feldman was in a position to know that there was about as much chance of a big mall in downtown Portsmouth as there was of a National Football League franchise returning to play in Spartan Stadium.

Feldman’s Rapport with People

     In a sympathetic article in the Daily Times on the eve of his departure for a new job as assistant city manager in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Feldman said that the thing that pleased him most about his 4 1/2 years in Portsmouth was his “rapport with people and involvement of citizens in the community.” “Involvement of citizens” was Feldman’s euphemism for parades, protests, petitions and demonstrations that took place while he was city manager. As for his “rapport with people,” there was not much evidence of that while he was city manager. While he had strong supporters among those with money and influence, many others disliked him intensely by the time he left. But he had probably never enjoyed good rapport with ordinary folk anyway. Well-groomed and coiffed, modishly dressed, with two college degrees, the pipe- smoking Feldman raised the hackles of some of the non-elite in Portsmouth, who accused him of being the vain leader of the “Mod Squad,” whose motto might have been “Have blow dryer, will travel.”
     The second lesson to be learned from Feldman’s tenure as Portsmouth’s city manager is that he was living proof that a city manager could be as much of a devious politician as any mayor or council member. No person in the twentieth century did more to sour Portsmouth on the city manager form of government than Feldman, and anybody writing a Ph.D. dissertation on the subject might study his 4 1/2 years as city manager in Portsmouth as an example of just how politically compromised a city manager can become. When the voters of Portsmouth chose to return to the mayoral form of government in 1985, after 55 years of the city manager form of government, the failure of Feldman as city manager was the best argument that the pro-mayoral advocates had going for them.

Feldman’s Mayoral Complex

     Feldman did not stay long in Michigan before he moved on in 1985 to West Hartford, Connecticut, where he has been town manager ever since. He eventually earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut, where he is an adjunct instructor. Nobody ever questioned Feldman’s intelligence, but he still occasionally shows that he suffers from a mayoral complex. He is still involved in politics and still not very good at it. A few years ago he invited a strong opponent of same-sex marriage to speak at a Martin Luther King commemoration. That invitation brought down a hail of criticism from a lesbian organization that claimed Dr. King would not have been opposed to same sex marriages. A spokesperson for People of Faith for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights told the Hartford Courant that the selection of a homophobe as keynote speaker was "an immense insult to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of West Hartford and Connecticut." Feldman pleaded ignorance, telling the Hartford Courant, “It certainly would have given me lots of reason for pause. . . . This is a very difficult issue and there's lots of sympathy all around." Feldman responded to the criticism by doing the politically correct thing: he invited a lesbian activist to speak at the same celebration. So West Hartford ended up with the two political extremists at the commemoration instead of the one moderate speaker that the occasion seemed to call for. As an administrator Feldman may know what he’s doing, but as a politician he manages to put his foot in it.

Leading a Double Life

But politician is what Feldman believes city managers have to be if they are going to be effective leaders; and politician is what Feldman has been throughout his career, as the people of Portsmouth painfully learned twenty-five years ago. If he couldn’t admit at the beginning that he was a politician, he apparently can now, as he nears the end of his career.  In the “Introduction” to his 1998 Ph.D. dissertation, “Reinventing Local Government: Beyond Rhetoric to Application,” Feldman wrote, “The successful [city] managers who have tenure in their current positions know how to lead what Stillman calls a double-life: officially neutral while in fact . . . scrambling for their share of political influence in order to achieve success for themselves and their programs” (8). Feldman believes city managers should not only implement but they should also make policy, which was what he was trying to do, secretly, in those meetings from which the president of the City Council, Andrew Clausing, claimed he was excluded. Feldman apparently tried to lead a double-life as Portsmouth’s city manager and the consequences for the city and himself were traumatic. Perhaps that is why in his otherwise thorough dissertation on the evolution of the city manager form of government never Feldman once found occasion to mention that he had been city manager in Portsmouth.
     If one of the hopes Portsmouth voters had in changing to the council-manager form of government in 1930 was to keep at least one official in city government out of politics, Feldman’s tenure as city manager a half century later dealt a death-blow to that hope, for he was up to his neck in politics, according to his critics. “We were recalled [in 1980] not because we were opposed to a downtown mall," Harold Daub, one of the recalled councilmen, told me, "but because we were opposed to the actions of the City Manager [Barry Feldman].” And because Feldman is a politician, he continues in West Hartford to be a polarizing figure who rubs some people the wrong way, as he did in Portsmouth.
     In an online Connecticut forum back in 2003, an incensed woman posted the following unflattering observation about him: “West Hartford town manager Barry Feldman crawled to a public meeting the other day. All that smarmy over inflated greasy bag of ego did was allow the attendees to admire his grasp of all things meaningless and his arrogant mouthings of whatever platitudes he assumed the great unwashed needed to hear from the top of his lofty self constructed mountain of his sweet smelling excrement.” There are those who feel he left behind a similar smelly legacy in Portsmouth. According to Greek myth, a king named Augeas had failed to clean up his stables for thirty years. It was one of Hercules’ labors to clean up the mess. Anyone looking at Portsmouth’s history for the last thirty years is faced with a similar mess, to which Barry Feldman contributed more than his odoriferous share.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Black Friday: Unfinished Business

Fugitive Slaves (1867) by Theodor Kaufmann

I have posted on Black Friday before on River Vices.  Under the rubric of unfinished business, I am in this post again raising the issue of that infamous but unacknowledged day in Portsmouth history. What I am proposing is that Shawnee State University, as an institution of higher learning and of academic freedom, arrange to have Robert Dafford paint a mural depicting  Black Friday on some prominent building on campus. But it is very unlikely such a mural will ever be painted on the floodwall, not as long as the Lutes and the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce  have anything to say about it. Of course, the chances that a Black Friday mural will ever appear on the SSU campus are not much better since the university trustees are a notorious rubber stamp, but it is worth trying because a failed attempt now might pave the way for success tomorrow.

according to Evans, the illustration above accompanied
 notices in Portsmouth of runaway slaves

Kroger's engaged Dafford to paint a mural in which blacks, among others, are depicted on a prominent outside wall of that supermarket, on Chillicothe Street.  Can't the university follow Kroger's  example? Probably not. The shortsighted Floodwall Murals people reportedly objected to Dafford painting a mural on Kroger's, feeling it would detract from the Floodwall murals. Instead of detracting from the Floodwall Murals, the Kroger mural, which is a mural masterpiece,  should attract more visitors to the city and not just to Front Street, and that will be good for everybody, including the Floodwall Murals. I have looked carefully for Dafford's signature on the Kroger's mural. If it is there, I couldn't find it. The name Robert at the center top of the drygoods store may refer obliquely to him.

Black boys playing checkers from Dafford's Kroger mural

The politics of a Black Friday mural on an SSU building, is much more complicated than they are for the Kroger mural. I say, "Damn the complications, full speed ahead!" to rephrase a stirring quote from the Second World War. If Dafford's signature is not on the Kroger's, or even if it is there but cannot easily be seen, it constitutes yet another coverup where Portsmouth murals are concerned.
If SSU would permit a suppressed event in Portsmouth's history to be prominently displayed on campus, what a signal occasion that would be in the university's history. It might be one of the first thing visitors, especially black visitors, might want to see. But that will probably not happen, not in a hundred years, not  unless the students at SSU, and black students in particular, pressure the administration and trustees. A Black Friday mural would strike a blow for academic freedom and as a token redress  for the city's past racism.  Instead of looking over Dafford's shoulder and mandating a kind of Chamber of Commerce treatment of Portsmouth's past,  Kroger's apparently gave Dafford a free hand, and the result is a beautiful summer-day juxtaposition of age and youth, of primness and playfulness, of ground floor openness and upper floor mystery.
. . .

Taking as my model the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, I am writing a history of Portsmouth in the complex sonnet form he created for that work.  Two of the sonnets in my history in verse concern the Black Friday incident:

Their ancestors chained in bilboes,
shipped to the American South,
the situation of Negroes
was precarious in Portsmouth.
Ohio was not a slave state,
not officially at any rate,
but just across the river,
Kentucky was. Sweats and shivers,
Long hot summers and cold winters--
it didn’t make much difference
whether you were a "buck" or "wench,"
your hands were callouses and splinters.
By 1830, even if free,
you were too close to Kentucky.

In that year,  on January 1st,
a Proclamation insisted
that Portsmouth blacks should be dispersed,
driven out, those that resisted
being liable to arrest
as the sherif would attest,
including women and children,
and even worse for the black men.
Because of the day of the week
on which the Negroes were defamed,
on which their expulsion was proclaimed,
it became infamous, unique.
Commemorated in no way,
the little known day is Black Friday.

For a previous relevant River Vices post click here 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

City Seal Snafu

Our officious First Ward councilman Kevin W. Johnson, didn't like the mayoral form of government, so he sneakily got the change back to the misnamed city manager form of government, creating a snafu that will take years and years to resolve. I mean just who if anybody is governing this city? Then Kevin W.  decided he didn't like the tasteless city seal and proposed a contest to get a new one. Well, now that's turned into a snafu  too, and Kevin W. and acting mayor Jim Kalb proposed postponing picking a winner. Jim Kalb is not satisfied with the candidate seals. He would like to see some changes. "But to me, personally there’s just some changes I’d like to see made on them," Kalb said, "and that’s something I think that this council ought to have time to discuss instead of just picking a favorite tonight and settling for that.” What does Kalb have in mind? Maybe the following is the one  he favors:

The word is Kalb doesn't like the one below :

And what about Kevin W.? Which seal may he be holding out for? It's rumored that Kevin W. feels the most tasteful seal by far is the following:

In a telephone survey he did in area codes 270, 502, 606, and 859, Snuffy Smith claims that the seal below was the overwhelming favorite:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dr. Wonderful and Sciotocized Medicine

 "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most wonderful of all?"

When you set back and look at all the wonderful people we have that do not step up, and you think they should step up, you have to look in the mirror. So, I looked in the mirror."
                                                              Dr. Terry Johnson

Since its founding, the Scioto County Counseling Center (SCCC) has branched out into a subsidiary corporation, the Compass Community Health Care Center (CCHCC), one of whose “prime missions,” to quote the Community Common newspaper (2 Feb. 2015), “is to improve the health and well being not just of our patients, but of the entire regional population.” Though the “clients” (addicts,) of the SCCC remain an important segment economically of “the entire regional population,” they are not a group the CCHCC wants to be identified with. Since the government is directly and indirectly paying for them, addicts are still profitable but because the addiction treatment industry has become highly controversial, the CCHCC appears to be distancing itself from them and from its corporate parent, the SCCC, which had capitalized on the War on Drugs.

Having recently been granted Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) "Look-Alike" status by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the CCHCC is now in a position to expand even more than it has in the last couple of years. Ed Hughes, whose $140,000 salary is paid by CCHCC, told the Community Common, “With same-day/next-day appointments, on-site pharmacy, extended hours and free transportation for our patients, Compass Community Health Care Center is dedicated to coordinated and comprehensive care.” Having achieved “Look-Alike” status, the health care CCHCC provides will be even more comprehensive, more expensive, and more profitable. Soine Hash, the program director told the Portsmouth Daily Times that one of the advantages of the Look-Alike status is that it will give CCHCC "access to enhanced reimbursement for services provided." What does the euphemism "enhanced reimbursement" mean if not increased profits?

Terry Johnson's official title is Medical Director of  CCHCC, but I think that he's really the CEO. What he is proposing for the people of Scioto County is pretty close to socialized medicine. But since CCHCC is a private corporation, it avoids the stigma of socialism, but not by much, because the government is paying the cost of the health care the CCHCC provides to the "entire regional population."  An appropriate name for the kind of comprehensive health care that Terry Johnson aims to provide the people of south-central Ohio could be called Sciotocized Medicine. Johnson and most of his associates are conservative Republicans, but conservative Republicans in Scioto County, with the assistance of Democrat Speaker of the House Vern Riffe, have led the way in milking local, state, and federal government, first in the War on Poverty and then in the War on Drugs and now in the War on Unhealthiness, Scioto being the unhealthiest county in Ohio.  That it is a war is fairly clear, or why else would Johnson  be photographed so often in his Ohio reserve officer’s uniform with all those medals surrounded by all those flags?

When did Johnson join the War on Unhealthiness? In a statement he made back in 2009 to the Community Common, explaining why he was running for public office, he said, “When you set back and look at all the wonderful people we have that do not step up, and you think they should step up, you have to look in the mirror. So, I looked in the mirror." He looked in the mirror, saw a wonderful doctor, himself,  and threw his stethoscope  in the ring. But his  deep involvement with and virtual takeover and expansion of Hughes’ shady operation suggest he is the kind of unprincipled politician we are all too familiar with. In being an officer in Hughes' shady corporation while also being a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, Johnson may be involved in a conflict of interest.

In the War Against Poverty, it was conservative local Republicans of the Southern Ohio  Growth Partnership (SOGP)  who got Portsmouth reclassified as part of an impoverished rural area, which meant the highly industrialized city was qualified to receive financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DOA). The Scioto County Welcome Center, that front for gambling, where the SOGP had its offices, was paid for by the DOA, with Rob “Porkman” Portman personally delivering the government check. The money that the now discredited and disbanded SOGP  doled out to deserving Republican businessmen came from the DOA. Under Terry Johnson’s Sciotocized Medicine, it will be other departments and programs of the federal government that will be supplying the money, directly and indirectly. Just how much money, if any, Johnson is being paid as Medical Director of CCHCC is not known. The story of how a quiet career-track county coroner became the wheeling-and-dealing life of the Republican Party in southern Ohio has yet to be told, but FQHCs are part of that story. In a footnote on an official website ( I found the following explanation of the crucial difference between true FQHCs and FQHC Look-Alikes:
"Federally-funded Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) meet federal health center grant requirements and are required to report administrative, clinical and other information to the federal Bureau of Primary Health Care, HRSA. Other health centers known as 'FQHC LookAlikes' are not included here because they do not receive federal health center grants and do not report to the Bureau of Primary Health Care."

In  being a Look-Alike organization, rather than the real thing, the CCHCC does not have to report to the House Rehabilitation and Services Administration.  Does it have to report to anybody? What about the Internal Revenue Service? Is the IRS keeping track financially of CCHCC or is CCHCC hiding behind the skirts of the SCCC, which does have to report to the IRS?  As billions of American dollars and thousands of lives have been tragically lost in the war in  Iraq, what guarantee do we have that Sciotocized Medicine and the War on Unhealthiness  will not be a costly mistake as well?

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Little Old Lady with the Bad Knee and the Unlicensed M.D.

Above is a grainy photo of a little old lady who is no longer with us. That's her hair not a pillow behind her head. It's so full and flowing she must have been proud of it. Her name is Helen M. White, or was, for she died in 2007 at the age of 80, having been born in New Boston in 1927. In 1993, if not earlier, she had the misfortune to have had a partial knee transplant operation performed by Dr. Ronald R. Turner, a Portsmouth orthopedic surgeon with a drinking problem. In February 1994, she filed suit against him for malpractice but apparently without knowing that  the Medical Board  had concluded  he was an alcoholic. Had she known, that might have made all the difference.

Any patient who has a doctor with a drinking  problem has a problem. If that doctor is an orthopedic surgeon, the patient has an even more serious problem, for not only is a surgeon's judgment affected by alcohol, so is his dexterity. An alcoholic surgeon with the slightest  tremor is more than a problem: he is dangerous. He should no more be allowed to operate on a patient's knee than he should be allowed to operate a motor vehicle. Helen White was lucky Dr. Turner was not operating on her brain. But a misaligned knee  is still painful live with. The operation was not a success, not only in her opinion but in the opinion of another orthopedic surgeon, an orthopedist not connected with the Southern Ohio Medical Center, an orthopedist not being called on the carpet by the State Medical Board for being an alcoholic, as Turner was, and an orthopedist not afraid to testify on behalf of a patient  with few financial resources.

 Here lies Helen Marie White
Who fought the good fight.
But instead of putting the heat on Turner,
They put her on the back burner.

Born in 1942,  Ronald R. Turner  began his medical career as an orthopedic surgeon in the state of New York, in July 1970, at about the age of 28.  He continued practicing in New York for about five years. Around 1975, when he was in his mid-30s, he and his wife Mary and their children  moved to Ohio living at 1130 24th St.  But the 1980 city directory shows him with two home addresses: 1130 24th and 603 Colony Drive, in Wheelersburg. By 1984 he was no longer married to Mary, for public records show that in that year  he married Carol S. Kitchen, a nurse, who  lived in an upscale neighborhood of Wheelersburg, on Havenwood Drive, which was where the newly married couple made their home.  On the basis of the restraining order she got against him in 1994,  it seems that alcoholism was causing  havoc in Turner's personal and professional life. Carol Turner  divorced him that same year, 1994, after ten years of marriage.

At the same time Turner was fending off patients’ suits in the 1990s, he was trying to fend off the Ohio Board of Medicine, which wanted him to respond to its charge that his heavy drinking had impaired his ability to carry out his duties as a physician. If Turner had  submitted to the disciplinary authority of  the Board of Medicine and if the Board had suspended or at least censured him for alcoholism, he might have lost at least one if not all three of the suits against him, not to speak of the other suits he might have to contend with when his alcoholism was a matter of public record. Turner could have taken his medicine, enrolled in a Board-approved 12-step program for alcoholics,  achieved sobriety, regained his license and resumed his practice. But  that would have been a long, painful, and for a proud man,  humiliating process. And even had he completed a rehabilitation program, he would have been a marked man, suspect and closely monitored. But Turner  avoided exposure and all that might entail by putting  himself beyond the jurisdiction of the Board of Medicine by peremptorily surrendering his license, as indicated in the following excerpt from an old public record I found on the internet:

In surrendering his  Certificate to practice medicine in Ohio, Turner agreed that, “I am no longer permitted to practice medicine and surgery in any form or manner in the State of Ohio.” Further, he  agreed that he could not ever apply for a reinstatement of his certificate, and also that the agreement would become a matter of public record “and may be reported  to appropriate organizations, data banks and governmental bodies.” I obtained a copy of that document not as a result of a search of the internet, as was the case with the document above, but as the result of a public records request to the Medical Board.

When the New York Board for Professional Conduct learned that Turner had surrendered his Ohio Certificate  rather than submit to a disciplinary hearing conducted by the Ohio Board of Medicine, it ordered him to surrender his New York medical license, which he still had in his possession. If Turner hoped to return to New York and resume his career there, the letter below threw cold water on that possibility.

Though the odds were against her, Helen White didn't give up. Her suit dragged on for years when it might have been settled promptly in her favor if Turner had not succeeded in covering up his alcoholism by giving up his medical license. As an employee of SOMC, with a high powered law firm  representing him,  Turner had a couple of aces up his sleeve while White had little influence and even less money. She lived in  an apartment  without a view on the second floor of 416 Chillicothe Street, over a frequently changing, often unoccupied (as it is now)  commercial space.

416 Chillicothe, (2013), where Helen White lived

452 Havenwood Drive, Wheelersburg, which Dr. Turner currently owns and
occupies and which Zillow places a market value of $283,000 on

Giving up his medical career was a high price  for Turner to pay to avoid  public exposure, but his career would have been precarious even if he had achieved sobriety. And giving up his Certificate did not mean he would need  to give up the prestige  and influence of being Dr. Turner or give up putting the letters M.D. after his name, which he would continue to do, somewhat misleadingly, right up to the present time. His name, as I pointed out in a previous post on the Scioto County Counseling Center, is at the top of the list of its members. He lends his  specious, uncertified medical authority to a controversial  organization that he helped co-found, an organization that is in my opinion a drug rehabilitation racket financed largely by the taxpayers. And he continues to live in the big house on a hill in Havenwood Drive in Wheelersburg that, according to the auditor's records, had once belonged to the family of the ex-wife who had  taken out a restraining order against him. So the Board uncertified  Dr. Turner, but he like his buddy Ed Hughes in Sciotoville and Paul Vernier  in West Portsmouth, (click here) live like feudal lords, above us peasants, in  big homes on  hills above the drug-related southern Ohio high crime area they helped create by being a magnet for addicts from the tri-state region.

List of Counseling Center members with "Dr." Turner first and foremost

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Buffaloed by Ed Hughes

Is Ed Hughes' time buffaloing the public about up?

More than once, Ed Hughes and Ronald Turner, co-authors of Baffled by Addiction? (2009), say the term addict should be avoided because it stigmatizes those afflicted by drugs, but the word addict or a variant appears over a hundred times in the book’s 185 padded pages.  The failed attempt to detoxify the word addict  is part of the overall failure of  the book, one of whose primary objectives is to absolve  drug addicts of any responsibility for their addiction on the grounds that addiction is a disease that some people can’t help catching. The concept of addiction as a disease  is widely accepted, but the  conclusions Hughes and Turner draw from the disease concept of addiction are not widely accepted. To begin with they are wrong in thinking other factors besides physiology  are of little or no importance. Addiction is a disease that has a physiological basis, but so is VD.  You contract VD by engaging in unsafe sex and you get addicted by taking addictive drugs. Patients who get addicted as a result of a doctor’s prescription are not responsible for their addiction, although even they it could be argued are not completely blameless since they unwisely let prescription happy doctors over-prescribe opioids without a peep.

 People who take addictive drugs without a doctor’s prescription with the aim of getting high bear the primary responsibility for their addiction.  American society has gone from the Calvinist view that people are inherently evil to the politically correct notion that people are innocent victims of forces and circumstances beyond their control. Hughes and Turner in Baffled by Addiction (2009) seek to assuage the guilt of their prospective “clients,” the addicts, as well as assuage the guilt of the addicts' families, the “Loved Ones,” in Hughes’ seductively exploitative parlance. Hughes and Turner say in  Baffled,  “So a person’s addiction is no one’s fault and no one’s to blame. Not the family, an unsavory peer group, or the stress of life. Not even the addicted person himself [is to blame]” (p.25). But the  majority of drug addicts are not innocent victims who are baffled by addiction but  perpetrators who are complicit in their addiction, and for saying just the opposite Hughes and Turner, for pecuniary motives, are trying to buffalo us. At least we are not sheep, who end up being slaughtered, but buffaloes, not the brightest beast in the world, are not hard to buffalo.

Drawing the Wrong Conclusions

Yes, the disease concept of  addiction is widely accepted. But the interpretations and conclusions Hughes and Turner draw from the disease concept of addiction are not widely accepted. Hughes  is wrong  in thinking other factors besides physiology are of little or no importance. In a review of Stanton Peele’s Diseasing of America (1989),  G. Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., the Director of the  Addictive Behaviors Research Center at University of Washington, wrote, "Peele makes it abundantly clear that the disease model of addiction, the ideology that currently reigns over the American addiction treatment industry, is basically an emperor without clothes. By placing addictive behaviors in the context of other problems of living, Peele emphasizes personal responsibility for one's habits. His views, well documented with timely references to new scientific data, contrasts sharply with the biological determinism of the disease model, a view that portrays addicts as helpless victims of forces beyond their control.” “The Addictive Treatment Industry,” Chapter Five of Peele's Diseasing of America, discusses the many different areas in which the profiteers in that industry, posing as Good Samaritans,  have sold the public a bill of goods. Not realizing they are being buffaloed by the addiction treatment industry, the gullible government and the baffled taxpayers ultimately pay the bills.

Though Hughes and Turner ask us to believe alcoholism and drug addiction are pretty much the same thing, they are not, any more than getting “smashed” is the same thing as getting high. In a  review of Baffled  on the Amazon website, one reader wrote, “I had a need for something about drug addiction. This is about alcoholism and some principles can be interchanged, but I didn't find it that useful.” Why does Hughes conflate alcoholism and drug addiction in Baffled? Because he understood that if he was going to come up with the money to  pay himself $140 K a year, then he had to counsel drug addicts as well as alcoholics. Because Hughes and Turner were recovering alcoholics, alcoholics were who they were best qualified to understand and to counsel. But as aspiring businessmen who could count to ten, they  knew that in the addiction treatment industry the most numerous and most profitable “clients” were drug addicts, not alcoholics. Hughes gives credit in the Preface to Baffled to Alcoholics Anonymous ( AA) and to what he calls “professional alcoholism counselors” for his achieving sobriety. But Hughes is lucky he had not sought help from a counselor like himself, who turned addiction counseling in Scioto County into a business that shortchanges  its “clients” and financially exploits the taxpayers who ultimately subsidize the treatment of those "clients." Nationally, as Peele emphasized, the drug treatment industry generally, if not exclusively, is a racket. Alcoholics Anonymous, by contrast, is a legitimate non-profit organization, a fellowship,  whose founders recognized the risks of having someone trying to capitalize on the treatment of alcoholics by turning it into a profit-driven business, which  is just what Hughes turned Scioto County Counseling Center, Inc., into.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Hughes wrote in Baffled  that, “The idea for this book came from my best friend, Dr. Ron Turner, who has also shared the vision of helping families and loved ones for a long time.” In calling the  outlook he shared with Turner a “vision,” Hughes suggests that the Scioto County Counseling Center (SCCC), with its tail-wagging-the-dog affiliate Compass Point Housing,  is  more  a spiritual, more a  humanitarian, more a philanthropic  than a profit-making operation. The  crux of the problem with the burgeoning privatized addiction treatment industry  is that too many of the hundreds of  the operators of so-called counseling centers, including the SCCC, are addicted to money. In Scioto County Ed Hughes, with his big house high on a hill in Sciotoville,  has succeeded in buffaloing the public that the Counseling Center is working miracles. But it may be that the miracle worker's time is just about up, and there is no doctor that can save him.

Friday, January 09, 2015

The Cross, Dancing Logo, and Dollar Sign


The  cross, representing  the promise of eternal life  through Christ’s suffering, is the central symbol of Christianity. This particular  cross had  stood high over Portsmouth for many years in a church tower, but then that tower was toppled, as shown in this photo that I took at the exact moment the tower came crashing down. 

The trashed cross, part of the rubble, lay on the ground for about a week. 


At about that time, a new quasi-religious symbol arrived in Portsmouth, the joyous dancing logo of the Scioto County Counseling Center, Inc., with its motto of miraculous cures for addicts, 


In Boneyfiddle, the neighborhood of churches, the logo of the Counseling Center took its place among the steeples.  


But a more appropriate symbol for the Counseling Center would be a happy skeleton, dancing for joy because of the miracle cure the non-profit is profiting from.  


People who take addictive drugs without a doctor’s prescription with the aim of getting high  bear the primary responsibility for their addiction.  As a society we have gone from the Calvinist view that people are inherently wicked to the politically correct notion that people are innocent victims of forces and circumstances beyond their control. But Hughes and Turner adopt this tolerant approach for mercenary, not for compassionate or philosophic reasons. In an effort to assuage the guilt of the addicted and to attract them to the SCCC  them as “clients,” Ed Hughes and Ron Turner, the authors of Baffled by Addiction, conclude,  “So a person’s addiction is no one’s fault and no one’s to blame. Not the family, an unsavory peer group, or the stress of life. Not even the addicted person himself [is to blame]” (p.25).


But the  large majority of drug addicts are not innocent victims who are baffled by addiction but  perpetrators who are complicit in their addiction. That is the view of Stanton Peele in Diseasing of America, first published in 1989, some ten years after the incorporation of the Scioto County Counseling Center. Chapter 5, "The Addiction Treatment Industry,"  is especially relevant to the Counseling Center, which is one of the hundreds of treatment businesses that make up the industry. Of  Diseasing of America, the director of an addictive research center at the U. of Washington, G. Alan Marlatt, wrote, "Peele makes it abundantly clear that the disease model of addiction, the ideology that currently reigns over the American addiction treatment industry, is basically an emperor without clothes. By placing addictive behaviors in the context of other problems of living, Peele emphasizes personal responsibility for one's habits. His views, well documented with timely references to new scientific data, contrasts sharply with the biological determinism of the disease model, a view that portrays addicts as helpless victims of forces beyond their control. The book empowers the reader to view addiction in a new optimistic light."

In Diseasing of America: How We Allowed Recovery Zealots and the Treatment Industry to Convince Us We Are Out of Control, Peele wrote (p. 116),  "Why do we accept the industry and all its self-serving claims, sometimes eagerly signing on for our own groups and treatment, even when the evidence is that these groups and this treatment do little to help us as individuals and a society?" Peele published that sentence back in 1989, when the Counseling Center was just underway. Now a quarter-century later that local representation  of the addiction treatment industry, including its metastasizing affiliate, Compass Point Housing, is allowed to operate without oversight and accountability and with the complicity of corrupt city and county officials who, as Austin Leedom has pointed out,  turn over to them public buildings, such as the Scudder School, without the taxpayers being reimbursed a dime. Is it any wonder that the county and the city got into such a financial hole while Ed Hughes, the semi-absentee CEO  is getting annually a $140,000 compensation package?