Sunday, June 26, 2005

Prayer

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Rev. Malone praying on steps of Municipal Building

Religion played an important part in the recall of mayor Greg Bauer. In the months leading up to the special recall election, on June 22, 2004, the Rev. David Malone denounced the wickedness in Portsmouth. With leaders of the recall movement standing next to him, with their heads bowed, Malone preached a sermon on the steps of the Municipal Building. In that sermon, “Protection and Deliverance of a City,” part of which is reproduced below, he said, “In the name of Jesus, we stand victorious over the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places over Portsmouth, Ohio.” Austin Leedom later said Malone’s prayers on the steps were the turning point for the recall movement.

But while he was praying with leaders of the recall movement, Rev. Malone at the same time was disassociating himself from that movement. In a recorded interview with me, in his church office, not long after his sermon on the steps, Malone characterized the recall movement as mistaken and “divisive.” His prayers, he told me, had not been intended to help the recall movement. But if there was wickedness in high places, wasn’t using a special election to remove it not only totally constitutional but also morally obligatory? Apparently not, at least not in the mind of Rev. Malone. In his relationship to the “rulers of darkness” and to the followers of the prince of air who hovers satanically over Portsmouth, he appeared to be, if not hypocritical, at least contradictory.

There were those who believed Malone, in appearing to sit on the fence, was maneuvering for the upcoming mayoral primary. He was willing to denounce Evil, in general, but no crooked politician, in particular: “Holy Spirit, we ask you to visit our city and open the eyes of the people, that they may turn from the power of Satan to God,” he preached. But who in Portsmouth is Satan working with? Malone was not willing to be more specific. He was apparently trying to have it both ways, to please both his potential supporters in the recall movement but also powerful people in high places. If that was his strategy, his poor showing in the mayoral primary showed how politically ineffective fence-sitting can be.

The suspicion is growing that Malone’s political priorities take precedence over his moral and spiritual obligations, and as a result he is losing the trust not only of those recall advocates who prayed with him on the steps of the Municipal Building, but also of a number of others as well. Judging from his poor showing in the primary, he has forfeited much of the moral high ground he once occupied. The voters expect a man of God to be at least a cut above a politician, especially above a Portsmouth politician.

At the last city council meeting the ever solicitous city solicitor asked if any of those members of council who regularly meet in the office of the city clerk’s office prior to council meetings believed they were participating in a non-public and therefore illegal meeting of the council. When Malone blurted out “No!” to the solicitor’s question, many of the visitors in the chamber laughed. How did Malone interpret the laughter? Does he realize that in allowing himself to be used by solicitor Kuhn, acting mayor Kalb, and city council president Baughman that he is not only losing the respect of the populace but that he is also becoming something of a joke? Councilman Tim Loper was applauded at the last council meeting for saying he had been played for a dummie long enough. Loper was applauded for declaring his independence; Malone was laughed at for claiming he had done nothing illegal. Shouldn't that tell him something?

Judge Marshall had already pointed out, in ruling on the Marting sale, that whenever four council members get together there is a potential quorum; and if those council members discuss anything remotely related to city business that gathering constitutes a meeting, an illegal meeting since the public is not given the opportunity to attend. Clayton Johnson’s arranging to meet with members of the council in three’s in negotiating the sale of Marting’s was an obvious, crooked scheme to get around the “four’s a meeting” rule.

Pre-council meeting get-togethers in the city clerk’s office are another obvious way for illegal meetings to take place, and Malone should not give even the appearance that he is part of illegal meetings. He should follow the example of council members Bob Mollette and Tim Loper and not join with other members behind closed doors. And, as important, he should not join with those members of city council and mayor Kalb, who are attempting to deliver to Clayton Johnson a half of the whole loaf that Judge Marshall’s decision denied to Johnson when he ruled that the sale of the Marting building to the city had been illegal.

If ever the expression “the devil is in the details” could be said to apply, it applies to the sale of the Marting building, as well as to the machinations mayor Kalb and several on the city council are conducting to get around Judge Marshall’s ruling that the sale of the Marting building was illegal. The sale of the Marting building to the city was not only illegal, it was, from a religious point of view, illicit – a bastard project conceived in a law office in Portsmouth’s red light district. A minister of the gospel should not vote in favor of any ordinance that lends legitimacy to that illicit sale.

The mayor and two council members have been recalled as a direct result of the Marting scandal, which outraged voters, and for Malone to continue to add his support to a proposal that he knows will deliver a half loaf to Johnson will only add to the perception that he is still playing politics rather than following his religious principles.

Malonesermon
Part of Sermon Malone delivered on steps of Municipal Building

I hope that those who believe in the power of prayer will pray for the Rev. Malone. When Baughman calls for a moment of silence at the beginning of council meetings, I hope that those who laughed at Malone will follow a more Christian path and pray for him, with all their might, for he was and still is a potential leader of obvious ability, and could yet be a key figure in the crusade against the forces of darkness and for the moral rejuvenation of our river city.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Anniversary

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Front Page of Daily Times, 06/23/04

One year ago today, on June 22nd, 2004, the voters of Portsmouth recalled Mayor Greg Bauer from office by a 2 to 1 margin.

Several months earlier, around April 2004, I began using my new DV video camera to make a record of the recall process. I worked on editing the video as my teaching schedule permitted in the fall and winter of 2004. On March 16th, 2005, I showed Recall to the public in Flohr Hall at the Shawnee State Clark Memorial Library. Prior to that showing, the Communications Office of SSU put out the following publicity release based upon answers I had provided to their questions:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2005

Robert Forrey’s video essay Recall to premier at SSU

Shawnee State University’s (SSU) Robert Forrey, Ph.D., professor of English, has created a video essay, entitled Recall, regarding last June’s recall of Portsmouth Mayor Greg Bauer. A showing of the 60-minute documentary will take place on Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. in the Flohr Lecture Hall, located on the first floor of the Clark Memorial Library on the SSU campus.

According to Forrey, the recall movement apparently began when Bauer summarily rejected Lee Scott’s attempt to get city assistance for the restoration of the old Columbia Theater, located on Gallia Street in downtown Portsmouth.

“Scott began an intensive investigation of city government and concluded it was rife with favoritism and corruption,” said Forrey. “However, the seismic event of the recall movement was the controversial sale of the Marting’s department store building to the city, for which Mayor Bauer was responsible.”

Forrey said he had audited a course on videography taught by Michael Barnhart, senior instructor of music at SSU, in order to learn the basics of making videos.

recalldisk

“Though I still have much to learn about the technology, and remain a novice about the art, I proceeded on my own, contacting those involved in the recall movement and members of the city government,” he said.

Incidentally, the key figure, Bauer, declined to be interviewed, in addition to his assistant, Jamie Tuggle, who is an SSU graduate, according to Forrey.

“I am embarrassed at how little I knew about local politics after living in Portsmouth for 15 years,” he said. “I suspect that many at the university know very little about the problems and politics of Portsmouth. One senior professor in business [Larry Essman] told me that until I learned about Portsmouth, its history, and its politics, I could not really understand the university. I now appreciate the wisdom of his observation.”

Forrey has spoken to representatives of Adelphia cable about showing the video essay on cable access, but no date has been set. [Adelphia is not going to air the video.]

“I have been reluctant to call what I created a documentary,” he said. Most of what are called documentaries are not, if by documentary is meant an objective record of something. What I have created and what most so-called documentary makers create is a video essay. Essays have a thesis, a point. I didn’t start out with a thesis; I thought I was just going to record on videotape what others said and felt and what the facts were about the recall. I was being na├»ve. There is no overall truthful objective record about anything, especially about something as heated and contentious as politics. There are just various people, parties, and points of view, competing with each other for a share of the truth.”

The showing will be followed by an open forum on the issues that led to the recall. [Most of that forum was later added to Recall.]

“Dr. Forrey’s video essay is an interesting look into the politics of Portsmouth,” said Jennifer Phillips, president of the Shawnee Liberals Association, the student group that is sponsoring the event. “People who live and work in the area should be interested in seeing it, and SSU students wishing to learn more about the city they live in will find it worth watching. The discussion that is to take place after the video is shown should be interesting and informative as well.”

DVD copies of the final cut of Recall (approximately 80 min.) are now available for circulation at the Shawnee State Library and the Portsmouth Public Library. A limited number are also available free through The Sentinel, the editor of which can be reached at aleedom@adelphia.net.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gutter Politics



Blog Slut from Mike DeWines Office
As I was driving down to Portsmouth from Columbus late Sunday afternoon, June 12th, I noticed a slew of DeWine for Congress signs along Route 23, in Scioto County. That would be Pat DeWine, son of Ohio Senator Mike DeWine. Once I reached Portsmouth, the DeWine signs were all over the place, especially on the properties of real estate developer Neal Hatcher and lawyer Clayton Johnson. As I was driving by the corner of Washington and Sixth Streets, in Portsmouth’s red light district, I thought I recognized the short senator, briefcase in hand, standing in the gutter in front of Portsmouth’s most prestigious house of ill repute, namely the law offices of Johnson & Oliver, Esq. Partially obscuring a DeWine for Congress sign, the senator was talking to a young man and a younger woman. With a digital camera, through a dusty windshield (through a glass darkly), I took a picture.
Mike DeWine in gutter outside Clayton Johnsons Office
Where Senator DeWine happened to be standing was appropriate, for the political gutter is where the DeWine name has been dragged in the last couple of years. The twenty-five-year-old Jessica Cutler, who worked in DeWine’s Washington office, created a blog to keep a few of her friends apprised of her promiscuous sex life, which she carried on primarily with family-values espousing Republicans. But her blog leaked all over Washington, and the petite Korean-American, who became known as the “blog slut,” lost her job and got a six-figure book contract, in that order. DeWine’s 35-year-old son Pat may have moved in some of the same gutters as Ms. Cutler. The younger DeWine left his pregnant wife and two children for a Republican lobbyist whom he had been having an affair with and whom he had the chutzpah subsequently to campaign with. “Pat and Girlfriend on the Campaign Trail.” Not only that, DeWine was accused by a political rival of having changed his vote on tax breaks for a company that had hired his girlfriend. 
Pat DeWine has shown about as much loyalty to those who elected him as he did to the woman who married him. First, he was elected to the City Council, where he served his constituents without distinction. “Then,” according to Michael Altman in the online Queen City Forum Magazine (queencityforum.com), “DeWine jumps ship and runs for County Commission, where he wins and—after being sworn in six months ago—jumps to the next level again to run for Congress in the special election . . .” His political rise from City Council to County Commission to Congressional candidate was accomplished with the help of financial contributions from friends of his father, the senator. “There is a boatload of money fronting a guy who has never done anything to merit a seat in Congress,” the Queen City Forum blogger observed. “Republican PAC’s across the country contributed big bucks to Pat DeWine’s campaign for the Hamilton County Commission, knowing of course that it was just a stepping stone for higher office, and it was a way to stay in the good graces of Senator DeWine.” 
Peter Bronson in the Cincinnati Enquirer wondered aloud whether DeWine and his far-flung Republican PAC supporters had the inside scoop that Rob "Porkman" was going to resign his congressional seat, creating an electoral opportunity for the junior DeWine. Bronson asked rhetorically, “Did Washington PACs know DeWine was already planning to run for Congress, before Rep. Rob Portman was nominated as U.S. trade representative, opening the Second District slot?” The answer is fairly obvious. In the stock market, this is called insider trading and is against the law. In politics it is called helping the son of an influential senator and is apparently legal. The distinction seems slight, like the difference between slot and slut.
According to the Enquirer, Pat DeWine raised far more money than his rivals in his campaign for the congressional seat to be vacated by Porkman. But just last Tuesday, in the June 14th special election, DeWine finished a dismal 4th. That was no surprise, for neither Mike DeWine nor his son Pat are currently popular among conservative Republicans in the recently gerrymandered Second Congressional District. To loosely paraphrase a Second District Republican who wanted no part of father or son, the DeWinesap didn't fall far from the tree.
So Clayton Johnson, Neal Hatcher, and the other pork merchants of Portsmouth have backed another politician of questionable morals and ethics, only to lose badly at the polls again, just as they did when they backed Portsmouth Mayor Greg Bauer, who was recalled last June, by a margin of two to one, in spite of the big bucks spent to keep him in office. Portsmouth’s pork merchants did not back Bauer and Pat DeWine because of that hapless pair's penchant for the gutter, but because they expected them to continue the tawdry tradition of funneling public funds into the Portsmouth area, funds ostensibly appropriated for the economically disadvantaged but that end up in the pockets of those who make up the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership.
The defeat of Bauer and now Pat DeWine may reflect the inability of big bucks, in this age of blogging and Googling, to control the news and buy elections. The Portsmouth Daily Times continues to launder the news, the way drug dealers do money, but gutter politics and the corruption of local government are being reported on by people with candid cameras and computers, even if they are not by uncrusading reporters, and that should give us hope.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Feldman Followup

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Why City Council Fired Feldman

On March 18th I published a blog on Barry Feldman, who was fired as Portsmouth's City Manager back in 1980. Since then I have received several emails from people in the Hartford, Connecticut, area, who say the events in Portsmouth twenty-five years ago are eerily similar to those that are taking place today. Feldman is once again involved in a mall controversy and is being accused of many of the same underhanded things he was in 1980. The folks in Hartford have asked me to provide them with more particulars, which I will now try to do. What follows are the 14 reasons the Portsmouth City Council gave for removing Feldman from office. They were reported on the front page of the October 20, 1980, Portsmouth Daily Times, with the headline, "Council's Bill of Particulars in Suspension."

- It is the opinion of the City Council that you have failed to comply with the duties set forth in the Portsmouth City Charter and the applicable sections of the Ohio Revised Code, in that you have not faithfully executed the laws and ordinances of the city and state and that you have acted in other ways which cause displeasure to the Council.

- You have failed to demonstrate the qualities of impartial leadership expected of the city's chief executive.

- You have not supplied members of the City Council with proper fiscal figures within the time requirements and with the necessary information concerning the financial status of the city as outlined in the Portsmouth City Charter and the Ohio Revised Code.

- You have not handled personnel recruitment for the city in a proper, dignified manner.

- You have publicly claimed responsibility for local achievements which were in process or provided for by existing plans prior to your employment.

- You have not kept City Council adequately advised of the financial condition of the city.

- You have not conducted the city's business with other officials in such a manner as to cultivate good business relationships with the city.

- You have not administered the programs and departments of the city in a fashion which is most beneficial to the citizens of Portsmouth.

- You have failed to provide adequate information to the Council necessary for Council to carry out its duties.

- You have actively concerned yourself with the qualifications of the members of City Council
and have indicated an inability to confine yourself to the administrative and executive duties prescribed by law.

- You have expended public funds in ways which were not authorized by the City Council.

- You have acted discourteously toward certain members of the Council, which has resulted in a loss of cooperative effort between the administrative and legislative divisions of the city government.

- You have not kept Council adequately informed as to the current status of the affairs of the city.

- You do not have the confidence of a majority of the members of the City Council.

Feldman suspended2

Headline announcing Feldman's firing