Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Black Mold of Portsmouth

“The black mold Adelphia building still stands, or rather rots, on Washington Street, a monument to the hanky-panky our politicians play by taking worthless property off the hands of the well-heeled.

 Five years ago, on July 24, 2006, articles about the Adelphia Building appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times and the Community Common. Written by Jeff Barron, the opening line of the PDT report was, “Several members of the city building committee gave good reviews to the former Adelphia Communications building Wednesday for use as a police station.”
The Building Committee members were Mayor Jim Kalb and his sidekick Terry Ockerman; First Ward councilman Mike Mearan, who was the chairman; antique dealer Kevin Johnson; and pawnbroker Jim Robinson. The committee  was  accompanied on its visit to the Adelphia building by Police Chief Charles Horner and Captain David Thoroughman.
The committee didn’t just give good reviews to the building; it fell in  love with it. Robinson was quoted as saying, “[I]t seems to be perfect for what they’re wanting. There’s no reason to look anywhere else. My vote would go for it.” He wasn’t talking about the Taj Mahal; he was talking about the ugly, leaking Adelphia building. And what did antiques dealer Kevin Johnson say? He said he was happy with the building because it solved a lot of problems.  The Adelphia building didn’t solve any problems, as far as I can see. Instead,  it created a lot more. For one thing,  the black mold in  the Adelphia building was worse than in the Municipal Building, so how would moving the police department from the Municipal Building to the Adelphia building solve any problems? But Chief Horner was in favor of the move. Why? I believe he was in cahoots with  Neal Hatcher and Mike Mearan, two big backers of the move.

All the News Unfit to Print

Jeff Barron wrote a sentence in his article that makes it easy to see now why he would later be canned. “The building has a musty smell in it and some parts of the ceiling have fallen down.” Barron didn’t realize that there is always news that the PDT does not consider fit to print, news that might upset advertisers or somebody with influence, such as Andy Glockner who didn’t like it when Barron reported that a man who had been arrested for dealing drugs was a mechanic at Glockner Motors. As a PDT reporter Barron  had no business smelling anything or noticing anything falling down, even if it was the ceiling. The musty smell may have been the black mold, which nobody noticed, not even Chief Horner, who is now claiming to have been made ill by black mold in the basement of the Municipal Building.   
With twenty-twenty hindsight, we now know the Adelphia building was a swindle, as the Marting building had been before it. The absentee Adelphia landlord’s lawyer, Mike Mearan, the chairman of the Building Committee, had engineered the crooked deal  by foisting the building  off on the city, which still has it on its hands, like a dead dog  run over by a truck five years ago. The Adelphia building still stands, or rather rots, on Washington Street, a monument to the hanky-panky our politicians play by taking worthless property off the hands of the well-heeled. The city  doesn’t have the money to tear the unsightly building  down, so it remains a monumental eyesore, as it was back in 2006, when the committee and Horner made goo-goo eyes at it. Horner since then has made goo-goo eyes at least several other buildings he’d like to move the police force to.

Kalb The Count
“. . . ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine for the Adelphia building and one against.”

Not only the Building Committee, but everybody in Portsmouth was for moving the police force from the Municipal Building to the Adelphia building, according to Mayor Kalb who will probably be back snoozing on the city council after the November election. Kalb told the Community Common  on that same day, five years ago, July 24, 2006, “When we had the Martings’ forum at Portsmouth High School, 99 out of 100 people that turned in a ballot believed the Police Department should be in the former Adelphia Building.” Can you believe that? Who counted those ballots? Was it Kalb? Was he The Count? Who cast that one dissenting vote? Probably one of those  uncooperative CAVE people.
The city accepted the Adelphia building on the condition, stated  in ordinance 20-2005, that “said real estate . . . is free from all environmental hazards.” If ever the city came into possession of a building that was not free of environmental hazards, it was the Adelphia building, which was about as free of environmental hazards as the Gulf of Mexico was of oil pollution during the oil spill of 2010.  The absentee landlord, who had allowed the building to deteriorate for years, unloaded the building on the city so he could  get a tax write-off, but he could get it only if the building was free of environmental hazards and only if it was subsequently used for some public purpose, which it hasn’t been. It sits there useless five years later, as contaminated as ever. Did the landlord  illegally claim his tax write off to the IRS? Only the absentee landlord knows.
 Each of the last four  mayors wanted to fire Horner. They  understood he was not to be trusted. They understood he is incompetent, disloyal to the bone, and insubordinate to boot. He works hard as police chief, but what he works hard at is  trying  to undermine whomever the mayor might be before the mayor can fire him. He currently has the well-intentioned but naïve Solace group in his pocket. Nine women from Solace reportedly sat in the front row of the  city council meeting last Monday night to complain about the mold in the Municipal Building and to say that  the police force should have a new police station. If the Solace-inspired levy to support drug rehabilitation programs goes down to defeat next November, it will in part be because Horner has infiltrated that group like black mold does the interior of old, leaking buildings. Horner is the black mold of Portsmouth politics, and the air will continue to be contaminated  until some mayor succeeds in firing him.

McGruff the Crime Dog 

In an article in the PDT (19 August 2011),  “SOLACE Vows to Find PPD New HDQ,” Horner is quoted as saying, in compliance with the mayor's restraining order against him shooting off his mouth, that he has not had any direct discussions with SOLACE members about finding a new home for the police station. But there Horner was (in the photo below) at the emergency meeting of SOLACE, hours before the Monday night council meeting at which members of SOLACE showed up to support Horner and his campaign for a new police station. The distrustful dog in the photo apparently hilariously, like McGruff the Crime Dog, tried to take a bite out of Horner.  SOLACE may find next November  that there are a lot of voters in Portsmouth who feel like McGruff and don’t trust Horner.  It is  a shame the good people of SOLACE have allowed their organization to become so politicized and exploited by Horner.

Police Chief Horner (on left) at the emergency kitchen cabinet meeting of SOLACE on Monday, August 22, just after "McGruff" tried to take a bite out of him, not long before the city council meeting that evening. Is this what Horner meant by having no discussions with SOLACE members?