Monday, November 16, 2009

No to Malicious Minority

Congratulations to Larry Essman, C.P.A., and his allies on the recent Ohio Supreme Court decision that reversed the ruling of the Scioto County Common Pleas Court, which had voided the results of the February 3, 2009, special election. The draft of the Supreme Court’s decision can be found at the Supreme Court website.

In the Feb. 3 election the voters had approved an amendment to the Portsmouth city charter, an amendment that stipulated that, “No taxes may be levied on the property owners of the City of Portsmouth for retirement of any bonded indebtedness without the approval of such levy by a majority of the electors of the City of Portsmouth.” In other words: No taxation without representation! The court ruled that those who challenged the results of the election in court should have raised their objections to language in the proposed ballot amendment before, not after, the election. To quote the Supreme Court decision, “Insofar as appellees challenged the election result because of the petition and ballot language, they should have raised their claims in a pre-election protest or proceeding rather than in a postelection contest.” In a wonderful phrase, the court said, “The alleged irregularity in this case is not so substantial that relators should be permitted to, in effect, sleep on their rights until after an adverse election result” [emphasis added].

Those who challenged the results of the Feb. 3 election did not exactly sleep on their rights. What they did was smugly spread the word before the election that the ballot language was fatally flawed, so it didn’t matter if the amendment was approved or not: it would be invalidated in the courts. Well, the results of the election were invalidated in the Scioto Court of Common Pleas (no big surprise there), but fortunately the Common Pleas is not the highest court in the state. This is yet another black eye for City Solicitor Jones, who could have and should have done something about the ballot language well before the election but preferred to wait and play “gotcha” after the election.

Larry Essman is one of those who attends City Council meetings whenever he can and tries to get the mayor and the city auditor to return to the path of fiscal responsibility. He is one of that alleged minority that is accused by the motor mouth on WNXT and Frank Lewis at the Portsmouth Daily Times of standing in the way of progress. Lewis is a teetotalling, tea-partying preacher who has abandoned all pretense of separating fact from opinion, editorials from news, and bias from objectivity. He has even enlisted Abraham Lincoln in his crusade against truth. What Essman and the alleged minority stand in the way of is not progress but fiscal irresponsibility. What they are adamantly opposed to are scams like the Marting Building and budgetary shenanigans. If Essman is part of only a small minority, then why do elections usually go heavily in their favor? Why has the Marting building been rejected decisively in more than one electoral contest? Why was Kalb KO’d and Mearan marinated in the recent Nov. 3 election? And why have the voters not followed the advice in editorial after editorial in the Portsmouth Daily Times, including the infamous one by Jason Lovins that suggested after the ballot amendment was passed on Feb. 3 that there was a bit too much democracy in Portsmouth? The departed Lovins has since been outdone by Lewis who has abandoned any pretense of separating facts from opinion, editorials from news, and bias from objectivity. Just the other day he floated the idea of moving city government away from the Municipal Building, because of that allegedly small minority of troublemakers who regularly show up for council meetings. Lewis favors moving it to a local pub, where the elite can meet to screw the public out of view of the alleged minority.

Let’s see what spin Lewis and the PDT put on the Supreme Court decision. As I wrote recently, people who really want progress in Portsmouth should take a pledge not to buy the incredibly shrinking newspaper. Everyone should just say no to the Portsmouth Daily Times as the Supreme Court said no to that real malicious minority who tried but failed to thwart the will of the electorate.