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.