Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Tale of Two Fires

Lee Scott Summoned

Here’s a sad coincidence. On Oct. 18, 2007, in the ancient market town of Neath, in Wales, a beloved music theatre, the Gwyn Hall, built in 1887, went up in flames. The roof collapsed and the stage was completely destroyed. The theatre had recently undergone a restoration costing about 8 million in U.S. dollars and was scheduled to reopen shortly as a community cultural and performing center. The Welsh town of about 50,000 inhabitants was extremely proud of the theatre and many people cherished memories of having been in the beautiful old brick building on one occasion or another. The building was insured and local officials promised that they would rebuild, using as much brick from the old building as possible.

A month after the Gwyn Hall fire, as we in Portsmouth know to our sorrow, the Columbia Theater, which had been restored by Lee Scott at a cost of millions of dollars and thousands of hours of labor of love by Lee, his son Eddie, and others, went up in flames about 3 AM, on November 11. The roof collapsed and the stage was completely destroyed, but the damage would be at least partially covered by insurance, and Scott promised to rebuild.

Those are the similarities, but there are important differences between the two theaters and the two fires. The town government of Neath had backed the restoration of Gwyn Hall from the start. Nobody raised objections to the costs of restoration. Almost everyone recognized that the theater was an architectural treasure that would play an important role in the economic revitalization of downtown Neath. In Portsmouth, because Scott was not part of the clique that controls the city economically and politically, the clique that has never served their time, every obstacle was put in the way of the restoration of the Columbia. I interviewed Scott for The Recall of Mayor Bauer, a video essay I put together in the summer of 2005. In that interview, conducted inside the Columbia, he described some of the roadblocks Mayor Bauer and the city government had thrown up to stop the restoration.

Columbia Interior

Wires Crossed

In a recent conversation I had with Scott, he said the city back in the Bauer administration had rejected the plans he had made for rewiring the theater. A city inspector insisted that Scott do the wiring another way, even though Scott believed the plans he had were safer and in closer compliance with state codes. Whether it was more of the same obstructionism he had faced from the start or just the typical incompetence of public employees, many of whom owed their jobs to political connections, the wiring plan Scott had been told he must follow may have been the indirect cause of the fire, which probably started in the electrical control room near the stage. The city government had been determined from the start to stop Scott from restoring the Columbia. A couple of years after Mayor Bauer and other city officials had been recalled from office, thanks in part to Scott’s campaigning, they may have succeeded, in absentia, in achieving their goal. The fire may have resulted from the wiring Scott did not want installed.

The arson verdict was apparently based on trained dogs sniffing some flammable residue in the wreckage. Scott said it’s too bad the dogs couldn’t speak, because maybe they could have said that the inflammable substance residue they were smelling was very old. Like from the age of the Hollywood wonder dog Rin-Tin-Tin. Unless someone confesses, it is hard to believe anybody could be convicted on the basis of the dogs’ noses. Rin-Tin-Tin, who romped across the screen at the Columbia in the 1920s, would no doubt have been able to catch the arsonist in the time it took to run a three-reeler, but Horner and his CSI crew are going to need more time than that, and then maybe no amount of time will be enough. Only 15 percent of arson cases result in an arrest, and the odds are probably less than that for our local constabulary. Remember how long the Journeys were running a chop-shop/oxycontin operation less than a mile from the Portsmouth Police Station. Only when other police in the tri-state area got involved was that operation put out of business.

I dropped by the Columbia around noon, on Tuesday, November 27, to take some photos of the devastated interior. As I walked from the parking lot behind the Columbia, I saw a couple of vintage pickups and a dumpster in back of the theater. About a half dozen men were working to remove debris from the theater and hauling it away in the pickups. Lee Scott and his son Eddie were two of those working hard on the clean-up. During the early stages of the restoration of the Columbia, I had a number of times witnessed the two of them working very hard. Among the things that make the two of them different in Portsmouth is that they are workaholics, a rare disorder among Portsmouth natives, especially among those employed in the public sector. If there was a Workaholics Anonymous chapter in Portsmouth, Scott and Eddie would be charter members. “Hi. My name is Scott and I’m a workaholic.” Of course, Scott is also an ex-convict and suspicions have been raised in the city, if not encouraged, that he is somehow responsible for the fire. In a bizarre rumor, it was even reported Lee’s lawyer wife had been arrested for arson.

In Neath, Wales, after an examination of the burned theatre, fire and police officials said they did not know the exact cause, but said they found nothing to make them believe it might have been set. In a striking contrast, Police Chief Horner was at the rear of the Columbia early Sunday morning gruffly warning people who got too close that they were at a crime scene and had better retreat if they did not want to get arrested. Every fire is a potential crime scene until the cause can be determined, but Horner acted as if he was guarding a crime scene, and that arson was the likely cause. I don’t remember any police guarding Ken Rase’s office after the fire there, a few years back, even though there was reason to think it might be related to the Marting scam. I think Horner’s behavior on the morning following the fire might be a clue to understanding what has transpired since. I am not implying Horner had anything to do with the fire, though there are those who would not put it past him. I think Horner is an even more unlikely suspect than Scott or his wife. What I am suggesting is that when state and federal officials got involved with the investigation, they were dealing with a local police chief who was already inclined, if not hell-bent, on getting this fire ruled arson.

Why would Chief Horner be so inclined? Because Horner, like President Bush and General Musharraf of Pakistan, uses fear and terror as a way of maintaining control politically. A ridiculous instance of this technique was his labeling as “domestic terrorists” those concerned citizens, the majority of them aged 50 to 80, who were active in working for the recall of elected officials. If people think there are terrorists and arsonists in their community, they are going to give presidents, generals, and police chiefs every benefit of the doubt. Recall that one of the things Horner did when Mayor Bauer was rumored to be close to firing him was to accuse Bauer of committing a criminal act in connection with the purchase of the Marting Building. Bauer was recalled as a result of the Marting scam, and Horner kept his job. But since competence is not the basis on which Horner’s tenure as chief rests, he has to keep people worrying about public enemies and playing on paranoia. The cross-dressing director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, was the master at this game, holding on to his job for 48 years, spanning eight different presidencies. He kept files on those politicians who had the authority to fire him.

Lee Scott has been a constant critic of the city government and of Horner in particular. Scott has accused Horner of trying to shake down downtown merchants by requiring them to pay $200 a month for extra protection. Councilman Mearan, who can certainly speak with authority on crime, was quoted in the Daily Times as saying about ten merchants, including himself, were paying $200 per month for an off-duty officer to patrol downtown. There is a name for such a scheme: it is called a protection racket. That a local merchant, Terry Ockerman, is being given credit for coming up with the scheme is no assurance that Horner had nothing to do with it, because that same carpetbagging Ockerman is a sidekick of Mayor Kalb, who generally does what Horner wants him to. And Horner wants to get Lee Scott, and the Columbia fire may provide the terrorist/arsonist angle he needs to work with.

I was inclined to suppose from the start that the fire was an accident. The odds alone favor such a supposition. The FBI report for Portsmouth showed among the many fires in 2005, just one them was ruled arson. The FBI did not publish any crime statistics for Portsmouth for 2006, arson or otherwise. Does that mean whoever is supposed to supply the crime statistics for Portsmouth failed to do so? Is that Horner’s way of cutting down on crime in Portsmouth, by not reporting it? In any event, arson is an uncommon occurrence in our otherwise crime-ridden city. The national arson rate is about half of what it was ten years ago, and over half of arsonists turn out to be juveniles.

Campaign of Harassment

The long campaign of harassment and intimidation against Scott has not stopped just because the Columbia burned down. Scott told me that the city has given him only thirty days to clear up the wreckage of the Columbia or it would be torn down. As much wreckage as there is in the Columbia, it seems it would require a little more than thirty days to clear out. Thirty days is what the city charter allows a property owner to repair a sidewalk, but the city granted Clayton Johnson sixty days to repair his. Johnson took his time in meeting the sixty day deadline, as I reported in a previous blog, but from what I could see on November 27, Lee and his small crew were working feverishly to meet the thirty-day deadline.

When I was leaving the Columbia on November 27, and heading toward my car in the parking lot, I saw a Portsmouth police officer approach Scott. He told Scott that the dumpster in back was in violation of a city ordinance. Scott told the officer he had called the mayor’s office the day before and learned he needed to give the city forty-hour notice before placing a dumpster. Scott said he offered to move the dumpster for forty hours, but he was told he didn’t need to do that. So he thought he had approval for the dumpster, but then the police officer appeared with the summons, which Scott holds in photo at the left. The officer said he was acting under orders from Horner. Whether or not Neal Hatcher notifies the city forty hours in advance for all the dumpsters he places on streets throughout the city, where they sometimes sit for ages, is beside the point, the point being that Scott said the mayor’s office gave the OK to his dumpster.

Meanwhile, over in Wales . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Hail, Columbia!"


Columbia Theater, c. 1916

In the first half of the 1900s, movies became the most popular and influential cultural medium in the United States. Thousands of movie theaters were built across the country, many of them as dream palaces, with ornate and lavish interiors. They provided a hardscrabble nation with a dream of glamour, romance, and adventure, and the ideals of success and equality. They were like secular churches where we all worshiped at the shrine of the American Dream.

In the last half the 1900s, restoring old movie theaters became a national cultural movement. To learn more about this preservation movement, look at Cinema Treasures, a non-profit website devoted to saving classic movie theaters. The site includes information about theater restorations, photographs, virtual tours, message boards, a chat room, and a listing of over 9200 hundred historic theaters. Portsmouth’s Columbia Theater should soon find a place on the Cinema Treasures website whose online address is http://www.cinematreasures.org/

Americans attended church at most once a week. But even relatively small towns had at least one enchanting movie theater where on average, two or three times a week, and especially on weekends, most of the town turned out to watch the steady stream of movies Hollywood produced. Those films were not considered works of art at the time, but neither were the plays of Shakespeare in Elizabethan England. Elizabethan plays were a popular form of entertainment that appealed to all social classes. But when Shakespeare wanted to write something his contemporaries considered high art, he wrote the long narrative poems about classical subjects – Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, and the sonnets. Elizabethan theater was the television of its time: it was a form of popular entertainment, not high art. The English-speaking world eventually recognized the value of Elizabethan plays, and the Hollywood films of the 1930s through the 1960s are now appreciated for their artistic merit.

The restoration of old theaters is partly a recognition of the artistic quality of the entertainment they provided to ordinary Americans, in a sumptuous setting, at relatively low cost. The heart and soul of a community is reflected in its art; it just takes time for a community to recognize what is, or was, art. We usually only really appreciate something valuable after we have lost it. The movies were a glorious art form in which Americans once excelled. In particular, the Hollywood musical of the 30s and 40s and 50s was a celebration of American grace, energy and inventiveness. Think of the teenagers Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland putting together a really great show on a shoestring and a prayer.

In 1908, the Forrest, Nickleton, Orpheum, and Arcana were the first movie theaters built in the Portsmouth area, and the Columbia, Airdome, and Pastime followed in 1910. What’s in a name? Columbia was an early poetic name for the United States. The Brits had “Hail, Britannia!” We borrowed, the tune, added new words, and had “Hail, Columbia!,” our first national anthem. The Columbia is the only old Portsmouth movie theater still standing, and therefore it is one of city’s most important architectural and cultural treasures, Beginning as a music hall, the Columbia featured stage performances and silent movies. Based on the name of the silent film on the marquee, The Prince Chap, the old photograph of the Columbia shown above can be dated to 1916. In the middle of the 1920s the Columbia’s stage was enlarged to accommodate vaudeville acts and larger orchestras. Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians orchestra was the second act booked after the mid-twenties expansion. In 1929 the Columbia installed the equipment for sound movies, the first of which was The Jazz Singer, with Al Jolson. An American idiom had come into its own; Americans were considered worthy of making movies about, in contrast to The Prince Chap, which was about upper-class English society.

Notre Dame Cathedral
The difference between seeing a movie in a palatial theater in the past and in a multiplex matchbox in the present is the difference between a sit-down meal in a first-class restaurant and fast food at McDonald’s. In theaters like the Columbia, movie-going was a social and aesthetic experience. In theaters such as the Laroy, which was built on Gay Street in 1926, the dazzling interiors had time to work their magic on the viewer’s imagination, even before the lights went down and the projector started rolling. In a country of immigrants and nativists, the movies were the shared experience that helped forge a national identity. In a recent tour of the Columbia, which is so much larger inside than you would think from its entrance, I experienced feelings similar to those I had over thirty years ago standing in the cavernous Notre Dame cathedral, in Paris. For someone of my generation, especially for those from the working class, movie palaces are like secular churches. This is where we fell in love with the American Dream, with Rita Hayworth, with the future, with life.

By various accounts, the Laroy, built for movie and stage productions, was the most impressive of Portsmouth’s theaters. It was torn down in 1973 to widen Gay Street. Imagine London tearing down the Globe to widen a street, as if progress was defined by the degree a society accommodates itself to vehicular traffic. All the other Portsmouth movie theaters, with the exception of the Columbia, have been demolished. The survival of the Columbia may have been a fluke. Because of the chronically depressed economy, it just didn’t pay to tear it down, even for another parking lot.

About three years ago, Lee Scott, a local entrepreneur, a very rare bird in Portsmouth, decided that he would rescue the Columbia from the wrecking ball and oblivion, but he soon found that he not only would not get any help from the city but that roadblocks would be thrown in his way. When Scott risked so much of his own time and money to restore the theater, the Chamber of Commerce locals must have thought he had a screw loose. How could anyone undertake such a project without a feeding tube connecting it to public funds? Didn’t he realize that the way to succeed in Portsmouth was to find a place for himself at the public trough?

In a letter he sent to all Portsmouth residents, dated June 14, 2004, then-mayor Bauer wrote, Scott “cannot obtain credit, financing or insurance for his renovation project as a result of decisions he made in his past.” Bauer spelled out what he meant by “decisions he made in the past” by calling Scott “a convicted felon who served multiple jail sentences for many crimes in the 1980s.”

The important difference between Scott and Bauer is not that Scott was convicted and Bauer was unindicted, or that Scott served his time and Bauer did not. The important difference between them is that Scott became a legitimate businessman and succeeded while Bauer was a failure, first in business and then politics. The reason Scott could not get credit, financing, or insurance was not that he was an ex-convict but that those who control the economy and city government of Portsmouth were determined that the renovation of the Columbia would fail. Scott is not done yet, and maybe the Columbia will fail, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I would bet the Columbia will rise again because he is extraordinarily persistent, as an entrepreneur should be.

In 2002, J. W. Kelley, a Portsmouth resident, wrote a letter to an online magazine Preservation. The heading of the letter was “An Ohio Town’s ‘Apathy.’” (Click on the link below to read the letter.)

Kelley included photographs of two historic architectural landmarks: one of them was the Columbia. Here is what Kelley wrote about it: “The level of apathy toward historic buildings here is pathetic. We have one of the few surviving Columbia theaters, built in 1911. You would think that one of our wealthy residents would want to preserve this piece of history. Wrong. After it closed in the 1980s, it was empty until a Columbus businessman bought it last year. He is fully restoring it, and plans to use it as a live-music venue, but no one—not the mayor, the city council, or any of the many wealthy residents of our area—is lifting a finger to help.” What to Mr. Kelley a few years ago appeared to be apathy today looks much more like antipathy. But I think we are going to have a Hollywood ending, and the bad guys, the unindicted, are not going to do in the good guy. I hope to see a historic old flick in the restored theater. Hail, Columbia!

(For the words and music of “Hail, Columbia!” click on the following link:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Election Reflections

  • Why did City Solicitor Kuhn lose to challenger Mike Jones by more than a 2 to 1 margin, in spite of outspending Jones by more than a 2 to 1 margin? Because Kuhn made many enemies in his twelve years in office, and apparently other enemies before that, as an attorney. So deep are feelings against Kuhn that several people I talked to said they voted early by absentee ballot because they wanted to be sure that if they died before the election they would have the satisfaction of knowing their votes would count against him. I heard of a ninety-year-old woman who was wheeled to the polls by her daughter for one reason: to vote against Kuhn. What might her grievance be? Those who united to defeat him worked tirelessly and creatively. For them, this was not a campaign; it was a crusade.
  • Some were not so much voting for Jones as against Kuhn. Jones will have the opportunity to prove he can do a good job as solicitor, but this election voters were taking him on faith because they had so little faith in Kuhn, who was the devil they knew.
  • Jones was surprised at the margin of his victory. What he didn’t realize is how many enemies Kuhn has made, how many people he has deeply offended with his hypocrisy and outraged by his incompetence. Jones said he had no animosity toward Kuhn, but many of those who voted Kuhn out of office did.
  • Now Bob Mollette will not be the lone voice of reason on the City Council, and he will not have to spend so much time trying to get the City Solicitor to do what he is supposed to do. After his defeat, Kuhn had no comment when contacted by the PDT. At least they were able to contact him, which was not always the case before the election.
  • A mild-mannered man who felt he had been wronged by Kuhn told me that if the solicitor were reelected to office he would no longer have any faith in the democratic process. Political campaigns, like marriages, are not made in heaven, and politicians unfortunately too often represent the worst in a community, while claiming to represent the best. It was ever thus, and all we can hope is that there will always be concerned citizens, however few in number, who have not lost all faith in government and who are willing to take on the rich and powerful, who are too often also the greedy and the dictatorial who control government.
  • The absence of Marty Mohr and the presence of Rich Noel, who replaces him as the Sixth Ward councilman, will mean an end to the snarling contentiousness that sometimes erupted into shouting matches and led to Council president Baughman banging his gavel. Noel will never call citizens who show up at council meetings “crap” nor will he be quick to get into testosterone contests with young bucks. When the octogenarian Noel told the PDT he had “been there and done that,” he meant he had more important things to do on city council than flex his muscles. Noel will not try to restrict the rights of citizens to address the council. He will not flip-flop on Marting’s, as Mohr did. Noel is like a redwood, old in years but strong in stature. He’s seen the fire and he’s seen the rain, and he’s still standing. He’s seen them come and he’s seen them go, the successive generations of politicians who have stuck it to the city, the generations of businessmen who were willing to do everything they could for Portsmouth except let in some competition.
  • Bob Mollette will not be alone anymore. We will have fewer five to one votes. But we are not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. Kalb is still mayor. Baughman is still president of City Council. The Second and Fifth Wards are still represented by the rubber stamps Malone and Albrecht. (Malone, of course, represents not the Second Ward but Neal Hatcher.) The First Ward still has to bear the ignominy of being represented by “appointee” Mike Mearan, minus his purse-snatching stenographer Heather Hren. Horner is still Chief of Police, denouncing concerned citizens as “domestic terrorists.” Larry Justice is still City Engineer, marking up the sidewalks of those who criticize city government. Mark Kuhn is still County Solicitor, even if he can no longer team up with his uncle to frustrate justice. The local economy is still controlled by the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership. The Portsmouth Daily Times is still the house organ of the Chamber of Commerce. Real estate predator Neal Hatcher is still giving people the finger. And businesses on Chillicothe street are still closing a year after the Bridge to Nowhere was supposed to begin reviving downtown Portsmouth. Council meetings are still not televised because our corrupt politicians don’t want the public to witness American Idle.
  • Ministers who dabble in child pornography are still invited to council to give the benediction. And the leak in the council chamber ceiling is allowed to get worse to justify spending $12 million on a new municipal building in the left armpit of Portsmouth, in the shadow of the Osco factory.
  • But at least this election has made the city government a little less corrupt than it was. They haven’t yet succeeded in shoving the Marting building down the throat of the public, though Kalb is still trying, trying, trying. They can’t get away with what they could fifty years ago, before the internet, blogs, chatrooms, cell phones, texting, and alternative newspapers. Citizens continue to crowd council meetings and ask probing questions, something they had not done before the Marting Scam. Despite disappointments, this is an election to be thankful for, and to be thankful for those few who fought the good fight for a long time, against greater odds. If they are not with us in body, they are with us in spirit, providing us with an example to follow. They survive somewhere in the Blogosphere.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Last Minute Lies

As the hours dwindle down to election day, the river of lies coming from incumbent politicians threatens to overflow the floodwall of truth. The incumbents have the financial backing to buy newspaper space and radio time to make last minute claims that there is not enough time to refute. Teresa Mollette has analyzed a claim by Solicitor Kuhn and shown it to be preposterous. She reports that Kuhn claims to have prosecuted over 13,000 criminals in 2006. That averages out to the prosecution of 54 criminals a day. Of course, Portsmouth does have a high crime rate for a city its size and has lots of criminals, including the un-indicted ones who control the city. But that Kuhn prosecuted 54 criminals each workday is hard to believe, given the limited amount of time his usual workday consists of.

Kuhn is living an elaborate lie right to the conclusion of his campaign, pretending to be someone other than who he really is. His current campaign charade is designed to hide his dishonesty and incompetency and to hide the fact that he puts about as much stock in the oath of office as he does in the marriage vow. A number of Republicans know what he is like in his political and private life and are not going to vote for him. But less sophisticated voters who are being bombarded by billboards, radio ads, and mail flyers may be taken in by his lies. If money buys elections, Kuhn has purchased himself, or his replacement, four more years in office.

Malone Takes the Cake

But it is Second Ward councilman David Malone who takes the cake when it comes to hypocrisy. This so-called man of god stood on the steps of the Municipal Building in June of 2005, denouncing the nameless forces of evil that were hovering over Portsmouth. He didn’t name them, of course, because he is the adulterous tool of the crooks who control Portsmouth and in particular of real-estate predator Neal Hatcher. So why would he name them? I captured on tape Malone’s performance, as well as his wife parading at the foot the stairs talking in tongues in a documentary Recall, which is available at the Portsmouth Public Library and the Shawnee State library.

This hypocritical minister of the gospel was not only betraying the people of Portsmouth on the City Council, he was also carrying on an affair with a female employee of the Portsmouth Municipal Housing Authority, the same public agency where his wife works. Underemployed males who have trouble finding real jobs find it helps to have wives who work for in the public sector. There is an adage “Don’t get involved sexually with people you work with.” It needs to be amended for Rev. Malone: “Don’t get involved sexually with people your wife works with in the public sector, not unless you want to jeopardize your main source of income.” His affair, or affairs, is not only a violation of a Commandment of the religious faith Malone claims to believe in, it is also not good for family values, any more than it is good for family values for a so-called moral crusader and gay-bashing senator like Larry Craig, of Idaho, to go cruising in men’s rooms for sex. Just as the hypocritical Craig, the cruiser of men’s rooms, stood in the Senate and denounced homosexuals, Malone stood on the steps of city hall and denounced the nameless evil-doers of Portsmouth, at the same time that as councilman he was serving the interests of the nameless evil doers.

Malone’s last-minute letter-to-the-editor that appeared in the PDT on 3 Nov. 2007, was another lie because Malone did not write it, any more than Timothy Loper wrote the letters-to-the-editor that have appeared in the PDT in the last year. Loper’s last letter was a lofty pronouncement on the evils of drinking and driving, something he can speak with authority on given his record for drunk driving. The way people write is almost as unique as fingerprints. Malone, like Loper, has an individual style of writing, if “style” is interpreted very loosely. I have read Malone’s writing. Loper is barely literate; Malone is literate, but he writes in tongues. Malone is a tool of those who control the city, and he will vote as they wish. He will also write as they dictate, literally. I know what Malone writes like. Just as most people can tell one voice from another, someone who has taught composition for forty years, fifteen of them in Portsmouth, can tell when someone tries to pass off as their own letters that were written, or dictated by someone else. And the Portsmouth Daily Times will publish them two days before the election, giving them, or the crooks they work for, the last word.

The Predator and the Preacher

Malone is especially useful to Hatcher. Malone signs are visible on Hatcher’s empty lots throughout the city. But Malone alone, of all the incumbents, has the privilege of having his campaign signs on Hatcher’s mansion-office on Gay St. I recall the City Council Meeting at which Hatcher showed up with some smoke-and-mirror architectural designs for the renovation of the so-called Adelphia building. Malone’s wife was there to help Hatcher display the designs, presumably on a volunteer basis, for certainly an employee of the Portsmouth Municipal Housing Authority would not be assigned to help Hatcher promote the Adelphia building scam. Would she?

“How dare he even attempt to question the integrity and legitimacy of my livelihood!” Malone said that about Lee Scott’s disparaging of his professional qualifications to be a minister or his limitations as a breadwinner. If you believe Malone wrote the sentence, “How dare he even attempt to question the integrity and legitimacy of my livelihood!” you probably believe that our dyslexic president actually writes his speeches. The only person I can think of who would sound right uttering that sentence would be the late actress Betty Davis. Look at it once more: “How dare he even attempt to question the integrity and legitimacy of my livelihood!” Oh, the moral outrage, the indignation, and this from our hypocritical adulterous councilman who carried on with a woman who not only worked with his wife at the PMHA but was also a member of his congregation. The truth is Malone’s wife is the breadwinner in the family; Malone is the sinner. If she speaks in tongues, he lies in tongues.

Malone wrote that “Scott’s comment on the idea I would be in favor of an income-tax increase really is not an issue.” It is not an issue that a member of City Council is in favor of raising income taxes and said so at a public forum that was reported on in the Daily Times? That is not an issue? Whoever wrote the letter tries to cover up for Malone by saying it is not relevant. Malone’s statement to the League of Women forum was one of those statements that Malone sometimes makes when he has to speak in public without a prepared script and then tries to deny afterwards.

By far the most biggest lie Malone wrote in his letter, or somebody wrote for him, is in regard to the Marting Scam. After saying he had not been in favor of the purchase of the Marting building, Malone, or his letter writer, wrote: “But the other party involved in the deal came back to the city and said, ‘OK, let us make it right. We will give you another $500,000 for the pain and suffering caused you.’ Believe me, any successful corporation, intelligent businessman or the common citizen would accept that offer.” Doesn’t Malone, or Hatcher or Kuhn or whoever wrote his letter understand there are minutes of the Council meetings and that no one representing “the other party involved,” to use his euphemism, ever came back and said anything about making up for “the pain and suffering we have caused you”? What the so-called “other party,” that is Clayton Johnson, actually did was stick it to the city and the taxpayers a second time and got a full pardon for any crimes the Marting Foundation may have committed the first time around. The “other party,” that is Clayton Johnson, is not giving anybody anything. That money was stolen from the taxpayers, and then when the sale was invalidated by the courts, the other party set up a number of conditions by which the city could get some of the money back. Why didn’t “the other party” simply give back all the money he had stolen? Attorney Bender, representing “the other party,” came before the Council and said one of the reasons the Marting Foundation would not give the money back was because the city government could not be trusted with it. And with councilmen as clueless as David Malone, who is to say Bender was not right. Not having done his homework or attended the rump meeting that takes place prior to the regular meeting, Malone comes to some Council meetings unsure of how he is supposed to vote. He waits to see how Marty Mohr or Howard Baughman vote. And if Hatcher has his way, this is the councilman who will be representing the Second Ward for another four years.