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."

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Billboard from Hell

The Billboard from Hell

First they prescribed Oxycontin,
To help “patients” get well.
Then, just to rub it in,
They erected the billboard from hell.

                            Robert Forrey

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween, 2011


Boon of  the candy manufacturer,
Benefactor of every dentist,
Halloween’s the number one malefactor,
Topps in America’s Ten Worst Holiday List.
Little girls dressed as angels or tarts
And tots in the arms of mothers are taught
To trick or treat and break men’s hearts.
Each Snicker with some pain is fraught.
Fresh from blue-collar neighborhoods,
Grabbing what they can of Good and Plenty,
Little boys dressed as bums or hoods
Foreshadow what they might be at twenty.
Kids addicted to fat, salt, and sugar,
Graduate to sex, drugs, and meshugga.

                            Robert Forrey 2011