Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lies! Lies! Lies!

The recent history of the Marting building and the so-called Adelphia property is steeped in lies and corruption. The original sale of the Marting building to the city was ruled invalid by the courts and the city got stuck with the Adelphia property through the connivance of lawyer-councilman Michael Mearan, who was involved in a clear conflict of interest in the city’s acquisition of the worthless property. The citizens of Portsmouth were scammed in both instances. If the city is going to spend at least $12 million for public buildings during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it should not have to do it by renovating unmarketable property that was unloaded on it by crooked lawyers.

It comes down to this on the weekend before Tuesday, November 4: Is the Progress Portsmouth Committee (PPC) going to get away with the lies it has been telling about the Marting and Adelphia property for months? In a short period of time, the acronym PPC has acquired a notoriety that it took the SOGP years to attain. The PPC has falsely claimed that the city is not going to raise property taxes for the renovation of the Marting building and for a new jail and courthouse on the Adelphia property. The PPC has lied and continues to lie that the $12 million dollar price tag for the project will not require an increase in taxes. A postcard mailed weeks ago by the PPC said, “Your vote WILL increase the value of our City, NOT your taxes.”

Fire Truck as Trojan Horse

The PPC continues to repeat this lie in campaign literature and radio spots, and it has been abetted in its campaign of prevarication by the managing editor of the Portsmouth Daily Times, Arthur Kuhn, who claims it is not an increase, and by our math-challenged city councilman David Malone, who read a prepared statement at the end of the October 27 city council meeting that insisted the 3.8 was not an increase but rather an “extension” of present taxes. An extension! The present 2008 Portsmouth property tax is .7 mills. How can a 440% 30-year increase from .7 to 3.8 mills not be an increase? (No one is fooled by the fire truck that the PPC is using as a Trojan horse by which the crooks are attempting to smuggle the 440% increase into the budget.) If the voters reject the City Center/Justice Center on November 4, that increase will NOT take place. Ipso facto, if the voters pass the measure, the increase will take place. A tax increase is a tax increase is a tax increase, to reword Gertrude Stein.

The Ohio Elections Commission ruled in a preliminary hearing on October 16 that the PPC was in violation of Ohio’s campaign laws by falsely claiming there was no increase in taxes. An official, bi-partisan body, the Elections Commission ruled against the PPC on October 16, but the lies kept coming. Just this last weekend, days before the election, the PPC delivered a flyer to Portsmouth homes posing the question “Will my taxes go up?” It answered with a blunt, bald-faced lie: “No.”

The Prosperity Portsmouth Committee has managed to put off the final reckoning for its lying until after the election. Michael Gampp, a certified public accountant and the treasurer of the PPC, will have to explain, under oath, before the Elections Commission, why and how the $12 million dollar, 30-year levy is not an increase. He should be asked by the Elections Commission by what principle of accounting is that not an increase? Section 54, Article III of the American Institute of Public Accountants Code of Ethics states that “To maintain and broaden public confidence, members should perform all professional responsibilities with the highest sense of integrity.”

Integrity is the first requisite of a CPA, but Gampp will probably not be known for integrity after the lies the PPC has been telling. Son of a former SSU employee of good repute, Gampp has besmirched the family name. Whom hasn’t Clayton Johnson dragged down into the immoral morass he has made of Portsmouth? And the American Savings Bank, where the junior Gampp is an officer, will sink 440% further into that morass as the most politicized bank in Portsmouth.

The most politicized bank in Portsmouth

The Reckoning

Even if as a result of the lying the City Center/Justice Center measure passes on November 4, the Marting Scam may still prove the straw that broke the camel’s back. The full legal and political consequences of that scam have not yet unfolded. The financial crisis that the city is in cannot be hidden much longer, even if it was hidden until the election. One of the poorest (and most crime-ridden) cities in the United States, Portsmouth cannot possibly be immune from the economic crisis that is gripping the rest of the country. City Auditor Trent Williams cannot continue to play footsie with the mayor and the crooks who control the city much longer.

Speaking of longer, every week that’s what Williams’ nose seems to get – longer. He is eventually going to have to own up to Portsmouth’s precarious economic condition. The strapped Portsmouth property owners can not take on this $12 million dollar debt without having their backs broken, like the proverbial camel, and then there might be a reckoning for all the lying.

Auditor Williams: Playing footsie with the crooks?