Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Anniversary of Bauer Recall

Front Page of Daily Times, 06/23/04

One year ago today, on June 22nd, 2004, the voters of Portsmouth recalled Mayor Greg Bauer from office by a 2 to 1 margin.

Several months earlier, around April 2004, I began using my new DV video camera to make a record of the recall process. I worked on editing the video as my teaching schedule permitted in the fall and winter of 2004. On March 16th, 2005, I showed Recall to the public in Flohr Hall at the Shawnee State Clark Memorial Library. Prior to that showing, the Communications Office of SSU put out the following publicity release based upon answers I had provided to their questions:

March 11, 2005

Robert Forrey’s video essay Recall to premier at SSU

Shawnee State University’s (SSU) Robert Forrey, Ph.D., professor of English, has created a video essay, entitled Recall, regarding last June’s recall of Portsmouth Mayor Greg Bauer. A showing of the 60-minute documentary will take place on Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. in the Flohr Lecture Hall, located on the first floor of the Clark Memorial Library on the SSU campus.

According to Forrey, the recall movement apparently began when Bauer summarily rejected Lee Scott’s attempt to get city assistance for the restoration of the old Columbia Theater, located on Gallia Street in downtown Portsmouth.

“Scott began an intensive investigation of city government and concluded it was rife with favoritism and corruption,” said Forrey. “However, the seismic event of the recall movement was the controversial sale of the Marting’s department store building to the city, for which Mayor Bauer was responsible.”

Forrey said he had audited a course on videography taught by Michael Barnhart, senior instructor of music at SSU, in order to learn the basics of making videos.

“Though I still have much to learn about the technology, and remain a novice about the art, I proceeded on my own, contacting those involved in the recall movement and members of the city government,” he said.

Incidentally, the key figure, Bauer, declined to be interviewed, in addition to his assistant, Jamie Tuggle, who is an SSU graduate, according to Forrey.

“I am embarrassed at how little I knew about local politics after living in Portsmouth for 15 years,” he said. “I suspect that many at the university know very little about the problems and politics of Portsmouth. One senior professor in business [Larry Essman] told me that until I learned about Portsmouth, its history, and its politics, I could not really understand the university. I now appreciate the wisdom of his observation.”

Forrey has spoken to representatives of Adelphia cable about showing the video essay on cable access, but no date has been set. [Adelphia is not going to air the video.]

“I have been reluctant to call what I created a documentary,” he said. Most of what are called documentaries are not, if by documentary is meant an objective record of something. What I have created and what most so-called documentary makers create is a video essay. Essays have a thesis, a point. I didn’t start out with a thesis; I thought I was just going to record on videotape what others said and felt and what the facts were about the recall. I was being na├»ve. There is no overall truthful objective record about anything, especially about something as heated and contentious as politics. There are just various people, parties, and points of view, competing with each other for a share of the truth.”

The showing will be followed by an open forum on the issues that led to the recall. [Most of that forum was later added to Recall.]

“Dr. Forrey’s video essay is an interesting look into the politics of Portsmouth,” said Jennifer Phillips, president of the Shawnee Liberals Association, the student group that is sponsoring the event. “People who live and work in the area should be interested in seeing it, and SSU students wishing to learn more about the city they live in will find it worth watching. The discussion that is to take place after the video is shown should be interesting and informative as well.”

DVD copies of the final cut of Recall (approximately 80 min.) are now available for circulation at the Shawnee State Library and the Portsmouth Public Library. A limited number are also available free through The Sentinel, the editor of which can be reached at