Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Portsmouth's Trashy Municipal Building

Portsmouth is in the news again! Not for drugs but for trash.

When Janice Shanks recently hauled  two bags of  trash to mayor Malone’s  office in the Municipal Building, a local newspaper reporter, Frank Lewis, happened to be in the Municipal Building and wrote a story about it. The trash story went viral  even in the virile Lone Star State. The story appeared in newspapers in  Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio,  etc.  A friend of Janice Shanks in Texas read about it on Yahoo. It has possibly been reported in every state in the union, by one means or other. It was even reported in Idaho and Maine. How do you like them  potatoes?

The trash story  has appeared in the Huffington Post, as redneck Portsmouth Mayor Jim Kalb’s trash-talking midnight email to me did in September, 2009. (Click here for that story.)

Reports of it  have appeared in thousands of  newspapers, television stations, web sites and emails across the country and around the world.  Malone got himself and the city a million dollars of publicity,  bad publicity, by the way he mishandled the trash. And of course buck passer that he is, Malone’s  blaming the mess on Bill Beaumont, the City Service Director. That was one of Kalb’s tricks, to blame Beaumont, and Malone is following suit. Miscommunication is the word Malone used to describe what happened. It’s not miscommunication, it’s mismanagement, his mismanagement. 

Janice Shanks is a sweet woman with a sense of humor and she’s taking it in stride. When I asked her about it, she replied with tongue in cheek, “It must have been a slow news day.”

Portsmouth Poster Boy for Dysfunctional Government

As  this trash mix-up illustrates, Malone has become the national poster boy for dysfunctional government. Janice Shanks’s trash had not been picked up because our financially  strapped city did not have the money to pay sanitation workers on the day it was scheduled to be picked up. Besides that, a truck had broken down and another was being repaired out of town because there was no one qualified in Portsmouth to work on it.  The   trash pick up on Monday, Labor Day, was canceled and then on Tuesday the sanitation workers picked up the trash for the homeowners whose trash should have been picked up on Monday.  Are you still with me?

The homeowners  whose trash pick-up day was Monday got their trash picked up on Tuesday, but those whose  trash pick-up day was Tuesday never did get their trash picked up all week.

More Trash Than Meets the Eye

There is more trash in this story than meets the eye. Reporters for the Portsmouth Daily Times do not write stories that might offend  or embarrass the rich and influential. Yes, we have a number of rich and influential people in Portsmouth, even though the city is too poor to pay for trash collections on Labor Day. PDT reporters do not write stories that might reflect poorly on the rich and influential nor on the  politicians who serve their interests.

Although he was groomed by one of the  rich and influential to be mayor-in-waiting, Malone has apparently fallen out of favor, probably partly because he doesn’t know how to serve their interests and partly because he likes to take off on junkets, as Kalb liked to take off for long geezer biker race weekends in the South.  Now a lawyer, John Haas,  is president of city council, and therefore next in line to be mayor.  The rich and  influential would probably like to elevate Haas to the mayor’s office because a lawyer in the mayor’s office, even a deadbeat one, is worth ten philandering  preachers in the bush.  It’s true that Haas’s personal life would shock voters  almost as much as Malone’s would,  but the PDT doesn’t report on the scandalous lives of Portsmouth politicians and public employees. For example, when former public employee Tom Bihl was leading the campaign to recall Jane Murray, the PDT never reported on his  shenanigans when he was police chief and auditor. If any reporter had revealed Bihl’s record during the recall campaign against Murray, he would have probably  been out of a job like previous reporters who had written something that embarrassed the rich and influential.

Trashing and SLAPPing Mayor Murray

Jane Murray was our deficit hawk mayor. Unlike our clueless city auditor, Trent Williams, she made it her business to know where the money was coming from and where it was going.  Because of her zeroing in on the budget, they  first clipped her wings and then they  SLAPPed  her silly. SLAPP stands for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.  City councilor Mike Mearan SLAPPed me for calling him a shyster in River Vices,  so I had to pay  a lawyer to defend myself. Murray had at least three such nuisance suits filed against her, the aim of which, I believe, was to drive her out of office and into bankruptcy as a result of her legal expenses.

Malone’s attempt to save money by cutting back on trash collecting is ironic because he contributed $1000 to the Committee in Support of Police and Fire, a political action committee that is supporting the measure on November’s ballot that will increase the city income tax. Note that the committee is in support of police and fire fighters, not city sanitation workers. The passage of the income tax measure  will not improve the trash situation or Malone’s chances in the election.

Mayor Malone Contributes to Tax Increase 

Mayor Malone contributes $1000 to campaign to increase city income tax

Why is Malone supporting the increase in the city income tax? Because  he wants the support of the police and fire department when he runs in the next mayoral election. Does he need the support of the police and fire personnel  more than he needs the support of the homeowners and registered voters of Portsmouth? A number of the police and fire personnel do not live in Portsmouth and therefore are not voters, but even if they aren’t,  they are good at  campaigning and will be going door to door, in Portsmouth, in uniform,  in support of the income tax increase. But will they support Malone in the next mayoral election? With Horner as police chief,  I doubt it. It will cost Malone a lot more than a thousand dollars to get their support.
If Malone had personally paid for the overtime portion of the sanitation workers’s  Labor Day pay, instead of contributing to the Committee in Support of  Police and Fire,  he would have done far more to help his chances in the next mayoral election. But I predict Malone will lose the next mayoral election by a wide margin, as he has twice in the past. Malone has a trash problem all right. A rich white trash problem.