Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Something There Is That Doesn't Love A Wall"

And the Wall Came Tumbling Down

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Robert Frost wrote in one of his unforgettable poems. Because the walls stand in the way of their roots growing in that direction, roots are among the things that don’t love walls.

Sometime  early in the morning a few days ago, the wall at the northwest corner of Washington and 4th Street collapsed, sending bricks and large cinder blocks on the sidewalk. Because the roots had finally had enough of the tall brick wall, the wall had to make way for the roots that had undermined it. The wall is part of the property at 633 4th Street, which is currently owned by Dr. Alain Asher, the heart surgeon who recently moved to Arizona. The previous owners of the property and the lovely, landmark house on it, had neglected the tree.

If the wall had collapsed during the day, a pedestrian or the elderly man in a motorized wheelchair who passes there almost daily could have been injured. More menacingly, if the towering dying tree shown in the photo above fell  in the direction of Washington Ave.which with its roots exposed on its eastern side is the direction it likely would fall—it will probably hit the utility pole, and the tree and pole could fall on one of the many passing vehicles with such force that anyone in the vehicle could either be killed or seriously injured. Every hour that the tree remains in its current precarious position poses a serious public danger. Until that ancient, dying tree is removed, Washington Street should be cordoned off in that block and traffic detoured.

The situation at the northwest corner of Washington and 4th Street reminds me of the situation that existed in the southwest corner of Tracy Park when the city allowed Kiwanians to build a playground  in the southeast corner of the park, near trees that were in danger of falling on the playground because  some of their roots would be cut during the construction.    In spite of warnings from concerned citizens, the playground was built and within a couple of years a tall tree fell directly on the slide that children often used during the day and on a bench that parents sometimes sat in to keep an eye on their kids. Fortunately, the tree on the southeast  corner fell late at night and no one was injured.

The incompetent Jim Kalb was the mayor back when the Kiwanis playground was built, and he is mayor again. The more things change, the more morons end up being mayor of Portsmouth. But we now have a city manager, whom some people believe is not a moron, so maybe something will be done promptly to end the hazardous situation at the northwest corner of Washington and 4th. I will forward this post to his office.

Kiwanis Playground and Fallen Tree

The Cover-up: An Update on 633 4th Street

Since I last wrote on the fallen wall at 633 4th Street (see article above), there have been developments. Dr. Alain Asher, who now lives and practices medicine in the Southwest, tried for several years to sell the house. That attempt failed and to make matters worse the wall fell under pressure from tree roots  in late October of last year,  making a sale all the more difficult. In addition to the falling wall, the exhorbitent price he paid the Clayton Johnsons $440.500 for the property, which was almost twice what the Auditor's Office valued the property at, which was $244.150. So Asher paid almost $200,000 more than  the Auditor's valuation. If the property had been on the Hill, that would have been one thing, but 633 4th is in the heart of the Boneyfiddle district where the value of property, already low because of chronic poor Portsmouth housing market,  is falling further because of the presence of the Counseling Center, which has been attracting drug addicts from the tri-state area for decades. The reported crime rate in Boneyfiddle is high; the unreported rate is appreciably higher because residents often do not report petty crimes because it is a waste of time.

One of the new developments at 633 4th is that Asher  has reportedly leased the property to a doctor at the Southern Ohio Medical Center. Coinciding with the leasing of the house, the fallen wall is being rebuilt, but nothing is apparently being done about the tree whose exposed roots bulldozed the previous wall. One of the purposes of the new wall is to cover up the old problem of the huge trees at the northeast corner of the property. Asher is not prepared, perhaps is not financially able, to pay for the huge costs that would be associated with removing those trees, and in particular the tree whose roots are exposed. But by allowing him to cover up what is a hazardous situation with a new wall,
the city bears some of the moral and financial responsibility for any injuries or deaths that might result should that tree, sooner or later,  fall. The fact that we now have a city manager makes very little difference. He is surrounded by and collaborates with the same kind of crooked city officials who previously got away with cover-ups in the past. Jim Kalb is still the incompetent crook he had always been and he will soon be joined on the city council by Jo Ann Aeh  who deserves the title Coordinator of Corruption for the role she played in the past as the city clerk.

Relevant Posts: "Kiwanis Playground: Deathtrap for Tots?" Click here
                             "The Hole Truth": click here

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Here Comes the Judge!



Listen voters and you shall hear
Of candidate Jones’ incompetent career,
Getting less done from nine to five
Than any man now alive
On any day, in any year,
In one and out the other ear.
As Portsmouth city solicitor,
His performance was so poor
In the office and the courtroom,
He didn’t know his who from his whom.
In fact, he was so ill-suited for the job  
That he prosecuted Harald Daub
For allegedly shoplifting a shopping bag
From Aldi’s—Yes,  a shopping bag!—
But the jury unanimously acquitted
Daub, Jones having proved himself half-witted
And guilty of gross incompetence,
Revealing himself as very dense
By showing an Aldi videotape
Over and over again as if a rape
Was being committed, as if Daub
Was attempting to brazenly rob
Or commit a felonious assault
While doing a double summersault. 
But he was doing nothing of the sort,
As the jurors could see clearly in court,  
As shown by the security camera,
Which was very different from Jones’ chimera.
Having been found unanimously not guilty. 
Daub deserved an apology, not a penalty, 
For Jones had shown himself to be not Perry Mason
But Inspector Clouseau, avec très peu de raison,
Bumbling ahead without a clue,
Worthy of inclusion in The Fool’s Who’s Who.


A fool in court, without any ands, ifs, or buts,
Jones was a royal dunce when it came  to donuts.
His name will forever be Crispie Cremed
With the  roaches with which his donut shop teemed—
Roaches in display cases, on the counter,
More roaches than you would ever encounter
In roach motels or in greasy diners
Or in all the pantries in the Carolinas—
Roaches on the ceiling, roaches on the floor,
Roaches lining up impatiently at the door,
Roaches with reservations, roaches without,
Roaches without pull, roaches with clout,
All waiting to fulfill their crummy dream,
Of carte blanche at Jones’ Crispie Creme
Where appalling, unsanitary conditions
Led the neighbors to circulate petitions.
For the roaches, Crispie Creme was all the rage, 
But customers avoided it like the plague.
Now, if those roaches were allowed to vote
That would sure be all she wrote,
For Jones would be judge in a landslide,
With swarms of insects by his side 
Because roaches don’t know from incompetent.
To the  roaches Mike Jones was heaven-sent,
Which is why they’ll shout, “Here comes the Judge!”
And from him they will never budge, 
And in Portsmouth the future tense
Will be drugs, drugs, drugs and the usual nonsense—
Counseling Centers, half-way houses,
And judgeships filled with incompetent louses.

                                Robert Forrey, 2014

The kind of shopping bag Daub was falsely
accused of shoplifting from Aldi's

      Other relevant posts from River Vices

Donuts, Obesity, and Diabetes (click here)
La Cucaracha (click here)
From Dollars to Donuts (click here)
The Trial of Harald Daub (click here)

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!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Drug Addicts and Clients, Prostitutes and Euphemisms

Who are the honest public officials and who are the political prostitutes? Who are the Salvation Army Ladies and who are the Shady Ladies? Who are the Scioto County Commissioners? They are the shady public officials who got Scioto County placed on emergency fiscal watch by the State of Ohio because of their fiscal mismanagement. One example of their fiscal mismanagement was when they provided the juvenile detention center in the historic Boneyfiddle neighborhood of Portsmouth,  rent-free, to Ed Hughes. The Scioto County Commissioners recently signed a letter of support for   Compass Community  Health (CCH), a front company for Counseling Center, Inc. CCH has applied to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to be reclassified as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

Why does CCH want to be reclassified as a FQHC? Soine Hash Program Director of CCH told the Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT) that one of the advantages of FQHC status is that it will give CCH "access to enhanced reimbursement for services provided." What the hell does "enhanced reimbursement" mean? If it's not clear what it means that's because it's a euphemism. A euphemism is a word or phrase used to cover up something unethical or illegal. For example if you form a business one of whose services is to provide drugs to drug addicts,  then you call that service "counseling" and you call your drug addicted customers clients.   Here's  another example of a euphemism. If a  hooker walks up and down John Street in a Salvation Army uniform she's  a euphemism. What  the euphemism "enhanced reimbursement" really means is that Ed Hughes will be able to squeeze even more money from the federal, state, and local  governments for housing, transporting, treating, and coddling addicts with the result that he will become even wealthier than he already is.

I have written a letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, urging them to reject the CCH request for FQHC status. I believe Counseling Center, Inc., and its front companies, are partly responsible for Portsmouth being not just anecdotally but also statistically, one of the worst cities for drug-abuse in the country. Because it has attracted drug addicts from other counties in Ohio as well as from neighboring states since its establishment ten years ago, the Counseling Center, Inc., with its medicine-man promise of miracle cures, has made drug abuse in the Portsmouth area worse, not better

Before HRSA grants CCH FQHA status, it should require Counseling Center, Inc., to make public verifiable statistics to justify its claims to miraculous recovery rates. Recidivism is notoriously high among addicts. Are Hughes' "clients" exceptions to that rule? In 2013, the FBI indicted forty-four individuals in the southern Ohio area–including three counseling center owners in a health care fraud and distribution scheme. On September 25, 2014, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials raided two Portsmouth counseling centers owned by Paul Vernier, an Ed Hughes wannabe. What is Ed Hughes? What is Paul Vernier? A humanitarian or a hustler? A drug counselor or con-artist? In Portsmouth it's hard to tell the sweet talkers from the street walkers or the Salvation Army ladies from the shady ladies. Before it grants CCH the FQHA status, the HRSA better be sure it knows the difference.