Wednesday, September 17, 2014

644 4th Street: The Turning Point?

The misinformed, misleading classified ad that
appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times, 9/9/2014

It is too early to say for sure, but something happened in the Municipal Building in connection with 644 4th Street  on Tuesday September 16th, that may turn out to be an important date in the history of the reform movement in Portsmouth. The scam sale of the Marting’s building a dozen years ago was the turning point in the struggle against the Johnson-Hatcher poverty-fueled racket that milked the state and federal governments of money that was supposed to alleviate poverty in Portsmouth but actually increased it. What happened on September 16th may be the turning point in the struggle against the new crook on the block, Thurman “Ed” Hughes and his rapidly expanding drug-fueled “counseling” businesses, which are supposed to be reducing Portsmouth’s dependency on illegal drugs but are actually increasing it.

The classified ad above, which I have enlarged,  appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT) where it was buried, in very small type, in the back pages where it would not likely be seen by neighbors living near 644 4th Street, in Boneyfiddle, or by anyone else either. But even if they had seen it, would they have known what it meant? In the deceptive language of the ad, the words “counseling” and “dormitory” and “client” are used but there is no mention whatsoever of drugs, addiction, or rehabilitation. Until just a few days before the hearing on the 16th, nobody in the 4th St. neighborhood had seen that ad or known about the hearing scheduled by the City Planning Commission (CPC) in the Municipal Building until somebody put a flyer with a copy of the ad under the door of a 4th St. resident, around September 13th, and within hours most of the neighborhood knew that 644 4th St., along with a house at 1327 Kinney’s Lane, were to be converted into "residences" for "clients" of Ed Hughes' lucrative counseling businesses. For the fiscal years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, Hughes' Scioto County Counseling Center reported revenue of over $20,000,000 (that's twenty-million dollars!) to the Internal Revenue Service.

The CPC Lacks the Authority

About twenty-five people showed up for the City Planning Commission hearing at the Municipal Building, more than had been expected, so it was moved from the Engineer’s Office to Council Chambers. The City Manager Derek Allen, who chaired the hearing, surprised everybody  by declaring at the outset  that Item # 1 on the agenda, Compass Point Housing's request to "utilize" the houses on 4th St. and Kinney's Lane for "dormitory style living for up to 10-14 "residents," was out of order because the CPC had no authority to authorize such a utilization and that the item should not have been on the agenda in the first place. The Counseling Center and its Compass affiliate would have to take their request to convert 644 4th St. and 1327 Kinney’s Lane into drug rehabilitation “dormitories” to the City Council. The CPC lacked the authority? The hearing should not have been held? How could that be when the City Planning Commission itself had submitted and paid for the classified ad in the PDT?  Hadn’t the City Manager, who chairs the CPC, read the ad before it appeared in the PDT? And if the City Manager hadn’t read it beforehand, hadn’t the City Solicitor, and shouldn’t he, as the city's chief legal officer, have understood that it was a mistake to bring the issue before the CPC? But the City Solicitor apparently  didn't know.  Was this an example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing? Was this  snafu the result of the City Solicitor’s notorious cluelessness?

The City Manager’s announcement that the hearing was a mistake was not the only surprise. When he got a chance to say something, Craig Gullion, executive director of Compass Point Housing, said his organization was no longer interested in acquiring 1327 Kinney’s Lane, anyway, because it was too small for the 10 to 12 “clients” he had wanted to house there. Isn’t the size of a house the first and most obvious thing one notices, and wouldn’t the County Auditor’s website have provided the exact square footage for the executive director to determine whether 1327 Kinney’s Lane was a house he wanted to utilize? The size may not have been the only problem with the house. Since 1327 Kinney's Lane is owned by Municipal Court Judge Steven Mowery’s family, wouldn’t the sale of it to the Counseling Center/Compass Point Housing have raised the issue of his  possible conflict of interest, and might that not have been a possible additional reason why the Mowery property was not  suitable for a half-way house?

Boneyfiddle Saturated with Counseling Center, Inc.

The question now is whether the Counseling Center/Compass Point Housing is going to request the City Council to allow it to acquire 644 4th Street, which, if I understood correctly, they would need to do since that house is at present a private residence rather than a commercial property. But if they make such a request of the council and if they go ahead with their plans for 644 4th, they may wish they hadn’t because now as a result of those attending the-hearing-that-shouldn't-have-been-held, the 4th St. residents know what the Counseling Center and Ed Hughes are up to and they are strongly opposed to it, having signed a notarized petition to that effect that was handed to the CPC at the hearing. The Boneyfiddle district is now the most saturated Counseling Center neighborhood in Portsmouth. There is for starters the Counseling Center's Stepping Stone house for pregnant girls at the corner of Front and Court Street. Then there is the large Counseling Center facility located in the former Scudder School on the corner of 4th and Court Street, and not far from that is the Second Chance facility, at 521 5th Street, which previously had been a detention center for delinquents. In "Neighbors in Terror at Second Chance Drug House," Wally Leedom interviewed a middle-aged housewife who lives near that facility. She told him that drug deals go down  day and night through the metal fence. We owe to Austin Leedom, the retired but tireless former deputy sheriff and his son Wally deep thanks for being the first to expose the government-financed racket Hughes is running in Portsmouth.

When it comes to the patience of Boneyfiddle residents, 644 4th St. may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, just as the Marting’s building had been for for the whole city a dozen years ago. The 4th St. residents are united now and could lead a campaign against Ed Hughes’ rapidly spreading cancerous Counseling Center businesses. If they do, then we should be thankful that the misleading and mistaken classified ad appeared in the PDT, for out of its misbegottenness may grow a movement that might put Counseling Center, Inc., out of business, like the racketeering SOGP was by the FBI in 2012.
644 4th St.: the house the Counseling Center has designs on

Earlier must-read posts on Ed Hughes and the Counseling Center

"Just Say No to Ed Hughes" (click here)

"From Pill Mills to Counseling Centers" (click here)