Friday, November 06, 2015
[A reposting of a 2015 post on the occasion of the firing of Derek Allen as Portsmouth's city manager on Monday, November 18, 2017.]
The opening sentence of a report in the Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT) by Frank Lewis posted online on 6 November 2015 states, “Portsmouth City Council will take action to authorize Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen to begin to advertise for bids and to enter into contracts with the lowest and/or best bidder for required supplies, materials and services for 2016.” According to the report by Lewis, “Yearly requirements include such items as manhole rings and covers, asphaltic concrete, uniforms for police and fire departments, chemicals for water filtration, police department radio maintenance and other equipment and services.” Lewis then details the costs of the new breathing apparatus the Fire Department needs. “The estimate from Breathing Air Systems lists the original price of $11,842, showing a 16 percent discount, bringing the cost to $9,947.28, less $1,000 for the trade-in of their existing unit, the new price is $8,947.28. Allen said there is an additional cost for shipping and installation of $819 and he is requesting an additional $1,000 for contingency.” Lewis then explains why the present breathing equipment is obsolete, an explanation which is even more complicated than the financial breakdown, so I won’t reproduce it here.
What I will emphasize here is that one of the important details Lewis failed to mention, even in passing in his report, is that our carpetbagging city manager who will put out for bidding all services and materials that cost $50,000 or more, as required by state law, was himself guilty of violating state law regulating the purchase of materials when he was the assistant city manager in Piqua, Ohio, where he continues to make his home, though his high paying job is in Portsmouth, which is why I call him a carpetbagger. Not only did Allen ten years ago break the law in purchasing $160,000 worth of gravel for a bike path without putting it out for bid, but he compounded his crime by lying under oath when he testified about the gravel purchase. (See the Celina Daily Standard report at the end of this post.) On the basis of his testimony, Allen was convicted of perjury and received a fine and a suspended jail sentence. Shouldn’t Lewis in his story on contract bidding at least have alluded, if only in passing, to Allen’s failure to follow state law about the bidding process in Piqua, where they probably would not hire him now as dogcatcher. Because of the PDT's soft pedaling of Allen's controversial career, as many as nine out of ten Portsmouth residents may have no knowledge of his criminal record, nor of his inability to hold on to a job. Unlike honest investigative PDT reporters who lost their jobs when they reported something they shouldn’t have, Frank Lewis is a master not only of omission but also of innuendo. He knows not only whose toes should not be stepped on but also whose toes should be on behalf of the crooked clique.
For example, on November 4, in reporting on the results of the Portsmouth elections the day before, Lewis did not limit himself to reporting on Tom Lowe’s decisive victory in the Sixth Ward city council race; Lewis also alluded, as he had in the past, to the alleged ganging up by Lowe and Shawn Stratton on the Sixth Ward incumbent Jeff Kleha in the primary election. “Stratton and Lowe were at the center of a controversy in the May Primary,” Lewis wrote, “when they seemingly teamed up to defeat incumbent councilman Portsmouth attorney Jeff Kleha, leaving him as the odd man out. It was that election in which the Scioto County Board of Elections allowed Sixth Ward voters to vote for two instead of one as had always been the practice of the city in previous elections.” The so-called “controversy” arose primarily not because of past election practices but because Kleha had been a political rubber stamp for city manager Allen, who hated to lose him. Because Allen has a history of not being able to hold a job, he needs every city council member in his corner. It was not Stratton and Lowe but the voters in the Sixth Ward who made Kleha “the odd man out,” but Lewis does not see it that way. In reaction to Kleha being voted off city council, there will be an amendment on the March 2016 ballot to outlaw elections in which electors can vote for more than one candidate. That amendment has Allen’s fingerprints all over it. The amendment serves the purpose of further calling into question the legitimacy of Lowe sitting on the city council. The politics of Portsmouth are even dirtier under the city manager form of government than they were under the mayoral form of government. If only there was a Breathing Air System for readers of the Portsmouth Daily Times whose use of smoke and mirrors to mislead Portsmouth residents about the political corruption in one of the dirtiest drug-addicted cities in America.
Tim Loper was elected to city council as a candidate who was strongly opposed to the city’s costly plan to renovate the decrepit Marting building into the new city hall, but once elected as reformer, Loper became a tool of the corrupt clique that controls Portsmouth. The corrupt clique valued Loper so much that they provided him with a sham address in Ward One to allow him to continue on council even after he and his wife moved to another ward. Allen is a far more valuable tool to the corrupt clique than Loper ever was, and the PDT and Frank Lewis in particular will be careful not to step on Allen’s toes at the same time that they will be reminding residents that Lowe, should he continue to act like a trouble-making reformer, had "seemingly" resorted to electoral chicanery to get on city council. If Lowe for any reason does not finish his four-year term, Kleha will be waiting in the wings to be appointed to the city council by the city council, which is how he got on council in the first place. Those foolish four-year terms for city council are what enable the game of musical chairs to be played over and over again. Will we ever have a city council that will allow for the return of two-year terms, which will make recalls and musical chairs a thing of the past? Not when we have the likes of Jim Kalb and Jo Anne Aeh and the convicted perjurer like Derek Allen as city manager. I will end this post by reproducing a story from an Ohio newspaper that, unlike the PDT, does not use smoke and mirrors to protect convicted carpetbaggers.