Friday, November 01, 2013

Financial Black Mold

      “We have all been wondering what the heck to do with this building.” KWJ

At a meeting of the City Building Committee (20 Nov 2006),  Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner told committee chairman Mike Mearan that when Dr. Singer  signed  the Adelphia building over to city it was infested with black mold. In speaking to Mearan, Horner might as well have been speaking  to a stone(d) wall.  In chairing the  City Building Committee,  Mearan was in a flagrant conflict of interest because he was Dr. Singer’s shyster lawyer. (To read “Mearan's Conflict of Interest,” click here.) As an absentee landlord living in Los Angeles,  Dr. Singer  had long neglected keeping up the Adelphia building, or so  a longtime Adelphia employee told me. The city never should have accepted Singer’s “gift,”  which came not only with strings but  with toxic mold spores attached, or so Horner claimed. Horner also claimed mold in the Municipal Building had made him ill. Naturally, he didn’t want the police department relocated to another moldy old building, especially if it was black mold. “Depending on the length of exposure and volume of spores inhaled or ingested,” the entry on black mold in Wikipedia states, “symptoms [of toxic black mold] can manifest as chronic fatigue or headaches, fever, irritation to the eyes, mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and throat, sneezing, rashes, and chronic coughing. In severe cases of exposure or cases exacerbated by allergic reaction, symptoms can be extreme including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding in the lungs, and nose.”

At that same City Building Committee meeting (20 Nov 2006), another committee member said that if the Adelphia Street building had black mold, “that building’s no good anymore,” adding that it “had to go.” The committee member who said it had to go was current duplicitous First Ward council member Kevin W. Johnson.  Contrast Johnson’s negative statement above about the Adelphia building back in 2006 with the positive one he made at a recent city council meeting (9 Nov 13) where the council voted to authorize legislation to fund the rehabilitation of that controversial building. “We have all been wondering what the heck to do with that building,” Johnson is quoted by Frank Lewis in the online  Portsmouth Daily Times (10 Oct 13). Speaking at that council meeting to the City Waterworks Director Sam Sutherland, Johnson said, “This solves the need you have had for a long time since you lost your property (pipeyard) to King’s Daughters.” Sutherland is one of three incompetent city employees Jane Murray fired not long after she took office. (To read more about those firings, click here.)    King’s Daughters is the Ashland based hospital that had  been portrayed as an outsider corporation that took local  jobs and property away in the process of opening a Portsmouth branch clinic. That is what Johnson implies when he says Sutherland “lost” his property to King’s Daughters.

There is $700,000 in the Capital Improvements budget (CIP) that Sutherland wants used to rehabilitate the Adelphia building. It was Mayor Jane Murray who opposed the city illegally using CIP money to provide salary increases for city employees,  but I think she would have opposed putting one nickel of CIP funds to rehabilitate the Adelphia building. The final cost for its  ill-conceived rehabilitation will be closer to a million dollars before it is done,  and that may not be all the city will pay if Waterworks employees eventually claim they developed health problems as a result of working in the rehabilitated building.

Kevin W. Johnson said he had wondered what the heck to do about Adelphia building. I’m wondering what the heck we’re going to do about Kevin W. Johnson.  Since he arrived in Portsmouth. Johnson has never  failed to suck-up to the politicians, developers, lawyers, and bankers  who control the city economically and politically. He is yet another Portsmouth failure  who  turned  to politics when his own mismanaged business failed. Johnson, of all people, is chair of the city council’s Economic Development Committee.  His idea for the city’s economic development is to go upscale  and spend money the city  doesn’t have. Why he even wants to upscale the city seal! Look at how he mishandled the city manager search. The public was not told the candidate the search committee had selected had trouble with the law until after the candidate was offered the job at a salary of $105,000 plus generous benefits and a nice severance package should he not work out, which (count on it) he will not work out. If Johnson is allowed to mishandle  the finances of the city the way he mishandled the finances of his upscale antique shop, the state is going to have to take over Portsmouth’s finances.

Whether or not there is black mold in the Adelphia building,  there is financial black mold in Portsmouth city government, and Johnson is the one who is spreading it, like the plague. If the other members of council continue to go along with the  crazy proposal to spend  nearly a million dollars rehabilitating a worthless building that its owner unloaded on the city, Portsmouth citizens should unite as they did against rehabilitating  the Marting building, a leaking, moldy, asbestos death trap that should have been torn down a decade ago.

Upscale City Seal