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.