Monday, February 16, 2009


Trent Williams, "A serial truth batterer."

The following notice recently appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times.

"The League of Women Voters of Scioto Co. will meet Monday, February 16, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Forest Room of Hillview Retirement Center. Trent Williams, Portsmouth's City Auditor will be the guest speaker. The topic for discussion will be the Charter Change recently voted upon in the February 3, 2009 special election. The public is cordially invited to attend." Notice it says "topic for discussion."

I was present at 7 o'clock, along with about a dozen others, not counting the League of Women Voters personnel, who were sponsoring the meeting. I brought my video camera so that there would be a record of what Williams said about "the topic for discussion," namely "the Charter Change recently voted upon in the February 3, 2009 special election." There were no reporters there from the Daily Times, nobody from any of the radio stations, as far as I could see.

There was hardly any time for discussion, because Williams arrived late and immediately explained he would be leaving early because he had a concert practice to attend. Arriving late, leaving early. That, I heard somebody sitting near me say, was typical of Trent. While we waited for him, I fiddled with my camera and thought of lines about time from one of the most famous poems of the last century, "The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

And indeed there will be time . . .

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create . . .

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred lies and distortions . . .

I took some liberties with that last line because our devious city auditor is as good at killing time as he is at lying, which reminds me of Thoreau's pregnant observation in Walden about the expression "killing time." Thoreau asked, "How can we kill time without injuring eternity?" I will pose the question to Williams, "How can you kill time and lie without injuring eternity?"

When Williams finally did arrive, he began by taking some time to explain what the city auditor's job consisted of and how effective he was at doing it. He went on and on about stuff that had no direct relevance to the announced topic. I realized later that what he was doing was killing time, which he had so little to spare, because he wanted to postpone dealing with the meat of the evening as long as he could and he especially wanted to leave as little time as possible for discussion about the meat of the evening.

When Williams finally got to the issue of the amendment to the city charter that the voters recently passed, he told many lies and resorted to many distortions, often repeating himself so he could leave as little time as possible for any discussion. How many times did he bring up the issue of the words "voter: and "elector"? He hopes that the amendment that was passed on February 3rd will be ruled invalid by the Board of Elections because it refers to a "majority of electors" rather than "majority of voters." HOW CAN THIS BE A VALID ISSUE WHEN SECTION 166 OF THE CITY CHARTER, WHICH IS DEVOTED TO AMENDMENTS TO THE CHARTER, REFERS TO A MAJORITY OF ELECTORS, NOT VOTERS? The auditor and the city solicitor should read the city charter.

When he got though with his lies and distortions, Williams was looking towards the door. It was if the whole orchestra was waiting for and could not begin without him. He asked, "What time is it? Seven-thirty? I can take a couple of questions – if there are any." If there are any! Did he think he had frozen us in our seats with his snow job? One woman asked who paid for elections, and after he killed a few minutes answering, Jane Murray stood up to be recognized and took issue with something Williams had said in his previous answer. He reprimanded her and said, "This isn't a debate and I have the floor!" When she continued making her point, he picked up his notebook and left in a huff. He had a concert practice to go to. He didn't have any more time to waste on discussions. After he left, Jane Murray stepped to the front to protest the auditor's litany of untruths. Litany of untruths is putting it mildly. Williams is not only a time killer, he is a serial truth batterer. There should be a shelter in Portsmouth for the truths he regularly batters. Murray read a statement from Larry Essman, a Certified Public Accountant, who teaches at Shawnee State. Essman's criticism of three of Williams' untruths about the amendment can be found on the Concerned Citizens Roundtable website and on Teresa Mollette's website.

After the meeting, I told Jane Murray, "That was as bad as a city council meeting." She answered, "It was worse."