Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Unholy Triangle:


Portsmouth sometimes seems trapped in a vicious cycle of crime and corruption. At least one survey revealed that Portsmouth is the second most crime-ridden city in Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch identified Portsmouth as the drug capital of Southern Ohio. By looking closely, we can see that the vicious cycle is made up, in turn, of a number of unholy triangles, such as the one above.

X, Y, and Z, in this triangle, represent three disreputable Portsmouth structures located within less than a half mile of each other.

X = the Municipal Building
, which is located on Second St. and houses, among others, the office of the mayor, the chief of police, and the city solicitor, David Kuhn, who has ruled that Timothy Loper had the right to run for and serve as the councilman of the First Ward, even though Loper had moved out of the First Ward after the sheriff, on 17 August 2005, auctioned off Loper’s Madison St. house for unpaid taxes.

When the Board of Elections ruled, on 5 April 2005, that Loper was not a legal resident of the First Ward, he announced contritely that he would resign from the city council. Since the city charter states council members must live in the ward they represent, he understood what the BOE decision obliged him to do. He has these rare fits of honesty that seem to surprise himself as much as anybody. Remember his declaration at a council meeting, in regard to the Marting building, that he had been played for a dummy long enough? Long enough? Oh, no, not nearly long enough. Like Pinocchio’s nose, Loper still had a long way to go. The day after he announced he would resign, Loper told a Daily Times reporter he would not give up his seat; he would appeal the BOE ruling. He was not done putting Portsmouth and his family through hell. He was not done listening to the likes of Marty Mohr and David Kuhn.

On Monday evening April 10 Loper showed up at the Municipal Building and took his seat in the council chambers, but following a point of order by Councilman Mollette, Kuhn, whose questionable legal opinions are causing havoc, Loper remains a member of the city council, pending his appeal. But Loper voting on any issue might have caused the results to be invalidated should Loper lose his appeal, as Mollette pointed out. Kuhn did not disagree with Mollette’s warning.

Presumably, Loper could have sat in his seat like a dummy, without taking part in the proceedings, or he might have taken a seat with the spectators, to keep abreast of what the council would do that evening, but he decided to leave. To protest the council’s reluctance to allow Loper to vote, Councilman Mohr asked to be excused. His request required four affirmative votes, but only three councilmen were in the affirmative. Mohr left anyway, like a sulking student striding out of a classroom. According to reporter Jeff Barron, as Mohr left, he said sarcastically to Councilman Mollette, “Good going, Bobby.” Mohr’s emotional development seems to lag behind his intellectual development. Intellectually, he has reached about the age of fifteen; emotionally, he’s about eleven. Instead of criticizing Mohr for his prepubescent behavior, and for his going AWOL, council president Baughman criticized those in the chamber who tittered at Mohr’s performance. But Mohr was not done. A ruckus reportedly occurred in the outside the Municipal Building when a cane wielding old codger supporter of Mohr’s berated Lee Scott. Council meetings have turned into a Three Stooges movie, with Mohr playing Moe.

Municipal Building

In part because the Municipal Building is located on land that could become valuable if legalized gambling comes to Portsmouth, the building has been allowed to deteriorate to justify tearing it down. We only have to compare the Municipal Building to the U.S. Post Office in Portsmouth, which was built about the same time and in the same style, to see what the Municipal Building might look like if it had not been persistently neglected.

Y = the West End Auto Shop,
which is less than ½ mile from the Municipal Building. On 22 March 2006, local and state law enforcement forces from Ohio and Kentucky, as well as from the FBI, raided West End Auto and found chop upped vehicles and drugs. Among those arrested was Loper’s landlord Ted Journey, the owner of West End Auto. Chief Horner was quoted in the media as saying the Portsmouth police had had the West End Auto under surveillance and were ready to pounce when other police agencies beat them to it. Perhaps if Chief Horner was not so devoted to harassing “domestic terrorists” and their subversive activities, such as trying to recall unpopular politicians, he would have been able to pounce earlier. On the May 2nd referendum, Horner is seeking an increase in taxes to make his losing war against drugs more high tech. But two old-fashioned, low-tech reliables, shoe leather and rubber tires, should have been enough for the chief to have long since eliminated the West End crime operation, which was going full-blast less than a half mile from the Municipal Building and police station.

West End Auto
West End Chop and Oxycontin Shop

Z = 519 and 519 ½ Third St.
In response to a formal challenge from Harald Daub, Kuhn conducted an investigation of Loper’s alleged First Ward residence on Third St. In the course of that investigation, Kuhn reported, he talked to Loper’s ex-convict landlord Ted Journey, who vouched for Loper but in a way that might have caused some other city solicitor to be suspicious. Journey said that Loper had rented 519 ½ Third St., an empty and unlivable former shoe repair shop, but as an “office,” not a residence. An office would not seem to qualify as a residence, but that is just one of the many holes in this unholy triangle that Kuhn did so much to help create. Kuhn is not so much a legal arbiter as an enabler. Willfully or dimly misinterpreting the Ohio Revised Code, Kuhn had ruled Loper was still a resident of the First Ward because it was Loper’s intention to return to his Third St. residence, which he claimed to be renovating at his own expense, in spite of having little money. But the Board of Elections ruled Loper had never lived at either 519 or 519 ½. Therefore. he could not be returning to live there, as state law required. You can’t return somewhere you have never been, except apparently in Portsmouth.

519 Third
519 Third St. Rear and side view

So X+Y+Z = Portsmouth's Bermuda triangle, where honesty, truth, and justice disappear, without a trace, like those chopped up vehicles at West End Auto.