"It ain't worth anything." Marty Mohr, quoted on the Marting building in the Columbus Dispatch, June 20, 2004.
I really showed my age on this one. I mean on the City and Justice Center issue on the November 4 ballot. I had correctly pointed out in the first posting I made on River Vices, on July 29, 2004, "Digital Revolution," that technological advances in the area of communication, and the emergence of the internet in particular, had leveled the political playing field in Portsmouth. But knowing something and really believing it are not always the same thing. Recently, I have been guilty of believing, as a person of a certain age, that the saturation of pro-Marting-Adelphia (i.e., City/Justice Center) ads on the radio and in the Portsmouth Daily Times and Community Common, and the lies that were being told by the Progress Portsmouth Committee (PPC) in those ads and in flyers and postcards about the true costs of the project, would convince a majority of citizens to vote for the Marting-Adelphia scam.
Daub Still Going Strong
But people, I failed to remind myself, no longer rely only on the local media, and the Daily Times and WNXT in particular, for news about Portsmouth and Scioto County, as was the case back in 1980, when the myth of the “Savior Shopping Mall that was Crucified by Three Evil Council Members” first took hold. Harold Daub (at left in 1980), one of those three council men, who still is going strong, is still being criticized, as he was during this campaign, for allegedly helping kill the Savior Shopping Center, even though Speaker Riffe had wisely decided a university would be better for downtown Portsmouth than a shopping center.
David and Goliath
The websites of Teresa Mollette and her councilman husband Bob Mollette, and the blogs and internet chatrooms like Moe’s Forum, devoted to Portsmouth politics, were obviously more than enough to offset the lies in the local media and in the campaign literature of the Progress Portsmouth Committee. The lies and distortions in the local media about the Marting-Adelphia scam were instantly exposed in the blogosphere. When I interviewed Bob Mollette in 2004 at the County Courthouse for my documentary about the recall of Mayor Bauer, he used the David and Goliath metaphor to characterize the victory over the corrupt Bauer administration. Mollette used the David and Goliath metaphor again last night, at the courthouse, after the Marting-Adelphia scam went down to defeat.
Switzer's Acer in the Hole
In that Biblical metaphor, David’s slingshot is technology. Linda Switzer’s new miniature $350 Acer mini-computer, which she recently bought at Staples to replace her Neolithic desktop, is an electronic marvel and gives her wireless wings to travel at the speed of truth in the broadband universe. Her contributions to the Concerned Citizens Roundtable website, her ability to email and Google, will be facilitated by her digital companion, which she canoodles like a pet poodle. Yesterday, I had to upgrade my calling plan with Verizon because in the last month the calls on my cell phone had increased so much that I thought there was error in my phone bill. There wasn’t. It was just that the citizens who were opposed to the new Marting-Adelphia scam were constantly in touch with each other, and coordinating their efforts in a way they could not have back in the age of the land lines, as clunky wired telephones are now called. “Have cell phone, will travel.” Cell phones, along with computers, are a gateway to the new electronic universe, with megapixel cameras included. Excuse me for a second. My cell phone is ringing.
I’m back. After the results of last night’s election, I hope that the unctuous Art Kuhn, at the Daily Times, and the notorious motormouth Steve Hayes, at WNXT, the hired popguns of Portsmouth’s over-privileged multi-millionaires, would stop mislabeling the thousands of citizens who refused to go along with the Marting-Adelphia scam a “disgruntled minority.” Calling us a minority is a lie. In 2004, Mayor Bauer was recalled by a large margin; in May 2006, by a nearly 3-to-1 margin, voters rejected the Marting building; and in last night’s 58% to 42% defeat of the new Marting-Adelphia scam, by a margin of over a thousand votes, the concerned citizens have proved they are in the clear majority, that they are not just a disgruntled minority. Those dozen or so concerned citizens who faithfully attend City Council meetings represent many thousands more in Portsmouth’s six wards. Most of them are not radicals. Most of them are not Democrats. Most are conservative Republicans.
The multi-millionaire backers of the new Marting-Adelphia scam were defeated in spite of the enormous financial advantages they enjoyed; they were defeated in spite of the Progress Portsmouth Committee brazenly lying to the public that the $12 million (and counting) project could be paid for without raising taxes during this period of extraordinary national economic crisis.
Gampp to Return to Testify Before CommissionThe PPC treasurer Michael Gampp (shown waiting to testify before the Ohio Elections Commission) and the City Auditor Trent Williams have a return date with the bi-partisan Ohio Elections Commission to answer questions about their role in PCC's violation of Ohio’s laws against untruthful political ads. (Check out a 2004 previous River Vices posting on Gampp's role in the liquidation of Travel World.) How Gampp, a bank officer and a certified public accountant, could claim that no new taxes were needed to pay for the project is hard to understand. But those lies were only a part of the PPC’s campaign of error. The fear and smear tactics that the proponents of the new Marting-Adelphia scam engaged in included a widely circulated anonymous email accusing me of being an atheist homosexual cult leader who was part of a cabal that was trying to take over city government. That anonymous email (I think I can tell by the style who the author might be) was transmitted by a Scioto County employee over a computer in the office of a County Commissioner. As for my religious beliefs, what I will confess is that I am a recovering ex-Catholic who is still deeply influenced by a sense of Catholic guilt. If I believe in nothing else about the Catholic religion, I believe in penance. I sometimes feel that living in Portsmouth is my penance, my expiation, my punishment for my sins. I have hopes that I am in the last stage of that penance, that Portsmouth is my last station of the cross. As if coming from a large (16) family of alcoholic Catholics was not punishment enough, I ended up in a city that has the likes of Jim Kalb as mayor, Howard Baughman as President of Council, David Malone as Vice President of Council, Mike Mearan as my Ward One councilman, Austin Keyser as the head of the Shawnee Labor Council, and Terry Ockerman as the designated dirty tricks expert. That would be enough to drive anyone to drink.
Last night, in a post-election interview with Frank Lewis, a reporter for the Portsmouth Daily Times, Harold Daub began by saying, in spite of what people have been told, that he really loves Portsmouth. It’s because he loves Portsmouth that he wants so hard to reclaim it from the crooks who now control it. (Lewis did not mention Daub’s love of Portsmouth in the long report in today’s Daily Times.) I can’t say I love Portsmouth. You have to grow up in a place to really love it, and I was not lucky (or unlucky) enough to have grown up in Portsmouth. But I tremendously admire those who did and who still love it enough to oppose the drugs and the prostitution, the taxes and the corruption, the pork and the property scams like the Marting and Adelphia buildings. Those who love Portsmouth enough to fight for it are my heroes. I admire the concerned citizens who struggle constantly against the enemies of progress, against those multi-millionaires who have the chutzpah to form a political action committee and call it Progress Portsmouth. Progress Portsmouth! Last night’s election was true progress, my friends, and the blogosphere helped the concerned citizens make that progress possible.