Friday, November 25, 2005

Gross Misrepresentation

I am writing on this Thanksgiving day about gross misrepresentation, in terms of both the way our representatives misrepresent us, whether in the White House and Congress or in the Scioto County Courthouse and the Portsmouth Municipal building, but also in the way in which the news is misrepresented to us, whether in the New York Times (Judith Miller) and the Washington Post (Bob Woodward) or in the Portsmouth Daily Times.

In particular I am writing about how those of us who live in Ward 1 of the city of Portsmouth, in southern Ohio’s Second Congressional District, in the United States of America, are politically speaking among the most misrepresented people in America. We are grossly misrepresented by President George W. Bush, Governor Robert Taft, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, Mayor James Kalb, and City Councilman Timothy Loper.

President Bush

Let’s start at the top, on the national level, where we are misrepresented by George W. Bush, who won the presidency in 2000 in a disputed election because conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, in the ultimate display of judicial activism, determined that Bush was our new president. Once in the White House, Bush misrepresented us by performing so poorly that he would not have been elected to a second term if it had not been for the horrible events of 9/11, events which he then misrepresented and exploited to his political advantage, especially in his campaign for a second term. One year into his second term, he has continued to misrepresent and exploit 9/11. Holding Saddam Hussein responsible for 9/11, and claiming the Iraqi dictator possessed weapons of mass destruction, Bush invaded Iraq, setting off a chain of events that strengthened, not weakened, America’s fanatical enemies and cost the lives of over 2000 American military personnel and the wounding of many thousands more, not to speak of the thousands of Iraqi civilians, who of course do not count, because the U.S. authorities, literally, do not count them. On many issues, not just the war, we are grossly misrepresented by President Bush, because the scale of incompetence mixed with corruption is unprecedented in American history.

Governor Taft

At the state level we are misrepresented by Robert Taft, whom Time magazine in its November 21, 2005 issue judged to be the worst governor in the USA. The Columbus Channel 10-WBNS website said of Time’s flunking report card on Taft, “The article is blunt in its criticism. It suggests [Taft] should, ‘be in jail,’ or ‘should have resigned.’ It also criticizes him for being inept and an ineffective leader even before the scandals.”

I learned of Taft’s ineptness firsthand when I was on the faculty at Shawnee State University (SSU), in Portsmouth. SSU was the favored child of Vern Riffe, the powerful long-time speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, who was instrumental in its creation, in 1989. Though generously supported with special subsidies by the Ohio legislature, SSU consistently ranked in US News annual surveys as among the worst public universities of its kind in America. Why? Because SSU was conceived by a political godfather as a pork-barrel project that would assist the chronically depressed southern Ohio area he represented. SSU’s academic reputation was bad to begin with and it only got worse during Taft’s administration. The reasons for SSU’s terrible reputation precede Taft, but some of the political hacks he appointed to the SSU Board of Trustees, especially his appointment this year of Klara “Kay” Reynolds, as chair of the Board of Trustees, have to be included among them. Reynolds, a business woman who married her way to the top of Portsmouth’s over-privileged, was one of those trustees, dubbed “the Gang of Four,” who blocked the reappointment of James P. Chapman as SSU president, in 2001, even though Chapman was generally recognized as the most popular and effective president in the university’s history.

The campus exploded following the trustees’ rejection of Chapman, and a number of people from Portsmouth appealed to Taft to do something. But he did nothing, allowing the Gang of Four and their point man, Stephen P. Donohue, who was hired as university counsel in 1994, and who was also appointed an assistant Ohio attorney general, to continue to mismanage the university as de facto president, which he continues to do up to this day.

Congresswoman Schmidt

The whole country now knows of our infamous representative in Congress, Jean Schmidt. She was chair of Taft’s 1998 campaign for governor, and if a poll were taken today she would probably be considered the worst member of the House of Representatives. One award that she proudly posts on her website is a 2003 “Pro-life Pushy Broad Award.” She has also been a pushy broad when it comes to wars abroad, but she has not been so pushy as to ever actually volunteer to fight in them. Like most other members of congress, and their children, she leaves the fighting to the underclass.

When it comes to wars, she prefers to be a cheerleader for those who do the fighting. But she was no cheerleader for Paul Hackett, the Iraq veteran whom she ran against for the vacated Second District Congressional seat. As blogger John Ervin wrote in “Jean Schmidt: Queen of the Chicken Hawks,” “The new Queen of Mean has already earned stripes with her smear campaign against her opponent for the House Seat, Paul Hackett, by portraying his military record in Iraq as being exaggerated.” Schmidt campaigned against and sneered at Hackett’s record with Marine reserve Col. Danny Bubp, in uniform, by her side.

Most political patriots are satisfied with wearing an American flag pin on their lapel, but the pushy Schmidt, with less seniority than anyone else in Congress, went before the House of Representatives dressed in a virtual American flag outfit – red, white and blue, with stars to match – to denounce decorated Vietnam War hero congressman John Murtha as a coward. Smearing Hackett helped win her a seat in congress: smearing Murtha will probably cause her to lose it in next year’s regular congressional elections.

Even those who disagreed with Murtha’s call for the expeditious withdrawal of American troops from Iraq were shocked by Schmidt’s sneering performance at the House podium. One report said Col. Bubp, whose accusation of “cowardice” Schmidt relayed to Murtha, had never served in a theater of war. If that is true, then he too qualifies as a chicken hawk. Schmidt no sooner accused Murtha of being a coward than she was reportedly commanded by House Republican leaders, including the indicted Tom Delay, to retract it. Imagine getting a lecture on political etiquette from Tom “the Exterminator” Delay. The Republican leadership put the Pro-war Pushy Broad in her place. Col. Bubp, a member of the Ohio House of Representatives with political ambitions of his own, followed up by cutting and running from Schmidt, disavowing the incendiary remarks about Murtha Schmidt had attributed to him.

Schmidt is now excoriated in the blogosphere where she has been called everything from “Yankee-Doodle Douchebag” to a “pile of Schmidt.” She is also a household, or bathroom, name on TV. “When the Schmidt Hit the Fan” was how Keith Olbermann of Countdown characterized her performance at the House podium. She has also been the subject of a scathing skit on Saturday Night Live. If she continues to be her irrepressibly pushy self (“Let Schmidt be Schmidt,” her supporters might argue), we can expect her to be the inspiration for excremental political humor for as long as she misrepresents us in Congress, as if we did not already have enough “schmitty” politicians right here in Portsmouth to be embarrassed by.

Mayor Kalb

Speaking of which, the mayor of Portsmouth is James Kalb. Although reportedly in trouble with the law in his youth, Kalb sobered up, straightened out and went to work at Kroger’s supermarket, where he spent most of his career checking out groceries and restocking shelves, eventually being promoted to produce manager. But he also became involved in local politics, serving on the city council and then as acting mayor. Kalb is viewed by the Citizens for Responsible Government, a reform group, as the pawn of the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership (SOGP), the unelected but powerful body that began in the 1960s, under a different name, and now appears to control Portsmouth economically and politically. The SOGP has distributed well over $200,000,000 in various kinds of public assistance and pork that economically anemic Portsmouth has become dependent on. Though he is suspected of being somewhat unstable by his CRG critics, Kalb can be counted on to not upset the SOGP applecart.

At one meeting of the Citizens for Responsible Government, the mayor and his wife were asked to leave when they were accused of being disruptive. The mayor eventually left but sat in a chair outside the meeting room, buttonholing people as they entered or left the meeting room. I was at that meeting and did find Kalb’s behavior peculiar, and I can understand why some people who have observed his behavior longer than me wonder who or what might be influencing his behavior.

Kalb may have won the recent mayoral race because a number of voters believed he was the lesser of two evils. One fact in support of the argument that he, not his opponent, was the greater of two evils was that he was strongly supported in the mayoral election by the notorious local real estate developer, Neal Hatcher. Kalb has stated publicly that Portsmouth is fortunate that Hatcher does not take his money and invest it another city, where he would be appreciated more. During the campaign, Kalb was more than willing to have Hatcher post Kalb signs on some of the many properties the developer owns in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth’s previous mayor, Gregory Bauer, was recalled from office because of his role in the city’s $2 million dollar purchase of an empty, 100-year-old department store that one Portsmouth city councilman told the Columbus Dispatch “ain’t worth anything.” (Copies of my DVD documentary Recall of Mayor Bauer are available at the Shawnee State and Portsmouth Public Libraries.) As a city councilman, Kalb had criticized the purchase, but as mayor he has pursued the same policies that got Bauer recalled, particularly his approval of spending many millions of dollars to convert the old department store into a city hall.

Councilman Loper

At the bottom of the political food chain, underemployed for some time, but working at a gas station now, Timothy Loper has had a number of alcohol-related run-ins with the law. He ran for city council posing as a reformer and was first elected as a write-in candidate who said the city was being mismanaged by the over-privileged. Loper told me prior to his election that he was opposed to the purchase and conversion of the department store into a new city hall. But not long after taking his seat on the city council, he voted in favor or converting the department store into a city hall and began siding with those in the pocket of the SOGP.

However, being on city council did not end Loper’s financial problems. His house in Ward 1 was sold at a sheriff’s auction, and he was accused by members of Citizens for Responsible Government of having moved out of the ward, making him ineligible to continue serving as councilman. In response, Loper claimed he had moved to new living quarters in Ward 1, at another address, an empty little annex to 519 Third St., in what had once been a shoe repair shop. A member of the CRG, Harold Daub, challenged Loper’s claim and asked city solicitor David Kuhn to verify Loper's 519 1/2 address. Ever eager to abet the SOGP, Kuhn claimed he found sufficient evidence that Loper was living in the former shoe repair shop. Daub claimed Loper sucker-punched him because he was angry that Daub had sent a letter to the city solicitor. So a citizen who complained about our Ward 1 representative ended up in the hospital. Relatives of Loper have committed violent and heinous crimes, including murder, the rape of retarded children, and the alleged rape of the mayor’s wife, so Daub, who had already been “mauled” in 1980, might consider himself lucky that he has not been maimed or murdered.

And it is no better in some other wards in the city. In Ward 2 the incumbent “praying" adulterous councilman is being kept in office through the intimidating tactics of the city solicitor, who is behind the arrest of the challenger; in Ward 3 the brother of the "praying" Ward 2 councilman was allowed to run against Robert Mollette, an honest man who is as welcome on the city council as a nun in a whorehouse; and in Ward 6 an arrogant and abusive councilman is attempting to make recalls more difficult, no doubt because in his technical victory in the recall election he received fewer votes than his challenger. He will stay in office and the county voting commission will probably refuse to do a hand recount, even though complaints about confusion caused by new voting machines were common. A recent press release by the Committee for Responsible Government said that “a hand recount of one full ward (5 precincts) will serve as a reliable audit of the new voting system put in place by the Board for this election. Considering the numerous problems that have been reported in the local media about the trimming of absentee and provisional ballots, wrongly formatted memory cards, and the inexperience of the voters and the poll workers, a complete, full hand recount of the Sixth Ward will test how accurately the new Diebold optical-scan technology tabulated the vote throughout the city and county.”


So Loper is our sucker-punching gas-pumping councilman, Kalb our unstable corruption-as-usual mayor, Schmidt our sneering smearing Congresswoman, Taft our unindicted inept governor, and Bush our unprecedentedly clueless president. And we are the nation that presumed to invade another country to impose our American style of democracy on them. Michael Hirsh in Newsweek reported in June that a survey of Iraqis sponsored by the U.S. Coalition Authority showed that most Iraqis would feel safer if the Americans and their allies left immediately. An overwhelming majority, some 80 percent, said they had no confidence in either the American civilian authorities or Coalition forces.

A more recent secret British military poll is even more disheartening. Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified. “Up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.” Fewer than one percent have confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority!

The Southern Ohio Growth Partnership is like the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The acidic and sometimes outraged views expressed in the Shawnee Sentinel and Portsmouth Free Press, and in blogs and on local chat rooms and at Council meetings and at Citizens for Responsible Government meetings are evidence of the deep animosity that many people in Portsmouth feel toward our unelected unrepresentative oppressive de facto governing body, the SOGP, which has just moved into new headquarters at Portsmouth’s latest pork-project, the Scioto County Welcome Center, which is a glorified version of “the social clubs” that are a front for the Mob in the New York metropolitan area.

Front for the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership

Columnist E.J. Dionne recently wrote, “Perhaps we should redeploy the democracy experts we have sent to the Middle East and ask them to work on our Congress. The past few days have confirmed that our national government is dysfunctional.” I hope those same democracy experts might also turn their attention to southern Ohio, where incompetence and corruption are as rife as anywhere in the USA. Perhaps someday the Ohio National Guard might be sent to southern Ohio to liberate us from the SOGP, which could not stay in power without the gross misrepresentations of the occupation newspaper, the Portsmouth Daily Times, the publisher of which is a member of the SOGP and the editor of which consistently panders to the SOGP and slants stories against the reform movement. Let us be thankful for one thing on this Thanksgiving day: such gross misrepresentation can not last indefinitely.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Lord, Help Us!"

Timothy Loper

Timothy Loper ran unopposed in Ward 1 in the recent election and naturally won. Loper had previously won a recall election, in 2004, having run as a reform candidate who was opposed to the over-privileged of Portsmouth and to the city’s purchase of the Marting building in particular. In a taped interview with me before the 2004 recall election, which I did for a documentary Recall of Mayor Bauer, Loper said he had been unable to find steady work in Portsmouth and he blamed those in power with failing to revive the city’s depressed economy.

He convinced me he was a sincere reformer, and, as a resident of Ward 1, I voted for him, even though a person who knew him better than I warned me at the time that he was “worthless.” Once elected Loper quickly changed his tune and became part of the corrupt council majority that voted for Marting’s and is otherwise in the pocket of the over-privileged of Portsmouth. In one council meeting, he appeared to suffer pangs of conscience and said he had been “played for a dummy long enough,” but in subsequent meetings he went back to being played for a dummy.

In addition to having trouble holding down a steady job, Loper also had trouble holding on to his Madison St. house, which was sold at sheriff’s auction. When complaints were made that he had moved out of Ward 1 following the sale of his house, and that he therefore could no longer legally be Ward 1 councilman, Loper claimed he was still living in Ward 1, at 519 1/2 Third St. in what I've been told is a former small shoe repair shop. As proof of his place of residence, his name was pasted conspicuously in gold letters on the mail box. Unpersuaded by the mail box, and the makeshift digs on Third St., Harold Daub wrote a letter to the city solicitor asking for an investigation into the issue of Loper’s residence.

Spud's Live Bait Shop

Coincidentally, or perhaps it was preordained, Daub and Loper were both at the scene of a fire one night at a boarded-up bait shop in Ward 1, where Daub was taking photographs of the conflagration. Loper approached Daub and complained about the letter he sent to the city solicitor asking for an investigation of Loper's residential status. Later, according to Daub, as he was about to take a photo, Loper “sucker-punched” him. In his instructional video, “Science of the Sucker Punch,” judo expert Tony Blauer defines such a punch as “any kind of surprise attack or ambush which is unannounced and comes without warning.” At first Loper admitted punching Daub, but he claimed Daub had swung first. Then Loper completely changed his story, saying he hadn't punched Daub, that Daub had fallen after tripping over a fire hose.

Daub in hospital

Daub ended up in a hospital bed, and filed charges against Loper, but he does not expect any action to be taken against Loper. Daub has been a thorn in the side of the over-privileged ever since he was recalled from city council in 1980. Loper is a city councilman who has seen the light of the SOGP shining on his troubled life so that may explain why the matter will be dropped.

Flagrante Delicto

Daub was slugged at the moment he was taking a photograph of the burning building. I would like to see Daub’s blurred photo enlarged and hung on a wall of the Scioto Museum of Art, and perhaps copies could be put on sale at the new Welcome Center as a surrealistic expression of Portsmouth’s hellish political atmosphere. I can even suggest a name for Daub’s sucker-punch masterpiece: Flagrante Delicto ("while the crime is blazing")

Night in Hell
Flagrante Delicto, a sucker-punch photo by Harold Daub

Speaking of painting, Loper’s brushes with the law have been alcohol related and nowhere near as serious as the crimes committed by his relatives, including Zane Douglas Loper, the subject of my previous blog, who is serving 18+ years for sexually molesting children, and Zane’s father Carl who served some 20 years for wounding his estranged wife and killing his father-in-law with a shotgun. Zane Loper was working as a part-time policeman in Adams county at the time of his arrest for molestation and his father Carl at the time of his arrest for murder was on the Portsmouth police force. If this is what local police are capable of, what are we to expect from criminals? Let us all hope, and let the religious among us pray, that Timothy Loper, now on the Portsmouth City Council, is never accused of anything worse than being a tool of the over-privileged and a sucker-puncher. But I have been warned a number times, as probably Daub and other vocal critics have, that the over-privileged and the criminally inclined, whom they cover up for once in public office, constitute an unholy alliance that is capable of anything.

Blue Cloud

Portsmouth’s one attempt at a public display of semi-abstract art was the misbegotten metal sculpture Blue Cloud, which was installed on the Roy Rogers Esplanade in downtown Portsmouth about a quarter century ago. According to one rumor, “Blue Cloud” was later removed from the Esplanade after somebody tripped over the base of it and sued the city.

Instead of being in the Scioto Museum of Art, a few doors down from the Roy Rogers Esplanade, the Blue Cloud now rusts in an outdoor city storage facility, shown above, and is a sad reminder of an era in Portsmouth’s history when the public was convinced by the over-privileged and the Prostitute Daily Times that downtown Portsmouth was about to experience a miraculous rebirth just as soon as three wicked councilmen who were standing in the way of a new mall could be recalled. Harold Daub was one of the wicked councilmen who was recalled, but the mall was never built and the miracle did not materialize. But the times have changed, even if the Daily Times and the over-privileged of Portsmouth have not, and the Marting building is now being hawked as the miracle that will save downtown, and James Kalb, not Andrew Clausing, is mayor, and Timothy Loper, not Harold Daub, is a member of the city council.

As the adulterous praying-on-the steps-of-the-Municipal-building councilman of Ward 2 might say, "Lord, help us!"

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Post-election Reflections

Councilman Mollette

Councilman Mohr

In the recent elections, Marty Mohr, the councilman of Ward 6, came very close to losing to Richard Noel, a 78-year-old soft-spoken senior citizen who was fed up with Mohr’s abuse of ordinary citizens and his subservience to the over-privileged of Portsmouth. In fact, Noel got more Yes votes (358) in the election than Mohr did (354), but not all those who voted Yes for Noel also voted Yes on the recall. To recall Mohr, they had to vote Yes for the recall as well as Yes for Noel. Confused? Well, so apparently were some voters, and that confusion, combined with the screwup of the vendors of new voting machines, is the reason Mohr will continue to misrepresent Ward 6 on the Portsmouth City Council. If it's a voting screwup, and it isn't Florida, it must be Ohio.

Mohr might have been removed from office in the 2004 recalls that swept Ann Sydnor and Carole Caudill out of the Municipal building. But because he claimed to be outraged by Mayor’s Bauer underhandedness, and because he denounced Bauer for the city’s purchase of the Marting’s building to a Columbus Dispatch reporter (20 June 2004), Mohr shielded himself from the wrath of the voters. In the the Dispatch, interview Mohr accused Bauer of “a pattern of deceit,” claiming that Bauer “misled council on the value and condition of the building. It ain’t worth anything. . . . ” Mohr finished by saying, “At first I didn’t think [the recall election] was a good idea. Now, after several months of continuing lies and deceit, yeah, it needs to be done. It needs to be done in the worst way.”

Marty Mohr on Marting building: "It ain't worth anything."

I was told that when Mohr was first thinking of running for city council, he was motivated by a sincere desire to clean up the corruption in city government. But he subsequently and somewhat suddenly turned around 180 degrees. He got very impatient with reformers and democracy, and he called for the end of that part of council meetings that permitted citizens to speak on items not on the agenda. At another council meeting, he angrily denounced some of those who sat in the front rows of the meeting as “crap” because he held them responsible for a rumor circulating on a local internet chat room that he was involved in an adulterous relationship. Becoming increasingly arrogant, belligerent, and anti-democratic at council meetings, Mohr began looking and acting like the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Instead of the reformer he appeared to have been in 2004, he emerged instead in 2005 as the buffoonish, hotheaded right-hand man of Howard Baughman, the smarmy council president who is a relative of Clayton Johnson. Mohr’s boorish behavior caused a new word to enter the Portsmouth political slang: Mohronic.

Why did Mohr do a 180 degree turn? Could one of the reasons have been because Neal Hatcher was in the process of purchasing property from the Mohr family, building a dormitory on it, and naming that dormitory Mohr Hall? Why name a dormitory after the Mohrs? They had once lived on the site, but so had other families. The Mohrs are a respectable Portsmouth family, but no Mohr has ever been a candidate for Portsmouth’s Wall of Fame. Mohr himself is the proprietor of Automania, a business that specializes in noise pollution, a business that appeals to the mania among young males to turn their automobiles into earsplitting thumping boom boxes. Automania is an appropriate name for his business. I think it must help to be a maniac, or at least stoned, to appreciate such brainless noise. When I am wakened late at night by the sound of some deep dumb-ass bass sound in a passing automobile, I think “Mohronic.” There are reports that Automania was well represented at the now notorious Cruisefest.

So it was certainly not for noise pollution specialist Marty Mohr that a college dormitory was named Mohr Hall by Neal Hatcher. Then for whom? A plaque on the Mohr dorm explains that Ann Mohr, who I'm told is Marty Mohr's aunt, had graduated from the Portsmouth branch of Ohio University in 1971. So are we to believe the reason why one of Neal Hatcher’s dormitories is named Mohr Hall is that somebody who once lived on the site graduated from the Portsmouth branch of Ohio U. thirty-five years ago? Is that a historical event worthy of commemoration? But the honor, or flattery, of having a Neal Hatcher dormitory named after his family can not alone account for Mohr morphing from a reformer into a political tool of the over-privileged of Portsmouth.

“Follow the money” was the advice Deep Throat gave to Woodward and Bernstein, and I tried following it. Hatcher not only named a dormitory after the Mohrs, he paid them money for part of the land on which the dorm is located. How much money did Hatcher pay the Mohrs for their property? I was unable to find out because in the very knotty real estate relationship between Hatcher and the Mohr family, in which the city and Shawnee State acted not just as intermediaries but as pimps, the sale price was kept from public view. In inquiries I made at the Scioto County Courthouse, I learned that one of the advantages of the tax-free arrangement that Hatcher works out with the city in deals like the one he arranged with the Mohr family is that the sale price does not get recorded at the Scioto County auditor’s office. Hatcher can generously pay off or buy-off favored parties without publicly revealing how much he pays them. Hatcher cheats most people in what he ends up paying them for their property, but there are a selected few he pays very well. Harry Kyle pointed out at a 2002 city council meeting that Hatcher would pay $5000 for one lot and for a lot right next to it he would pay someone who was well-connected “six or seven or eight times that much.”

What would Hatcher have paid for the Mohr property if Marty Mohr had not been on the city council and therefore was not in a position to do his political bidding? Probably what he pays others who are not one of the Portsmouth’s over-privileged: as little as possible. So the M emblazoned above the entrance of the Mohr Hall dormitory could stand not only for Mohr but also for Money.

Mohr Hall, a student dormitory in Hatcherville

As quoted in the Community Common, Mohr interpreted his slim margin of victory in last Tuesday’s recall election as an endorsement to continue doing just what he has been doing. Lord, help us! The first thing Mohr says he is going to pursue is changing the rules for recalling public officials. “If you remove someone, there has to be a good reason,” Mohr told the Community Common (9 Nov. 2005). “Not just because you don’t like the way he ties his shoes.” There are those who are not convinced that Mohr knows how to tie his shoes, but it is not tying shoes but being buffoonish and contemptuous of concerned citizens who dare to come to council meetings that led a majority of voters in Ward 6 to recall him from office. It is not because of the way he ties his shoes that Mohr was censured and fined but for his Marty Mussolini-like behavior at council meetings.

Mohr had previously tried to change the rules that permitted citizens to speak before the council on items not on the agenda. That attempt to stifle free speech failed, and so should any attempt to change the rules on recall. As for the necessity of recall elections, especially for politicians like Bauer and Mohr, I will quote Marty Mohr himself, only substitute “years” for “several months.” “Now, after several months of continuing lies and deceit, yeah, it needs to be done. It needs to be done in the worst way.” In no way should a volatile individual of such limited moral and intellectual capacity as a Marty Mohr be allowed to serve for four years on the city council without the possibility of being recalled.

If anything should be changed, it is the four-year term for members of city council. Four years can be an eternity when those in public office are as incompetent as they are corrupt, as we are now discovering at the state and national level. At least at the national and state level, there are two parties to choose between in any given election. In Portsmouth, political differences are insignificant. Never mind Democrat and Republican, in Portsmouth there is just the party of the corrupt and incompetent and the party of the honest and competent, and Democrats and Republicans can be in either. Unfortunately, there aren’t many in the party of the honest and the competent. Fortunately – I will even go far as to say miraculously – there is somebody from the party of the honest and competent on the city council and his name is Robert Mollette. I say “miraculously” because a felon with a record as long as Randy Johnson’s arm was permitted, and perhaps even encouraged and abetted by city officials, to run against Mollette in 2004.

No one, not even those crack investigative reporters on the Prostitute Daily Times pointed out the criminal background of Mollette’s felonious opponent, Michael Malone, brother of city councilman David Malone. Mollette won the race against Michael Malone 693 to 692: 1385 votes were cast but one vote was all that separated them. I don’t believe in divine intervention, but that one vote that put Mollette ahead makes me wonder. They put up another recall candidate to run against Mollette in last Tuesday’s election. Mollette rolled over him by getting about 80% of votes cast, though those figures have not yet been certified. In the local race that mattered most, the race in Ward 3, which was even more important than the mayoral race, the people won, and they won by a huge margin.

So many "M"s: Mohr, Malone, Mussolini, Mollete. Maybe some day there will be a dormitory or public building in Portsmouth with an M that deserves to be on it, an M that stands for Mollette, a Portsmouth councilman who, wonder of wonders, is not in the pocket of the over-privileged.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


wms on steps
Mayoral Candidate Trent Williams

In his campaign literature, Trent Williams says, "I've always believed that I could make a difference. I have the vision, passion and personal commitment to make a positive impact on our community." That may be true, but I’ve heard more than one person say they are voting for Trent Williams because he is the lesser of two evils. Lee Scott’s position is there is only one evil person in the race and it’s Trent Williams. I also know a few conservatives who know Williams better than I do who say he will be no improvement over Bauer or Kalb. However, on the basis of what I’ve seen of Kalb, I have to strongly disagree with Lee Scott’s endorsement of him, but Scott was right about Tim Loper from the start, so he could turn out to be right about Williams. To help me and others who might not know much about Williams, I arranged to interview him at his office on the Thursday before the Nov. 8 election.

Interview of Trent Williams, 3 Nov. 2005

Q. The relatively few voters I’ve talked to about your candidacy are in general agreement that what concerns them about you is not whether you are honest and trustworthy but whether you have enough backbone, whether you will be strong and decisive enough for the job. How do you respond to those concerns?


A. Of course I don’t agree with that. I think I’ll be a strong mayor as I’ve been a strong auditor. However, I do think I know how they might have formed that opinion. And that is because – you know I’ve been auditor for six years and over that time – let’s say over the first four years – it was a struggle. It was a struggle being beat down by the mayor that was in office at that time, Mayor Bauer, on many different issues, as well as not having the support of the city council in simply trying to do my job . . . and it became sort of a popularity contest, or just an ongoing battle, that didn’t look like it would have a favorable outcome from [the office of the auditor’s] point of view . . . My proposals I would say would be overlooked or not taken seriously. It got to the point where anything I would try to say was done in vain and a feeling of “Why try anymore?” If [the city ] council is not going to consider the point of view I’m going to give them, it’s like I’m not effective because I’m having a boot put on me. It’s like, “Be quiet and do your job.”

Q. Could you be more specific?

A. Mayor Bauer and some members of council tried to downsize my office staff and outsource payrolling. My office was the only city office they tried to downsize, and they could do that because employees in the auditor’s office were not unionized. When unionized city employees got raises, employees in the auditor’s office did not. The employees later formed their own union, which gave them some job protection and raises like everybody else.

Q. Did you ever find a way to express your disappointment and frustration during that period, publicly?

A. As I said, I was much stronger in the beginning, but then I saw that approach wasn’t working, and I become a little bit ineffective over being swept under the rug and being taken advantage of. It used to seem to me that I was sitting in my chair against the other seven people sitting at the table. No one else out of the audience would agree with me or take my side on an issue. Therefore I was easily made to be frustrated by not being taken seriously. But what I think really built my confidence and helped me make a stronger stand for things was when people would actually support what I would say. And that came from an increased interest and an increased number of people that actually came to the city council meetings, and I didn’t feel like I was alone any more. I really appreciated the number of people who began coming to the city council meetings.

Q. So there was nobody on the city council or in the city government who you felt was an ally of yours during that period?

A. Exactly. I felt at that time because of so many issues that were being put against me and it was just a battle between my office and Mayor Bauer’s office and some members of the city council. There’s a long history of friction between the auditor’s office and city council. . . . I feel much more confident now that I have allies on the council – and it’s not so much a question of allies as support and interest of people there agreeing with things [I] point out.

Wms in office
Trent Williams answering my questions in his office


Q. Why should anyone vote for you rather than acting Mayor Kalb?

A. I feel I have a good reputation for honesty and integrity . . . and I feel people are somewhat comfortable with the job I’ve done [as auditor] for the last six years. I’ve been elected twice by a large margin – nearly 70% both times that I’ve won the election.

Q. In the mayoral primary, where did you finish?

A. Second. About a hundred votes behind Jim [Kalb]. And regarding that, with seven candidates, I felt that, or was hoping anyway, that the people who voted for Jim were voting for him and the rest were voting against him. I hope that’s the way it works out this time and that I pick up a lot of the votes for the other candidates in the primary.

Q. What has Kalb done or not done as mayor that you don’t agree with?

A. I think Kalb has tended to go along with some of the former administration’s policies instead of taking a step away from that administration’s philosophy. For example, the plan was for the former council and the former administration to go into the Marting’s building with a tax on the property owners for renovating the Marting’s building. That was the plan. (Of course, the referendum is now in place that will stop that.) And guess what? The plan of the current council and administration is also to continue the former administration’s plan – to continue to go in and renovate the Marting’s building and finance it through putting the same property tax on the back of the property taxpayers. Instead of looking first not at where we are going to put the building but looking for other alternatives, other ways, to pay for wherever and whatever we do. I’d like to see us look into grants and other types of taxes or fees that might replace putting the burden on the property taxpayer. I hope we’re able to bring in some type of mall or upscale retail development. And if we do bring that into the city of Portsmouth, which is one thing I really want to look into and pursue aggressively, we could look at making an agreement with the county government to get a share of the increased sales tax that would come from any retail development.


If the city government is going to bring in a retail development into the city of Portsmouth, I think it would be fair for the city to share – I don’t mean to take the entire 7% payoff that would be generated by that – but even a half percent or just something minimally to help offset a new or renovated building, that’s for sure. If you look around this place [the Municipal building] – and I’m sure you have – that could help offset and instead of putting it on the property taxpayer’s back, that [half-percent] could just come from the increased supplemental sales tax.

Q. Does the county get all of that 7 percent?

A. No. They get 1 and one-half percent, and 5 percent goes to the state. The other 1 and one-half percent goes – no, that would be 7, that would be 5 and 2.

Q. 5 percent to the city?

A. 5 percent to the county.

Q. I’m confused. 5 percent to the county?

A. [I] take that back. It was 7 and one-half percent, wasn’t it?

Q. I’m not sure.

A. Off the top of my head, it’s hard to remember. But now I remember. It was increased to 7 and one-half [percent] and with the state’s new budget they dropped that half percent. The additional 1 percent— OK, 6 percent goes to the state and 1 percent goes to the county. I believe that’s the formula right now.

Q. And the formula doesn’t include the city in that?

A. Not at all.

Q. And is that typical throughout Ohio?

A. Yes. Sales tax typically goes to the county, income tax is brought in by the city, and property tax – there’s a formula that splits up that between the county, city, and any villages, townships, and schools.


The editor of the Portsmouth Daily Times has called the upcoming referendum on the Marting’s building “ridiculous.” What is your view?

A. How can it be ridiculous if so many people are so divided on it? I may be wrong, but I think the majority [of voters] are not going to want to put in many millions of dollars – we’re talking in the 4, 5, 6, even 7 million dollar range. Are we going to take many millions of dollars to renovate a building, which we’re going to have high upkeep and maintenance on, or are we going to put a similar amount, or maybe even more, into a newly constructed building that taxpayers will be much more willing and happier to pay taxes for knowing they are paying for a new state-of-the-art investment that’s going to last for decades? I don’t agree [that the referendum on Marting’s] is ridiculous. . . . I want to see happen what the citizens of Portsmouth want to happen and what taxpayers are willing to pay for. And I think they don’t want to pay for the renovation of the Marting’s building. I think that’s been proven. The three recalls that we’ve had [of Mayor Bauer and councilwomen Sydnor and Caudill] I think were greatly related to those individuals’ support of renovating the Marting’s building. . . . I would like to see us, first, vigorously pursue some type of retail development for that building. That’s what I intend to do. I may be just dreaming a little here, but I think there can be interest, if we’re proactive, in pursuing the interest in the building. . . . That’s the primary first thing the building should be used for. If it eventually comes to where we can’t find a suitable tenant for the building, I think the taxpayers are going to be most happy with razing the building and putting in something that’s going to be suitable to our needs on that site.


Q. The real estate developer Neal Hatcher is one of the most controversial figures in Portsmouth. Do you have any criticisms of the city government’s relationship with Hatcher?

A. I think it was unfortunate that it was the city that had to do the deal. I’d like to have seen it just a deal between the college and Neal. I don’t understand why the city was forced to become involved with it. . . . I’m not against and am very much in favor of increasing the enrollment of Shawnee State University, which is one of the greatest assets in this community. And I think the dorms are beautiful, and I think that’s one of the reasons for the increase in enrollment for Shawnee State.

But two things I don’t agree with, in any case. One, as I said, is that if eminent domain was going to be used, it should have been a state institution, meaning Shawnee State, to use the power of eminent domain instead of forcing the city, or having the city become involved. And second, I don’t think eminent domain should be used for private development. Now, with that said, Neal is doing something. And I respect that. He’s trying to make improvements. But you have to play by the rules, and ultimately I think most people would agree that even though the buildings he is going to put up over there are going to be quite an asset to the town and to the university, you still can’t bypass the rules just because the ends justify the means.


Q. Is there anything that I haven’t touched on that you would like to say before we end this interview?

A. Yes. To expand on your earlier question, “Why should someone vote for Trent Willliams for mayor?” I think that I can help develop the trust in city government that is going to be required for us to do anything. What I mean by that is we don’t have now a level of trust between the administration and council and its constituents. And when there’s not that trust there, it tends to bring any little thing that’s done into question. What I would like to be able to help with is to kind of start over. See that things are done above-board, see that things are done openly, hopefully with input from citizens. As I said before, this is not about what I want. This is about what I think everyone in the city will benefit from. What I’ve been working on is developing an advisory panel of community members. . . . Leaders and just regular people . . . from all the key players that make up the development of the city, to come together, not necessarily on a monthly or strict schedule basis, but on an as-needed-basis, to advise me on the problems that we have in the city and what solutions are there to those problems and how can we achieve those solutions.


Another big problem, besides the trust issue, is that we have no plan. We have no direction right now. There’s nothing we can pick up and put in front of us and say, “This is the direction we’re hoping to go in and here’s how we’re going to get there.” We need a strategic plan and a marketing plan. . . . Right now I don’t think there’s any reason to look at Portsmouth, because there’s no one coming to you and saying why you should look at Portsmouth. . . . They are not going to come to us if twenty other cities are already hot on their tails to get them to come there. Why would they even look at us?


Q. Could you give me a rough idea of how much you’ve been able to put into your campaign?

A. Financially, you mean? I think it’s in the $5000 dollar range. . . .

Q. I know from experience, on the basis of the Bauer recall campaign, that the number of signs, and even the amount of money collected, is not necessarily the most important thing.

A. Exactly. . . . There was a lot more money put in the “Keep Bauer Campaign” than in the “Recall Bauer Campaign.” A tremendous, a vast difference. But the vote was what, 65% for recall?

Q. About that [it was 64%]. In looking over your campaign contributions, I notice $2500 from the Scioto County Republican Committee. Since you have about $5000 in contributions to this point, $2500 is a major donation, about half of what you’ve raised. My question is, in view of the putative non-partisan character of city elections, is such a large contribution unusual? Assuming Kalb is a Democrat, does he have a large contribution from a corresponding Democratic committee?

A. No, he doesn’t, not according to the latest records. But three unions have contributed somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500 dollars to Kalb. [Andrew Feight says four unions contributed a total of $2000 to Kalb’s campaign.] And the Scioto County Republican Committee has made $2,500 contributions to Republican candidates in the past, not just for me. I wish I had started fundraising earlier, and raised maybe $10,000 dollars, so the political contribution wouldn’t be such a substantial percentage. But I got a late start.

Q. Thank you for answering these questions.

Contributions Received for Trent Williams' campaign

Scioto County Republican Comm. >>>>>>>>>>>>>$2,500
Loan from unspecified source>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $1,240
Fundraising Event 10/13/05 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$515
Fundraising Event 10/15/05 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$225
DeSimone, Shane. Portsmouth. In-Kind >>>>>>>>>$250
Hempill, Barry. Portsmouth. In-Kind >>>>>>>>>>>$200
Sherman, Faye. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $200
Cade, Douglas E. Haverhill >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $100
Williams, Melvin D. Franklin Furnace >>>>>>>>>> $100
Wheeler, Saundra K. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>$100
McFarland, Lynn A. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>> $100
Lopez, Ronald, L. Portsmouth. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $100
Scott, Thomas A. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $100
Holsinger, Robert J. Wheelersburg >>>>>>>>>>>> $100
Knauff, Lisa. West Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$75
Chamberlin, Robert. Wheelersburg >>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
McNelly, Sharon. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
Duzan,Gary. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $50
Scott, Bridget L. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> $50
Trimble, Suzanne. Waverly >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
Singleton, Karnella. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
Sherman-Bias, Sally J. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>> $50
Wampler, Carol, L. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
Harcha, Rachel, A. Stout >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
Rodeheffer, Lynne, S. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
Reynolds, Klara, B. Lucasville >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50
Kegley, Lindsey, B. Portsmouth >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>$50