Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ohio: The Blackeye State

Solicitor David Kuhn

Councilman Tim Loper

Ohio proudly calls itself the Buckeye State, but since 2000 Ohio has gained another more shameful reputation. As a result of widespread election fraud, Ohio now could be called the Blackeye State.

The electoral blackeye given to Ohio at the state level by Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and in Portsmouth by City Solicitor David Kuhn is not going to be improved by the Loper case, which I have written about before but which I have to write about again because it gets more convoluted and unbelievable with each passing week.

On April 28, 2006, Portsmouth Daily Times reporter Jeff Barron wrote, “Just when it looked like the residency status of Portsmouth City Councilman Tim Loper couldn't get any more confusing, it did.” Loper’s status is confusing only because City Solicitor David Kuhn, who has been advising Loper at every stage, has made it confusing, either because he can not understand the city charter and the state statutes, or because he is willfully misinterpreting them. With Kuhn, the question is whether he is more ethically or more intellectually challenged.

Timothy Loper and his wife Teresa were residents of Ward One in Portsmouth, where they lived for a number of years at 114 Madison St. A high school dropout, Loper made a sporadic living as a laborer. He had trouble paying bills and creditors brought him into court more than once. He also had a record of arrests for driving under the influence, for which he received a suspended jail sentence. In an interview with me in 2004, he complained about the lack of job opportunities in Portsmouth and about the city’s purchase of the Marting building.

Prior to 2004, Loper had no experience in politics. But in that year, prompted by the Marting scandal, or by his realization that an opportunity to get ahead had finally presented itself, he became involved in the recall movement. The city in 2002 had purchased the empty Marting’s department store from the Marting Foundation for almost $2 million, a sale that was later ruled invalid by Common Pleas judge Marshall. One of the city officials responsible for the purchase of the Marting building was city council woman Ann Sydnor, who represented Ward One. In June 2004, Loper ran against her in a special recall election and won by a slim margin. Feelings against her and other city officials ran high in Portsmouth. Almost immediately after being elected to the city council, Loper, the former reform candidate, turned into a supporter of the status quo. He supported repurchasing the Marting building and converting it into a new city building. On Marting’s and other issues, Loper showed he was in the pocket of the powers-that-be and that his running as a reformer had simply been the most convenient way to put himself in a position to sell himself to the over-privileged, who control the city.

But he did not know how to close the sale. Just because someone is willing to sell his soul at a devil's auction doesn’t mean the devil knows about all his debts. Even after he was elected, Loper’s finances were going from bad to worse. As a result of unpaid taxes and a failure to keep up with mortgage payments on his Madison St. house, a sheriff’s auction was held on August 17, 2004. Although Loper would later claim he moved out of Ward One in October, according to eye witnesses, neighbors, and sheriff’s records, 114 Madison was unoccupied the day it was sold, August 17, so just where Loper was living in Ward One until October he has not made clear. But even if he lived in Ward One until October, he moved out before the November 8, 2005 election.

At around the time Loper’s Madison St. house was sold at auction in August 2005, he and his wife moved to Pleasant St., in Ward Six. According to the city charter, when he moved to Ward Six, Loper lost his right to vote in Ward One. He not only lost his right to vote in Ward One, he also lost his right to continue to represent Ward One on the city council, because the charter states a councilman must live in the ward he represents.

Furthermore, and most importantly, when Loper moved out of Ward One, he lost any legal right to run for the Ward One seat in the November 8, 2005, election. But City Solicitor David Kuhn failed to make it clear that Loper had lost his voting rights in Ward One; Kuhn failed to make it clear Loper could not continue to represent Ward One on the city council; and Kuhn failed to make it clear that Loper could not run for the Ward One seat in the November election. What Kuhn did instead was to advise Loper how he could continue to vote in Ward One, how he could continue to represent Ward One on the city council, and how he could run for Ward One seat in the November election. Kuhn based his bad advice on a misreading of a state statute that says if an elected official temporarily moves out of the district that elected him but intends to return to his primary residence, then that district remains his legal residence. But Loper did not maintain his primary residence; 114 Madison was sold in August 2005. His subsequent attempt to claim that 519 ½ Third St. was his primary residence was an obvious attempt to remain qualified to continue to vote and run for office in Ward One.

A Kuhn's Age

As was shown in his sworn testimony at the Board of Elections hearing, neither Loper or his wife had ever lived in 519 ½ Third St. Even if Loper divorces his wife and moves back to Ward One, at 519 ½ Third St. or elsewhere, that does not change the fact that he was not living in Ward One when he was elected to the city council in Nov. 2005. Moving back to Ward One in 2006 does not retroactively change Loper's status in the fall of 2005. That was then, this is now, and the two are not the same, not even in a Kuhn's age.

Loper claimed that he rented 519 ½ Third St. as his primary residence from ex-convict, Ted Journey, although Journey was later quoted as saying he rented 519 ½ to Loper as an office, not a residence. Kuhn conducted an investigation, talked to Ted Journey (before Journey was arrested yet again, for running a one-stop chop and drug shop in Ward One) and concluded that 519 ½ Third was Loper’s legal residence. Kuhn continued to insist 519 ½ Third was Loper’s legal residence even after the Scioto County Board of Elections, which is made up of Democratic and Republican members, voted unanimously recently that Loper had lost his voting rights in Ward One when he moved to Ward Six.

On a couple of occasions, Loper has shown signs of common sense. After the Board of Election’s ruled against him, he came up to me afterwards and shook my hand, thanking me for filing my challenge. He seemed relieved that he no longer had to go on pretending that 519 ½ Third was his legal residence. His wife was probably even happier. He said after the Board hearing that he thinks his election in 2005 was invalid and should be held again. He would like to run again, presumably without Kuhn’s bad advice. But Kuhn continues to advise Loper badly and has persuaded him to continue maintaining the lie that 519 ½ Third is where he lives even though he is living with his wife in Ward Six. Kuhn has turned Loper’s personal as well as his political life into a farce. He has made a fool of Loper, which unfortunately is not too hard to do. Loper’s most recent claim that he is separated from his wife politically but not romantically, that she lives in Ward Six but that he lives in Ward One is like that Abbott and Costello routine, only it’s which Loper lives politically in Ward One and which Loper lives romantically in Ward Six?

Perhaps Loper readily allows himself to be manipulated by Kuhn because someone is now willing to assist him financially with renovating 519 Third St., which continues to be owned by the indicted Journey. Loper appears finally to be getting a payoff for his selling out, but just who is going to collect it? Journey's 519 Third St. house is turning into a money pit, but where is the money coming from and into whose pockets is it going?

Kuhn’s wrongheaded insistence that Loper legally holds Ward One residency has confounded observers, who cannot believe the city solicitor can be so dense. It is not so much that Kuhn is dense; it is that he is desperate, desperate because what the decision by Scioto County Board of Elections effectively means is not just that Loper had no right to vote in Ward One on Nov. 8, 2005: he also had no right to run for city council from Ward One on Nov. 8, 2005. When the courts eventually rule that the election for city council in Ward One in 2005 was invalid, Kuhn will be exposed as the incompetent and unethical city solicitor that many of us in Ward One have unhappily discovered him to be. What Kuhn and Loper have given Portsmouth and Ohio is not one, not two, but four black eyes. That's what happens in a Kuhn's Age.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Marting's: Portsmouth's Potemkin

Howard Baughman:
Caveat Emptor

“I thought we were talking about a wood-framed building. We're not. We're talking about a concrete structure.”
Mayor Kalb, quoted in the Portsmouth Daily Times, 4/22/06, on why he changed his mind about the Marting building.

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Mayor Kalb wants the city to move out of the Municipal Building because it’s falling down. Howard Baughman, now president of the Portsmouth City Council, testified that the reason the council rushed through the purchase of the Marting building, in 2002, was not because they were trying to pull a fast one on the public but because it was dangerous for city employees to work a day longer in the Municipal building. To quote his testimony in court, “it is important to get out of the building we’re now in because it’s unsafe and it’s not healthy for the workers that work there. And I believe it was important for that reason to do it as quickly as possible.”

As Mayor Kalb told myopic Times reporter Jeff Barron, as quoted above, the reason he was initially opposed to purchasing the Marting building was because he thought its frame was wood. If the mayor sounds like a doofus when it comes to structural engineering, remember his only previous experience was as produce manager at Kroger’s. You can’t expect somebody who knows a lot about celery and lettuce to also know the fine points of wooden and concrete structures.

Concrete Evidence

But wait a minute. If concrete is so good, how come the Municipal building is falling down? It’s not that old, compared to the Marting building. The Municipal building was built in 1934. The Marting building was built in 1883. That makes the Marting building 51 years older than the Municipal building. The concrete in the Marting building is 51 years older than the concrete in the Municipal building. Concrete technology had come a long way in the half century between 1883 and 1934. 1883 concrete was primitive compared to 1934 concrete. In fact, "concrete" may be a misnomer for the structure of the Marting building.
Structural engineers had learned how to strengthen poured concrete, to reinforce it and make it more resilient. But 1883 predates poured concrete; the foundation of the Marting building is brick and mortar, not poured concrete.

marting's chink

The photo above shows what's behind the walls in the interior of Marting's. The foundation of the building is brick and mortar, rather than poured concrete. This is what the "foundation" of the 124-year-old building looks like. This is what is behind the Potemkin facade of the Marting building. The moldy, unbreathable air around the brick and mortar foundation smells like it is 124 years old. An Egyptologist, who explores inside pyramids, not a structural engineer, is what Marting's needs. That this is the kind of foundation city officials want to construct a city building on, at a cost of many millions of taxpayer dollars, shows how ignorant they are of the past and how little regard they have for the future.

Marting's: Portsmouth's Potemkin Village

So how come the concrete Municipal building is allegedly falling down, and how come the Portsmouth U.S. Post office, which was built in 1935, just a year after the Municipal building, and in the same architectural style and with similar materials and technology, is not falling down? The answer is the federal government has kept up with the maintenance on the post office, while the city government has not kept up with the maintenance of the Municipal building.

The Municipal building is in poor condition because the city government has been neglecting it for some time. City officials deliberately let the building run down, and they frequently complained how dangerous it is. Why? For two reasons: first, it is no secret that a local developer is interested in building what he hopes will be a gambling casino on the site; and second allowing the building to deteriorate puts more pressure on the public to accept Marting’s as the “new” city building.

Municipal building: Future casino site?

Portsmouth’s culture of corruption, not structural engineering, provides the answer to why converting a 124-year-old department store is preferable to repairing a 72-year-old city building that was built as a city building. Just as facades have been used to hide the real age and condition of the Marting building, politicians who serve the interests of the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership, have erected other kinds of facades to hide the truth from the public.

Phantom Shoppers

The Marting building is a geriatric structure. It has had several face-lifts, but it is a very old building. The only reason it is on the verge of being converted, at great public expense, into a public building, is that an influential family, the Martings, and a clever lawyer, Clayton Johnson, who is married to a Marting relative, concocted a scheme to unload a worthless piece of retail property off on somebody else. First, they tried to unload it as a piece of retail property when everybody knew downtown Portsmouth had become a retail graveyard. To fool one prospective buyer, whom they stupidly assumed was even dumber than they were, Marting’s and city officials tried to make Marting’s look like a thriving business by having cars driving up and down Chillicothe St., and having shills with Marting’s shopping bags walking in and out of the department store. Instead of being ashamed of such deceitful and dishonest practices, those who perpetrated them have been bragging privately for several years. At the now notorious closed forum at the Welcome Center, on April 18th, Portsmouth City Council president Baughman proudly recalled the scam campaign of fake traffic and bogus shoppers that he had helped create. Teresa Mollette’s website has a video clip of Baughman’s boasting. “We had phantom shoppers, phantom drivers all the time he [the sucker] was here.” Should we be surprised that Portsmouth cannot attract new businesses when we have morally and intellectually challenged politicians like Baughman in charge of our economic future?

In amnesia-like testimony in common pleas court, Baughman was at least able to remember what his occupation was. When asked his employment history, he replied, “Basically, sales all my life.” He testified he was currently employed at Covert’s Furniture Store. Given his shameful role in the entire Marting mess, of his lying and deceitfulness, a sign should be posted in the window of Covert’s: “Caviat Emptor.” Let the Buyer Beware. If the public allows Baughman and his relative Clayton Johnson to get away with the Marting scam, they will have nobody to blame but themselves.

Village Idiot

Having failed to hoodwink somebody in the retail trade into buying Marting’s, Clayton Johnson, Baughman, and other city officials came up with a scheme to unload the building off on the public. Just as bogus “customers” walked and drove up Chillicothe St. to deceive a private buyer, politicians posing as public servants are appearing at so-called open and impartial forums to present the so-called “facts” about the Marting’s building. Marting’s and city officials are holding an open house at Marting’s today, April 23rd, and they are lying in their teeth claiming that they are acting impartially and just trying to present the facts to the public. In a famous if fictitious incident in imperial Russia, a local official named Potemkin, by means of phony building façades, created a phony village to impress the visiting empress. Council president Baughman is Portsmouth’s Potemkin, and the Marting’s building, with its several façades and its bogus shoppers, is Portsmouth’s Potemkin village. And what is Mayor Kalb? Have I mentioned village idiot?

They tore down the N&W, a treasure of rail,
To make way for a county jail!
Why, they’d tear down the Taj Mahal
If Hatcher wanted it for a mall.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Welcome Center


On 18 April 2006, President Bush appointed our former congressman Rob Portman to be the new head of Office of Management and Budget. Like Jimmy Dean sausages, Rob Portman is a product of Cincinnati, a city whose history is steeped in pork, a city whose nickname is Porkopolis. Appointing Portman, whose Portsmouth nickname is “Rob Porkman,” to head the Budget Office is like appointing Rush Limbaugh the Drug Czar or William Bennett the director of Gamblers Anonymous.

"It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Porkman!"

In a campaign stop in Portsmouth in September 2004, with Portman by his side, President Bush brought up the subject of the Visitor Center, or what was named the Welcome Center. Bush told a carefully screened audience that Portman had modestly urged him to mention the Welcome Center and take credit for it. But Bush told Portman, “Wait a minute, you did all the heavy lifting.” Always seeking to validate his macho credentials, Bush was casting a buddy he admires as a weightlifter. But Portman’s macho credentials were earned in kayaking. Mild mannered porktician by day, when Portman slips not into a phone booth but a kayak, he becomes Steve Canyon and Superman Marvel wrapped in one. In his younger days, he kayaked down the Rio Grande River and reportedly was the first westerner ever to paddle down the China’s Yangtze River. As a congressman, he kept a kayak in his office for those rare breaks from porking when he could slip away and paddle in the congressional pool.

On the same day Bush put Portman in charge of the budget, the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce held a forum at the Scioto County Welcome Center, a facility that would never have come into existence without the help of Portman, who steered U.S. Dept. of Agriculture pork its way. Portman is a political miracle maker who, with the waving of a magic bureaucratic wand, helped turn the urban-industrialized city of Portsmouth into a rural area that qualified for Dept. of Agriculture pork. To see the Portman-Portsmouth-Pork connection, check out the conservative blog Porkopolis: Rants on Pork-Barrel Spending. The Welcome Center is the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership’s new city hall. The Welcome Center, not the Portsmouth Municipal building, is where the important decisions will be made by the city’s unelected power brokers.

The Welcome Center should be called the Rob Portman Center. He personally delivered from Cincinnati to Portsmouth the government check that would turn out to be just a down payment on millions of pork dollars that would find their way into the Welcome Center. Portman could have mailed the check, but in an election season he wanted to be seen as the politician who was bringing home the bacon. He was not embarrassed at being the photogenic poster boy of pork, as the Superhero Republican politician who routinely spends millions of government dollars, rather than as an entrepreneur who creates jobs and generates profits in the private sector. Having worked in the private sector only briefly, and then as a lawyer, Portman knows much better how to spend the public’s money than to make his own. His wealth he inherited from his family’s business. Having impersonated Senator John Edwards and earlier Joseph Lieberman in mock presidential debates, Portman may now think he’s a Democrat. If he ever leaves politics, the 50-year-old Portman may become a lobbyist, as he was for a time in the administration of the senior Bush. But others see him as a candidate one day for governor of Ohio or president of the United States.

Because of the book-cooking that customarily covers up the true cost of pork projects in Portsmouth, it may be some time before we know exactly how many millions of pork dollars have gone into the Welcome Center. My requests for information have been ignored. I have been told by people in a better position to know than me that millions of public dollars have ended up in the Welcome Center, some of which was supposed to go for the underprivileged black youth of Portsmouth. Instead it went to over-privileged over-the-hill whites who dominate the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership. There is an adage, “Youth must be served,” but in Portsmouth we say, “The over-privileged must be served.” If the over-privileged have an empty house or department store on their hands, or if they need a bank loan or sweetheart appraisal or an abatement, or a new clubhouse, the over-privileged know who to call – the SOGP.

By observing how the pork game is played nationally and globally, Portsmouth’s police chief has learned how to play the pork game in Portsmouth. He tries to frighten citizens into voting for new taxes by citing statistics that show Portsmouth is one of the most crime-ridden communities in the nation. Of course, he doesn’t take any responsibility for Portsmouth’s high crime rate, blaming it on out-of-town drug dealers who don’t think twice, as he likes to say publicly, about shooting police in the head. From what I’ve heard, the thugs who shot the Melchers in the head had Portsmouth family ties. And Ted Journey, who was operating a one-stop oxycontin chop-shop within a couple of minutes walking distance of the police station and a one minute walk from the Welcome Center, is a local boy who had previously served a prison term for an automobile insurance scam. How long would his West End Auto have continued as a bee-hive of criminality if law enforcement agencies from other communities hadn’t blown the whistle?

The report in the Portsmouth Daily Times on the forum at the Welcome Center began, “Amid tight police security, the Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday presented a forum at the Scioto County Welcome Center on several issues facing voters on May 2.” The reporter, Jeff Barron, did not explain why there was “tight police security.” He didn’t need to, because the Daily Times had previously helped publicize Chief Horner’s incredible claim that the city government was threatened by a group of local “domestic terrorists.” Those so-called domestic terrorists were the excuse Horner used to impose tight security at the Welcome Center the night of the closed forum.

Hornermobile outside Welcome Center

Who are these domestic terrorists Horner has warned us against and who he was on high alert for at the Welcome Center on May 2? They’re us, that’s who, a couple of dozen people who have formed an organization called the Concerned Citizens of Portsmouth and Scioto County, or Concerned Citizens, for short. A disproportionate number of the Concerned Citizens are senior citizens. The average age of the president, the vice president (yours truly), and the treasurer of the Concerned Citizens is 70. This is not an organization supported by a foreign government; this is an organization supported by the U.S. government in the form of Medicare. Before resigning for reasons of health, the founding president of Concerned Citizens chaired meetings with a portable oxygen tank at his side. A number of senior Concerned Citizens have recently undergone surgery. There are as many hearing aids, canes, and sprained backs at a typical Concerned Citizens meeting as there are at a Hill View Christmas party. These are sexagenarians and septuagenarians whom the police chief has labeled domestic terrorists. These are the people he used as an excuse to impose the kind of security on the Welcome Center that you might expect at a meeting of the World Bank in a third world country. At Horner’s direction, the police would not let the Concerned Citizens distribute literature at the Welcome Center, claiming that it was private property. Private property? Had Superhero Rob Porkman worked a miracle? Had he turned pork into gold? Had he privatized the Welcome Center?

The connection between Portman and the Welcome Center, and between Portman and the closed forum that was held in the Welcome Center, offers insights into the changes that have taken place in the Republican Party in the last quarter century: the party of entrepreneurs has become the party of pork, the party of Free Enterprise has become the party of Free Lunch, the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has become the party of Abramoff and Delay, or to make the Ohio connection, the party of Taft and Ney.

Portman may turn out to be the great white unindicted hope of the Republican Party. Looking up into the clear blue sky over the Welcome Center on April 18, I imagined him streaking across America, in charge of our national budget. Think of the miracles our Superhero can perform as budget director, turning the USA into one consolidated pork project, into one huge Welcome Center.

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.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Let Me Lie in a House

The House by the Side of the Road

On April 5, 2006, responding to a formal challenge I had filed, the Scioto County Board of Elections determined that Timothy Loper had never lived at 519 or 519 ½ Third St. and voted unanimously to remove him from the list of qualified voters of the First Ward. City Solicitor David Kuhn, who appeared as a witness for Loper, had argued that though Loper had moved out of the First Ward, to Pleasant Ave., in the Sixth Ward, he intended to return, which Kuhn in his role as city solicitor had ruled was allowable by state law. Kuhn cited ORC 3503.02 (A), which states “That place shall be considered the residence of a person in which the person’s habitation is fixed and to which, whenever the person is absent, the person has the intention of returning.

What Kuhn failed to understand, or perhaps thought others might fail to understand, was that Loper’s fixed place of habitation in the First Ward was 114 Madison St., where he and his wife had lived for years. When that home was auctioned off by the sheriff on 17 August 2005, Loper and his wife lost their fixed place of habitation in the First Ward. The attempt by Loper to claim 519 or 519 ½ Third St. as his fixed place of habitation to which he intended to return was an obvious attempt to remain qualified to be councilman from the First Ward. But neither 519 or 519 ½ Third St. was ever his fixed place of habitation, so his declaration of his intention to return to it is a legal and logical absurdity. You can not return to live in a place you have never lived in.

519 1:2 3rd St
Loper Doesn't Lie Here Anymore

After the SCBE hearing, Loper announced contritely he would resign from the city council. Portsmouth Daily Times reporter Jeff Barron quoted Loper to that effect the next day, Thursday, 6 April 2005. But then the following day, Friday, 7 April 2005, Barron reported in the Daily Times that Loper had changed his mind and would not resign. Sounding peevish, Loper told Barron, “I'm not going to just walk away and let someone get appointed to Council.” No, not after all the lies and deception Loper had used to get the seat himself.

I believe Loper cannot resign from the city council. Just as he could not return to live in a house he had never lived in, he cannot resign from a city council that he was not legally a member of. The Nov. 2005 election for the First Ward seat was illegal because Loper was not a legal resident of the First Ward.

In those Nov. 2005 elections the state of Ohio gained national notoriety for “voting irregularities,” a euphemism for electoral fraud. We had our own little electoral “irregularities” down here in Portsmouth’s First Ward, where we suffer from constipated democracy. Portsmouth's irregularities can be traced not to Secretary of State Blackwell but to city solicitor Kuhn and to whomever else in city government is responsible for Loper’s name being on the ballot. The Scioto County Board of Elections determines who can vote. Somebody in the city government determines who can run for office. Let's not forget the case of Michael Malone.

The city should hold another election for the First Ward. I may be wrong, but there is not much likelihood of that happening with David Kuhn as city solicitor, for it was Kuhn whose flouting of the law made it possible for Loper to illegally run for and then illegally serve almost six months on the city council. Rather than chance an election, and who that might bring on to the city council, Kuhn will likely rule that the city council has the right to appoint Loper’s successor within thirty days, and if the council does not appoint someone, then Kuhn, city treasurer Williams, and council president Baughman will. The city charter calls for such a procedure, but it calls for it presumably for a legally elected council member. Loper’s residency and therefore his election were without legal foundation. Loper occupies his seat on the council illegally.

Steeped as Portsmouth is in corruption and criminality, who the hell cares whether Loper is on the city council illegally or not? City Solicitor Kuhn, City Clerk Aeh, and Chief Horner have more important things to do, like putting reform candidate Russell Cooper behind bars because (I think I am quoting Horner) of “a series of improprieties.

Members of the city council, who are trying to soak the taxpayers millions for the Marting building, will protest that having a special election for the First Ward will be a financial burden on the taxpayers. Jeff Barron will seek a comment from the adulterous Second Ward praying councilman David Malone, whom Barron regards as the voice of moral authority on the council. If Malone tells Barron we need cleaner streets, that is front-page news. Malone will probably tell Barron we must put an end to all this bickering over Loper and in the name of the Holy Spirit come together for the sake of the city. Perhaps Malone’s felonious brother Michael will make another appearance before the council to urge us not to criticize our city leaders, for without harmony there can be no “Prosperity for Portsmouth,” according to his Deeper Life philosophy.

As reported in the Daily Times on Friday, 7 April 2006, Loper realized, or somebody realized it for him, that his election to office in Nov. 2005 was illegal, so he has called for a new election. That is what Loper said on Friday, but what he might say on Saturday, Sunday, and, especially, on Monday, at the council meeting, may be something else.

I would not be surprised to see someone persuade him to resign so the council can handpick someone to their liking. But I hope Loper continues to call for a new election. I hope Kuhn realizes the political and financial costs of a new election will be less than the political and financial costs of a court case over the election. When Michael Malone came within one vote of becoming the Third Ward councilman, the city avoided a potential costly legal battle. Why had the city come so close to a costly legal battle? Apparently because Kuhn had not made it clear to Malone that as an ex-felon, he would probably not be able serve on the city council, even if he was elected.

Kuhn and those unelected privileged few who control the city will find the prospect of a court case involving Loper’s 2005 election to the city council unappealing. Loper’s landlord, whom Kuhn contacted prior to ruling Loper’s Third St. address legal, is Ted Journey, an ex-convict, who was arrested again a few weeks ago and charged with chopping up vehicles and dealing drugs at West End Auto, on Fourth St., in the First Ward. Imagine a court case in which Ted Journey, as Loper's landlord, might testify for Loper, as Kuhn did at the Board of Elections hearing.

At this point, it looks like it will be the city council who will appoint a new First Ward member. If the council does not act, then Kuhn & Co. will do the honors. They may even wait until November, when they could appoint Ann Sydnor, and we would be back where we were two years ago. The people of the First Ward should be allowed to elect a legal representative to the city council, but in our constipated democracy they will probably be denied that right.

Somebody has been pouring money into
to the Loper-Journey house of ill repute on Third St. in the last couple of weeks, probably in preparation for last Wednesday's Board of Election hearing. Since Loper is broke, where did the money for the installation for new windows come from? Somebody may have been investing in keeping Loper on council.

The Third St. house, or sty, reminds me of the of the poem “The House by Side of the Road,” a framed copy of which I picked up in a Maine antique barn years ago. Even further back than that, I went to an inspiring school in New Hampshire, where the house by the side of the road was located. I consider that school, that house, and that poem important influences on my development. It was perhaps the first and last time in my life that I found Christians who practiced what they preached.

I recall looking in the window of the house Samuel Walter Foss wrote the inspiring poem in, and now I have lived long enough to have looked through the dirty and broken windows (since replaced) of the Journey-Loper house on Third St. Could any two houses be more different! I will try to suggest those differences in the following doggerel:


Let me lie in a house by the side of the road,
When the pimps and the dealers go by;
Let me lie in a house on Third Street,
In the shade of Lute’s Supply;

Let me lie in the Municipal Building,
When political games are played;
Let me lie in the County Courthouse,
When voting challenges are made.

Let me lie in the
Daily Times building
When the journalistic prostitutes work;
Let me lie in the Visitors Center,
When the SOGP cuts up the pork.

Let me claim to live on Third Street,
But sleep each night on Pleasant,
Dreaming I'm First Ward councilman,
Lying to my heart’s content.

“It takes a heap of lying to make a house a home,” if I may misquote another poet, Robert Service.