Friday, January 09, 2009

Devious: The "No New Taxes" Scam

Progress Portsmouth's postcard was "devious," says Chuck Calvert.

Underpaid reporters and managing editors come and go at the Portsmouth Daily Times, like Portsmouth's transient $5 dollar hookers, but that newspaper’s mission of misleading the public on behalf of the crooked clique that controls Portsmouth economically and politically continues. The report by Frank Lewis in today’s Daily Times (January 9, 2009) on yesterday’s state Elections Commission hearing in Columbus is a good example of why that newspaper, with its steadily declining circulation, is sometimes called the Prostitute Daily Times. Instead of sending Lewis to Columbus to sit in on the hearing, the Times preferred to keep him in Portsmouth, sitting on his ass, where he could write a story without making any direct observations of the event himself. He didn’t bother to quote one word of the statement Harold Daub had prepared, which reads as follows: “In the view of the Ohio Board of Elections, the postcard that the Progress Portsmouth Committee mailed to voters about the City Center ballot issue was misleading. The Chair of the hearing, Chuck Calvert [shown above] went so far as to call the postcard ‘devious.’ But the commission unanimously agreed that the Progress Portsmouth Committee could not be held accountable because a public official, the City Auditor Trent Williams, in an August 6 public letter, had provided the information that the committee drew upon for the postcard, and there is no proof that the committee knew that information was misleading.”
The infamous postcard
Williams’s August 6, 2008, letter, which was entered in as evidence in yesterday’s hearing in Columbus, gave the Progress Portsmouth Committee the legal cover to spread the lie via postcards that a vote for the City Center/Justice Center projects would not require an increase in taxes. What the Progress Portsmouth Committee did yesterday, through its lawyer, was pass the buck to Williams, who, in his rambling answers, tried to pass the buck to the city solicitor. The argument of the Progress Portsmouth Committee in the hearing boiled down to this: Don’t blame us, we were only passing along what the city auditor had publicly stated, and what Williams’ argument boiled down to was, Don’t blame me I was only following the advice of the city solicitor. Since neither Williams nor the city solicitor was the object of the charges Daub had brought, the Commission was not empowered to render any judgments about the legality or veracity of what the City Auditor or the City Solicitor might have said or done.

City Auditor Trent Williams

In his August 6 letter, Williams had stated that the City Center/Justice Center projects would not require “any increase in property taxes above the current budgeted level.” This is the devious heart of the scam that Williams and others in and out of city government had concocted: they had raised the 3.1% mill for a fire truck in the jerry-rigged budget with the intention of continuing that 3.1% increase for another 30 years to pay for the City Center/Justice Center projects. That 3.1% would be a continuation, they tried to convince us, not an increase. That was the scam Williams laid out in the August letter and that’s the scam the Progress Portsmouth Committee parroted in its postcard.

The scam Williams helped concoct and that Progress Portsmouth parroted in its campaign is very small potatoes compared to the enormous scam Williams may currently be engaged in, which is the claim that in the current national and state financial meltdown the city of Portsmouth somewhat miraculously has no serious financial problems, and can afford to continue with its $13 million dollar (and counting) plans to build a new city hall and courthouse-jail, and to buy yet another fire truck, and to provide Mayor Kalb with a new car commensurate with the dignity of his high office, and do all this without any apparent need to cut out or cut back or postpone any of the plans or perks currently in the works. Williams may come out of all this, to my way of thinking, as either The Miracle Worker or Portsmouth’s Own Ponzi. Charles Ponzi, was the devious crook who cooked the books and ended up, well, in a not very nice place.

Charles Ponzi