Monday, July 30, 2012

Lapdog Journalism

Lapdog Lewis Lauds City Solicitor

Frank Lewis of the  Daily Times wrote a column on July 25th (“Solicitor’s Speech Reminds Us to See the Good Things”) that is one of that journalistic lapdog’s most shameless, hand-licking performances  In it, he flatters the  businessmen whose advertising dollars are helping keep the sinking Daily Times afloat along with his own job.  “We have business people such as Jeff Albrecht, Andy Glockner, Chris Lute, Rick Morgan, and numerous others, working selflessly,” Lewis fawningly wrote,  Selflessley? When he isn’t trying to fix an auction in Athens, Jeff Albrecht is trying desperately to get the Municipal Building torn down and replaced by something  that  will help him pay for the new Holiday Inn he built on the site of his previous downtown mistake,  the  Ramada Inn, the “Queen of the Rust Belt,” as one traveler dubbed it. Were the Glockners acting “selflessly” when they moved their automobile dealership from downtown Portsmouth several miles out on Route 23? Was Chris Lute acting selflessly when he did the same thing just a few years ago with Lute Plumbing? Glockner and Lute were  not acting selflessly; they were acting shrewdly, as businessmen must in the competitive commercial world. They were thinking of their profits, not of downtown Portsmouth’s wellbeing. All the empty buildings and lots that Lute left behind act as a further drag on the chronically depressed downtown economy. Moving was the sensible thing for Glockners and Lutes to do, but don’t be a poodle and lick their  “selfless” fingers.
At least the Lutes and Glockners and other businessmen whom ladog Lewis praises are successful, but Mike Jones is in the tradition of the failures and bankrupts who gravitate to public office in Portsmouth, such former and present city officials as Greg Bauer, Jim Kalb, John Haas, and David Malone. Although you are not likely ever to read Lewis writing about it,  Kalb, Haas, and Malone handled their personal finances so badly that they ending up declaring bankruptcy. The only question now is whether Mike Jones will be soon joining them. In 2007, Jones paid a whopping $325,000 for the  down-at-the-heels Crispie Creme donut shop on the corner of Waller and Gallia Streets, a property the County Auditor had valued at $107,990. Paying $325,000 for Crispie Creme, a three hundred percent increase over the value the auditor placed on it, is even more inflated than the $2,000,000 of taxpayer money Bauer, Kalb, et al, illegally drew on to pay for the Marting building.Where did Jones get the money to throw away on a dying industry like donuts? When it comes to diet, according to a nutritionist at the New York Obesity Research Center, the only healthy thing about a donut is the hole. Like almost all public officials in Portsmouth, Jones was a puppet of the dishonest,  now disgraced and defunct Southern Ohio Growth Partnership, from which he borrowed $147,000. Where did Jones get the rest of the money for his financially suicidal purchase? The American Savings Bank obliged him with a $182,000 mortgage.
        The donut shop was badly mismanaged under Jones, but it  probably would have failed anyway, with the heavy mortgage it was weighed down with. If only Crispie Creme had as many customers as it had cockroaches, it might have stayed in business. In an earlier posting on Crispie Creme, I asked, “Why did Jones and his partner pay $325,000 for a walking-dead donut shop?” Now that the business has gone belly up, as the For Sale in front of it crookedly proclaims, that question is even more pressing. If only there was an investigative reporter on the Daily Times, instead of a lapdog, we might get the answer.
The SOGP was Portsmouth’s shadow government, wheeling and dealing while playing with federal taxpayer dollars, doling out millions of dollars with little oversight. The American Savings Bank was not much better. In 2005, in a move that made it possible to avoid the kind of paper work and scrutiny that goes with being a publicly held company, ASB went private, buying out its shareholders. Since then, as a private company, its financial operations have become somewhat inscrutable, like they were at AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers. Why in the world would ASB grant a $187,000 mortgage to a business that time has proved  had absolutely nothing going for it? In 2005, ASB had granted a mortgage for a house at 2828 Willow Way for which Jones paid $192,000. The auditor had it valued at $142,820. That mortgage was apparently farmed out to CoreLogic, formerly First American, in Westlake, Texas, about which I will have more to say in another post. Jones has got to be the most highly leveraged person in Portsmouth city government. The question at the moment is will he join those other shady members of city government, Kalb, Haas, and Malone, in filing for bankruptcy? That is not a question the lapdog will answer.

Crispie Creme has gone belly-up as the crooked For Sale sign proclaims