Thursday, December 18, 2014

O, Little Town of Portsmouth

The Marting Building,  alias the Town Center, All Aglow
As hard as it is to believe, the empty, leaky, moldy, politically radioactive 135-year-old Marting building is  yet again being pushed as the home for city offices in spite of voters having turned it down again and again.

How proudly, how reverently
A gift from Marting’s was given,
For Marting’s imparted unto Appalachia
A little touch of heaven—

A cashmere sweater, a prom dress,
A suit, a shirt, a fancy tie-pin—
“One of Ohio’s good stores,”
A place where even a guy would buy in.

But now in the leaking building
Shineth an unearthly light:
The mold of hundred-and-thirty-years
Glows eerily at night.

O, little town of Portsmouth,
How still thy overdozing politicians lie,
Who paid two million for Marting’s
And gave the city a black-eye.

While the rich whites celebrate
Xmas on the Hill above,
Listening to the caroling
To the birth of the God of love,

The fifty-thousand-watt Weasel,
Full of holiday chatter and mirth,
Is canoodling the Skunk and the Fox,
And a Mike of considerable girth.

O, God above,
Listen to us, we pray.
Cast out the lawyers and developers,
The Philistines of today.

Let the archangel Gabriel,
The great glad tidings tell:
The rich white trash of Portsmouth
Are going straight to hell.

                        R. Forrey, 2009

This poem was originally posted on Dec. 11. 2009. For the 2006 Marting Xmas poem, click here. For more on the Marting building, click here.


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Can of Worms Counseling Center

The Loco Fred Astaire Can of Worms Logo

The phrase “a can of worms” has not been around very long so its meaning is still evolving. I will use the phrase in this and a subsequent series of River Vices posts on the Scioto County Counseling Center (SCCC) in the sense of “creating a host of potential problems.”  There are so many problems at SCCC, or so many worms in the can, that it’s hard to know where to begin, but it would be useful to know, at the outset, who the officers in the somewhat shadowy company are. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service form 990, which can be seen on Guidestar, an  information service that keeps tabs on American non-profit companies, there were  four officers in the fiscal year 2012-2013: Thurman Edward Hughes, Andrew B. Albrecht, Lora Gampp, and Kevin L. Blevins.

Officers at SCCC as of 2012-2013

Title    Name                           Compensation

CEO     Edward Hughes              $140,134

CEO    Andrew Albrecht             $80,674

CFO    Lora Gampp                     $83,327

COO   Kevin Blevins                   $78,007

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the principal decision-making person in an organization. In the case of the SCCC there appears to be one too many CEOs.  I don’t understand how there can be two CEO’s in one company, but the form 990 filed with the IRS by the SCCC names both Hughes and Albrecht as CEOs. In a report in the Portsmouth Daily Times (24 July 2013), Albrecht is referred to as the Executive Director of the Counseling Center. But only  Albrecht’s  name is listed  in the person-to-contact box of IRS form 990 (above), suggesting he is in charge of day-to-day operations. Possibly Hughes, in his big house high on a hill in Sciotovlle, is in semi-retirement, but still collecting full salary. In the calendar year 2012, form 990 informs us, there were 217 SCCC employees, whose  salaries amounted collectively to about $6,000,000, which was about 60% of the roughly $10,000,000 in revenue SCCC took in that year. Where does all that revenue come from?

SCCC has what could be described as a  captive clientele, since many of them begin drug rehabilitation treatment under a court order. That captive clientele  could also be called lucrative since Uncle Sam, with deep pockets, directly and indirectly, pays most of the cost of their  treatment.

That Albrecht  would oversee so big an operation is surprising  since he does not appear to have the educational qualifications for a CEO. Anyone in  field of addiction counseling, which has mushroomed in the last quarter century,  must swim in a sea of anagrams. The anagrams that follow Hughes' name are MPS and LICDC, presumably for Master of Professional Studies and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. Hughes co-authored a book titled Baffled by Addiction (2009). I will admit to being somewhat baffled by the acronyms in the field of addiction counseling. If Albrecht has anagrams after his name, it is a well-kept secret. His educational background was not mention in the PDT story that reported his promotion to Executive Director, but neither was his police record reported in that same story. His rap sheet stretches  as far back as 1996, when he was not yet out of his teens. (If he had broken  the law in his early  teens, that is no longer part of the public record.) The anagrams associated with his police record, such as  DUI and DUS, are a matter of  public record, and reveal that in addition to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUI) and with his license suspended (DUS), that he was also arrested for underage drinking; for failing to yield; for driving the wrong way on a one way street; for speeding (more than once); for illegally parking on a public highway; for not wearing a seatbelt;  for possessing drug paraphernalia; for drug use (more than once); for assault; for disturbing the peace; for disorderly conduct; and for receiving stolen property. If 1996 was his earliest run-in with the police, 2013, when he was clocked doing 70 in a 55 mph zone, was his latest. It was just months after that ticket for speeding that he was promoted to C.E.O./E.D. at SCCC. During the years most bright, ambitious young men his age would have been pursuing an undergraduate and graduate degree in some professional field, Albrecht, judging by his police record (below), was into drugs, speeding, and screwing off. But since these acronyms in the field of addiction counseling can be earned at least in part online,  perhaps he too has more than one anagram. 


If abusing drugs and driving recklessly appear to be  requirements for holding public office in Portsmouth, as in the case of the failed grocery clerk, Jim Kalb, why shouldn’t those same lawless activities qualify someone to be the CEO of a Portsmouth company like the SCCC? It is true that Albrecht has not yet  failed in business and declared himself bankrupt, which appears to be another requirement for holding public office in Portsmouth, but he is still in his thirties. He has time. Who knows, if he is crooked and incompetent enough, he too may end up, like those  lugubrious failures Kalb, Bauer, Malone, Haas, Saddler, and Kevin W. Johnson, slithering in the can of worms  of  Portsmouth politics. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Addiction to Money: the Skunk, the Fox, and the Consigliere

Money-addicted Fox and Skunk 

In my previous post, “A Brief History of Portsmouth’s Psychotropic Addictions,”  I said there is a drug, loosely speaking, that has been even more pervasive and addictive than the cocaine, Valium,  Oxycontin, Suboxone, etc.,  that have plagued Portsmouth. That drug is money. Unlike addictions caused by chemicals, the addictions caused by money are called  process or behavior addictions, in which,  through the release of pleasure-producing dopamines, the brain gets rewired neurologically and as a result compulsively repeats the pleasurable pursuit of money. "In the brain," Wikipedia says, "dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Most types of reward increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity."

Dopamine molecules

A couple of  enterprising money addicts,  whom I called the Skunk and the Fox in a poem I posted five years ago (click here),  realized they could get rich quick by capitalizing on  Portsmouth’s pervasive poverty, the crumbling housing stock and eminent domain being the skunk’s bailiwick, the legal monkey business of estate planning  and tax write-offs being  the Fox’s. In 1963, in a speech before Congress, President Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty. The federal government’s weapon of choice in that war was not tanks and battleships but money.

In  that same year, 1963,  a handful of Portsmouth entrepreneurs  formed  a now infamous private corporation that ended up with the name Southern Ohio Growth Partnership, Inc. (SOGP), with the Fox being the brains behind the operation. The mission  of the SOGP was to distribute the War on Poverty money that  was flowing into southern Ohio in the form of  grants and loans for deserving businessmen. (Just as there are "deserving poor,"  there are deserving businessmen.) In deciding which deserving businessman got how much of the addictive drug, money, the  SOGP Fox was the equivalent of a powerful drug lord. The SOGP went out of business last year after it was discovered they were cooking the books. The Fox has since retired but the Skunk has not. Some years ago I was told of an exchange somebody had with the Skunk. When asked why he hadn’t retired seeing he had already made a lot of money,  the Skunk said, or so the story goes, “There’s never enough money.”

The War on Drugs

As the Skunk and Fox had profited from the money the government spent on the War on  Poverty, a couple of younger money addicts have come along in Portsmouth who are profiting not from the passé War on Poverty but from the War on Drugs. They see themselves as drug counselors acting out of humanitarian and even religious motives, but their critics think of them more as consiglieres, which is Italian for "counselors."  Just recently, one of these consiglieres has had his two Portsmouth counseling centers raided by the police and he has been charged with money laundering and racketeering. 

The term War on Drugs was  coined by President Nixon in a special message to Congress on June 17, 1971, in which he promised federal resources would be devoted to “the prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted.” Thirty-five years after Nixon declared War on Drugs, that war rages on, with no end in sight, with an estimated $51,000,000,000 (that's 51 billion!) being spent annually on it, dwarfing what had been spent on the War on Poverty, which did not last beyond the 1960s. Of the 50 states in the U.S., Ohio is the 11th most addicted and Scioto County among the highest per capita addicted Ohio counties, and no where more so than in the county seat, Portsmouth, which attracts money addicts like honey attracts flies. For soldiers of fortune, Portsmouth is a very profitable place to fight the War on Drugs.

In my next post I will provide a peek inside the Scioto County Counseling Center, Inc., the oldest, largest, and most profitable of the local "non-profit" counseling centers. I will also throw a little light on the shadowy but well-paid "consigliere" behind it. 
. . .

Brain circuitry

"The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Most types of reward increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity." For more on brain circuitry as a result of process addiction, see my previous post "Just Say No to Ed Hughes"  (click here).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Brief History of Portsmouth's Psychotropic Addictions

In the last sixty-five years or so, psychotropic (mind altering) drugs  have had a profound  impact on America and on  Portsmouth in particular.  The history of  psychotropic drugs, at least in Portsmouth, can be divided for rhetorical purposes into roughly  five  overlapping stages. Those could be called, based on the psychotropic drug that predominated in each:  (1) the chlorpromazine (2) the meprobamate;  (3) the benzoylmethylecgonine; (4) the paramorphine; and (5) the buprenorphine  stages. Except for the anti-psychotic chlorpromazine, which was marketed in the U.S. as Thorazine, all of these drugs are addictive to varying degrees. However, the withdrawal symptoms associated with Thorazine can be similar to withdrawal from addictive drugs.

The Chlorpromazine (anti-psychotic) Stage

Above: The psychotropic anti-psychotic chlorpromazine in 3D molecular structure

The first important psychotropic drug in America was the powerful anti-psychotic chlorpromazine,  marketed in the United States as Thorazine. First synthesized in 1950, chlorpromazine revolutionized the psychiatric care of psychotics, particularly schizophrenics. According to Wikipedia, “The introduction of chlorpromazine during the 1950s into clinical use has been described as the single greatest advance in the history of psychiatric care, dramatically improving as it did the prognosis of patients in psychiatric hospitals worldwide.”  In the 1950s, I worked as a psychiatric aid in mental hospitals in Massachusetts and Connecticut  and witnessed firsthand the dramatic improvement  in  the treatment of patients brought about in large measure by chlorpromazine.

I began as a psychiatric aid at Boston State Hospital where I  assisted in the use of hydrotherapy and electro-shock to treat psychotic patients. But just several years later I worked as an aid  in a private mental hospital in Hartford delivering chlorpromazine to more tractable patients. In the 1960s and 1970s, because of  the “tranquilizing” effect of chlorpromazine on psychotics, many public mental hospitals closed down, as Boston State Hospital did in 1979 and as the  Receiving Hospital did in in Portsmouth decades later. Because of advances in  anti-psychotic medications  and the subsequent deinstitutionalization of mental patients, today people are walking the streets in  American cities, including Portsmouth, who would  have been institutionalized  in the 1950s. Diversity was not a virtue in the '50s, when there was little tolerance for deviation in sex, politics, or social behavior.

The Meprobamate (tranquilizer) Stage

Above: The 3D molecular structure of the psychotropic diazepam  (Valium) 
The success of Thorazine helped set  the stage for the synthesizing of milder psychotropic drugs for the treatment of patients with emotional rather than mental problems, patients who were classified as neurotic rather than psychotic. The first tranquilizer, meprobamate, was marketed as Miltown in 1955. “Thorazine—which offered the first effective treatment for schizophrenia—had revolutionized the treatment of institutional psychiatry,” Newsweek reported in 2009, “and Miltown seemed to offer a pharmaceutical counterpart to the management of everyday nerves.” People of a certain age will remember what could be called the  Miltowning of America in the late 1950s. To quote Wikipedia again, “Launched in 1955, [Miltown] rapidly became the first blockbuster psychotropic drug in American history, becoming popular in Hollywood and gaining notoriety for its seemingly miraculous effects.” The pharmaceuticals that developed them usually touted the “miraculous effects” of new  drugs, which was the case with meprobamates. The  harmful side effects were downplayed if not denied entirely. Just as the tobacco industry covered up  the carcinogenic risks of tobacco,  the pharmaceuticals downplayed the addictive nature of tranquilizers.

Miltown was followed by Librium and then  Valium (diazepam), which,  after it was introduced in 1963, became the most widely used  tranquilizer in the world.  Valium was prescribed for everything from phobias to depression, and from anxiety to restless leg syndrome. But it became clear over  time that tranquilizers, including  Valium, were addictive, and when used regularly for a long period, became a serious problem. The  withdrawal symptoms that users experienced when they tried to stop taking Valium were  severe. I know a woman  in her nineties who was addicted to Valium for over  a half century, with only her doctors and close relatives knowing that she was. From what I have gathered, the  first prescription drug addicts in Portsmouth were not long-haired youths but respectable, responsible members of the community who were victimized by the pharmaceuticals that synthesized meprobamates and  by the  doctors who overprescribed them.

The Benzoylmethylecgonine  (cocaine) Stage

It was illegal drugs such as heroin and meth, and particularly cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine), that became the drug of choice in Portsmouth for so-called recreational users. One of the consequences of the  cocaine stage was that the money it illegally generated remained in the underground economy. Drug dealing is a cash only business. That's especially the case with cocaine. The on-line  National Geographic News, of all soures, reported in 2009 that nine out of ten American bills show traces of cocaine. The traces get there when the bills change hands in a drug deal or when addicts use the bills to snort coke.  The coke trade  did little for the chronically depressed economy of Portsmouth. Instead of helping the economy, the money generated by  the cocaine trade  created havoc.  Another problem with cocaine, especially crack cocaine,  was that  too many of  the dealers and  their customers went to jail or died of overdoses. The high incarceration and mortality rate was not good for the coke business. If you have a business that caters to customers who end up behind bars or dead, you do not have customers you can bank on.

As a sign of the extraordinary pervasiveness of the drug problem in Portsmouth’s cocaine stage, the son of the mayor, the son of the police chief, the son of a prominent judge, the son of a prominent lawyer, and the sons and daughters of other prominent fathers became addicted, with some of those sons becoming  dealers themselves. Though more sons than daughters became addicts, the daughters were by no means closeted, for many of the  streetwalkers in Portsmouth were hooked on drugs.  Some years ago I talked to an addicted prostitute on John Street who told me she was related to a bail-bondsman. There was no escape from drugs no matter what family or which social class or which side of the law you were on, or whether your dad was a criminal or a judge. 

 During the crack stage, local, state, and federal governments spent much more money on  than for addicts, much more money arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating than  rehabilitating addicts. There was much more money to build jails to lock addicts up than there was for clinics to treat them.  In 2006,  at the tail end of the crack craze, the $12.5 million dollar Scioto County Jail opened for business with the expectation that if you built it they would come. But with the attrition of crackheads, the new jail had  trouble maintaining full occupancy. That meant the county was losing money while  still having to pay about  $350,000 or so annually to service its debt for the jail.

Jailing addicts for  crimes that were both directly and indirectly related to drugs became  a highly competitive business. The financially strapped Scioto County Jail sought to have prisoners from other counties’ crowded jails transferred to its underutilized facility. Under this arrangement, the other  counties picked up the tab. The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reported in 2014 that ten Lawrence County prisoners had  been incarcerated  at the Scioto County Jail in 2013 at an annual  cost of $230,869 to Lawrence county. When Lawrence county sought to have the empty former youth prison in  Franklin Furnace serve as a less expensive backup to its crowded jail in Ironton, the Scioto County commissioners and sheriff strongly objected, calling the Lawrence County plan not only unfair and in violation of state statutes but also “stupid.”  For competing contiguous counties to be calling each other names is just one of the indirect consequences of the drug epidemic in southern Ohio where addiction, at least for law enforcement agencies, has been  a growth industry. Much of the breaking and entering of homes and automobiles in the Portsmouth area was done by addicts desperate for money to buy drugs. Incidentally, many  drug-related petty crimes were not reported to the police during chief Horner’s stewardship, so Portsmouth’s official crime rate was probably a lot higher than statistics suggested, though those rates were already quite high.

The Paramorphine (oxycodone) Stage

Above: The 3D molecular structure of the psychotropic drug  oxycodone 

The oxycodone stage of addiction in Portsmouth was more profitable than the cocaine stage at least for the pill-mills and those connected to them. Instead of the illegal cocaine, heroin, and meth that fueled the cocaine stage, the oxycodone stage was fueled by a  less potent but  fairly expensive and widely available psychotropic prescription drug. The best selling  brand of oxycodone, Oxycontin helped alleviate pain, including the pain  associated with withdrawal from more potent narcotics, but without producing the high that addicts crave. What made Oxycontin less potent was its timed-release formula. The user did not experience its potency all at once but  gradually, over time. But the timed-release formula was far from foolproof.  An addict was able to easily unleash Oxycontin’s  potency immediately by  chewing, pulverizing, or liquefying it, in which forms it could be swallowed, snorted, or injected.  Even the addition of nalaxone to produce nausea when the drug  was taken in large doses did not stop Oxycontin addiction in the Portsmouth area from  increasing exponentially.

On 9 April 2011, a New York Times reporter wrote of Portsmouth, “This industrial town was once known for its shoes and its steel. But after decades of decline it has made a name for itself for a different reason: it is home to some of the highest rates of prescription drug overdoses in the state . . .” Things got so bad in the Portsmouth area that Governor Kasich said publicly that, when it came to pill-mill prescription drug abuse, “The devil is in control in Scioto County.” One public health official reported one in ten babies born in Scioto County were addicted. The police chief reported that more people had died in Ohio from drug overdoses in 2008 and 2009 than had died in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. What the police chief, Charles Horner, did not report was that his addicted, drug-dealing son was one of those responsible for the overdose deaths. I was told by someone in a position to know that Horner’s  son brazenly dealt drugs in a restaurant directly across the street from the police station.

Typically, the local  media at first  turned a blind eye to the pill mills as chief Horner had to his son.  In the same downtown office building and on the same floor as the local radio station WNXT, one shady  out-of-town doctor opened a pill-mill office with patients from the tri-state region lining up like customers at  the popular DariCreme on 2nd Street. When a veteran WNXT newscaster learned  a  pill-mill down the hall had been raided,  its existence was news to him.

The doctors who indiscriminately prescribed and the people who owned and operated the pill-mills made  millions of dollars, and in doing so gave a boost to the  local economy, but at  what a cost. Oxycontin became so  widely used and abused that Portsmouth became known as the Oxycontin capital of the nation with one Portsmouth doctor reportedly writing more prescriptions than any other doctor in the country.  The Portsmouth pill-mills became so out of control in their pursuit of profits that they were finally raided by federal, state, and local federal law enforcement agencies. Some of the pill-mill owners and doctors  were arrested and convicted, bringing a reduction, though certainly not an end, to Oxycontin  addiction in Portsmouth.

The Buprenorphine (Suboxone) Stage

Above: The 3D molecular structure of the psychotropic buprenorphine (Suboxone) 

Much more savvy and public-relations oriented, and much better connected politically, the counseling centers in the Portsmouth area, were ready to take up the slack created by the closing of the pill-mills.  While some addicts have been helped by the centers,  profits and politics, not the Hippocratic oath and humanitarianism,  have been dominant in the   buprenorphine stage of Portsmouth’s drug history.  The cost of treating addicts in counseling centers has been paid for primarily  by the government and ultimately by the  taxpayers through Medicaid and since 2014 by the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have dubbed Obamacare. The cooperation and  collusion between pharmaceutical executives,  U.S. government officials, and unscrupulous professionals,  who were involved in a revolving door arrangement, account in part for the success of counseling centers in the Portsmouth area.

The Counseling Center, Inc. and the Community Counseling and Treatment Services (CCTS), operate clinics and halfway houses in Portsmouth where what they euphemistically call “clients” are treated. A key component of that  treatment of addicts now includes the psychotropic drug buprenorphine,  of which Suboxone became the most  controversial example.  Outselling even Viagra, Suboxone generated $1.5 billion in American  sales in 2010. Suboxone was developed not by an American pharmaceutical but by a British company,  Reckitt and Benckiser (RB), that specialized in health and household products, such as Clearasil and Lysol. The U.S. government spent $89 million to help RB develop and market Suboxone  on the grounds that it was safer than methadone. Safer? A  firefighter  whose son became fatally addicted to Suboxone remarked that  the difference between more potent drugs and Suboxine was like the difference between Budweiser and Bud Lite, meaning an alcoholic who switched to Bud Light was still a drunk and an addict who switched from Oxycontin to Suboxine was still an addict. Reckitt and Benckiser tried to  discourage addicts from abusing Suboxone by adding  nalaxone, an “abuse deterrent,” to it. If addicts crushed and injected Suboxone, the nalaxone was supposed to produce excruciating pain and nausea, but that apparently was  not enough to stop addicts from abusing it. Suboxone  is one of the drugs that has made overdoses rather than car accidents the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.

The U.S. government tried to control the abuse of Suboxone  by allowing only designated doctors to prescribe it and by limiting those doctors to thirty patients, but that number  was later raised to 100. In spite of these controls, the illegal use of Suboxone proliferated.  In 2011, the number of emergency room visits resulting from the illegal  use of Suboxone were well over 21,000, which was nearly five times what they had been five years earlier.  The doctors who prescribed Suboxone were far from simon-pure and some of  them had even been law-breakers. Rather than the Hippocratic, they appeared to have taken the hypocrite oath. Their primary objective was not to help the addicted but to get rich. As reported in the New York Times  (15 Nov. 2013), Dr. Robert L. DuPont, the first director of the national drug abuse institute, said that at  a recent meeting of the addiction medicine society, “the buprenorphine sessions were all packed with doctors who wanted to get in on the gold rush.” Too many of the doctors who became Suboxone  prescribers did so because they saw it as a bonanza for their faltering practices. Among them were doctors who had been sanctioned for drug addiction; or convicted of Medicaid fraud and of smuggling steroids from Mexico; or of conducting an “excessive number of invasive procedures”; or of failing to report a case of rape of a pediatric patient and of  having intercourse with patients in the office. The government’s screening process was clearly lax. In Ohio, it turned out that nearly 17 percent of the doctors given permission to prescribe  Suboxone had been previously disciplined by authorities whereas only 1.6 percent of Ohio doctors in general had been. If it was 17 statewide, it is easy to believe the percentage was even higher in Portsmouth, one of state’s most addicted cities.

The Treatment Services (CCTS) recently had its clinics in Portsmouth raided by police. According to channel WNXT, CCTS owner Paul Vernier and his employees had been engaged in trafficking in drugs, laundering money, and defrauding insurance companies and the U.S. government by forging prescriptions. In addition to searching for evidence in Vernier’s Portsmouth clinics, the police also used a search warrant to look for incriminating records and papers at his palatial hillside house in West Portsmouth. The other Portsmouth operation, Counseling Center, Inc., which has influential friends in the county government and in the state legislature, continues doing  business as usual in Portsmouth. The raiding of Vernier’s clinics removes Ed Hughes’ chief competition. Business for Counseling Center, Inc., with its motto “We believe in miracles,” is prospering and expanding, especially in the historic Boneyfiddle district.

When I began my blog River Vices in 2004, I said Mark Twain felt river cities had more than their share of vices and I thought that Portsmouth was no exception. I never knew a city that had more religion and less morality than Portsmouth, which calls to mind  Twain’s remark that “religion began when the first con man met the first fool.” The  slogan of Counseling Center, Inc., suggests Hughes might be using the Almighty to cloak his lucrative business in religion, as Vernier seems to have done by naming a real estate business he owns Blessed Realty, L.L.C. Blessed are the realtors in spirit for they shall profit from the First Commandment of Portsmouth politics (click here). That reminds me that Tammy Faye Bakker and her convicted televangelist husband Jim Bakker named their profitable non-profit televangelist racket PTL, short for "Praise the Lord!" That's what she used to exclaim tearfully and often on the Jim and Tammy Show, heavy mascara running down her rouged cheeks.  Incidentally, it may not be coincidental that Tammy Faye turned out to be addicted to Valium. Whether or not  Ed Hughes’s Counseling Center turns out to be a racket, he has become a multi-millionaire, according to Austin Leedom, the dean of Portsmouth's investigative reporters. What I will explore in my next post is the possibility that Hughes may be addicted not to any of the five drugs discussed above  but to the most powerful and pervasive drug in the world. What is that drug? Stay tuned.

Relevant Posts

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

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Houses of Hughes and Vernier

Vernier's $425,000 house and 2.5 acres on a hill in West Portsmouth

Who’s the more remote caregiver?
Hughes prefers a house on a hill with a view.
Vernier prefers a hill near the river.
Hughes owns one big house, Vernier two.

Like teetotalers selling booze to souses,
Or the Wolf pimping for Red Riding Hood,
They profit from putting halfway drug houses 
In somebody else’s neighborhood.

Hughes' big house on a hill in Sciotoville

Some call Vernier a crook, he says he ain’t.
He christened his real estate company Blessed.
His addicted  “clients” consider him a saint,
But he’s less Joan of Arc and more Mae West.

They say Hughes is worth multi-million,
That he’s got the coroner in his corner.
He's sort of like a hooker at a cotillion
Snatching the plum from Jack Horner.

The plum's the Counseling Center
With its front-end—Compass Point Housing—
And its rear-end, like a centaur,
Badly in need of delousing.

A centaur badly in need of delousing


Relevant Links (click below)

Monday, November 03, 2014


An aerial view of Ed Hughes' big house high on a hill

It takes a whole lot of Suboxone
To detox a toxic oxen.”
                          Bob Dylan

Ed Hughes profitably arouses
Subsidized “clients” in halfway houses
Suboxoned by counseling louses
Who then put the bite on House mouses.

Hughes lives not in a humble abode
But in a big house located on high
Where the floods never flowed,
Up close to the Guy-in-the-Sky.

Hughes lives not in a humble abode
But in a big house located on high,
Which ain't exactly Tobacco Road,
Way above addicted small fry.

Hughes lives not in a humble abode
But in a big house located on high
Far from houses that don’t meet code
Where addicts overdose and die.

Hughes lives not in a humble abode
But in a big house located on high
Where the grass is always mowed
And crack houses are a far cry.

Hughes lives not in a humble abode
But in a big house located on high
Where his garden’s always hoed
By the best tools money can buy. 

Hughes lives not in a humble abode
But in a big house located on high
Where taxpayers always get snowed
And his PR men always lie. 

                           Robert Forrey, 2014

House mouse coronoritus terryonus

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. 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

Relevant Posts: "Kiwanis Playground: Deathtrap for Tots?" Click here
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