Thursday, September 25, 2008


With the possible exception of Portsmouth’s Mayor Jim Kalb, almost everyone agrees that the United States faces the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression. In a special televised address to the nation (9/24/08), President Bush warned “our entire economy is in danger.” The extraordinary crisis led John McCain to call a halt to his campaign for the presidency and to cancel a debate with Barack Obama.

With the possible exception of Mayor Kalb, almost everyone agrees Ohio also faces the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The Buckeye state faces a reported projected deficit of $540 million this year, leading Governor Strickland to call for massive cuts in Ohio’s budget, starting with programs for the poor. “The state agency that administers programs for poor families is cutting almost $80 million from its budget,” the New York Times reported in an article “Ohio: Programs for Poor Faced Millions in Budget Cuts,” (9/25/08). Governor Strickland announced universities would have to cut back budgets drastically, including Portsmouth’s Shawnee State University, which for over a decade, during the Vern Riffe era, had lived high on the hog and at the bottom of U.S. News annual rankings, all the while receiving special multimillion dollar subsidies from the state. We can expect cutbacks in higher education. The mayor of Toledo and some 60 other Toledo officials are taking two days off without pay in response to the economic crisis. How about Mayor Kalb returning the ten percent raise he put in this year’s budget?

Living in some kind of alternate financial universe, Mayor Kalb continues his campaign to spend approximately $12 million dollars on two new city buildings, one of which happens to be 125-years-old and in terrible condition. Kalb had the engineering department produce, at taxpayer expense, posters of the architectural pornography that Tanner Stone had come up with for the so-called City Center and Justice Center. To seduce the public into thinking the City Center represents progress, there are about as many of these pornographic architectural posters in businesses and banks along Chillicothe St. as there are prostitutes along John St.

The new $38 million Grant Bridge opened for traffic two years ago, in October. Has the bridge revived downtown Portsmouth? Hardly. About eight out of ten cars that come across from Kentucky, by my observation, take a right turn, avoiding Chillicothe St. and downtown Portsmouth. Now we are being told the City Center will play an important role in reviving downtown Portsmouth.

Kalb has done what he can to make us believe the Marting building is a holy architectural site. Beautiful old churches are torn down, crucifixes are tossed on the trash heap, but the Marting building is supposed to be architecturally priceless. Dollar signs, not crosses, are what count in Portsmouth. They even plan to have an art exhibit in the unhealthy, unsafe Marting building in October, as if it was the Louvre, but the state fire marshal may have something to say about that. Don’t we already have a heavily subsidized art museum in Portsmouth? Wouldn’t that be the appropriate place for an art exhibit? Yes, it would be, but the dishonest people who are trying to raise taxes for the Marting building will stop at nothing, which is what the Marting building is. Nothing. Misrepresentation and lies go along with Kalbonomics. They claimed that Senator Voinovich promised pork would be available to subsidize the City Center, but a spokeswoman in the Senator’s office said no such promise had been made.

How much is Portsmouth’s city government in the red? With the kind of foggy bookkeeping characteristic of Kalbonomics, it is difficult to say. At the first city council meeting of the year (1-14-08) Auditor Williams said the city faced a projected $272 thousand dollar budget deficit, and, he added, if the city doesn’t have a million dollars in the kitty by November 30, we are in real trouble. November 30 is only two months away. Will the city be solvent? City officials are mentioning the "B" word. Bankruptcy! Though Kalb will be the last to admit it, in view of the international global crisis, Portsmouth faces a reckoning, but that reckoning is scheduled after the Nov. 3 election, when voters will get to express their views on the City Center, which someone has dubbed “The Kalb Mahal.” A man whom Kroger’s did not promote above the level of grocery clerk, and would have fired if they could have, according to what I have been told by present and former employees, this notorious underachiever is in charge of the city’s future at this moment. And what’s uppermost on his mind? The Kalb Mahal.

The current economic crisis has not stopped Mayor Kalb from feathering his own nest and providing a few more perks for himself. Last January, when the current economic crisis was already underway, Kalb tucked a ten percent raise for himself in the budget. He has more recently got himself a new city automobile. As mayor, Kalb says he has the authority to take any new car the city has on order, and he chose a new Dodge Charger that was originally designated for the Police Department. He felt he needed a car that befitted the dignity of a man of his importance. If the City Center becomes a reality, he will have a more spacious corner office, on the third floor of the City Center, as befits the dignity of a man of his importance.

To the left are examples of Tanner Stone's architectural pornography, drawings of the so-called Adelphia building, on the cover of the study that was done of the building, a total waste of taxpayers' money because the badly leaking building was infested with toxic black mold and was beyond repair. Nobody bothered to notice the building was worthless until after the absentee Los Angeles landlord, represented by Portsmouth attorney Mike Mearan, unloaded the property off on the city.

There is so much political baggage, so much bitterness, so much dishonest shit attached to the moldering Marting building/City Center that it is like a cancer metastisizing in our community. The opposition to the City Center, against Kalb’s Mahal, grows with each passing week. Along with the architectural pornography on Chillicothe St., there may be graffiti, such as “STOP THE SHITTY CENTER!” That’s what it may come to. That may be the last word on Kalbonomics. “STOP THE SHITTY CENTER!”

Tanner Stone drawing of City Center, more architectural pornography to seduce the citizens of Portsmouth