Wednesday, December 31, 2008

River Vices 2008: Year in Review


"Golden Wazoo," Jan. 13, 2008. "What are political campaigns but vast marketing exercises? What are candidates promoting if not variations of the two dominant brands, Republican and Democrat? What is religion in America today but a fierce struggle of varieties of the dominant brand, Christianity, for customer loyalty? What are the most successful brands of Christianity? The ones that promise the biggest bang for your buck. Do you remember councilman David Malone's 'Portsmouth: City of Prosperity' campaign, something he borrowed from the Ministry of Truth movement?"
Slashings & Rip-Offs," Jan. 22, 2008. "My thesis, which I apologize for taking so long to state, is that the difference between Sweeney Todd's London and Mayor Kalb's Portsmouth is that in London the people get slashed and in Portsmouth they get ripped off."ToxiCity," Jan. 30, 2008. "Whether or not the Viaduct is toxic chemically, and I repeat that I think it probably is not, it certainly is politically and financially toxic."


"Shady Acres," Feb. 11, 2008. "One of the striking similarities between the Marting and the Route 23 Viaduct scam was the way in which Bauer hurried up the sale of the property on the grounds that there was an emergency."
"Hillary, Ted, and Neal," Feb. 15, 2008. "For him [Strickland] to have accused Iowans of being undemocratic was not only untimely but somewhat hypocritical, because Strickland's home base is Portsmouth, which happens to be one of the most corrupt and poorest excuses for democracy in Ohio, if not America.""Go, Bucks," Feb. 25, 2008. "So, there was Bill [Clinton] on Febuary 25, in blue-collar Ohio, in down-and-out Portsmouth, speaking for the party of the working man, and, in the process of criticizing Republicans, revealing that he and Hillary are more or less somewhere in between being loaded and filthy rich. 'Go Bucks!' might be the Clinton campaign slogan for Ohio."

"Strickland Country," March 2, 2008. "The Bill Clinton rally in the Athletic Center might be described by rephrasing lines from a famous poem of William Butler Yeats, 'Slouching toward Bethlehem': 'Things fall apart; the Athletic Center will not hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon Portsmouth.'"
"Theyre B-a-a-a-c-k!" March 10, 2008. In spite of repeated public resistance to the Marting scam, the mendacious Mayor Kalb, with the assistance of the salacious Mike Mearan, a criminal lawyer who has been appointed, not elected, to public office, the City Council is once again trying to revive the Marting's Scam." Portsmouth's Mr. Spitzer," March 13, 2008. "Mearan emerged from the sewers of Portsmouth after Timothy Loper was removed from City Council and Mearan was appointed to replace him. Appointed, mind you, not elected. Mearan has had the last umpteen years to run for City Council, but he didn't, and for good reason. The lecherous notoriety he has achieved would have made him unelectable, even in a city as corrupt as Portsmouth.""Prostitute Daily Times," March 17, 2008. "The two most experienced and respected reporters in Portsmouth, Mike Deaterla and Jeff Barron, were both fired by the Prostitute Times not too long ago. The last thing the SOGP wants are reporters who might present both sides of a controversial issue like the Marting building.""Selling Out," March 21, 2008. "I was in Stapleton's the week before it closed, and talked to employees. It was a sad occasion, but Stapleton's understood the time had come to get out, something that proponents of reviving downtown refuse to recognize. The Marting Foundation is trying to con everyone into believing downtown can be revived, as it once was, as if dinosaurs can be replicated by DNA, as in Jurassic Park.""Rocks," March 29, 2008. "Strickland's public statements on the Indian Head Rock controversy should be enshrined as the classically mealy-mouthed political fence straddling that they are."

"Marting Madness," April 4, 2008. "Clayton Johnson is not leading the city forward. He is leading the city backward, all the way back to 1883, when the Marting department store building was erected. He is leading the city backward to more turmoil, to more referenda, to more litigation, and to more delay."
Scams: 1980 and 2008," April 11, 2008. "It is instructive to compare the Marting Scam of 2008 with the Shopping Mall Scam of 1980. . . . The differences between the two scams and the differences between 1980 and 2008 are also worth noting. The nine blocks that were supposed to revive downtown Portsmouth in 1980 have been reduced in 2008 to one pathetic building that is supposed to revive downtown Portsmouth, the 125-year-old leaking and unwanted-by-anybody-else Marting Department store.""Packing the Meeting," April 17, 2008. "The meeting of Portsmouth City Council on 14 April 2008 illustrates what can be done when Democrats and Republicans put their heads together to screw the taxpayers of Portsmouth. The corruption in Portsmouth is as deep and pervasive as it is because it is bi-partisan.""Conventional Folly," April 20, 2008. "A survey conducted by SSU students found that about half the people interviewed thought downtown Portsmouth was ugly and unsafe.""Kalb's Confession," April 28, 2008. "At the City Council meeting on August 9, 2004, acting Mayor Jim Kalb made a remarkable confession. He admitted publicly that the sale of the 125-year-old Marting building to the city had been a fraud."

"Fart-Free Portsmouth," May 2, 2008. "The champion of the Fart Free movement in Portsmouth is Police Chief Charles Horner who launched the crusade for a Fart-Free Portsmouth on April 28, 2008, when he gave a stern warning to a retired Christian minister and recovering colon cancer patient who farted at a meeting of the Portsmouth City Council."
"Marc Dann: Marked Man,"May 11, 2008. "Once again, Gov. Ted Strickland is in the ironic situation of insisting on high ethical standards for others while the standards that prevail in Scioto County, now called Strickland Country, are scandalously low."
"Horner's Last Botched Drug Bust,"May 23, 2008. "The bizarre events on the corner of 4th and Market Street on Wednesday May 14 and Chief Charles Horner's equally bizarre account of those events in the Portsmouth Daily Times on May 22 tend to confirm the suspicion that we have as chief law enforcement officer in Portsmouth a man who appears to be not only incompetent, but to be psychologically as well as morally unfit for the important position he occupies."
"Land Scams," May 31, 2008. "In 2001 the city of Portsmouth sold almost 8 acres of land next to Route 23 to Portsmouth developer Elmer Mullins for the minimum asking price of $60,000. The price Mullins paid per acre, therefore, was about $7,500. In 2006, the county of Athens sold a little over 4 acres of comparable land on East State St. to developers for $2.3 million. The price per acre the developers paid in Athens, therefore, was about $510,000. In other words, the county and therefore the taxpayers of Athens county received a half a million dollars more per acre for public land on East State St. than the city of Portsmouth received per acre for public land on Route 23."
"Mearan's Conflict of Interest," June 19, 2008. "In his actions as a member of the Portsmouth City Council and as chairman of the City Building Committee (CBC), City Councilman Michael Mearan appears to have violated Sect. 160 of the Portsmouth City Charter, 'Oath of Office,' and Section 161 of the Charter, 'Financial Interests in Contracts, etc.,' which states, 'No officer or employee of the City shall have a financial interest, direct or indirect, in any contract with the City or be financially interested, directly or indirectly in the sale to the City of any land, materials, supplies, or services except on behalf of the City as an officer or employee.'
"American Dreams, American Nightmares," July 10, 2010. "Merriam-Webster 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."
"Dirty Deeds," July 16, 2008. "As a result of her son's appearance in court on that date [Feb. 9, 2006], Mrs. Craft would lose her home. She lost it, she and her son claim, through trickery and deceit on the part of Mike Mearan. Mrs. Craft and her son do admit to signing, in the court hallway, the hastily drawn up hand-written 'contract' on Feb. 9, 2006 . . . But they deny vehemently signing any 'deed' that day."
"Loan Shark?" July 31, 2008. "But the mistreatment of the 70-year-old Karol Craft and her son in the county, state, and municipal courts raises the suspicion that in Ohio it is the Halls of Injustice, not the Halls of Justice, that sometimes prevail."
"Kalb's Brain," August 16, 2008. "It may say something about where this country is headed that the chief executive officer, at both the national and local levels, both the President of the United States and the Mayor of Portsmouth, appear to suffer from a very serious handicap: like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, neither of them appears to have a brain."
"Nuts Over Blogs," August 22, 2008. "Being police chief in Portsmouth is a highly stressful occupation. Working for a mayor who learned nothing in trade school except how to be a tool can be a demoralizing experience."
"Sidewalk Shenanigans," August 28, 2008. "[Larry] Justice followed the well-worn path down which the not too bright, the not too ethical, and the not too successful find a refuge in city government, where they advance by serving the interests of the kind of rich, clever, and overprivileged people they themselves are obviously not: think Bauer, think Kalb, think Baughman, think Mohr, think Loper, and think Malone."
"Our Jughead Mayor," September 1, 2008. "If you do find Kalb in his office, chances are, when he is not stewing over the inadequacy of the salary he is receiving for being the city's part-time mayor, he's stewing over the indignity of having to drive a city automobile that is not commensurate with his importance as the chief executive officer of Portsmouth."
"Shyster," September 12, 2008. "On July 7, 2008, a First Set of Interrogatories, a Request for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admission were served to Mearan via U.S. Mail. [One of those interrogatories was], "Admit that Attorney Michael H. Mearan has, within the [last] 10 to 20 years, within the City of Portsmouth and/or Scioto County earned a reputation for engaging the solicitation of prostitution, the use and/or sale of illegal drugs and/or participation in illegal gambling."
"Stop SLAPPing!" September 20, 2008. "SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. To quote Wikipedia, SLAPP 'is a lawsuit or a threat of lawsuit that is intended to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the costs of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Winning the lawsuit is not necessarily the intent of the person filing the SLAPP. The plaintiff's goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticisms.'"
"Kalbanomics," September 25, 2008. "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."
"Three Little Pigs and the Fire Truck," October 10, 2008. "Once upon a time there were three little pigs who were trying to waste millions of dollars of public money converting a decrepit 125-year-old department store in a City Center."
"Gutter Politics: Update," October 14, 2008. "Here in Portsmouth, supporters of the City Center (Marting's) and Justice Center (Adelphia) projects are resorting to gutter politics. Clayton Johnson was reportedly overheard saying at the now defunct William's Restaurant, where Mike Mearan owned the liquor license, that maybe it was time for another campaign like the one in 1980, when most of the city was mobilized by Johnson and others, including the newspapers and radio stations, to harass and intimidate three councilmen who wouldn't play ball on the Downtown Mall Scam."
"The Two Centers Scam," October 17, 2008. "On Thursday, October 16, 2008, in Columbus, Ohio, in a face-off between Harold Daub, representing the reform-minded citizens of Portsmouth, and Austin Keyser, representing the Progress Portsmouth Campaign Action Committee (PPCAC), the Ohio Elections Commission voted unanimously in a preliminary hearing that Daub had just cause, which is to say he was justified in charging that Progress Portsmouth is not telling the truth in ads that claim that the $12 million dollar cost of the City Center and Justice Center (the 'Two Centers' I will call them) will not require an increase in property taxes."
"440%," October 19, 2008. "The current 2008 property tax in Portsmouth is .7 mills. If the voters approve the City Center/Justice Center projects on November 4, the property tax will increase to 3.8 mills. That is more than a 440% increase, and that increase will continue for 30 years, from 2010 to 2040."

"Lies! Lies! Lies!" November, 2, 2008. "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?"
"The Morning After," November 5, 2008. "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.""The Last Poster," November 7, 2008. "And then the citizens rose up, on November 4, 2008/ Like angry peasants, and drove a democratic stake/ Through the heart of the unrenovated monster,/ The leaking department store, the running sore . . .""Gambling," November 26, 2008. "Getting out of the economic hole that Portsmouth has been sinking into for almost a half century is going to be very hard, and there is no guarantee that it will ever get out of it, but what Portsmouth needs to give up is the illusion of finding prosperity through gambling."


"Miracle in Portsmouth," December 27, 2008. "Listen, America, and the world, an economic miracle is occurring right here in, Portsmouth, Ohio, on the banks of the polluted Ohio River, if you will only pay attention. Though it is portrayed by the outside media and by a few local naysayers as a hotbed of drugs, prostitution, and political corruption, Portsmouth, in the midst of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, is forging ahead with expensive new projects, including an extensive new high school athletic complex in the heart of the city, with new privately owned dormitories for the local state university, with a new city hall and police station, and with a new red hook and ladder truck for the fire department to go along with the new red fire truck the city council recently passed a tax increase for. And did I mention the new red Dodge Charger the mayor, who buys his cigarettes across the river in Kentucky, has ordered for himself to replace the Ford Victoria that runs fine but has cigarette holes in the front seat and a threadbare carpet?"