Friday, December 30, 2011

The Illustrated Ballad of Dr. Lundeen

The office of Dr. James E. Lundeen in Portsmouth

This is the door of the controversial doctor
Who was accused of dispensing pain pills like candy
To “patients” who came from near and far
To a location that was handy—
The fourth floor of the Masonic Building
On Chillicothe Street in P’town.

Masonic Building, c. 1900

Was he practicing medicine or a swindle;
Was he high-minded or low-down;
Was he Hippocratic or hypocritical;
Was he hard working or just lazy;
Was he the sufferer’s best friend,
An angel of mercy—or just crazy?
He operated in God’s country, the Buckeye state,
Thirteen crowded so-called clinics
Where milling “patients” faced a long wait
That drove some of them to hysterics.
On entering, what his patients would see
Was a smooth shaven, bow-tied gent
Who was not only a bona fide M.D.
But had also been candidate for president.

For more on candidate Lundeen, click here

He proposed a foreign policy called SMITE—
A biblical assault on evil—
A reminder to enemies of God’s might,
Which could eradicate them like boll weevil.

In addition to providing a fix to those in pain,
The doctor also would ask for a donation
For his presidential campaign
To help relieve the pain of the nation.
He literally threw his hat in the ring,
A hat made by Cynthia, his millinery wife.
She was his one, his only, his everything—
His faithful companion for life,
His support hose, his holy staff.
She was the first to ask, “Jim, what’s the matter?”
The only one who could make him laugh—
She was both his dream of genie and mad hatter.

The Lundeens at Kentucky Derby in hats designed by Cynthia

The Lundeens in campaign hats designed by Cynthia

Having gone bankrupt in 2007,
Did Lundeen, when he came to P’town
Feel like he’d arrived in loser’s heaven?
Mayor Malone, President Haas, Kalb the clown,

Desimone, of Fork and Finger—
And a very close call for Kevin—
All had given creditors the finger,  
All were deadbeats, all Chapter 7.

Lundeen’s office was just down the hall
From the studios of WNXT,
Where Stephanie Haze, the SOGP’s moll,
Was always denouncing the CCG—

The fourth floor hall of Masonic Building where as many as forty patients sometimes waited to see Lundeen

The Concerned Citizens Group—
For criticizing the SOGP’s dirty tricks,
While, milling in the hall, dozens of cooped
Up addicts waited impatiently for their fix,
Waited like cars to get gassed on dope.

The shorn losing candidate in one of his cramped thirteen offices

Notice the box marked “Free Trial,” a sample,
As if it contained some evil dope
From the satanic Procter and Gamble,  
Which was into much more than soap. 

The former P&G satanic logo
The Southern Ohio Growth Partnership
Controls P’town like Tammany did Manhattan
And the military now does Egypt.
While the poor of Portsmouth repine, the SOGP fatten.

Only after the homeboy was not reelected
Did the state revoke Lundeen’s license;
Only after one in eight babies were born addicted
Did authorities finally stop the pretense.

Lundeen had been dispensing for five long years,
While Stephanie Haze ranted on the station
Against C.A.V.E. People and  the CCG’ers
For besmirching  P’town’s reputation!

The doctor has fled to Indiana or Pennsylvania.
On the fourth floor, WNXT has found the solution:
Thirty second plugs for Mohr’s Automania—
Instead of pain pills, it’s noise pollution.

Mohr noise

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Look Deeper

Look Deeper

He tried creating a blog of his own
But no one but himself would read the thing.
It was so damn boring and monotone,
Always scolding, always lecturing—
The blogger no one would ever mention.
Like a desperate nerd who always jogs
In heavy traffic for the attention—
He became a parasite on trafficked blogs,
Anonymously depositing comments,
Like lice in kids’ hair, fleas in  dogs’ fur—
The bench warmer who constantly torments
The loser coach to make him a starter.
Vaulter without a pole, player without a goal—
See him look deeper up his own asshole.

                             Robert Forrey, 2011

For more on Look Deeper, click here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: 2011

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a louse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes a city manager soon would be there.

Mike Mearan was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of hookers danced in his head,
And Kalb on the toilet, in his dunce’s cap,  
Had just settled down for a long winter’s crap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Kalb sprang from the toilet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and smoked some hash.

The moon on the breast of a hooker below
Made him want to do wheelies in the snow,
When what to his wandering eye should appear,
But the recycled auditor swigging some beer.

A Kiwanian, looking dishonest and spent,
It could be nobody else but Trent.
Pixilated from playing financial games,
He whistled and called out some names:

“Here Horner! Here Raison! Here Tricky Nixon,
As sure as shootin’ I’m puttin’ the fix in.
You’ll all get raises, public employees all,
Cause your CPFA’s on the ball.”

“To Capital Improvements say bye-bye,
Cause they’re nothing but a lot of pie in the sky.”
Then up to the house-top he flew
Like an elephant jumping out of a zoo.  

Meanwhile, tinkling, Kalb heard on the roof
A drunken footstep that he thought was a  hoof.
Failing to flush the toilet, as Allison told him, he turned around
Just as Trent came down the chimney like a chow hound.

Like a black sheep from head to foot,
Covered all over with inches of soot,
He resembled a sweep who’d just come back
From supplying Mary Poppins crack. 

His eyes so twinkling, his smile so Kiwanis,
His bulk was just short of dinosaurus.  
A Certified Public Financial Administrator,
He was deficit financing’s favorite perpetrator.

He was chubby and plump, a gigantic old elf,
And Kalb laughed when he saw him in spite of himself.
A wink of Trent’s eye, which showed he would fudge it,
Made Kalb understand he would “balance” the budget.

Trent spoke not a word as he cooked the books,
Transferring funds to the usual crooks.
Then putting a finger up his nose,
He chuckled and up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his cycle and gave a whistle,
And away he flew like an unguided missile.
But Kalb heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“Be sure to write Forrey an email tonight.”

                             Robert Forrey, 12/24/11

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Matt Dillon AWOL

Matt Dillon and friend outside of the bankrupt 
Shane DeSimone’s Fork and Finger Restaurant

(*For the Portsmouth Daily Times story, click here.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wanted for Pilfering from the C.I.P. Fund

The Portsmouth City Council for Pilfering from the Capital Improvement Fund

Jim “Dopey” Kalb
Bankrupt head of the Capital Improvement Pilferers.
Chief parasite on the body politic of Portsmouth.

Trent “The Enabler” Williams
The Auditor who cooks the books

Mike “Donut Hole” Jones
The heavily mortgaged clueless city lawyer

John “Deadbeat” Haas.
Bankrupt President of City Council
who cares more for cars than kids.

Rich “One for the Road” Saddler.
The “Portsmouth Boy” voted for the motion to pilfer.

Kevin Johnson.
 The failed businessman who was for Kalb as mayor,
 for gambling, for the city manager form of government, 
and for the pilfering of the Capital Improvement fund.

Nick “Thundering Turd” Basham.
Ex-teacher, ex-bar owner, who served half price Pilfer Beer 
to disgruntled city employees conspiring to recall Mayor Murray.

*See the anti-pilfering briefs filed with the court by Frank Gerlach and Jane Murray by clicking here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Trent Williams's Double Talk

In view of the double talk that City Auditor Trent Williams resorted to in order to evade answering the questions of Frank Gerlach and Jane Murray about city finances at the recent hearing at the Court of Common Pleas, the underlined excerpt from the minutes of  the Portsmouth City Council for 12 January 2004, shown above,*  is revealing. Williams announced in January, 2004, that there were no deficits for the  year just passed, 2003. First Ward councilwoman Anne Sydnor asked how this balancing of the budget had been achieved. Where had the revenues  come from to erase an anticipated deficit? The question could not have been clearer, but Williams replied he “was not sure to what figures she was referring.” Williams gave the same evasive answer more than once when Gerlach asked the same question earlier this month. Williams said he was  not sure what figures Gerlach was asking about. Gerlach, like Sydnor in 2004, was asking for an accounting of the revenues that had help erase the deficit. Williams said he was not sure which revenues Gerlach was referring to. Williams was being evasive because it was not  “revenues” that had erased the budget but rather funds that had been transferred from the Capital Improvement fund. In October, 2003, with the approval of Judge Harcha, the  city had made up the deficit in the General Fund by transferring money from the Capital Improvement fund. By law, the Capital Improvement funds are supposed to be used only for capital improvements, for the city’s infrastructure, and for such structures as the Municipal Building. But a loophole in the law allows the city to petition  the Common Pleas Court to allow the transfer of CIP funds, which is what was done in 2003 and which is what the city is asking to do again, in 2011. The Capital Improvement funds are the piggy bank that the city periodically empties to pay off city employees.  

The sorry condition of the Municipal Building today is a consequence of the funneling of Capital Improvement funds into the General Fund, which is used to pay general operating expenses, such as salaries and benefits for city employees, including fire and police personnel. The  city has been generous to the fire and police personnel in particular because they are a potent political force in Portsmouth, and politicians cannot expect to stay in office if they don’t cater to that powerful political constituency. Now Judge Marshall, presiding in the Common Pleas Court, is being asked again to make an exception, even though, as Gerlach pointed out, the city is not currently in a deficit and has revenues coming in that will assure that it won’t fall into a deficit. Why does the city want the CIP funds to be transferred again? What is the emergency? The emergency is that the politicians, including City Solicitor Jones (who, last time we checked, appeared to be  mortgaged to the hilt and beholden to those who control the city financially**) wants to make sure there is enough money in the city treasury to provide a reported 12% pay increase in wages for the fire department. Can that be right, 12% for fire personnel in these belt-tightening times? Surely the court is not going to reward the city’s  budget busting-infrastructure wrecking behavior by allowing the transfer again. Will the citizens again have to take it to a higher court to see that justice is done, as it did when it appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn the Common Pleas Court’s ruling that City Clerk Jo Ann Aeh had not mutilated recall petitions?

The city is now rehiring the same employees, the same people, who negotiated the contracts while Kalb was mayor that put the city in the financial bind that caused the state to put Portsmouth on a fiscal watch list. Kalb will once again be in a position to help take Portsmouth down the road to bankruptcy, a road he knows something about, having traveled it himself personally, as did the  unelected, out-to-lunch mayor David Malone and the deadbeat president of city council, John Haas. The court should not allow the city to continue to  follow the same path of misusing capital improvement funds, which  led the state to declare Scioto County the first county ever to be in a fiscal emergency. The city will end up like the county if Williams is allowed to get away with his double talk. The city and the auditor have made no effort to change the way the city mishandles its finances since the Common Pleas Court approved the transfer in 2003. By approving another transfer, the court will be condoning the way the city auditor cooks the books.

       *For more on the 2003 transfer of funds, go to Teresa Mollette’s invaluable website  by clicking here.
     ** For my earlier post on Solicitor Jones's personal finances, click here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Bankrupt DeSimone's Crappy Properties

DeSimone and Friends

In July, 2004, Shane DeSimone bought sixteen pieces of heavily mortgaged Portsmouth houses from Home Federal Savings and Loan, a Kentucky bank, for about $440,000 dollars. Three of the properties, 1701, 1703, and 1709 Jackson Street (not shown here), were renovated into the Fork and Finger Restaurant, which he is the owner of. But most  of the houses, including those shown below, were ramshackle and in the seven years since then have only gotten worse. The first house below, at 318 2nd Street, now boarded up, was a crack house for several years. The last house below, at 1525 Jackson, may still have tenants, with children, judging by a light inside and the battered playthings surrounding it. On September 27, 2011, four months after Home Federal Savings and Loan took DeSimone to court, he sold it to Hatcher  for $10,000, well below what the county auditor had it valued at. Hatcher may be doing what homeowners in the John St. area suspected him doing there—letting houses go to hell as a way of depressing property values so he can buy them for a song. DeSimone sued then mayor Murray for saying she thought he bought these properties to launder drug money. He claimed she defamed him, making it harder to achieve one of his ambitions: to be mayor of Portsmouth! Why did he buy these properties? Whatever the reason, he is now bankrupt and owes Home Federal about a half million dollars. His properties will be auctioned off at the County Courthouse, beginning at 1 PM, Wednesday, December 21.

You can see the County Court docket on his bankruptcy by clicking here.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


City Auditor in advanced stages of fiscalholicism 

After sitting in on the hearing at the Common Pleas Court on the morning of December 1, 2011, I reached the following conclusions: 

1. One of the reasons the city is in a fiscal crisis is because historically city officials and the mayor in particular get in bed with municipal employees unions, particularly the police and fire unions.

2. Elected officials do not negotiate with the municipal employee unions, they collude with them because the bottom line for elected officials is getting elected and getting elected or reelected without the support of municipal employees is hard as hell.

3. One of the ways elected officials have paid off municipal employees for their political support is transferring money out of the Capital Improvement account into the General Account.

4. Elected officials are reluctant to spend the Capital Improvement monies on capital improvements—roads, sewers, municipal buildings—because capital improvements do not vote.

5. People vote and municipal employees are people; increasing their wages and benefits makes political sense because they not only vote for the colluding public officials, they campaign for them.

6. The police and fire personnel are very good at campaigning. They do not hesitate to use scare tactics to get voters, especially elderly voters, to vote for measures, such as the increase in the city income tax, that are favorable to police and fire personnel.

7. Now that the city income tax has passed by a narrow margin, police and especially fire personnel are campaigning to get the transfer of unused money in the Capital Improvement account, where it can be used only for capital improvements, into the General Fund, where it can be used to further increase salaries and benefits for police and fire personnel.

8. Municipal unions, and particularly the fire and police unions, give unionism a bad name. Unions that must engage in real negotiations, such as teachers, who are not invited to get into bed with elected officials, are blamed for the higher taxes that result from the increased cost of salaries and benefits of public employees, particularly the police and fire personnel.

9. City solicitor Mike Jones represents the interests not of the taxpayers of Portsmouth but of the municipal unions, particularly the police and fire department unions. 

Fiscalholic City Solicitor Mike Jones, who represents the Police and Fire Unions in city government

10. Both Auditor Williams and Solicitor Jones vowed to Judge Marshall that if he transfers the funds, they will do everything they can to see that the city puts its fiscal house in order. Williams is not an alcoholic but he is a fiscalholic. Some of his answers to questions were so non-responsive and strange as to suggest he is in an extreme stage of fiscalholicsm.

11. If Judge Marshall agrees to the transfer he will be enabling fiscalholics in city government to continue what is by now a long standing practice of robbing the Capital Improvement Fund to pay for salaries and benefits for municipal employees.

12. The Municipal Building is the most glaring example of what happens when Capital Improvement monies are not used for capital improvements. People are very important, including rank and file municipal employees, but so is Portsmouth’s infrastructure, and that is what Capital Improvement monies should be spent on.

Capital Improvement funds have not been properly used to maintain the Municipal Building

The participation of Frank Gerlach and Jane Murray in the hearing, speaking against the transfer,  was outstanding; they are probably the most capable mayors Portsmouth has had in the last half century. We should not give up on Portsmouth when we have people like them speaking up for taxpayers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Sewer Runs Through It

After the Ohio River recedes

A Sewer Runs Through It

When the river rises and then recedes,
It’s obvious we’re in deep trouble
Because it’s like what proceeds
From war-torn cities where the rubble
Remains in the streets months later.
Here, it’s an unbiodegradable “crick”
Coagulating at the Mountain Dude equator, 
 A jungle of exhausted tires and plastic. 
No, this mess isn’t the result of war
But of the arrogant assumption
Of an Olympian right to litter
By the gold medalists of consumption.
Since the town can’t prevent or undo it,
The river runs like a sewer through it.
                             Robert Forrey, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

Black Friday

Whom the gods would destroy, they first addict to shopping.
Life’s one endless whirl of bargain hunting.
It’s worse than free basing, worse than pill popping—
Steer madness, with hoofing and grunting—
Anything to be the first turkey in line
After the stuffing of Thanksgiving.
Getting and shoppingisn’t this a sign,
Isn’t this the purpose, of living?
Isn’t it worth getting trampled to death?
                           Isn’t it more satisfying than sex?                              
Isn’t it what we’ll do with our last breath,
What we’ve been doing since Tyrannosaurus Rex?
After 9/11, with the market sharply dropping,
Didn’t Bush tell Americans to go shopping? 

                                Robert Forrey, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kalb's Record

Nothing would give me more pleasure than never having to write or even think about James D. Kalb again, but that is not going to be the case because in the game of musical chairs  that is played in city government, “Dopey” Kalb ran unopposed for city council to fill the Fourth Ward  seat that was being vacated by “Sleepy” Albrecht. Running unopposed, Kalb of course won. If anyone had run against him, I’m sure he would have lost, but it is the rare qualified decent person who wants to descend into the sewer of Portsmouth politics, and more particularly into  the political armpit that is Ward Four. If he had to run against an opponent on his record, how could Kalb have beaten anybody? His record includes not just his political record—not just Marting’s, Ameresco, Indian Head Rock, and his infamous middle of the night redneck email to me which went viral and global, bringing shame to a city which, as the epicenter of drug addiction, had more than enough to be ashamed about already. No, in addition to Kalb’s political record, there is also his police record. As a pot smoking kid, Kalb was as much of a physical danger behind the steering wheel of a hotrod as he later would be financially at the  helm of city government.  
There are two James D. Kalbs in  police records, the father and the son, and the police records do not always make clear which is which. Though in later records the son is clearly listed as James D. Kalb II, he is occasionally in the earlier records listed simply, like his father, as James D. Kalb.  The police record of James D. Kalb, the father, began when  he was a senior  at the Scioto County Joint Vocational School. (Where Kalb is concerned, it is fitting that the word “Joint” was in the name of the school.) Unfortunately, too often the first place that a person’s substance abuse problem shows itself is behind the wheel of an automobile, which was the case with Kalb. The senior Kalb’s traffic violations began in 1973, when he  went through a stop sign (case #484) in a vehicle that was unsafe (#485) and that had no tail lights (#486). Kalb the kid was just getting started. Later in that same year, 1973,  he was cited  for speeding (#6027) and also cited for driving an unregistered vehicle (#9267), which happened to lack the required safety equipment (#9268). Was he operating under the influence of a controlled substance in any of his driving violations? Quite possibly, because  in that same year, 1973,  he was arrested for  possession of marijuana (#10410). In 1975 he was again cited for speeding, (#5788) and in 1976 he was cited  twice for that same  offense  (#5078 and #6691). In 1977 he  was arrested for disorderly conduct (#2109) and had his license suspended. In that same year, 1977, he got another speeding ticket (#2924). In 1980, he was ticketed for speeding (#7588) and, for the second time, was cited for driving an unregistered vehicle (#9155). In 1980 he was cited by state police for parking in a prohibited area (#9005028). In 1981, he was cited for speeding three times (#6821, #7204, and #8256). 

Kalb’s record also includes the bankruptcy that he and his second wife Allison filed for on January 8, 1991, in United States Bankruptcy Court, in Cincinnati, for the Southern District of Ohio, case #1:91-bk-10132. What kind of a racket is this bankruptcy anyway? Mayor David Malone, in 2005, and City Council president John R. Haas, in 1996, also filed for bankruptcy. Who was Haas’s shyster lawyer? None other than the un-indicted ex-city councilman Mike Mearan! Is it any wonder that Portsmouth is chronically on the verge of bankruptcy with crooks like this running the city? At the October League of Women Voters forum at the Welcome Center, according to the Portsmouth Daily Times (10-19-11) the candidates were asked their views on the city’s financial crisis. Auditor candidate Doyle said the question was “a no-brainer.” City Auditor Williams said, “The city is absolutely in a financial crisis.” Kalb answered, in effect, there is no crisis: “I don’t know that I would consider it a financial crisis.” Yes, Kalb the bankrupt is not worried about the city going bankrupt. Reassuring isn’t it?

Things did not go well in Kalbs personal life either. His first marriage ended in divorce and his son from that marriage, James D. Kalb II, became a drug addict and a felon. In 1998 his second wife filed for divorce, and for custody and child support, and in October of that year she got the court to issue a restraining order against him. His police record continued even after he became a politician. In 1999 he was charged with three instances of mutilating  petitions that had sought his recall from city council (#9902637, #9902644, #9902651). Ohio law defines “mutilation” as the defacement, damage, alteration, or modification of a petition. At a council meeting, City Clerk JoAn Aeh indignantly  denied “mutilating” any petition. (You can hear her indignant denial on Teresa Mollette’s invaluable website, under the “Recall” heading.) Who did she think she was fooling with her bluster. Under oath she had admitted to altering the petitions, including the ones to recall Kalb that had been filed with her, and altering by the state’s definition was an act of mutilation. Kalb was also accused of  “mutilating” the petitions, which in his case consisted of taking photocopies of the original petitions that Aeh had given him and going door to door  to urge  signers to request Aeh to have their names removed from the original petitions. The charges against Kalb were subsequently dismissed in the Scioto County Court of Pleas (big surprise!), but the whole  “mutilation” case went to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled in effect that  JoAn Aeh had indeed mutilated the petitions by illegally invalidating signatures on them. The Supreme Court ordered that those signatures be restored. (For more on this, go to Teresa Mollette’s website through the link above.)  To bring Kalb’s record up to date, in  2009 he was taken to court by Southern Ohio Radiologists for an unpaid bill (#090237). So, in  addition to the traffic violations, the pot bust, the bankruptcy, the restraining order, and the mutilation of petitions, he was also a deadbeat.
For all his misdemeanors,  Kalb has never been convicted of a felony, which qualifies him to be the front man for Lee Scott, the owner of the Columbia Music Hall. Because Scott is an ex-felon, the liquor license for the Columbia can’t be in his name. Always the eager tool for somebody, provided there’s something in it for him, like being manager of the Columbia, Kalb has allowed his name to be on  the liquor license. It may be only a question of time before  his record includes violations of Ohio’s liquor laws.  
    Kalb’s Record on the Issue of City Manager

One of the  reasons I am calling attention now to Kalb’s police and political records is that he is again on city council where, once the city government shifts to city manager,  he will be able to do greater mischief since there will be no real mayor, only a ceremonial one, to keep him in check. In the meeting sponsored by the League of Women Voters (LWV), in October, 2011, Kalb implied he was in favor of the shift to the city manager form of government, offering himself as an example of what is wrong with  the mayoral form of government. He was able to get elected mayor, he pointed out, in spite of the fact that his experience had been limited to being a grocery clerk his whole career.  He was admitting, in other words, that he was unqualified to be mayor. Now he tells us! But why is he confessing  at this point?  Because he and the other scofflaw, deadbeat dad and bozo boozer councilmen will have the city manager under their thumb.  There won’t be a real mayor to stand up to them. The balance of power, so important in all levels of American government,  will be lacking. But back in 1995, when running for city council, Kalb in answer to a question from the League of  Women Voters took exactly the opposite position, saying that “dealing with the public on a daily basis for twenty-five years qualifies me for this position” [as city councilman]. Dealing with the public? Yes, stocking shelves and punching the cash register did put him in contact with the public, but did  that kind of contact qualify him, or would it really qualify anyone, to be a council  member or mayor? In 1995 he said yes it would, but in 2011 he admitted it wouldn’t. In neither case was he speaking truthfully. He was speaking rather only for the sake of political expediency.  Kalb is lacking not only in brains but principles.  He is so stupidly unscrupulous that I think the city charter should have a provision in it that the public can take out a restraining order against politicians like him. 

Jim Kalb is now OK with City Manager

Back in 1995, the League of Women Voters had asked him a question directly related to the issue of the city manager form of government. He replied, in 1995, and it is a matter of public record: “I do favor the present provisions of the Charter concerning administrative service, as opposed to the previous ‘City Manager’ provisions. The chief administrator of the city (the Mayor) should be elected by the entire voting public, not appointed by council members” [emphasis added].
He was against city manager when as a councilman he was conniving to replace Greg Bauer as mayor. But  now that he is  a councilman again and doesn't have a prayer of ever being mayor, he is for city manager. Why? Because he will be one of the city manager’s bosses, that’s why.
Kalb and the other council members will have the power to hire and fire city managers. How long would a city manager with any kind of qualifications, prospects, and self-respect stand working for  and being subordinate to someone with the low moral and intellectual caliber of a Kalb? We can expect to have the same high turnover among city managers we did in the past. At the League of Women Voters forum that I earlier alluded to, there were only twenty-three or so people total in the meeting hall and only six of those—six!—represented the public. Everyone else present was with the League of Women Voters, city government, or the media. The current format for the LWV forums is obviously not to the public’s liking. If the LWV had sponsored a debate on the issue of city manager, I’m sure there would have been more than six people in attendance. I know I would have been there, possibly as one of the debaters. Since the president of the LWV publicly endorsed the change to city manager in a letter to the Portsmouth Daily Times, it is disappointing that she did not think to have a public debate on the issue.
When the chief  supporter of the city manager form of government, Kevin Johnson, came to Portsmouth, within the last ten years, he thought electing Jim Kalb mayor and bringing in gambling would be good for the city. Now he thinks the city manager will be good also, even though Portsmouth tried and for very good reason rejected it in the past. Sometimes Johnson has some good ideas for the city, but gambling, Jim Kalb as mayor, and the city manager form of government are not among them. Johnson has officiously succeeded in sending Portsmouth off on a wild city manager goose chase for good government. How long will the wild goose chase be this time—ten, twenty, thirty years? If he wanted to do something useful, Johnson should have campaigned to reduce the term of city council members to two years. What a blessing it would be if the likes of Kalb and the rest of them were in office for only two years! Think of the recalls that would not be necessary. The maxim that Portsmouth residents should think about as the city returns unwisely to the city manager form of government is this: “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Morning After (the election)

Most residents may be surprised that  in yesterday’s election the county measure to increase the tax  for  the Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services (ADMHS) was defeated and by a sizeable margin.  It is surprising after all the national and local media focus on addiction in southern Ohio that ADMHS went down to defeat. If any measure on the ballot should have benefited from the anti-drug  sentiment in Scioto County, it would have been ADMHS. But that turned out to be not the case. What happened?

About a year ago, I warned the most important figure behind the ADMHS  measure that it might be defeated. I warned him specifically that police chief Charles Horner might horn in and hi-jack the anti-drug movement, and that’s just what he did. Horner may have been a failure as a crime fighter and especially as a drug buster (his own son was guilty of dealing drugs), but he is skilled at saving his own skin.  Even though he has been a miserable failure  professionally, he has succeeded politically. Mayors who have wanted to fire him have come and gone, partly because he sabotaged them politically.

Horner’s goal was the passage not of ADMHS but of the city income tax increase, which, if it survives a recount, will help prevent the loss of jobs in the police department. But the passage of the city income tax increase by the narrowest of margins will not begin to solve the city’s budget ills. On the contrary, it will make those ills worse.  Postponing surgery isn’t the answer to the city’s financial ills. Increasing the city income tax will save jobs in the police and fire departments without doing anything to balance the budget. It buys time, time that the city cannot afford. The financial ills will likely metastasize.


The group that could have insured the passage of the ADMHS measure is SOLACE. But unfortunately Horner hi-jacked that group, which is now functioning as his political action committee. The political support of SOLACE  has emboldened him to run for Scioto County sheriff. If Horner ever had to run for any office, including dog catcher, he wouldn’t have been elected. If he depended upon the votes of his own department to save his job, he would have been toast a long time ago.  He applied for the Shawnee State head of security job, and he didn’t get that, yet he thinks he can be elected the head lawman for the whole county. I don’t think so. He is the most hated figure in Portsmouth, if not the county. I don’t think he deserves to be. There are others, involved directly and indirectly in politics, who are more deserving of that dubious distinction. But he is bad enough. And as much as anybody, he deserves blame for the failure of the ADMHS measure to pass—the measure on the ballot that would have most helped in the fight against addiction in Scioto County. If the defeat of ADMHS doesn't help members of SOLACE realize how far they got off the track when they hooked up with Horner, nothing will. If anybody woke up with a hangover this morning, it should be SOLACE.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Lady Liberty Says Exercise Your Right to Vote on November 8


Increasing the City Income Tax will make it possible for the free-spending Portsmouth City Government to continue to pay salaries and generous benefits to members of the police and fire departments that the taxpayers cannot afford. It's as simple as that.

Here is what the ballot will look like. Vote for fiscal responsibility by filling in the bubble next to "Against the Charter Amendment."


The city manager would be a puppet in the hands of the City Council, which could fire him or her whenever and for whatever reason. The city has already tried the city manager form of government, and it didn't work. Frank Gerlach has been both mayor and city manager of Portsmouth, and he says the city is better off with the mayoral form of city government. 

Here is what the ballot will look like, including all the fine print. Vote against city manager government by filling in the bubble next to "Against the Charter Amendment."