Thursday, July 10, 2008

American Dreams, American Nightmares

I began to hear early on that I was risking my life by criticizing the over-privileged who control Portsmouth. I heard more than once, usually jokingly, but sometimes seriously, “They’re going to take a contract out on you.” Contract? Portsmouth is not a town where people take risks, especially not in business. Just look at the contracts a local developer has with Shawnee State University for student housing. For the over-privileged few, almost all the risk has been wrung out of doing business in Portsmouth. They are born with abatements in their mouths. I doubt anyone would take a contract out on me or others unless they got some kind of government assistance. Unless Rob Portman finds some more pork in the budget of the Dept. of Agriculture, it ain’t going to happen. I don’t think they’re going to risk their own money to get rid of anybody. I don’t think our local wannabees are going to engage in such high risk business as knocking people off. However, I would be very worried about being murdered if I were a drug-addicted pregnant prostitute in Portsmouth.

I grew up in a Boston suburb that was known as the Crime Capital of New England, where gangsters occasionally rubbed each other out to gain a competitive advantage. After getting to know more about the low lifes of Portsmouth, I have gained some respect for the hoodlums of my boyhood. They were professionals, not amateurs. They were entrepreneurs, not sponges. They didn’t pose as philanthropists while picking the pockets of the people. They weren’t hypocrites who fed on government pork while spouting the myth of free enterprise. They didn’t have a city building committee that conspired to unload worthless buildings on the public. They didn’t have a city building committee with a drug-addicted employee of Mike Mearan as stenographer, a twenty-four-year-old woman who subsequently got arrested for transporting drugs from Columbus to Portsmouth. Not long after that, she was arrested for purse snatching in the parking lot of the local supermarket, and as a result ended up in the Franklin County jail. The gangsters in my hometown didn’t control the local newspaper and get a veteran reporter fired for daring to report that an arrested drug dealer happened to be employed by the largest car dealer in the city. They didn’t keep the news of a robbery at knife point at a local supermarket out of the local newspaper because the newspaper depended for its survival on the advertising revenue from the supermarket, which probably didn’t want customers to get the idea shopping there could be dangerous. I have been told that when the Daily Times reported on Heather Hren’s purse snatching it was not specified that the parking lot where it had occurred was Kroger’s.


As my readers in Portsmouth might know, because the Portsmouth Daily Times reported it on the front page, local lawyer and First Ward councilman Michael Hugh Mearan is suing me for $125,000 for libel for expressing my opinion that he is a “shyster.” Merriam-Wesbster defines a “shyster” as “a person who is professionally unscrupulous especially in the practice of law or politics.” Since Mearan is both a lawyer and a politician, I can’t think of a better word for him. In my opinion, Mearan is a shyster. My previous posting, “Mearan’s Conflict of Interest,” gives a detailed account of why I believe he is a shyster.

Shyster is derived from the German word scheisser, which means defecator or shitter. Shyster may sound like a Yiddish word, but it isn’t. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, where I learned The Joys of Yiddish. Growing up, I sometimes heard kucker, which is the Yiddish word for shit head, but it is not my opinion that Mearan is a kucker. It is my opinion he’s a shyster. I have a constitutional right to express my opinion of people in public life. I live in the First Ward, making Mearan my councilman, and I think I have a right to express my opinion of him.

Disastrous Decision

I believe Mearan’s suit against me is the first step in his attempt to silence his critics in the blogosphere. I am not the only blogger criticizing Mearan. Portsmouth’s dean of the blogosphere is Austin Leedom, a 75-year-old veteran of the Korean War and a former deputy sheriff. Mearan recently sent Leedom a certified letter, of the kind he previously had sent me, warning he will take legal action against Leedom unless he publicly retracts criticism of Mearan’s mishandling of the legal problems of Mrs. Karol Craft a 69-year-old widow who had the misfortune to find herself being represented by Mearan. The Disciplinary Counsel of the Ohio Supreme Court determined that Mearan had not broken the law in representing Mrs. Craft, but the counsel informed Mrs. Craft’s son that it was (emphasis added) “a disastrous decision for Attorney Mearan to encourage Mr. [Joe] Lester to contract with you . . .” Tell me, what recourse does a client have when her lawyer gives her “disastrous” advice that results in the loss of her home? For many Americans, owning a home is the fulfillment of the American Dream and losing that home is often a nightmare. We have to go back to the novels of Horatio Alger, the creator of the rags-to-riches version of the American Dream, who was born in my hometown, in 1832, to find a more blatant example of a poor old widow living the nightmare of being bamboozled out of the family homestead. As a result of that “contract” with Lester, Mrs. Craft lost the house when she couldn’t repay the loan and the 33% interest she was being charged. “When the young man [Craft’s son] and his mother couldn’t come up with the money [to repay the loan],” John Welton wrote in the Sentinel, “attorney Mearan moved in for the kill and took over the house.” (Do a Google search using the names “Mearan Welton” and you will see what John Welton, aka as Doug Deepe, has written about Mearan.) The value placed on Mrs. Craft’s house in her dealings with Mearan was $5,700. Joe Lester claimed he made the loan to Mrs. Craft only under persistent pressure from Mearan, his former business partner. Mrs. Craft’s property was reportedly worth around $50,000 at the time. Currently owned by the church next door, the property is valued on the county auditor’s website at $60,550. But when I recently drove out to Wheelersburg, to 1555 Dogwood Ridge Rd., I discovered that the house has been bulldozed and there is nothing but an empty lot. Development is taking place in the area, so the true value of the land is possibly considerably more. Maybe it could even be described as “prime real estate,” which is what our doofus Mayor has called the site of the present Municipal Building.


I confess to being mystified at why Mearan would decide to take anyone to court on the issue of his reputation. It strikes me as a disastrously unwise decision. To hold all the people who could testify to Mearan’s reputation, the court would have to convene in Spartan Stadium. In my opinion, the only word that does justice to this situation, in which American dreams have turned into American nightmares, is meshuge.


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For background on Mearan's "disastrous" treatment of his client Karol Craft, go to Teresa Mollette's informative website:

I have created an email account for those who might want to contact me about this case.