Rev. Malone praying on steps of Municipal Building
Religion played an important part in the recall of mayor Greg Bauer. In the months leading up to the special recall election, on June 22, 2004, the Rev. David Malone denounced the wickedness in Portsmouth. With leaders of the recall movement standing next to him, with their heads bowed, Malone preached a sermon on the steps of the Municipal Building. In that sermon, “Protection and Deliverance of a City,” part of which is reproduced below, he said, “In the name of Jesus, we stand victorious over the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places over Portsmouth, Ohio.” Austin Leedom later said Malone’s prayers on the steps were the turning point for the recall movement.
But while he was praying with leaders of the recall movement, Rev. Malone at the same time was disassociating himself from that movement. In a recorded interview with me, in his church office, not long after his sermon on the steps, Malone characterized the recall movement as mistaken and “divisive.” His prayers, he told me, had not been intended to help the recall movement. But if there was wickedness in high places, wasn’t using a special election to remove it not only totally constitutional but also morally obligatory? Apparently not, at least not in the mind of Rev. Malone. In his relationship to the “rulers of darkness” and to the followers of the prince of air who hovers satanically over Portsmouth, he appeared to be, if not hypocritical, at least contradictory.
There were those who believed Malone, in appearing to sit on the fence, was maneuvering for the upcoming mayoral primary. He was willing to denounce Evil, in general, but no crooked politician, in particular: “Holy Spirit, we ask you to visit our city and open the eyes of the people, that they may turn from the power of Satan to God,” he preached. But who in Portsmouth is Satan working with? Malone was not willing to be more specific. He was apparently trying to have it both ways, to please both his potential supporters in the recall movement but also powerful people in high places. If that was his strategy, his poor showing in the mayoral primary showed how politically ineffective fence-sitting can be.
The suspicion is growing that Malone’s political priorities take precedence over his moral and spiritual obligations, and as a result he is losing the trust not only of those recall advocates who prayed with him on the steps of the Municipal Building, but also of a number of others as well. Judging from his poor showing in the primary, he has forfeited much of the moral high ground he once occupied. The voters expect a man of God to be at least a cut above a politician, especially above a Portsmouth politician.
At the last city council meeting the ever solicitous city solicitor asked if any of those members of council who regularly meet in the office of the city clerk’s office prior to council meetings believed they were participating in a non-public and therefore illegal meeting of the council. When Malone blurted out “No!” to the solicitor’s question, many of the visitors in the chamber laughed. How did Malone interpret the laughter? Does he realize that in allowing himself to be used by solicitor Kuhn, acting mayor Kalb, and city council president Baughman that he is not only losing the respect of the populace but that he is also becoming something of a joke? Councilman Tim Loper was applauded at the last council meeting for saying he had been played for a dummie long enough. Loper was applauded for declaring his independence; Malone was laughed at for claiming he had done nothing illegal. Shouldn't that tell him something?
Judge Marshall had already pointed out, in ruling on the Marting sale, that whenever four council members get together there is a potential quorum; and if those council members discuss anything remotely related to city business that gathering constitutes a meeting, an illegal meeting since the public is not given the opportunity to attend. Clayton Johnson’s arranging to meet with members of the council in three’s in negotiating the sale of Marting’s was an obvious, crooked scheme to get around the “four’s a meeting” rule.
Pre-council meeting get-togethers in the city clerk’s office are another obvious way for illegal meetings to take place, and Malone should not give even the appearance that he is part of illegal meetings. He should follow the example of council members Bob Mollette and Tim Loper and not join with other members behind closed doors. And, as important, he should not join with those members of city council and mayor Kalb, who are attempting to deliver to Clayton Johnson a half of the whole loaf that Judge Marshall’s decision denied to Johnson when he ruled that the sale of the Marting building to the city had been illegal.
If ever the expression “the devil is in the details” could be said to apply, it applies to the sale of the Marting building, as well as to the machinations mayor Kalb and several on the city council are conducting to get around Judge Marshall’s ruling that the sale of the Marting building was illegal. The sale of the Marting building to the city was not only illegal, it was, from a religious point of view, illicit – a bastard project conceived in a law office in Portsmouth’s red light district. A minister of the gospel should not vote in favor of any ordinance that lends legitimacy to that illicit sale.
The mayor and two council members have been recalled as a direct result of the Marting scandal, which outraged voters, and for Malone to continue to add his support to a proposal that he knows will deliver a half loaf to Johnson will only add to the perception that he is still playing politics rather than following his religious principles.
Part of Sermon Malone delivered on steps of Municipal Building
I hope that those who believe in the power of prayer will pray for the Rev. Malone. When Baughman calls for a moment of silence at the beginning of council meetings, I hope that those who laughed at Malone will follow a more Christian path and pray for him, with all their might, for he was and still is a potential leader of obvious ability, and could yet be a key figure in the crusade against the forces of darkness and for the moral rejuvenation of our river city.