Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Party’s Over

Nick Basham, the poster boy for everything
 that is wrong with pawnish Portsmouth politicians

The Party’s Over

The death yesterday of singer Andy Williams and an article that appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times today (9/27/2012) titled “Layoffs Possible After State Reviews Budget Plan,” made me think of the lyrics of the  popular song:

The partys over
s time to call it a day
ve burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
s time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid

     Yes,  the party appears to be over as far as the illegal budgetary transfer of public funds, which the City Auditor and PDT  reporter Frank Lewis continue misleadingly to refer to as “charge-offs.” Instead of calling an illegal transfer of funds an illegal transfer of funds, or an  unwarranted allocation,  to use the state auditors phrase, the city auditor has been calling  it a “charge-off” to dupe the public, and the Portsmouth Daily Times has played along with the duping, for duping helps make the party possible. According to state statutes, monies must be used for the purposes for which they were  appropriated. Charles F. Barga, Chief Auditor for the Athens Region, informed  City Auditor Trent Williams that  “Ohio Revised Code Section 5705.10(H) states that monies paid into a fund must be used only for the purposes for which such fund has been established.” Barga, incidentally,  is a Certified Public Accountant. Portsmouth City Auditor Williams is not.
What the city government has been illegally doing for years is partying on public money, using funds that were appropriated for roads, sewers,  public buildings, etc., using those largely for salaries  and benefits for themselves and other city employees. To stay in office, Portsmouth politicians have been buying off public employees by  illegally  transferring funds. Most of our elected and unelected office holders are the bankrupt pawns of local plutocrats. The denigrated  Municipal Building, a photo of which accompanied the Times article, is a dingy  monument to “charge-offs,” that is to illegal budgetary transfers. Instead of maintaining the building, the politicians for a long time  have been neglecting it.  The city council recently appropriated some six thousand dollars for engineers to make yet another study of whether or not the building is a hopeless wreck. If it is, it is a result more than anything of “charge-offs”  and recurring costs of these engineering studies of the building’s structure.
Party Pooper
The party pooper, the person who helped bring the illegal transfer of funds to the attention of  the public and state officials, is former mayor Jane Murray. Because she would not party along with the boys, because she was not a party girl, she was vilified as a witch and recalled from office. Any elected official who shows signs of fiscal sanity, and doesn’t indulge in the “charge-off” double talk,  is labeled as a head case or malcontent and is soon  out of office. Bob Mollette, who I believe may have been the most conscientious and capable city council member in the last half century, was replaced by one of the most unqualified council members in the last half century, Nick Basham, an obstreperous, bumptious, arrested adolescent who was known for throwing chairs around when he was a temper tantrum teacher and later served as the taunter-in-chief of Mayor Murray when she was in office. Now he is a budget basher.  “It really bothers me as a local elected official that first we had one plan of CIP money a local judge didn’t find palatable,” Basham is quoted in the PDT article as saying. “So we came up with another plan, and we thought this out. We worked the budget out. We came up with numbers that within years we could be back at least to a level. And now it’s almost like having the rug pulled out from under you. It’s the state telling the local government basically what you can and can’t do and at the same time telling us we can’t have a deficit. So what if we just don’t do anything with this? If we leave it the way it is, what is the State Auditor going to do?” Instead of chairs, Basham is  now throwing budgets around. How dare anyone tell us we cant continue to do charge-offs and run deficits!
What Basham reflects is the deeply rooted distrust and dislike of outsiders and the defiance of authority that is ingrained in hill culture. Steve Hayes on WNXT and Frank Lewis on the PDT help fan this incestuous Appalachian paranoia, a paranoia that our local plutocrats profit from. They don’t want anyone restricting them in their greedy accumulation of millions.  Just as states’ rights were  used historically to perpetuate slavery,  the city charter has been used to perpetuate “charge-offs” and corruption.  Budget basher Basham is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with pawnish Portsmouth politicians, and  he is the best argument for getting rid of the city charter. He’s no longer throwing half-price drink parties for disgruntled city employees in his bar, but he continues to act as if the drinks are on the taxpayers. The party’s over my paunchy friend and the piper must be paid. 

The Municipal Building, a dingy  monument to “charge-offs”