From Ashes to Ashes, from Drugs to Bust
“But with the right vision, with the right decisions, and with the right management, success can happen, even out of ashes.”
The clipping above and the quote below it is about the Columbia Theatre from the January 2012 issue of the Shawnee State student newspaper The Chronicle. It is not just misleading, it is false. The student reporter was misinformed, if not lied to, by the crooked ex-mayor James Kalb and his wife Allison. Contrary to what the story says, the Kalbs do not own the Columbia. The Scioto County Auditor’s website lists Christine Scott, not the Kalbs, as the owner of the property. (See Auditor ’s record below.) Christine, a lawyer, is the wife of Lee Scott, a local businessman, who is the true owner of the Columbia. Scott’s postings on Moe’s Forum leave no doubt who the boss is. Contrary to what the Chronicle story says, it was not the Kalbs who restored the Columbia. It was not the Kalbs who had “the right vision,” and made “the right decisions.” It was Lee Scott and his son Eddie who had the vision and restored the Columbia. They did it in the face of enormous obstacles—one of which was Greg Bauer, another crooked ex-mayor of Portsmouth, who did everything he could to stop the renovation. The other obstacle was the fire that gutted the interior of the interior and left the ashes referred to above. I videotaped Lee and Eddie doing restoration, before the fire, for the documentary, Recall, available at the Shawnee State Library and Portsmouth Public Library.
Kalb has had a twenty very odd year career in local politics but only because he was willing to serve as the faithful lapdog to the unelected multimillionaires who control the city. Currently, Kalb is Lee Scott’s lapdog. Lee Scott has a felony conviction for drug trafficking, and ex-felons are prohibited by state law from owning any establishment that sells alcohol. Lee’s wife Christine, a religious woman, reportedly would not agree to have a liquor license in her name, which is where Kalb comes in. Kalb is the front man for Scott. The liquor license and the business are in Kalb’s name. And the business is alcohol. It could not survive without it. “The Columbia now has a full bar and concessions,” the story says. “Our goal is to cater to the students,” Allison Kalb told the reporter. With Kalb and his wife operating the business, it’s a virtual certainty that not all the students who consume alcohol on the premises will be of legal age, although their friends who do the buying may be. Nor will alcohol be the only drug consumed either.
The Kalbs are a curse, to themselves and the city. They illustrate the curse of drugs in America. Kalb’s only son has a long history of drug abuse and recently served a drug-related prison term in Chillocothe. A brother of Kalb was also reportedly involved heavily in drugs. The Chronicle story says “success can happen even out of ashes.” There a lot of ashes in Kalb’s life, if you know what I mean, but little success. He failed as a grocery clerk at Kroger’s where he would have been fired long ago, I was told by a former employee. if it weren’t for the Teamsters Union, which provided him with some job security. Kalb’s rap sheet, which I recently posted on River Vices speaks for itself. He and Allison have already declared bankruptcy once, and, they could file again, perhaps bringing the Columbia down with them. Lee is taking a big chance letting them front for him. But you won’t read about that in The Chronicle, which makes the Columbia sound like some kind of mom and pop operation, the better to lure homesick students to Ma and Pa Kettle’s—I mean Ma and Pa Kalb’s—din of inebriety.
Auditor’s records showing Kalbs do not own Columbia Theatre