Monday, September 28, 2009

Mayor Kalb: Burning the Midnight Oil

Because of the confusion over where the Kiwanis Playground was supposed to be built in Tracy Park, I requested, under Ohio’s Public Records laws, a copy of the agreement between the city and Kiwanis from Mayor Kalb. I made my request on Thursday, September 24, at 3:30 PM, and he replied by email late Saturday night, or rather very early Sunday morning. Always burning the midnight oil, he emailed his response at 1: 47 AM.
My email and Kalb’s response follows:

--- On Thu, 9/24/09, wrote:

Subject: Freedom of Information
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2009, 3:30 PM
To: James Kalb, Mayor

Under Ohio's Open Public Records Law, I am requesting a copy of the written agreement between the city and the Portsmouth Kiwanis Club for a playground in Tracy Park. A week ago, on Sept. 18th, 2009, at a public meeting in Tracy Park,in response to a question, Rick Morgan of Kiwanis publicly acknowledged that such a written agreement existed, but neither he nor you have yet made that agreement public. Please notify me by email when I can pick up a copy of that agreement.

Thank you.

Robert Forrey


From: City of Portsmouth
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information
Priority: Normal. Date: Sunday, September 27, 2009 1:47 AM
To: Robert Forrey

Per your public records request;

You are correct in stating that at the meeting in the park the fact was "acknowledged that such a written agreement existed". What I don't understand is why you feel that a confirmation of this fact would necessitate a publication or distribution of the mentioned document.

As you requested, a copy of the document has been prepared for you to pick up at my office. Our regular office hours are from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

If there is anything else that I can do for you, which is required by law, don't hesitate to call my office. If it isn't required by law then don't bother asking, because I think that you're a worthless piece of s**t and I wouldn't p**s on you if you were on fire (my opinion). You're a poor, lonely, jealous, old man with aspirations of being a writer. You write your lies and uneducated opinions on people and issues from behind the safety of your slobber stained keyboard with the hope that somebody will read them that doesn't know you and believe that you're more than the pitiful, broke-down, lizard-looking thing that you are, in my opinion. Get a life old man. On second thought, don't bother..............

I do have a question for you. Do you have family and if so do they even like you?

Looking forward to your next Internet issue of "FORREY'S FOLLIES".....NOOOTTTTTT

With little respect for you,
Mayor James D. Kalb

Now that's freedom of speech at its best, in my opinion.


In closing, I want to point out that the last sentence above ("Now that's freedom of speech at its best, in my opinion") is by Mayor Kalb, not by me. I have refrained from expressing my opinion in this post because I feel, while he has every right to express his opinions, his reply to my public records request speaks for itself, speaks volumes in fact, about what kind of person we have as mayor. R.F.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kiwanis Playground: The Hole Truth

The history of America’s fraternal orders is in part the history of a variety of non-denominational quasi-religious sub-groups, groups in which members found a purpose and meaning in life through service to others. But some fraternal orders served other less noble purposes as well. Some orders resembled a college fraternity as much as a benevolent service organization. One of the features of such fraternal orders, like college fraternities, was the opportunity for male bonding. A college fraternity helped its members bond together in making the transition from adolescence to adulthood. A fraternal order helped socially insecure but ambitious male members rise in the world. Fraternal orders were better suited to go-getters than to those who had already gotten. Some orders, particularly those formed in the Midwest, were bastions of middle class conservatism, but not everyone, not even in the Midwest, approved of middle class conservatism. H. L. Mencken, by combining the words bourgeoisie and boob coined the term booboisie for the American middle class, whose stronghold historically has been the Midwest. Sinclair Lewis’s novel Babbitt (1922) added a new word to the American language, babbitry, which meant a smug and materialistic way of life hypocritically cloaking itself in civic boosterism and piety. Lewis’s character George Babbitt lived in the fictional Midwestern city of Zenith, which was thought to be modeled on Cincinnati, where Lewis lived while writing the novel.

By 1900 there were over a thousand fraternal orders in the United States, six hundred of which were secret societies emulating the fraternal order of Masons, which over the centuries had become the most important and influential fraternal organization not only in America but in the world. The Masons had already established the “builder” brand, identifying themselves with the masons who had built the pyramids of Egypt and cathedrals of Europe in the Middle Ages. But Masons claimed to be descended not just from the builders of pyramids and cathedrals but to be descended from the builders of human society, the architects of civilization itself. Without the Masons, whose membership included everyone from George Washington to Ben Franklin and Paul Revere, there probably would not have been an American Revolution, or at least not a United States of America, at least not in 1776. But the Mason’s notorious secrecy, hierarchic structure, and ritualistic rigmarole had turned off many Americans as being undemocratic and un-American. After the Revolution, Masons were suspected of all kinds of skulduggery, including the assassination of members who violated the solemn Masonic oath of secrecy. The fraternal orders that followed in Masonic footsteps by adopting the builder brand were adopting a brand that had become, in the eyes of many Americans, very tarnished. By 1900 there was a need of and a niche for a fraternal organization that would create a new more distinctly American brand, in which backslapping would replace secret handshakes. The way in which Kiwanis emerged as that new brand is an example of how big organizations, like mighty trees, can grow from little nuts.

In a Hole from the Start

In 1915, what would later be called the Kiwanis Club of Detroit Number One, was founded by Joseph C. Prance, a tailor, and Allen S. Browne, a salesman type, who had made a career of starting fraternal organizations, which gives us an idea of how many organizations there were when somebody could make a career of organizing them. Browne and Prance found themselves in a hole right from the start. For example, they named their new fraternal organization the Supreme Lodge of the Benevolent Order Brothers, or B.O.B., for short, not exactly a catchy moniker. In calling what they created a lodge, rather than a club, they were being too Masonic and not clearly American enough. It may have been Browne, since he would have had more marketing sense than his tailor partner, who realized their mistake and came up with a more American name for B.O.B. What could be more American than an Indian name? Look at how many states have Indian names, such as Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio? Why shouldn't a fraternal order have an Indian name? Browne and Prance chose a new name based on an Indian expression, "NunKey-wan-is." But, oops, they found themselves in another hole. "NunKey-wan-is" meant, “We have a good time—we make noise,” which might be a fitting name for a fraternity but not for a fraternal order that wants to be taken seriously as a benevolent society. (I got these details from an official source: “Kiwanis: Past to Present,” a brief history.) So the Kiwanis Club of Detroit Number One, as it became known, had to make another change. But having changed its name once already, taking a third name would only make establishing a new brand that much more difficult. Instead of changing the name Kiwanis, they changed the meaning of the phrase "NunKey-wan-is." After all, other than native Americans, of whom we can be fairly sure there were few or none in Kiwanis, who was going to know what the meaning of "NunKey-wan-is" was anyway? The important thing was Kiwanis became an organization that enabled bonded brothers to join together in serving humanity and to scratching each other’s back in business. Some form of insurance came with membership, so the commercial dimension was present in Kiwanis from the start.

So to attain respectability and escape the stigma of having begun an organization that sounded like a bunch of frat brothers, they assigned a new meaning to Kiwanis to suggest something more appropriate to the serious brand they were trying to establish. Instead of changing the word, they changed the word’s meaning. The notion took hold among Kiwanians that "NunKey-wan-is" meant not “We have a good time—we make noise,” but rather “we make and build.” In 1920, the editor of the Kiwanis magazine capped this trend by creating a simple civic-minded slogan: “We Build.” But in rebranding their organization by changing the meaning of "NunKey-wan-is" the Kiwanians got out of one hole only to find themselves in another. The problem with the “We Build” slogan was that it not only sounded Masonic, it sounded a bit moronic. In rebranding themselves as builders, they had reverted to the Masonic brand, and from a marketing perspective that was not the best move. But that was not a problem that Browne and Prance were destined to solve, because the Kiwanis Club of Detroit Number One fell apart after Browne was accused of putting the club in the hole financially by pocketing membership dues. But other Kiwanis clubs were founded in Chicago and Cleveland, and the movement that had begun inauspiciously and somewhat shadily in Detroit grew into a national and international organization, in spite of the marketing mistakes of Browne and Prance. But Kiwanis would remain fundamentally Midwestern in character and spirit, and it was appropriate that its headquarters would end up in Indianapolis in the quintessentially Midwestern state of Indiana. An argument could be made that the quintessential Midwestern state is Ohio and the appropriate site for Kiwanis headquarters would be Cincinnati, where George Babbitt was conceived.

To get out of the marketing hole of the “building” brand, Kiwanis went on to rebrand itself in a way that transformed the field of fraternal orders. It rebranded itself as the fraternal order that cares, and cares above all about children. With caring for kids as their new mantra, Kiwanis struck marketing gold, and ever since, in a kind of endless summer, has been surfing on that marketing wave. And why wouldn’t it? Is there any human emotion more universal and deeper than love of children? Not just parents, but adults in general love children. In children adults can simultaneously glimpse the future and take a trip back to their own past. How could an organization that adopted as its mission the welfare of children not succeed and become a powerful and influential international organization?

Snookered City

But the Kiwanis "kid caring" brand still retained some of the Masonic “builder” brand. “Caring for Kids” became the successful brand and the “building” shtick was subordinated to it. Middle school students can now join Kiwanis “Builders Clubs,” but in terms of marketing, the “builder” brand is about at the middle school level. Kiwanians are still in the building business but only in so far as they build for kids. They build everything from hospital wings to playgrounds for kids. Ka-Boom! and its “Playful” brand, which I have written about before, has managed to horn in on the playground business, and naïve public officials all across America have been snookered into proudly posting signs that proclaim theirs as a “Playful City,” even though in many cases those cities were losers in the Ka-Boom! competition. A sure-fire contest is one in which everybody is a winner, even the losers. Compared to the Kiwanis brand signs at the entrance of many cities, the “Playful City” brand provides about as much brand recognition as British Knights in the sneaker world have vis-à-vis Nikes. It is ironic, in view of the tree and kid issues involved in the current Kiwanis Playground mess in Portsmouth, that on the way into town on Route 23, drivers pass an “Arbor City” brand sign under a “Playful City” brand sign. The sign that drivers should see as they drive into Mayor Kalb’s hometown is “Portsmouth: the Snookered City.” Or, better yet, Portsmouth should be called not "Tree City," but "Paw City," for reasons I gave two postings ago.

Welcome to Snookered City

The controversy over the Kiwanis Playground illustrates the holes Kiwanians are still capable of digging for themselves. The spirit of Prance and Browne lives on. Kiwanis is such a powerful and influential organization that when it finds itself in a community, such as Portsmouth, where local government has atrophied and where the incompetent and the unindicted too often end up in public office, then it is hard for the high-minded mission-oriented Kiwanians not to become arrogant and to overreach, as they apparently have in regard to the Portsmouth Kiwanis playground.

Gathering Round the Hole

I spent an hour or so Friday morning (18 Sept. 2009), one of about twenty-five people who had gathered around a gaping hole in Tracy Park where the playground was supposed to be built. Standing around the hole, we were able to listen to and ask questions of the state forest ranger Ann Bonner about the Tracy Park Kiwanis playground mess. Construction of the playground had been halted the previous week after concerns had been raised about the safety of the trees and more importantly about the safety of the children who would be using the playground. What struck me most about the round-the-hole discussion was why the number of important issues and problems that were being discussed—largely related to environmental and engineering issues— had apparently not even been raised before. What I came away from that discussion with was the sense that the Kiwanis and Mayor Kalb had dug themselves into a public relations crater that was much deeper than the hole we had stood around. That physical hole will soon be filled in and the playground built, but the Portsmouth Kiwanis Club is going to be in a public relations crater for a long time.

Initially, on the basis of what he could see, a Portsmouth horticulturalist, Ray Gibson, didn’t think any tree roots had been destroyed. But James Warnock later said he had witnessed large roots being bulldozed and hauled away. Warnock also said that employees and equipment belonging to Neal Hatcher’s construction company, JNH, had helped the city in bulldozing and trucking the roots away. (Somebody told me Hatcher had denied to the Portsmouth Daily Times that his company was involved in any way.) If large roots had been removed, then the trees might be damaged. But it usually takes trees four or five years to show signs of root damage. Gibson proved to be so knowledgeable about how the playground project should have been built that Rick Morgan, representing Kiwanis, asked him if he would be willing to serve as a consultant on the project. Again I wondered why Kiwanis had not got Gibson or some other horticulturalist on board, and contacted a state forest ranger, in the beginning. It seemed to me like the barn door was being closed after the horse had bolted. Do you get a horticulturalist involved only after tree roots have been ripped out?

The question I asked at the round-the-hole discussion was whether the Portsmouth Kiwanis Club and the city had a written agreement. Rick Morgan, speaking for Kiwanis, replied there was. That written agreement could be a very important document in helping resolve this controversy. Mayor Kalb should make that agreement public. The Portsmouth Daily Times reported that when they finally reached Kalb in North Carolina last weekend, he said “that the first time he heard there were any problems with the project was Thursday [10 September 2009] when he began receiving calls from concerned citizens that digging may be damaging important trees and state-listed trees.” The PDT then quoted Kalb as saying, “For some reason, when they started digging, they moved from the original location and now the playground is around some trees” (emphasis added).

If there is a written agreement, and if Kiwanians changed the agreed upon site in the written agreement, that raises ethical and legal issues. Who do they think they are, changing the location of the site without the city government or even the mayor knowing or approving of the change? By changing the site, the Portsmouth Kiwanis Club may possibly be jeopardizing not only the well-being of the trees but more importantly the well being of the children, the caring of which is supposed to be the essence of the Kiwanis brand. The hazards associated with having the playground on the busy southeast corner of Tracy Park is the reason some people are objecting to the playground. Some residents feel that, ideally, the playground should not be located anywhere in Tracy Park, because the park is like an island surrounded by a heavy flow of traffic. It was certainly surrounded by a loud sometimes fast stream of traffic on Friday morning, when the round-the-hole discussion took place. One passing motorist rolled down his window and angrily shouted something like, "That's no place for a playground!"

Keep Your Eye on the Holy

“The Six Permanent Objects of International Kiwanis," underscore the spiritual and humanitarian goals of the organization. But let us be intellectually honest and recognize those goals as religious, even if the organization itself denies it is a religion. Keep your eye upon the holy and not upon the hole. The Six Objects are the Six Commandments of Kiwanism, and one of those “Objects” is revealing and deserves close scrutiny: To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship.” “Aggressive” is the revealing adjective in that Kiwanian Object, because aggressive is just what Portsmouth Kiwanis has been from the start in the marketing of the Kiwanis playground project. The two Abrahamic faiths that grew out of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, became progressively more aggressive in marketing their brand until now it seems the rivalry and hatred that exists among the three Abrahamic faiths may result in the nuclear annihilation of civilization. Some “builders” they turned out to be! Masonry was as successful as it was in part because it denied it was a religion at the same time that it secretly acted like one. The Catholic Church knew a rival when it saw one and excommunicated Catholics who joined the Masons. The Kiwanis took after the Masons in acting like a religion, and a very aggressive religion, while denying it is one.

In this Kiwanis Playground controversy, anger and hatred are being stirred up against those who have concerns about the project. James Warnock and his wife Donna are among those who are being demonized because they have expressed safety concerns about the project. They are being accused by politicians of being political. The safety concerns are being dismissed as “political.” The Warnocks are not politicians. They are citizens who happen to have reservations about locating the Kiwanis playground in Tracy Park. The only organization they have been involved with is the Portsmouth Beautification Society. Donna Warnock resigned from the society recently, claiming it had originally been opposed to putting the playground in Tracy Park, but because of political pressure the society had become a backer of the playground in the park. For not agreeing with Kiwanis and the Beautification Society that Tracy Park is the best place for the playground, the Warnocks, a low-key couple, are being characterized as meddlers and trouble makers.

The Portsmouth Kiwanis Club has to understand that they have no monopoly on caring about kids. Their brand may be caring for children, but in this playground mess I think they are showing a callous disregard for children. They may be guilty of wanting to publicize the good they are doing for children so much that they are willing to put the Kiwanis playground on the most dangerous corner in Portsmouth. They may be following that real estate adage—location, location, location. As a result of the aggressive marketing of their brand, the people in the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that will drive by that corner annually will be reminded of what a wonderfully kid-caring organization Kiwanis is, but they better keep their eyes peeled for kids unaccompanied by adults dashing across Rte. 23 to get to the playground.

There has been an attempt by Kiwanis, the mayor, and the media to shift the focus from traffic and kids to trees and roots, and to portray James Warnock as a tree-hugger. But Warnock made clear to the PDT, “My main concern is and always has been, first and foremost the placing of a children’s playground in a busy commercial area and secondarily, the health of the historical trees in Tracy Park.” This is not just about trees and roots; it is about children and traffic. But the party line the PDT is peddling is that it is about trees and roots, as is evident in John Stegman's "Stopping the March of Progress" and Frank Lewis's "Let's Move Forward with the New Playground." I am surprised Lewis could not come up with a quote from Abraham Lincoln in favor of Kiwanis playgrounds.

The cause of the Playground controversy is not the Warnocks, it is Kiwanis and Jim Kalb, our Out-to-Lunch-and Off-to-Another-Motorcycle-Race-in-the-Carolinas-Mayor. I think the image or “brand” Kalb has created as mayor is, “I’ll let you do what you want if you just let me take long lunches and long weekends in the Carolinas living out my Marlon Brando Wild One fantasies.” If the mayor had been minding the store more, if he had been monitoring the playground project better, this controversy might have been avoided. Being out to lunch is one thing, but being in North Carolina and not knowing that Kiwanis had shifted the site of the playground is another.

Unwise and Unlawful

As things now stand, the playground may be not only unwise but unlawful. It may be in violation of Ohio Revised Code 713-02, dealing with a local planning commission’s duties and powers. ORC 713-02 states that nothing, including a playground “shall be constructed or authorized to be constructed in the municipal corporation, or planned portion thereof unless the location, character, and extent thereof is approved by the [planning] commission.” I am not aware that the planning commission, the city council, or any other body has considered and approved the Kiwanis plans for the playground.

Kalb’s motorcycle fantasies, or chickens, may be coming home to roost in the Kiwanis playground mess, and those chickens could morph into vultures, since the lives of the trees and the kids crossing the heavy traffic to get to the playground may be at stake. That may be the truth, the unholy truth, about the Kiwanis playground controversy.

For an important follow-up on this post be sure to read, "Kiwanis Playground: Deathtrap for Tots" (click here).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jerry Skiver as Rosie Ruiz

Write-in Candidate Skiver in River Days Parade

One of the curious things about the River Days Parade on Labor Day weekend was that Jane Murray was fifteenth in the parade, according to someone who was counting. How did it happen that Murray, a candidate who took the trouble to run in the May 5th primary, where she finished first, ended up fifteenth in the parade, when a write-in candidate was placed fifth, ten places in front of her? It may have had something to do with the fact that Kim Bauer and Trent Williams were in charge of placing candidates in the parade. Kim Bauer is the wife of Greg Bauer who was recalled from office by a better than 2 to 1 margin for his role in the Marting building scam. As a reward for her husband's subservience to the rich white trash who control Portsmouth, she was appointed director of the Welcome Center. Williams proved that he is no better at managing a parade than he is at managing the city's budget.

And just who is Jerry Skiver? Whatever else he may be, or turn out to be, I think Skiver is the Rosie Ruiz of the mayoral race. The name Rosie Ruiz may ring a bell with those old enough to remember thirty years back. She was the runner who rode a subway car to the finish line in the 1979 New York City Marathon and then staggered across as if she had run the whole 26 miles. She didn't win the New York Marathon. She finished 24th, but finishing at all meant she was qualified to run the next year in the most prestigious of all marathon races, the Boston Marathon. But Ruiz didn't really run the Boston Marathon anymore than she had run the New York Marathon. There is no subway along the Boston Marathon route, so it is not known what form of transportation she used to win. But it was definitely not her feet, except for the last mile, when she suddenly slipped out of the crowd of spectators lined up along the route to dash to the finish line, setting a record time for women. She was awarded the winner's medal for her bogus performance. But she was exposed as a fraud a short time later and disqualified for cheating. Her exploits were not limited to marathons. She was later arrested for larceny, forgery, and drug dealing.

I call Skiver the Rosie Ruiz of the mayoral race not because the former New Boston superintendent of schools is engaged in larceny, forgery, and drug dealing. There are prominent people parading around in Portsmouth who are guilty of larceny, forgery, and drug-dealing, but Skiver I'm sure is not one of them. People I've talked to who know him say he's not a bad guy. But the perception is growing that in entering the mayoral race as a write-in he is up to no good. If Skiver had participated in the primary, perhaps he could have convinced us he is the best candidate, but he didn't and I'm skeptical.

I call him the Rosie Ruiz of the mayoral race because he skipped the primary and entered the mayoral race only after Murray and Kalb had finished one-two in that contest. If Skiver had run in the May 5th primary, he probably would have finished third, at best, and would therefore have finished out of the money, because there is a win and place but no show in the primary. What he did was wait until the primary was over, and then he entered the race as a write-in, just as Rosie Ruiz entered the 1979 New York and 1980 Boston Marathons only near very the end of those races. Skiver has undermined the intent of the primary, which was to reduce the field to the two strongest candidates, who made their positions clear in the primary, thereby giving the voters a clear choice.

Kalb's Slim Chance

Whatever Skiver's motives for running for mayor, and whatever his reasons for running as a write-in candidate may be, and whoever is backing him and for whatever reason, the effect of his candidacy is to give Kalb a slim chance of winning the race, because with three candidates Kalb doesn't need a majority of the votes cast to win. For example, Kalb could get 40% of the votes, Murray 35%, and Skiver 25% (a very unlikely scenario).Without Skiver in the race as a write-in, the results of the primary, which Murray won in a landslide, suggest that Kalb would have little chance of defeating her in the general election on November 3rd. With Skiver in the race, Kalb is still a long shot, but the odds are not as much against him as they otherwise would be.

An important question for me at this point is why Skiver did not run in the primary. I have looked on his Facebook campaign website and read where he describes himself as a moderate in politics and non-denominational in religion, that he likes John Wayne movies, and "Deeds not dialogue" is his motto. But I didn't learn why he did not run in the primary—not a word of explanation. With a little research, I came up with a possible explanation of why he didn't run in the primary. Skiver was one of the candidates for the position of superintendent of schools for Rock Hill, in Elizabeth Township, as reported in the Ironton Tribune on 13 June 2009. As the Bellevue Gazette reported, Skiver was also one of twenty applicants for the superintendent of schools in Bellevue, which is up near Sandusky. It would not have helped his chances of getting the Rock Hill or Bellevue superintendent positions if he was running in the primary for mayor of Portsmouth. If someone asked you to get married while he was courting somebody else, wouldn't you be wary? So that was possibly why he didn't run in the primary. He didn't want a prospective employer to think that being a superintendent of schools wasn't his first love. But when he didn't get either the Rock Hill or Bellevue superintendent positions, he decided to become a write-in candidate for mayor of Portsmouth, as if being mayor of Portsmouth was his first love. Being mayor of Portsmouth is at best Skiver's second love and at worst his last resort.

There was nothing unethical about what Skiver did. But if he now wants us to believe that being mayor of Portsmouth is what he most wants to do at this stage of his life, why didn't he run for the mayor's office in the first place? Why didn't he run in the primary? Incidentally, his applying for the superintendent positions in Rockville and Bellevue raises the question of why he would have resigned the superintendent's position in New Boston before landing a new superintendent's position elsewhere. Why resign from a superintendent's position and then apply for that same position elsewhere? Something doesn't add up. There are rumors that he was forced to resign in New Boston, but they are only rumors at this point.

Heartbreak Hill

To get back to my Rosie Ruiz-Jerry Skiver analogy: There is a hill five miles from the end of the Boston Marathon route. It is called "Heartbreak Hill" because many runners have had what strength they had left sapped, and what hopes they still had of winning dashed, while running up Heartbreak Hill. Heartbreak Hill separates the faint-of-heart from the stout-hearted, the also-rans from the winners. It is truly the survival of the fittest. The half-mile hill rises only 88 feet, but it comes about 20 miles into the race and can feel like Mt. Everest to runners whose muscle glycogen stores are nearly depleted. The May 5th primary was the Heartbreak Hill of the mayoral race. That's the hill candidates Troy Jackson, Jeff Book, Chris Neff, Douglas Jason Whisman, and David Malone did not make it over. Skiver skipped that hill as Rosie skipped Heartbreak Hill.

We don't know what kind of a car Rosie Ruiz rode in for the first twenty-five miles of the 1980 Boston Marathon, or who was driving. But we do know that Skiver rode in the River Days Parade in a Mercedes-Benz convertible, which was driven by Dick Spencer, who makes Mike Mearan (who was also in the parade) look like a Boy Scout. What was Skiver thinking being chauffeured by Dick Spencer? Or was he thinking at all? Maybe we will know better in the two months remaining who Skiver is and what he stands for, but the possibilities seem high, at least to me, that he is another Rosie Ruiz. He did not run the whole mayoral race but was willing to hitch a ride in a Mercedes-Benz for the final stretch. He was not tested in the primary, the Heartbreak Hill of the mayoral election, but he emerged suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, like Rosie from the crowd of half a million spectators who lined the route, to make his run, or chauffeured ride, to the finish line. That won't do, not even in Portsmouth.

Isn't thinking and acting ethically among the things you would expect a superintendent of schools to be able to do? Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The position of superintendent in Bellevue was open because the previous superintendent and one of his assistants were charged with sexual harassment. You might not be surprised when the Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann and one of his assistants are charged with sexual harassment, because they are politicians, and politicians are with some exceptions dishonest and hypocritical, but you are surprised when a superintendent of schools is charged with sexual harassment or something as bad. If I recall correctly, the Bellevue superintendent who held that post before the sexual harasser got in trouble over internet pornography. So maybe the lesson to be learned is that superintendents are no better than politicians, or, even worse, maybe some superintendents are really politicians in academic clothing.



Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Odd Couple

The Odd Coupl

The skunk and the fox formed an odd couple,

Joining forces to make a quick buck.

When the skunk balked, the fox didn’t scruple,

When the fox held back, the skunk ran amok;

When the skunk was cold, the fox was hot;

When the skunk was bold, the fox was yellow;

When the fox was ready, the skunk was not;

When the fox was firm, the skunk was jello.

But each night when the farmer fell asleep

And the watchdog dreamed of a great big bone,

They milked all the cows and fleeced all the sheep,

And harvested crops that others had sown.

As birds love worms and bees love honey,

This couple loves nothing more than money.