Monday, April 28, 2008

Kalb's Confession

At the City Council meeting on August 9, 2004, acting Mayor Jim Kalb made a remarkable confession. He admitted publicly that the sale of the 125-year-old Marting building to the city had been a fraud. He admitted publicly that when the city purchased the Marting building the heating and air conditioning systems were in poor condition, and so was the roof, which was leaking. He confessed that the building had “major environmental conditions,” by which he meant asbestos. He confessed that the appraisal that the city had relied upon had been made by an unlicensed appraiser (Ken Rase) and that the figure Rase had come up with was three times the value another appraiser had made just three months earlier. The mayor of Portsmouth admitted what others would be scolded for saying, and yet what he said was ignored and forgotten. Naturally, you didn’t read about his remarkable confession in the Portsmouth Daily Times.

If Kalb confessed the sale of the Marting building was a fraud, why had he originally voted in favor of the purchase? He confessed that he had been misled and given “faulty information.” He confessed he been told the heating and air conditioning were in good condition, that the roof would last for years, that there were no “environmental problems.” Who gave him this “faulty information”? He confessed he had been misled by PFB Architects of Cincinnati, the engineering firm the city had hired to inspect the Marting building and estimate the costs of renovating it. He confessed employees of PFB had told him there were no problems. He confessed he learned of the true condition of the building only after the sale in a written report provided by PFB. He confessed what they had told him verbally was at variance with what they put in writing.

Kalb also confessed that he was the one to initiate the investigation of the purchase of the Marting building, but instead of telling him the results, the investigators kept him in the dark. “As the person that first asked the questions and now the Mayor of the City involved in the investigation,” he said, “I would of [sic] thought I should have been one of the first to know the results.” He confessed that instead of being one of the first to know, he was one of the last. He confessed that as of August 9, 2004, he had still not “received any papers or official word concerning the outcome of the investigation.” Kalb comes off in his own confession as a foolish dupe. When Kalb confesses to being a dupe, you are inclined to believe him. Kalb said that if he had known before the sale of the Marting building what he had learned afterwards, he probably would not have voted for it. If the voters of Portsmouth knew before they had elected Kalb mayor what they know now, they probably would not have voted for him.

After the Mollette lawsuit resulted in the nullification of the Marting purchase, Kalb turned right around and “negotiated” another deal with the Marting Foundation by which the city once again assumed ownership of and the headaches connected with the worthless Marting building. In spite of confessing he had been duped in the original acquisition of the Marting building, Kalb acquired it a second time. He was duped again. As it is written in Proverbs (26:11), “As a dog that returns to his vomit, so is a fool who repeats his folly.”

The Confession

What follows, word for word, is Kalb’s disorganized confession as recorded in the official minutes of the City Council. I added italics for emphasis.

Noting this to be his “final word” on the Marting’s building purchase, he [Mayor Kalb] stated everyone present to be aware that the State’s investigation into the purchase of the building is completed. He said it appears there is not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that merits any further investigation. The Mayor said if he had had all the information that is known today he would probably have voted differently at the time of the purchase. He said if he had known, at the time of his vote, that an appraisal had been done less than three months before the appraisal provided him and that a certified commercial appraiser did not do the appraisal provided to him, he might have voted differently. He said had he known the appraisal he was given, by someone not so licensed, was ten times the amount of the one by a licensed appraiser, just three months before, he might have voted differently. He noted there to have been discussions saying the two appraisals were done for different reasons or needs, but the fact is both appraisals list their respective figures as “fair market value,” saying he still has trouble understanding how the fair market value of a building open for business tripled in just three months for a building that was then empty. He said a need for a different appraisal after just three months, the tripled increase of the fair market value and the fact that he did not have an appraisal by a person licensed to do so, led him to question other aspects of the purchase for which he had voted. He questioned whether or not he was intentionally led to believe that the heating and air conditioning systems were sound and would be operating for many years, and was shown heating and cooling bills that were so low he felt he had to question them. He said he was told, that the systems was so great that he was told that Council should create a new position for the person who had maintained these systems so well, so that he could continue to do so. He said he was also led to believe that the roof would be good for years and that there were no major environmental problems that needed to be corrected. He said the engineering firm that the City hired verbally relayed these facts to him and he believed all of this until after the purchase was completed. He said soon after the completed purchase he received a written report contrary to what he had been told verbally. He said the report indicated it had been received prior to the completion of the purchase. He said all the facts he has stated to this point and the fact that so many educated people in the public were questioning the purchase led me to the point that I had to have some of these questions answered. He said to help him get these answers he forwarded his questions to the Chief of Police because he was told by the Solicitor that the Chief of Police is the person in charge of any investigations in the City. He noted that it has been repeatedly stated that he conspired with the Chief of Police to initiate this investigation in his quest for answers to coincide with the recall and to discredit Mayor Bauer. Stating that it has been said the Chief Horner was “out to get Bauer” because of plans for the Police Department to be in the basement of the new City building, he said, “If this were so, why would the Chief be willing to help me in my search for answers when I was also there to vote about the location of the Police Department.” In defense of the Chief, the Mayor said, “He did so because he took an oath and part of his duties is investigation of possible wrongful acts in the City.” He further stated that it has been said that he started this whole process because I wanted to be Mayor and because of the recall effort in place it was the ideal time to discredit the Mayor – have him recalled and assume his position.” The Mayor called these accusations “absolutely false” saying; “I spoke many times both publicly and privately against the recall. Mr. Scott will even verify that I told him privately that this recall was not a good thing for the City.” He said he supported and defended the purchase of the Marting's building up until the time a person came forward with information that perhaps he had based his decision to purchase the building, on faulty information. He said the information provided to him brought up questions, to which he needed answers, and that is when he went to the Chief of Police for help. He said he did not choose the time for the information to surface nor did he ask for an investigation just to arbitrarily discredit any individual organization. He said, “I took an oath as a Councilperson and to ignore this information would have been a violation of that oath.” He said he did what he had to do, as did all the individuals and agencies involved in the investigation. He stated the “bottom line” to be, “The investigation has run its course and there were no improprieties found.” He said he guessed that left him with one final question, which was, “Why were people on the street, the news media, local organizations and agencies all aware of the result of the investigation before me?” He stated, “As the person that first asked the questions and now the Mayor of the City involved in the investigation, I would of thought I should have been one of the first to know the results.” He said that he still has not received any papers or official word concerning the outcome of the investigation.

“As a dog that returns to his vomit, so is a fool who repeats his folly.”