Thursday, September 08, 2011

Drunk on Celebrity

Lisa Roberts and Chief Charles Horner as Annie Oakley and Marshall Matt Dillon

Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner and Lisa Roberts, R.N., of the Portsmouth City Health Department,  are apparently drunk on the celebrity they have gained as a result of the national and international coverage of  the notorious drug problems in Portsmouth and Scioto County. But just like  the big hats in the photo above, fame appears to have  gone to their heads. Horner and Roberts  were dubbed the Matt Dillon and Annie Oakley of Portsmouth by Marianne Skolek, a blogger who lives in South Carolina but writes about Portsmouth on a website in Oregon. Skolek has done a great job exposing Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, the drug that caused the death of her daughter and many thousands of others.  But even if Skolek  is an expert on  pills,  I would say she doesn’t know beans about the politics of Portsmouth. If she did, she would not have mistaken  Horner for a Matt Dillon and Roberts for an Annie Oakley.

Yet, to her credit, Skolek was not willing to let the celebrities she had helped create get away with  mugging. When she saw the photo above, which was posted on a public website, Skolek gingerly chided Horner and Roberts for behaving unprofessionally. Skolek’s point, which was well taken, was that there is nothing funny about the addiction epidemic, no matter how you look at it. If Horner and Roberts were looking for laughs, they should have looked elsewhere. Roberts took umbrage at Skolek’s criticism  and shot back, “We have paved new paths. We are ‘Trailblazers.’ People need leaders and Hero’s [sic] today more than ever.” Yes, we do need leaders and heroes more than ever, but we should be the one to choose them. We don’t want them choosing  themselves. We don’t want our public officials getting drunk on celebrity.

Those of us who  do not just blog about but also live in Portsmouth  would never choose Horner as a hero.  Austin Leedom,  on The Sentinel, Teresa Mollette, on her website, and I on River Vices  (click on the links below), have been exposing Horner as a fraud for a long time. Horner is, in the Texas expression, all hat and no cattle. He is, at best, the Barney Fife; at worst, the J. Edgar Hoover of Portsmouth—lying, prying, spying,  and conniving. As Leedom wrote, “Horner has a long record of refusing to prosecute law violators and a sorry record of making errors of the worst kind in his bumbling attempts as leader of the Police Department and as commander of the Drug Task Force.” Teresa Mollette wrote, “Chief Horner infringes on the fundamental rights of all citizens of Portsmouth, Ohio. Through intimidation, coercion, and threatening tactics, he continues in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights, privileges and immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States and the city of Portsmouth, Ohio.” I wrote just recently on River Vices,  “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.”

As for Ms. Roberts, she is proving herself more the Nurse Betty than the Annie Oakley of Portsmouth. According to the Portsmouth Health Department website, she works in the Office of Injury Prevention (OOIP), where she serves as coordinator. The kind of injuries and deaths the OOIP seeks to prevent are those related not to drugs, at least not directly, but to vehicles, of all kinds, from  kids’ tricycles to semi-trailer trucks. How then did she become the unofficial  spokesperson for the city government on the drug epidemic? By attaching herself to and becoming a spokesperson for SOLACE, the support group founded by Jo Anna Krohn in the spring of 2010. Krohn has tended to stay in the background, with others, especially Roberts, becoming the public face of SOLACE, which she has helped transform into a virtual Political Action Committee for Horner.

Do you get the picture? Horner is no joke. He is a serious impediment to the fight against drugs and crime, and no real progress can be made as long as “Matt Dillon”  has his hand around the throat of  Dodge City and as long as “Annie Oakley” is taking aim at, and feeling the muscle of,  the dopey looking chef. The above photo, taken outside of the Fork and Finger Restaurant may become as infamous as the one of Neil Hatcher giving the finger in front of Clayton Johnson’s Fourth Street estate. One picture is worth a thousand words.