Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Long Live the Blogosphere!


By working for responsible, open government, by being the publics watchdog, Third Ward councilman Bob Mollette has made himself a target for some city officials. He is as about as welcome in city government as a nun would be in a whorehouse. The campaign against Mollette was ratcheted up at the 3-12-07 council meeting when our imperious chief of police Charles Horner urged the City Council to “investigate Mollette’s conduct in and out of office,” according to the Daily Times. The source of Horner’s anger are the websites that the Mollettes, yours truly, and other local citizens maintain. Displaying the growing dictatorial tendencies that should give everyone cause for concern, Horner has in the past denounced websites as destructive and called those involved in the reform movement, “domestic terrorists.” The alleged “terrorists” are supposedly concentrated in the Concerned Citizens Group, a non-partisan group of mostly older citizens devoted to improving government in Portsmouth. The CCG has a website and a forum. Those sites too are on Horner’s hit list. And Moes Forum is probably near the top of Horner’s list.

Horner is trying to smear bloggers like the Mollettes and the CCG as a menace to the community. Like certain unscrupulous politicians in Washington, Horner is playing the terrorist card for everything it’s worth. Just as the Chinese government wants to crack down on dissent by controlling the blogosphere, Horner wants local courts to investigate and prosecute local bloggers. In an informative report by Jeff Barron in the Portsmouth Daily Times (3-14-07), Horner is quoted as saying “it’s up to the municipal court or the Scioto County Common Pleas Court to bring charges against anyone affiliated with the [web]sites.” If Horner was half as determined to shut down drug dealers as he is to shut down bloggers, Portsmouth would be a lot better off.

Bob Mollette’s website for the Third Ward could serve as a model for city and town council members throughout the state. The $50 a month the city pays Mollette for serving on city council has got to be one of the best bargains in Ohio. His wife Teresa’s website is an extraordinarily thorough and revealing repository of documents, reports and letters. When it comes to making local government transparent and opening up city council meetings to citizen scrutiny, as provided for under the provisions of Ohio’s Sunshine laws, the Mollettes are the Mr. and Mrs. Sunshine of Scioto County. One of the risks of living in a corrupt political environment like Portsmouth is losing faith in democracy. The Mollettes help me to maintain that faith.

I have before on River Vices expressed my opinion on why Horner is enraged and now appears to have a screw loose on the subject of local websites. It is because Doug Deepe (John Welton) revealed on his website a few years back that Horner’s son was arrested for drug activities and that any trace of that arrest was later expunged from court records. Horner has complained about his family being “crucified” by local websites, which I assume is a reference to Welton’s outing of his son’s drug history. In addition to that, Horner is infuriated by local websites criticizing him for exploiting the legitimate concern over crime and terrorism for his own political purposes.


Has he gone over the edge on Websites?

Even when one website links to another one, Horner takes this as proof of unethical, if not terrorist, activity. Of course our computer savvy chief of police and our MySpace disk jockey Steve Hayes know that anyone can put a link to another website, but they claim this is unethical internet behavior. What they are basically after, what all this website brouhaha is about can be stated simply: it is to remove Bob Mollette from the city council and replace him with a lapdawg, as is the custom in Portsmouth. Three council members were removed back in 1980, when the press and the local radio stations tightly controlled local news. Those days are over. Bloggers have broken up that monopoly. As long as the government doesn’t control the blogosphere, it can not control the news. As long as there are blogging watchdogs, the lapdawgs will whine. As long as there are websites that don't follow the SOGP party line, the sunshine can get through those clouds of lies. Long live the blogosphere!