Wednesday, October 08, 2014

KWJ's Three Harmful Legacies

First Harmful Legacy

"It was not long after the change back to the City Manager form of government that KWJ became President of City Council in which capacity, with his shaved head, he bore some resemblance to  Mussolini, il Duce, the dictator of Italy during the Second World War." 

I have already written a post on Kevin W. Johnson’s most harmful legacy in Portsmouth, (click here) which is the misnamed City Manager form of government. It should be called the City Council form of government. Under the City Manager form the mayor is either eliminated completely or retained as a political eunuch. The City Manager form of government increases the authority of the City Council. The City Manager, in the absence of a mayor, becomes  subordinate and answerable to the City Council, which has the authority to hire and fire him or her. The City Council has the authority to formulate the policies it wants the City Manager to carry out. Though Portsmouth had already tried and eventually rejected the City Manager form of government, KWJ, with his characteristically dictatorial tendencies, engineered the change back to City Manager in an off-year coup d'etat election without most residents being aware of what was happening.

It was not long after the change back to the City Manager form of government that KWJ became President of City Council in which capacity, with his shaved head, he bore some resemblance to Mussolini, il Duce, the dictator of Italy during the Second  World War. When the City Manager and other members of the City Council saw what a tyrant KWJ was, they united against him and forced him to resign as President of City Council. KWJ agreed to resign, but to save face he claimed he was resigning because of health problems. He reportedly has had health problems for some time, so they were probably not the real reason for his resignation.

 The City Manager form of government did not work in Portsmouth in the past, is not working now, and probably will not work in the future, not even if we had a city manager whose primary residence was in Portsmouth, not Piqua, some 150 miles away. If it were not for KWJ, Portsmouth would not have the albatross of the misnamed City Manager form of government around its neck.

Second Harmful Legacy

Another harmful legacy of KWJ is the virtual canonization of his late business and same-sex partner, Paul E. Johnson. In canonizing his late partner, KWJ, an inveterate politician, is trying to improve  the very negative image of himself he has created. I am not opposed to same-sex marriage, but I am opposed to anyone who thinks that same-sex marriages are made in heaven and acts, as KWJ does, as if his same-sex partner was a saint or at least someone who deserves to be memorialized with an annual “Paul E. Johnson Memorial Fund Soiree,” to quote the obsequious Portsmouth Daily Times reporter Frank Lewis’ description of what he claims is “One of the area’s favorite charity fundraisers.” Just what did Paul E. Johnson do for Portsmouth that prompted Main Street Portsmouth to memorialize him with an annual charity "Soiree"? In failing in the upscale antique business in Appalachia, was Paul E. Johnson a martyr to taste? Is that why he is being memorialized? Speaking of taste, the use of the phony French word soiree for the annual event underscores the pretentiousness of KWJ with his wine-tastings and his campaign to change the Portsmouth city seal because he wants something less gauche, something more au courant, as the French would say.  There is even a plaque on one of the least historic and most commercial looking Portsmouth buildings that the most prominent same-sex couple in the city lived above before their upscale antique business went bust.

If I have this right, both Paul and Kevin Johnson were originally from Appalachia. But you can’t cross-pollinate Appalachia with San Francisco anymore than you can Peoria with Paris, as the Paul E. Johnson Soiree will annually serve to remind us. And speaking of bad taste, what about those ugly funereal flower pots that detract from the beauty and constitute a hazard for joggers along the Floodwall Murals? Adding insult to ugliness, those pots now display advertising plugs for Main Street Portsmouth and for KWJ’s apotheosized late partner.

Third Harmful Legacy

I will conclude briefly with KWJ's third harmful  legacy, which is the confusing charter amendment he has got placed on the ballot for next month’s election. That amendment seeks to repeal the spending restraints placed upon the city government in a previous charter amendment. Our city officials are so addicted to spending that if there were half-way houses for fiscal addicts, city officials would be confined to them. If Johnson’s charter amendment is passed, it will be one more reason why we will live to regret that KWJ ever returned to Appalachia. Don't  be confused by the language of KWJ's amendment, which implies we won't have money for sewers if his amendment doesn't pass. That is a canard that even the City Manager has publicly said is not true.  As in the sample ballot below, vote against KWJ's charter amendment!