Friday, August 15, 2008

Marting Scam: Stage Two

The by now notorious Marting building

On August 11, 2008, the corrupt Portsmouth City Council put the finishing touches on stage two of the plan to defraud the citizens by passing an ordinance that proposes to spend untold millions of dollars to renovate the 125-year-old empty Marting Department Store. The first stage of the City Council’s and then Mayor Bauer’s plan ended in failure when the Mollettes hired Attorney D. Joe Griffith and challenged the legality of the sale of the Marting Building to the city, and Judge Marshall ruled that sale invalid. Our current out-to-lunch mayor, Jim Kalb, and Councilman Marty Mohr turned right around and sold out the citizens by making another deal with the Marting Foundation in which the city once more took the worthless building off the hands of the Foundation and absolved them of any culpability for operating illegally in the original sale. The city further agreed to onerous conditions that had to be met before the city would get back any part of the $2,000,000 that the Foundation had taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers. The city recommitted itself to spending millions of dollars to turn the Marting Building into city offices.

Mearan and the Black Mold

The voters showed their disapproval of the plan to use the Marting Building for city offices by an almost three to one margin in the May 2006 election. That did not stop the City Council and Mayor Kalb from promptly proceeding with stage two of their plan. To facilitate stage two, a Portsmouth lawyer who in my opinion is a shyster, Mike Mearan, was appointed to the city council and then appointed to chair the City Building Committee, whose mission was to recommend what the courts and the voters had already rejected: turning the Marting Building into city offices. But Mearan’s coming on board had a big price tag for Portsmouth taxpayers, because he had a client, Dr. Singer, of Los Angeles, who owned a another piece of worthless property in downtown, the so-called Adelphia building, blighted with black mold, which he wanted to unload on the city. So instead of recommending one building for city offices, the City Building Committee, under Mearan’s chairmanship, recommended two buildings, making the project about as twice as costly as it had been the first time around.

The city proceeded illegally in the second stage as it had in the first. Mearan had an obvious conflict of interest in being a member of the City Building Committee, and his chairing of that committee made his conflict of interest blatant. Just as the meetings between the Marting Foundation and city officials had been a violation of Ohio’s Sunshine laws, Mearan’s voting on questions related to possible sites for city offices was a violation of provisions of the Portsmouth City Charter and of sections of the Ohio Revised Code regarding conflicts of interest. I have requested copies of minutes of City Building Committee meetings from the city clerk, the mayor and Mearan, but no minutes have been produced, apparently because they were not kept in the first place. The failure to keep minutes of Building Committee meetings was another apparent violation of state law that had occurred in stage two.

Adelphia Building: This Property is Condemned

Stage two of the Marting scam is even more illegal than the first, and more costly because of the addition of the Adelphia property (shown here) and putting the issue on the ballot next November does not change that fact. The voters have already rejected the Marting Building by a nearly 3 to1 margin. Who needs to render a judgment now are not the voters, who have already spoken, but the courts, as Judge Marshall did on stage one. It is the courts, now, who must make our ethically challenged city officials understand that just as a historic old rock cannot be stolen from Kentucky, old leaking moldy buildings cannot be unloaded on the taxpayers of Portsmouth.