Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Neal Hatcher's Campus View, known as Hatcherville

While the Marting’s rip-off has gotten most of the attention in the last couple of years, another real estate shenanigan has taken place over in the 3rd St. area, which residents of that neighborhood have cynically nicknamed “Hatcherville.” The shenanigans in Hatcherville make the $2 million Marting’s deal on Chillicothe St. look like small potatoes. When it comes to the properties in Hatcherville, the relationship between the city of Portsmouth, the developer Neal Hatcher, and Shawnee State University is as shadowy as a midnight drug deal in an alley on John Street. 

A student housing contract Neal Hatcher has with SSU stipulates a value of $2.5 million on the first two of his 3rd St. Campus View buildings (Campus View I) and $3 million on his third and fourth buildings (Campus View II), with those figures increasing by 3% each year, plus abatements that stretch from ten to fifteen years. So $5.5 million, which increases 3% each year, is what SSU would have to pay Hatcher if it wanted to buy Campus View I and II from him. Hatcher has since built two more buildings (Campus View III) and he has plans and approval for constructing three more buildings in the area for a total of nine. Using the prices established for Campus View I and II in the contract as a guide, I estimate that the value of the nine units could be at least $13.5 million. If the inflationary increase of Campus View II over Campus View I in the contract with SSU is applied, his nine buildings might be worth about $15 million.

Hatcher would not have been able to pull off this land grab, including the sweetheart abatements, without the collusion of the City Council and of ex-mayor Greg Bauer in particular. City Council ordinances passed in 2002 gave Bauer the authority to act on his own in acquiring and disposing of properties on 3rd St., properties that the 2002 ordinances treat as “blighted” and “deteriorated.” Ordinance 2002-79 authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement with Campus View Associates (Neal Hatcher) to obtain private property for the purpose of erecting student housing. Far longer and murkier, Ordinance 2002-36 repealed Chapter 151 of the codified city ordinances and enacted a new one, called simply “Urban Renewal.” The new ordinance begins, “It is hereby found and determined that there exists within the City blighted, deteriorated and deteriorating areas of the nature defined in this chapter which substantially impair and arrest the sound growth of the community . . .”

Treating the 3rd St. area as “blighted” was part of the scam, because the blighted tag on the neighborhood may have put the deal in compliance with legal guidelines for abatements and it may also have enabled Hatcher, working closely with Bauer, to hold the threat of eminent domain over the heads of any property owners who resisted his scheme. The City Council was the Cosa Nostra and Mayor Bauer the godfather of Campus View. Bauer was empowered by the ordinances to acquire and transfer property without any accountability. For example, properties on the northwest corner of 3rd and Waller Street, which the City had acquired from Todd and Julia Ramey and Julian Mohr, were transferred by Bauer, acting for the City, to Hatcher. Normally, I was told, an ordinance by City Council is required for the City to acquire property. The 2002 ordinances, if I understand their murky language, authorized the Mayor to acquire property without an ordinance from the City Council.

I tried to find out from city officials at the Municipal Building why and how Bauer, acting on behalf of the City, had become the intermediary in this transfer of private property from the Rameys and Julian Mohr to Hatcher. I asked first City Clerk Aeh and next Mayor Kalb and then City Auditor Trent Williams if they could tell me why. They could not. The City Auditor did say he knew that the City was not involved financially in the transfer, that it paid out no money, because if it had his office would have known about it. This only further mystified the transfer of the property from the Rameys and Julian Mohr to the City and from the City to Hatcher. The City Auditor suggested I ask City Solicitor Kuhn if he could clarify the City’s role in the transfer of the property. So I emailed the Solicitor and requested under Ohio’s open records law if he had any documents that might explain why the City acted as intermediary. In his response to me, he wrote, “ Your 2/11/05 communication recited that it is ‘a request under Ohio's sunshine laws on public documents.’ Please be advised that the City Solicitor's office has no documents relating to the transaction described in your message. As City Solicitor, it [is] not my responsibility to determine ‘why’ the City does things. Rather, it is my responsibility to render legal advice to the City, and that advice is privileged and confidential between attorney and client.”

I was struck by how little city officials apparently knew about city business. Their responses reminded me of the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, and speak-no-evil monkeys, although since we are talking about Porksmouth we might substitute three pigs (pictured below) for the three monkeys.

Below is the front page of the warranty deed recording the transfer of the property from the City of Portsmouth to Campus View Associates.

The second page of the deed below shows that the only City official whose signature is on it, authorizing the transfer, is Mayor Bauer. The only other signature is that of Stephen L. Oliver, Clayton Johnson’s partner, who prepared the document.

What the rigmarole of the 2002 ordinances did was lay the groundwork for Neal Hatcher to acquire property on 3rd Street that was not only not blighted or deteriorated but that should have increased in value because of its proximity to the university. Because 3rd Street between Bond and Waller was treated as a blighted neighborhood, Hatcher was able, with the connivance of the City Council and Mayor Bauer, to acquire potentially valuable property for much less than he would have otherwise have had to pay for it. This is another instance in which the so-called free market is replaced in Portsmouth by the pork market, in which those at the top are able to exploit those below them and squeeze some public dollars from the government in the bargain. "This little piggy went to market . . ."

Because Hatcher’s Campus View properties on 3rd St. are abated, he pays no taxes on them, and because he pays no taxes on them the records at the County Courthouse list no sale price. When a property is abated and off the tax-rolls, the County has no interest in what it sold for or what its value is. County records do show that the City acted as the intermediary in the transfer of the property on the northwest corner of 3rd and Waller to Hatcher. Julian Mohr transferred one parcel to the City and Todd Ramey transferred the other. The City then transferred those properties to Hatcher and Campus View. I have been told that some of the property owners on 3rd Street were surprised to find out that they had sold their property to Hatcher, because they had thought they were dealing with the City. So they were curious why the City did what it did. I continue to be curious as well, and it is not just idle curiosity.

I can think of one possibility why the City acted as intermediary. Possibly the City had to be involved in the transfer of the property from private citizens to private developer, even if just nominally, to provide Hatcher with the legal cover he needed to back up his eminent domain threats and to justify the abatements and other financial advantages he might qualify for under the ordinances. Just as money can be laundered so, apparently, can property. We don’t know what Neal Hatcher paid the Rameys and Julian Mohr in particular, because the financial figures for those transactions are not matters of public record. We don’t know whether Hatcher in this instance used the threat of eminent domain to deprive them of a fair price, or whether he may have had reason to reward one or more of them with a high price as a reward for political favors rendered. We don’t know because we all live in Hatcherville, not just the people on 3rd St., and where real estate deals involving Hatcher are concerned we are all in the dark.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Andrew O. Clausing, circa 1980

Andrew O. Clausing (1922-2002) was a controversial political figure in Portsmouth, but on the basis of research I have done, I believe he was an honest man who was mauled by the Portsmouth media and the monied class back in 1980. But unlike Harold Daub, the subject of my previous blog, Clausing did not live to see his vindication. He did live long enough, however, to see that the huge corporate computers by which he had once made his living as a programmer and about which he had mixed feelings, become small and cheap enough to be, literally, in the hands of ordinary people, who have created a revolution in communications. Although he passed away as recently as 2002, Clausing probably could not have imagined that just three years later he would be resurrected in online newspapers and forums, and in blogs (short for weblogs), which reach thousands of readers through cyberspace in the rapidly evolving phenomenon called the internet. (See my archived 29 July 2004 blog, “Digital Revolution.”)

If you controlled the Portsmouth media back in 1980, you could control the minds, emotions, and perceptions of many people, as the demonizing of Clausing, Daub, and Mark Price that took place illustrates. Back then the Portsmouth Daily Times and the radio stations WPAY and WNXT could get people to believe almost anything, such as the lie that Clausing, Daub, and Price were anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. In a WPAY editorial (broadcast 3 February 1980), the general manager Tom Reeder asked whether Clausing, Daub, and Price “HAVE THE GUTS TO GIVE THE REASON [WHY THEY FIRED CITY MANAGER BARRY FELDMAN], WILL THEY OPENLY SAY THEY ARE AGAINST JEWS AND CATHOLICS?” Not only were they accused of being against Jews and Catholics, they were also accused of being enemies of all the residents of Portsmouth, where they supposedly pursued their goal of ruining the city.

The media campaign against the three councilmen was so effective that Clausing found people he had known all his life believing what they were reading in the newspaper and hearing on the radio about him. He was even compared to Hitler. Twenty-five years later there are still people on the Hill who believe he was a petty dictator. Having been a young Marine who fought in the South Pacific in the Second World War, Clausing knew what it was like to be under attack by the enemies of freedom, but he hardly could have anticipated being attacked as an enemy of the people whose freedom he had once risked his life defending. But would Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland have ever thought he would lose his congressional seat because he would be accused of being unpatriotic?

As an example of the kind of media attacks against Clausing I am referring to, days before the election in 1980 in which Clausing would be recalled from office, a vitriolic editorial in the Portsmouth Daily Times (31 Oct. 1980) claimed that “the government of Portsmouth practically has been held hostage” by three councilmen whose malicious willfulness threatened the “survival of the city itself.” The councilmen were not only against the mall, the editorial claimed, they were threatening the city itself, a charge as vague as it was preposterous. The editorial was unsigned but may have been written by Don Smith, the editor, or possibly Paul Penix, the publisher. But whoever wrote the editorial may have consulted a thesaurus for additional terms of abuse to heap upon the three councilmen. The editorial called the actions of Clausing, Daub, and Price illegal, hateful, shameful, disgraceful, and contemptible. The editorial called on voters “to end this reign of arrogance, cowardice, incompetence and neglect.”

Clausing criticizing publisher Penix in Daily Times, Jan. 23, 1980

If you accept the editorial’s argument that Clausing, Daub, and Price were determined that a mall would never come to Portsmouth, what were their motives supposed to be? In any crime, that is the first thing a detective looks for – a motive. Neither the Daily Times editorial or anything else I have read about the 1980 events ever attempts to explain what the motives of Clausing, Daub, and Price were in their alleged opposition to the mall. Were there financial and political advantages they could gain by opposing the mall? Hardly. Did they harbor implacable grudges or were they victims of their own blind political partisanship? Not that anybody knew of. Instead, the editorial settles for characterizing them as “willful” and “obstructionist” and implying that they were bad people. The councilmen were demonized. If they were demons, then the editorialist didn’t need to attribute specific motives. The councilmen were simply bad men who were simply out to ruin the city. “Councilmen Clausing, Daub and Price have used their time in office,” the Daily Times editorial claimed, “not to construct the future of Portsmouth but to attempt to ruin much of what has already been built. The voters cannot afford to stand by and let this malice go unchecked.” Malice? Was that the only motive the Daily Times could come up with for Clausing’s alleged opposition to the mall? Malice is not a political or an economic but a theological explanation.

To understand the bitterness and viciousness associated with the 1980 mall controversy, to understand the crosses and the casket and the purported bed-sheeted figures, we need to understand that the editorial spokesmen in the pay of the overprivileged of Portsmouth had adopted a strategy of harnessing the religious fundamentalism that is so strong in southern Ohio and turning it against the three councilmen, who never knew what hit them. My dictionary defines malice as a “deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another suffer.” But the word also has religious connotations. Malice is a word with biblical, New Testament lineage. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul says followers of Christ must throw out the old teachings, which he says is the “old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil” and replace it with “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Whoever wrote the Daily Times editorial was attributing the leaven of malice and evil to Clausing, Daub, and Price, casting them as unchristian miscreants, thereby bringing the wrath of righteous but misled Christians down upon them.

Thirty-one local ministers and priests signed a public letter protesting “actions of certain councilmen which have been damaging to the life of our community.” The thirty-one called on Clausing, Daub, and Price, by name, to apologize to City Manager Mark Feldman (for having tried to fire him), and to city employees and to “the citizens of Portsmouth for their recent actions.” The Ohio Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the City Council had the right to fire the City Manager, but the clergy like most of the rest of the citizens had been persuaded by Feldman’s supporters and by the media that the City Council did not have that authority. The minister of the First Churh of the Nazarene later sent a letter to Clausing apologizing for signing the petition. “I think some of us," he wrote, “were misled.” The sheet of signatures is separate from the letter itself, so some clergymen may have signed up on the basis of what they were told the letter would say.

The demonizing of the three councilmen took place in the context of Portsmouth’s chronically depressed economy and steadily shrinking population. From 1920 to the 1930, Portsmouth was the fastest growing municipality in Ohio, increasing from 33,011 to 60,080 in population. [I have since seen statistics that indicate it was Scioto County, not Portsmouth, that had about 60,000 in population. R.F. 24-2-05.] But it shrank steadily after that, and it is now down to about 20,000. Somebody had to be held responsible for a depressed economy and dwindling population. The putative opponents of the mall were convenient scapegoats to explain why the city was in such bad shape, why it was a pathetic panhandling city that always had its hand out for government money. Portsmouth was in pathetic shape, the Daily Times was implying, not because of the failure of the business and professional classes, but because malevolent people like Clausing were spitefully preventing economic development.

Clausing, who was 58 in 1980, and who also happened to be president of the City Council, was viewed as the ringleader of the ungodly trio. Daub was only 29 and Price even younger. They were all from working class backgrounds, without the connections and the influence that the monied class of Portsmouth enjoyed. They didn’t know how the game was played. They hadn’t gone to the schools or moved in the circles where one learns how to play the game. Above all, they didn’t have control of the media. They were set up like ducks in a shooting gallery. In fact, Clausing said he was being followed and even speculated that he or one of the others might be murdered. His view was that since the 1960s many millions of public relief dollars had being siphoned off by the overprivileged of Portsmouth, and anyone who tried to bring this misuse of public monies to light was in danger of being eliminated. But the monied classes did not have to kill Clausing; they merely had to kill him politically, which they did in 1980 when they put him in the cross-hairs of the media they controlled.

One passage from the Oct. 31 Daily Times editorial deserves to live in infamy for its hypocrisy, written as it was by someone in the pocket of the overprivileged of Portsmouth. “We urge the citizens of the First, Third and Fifth Wards not only to recall Andrew Clausing, Harald [sic] Daub and Mark Price, but to do so with such a massive outpouring of votes that never again will any elected official so brazenly seek to steal the government of this city away from the people it is to serve.”

This outrageously insincere rhetoric on behalf of the people and on behalf of honesty in government is from the same newspaper that has historically winked at white collar crime and corruption and more recently editorialized against the recall of Mayor Bauer, who was the front man for one of the most corrupt administrations in the history of the city. The media’s support of Bauer and of the Bauer campaign’s characterization of the recall movement as a criminally led enterprise did not work in 2004. It was Bauer who was turned out of office, by a two-to-one margin. The days when the Daily Times could get away with its editorials going unanswered are over. Websites, online forums, and blogs have helped knit an angry community of citizens together. As a result of the electronic revolution, the people of Portsmouth can recover their hidden heritage, of which honest men like Clausing are part. The Chamber of Commerce would never find a place for his likeness on the porkish Floodwall murals, but his portrait on a blog like this can be easily pulled up on any connected computer in the city or around the world.

Clausing’s widow still lives in the house on Ruhtman Ave. where, twenty-five years ago, about 70 to 80 people, according to her estimate, some dressed in bed sheets, according to Daub, demonstrated at about ten o’clock at night. She still lives with the newspaper clippings, the memories and the scars from the past. Unfortunately for those who would like us to forget the past or who want us to believe the Daily Times version of the past, she has kept the files of material on the events of 1980, when her husband, along with Daub and Price, were vilified as city wreckers. Her files document a shameful chapter of Portsmouth’s history. Like the infamous Black Friday, in 1830, when most of Portsmouth’s African-Americans were expelled from the city, the funeral march down Chillocothe Street and the late night demonstrations in front of the homes of Clausing and Daub will not be depicted on the Floodwall murals, not as long as the Chamber of Commerce has anything to say about it.

One night in 1980, Mallers demonstrated in front of Clausing home

The good men do is oft interred with their bones, Shakespeare wrote. But as we recover the past, the good that one person did, or tried to do, can serve as a model and an inspiration for those who might feel that the corruption in Portsmouth has run so deep for so long that there is no use fighting city hall. But the good fight is always worth fighting, even against overwhelming odds, and especially against big money, for the love of money, as the Bible says, is the root of all evil. Money, incidentally, is the only motive you need to explain why the monied class demonized Clausing, Daub, and Price. Those three lost in 1980, but out of yesterday’s defeats come tomorrow’s triumphs, provided we learn from the defeats. Twenty-five years after he was recalled and three years after his death, Clausing’s spirit lives on. What ever his limitation as a politician, or what ever his flaws as a person might have been, he was a good man and a good man is hard to find, especially in Portsmouth politics.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Mauling of Harold Daub

A 1980 photo of Daub before the "mauling"

I recently had a long talk with Harold Daub, who once was and has recently become again, at least temporarily, a central figure in Portsmouth’s political history. A nearly forgotten victim of a “mauling” by the Chamber of Commerce crowd twenty-five years ago, in which the Ku Klux Klan may have played an important role, he and two other former councilmen, now deceased, have reemerged as political heroes who stood up to those who were then – and some of whom still are – running and ruining the city.

Twenty-five years ago, in 1980, the Chamber of Commerce crowd portrayed Daub as one of the three villains who had aborted “the Portsmouth Mall” before it had even been born. The three councilmen – Daub, Mark Price, and Andrew Clausing – were accused of having killed Portsmouth’s prospects for prosperity. The Chamber of Horrors crowd claimed there was just this one window of opportunity for a mall and the three councilmen had closed it. Yes, we are supposed to believe that chance could never come again, even though the three councilmen were recalled after only six months in office and replaced by pro-mall members and a pro-mall city manager, Richard Roberts. A casket with Daub, Price and Clausing’s blown-up photographs on it was carried down Chillicothe Street. Mark Price charged that the photographs of the councilmen had been supplied to the demonstrators by the Portsmouth Daily Times, where JoAnn Aeh, according to several sources, was employed. Whether she was or not, she was active in the movement to recall the three councilmen. Her husband Roy Aeh was active in the Ku Klux Klan, which may have something to do with the casket being adorned with crosses, a favorite KKK symbol, with the word ”Murderers” scrawled on one of them. Later, a group of figures with bed sheets over their heads appeared outside the homes of Daub and Clausing at night, Ku Klux Klan style, to deliver a message of hate.

Mark Price wrote a letter-to-the-editor of the Portsmouth Times in 1987, when Feldman’s successor as City Manager, Richard Roberts, was forced out of office. Price wrote, “The uproar over Barry Feldman resulted from the chase of an elusive dream. Feldman and his supporters led everyone to believe that he was going to deliver a $50-million downtown mall. The truth is that no mall was ever going to be built. There is proof of that now. The whole idea was just a scheme to keep Feldman in office and possibly to enrich some landowners at the expense of taxpayers.”

I asked Daub if in the last quarter of a century he had ever thought of moving away from Portsmouth. He said he had, many times. One of those times may have been when his son was discriminated against in school. An unforgiving mother allegedly baked cupcakes for everyone in his class except him. He was denied a cupcake because he was the child of the notorious Mall-Killer. Even though Daub never got over the sense that he was a marked man, and that there were still people in the city who had never forgotten or forgiven him or his family, he remained in Portsmouth, because that’s where his roots are.

Harold Daub in 2005 with his wife Darlene

Daub told me the Mall was only “a smokescreen.” (Several well-informed conservative senior citizens I know who still remember the 1980 events share that view.) What they were really after, Daub told me, was not a mall but a public university. The crooked crowd who controlled the city would have preferred both a mall and a university, but there was not enough room in downtown Portsmouth for both, and a mall would require private capital, which Portsmouth with its shrinking population and depressed economy would have a hard time raising. Federal money would be available, of course, but it alone would not be enough to build a mall. Persuading a major department store chain to provide an anchor store for a Portsmouth mall would have been almost as hard as persuading the Detroit Lions, who had started out in Portsmouth in the 1930s, to move back and play in Spartan Stadium.

Daub told me he traveled to Cleveland to talk to the developer of the proposed mall, and he came away from that meeting convinced that this particular mall was not going to be built, that what Riffe and the Chamber of Commerce crowd were really doing was laying the groundwork, literally, for a public university, which would be a more effective engine for urban renewal than a mall because the state government would pay for almost all of it. What with abatements and an ordinance that authorized the taking of property by eminent domain to make way for the university, a lot of money could and eventually was made by those dealing in real estate in the downtown area. Why enter a fiercely competitive market like retail merchandising when the Speaker could deliver a pork project for Portsmouth?

Daub insists he, Price, and Clausing were not opposed to a mall, per se. They were opposed to the phony mall that was being used as a smoke screen. But the city manager, Barry Feldman, didn’t see it that way because he was, in Daub’s view, a tool of the Chamber of Commerce. In his letter-to-the-editor, Mark Price characterized Feldman as someone who had a “gift for glib gab, [but] had no idea how to conduct Portsmouth municipal government.” Under the city manager form of government, which was then in place, the City Council had the power to fire the City Manager, and that’s what the City Council did, voting 4-2 against Feldman. But Feldman remained in office. The Citizens for Good Government, whom Price called “political gangsters,” saw to that. The City Manager form of government is as corruptible by the Chamber of Commerce crowd as the mayoral system.

Because Feldman was Jewish, one of the charges made against Daub, Price, and Clausing was that they were anti-Semitic. Two Portsmouth radio stations aired editorials that strongly implied that the councilmen opposed Feldman because he was Jewish. Mark Price told a Portsmouth Times reporter that his opposition to Feldman had nothing to do with his being Jewish but everything to do with his failed policies and incompetent style of management. Daub’s ancestors had been in Portsmouth for hundreds of years, but because they were part of Portsmouth’s German-American community, Daub was especially vulnerable to the charge of anti-Semitism, particularly when some of those making the charge included prominent Jewish members of the community. Daub claims he had no idea that Feldman was Jewish until he was accused of anti-Semitism.

One of the great ironies of the anti-Semitism charge (and the charges of being anti-Catholic and anti-Black) was that JoAnn Aeh, one of those active in the campaign to recall Daub, was married to a Ku Klux Klan member, Roy Aeh, according to a copy of a letter from the KKK to Aeh that Daub has had in his possession for a quarter of a century.

The Ku Klux Klan had swept across the country in two waves. In the first wave, from shortly after the Civil War to about the late 1890s, the KKK was a tightly controlled, hierarchal, extremely influential and secretive organization operating largely in the South. The first wave of the KKK was determined to stop Catholics, Jews, and above all Negroes, from polluting white Protestant America. The second wave of the KKK, which arose in the early 1900s, was loosely organized, fragmented, less influential, and increasingly focused on Jews as the main threat to White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, known as WASPS.

One of the most notorious leaders of the second wave of the KKK was a Southerner, from Louisiana, David Duke, but the states which the second wave of the KKK washed over were in the Midwest. Indiana was one of those states and Ohio another. The KKK was apparently active in Ohio in the late 1970s. Daub and others I have talk to recall the KKK demonstrating in downtown Portsmouth around 1978. Whether JoAnn Aeh’s husband was a demonstrator, or whether he was one of those recruited by the KKK demonstrators, perhaps only she and her husband can say. In any event, David Duke sent a letter to Roy Aeh (29 April 1978) congratulating him on his induction into the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke wrote, “I know you share our fear that our beloved nation is slowly being brought within the grasp of the Niggers, Jews, Catholics and Puerto Ricans.” In closing his letter, the Grand Dragon extended an invitation to the Aehs. “You and your wife JoAnn are cordially invited to be with us in this great crusade,” the Crusade for White Supremacy.

David Duke campaigning for Congress and for White Supremacy

I recently twice visited JoAnn Aeh at the City Clerk’s office trying to clear up the murky real estate collaboration between the city and Neal Hatcher on the Campus View housing units. On my first visit she said the City at no time had title to any of the land on which Campus View housing had been built, even though I told her records at the County Courthouse showed that the City had. She made a quick search of her records and said she found no evidence of such a connection. I then went back to the Courthouse and obtained photocopies of deeds that showed the City had acquired property on the northwest corner of 3rd and Waller on December 2, 2002, and transferred it immediately to Hatcher. She acknowledged that the county records proved my point, but she confessed to feeling somewhat mystified since she could find no ordinance that showed the City had ever acquired the property. She quipped as I left her office, “Please let me know if I can not help you again.” She was kidding, of course, but John Welton has said that getting information from JoAnn Aeh about anything is very difficult, if not impossible. However, her and her husband’s connection with the Ku Klux Klan is no joking matter. And she should make a public explanation. Not only Harold Daub and his family but many others in Portsmouth deserve an explanation. African-American and Jewish citizens in particular deserve to know.

What was JoAnn Aeh’s role in the past? What did she and the Ku Klux Klan have to do with the mauling of Harold Daub, Mark Price, and Andrew Clausing, and, more importantly, what is her role now? In most communities outside of the deep South, a letter like the one the Grand Dragon David Duke sent to the Aehs would kill anyone’s chances of a political career or even government employment. But she was appointed to the City Council, in 1983, representing the 2nd Ward, and continued in that position in 1984 and 1985, and she was subsequently hired as City Clerk, a position that was changed from part-time to full-time and which she has held for many years. Instead of being held accountable for her association with the KKK, she has possibly been rewarded for her valuable services to the Chamber of Commerce crowd, one of which services may be stonewalling those looking for information about city real estate shenanigans and another of which may have been the 1980 mauling of Harold Daub.