Saturday, September 24, 2005

Felonious Election

M. Malone Petition for City Council

The tangled legal issue of felons’ rights that I am going to deal with in this blog is difficult to disentangle, and I don’t claim to understand it fully myself. But felons’ rights can affect us all. Keep in mind the removal of felons from voting rolls in Florida is credited by some critics with having won Florida and therefore the presidency for George W. Bush in 2000. We had our own little “felonious election” in Portsmouth in 2004 in which a convicted felon not only voted but ran for public office. He missed being elected to the Portsmouth City Council by only a single vote. Had he won, we might today still be trying to resolve the issue of whether he had a right, as a felon, to remain in the office to which he was elected.

Ohio was in the national news following the 2004 elections because of alleged voting irregularities throughout the state. Minority voters faced various hurdles to voting and getting their votes counted properly. The Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee issued a status report “Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio.” One of the irregularities listed in the report was that “Numerous voters were incorrectly listed on the roster as felons and thus not allowed to vote.” The irregularity we had in Portsmouth was just the opposite: a minority candidate with a criminal background was allowed and perhaps encourage to run for public office because he could be expected to support the over-privileged white elite who control the city. In the stealth campaign the candidate ran, the local newspaper and politicians, who were in a position to know of the candidate’s criminal background, said nothing. (See )

With thanks to catoonist Thomas Nast

The question with which I closed my previous blog, “My Brother’s Keeper,” was whether a convicted felon can run for and hold public office in Ohio. The Ohio Revised Code (2961.01) states “A person convicted of a felony under the laws of this or any other state or the United States, unless the conviction is reversed or annulled, is incompetent to be an elector or juror or to hold an office of honor, trust, or profit.” Not only does ORC 2961.01 exclude felons from elected office but the Ohio Constitution empowers the legislature with that authority, stating that the General Assembly can “exclude from the privilege . . . of being eligible to office, any person convicted of a felony.” That would seem to answer the question in the negative: a felon is “incompetent” or unfit to hold public office. A 1998 decision by then Attorney General Betty Montgomery reaffirmed this interpretation, at least for convicted federal felons, but it would appear also to apply to state felons: in her words, “. . . under ORC 2961.01, a convicted federal felon may not hold the office of member of the legislative authority of a municipality in Ohio.” (See

ORC 2961.01 says a felon cannot vote or hold public office, but ORC 2961.01 goes on to say “When any person convicted of a felony under any law of that type is granted parole, judicial release, or a conditional pardon or is released under a non-jail community control sanction or a post-release control sanction, the person is competent to be an elector during the period of community control, parole, post-release control, or release or until the conditions of the pardon have been performed or have transpired and is competent to be an elector thereafter following final discharge.” In other words, once felons have paid their debt to society, they are once more eligible to be electors, or voters.

An attorney in the Secretary of State’s office with whom I discussed ORC 2961.01 said that the restoration of felons’ voting rights automatically restores their right to run for and hold public office. How can that be, I asked, since the language of ORC 2961.01 clearly states a felon was incompetent to hold public office? The law is confusing, she acknowledged, but that was for the legislature, not the courts, to straighten out. Regarding felons’ right to vote and hold public office in Ohio, ORC 2961.01, or the way it has been interpreted, is not just confusing: it is bizarre. In a footnote to Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery’s 1998 ruling on the issue, she said it is the case in Ohio and in most other states that a felon can run for public office even though the law denies them the right to hold public office. “Ohio follows the general rule,” she wrote, “that specified disqualifications for holding a public office do not prevent an individual from being a candidate for the office unless the law expressly extends the disqualifications to candidacy.” If most states follow this bizarre rule, most states have an electoral screw loose.

And there is yet another twist to it. If a felon who has been elected to public office is permitted by a local body, say the city council, to be sworn into office, it is the responsibility of local officials, and the county prosecutor, in particular, to bring legal action to remove the felon from office. That’s what I was told by a state official. If Malone had been elected and sworn into office by the Portsmouth City Council, would Mark Kuhn, who was elected Scioto County Prosecutor last November, have sought to remove Malone from office? Someone who knows the politics of Portsmouth better than I do told me that Kuhn probably would not have taken action against the candidate. If Mark Kuhn did not act, what then? I was told that if Malone was allowed to remain on the city council, a private citizen could then have brought suit to remove him. A single vote is how close we came to having one the most potentially expensive and bitter legal fights in Portsmouth’s history.

I am not against ex-felons voting and even holding public office. What I am against is allowing an ex-felon, with the acquiesence and possible complicity of the press and corrupt politicians, to take advantage of Ohio’s crazy election laws and run a stealth campaign in which voters are not alerted to that candidate’s chronic criminal behavior. It was apparently enough for the Daily Times and the politicians that Malone was opposed to recalling anybody, including the city council member he would have replaced if elected. As candidate Malone told the Daily Times (Oct. 31, 2004), the attempt to recall Carol Caudill “was a bad thing.”

The role of City Solicitor David Kuhn and of City Clerk JoAnn Aeh in Michael Malone’s decision to run for office, in spite of his extensive criminal record, has yet to be clarified. I think of the controversial 2004 Ward 3 election as a “felonious election.” David Kuhn, who is County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn’s uncle, and JoAnn Aeh and the Portsmouth police chief Horner are hot on the trail of Native American Russ Cooper, who was trying to run against City Councilman David Malone, brother of convicted forger Michael Malone. The forgery charges against Cooper, who has no previous felony convictions, were front-page news in the Daily Times, as was the DUI arrest a few months ago of Eric Wrage, Mark Kuhn’s opponent in last November’s Scioto County Prosecutor election. As Austin Leedom reported in The Shawnee Sentinel, all charges against Wrage were dropped on September 20, 2005.

Is there a pattern here? The Daily Times publishes on its front-page charges that prove to be unsubstantiated or misleading regarding candidates who don’t support the over-privileged of Portsmouth. The Daily Times ignores the criminal background of a candidate who, like the Daily Times, is opposed to the reform movement, a candidate who could be expected if he won to join with his brother and those other members of the Portsmouth City Council who do the bidding of Boss Tweedy and the SOGP. Is this any way to run a newspaper, an election, or a city?

(For background on felons and elections, see

I voted button

Saturday, September 17, 2005

My Brother's Keeper

From Daily Times Election Supplement

On November 2, 2004, in the recall election to decide who would replace Carol Caudill as Ward 3 representative on the Portsmouth City Council, Michael A. Malone lost to Robert Mollette by a single vote. That Malone came that close was surprising because he has a long criminal record, previously having been arrested for writing bad checks and for drug-related charges and for having served a jail term for theft, forgery and receiving stolen property. In 2000, he had been arrested for stealing checks from another brother and forging his signature. For that crime Malone served time in the state prison in Orient, Ohio. (For Michael A. Malone’s city and country arrest records go to and to or view the rap sheets below.)

How did a man with Malone’s criminal record come so close to winning a seat on the Portsmouth City Council? Part of the answer is that Malone himself and the relatively few people who knew about his criminal background said nothing about it during the election campaign. Malone’s brother, Councilman David A. Malone, said nothing about it, at least not publicly. The City Solicitor David Kuhn, and the City Clerk JoAnn Aeh said nothing about it publicly, as far as I know, although Malone said he had told them about it because he wanted to know if being a convicted felon would prevent him from running. They told him he could run and hold office, Malone claimed, but they did not publicly let anyone else know what they knew about him.

Malone later claimed he had “a campaign attorney who guided him through various stages of the campaign.” Perhaps it was his “campaign attorney” who advised him to wage the stealth campaign that very nearly won him the election. If you are advising a candidate who has an extensive criminal record, you don’t want to put him in public forums where he might have to answer questions about that record. Robert Mollette told me Malone was pretty much a no–show during the campaign. Malone did not participate in debates or make any public appearances that Mollette knew of. The Portsmouth Daily Times had very little to tell its readers about Malone. In its special Oct. 31 supplement “Election 2004,” the Daily Times gave readers Malone’s age, names of his family, his education, and his political experience, which was none. It also reported what his hobbies were – sports and church – and what his favorite team was. That was one of the six questions the Daily Times asked all candidates: What is your favorite team? In future election supplements the Daily Times might do well to add another question: “Do you have any felony convictions?”

Public officials at the Scioto County Courthouse and at the Portsmouth Municipal Building knew of Malone’s long record, but the Daily Times and the Community Common never got wind of it, or if they did, they chose to hold their noses. There are some stories our local newspapers don’t cover. It is part of our local cover-up journalism. If the over-privileged of Portsmouth are going to continue to be able to eminent domain other people's property and unload their own distressed properties on the public, the city council must continue to operate in its traditional corrupt manner. Faced with the alternative of having a chronic criminal or an honest and able individual representing Ward 3, those in power appparently preferred the criminal, since he probably would be replaced anyway.

Harold Daub worked for many years with another Malone brother, so when Michael Malone asked him to serve on his election committee, Daub agreed. Daub told me he knew nothing of Malone’s criminal record when he agreed to be one of the five people on Malone’s election committee. Daub did not know of Malone’s criminal background until after the election. A week after the election, on November 8, 2004, Daub wrote a letter to Stephen Mowery, the attorney who is the chair of the Scioto County Board of Elections, saying, “I am distraught to discover 3rd Ward Council candidate Mr. Michael A. Malone has been charged and convicted of a theft/forgery felony (00CR000361) and spent time in prison in the state of Ohio.” Daub also wrote, “I just recently discussed this issue with Mr. Malone and discovered he had informed the City Solicitor David Kuhn and City Clerk JoAnn Aeh, of his felony record prior to obtaining petitions. Per Mr. Malone both Mr. Kuhn and Ms. Aeh stated, he could run for City Council.”

Since Malone was running as a candidate who was opposed to the recall movement, which the Daily Times also opposed, it is not likely a Daily Times reporter would ask Michael Malone about his criminal record. It was also unlikely that a flyer would appear in the Daily Times or the Community Common identifying Malone as a convicted felon, though such a flyer had appeared in the Community Common in June 2004 in the form of a wanted poster, identifying three people supporting the recall of Mayor Bauer as felons. None of those three, it should be noted, was running for office.

Malone came as close as he did to winning a council seat not only because he waged a campaign that successfully avoided having to face questions about his criminal record, but also because he was opposed to the recall movement. In speaking before the Portsmouth City Council a month after the election, Michael Malone praised Carol Caudill and Ann Sydnor, the two councilwomen who had been recalled. “Saying he wanted to put one thing in perspective,” the council minutes report, “Mr. Malone acknowledged the absence, in the room, of former Council members Ann Sydnor and Carol Caudill due to recall. He pointed out that both Ann Sydnor and Carol Caudill served the City well, saying ‘They’ve served the city for many years and although not sitting in a Council seat they are still active in the community.’” Malone told the Daily Times' Jeff Barron, "The recall is a bad thing" (Oct. 31, 2004).

If he was opposed to recalling Caudill, why did Malone run as a candidate to replace her? Because he wanted to offer voters an alternative to Mollette, who was active in the reform movement. In reporting election results in the Community Common, Mike Deaterla reported “Malone, the brother of 2nd Ward Councilman David Malone, had originally opposed the recall but had wanted to give voters another choice” (11/3/04).

I have heard rumors that Carol Caudill advised voters in Ward 3 to vote for Malone, because he was preferable to Mollette, whom she accused of being in the race only for personal reasons. If elected, Malone could be counted on to do what Caudill had done on the city council: be a rubber stamp for the SOGP and the over-privileged of Portsmouth. Election petitions on file at the Board of Elections show support for Malone was very strong on Baird St., where Caudill had formerly lived and where she had a number of supporters. But I doubt that many of the sixteen people on Baird St. who signed Malone’s election petitions knew of his criminal record.

In 2004, at the time he was running for Portsmouth City Council, Michael Malone was in court again, this time for not paying money he owed to Auto Now Acceptance Co. The court docket shows that on Monday, November 1, 2004, a day before the election, a certified letter that had been sent to Malone and his wife had been returned unclaimed to court (Case Number: CVF0402141). Consequently, Auto Now’s case against Malone could not begin because the defendant could not be located. The docket reads, “THE ABOVE STYLED CASE IS INACTIVE DUE TO THE UNAVAILABILITY TO ACCUSED.” In the unlikely event that someone, say the Daily Times, might have discovered and reported that a candidate for city council who was being sued for not paying his debts had failed to show up in court on the eve of the election, Malone’s prospects for becoming a member of city council might have been reduced. The court did not attempt to reach Malone by mail until Nov. 15, two weeks after the election. It should be noted that, in his previous appearances before the courts, Malone pled indigency, so an attorney had to be appointed for him at public expense. However, in the legal trouble he was in with Auto Now during the last election period, Malone was represented by George L. Davis III, who is reputed to be one of the best lawyers in Portsmouth.

In speaking before the Portsmouth City Council on Dec. 13, 2004, a month after the election, Michael Malone, responding to a question by a member of the public, addressed the issue of whether a felon could run for a seat on the council. According to council minutes, “[Michael Malone] said that no matter whether you are a convicted felon or not, you can still run and hold a public office. Mr. Malone said he researched, got a campaign attorney who guided him through various stages of the campaign and was found to be qualified and able to serve.”

Sounding like a Daily Times editorial, or a speech by a member of the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Malone in speaking before the city council on Dec. 13 criticized the negativity that prevailed in Portsmouth, including the critical comments that had been expressed by citizens earlier at that same council meeting. Malone said negative attitudes needed to be changed. “He said ‘The City of Portsmouth is a city or prosperity but it starts with the individual, again saying individual attitudes needs [sic] to change to the positive.'”

I was in the council chambers that night and heard the neatly dressed and articulate Michael Malone make his speech. The slogan “Portsmouth: City of Prosperity,” which I have since seen on several bumpers, including on David Malone’s automobile, was not the creation of Michael or David Malone. The source of that slogan was Bishop Arbrey Harley, of the Deeper Life Church, in Baltimore. Harley had preached in 2004 in Portsmouth at a religious tent meeting that had been sponsored by David Malone’s church.

According to Portia Williams, a guest columnist in the Daily Times who reported enthusiastically on Bishop Harley’s City of Prosperity sermon (10/3/04), the idea of having Bishop Harley preach in Portsmouth came from Linda Phipps, a pastoral associate of Rev. Malone. Ms. Phipps claimed to have received “the initial word from God to have the tent revival . . .” And Bishop Harley, presumably not coincidentally, claimed to have received a prophecy from God that Portsmouth would soon become a prosperous vibrant city. That was the good news he brought to the tent meeting. However, for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled, people had to be positive about Portsmouth. “Just as Bishop Harley suggested,” Williams wrote, “when we speak of the city of Portsmouth we must say, ‘Portsmouth: The City of Prosperity!’”

Bishop Hartley had prophesied that Portsmouth would become a city of prosperity, where businesses would thrive, but that turned out not to be the case for Malone, for as recently as March 2005 he was back in court, being sued by Ritchie’s Food for not meeting his financial obligations as the operator of the Big Top Malt Shop (05MC000407).

The first Deeper Life Church had been founded in Florida by a preacher whose sexual and financial improprieties were exposed in a series of articles in the Tampa Tribune in 2003. One of the rules of the Deeper Life movement is that members must be positive, not negative. Members of the Tampa Deeper Life Church were told they must not criticize the leaders of that church. The Tampa Tribune reported that at one evening prayer service, “a visiting evangelist warned that the bishop and his wife are sacred angels. Do not provoke or criticize them, he said.” (For more on Tampa’s Deeper Life Church, click on )

I had not yet seen Michael Malone’s criminal record, so I could not appreciate the irony of his speaking before the city council about individual responsibility and his preaching Bishop Harley’s gospel of prosperity through positive thinking. Michael Malone’s previous attempts to achieve prosperity through crime had been unsuccessful. So the candidate who missed a seat on the Portsmouth City Council by only one vote and spoke before the city council urging more individual responsibility and less negativism, had a criminal record that included being in possession of drug paraphernalia, receiving stolen property, taking out loans he would not repay, writing bad checks, and stealing paychecks from a brother. Anyone who may have thought that the Michael Malone who advocated individual responsibility before the city council last December had turned over a new leaf was mistaken. As recently as Feb. and March of this year, 2005, Malone was in trouble again for theft and passing a bad check. (See items numbered 1, 2. and 3 on the third rap sheet below.)

The Daily Times did not report that Malone had a criminal record until more than a week after Harold Daub had raised the issue in his Nov. 8th letter to Steve Mowery. Malone’s criminal record is not hard to find: it is on the internet for the public and reporters alike to see. Finally getting on the trail of the Malone story, the Daily Times’ Jeff Barron reported on Nov. 19th that “Malone did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment about the conviction.” When contacted by Barron, David Malone admitted his brother Michael had spent time in prison “but said he didn’t know what for.” It seems hard to believe that Rev. Malone, in Nov. 2004, would still not have known why his brother Michael had served time in prison in 2000, because Michael had stolen and forged checks of a third Malone brother. "Am I my brother's keeper?" is the biblical passage that comes to mind. Was David Malone trying to separate himself from his brother, or was he trying to shield him, as he and others had during the campaign?

Rev. David Malone preaching on steps of Municipal Building

Contrast the way in which Michael A. Malone was encouraged to run for city council and provided a campaign attorney and protected from public scrutiny with the way Joe Perry, an honest hardworking electrician and African-American property owner has been treated by Neal Hatcher and the politicians who do that developer’s eminent domaining for him. Or compare the treatment Michael Malone got as a candidate for Portsmouth City Council to the treatment Russell Cooper got. A Native American candidate seeking to replace David Malone on the city council, Cooper was summarily arrested and charged with a felony for alleged forged signatures on his petitions. The suspicion is high in the reform movement in Portsmouth that the arrest of Cooper was part of a move to protect the politically vulnerable David Malone from being recalled. Even before it was learned Rev. Malone had been having an adulterous affair with a member of his congregation, the voters in his ward were becoming disillusioned with him as their councilman.

Are the people who were willing to elect a convicted forger, Michael Malone, to the city council, no questions asked, trying now to use a forgery charge to destroy the campaign of David Malone’s challenger?

In another blog I will deal with the bizarre mess that allowed Michael Malone to run for an office that he would not have been legally able to continue in if the Scioto County Prosecutor then enforced the state laws prohibiting felons from holding public office. Stephen Mowery is quoted by Jeff Barron as saying Malone “may not be able to serve because of a prior felony conviction.” Yes, in Ohio a felon can legally run for public office but not legally occupy it. Mowery told me that if Malone had been elected the whole thing would have likely ended up in the courts, where the legal costs to the taxpayers were potentially enormous.

But even if Michael Malone had been elected but not allowed to join his brother David on the city council, the opponents of the reform movement would probably have succeeded in their ultimate objective, which was preventing a reformer from joining the city council. The Portsmouth city charter (Sect. 144.f) calls for the candidate's election committee to appoint a replacement to the city council in case of the death or withdrawal of the candidate. If a victorious Malone had been considered a member of the council but had then been removed by the courts, the city charter (Sect. 3) in that case calls for a majority of the council to appoint someone from that ward to serve on the council. In either case, whether Malone's election committee or the city council made the choice, Mollette, as reform candidate, would have had about as much chance of being appointed as Portsmouth had of miraculously suddenly becoming a City of Prosperity.

Considering how heroically and stoically Mollette has served on the council, his one vote margin of victory over Michael Malone might seem providential to those who believe God gets involved in such matters.

Rap Sheets for Michael A. Malone




Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mother Courage


In the grainy TV image above, a pregnant Julie Stout, protesting the war in Iraq, sits on the lawn in front of Massie Hall with a protest sign in her lap. She is handing her daughter Zelda a bottle of bubble liquid. It was September 10, 2004, exactly a year ago, the day that President George W. Bush slipped into Portsmouth for a rally at the James Rhodes Athletic Center on the campus of Shawnee State U. After nearly four years of Bush in office, Americans were deeply divided about his job performance, particularly about his foreign policy. The reason he slipped in and out of Portsmouth was to avoid the demonstrators he was all too familiar with from his campaign trips to other cities. In 2000 he had run on a promise to be a uniter, not a divider. Primarily because of the invasion of Iraq, by 2004 it was clear he had not kept that campaign promise.

The Rhodes Center at SSU is named after the late Governor James Rhodes, who was a controversial figure because of his role leading up to the killing of four Kent State students and the wounding of nine others by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. The day before the May 4th shootings, Gov. Rhodes had given a provocative speech in which he said of the demonstrators, “They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.” He warned that every means at the disposal of the authorities would be used against them. It was reported that some of the National Guard troops later said they had fired because they were fearful of their lives. Two of the students killed were not demonstrators; one of them was a young woman on her way to class. Unfairly or not, many held Rhodes responsible for the tragedy that occurred. Unfairly or not, increasing numbers of Americans by September 2004 held George W. Bush responsible for the deaths of over 1000 American soldiers in Iraq and the maiming of many thousands more, not to speak of the death and maiming of tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Not just the Rhodes Center but the entire Shawnee State campus was in control of city and federal authorities the day of Bush’s visit. The university officials cooperated completely with the Bush team to insure that protestors would not be allowed on campus: they were confined to a small traffic island at the entrance of the campus. The traffic island was surrounded by police cruisers with flashing lights and yellow police tape. The Bush entourage was spared the discomfort of even having to see the protestors on the traffic island: the buses drove around the traffic islanders and entered the campus by a back route. To further insure that the Bush entourage and the carefully screened audience would not have to see demonstrators, and that demonstrators could not see them, much of the campus was declared a no-protest zone.

Four-year-old Zelda on Sept. 10, 2004

One of the very few demonstrators who entered the no-protest zone was Julie Stout, who sat on the lawn in front of Massie Hall with her four-year-old daughter Zelda. It was a lovely day and Zelda played nearby, blowing soap bubbles while her mother sat with the poster in her lap.

On my way into Massie Hall, I stopped to talk with Julie as some gray-haired people who had been at the rally began strolling down the walkway that had been dubbed “Success Way” by a failed administrator at Shawnee. As they passed Julie and her sign, the Bush folk could not believe their eyes. They saw a child blowing soap bubbles and her pregnant mother sitting on the grass with her legs crossed holding that sign in her lap.


I moved back to film the reactions of passersby wearing Bush buttons. They shook their heads and mumbled disapproval. The presence of Zelda bothered passing women and bothered in particular a woman I knew, whom I will call Hildegard. In her agitated state Hildegard did not notice me. I knew her as an intelligent and caring professional woman, so I was surprised, surprised not that she would have been at the Bush rally but that she would stop and accuse Julie, whom she had never seen before, of being an unfit mother on the basis of the sign Julie was holding. She berated Julie for setting a poor example for her daughter. A poor example of what?

Women like Hildegard considered Julie’s opinion of Pres. Bush treasonous, but instead of challenging Julie’s politics they accused her of being an unfit mother. If Julie’s husband, who was protesting elsewhere, had been sitting there with that sign in his lap and his daughter playing nearby, I doubt anyone would have accused him of being an unfit father. They might have called him names, but not an unfit father. Apparently, you can say nothing worse about a woman than that she is an unfit mother. Apparently, being “unfit” is even worse than being a “slut.” “Unfit” is the ultimate insult: it transcends politics, race, and religion. Being an unfit mother is the unpardonable sin; it is a crime against nature.

I have since learned that Julie is not an unfit mother. On the contrary, I think she is an exceptionally responsible mother, because she feels improving the kind of a world and country and city that her children will grow up in is one of her important duties as a mother. What infuriates some other women is not that she is an unfit mother but that she is an outspoken woman. Some women might tolerate and even begrudgingly admire an outspoken man, but not an outspoken woman, especially not one expressing political views they consider un-American. How dare a woman act so independently. How dare a woman suggest the president and vice president are war criminals.

Further complicating all this is that too many of these women who can’t stand women like Julie are often married to husbands who, in spite of their bluster, brush-clearing, and testosterone posturing, tend to be losers who go into politics and suck up to and leech themselves on to those who have money and power. That is as true at the national as it is at the local level. Mike Brown, the head of FEMA, who was just "reassigned" yesterday following his recent display of criminal incompetence, is a good example of the frat brother loser who becomes a political lackey. But there are even better examples higher up the chain of incompetence.

In one of his plays, Bertolt Brecht created a character named Mother Courage. Director Michael Kahn said, “Mother Courage has an ironic sense of humor that allows her to survive the most difficult situations. She is also a tenacious fighter, unwilling to be averted from her goal of providing for herself and her children.” Almost a year before Cindy Sheehan took up her heroic vigil at Crawford, Texas, Julie Stout was sitting in the no-protest zone of the campus, accompanied only by her daughter, with a sign accusing Bush and Cheney of being war criminals. That took courage. Especially a year ago. Now that a majority of Americans have turned against Bush and the war, Julie’s sign, in September 2005, appears a little less heretical than it did on September 10, 2004.

Julie has since given birth to a son, Henry, which is all the more reason as a mother she is not going to let those who call her unfit stop her from fighting for a better future for her children. She and her husband Drew and her two children form a tight-knit family that this community can take pride in, in contrast to the adulterous lifestyle of some local politicians. She was born and raised in Ohio. She is a Buckeye mother with the courage of her convictions. In national elections, Ohio is considered a swing state, which can go in either direction. She shows in which direction Ohio and the country may be headed.

A happy Zelda and a contented Henry at home

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Battle in the Fray

Soprano Kathleen Battle

(At the August 22nd meeting of the Portsmouth City Council, Lela Perry read a statement from her sister, Kathleen Battle, protesting the mistreatment of Joe Perry, her nephew, whose property in Hatcherville is being eminently domained. "How can the City of Portsmouth even think about exclusively supporting certain 'property developers,' " Battle wrote, "while at the same time preventing another property owner-manager from making an honest living?")

The Developer and the Diva: A Fable

There once was a white boy from the wrong side of the tracks who married a pork rind heiress and became a rich real estate developer in his home town by conspiring with local officials to use Eminent Domain to deprive people of their property. Hawk-like, wearing a wrecking ball lapel pin, the Developer lived in his nest on The Hill, eyeing other people’s property.

The plight of those below, who were deprived of their property, was not reported in the local press, which dared not criticize the over-abated and over-privileged denizens on The Hill, most of whom, like the Developer, were afflicted with a degenerative illness called Porkinson’s Disease, which results in extreme dependency on government money.

There also was from the same town a poor black girl who became a world-famous opera star whose voice had a magical quality that captured the hearts of listeners everywhere, not just at the Met and La Scala.

When the rich white developer tried to Eminent Domain a young real estate entrepreneur, a nephew of the opera star, she raised her pure voice in protest. Her voice was joined by a chorus of others, the sentinels of democracy, who denounced the monopoly the rich white Developer had over the local real estate market. It was the Soprano versus the Sopranos.

The state passed a law to stop the abuse of Eminent Domain. The Developer’s wings were clipped. The property of the young black entrepreneur was rescued from the Developer’s nest. Things ended on a high note. Justice triumphed.

Moral: Don’t count your eggs before they’re hatchered.