Saturday, May 26, 2007

Midsummer Madness

Look Deeper or Deep End?


         It is only the end of May, but it feels like mid-summer madness. The Chamber of Commerce has just awarded the Hatchers the Outstanding Citizen Award, Donnie R. Lee, the pastor who gave the invocation at the Portsmouth City Council meeting last April, has been busted for child pornography, and a computer virus who calls himself Look Deeper spoke at the last council meeting and allied himself with Chief of Police Horner and those other creatures of darkness who are trying their damnedest to remove councilman Bob Mollette from the City Council.
     If you fail to understand this, you fail to understand a fundamental fact of Portsmouth politics: Bob Mollette is the most serious obstacle to the continued control and corruption of this city by the Chamber of Commerce and its Frankenstein creation, the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership. As long as Mollette is on the city council, representing not just the Third Ward but also integrity and efficiency in government, he stands as an embarrassing reminder of what the present city government might be if it had a few more people who could not be bought. Mollette asks questions no other council member would dare ask. He digs deeper into issues and problems than any other council member is willing or able to do. Be sure to visit his website to see what I mean. His opposition to the city’s purchase of the Marting building, which has cost him and his wife Teresa many hours and potentially many thousands of dollars in legal fees, is one of most heroic civic acts of the last quarter of a century. His pressure on the city government to televise city council meetings is the only thing that gives us hope that the city government will stop blaming citizens for creating disturbances when it is members of the city council who create the disturbances by insulting and gaveling down any concerned citizen who dares to criticize any member of city government. At the present time, Bob Mollette is all that stands in the way of the complete control of the city government by the well-heeled con artists who have contempt for representative government and for the intelligence of the average citizen.
     Because Mollette represents all that is best in local government, the over-privileged are determined to drive him from office, an office he was elected to, and then they will appoint someone in his place who will do their bidding, like Howard Baughman, Jerrold Albrecht, and most recently Mike Mearan, who were all first appointed rather than elected to office. The over-privileged are using the media – the newspapers and station WNXT, and specifically disk jockey Steve Hayes – to campaign against Mollette. Since he as a public official is above reproach, attacks against him usually take the form of attacking his wife, Teresa, who is very active in the community and has created an extremely valuable and informative website,, which brings sunshine into the darkest depths of city government. It is Teresa Mollette, who obviously does not know what a woman’s place is, who serves as the surrogate Mollette for those who want to remove her husband from office.

Deja Vu
     The campaign against Bob Mollette should be put in a historical context, for this is not the first time the over-privileged of Portsmouth have found themselves in the unusual position of having someone on city council who dares to act as if he or she is not there to act on their behalf. Back in 1980, there was not one but three councilmen, Andrew Clausing, Mark Price, and Harold Daub, who dared to defy the over-privileged, who had the rest of the city council and the city manager, Barry Feldman, in their pocket. To remove the three councilmen from office, the Portsmouth Daily Times, the local radio stations, and the Chamber of Commerce conducted a campaign of vilification and intimidation that had support from almost every public agency in the community, including the school system. School children were enlisted in the unholy crusade to remove the three from office. The whole community was incited against the three, who were accused of standing maliciously in the way of progress by not agreeing to a proposed mall, which the three councilmen believed was a scam perpetrated against Portsmouth by the over-privileged, who had no intention of allowing any business competitors within city limits. (Just think of Neal Hatcher for the most recent example of the mall scam.) When it comes to the means that were employed – the rallies, the parades, the constant drumbeat in the media – the only parallels to the 1980 campaign against Clausing, Price, and Daub that I can think of are the witch trials in Salem and the Ku Klux Klan rallies that took place in most Southern and some Northern states, including Ohio, in the century following the Civil War. That one of people involved in the 1980 campaign was Jo Ann Aeh, whose husband had ties to the Ku Klux Klan, may be one of the things that brings that organization to mind. If there is one thing the Klan can do it’s organize a rally. Aeh got her start in Portsmouth politics in that 1980 Ku Klux Klan-like campaign and so did Ann Sydnor, both of whom have been on the public payroll ever since.
     One important difference between the 1980 campaign against the three councilmen and this one against Mollette is that the over-privileged no longer have the kind of monopoly over information and images that they once did. The Daily Times, the Community Common, and now the Scioto Voice still listen to their master’s voice, which is to say the Chamber of Commerce, but there are other voices now on other avenues of communication that were undreamed of back in 1980. There are blogs and chat rooms and email exchanges where concerned and, yes, angry citizens can express their views and where thousands of readers can find an alternative to the kiss-ass editorials and slanted stories of local newspapers. Times have changed. The Times is a shadow of its former self, and the radio stations are far less influential politically than they once were. Local telewannabe pastor Scott Rawlings says he is amazed at how many people read blogs and how much they believe what they read. When the alternative is reading and believing the kind of Taliban-like political nonsense Rawlings publishes in his newspaper, is it any surprise that the unbrainwashed would look elsewhere for information and ideas?
Deep End
     It remains to be seen where Look Deeper will end up, but right now he is smack dab in the middle of the madness, flailing and emailing, telephoning and jawboning, appearing at meetings to make disjointed charges of the plots against him and of the defamations of his character by his various enemies, but particularly by the Mollettes, though I don’t think Bob Mollette has ever said a word about him. I have heard that someone, not the Mollettes, has brought charges of harassment against him because of a flood of unwelcome phone calls and emails. I have also heard that Look Deeper is being encouraged in his attacks on the Mollettes by members of the city government. It is possible Look Deeper is getting aid and comfort from city officials, and that he is allying himself with Chief Horner in treating the Mollettes and others as “domestic terrorists.” But Look Deeper’s problems go deeper than that. When I first met him about four years ago, he already seemed to be handicapped by some personality disorder. I am not a psychiatrist, but my undergraduate minor was abnormal psychology and I worked while I was an undergraduate in a public and later in a private mental hospital as a psychiatric aide. I think I was able to see that Look Deeper was someone who had problems relating to people in a social context. He has a desperate need to connect to others, but because his computer skills are so much more developed than his social skills, he preferred to relate to others electronically, through emails and the internet, rather than interpersonally.
     He started a blog and urged people, including me, to read it, but it was a failure because very few found it interesting. Then he turned to chat rooms, where people relate to each other anonymously and often aggressively. He took the name Look Deeper, which was his parasitical capitalizing on Doug Deepe, a legendary name in local blogs. Not having been able to make a name for himself, he took advantage of a name that was well known, implying that he was even better at investigative reporting, looked deeper, than Doug Deepe. Being the squirrelly character that he is, at first he tried to keep his personal identity secret, but he was eventually outed and most people now know who he is, even if they wished they didn’t. People who do him the courtesy of exchanging emails with or talking to him discover that he delusionally hears only what he wants to hear and responds only to what he thinks he heard. He begins by flattering but ends up by infuriating people.
     His account in the long disjointed document he is currently widely circulating electronically of what took place at the May 12, 2007 meeting of the CCG is an example of one of his delusional renditions of reality. “On May 12th, I attended a CCG Meeting. The CCG President Robert Forrey expressed his views that he never wanted the CCG to be on the internet foruras [sic] in the first place. I assume for the very reasons I brought to this CCG meeting.” He assumed! In other words, he assumed I was as bonkers as he was on the subject of Teresa Mollette, who was working the night of the meeting so couldn’t defend herself. What I said at the meeting was that I thought the CCG Roundtable was a very useful forum, and I would hate to see it disappear, but that from the start I had been opposed to the CCG sponsoring any forum. He assumed my statement meant I agreed with him about Teresa Mollette.
     Look Deeper succeeded in disrupting the May 12 meeting by turning it into a compulsive tirade against Teresa Mollette, with whom he was obviously obsessed. Somewhat in exasperation, I told him that Teresa Mollette was not the problem: he was the problem because he was not letting us conduct our meeting. I decided afterwards that as long as I was acting president of the CCG that was the last CCG meeting he was going to disrupt. I am concerned not just about following the agenda of the meeting but about the safety of those who attend the meetings. Look Deeper is so much more disturbed than he was three of four years ago that I wonder what he’s going to be like in another three or four years, or even three or four months.
     Look Deeper has been called Look Creepier and Deep Shit, but I think of him as Deep End, for he is someone who has gone over the edge. How did he get there? He appears to be programmed, like a computer virus, to insinuate himself into social groups, primarily by electronic means, to create havoc. He doesn’t do it maliciously, because he really doesn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t see himself as a virus. He sees himself as a seer, as someone who has the spiritual gift of looking deeply into things. He’s the Dalai Lama of Moe’s Forum. But the cruel truth is he’s just another computer nut. Instead of engaging in constructive political action either in Portsmouth or Westerville, he sits on his ass, in another area code, far-far away, complaining about Doug Deepe, the Mollettes, and everyone else who has rejected his delusional take on reality.
     If Bob Mollette, simply by acting rationally and ethically, can drive some people bananas, think of what another councilman like him could add to city government. It begins to help me understand why, back in 1980, Portsmouth went berserk with the caskets and the parading school children and the denunciations from the press and pulpit when it had not one, not two, but three members of council who would not act like rubber stamps. As next November’s election draws near, watch for a flood of dirty tricks against some candidates, like the health hazard citation against Wayne Nichols. Above all, watch for ever more desperate attempts by the over-privileged and their political pawns to drive Bob Mollette from city government, using every weapon at their disposal, including a virus.

For more on Look Deeper, click here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rich White Trash Talk

Cat's-paw Catnapping?

As I approach my twentieth year of living in Portsmouth, I thought I had outlived the capacity to be shocked by what those who control this city politically will do to hold on to power, but the story that appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT), on primary election day (May 8) about Wayne Nichols, proved I still have something to learn. Wayne Nichols is a candidate for Portsmouth City Council from the Fourth Ward. He is also a recycler, or what used to be called a junk man. His alleged offense is that he has too much recyclable material on his premises, at 2018 8th St. The PDT reports that “The city first received a complaint of trash and vermin on Nichols’ property at 2018 Eighth St., beside Star Cleaners on March 6.”

Nichols' house: Is this a public health hazard?

The PDT article continues, “Inspectors visited Nichols’ house six days later and found recyclables [emphasis added], scrap wood, scrap metal, etc., in Nichols’s yard and on his porch.” Now notice, “the trash and vermin” someone complained to the city has morphed into recyclable material. The point is, one man’s trash is another man’s recyclable material. The Portsmouth Health Dept. subsequently gave Nichols a final deadline for cleaning up his premises. The deadline was May 8, which just happened to be the day of the primary election in which Nichols was a candidate. Is it just coincidental that Nichols had announced his candidacy for the council seat before March 6, when the complaint against him was made? Is it just a coincidence that the PDT published this story on election day, even though it had not reached Nichols to get his side of the story? Is it unfair to suspect that the PDT published this story on election day because it knows if it is going to continue good relations with the Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership it better continue to find ways to show it is grateful? (Remember what the Chamber of Commerce did when Rick Greene, a former editor of the PDT, did not toe the line?) What better way to show gratefulness than sabotaging whatever chance Nichols might have had of being elected than portraying him as the “White Trash Candidate.” Is it just a coincidence that, in unusual display of judicial activism, city health official Peggy Burton determined that Nichols’s last request for more time was an act of defiance? Is it unfair to suspect that a city official, such as a health inspector, especially in Portsmouth, might be acting politically in carrying out his or her responsibilities? Is it just a coincidence that the elderly councilman Nichols is running against is Jerrold Albrecht, who was appointed, not elected, to Portsmouth City Council, and who has been a cat's-paw for those who control the city, the same people who will do anything to see that he stays on the council?

John St.2027
Typical Hatcher property

Like Mayor Kalb, councilman Albrecht appears at times to take catnaps during council meetings. So, it is not surprising that Albrecht, waking up, occasionally appears confused about which way to vote, but his buddy councilman Mohr helpfully reminds him of how he is supposed to vote on any given issue. Because Albrecht is of advanced age, his chances of finishing a four-year term on council are probably less than fifty-fifty, although health experts say taking naps during the day is a good way to achieve longevity, so maybe the odds of him finishing a term are better than fifty-fifty. While no one would wish Mr. Albrecht to become incapacitated, the powers-that-be will be quite ready with another candidate for the city council to appoint as his replacement.

I am not taking a position on whether Nichols should or should not be on city council. I am not saying I would like to have him as a neighbor. I am saying he has every right to run for city council, but it appears the city and the PDT are working together to see that he doesn’t get elected. Nichols’ most serious offense, I believe, is not his procrastination in cleaning up his premises but rather his attending city council meetings and speaking up in those periods set aside for citizens to address the city council, periods that councilman Mohr has tried to restrict and do away with. Though he is disabled, a veteran, a homeowner, and someone concerned about the city, Nichols, in addition to being cast as “The White Trash Candidate,” probably qualifies as one of those “domestic terrorists” Police Chief Horner has warned against. And what is the fine for Nichols’ offense, which was serious enough to make the front page of the PDT? $25! That’s less than City Council President Howard Baughman was fined by the state for election violations. (Baughman, it should be remembered, like Albrecht, and like our First Ward councilman Mike Mearan, was originally appointed to the city council. That’s how some of our worst council members first get their foot in city council chambers, by being appointed by the rest of the city council, some of whom themselves were originally appointees. Appointed public officials are very prolific and reproduce like cockroaches. It’s a vicious cycle and it will probably continue until the current four-year term for council members is reduced to two.

Why was Nichols cited when Portsmouth has so many much worse houses that could be cited by the Health Dept. Most of the property Neal Hatcher acquires becomes condemnable if it already isn’t when he acquires it, and it just sits for years getting worse. It makes you wonder why Nichols gets a deadline of election day to clean up his property while those violators Bob Mollette has called the city’s attention to are ignored.

One of many houses Mollette asked action on

I think what this whole Nichols’ business amounts to is no more than Rich White Trash Talk on the part of the city and PDT.