Sunday, April 29, 2007


The birth of the SOGP, 1991

The SOGP has been in the news lately. An article appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times (21 April 2007), in which chairman C.B. Hermann said SOGP members must work “behind the scenes” andmust maintain secrecy at times because of the nature of business they conduct.” Hermann added, the SOGP “worked behind the scenes [emphasis added] to foster the premise that if we could bring jobs to the area, it would help the local economy.” Andy Glockner of Glockner Motors put it less elegantly, “We [SOGP] just want to be recognized as the back office that’s here for economic development to support the chamber, the murals and any other entity in a way to create the financing or be the front person.” Not a lawyer or a PR person, Glockner unintentionally spilled the beans. “Back office” and “front person” says all that needs to be said about how the SOGP operates – in secret and as a front. It is a private corporation, yet from its back room offices in the publicly funded Welcome Center, just one of its pork projects, the SOGP meets in secret and makes decisions that determine what happens in Portsmouth, economically and politically.

The kind of jobs the SOGP are after are not industrial jobs. Herrmann said, “it’s doubtful a Honda or Toyota plant will come to the area. Therefore, SOGP concentrates on attracting smaller businesses.” In response to Hermann’s comment, Robert Madison wrote a letter-to-the-editor, saying, “In reviewing the history of the organization [SOGP], it looks like it started with the best of intentions. But maybe through the years it has lost its mission. Instead of selling water, maybe it’s time to think bigger and go for the Honda or Toyota plant and bring real jobs to Scioto County.” Madison’s letter asks an extremely important question about the Portsmouth area, maybe the single most important question: Why has Portsmouth been in the economic doldrums for so long?

Whatever may have been the case with its predecessor, the Portsmouth Area Community Improvement Corporation, the SGOP did not start with the best, but with the worst of intentions. Considering who was behind it, how could it have been otherwise? What Johnson and his crowd created in the SOGP is not just a glorified Chamber of Commerce, it is a transmogrified Chamber of Commerce, a monster that rules Scioto County the way Frankenstein did Transylvania. The SOGP has, working “behind the scenes,” in Hermann’s phrase, debased local government by making a mockery of competition between the two main political parties. You can’t tell the Democratic whores from the Republican whores. Local government has become the preserve of the incompetent, the criminally inclined, the near comatose, and the unemployables (it is the wives of the unemployables who hold down the jobs, in the public sector).

Those in control of the SOGP, like Clayton Johnson and his buddy Neil Hatcher, have made fortunes in Portsmouth not in spite but because of the economic doldrums the city has been in for the last half century. The worse things are in Portsmouth, the better it is for the SOGP, because they control most of the pork that comes into our economically depressed area in the form of government grants and loans. They not only control the pork, they also control local government and are able, with the collusion of politicians who can be bought for the price of a John Street whore, to monopolize and manipulate whatever local business opportunities there are. Because there is no real competition for the Johnsons and the Hatchers, they can’t lose. Imagine a team that has no opponents. They can really rack up the points. Neil Hatcher should have lost his shirt in his dumb plan to build a huge shopping mall on the site of the demolished Selby factory, and he would have lost his shirt if the game he was playing in was not only not just fixed but in which there was no opposing team. The city will bail Hatcher out by buying his virtually worthless mall property at his price, to build a sport’s complex, just as the city bought the worthless Marting’s building, at Clayton Johnson’s price, to convert to a city hall.

There are Community Improvement Corporations (CICs) all over Ohio. That other CICs may have turned into the Frankenstein monster that the SOGP has is quite possible. But the few that I have looked into, such as the one in Chillicothe, do not appear to be scam operations. To quote from earlier River Vices postings, “It has happened gradually and unobtrusively, without most people being aware of it, but over the last half century, important functions of Portsmouth local government have been privatized. The result is that we now have a powerful shadow government, the origin of which can be traced back to 1964. In March 1964, the Portsmouth City Council made a momentous decision. In a resolution, numbered unlucky #13, the council turned much of the economic control of the city over to a private ‘non-profit’ corporation named the Portsmouth Area Community Improvement Corporation (PACIC). In Resolution #13, the Portsmouth City Council granted PACIC an extraordinarily broad mandate. The extraordinary mandate of this private corporation, consisting mainly of businessmen, bankers, and lawyers, was no less than ‘To promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the inhabitants of the community . . .’ In the following year, 1965, the Ohio state legislature passed a law allowing municipalities to designate community improvement corporations, such as PACIC, as their agent. As if PACIC hadn’t already been granted extraordinary power in Resolution #13, the Portsmouth City Council passed another resolution (#30), designating PACIC as the city’s official agent, or legal representative. PACIC eventually morphed into the SOGP.”

They are trying to stifle and intimidate critics, but over the years a handful of courageous souls have stood up to the SOGP and its predecessor. There was the “Unbribed Trio” of Clausing, Price, and Daub, back in 1980. Prof. Larry Essman told me he first got involved in the reform movement as early as 1974 when he was Asst. Auditor and realized the PACIC was not interested in having Toyota or anyone else build in the Portsmouth area. I have heard the same story from others, such as Rich Noel, who discovered as a result of involvement in area development discussions that the PACIC and SOGP were always more interested in excluding than attracting new businesses. New businesses and industries were the last thing they wanted because that meant competition. Glockner did not want competitors in vehicles, Marting’s did not want competition in retail sales. Councilman Bob Mollette, the only city official in the present government truly representing the citizens, wrote in a letter to city council that this is an unacceptable situation. “I believe the relationship with the SOGP, if considered an authorized agency that represents our city, must be accountable and transparent.”

Through their political puppets, the SOGP is trying its damnedest to drive Mollette from city council as the PACIC drove out Clausing, Price, and Daub back in 1980. Through their political puppets, the SOGP is trying to stop citizens from speaking at city council meetings, labeling them as Domestic Terrorists. As for transparency and accountability, sunshine and democracy, those are not on the bipartisan Frankenstein SOGPs agenda.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Imus, Anus, and Janus

Anus in the Morning

In New York, at WFAN, they had Imus in the Morning. In Portsmouth, at WNXT, we’ve got Anus in the Morning. Imus, the aging wannabe rapper, is now paying for his potty mouth. Anus in the Morning, the aging wannabe rock star, continues to defecate through his. I’ve heard and read over the years about him, and how controversial he is, but I’ve actually only listened to him once. Somebody who had been in the business told me shock jocks have to be megalomaniacs. A shock jock, according to one online source, is “a slang term used to describe a type of radio broadcaster (sometimes a disk jockey) who attracts attention using humor that a significant portion of the listening audience may find offensive.” Imus used “nappy-headed hos” to describe the Rutgers ladies basketball team, and a significant number of Americans heard about it, were offended by it, and Imus is history.

But Anus in the Morning, a minor-league more muted Imus, is still with us, because advertisers on his show, like SOMC, unlike the advertisers on Imus in the Morning, do not have to worry about a backlash. This after all is Portsmouth. What advertiser is going to raise hell if Anus is occasionally offensive or spouting political opinions in the morning? He is doing his job, which is to see that things don’t change in Portsmouth, that the same old crowd gets away with the same old shit, and that Portsmouth politics remain the same-old sham. Covering for those who run Portsmouth and criticizing “domestic terrorists” in the local reform movement are among Anus’s responsibilities, which is why he periodically attacks the most serious threat to the political status quo, Ward Three councilman Bob Mollette. Just as there are franchise players on sports teams, somebody you can build an organization around, Mollette is a franchise player in local politics: he is someone you could build an honest government around, so naturally Anus in the Morning is going to try to discredit him. One way he tries to discredit Mollette is by criticizing his public service blog. Compare Mollette’s blog with Anus in the Morning’s narcissistic MySpace site and you will get an idea of the totally different universes they live in. In contrast to Mollette, who is truly community oriented, Anus in the Morning – with his hobbies and his music and his online friends and his dogs – is so into himself, so wrapped up in himself, so, like, totally in touch with himself, that he is in constant danger of disappearing up his own you know what.

I mentioned earlier that I listened only once to Anus in the Morning. That was the morning of October 16, 2006, which was the opening of the U.S. Grant Bridge, a bridge that cost many millions more than it was supposed to and because of delays took longer to build than the Golden Gate Bridge. Not wanting to miss the historic opening of the bridge, but figuring that it too might have fallen behind schedule, I tuned in to WNXT on the morning of October 16 to see if I could get an update. Maybe the newsman at WNXT would be providing coverage. What I got instead was Anus in the Morning. If memory serves me, he was broadcasting from the Ramada Inn with his female sidekick – is Misty her name? She was broadcasting from inside while Anus was outside, close to the inaction. Then Anus returned inside, bursting with so much joie de vivre that he was about as much fun as a one-man River Day Parade. Misty asked what was going on outside, and Anus replied, as best I can recall, that “Bob Huff was outside giving people the finger.” Misty was at a loss for words. Or was Misty just confused and not sure what she had just heard? I know I wasn’t sure I heard it right.

Huff, waving or giving the finger?

Without knowing exactly who Bob Huff was, I knew he was part of the Establishment. Somebody took a picture of Huff that morning, a white-haired gent smiling like a politician and waving his left hand at whoever was passing by. He wasn’t giving anyone the finger in the photo, but it would have been so easy for him to just turn his hand over and lift that finger. I learned later Huff was the head of the Chamber of Commerce. So there was Anus on this momentous day of Portsmouth’s history, the day when some hoped Portsmouth’s economic revival was about to begin, a day when schoolchildren and almost every dignitary in town was preparing to walk across the bridge, and there was Anus telling Misty and WNXT’s listeners that the head of the Chamber of Commerce was outside giving people the finger.

An obscene pagan gesture

Those listeners familiar with Anus’s repartee may have understood right away that he was just kidding. Huff wasn’t really giving citizens the bird. It was just Anus’s way of adding a little irreverent levity to the proceedings. You never know what Anus would say next. Goosing up the program, so to speak. “It was the reason many listeners tuned in,” Weston Kosova wrote about Don Imus in Newsweek. “What was he going to say next?” How are you going to keep your listeners tuned in, especially in the morning, for god’s sake, if some of those listeners are cool cats, like Anus, if you don’t keep the wisecracks coming, if you don’t keep them wondering what he's going to say next? Hell, the last thing Anus wants anyone to think when they tune in to WNXT is that they were listening to Zeke Mullins. Zeke had never played with “an old time rock and roll band called The TroubleMakers. Zeke had never lived “in a secluded and most beautiful area of the Wayne National Forest in Southern Ohio.” I am quoting from Anus’s MySpace website. Zeke Mullins wouldn’t have a MySpace website in a million years.

Maybe Huff was not giving people the finger and maybe Anus never said he was. Maybe . . . But wait a second. If you have any consciousness you can still call your own, or if your unconscious is not totally brain dead, there’s probably more in this finger business than meets the eye. Holding up the middle finger is an ancient obscene gesture, substituting for the erect penis, and was used widely as an insult in pagan cultures. Wikipedia says giving the finger is shorthand for “Fuck you!” It is especially insulting to a male, because there is only one way for a male to be fucked – unnaturally – so it is the ultimate insult, the ultimate degradation, for a male, to be given the finger because a fucked male is no better than a female. Males who have never been in combat, or played football, need to find ways to prove their manhood, and giving the finger makes them feel like one of the guys. Witness the callow George W. Bush giving the finger in the following YouTube clip. Even though he loves to dress in camouflage fatigues, rub elbows with fighting men, and go quail hunting, Vice President Cheney is not willing or able to go as far as Dubya and give the finger. Never having served in the military, not even in the National Guard, as Dubya has, Cheney, the father of an artificially inseminated lesbian daughter, has to settle for telling Senator Leahy of Vermont, on the Senate floor, “Go fuck yourself!” That’s not quite the same thing, is it, as “Fuck you!”? No, “Go fuck yourself” is more like artificial insemination.

But isn’t that what the “Fuck you!” crew in Washington is doing, like their two-bit counterparts in Portsmouth? Aren’t they always giving the citizens the finger? Aren’t our local Castrati giving the people the finger and saying “Fuck you” when they filch $2 million from the city for an empty department store and then won’t give the money back when the sale is ruled illegal? Aren’t our local Castrati giving the people the finger and saying “Fuck you” when they appoint to the City Council a local lawyer with a reputation for involvement with prostitutes and drugs? Aren’t the Castrati making that finger even more obscene whey they get that same councilman appointed chair of a committee that is going to decide where the new city building will be, in spite of the fact that that same councilman was and remained the lawyer for the absentee landlord whose property the Building Committee ending up recommending as the site for the new city building? Aren’t our local Castrati giving the people the finger and saying “Fuck you” when they appoint the wife of a former disgraced mayor to run that inglorious Porksmouth pork project known as the Welcome Center, a job for which she is about as qualified as her husband had been to be mayor, before he was recalled from office by a 2 to 1 margin? I could give other examples, but I need to move on to my final point.

On April 14, Anus in the Morning attempted to cover his ass when he, as the front page of the Daily Times put it, “weighed in on Imus firing.” Weighed in? That such an intellectual lightweight could weigh in on anything would be news. “I think it will be like the Janet Jackson incident was for television,” Anus told the reporter interviewing him, referring to the Imus mess. No, Anus, you don’t want to go there, you cluck, because by using Janet Jackson, who is a breast baring black woman as your example, you are implying that what Imus said is true: black women are “hos.” But Anus was only just beginning to show what a ninny he is. Because he then goes on to predict in the interview that Imus would not be fired. Waxing indignant, he gets in even deeper, saying Imus “should have been fired a long time ago,” but he does not fail to point out, name-dropper that he is, that he had once met Imus way back when. What an ass-kissing encounter that must have been. Some of the hundreds of politicians, authors, and entertainers who appeared on Imus's show to further their career, were quick to criticize or denounce him once he was fired by CBS and NBC.


The highlight of the Daily Times interview is this quote by Anus in the Morning: “Imus didn’t attack political figures. He attacked a whole team of children actually.” Having hung around MySpace for as long as he has, Anus appears to have trouble distinguishing children from young adults. These are not children. They are young women. They are in college, not grade school. They are old enough to vote and to serve in the military. But Anus of course wants to hold himself up as a defender of helpless children, as he holds himself up as the St. Francis of abandoned dogs on his MySpace website. Children are sometimes stalked on MySpace by sexual predators. If Anus wants to defend anyone, defend those children, get outraged about them, not 18 to 21 year-old young women who can handle themselves without his patronizing assistance. Anus closes the interview by admitting he sometimes makes “comments” about political figures, including Portsmouth City Council. Oh, really? “But I don’t do it to be mean-spirited as a way to take somebody out, " he says. "I’ve never meant to harm anyone.” No, of course not. Anus is not like Imus, you see. Anus is not now nor ever has been a shock jock. Anus is like the Roman god Janus. He is two-faced.


If you should happen to hear a newscaster on WNXT say at noon, “It has been three hours since Anus in the Morning was last seen. He was sitting right here at WNXT, doing his show, when he disappeared, without a trace. It is a complete mystery and even Misty, who was sitting right next to him, is mystified. Where did he go to? What is going to happen to those dogs at his forest retreat? Chief Horner has not ruled out the possibility that domestic terrorists had something to do with his disappearance.” If you should happened to hear that newscast, do not exclude the possibility that what actually happened was that Anus fucked himself and disappeared up you know where.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Castrati

City Solicitor sitting on his ass, as usual

H. L. Mencken was an acerbic newspaper reporter (he wrote for the Baltimore Sun); a lexicographer (he created a dictionary); and a neologist (he made up words, as I just did with neologist). Baltimore not being too far from Washington, D.C., Mencken occasionally turned his wit and wisdom on the boobs in Washington.

Recent posts by John Welton on David “I get no respect” Malone and on Mike “I’m addicted to pussy” Mearan reminded me what a collection of characters we have in the Portsmouth city government and how much like a Mencken Welton has been in exposing not only the corruption but also the comic opera quality of local politics. Imagine, if you will, that one of the television networks creates a new series called The Castrati, now that The Sopranos is about call it quits, and imagine it being stocked with the kind of boobs we are all too familiar with in Portsmouth.

The big cheese on The Castrati would be an unelected official, the Chief of Police, whose War on Drugs would be such a flop that his own son would be dealing drugs in a restaurant directly across the street from the police station. And a chop-shop about a half mile away from the police station would be dealing oxycontin on the side without the Chief having a clue. Since the Chief’s War on Drugs is not going well, the Chief, following the lead from higher ups in the federal government, would declare war on domestic terrorists, by which he means local citizen activists, many of them elderly, who wage successful campaigns to recall incompetent and corrupt city officials, and who write blogs critical of those incompetent and corrupt city officials.

The City Solicitor

Giving the city a black eye

Abetting the Chief, and anyone else in city government who wants to pull a fast one, is the City Solicitor, the city slicker on The Castrati. If some ex-felon or unemployed dummy wants to run for city council, even though he doesn’t live in the ward he wants to run in, and even though he wants to run as a write-in and skip the bother of running a campaign, the City Solicitor will be there to offer one of his off-the-wall interpretations of the city charter. The motto that sits on his desk, which he is seldom behind, is not “The Buck Stops Here” but rather “Anything is Possible.” When the city faces legal action, the City Solicitor hires a real lawyer from Cincinnati or Columbus, because being city solicitor is only a part-time job, paying only $50,000 a year, and he has other more important things to attend to, like his digs in sacred Indian burial sites, or like his sitting on his ass in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Sitting on his ass is something he gets a lot of practice at the other 364 days of the year. In fact, there is no other character on The Castrati who is better at sitting on his ass than the City Solicitor, though there are those who would argue that the City Auditor is not far behind when it comes to sitting on his behind.

The Philandering Preacher

The City Clerk

The City Clerk is a lifer, having found employment in city government as a young virgin, and has been at it ever since, doing everything she can to frustrate those citizens looking for answers to questions and mutilating petitions that would put people and issues on the ballot that her employers don’t approve of. It is like she practices the clitoral circumcision of democracy. Her aversion to the Sunshine Laws is so strong that she often sits in her office in the dark, except when the city council gets together before city council meetings to conduct important business. She is all work and no play, except on Halloween when she puts on a white hood and goes trick or treating.

The Good Samaritan


Of those characters on The Castrati, perhaps the most colorful is the lawyer who represents the First Ward and who is known as The Good Samaritan. Among drug-addicted prostitutes in Portsmouth, The Good Samaritan is viewed as a saint. He is always there to give a gal a lift in his stretch limousine and find them a place to sleep or rent them a sub-compact in a family emergency. If the mother of a drug-addicted prostitute gets ill, you can be sure the Good Samaritan will be there with a rented Aveo with unlimited mileage and enough oxycontin to see her through her ordeal. But his good works for addicted prostitutes don’t stop there. On Thanksgiving he distributes Papa John Street Pizza, with all the toppings, to all the poor prostitutes in Portsmouth.

President of City Council

Council President entering 2300-year-old dept. store

The President of the city council on The Castrati, who, when he is not committing campaign violations, warns unwelcome visitors to council meetings that they must not criticize any city official by name or they will be ejected from the chambers by the Chief of Police. Having flunked out of college, the President of the City Council has more education than anyone else on the council and he is determined to maintain draconian decorum and parliamentary order, being unaware (because he watches American Idol, not PBS) that members of the British House of Commons call each other names and boo and hiss loudly when they don’t like what someone who has the floor might be saying. “A little learning is a dangerous thing” is what needs to remembered where the President of Council is concerned. He is like the future El Presidente in some banana republic, a furniture salesman who dreams of being the Top Banana some day.

The President’s right-hand man, the Vice President of City Council, is the Hired Goon of City Government. His role is to try to create a riot at council meetings so the Chief of Police can declare a state of emergency and arrest everybody who comes to council meetings as domestic terrorists.

His Honor the Clueless Mayor

The clueless Mayor in Kentucky

The Top Banana on The Castrati is the clueless Mayor. Like the Philandering Preacher from Ward Two, the Mayor is concerned above all that he is not shown proper respect. He spends much of his time brooding over not driving the kind of prestigious city vehicle and not being paid the kind of salary a man in his position should be rewarded with. The Mayor suffered from this same lack of respect for years when he worked as a clerk at a local supermarket. Restocking shelves and punching a cash register was as much responsibility as the supermarket ever dared entrust him with. The supermarket, of course, being in the private sector, is prejudiced against employees of limited intelligence and ability. Since those same prejudices do not exist in city government, the Mayor is understandably miffed about being discrminated against.

The 2300-Year-Old Department Store


The ongoing plot line of The Castrati is to get the city government to move its offices to an empty department store that is estimated to be 2300 years old and that has been empty for about 130 years. The City Solicitor, an expert on pre-Columbian civilizations, believes the department store was originally a temple where young virgins were sacrificed to the God of Lotteries, a god the Mayor reportedly worships in Kentucky. The City Solicitor speculates that the ancient civilization disappeared after it ran out of virgins. The City Solicitor assures critics of the building that neither menstrual blood nor asbestos is any longer a problem in the building.

The two men who run Portsmouth and control the City Council, The Lawyer and The Developer, sold the ancient structure to the city for 2$ million. When that sale was declared illegal by the courts, The Lawyer refused to give the $2 million he had cheated the city out of, saying he would not give the money back because he didn’t trust the city government do the right thing with it. The only right thing to do with the money, The Laywer said, was use it to convert the 2300-year-old department store to a city hall. The Sopranos is about to go off the air, but The Castrati has a long run ahead of it, if only we can get the city government to allow it to be televised so we can see what is going to happen to The 2300-Year-Old Department Store.