Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sidewalk Shenanigans

Finagling Files

Having written extensively about them, I am all too familiar with housing shenanigans in Portsmouth. But in addition to housing shenanigans, we also have sidewalk shenanigans. Yes, something as pedestrian and prosaic as sidewalks can be shenaniganized. It is as if politically obligated public servants leave no sidewalk marked when it comes to pleasing Portsmouth’s overprivileged and no sidewalk unmarked when it comes to punishing troublemakers. Marking with orange paint is what the City Engineering Dept. does to sidewalks that must be repaired, at the property owner’s expense.

Sidewalks are unique. They are the areas where private and public property overlap. Property owners do not own the sidewalks abutting their property, but they are responsible for keeping those sidewalks in good walking order, free of hazards to pedestrians.

Back in 1928, the framers of the Portsmouth City Charter considered sidewalk repairs important enough to devote a whole section to them. Section 111 of the Charter states that “The Council may by resolution declare that certain specified sidewalks, curbings or gutters shall be constructed or repaired. Upon the passage of such resolution [sic] the City Auditor shall cause written notice of the passage thereof to be served upon the owner, or agent of the owner, of each parcel of land abutting upon such sidewalks, curbings or gutters who may be a resident of the City, in the manner provided by law for the service of summons in civil actions. A copy of the notice, with the time and manner of service endorsed thereon, signed by the person serving it, shall be returned to the office of the City Auditor and there filed and preserved.” In an amendment made in 1975, the Charter (Section 112) further stipulated that sidewalks, curbings and gutters have to be repaired within 30 days. (The provisions of Sect. 111 of the City Charter are repeated in the Codified Ordinances of the City of Portsmouth, 905.06.)

The framers of the Portsmouth City Charter gave the City Council the authority to pass resolutions calling for the repair of sidewalks and the City Auditor the responsibility for sending out the notices for those repairs and the responsibility of keeping records of those notices. But the system that has evolved in Portsmouth for dealing with sidewalk repairs appears to be in violation of those sections of the Charter quoted above. The City Council and the City Auditor, who were supposed to be the key players, have been removed from the process. The Residential Building Inspector, employed in the City Engineering Dept., does the selecting and marking of the sidewalks to be repaired, sends out the notices, and keeps records of notices, though apparently not very well. Someone who tried to track down a record of a sidewalk the Residential Building Inspector had marked in 2005 was told none existed. It was either missing or, more likely, had not been filed in the first place. When it comes to sidewalk repairs and sidewalk files, the City Engineering Dept. has replaced or supplanted the Office of the City Auditor, and the Residential Building Inspector has replaced the Auditor.

This is a bad situation. Not only is Mayor Kalb's honesty and competency an issue, so is Larry Justice's. He is the Residential Building Inspector, the sidewalk inspector, the Code Enforcement Officer, and the Land Reutilization point man. That's a lot of responsibility for an employee who has been officially reprimanded in writing at least twice, once for lying to his immediate superior about an important zoning matter, and again for his contacts with a state official, in which he claimed authority and a job title that he did not possess. Justice was apparently trying to get a friend a job in the Engineering Dept. Given the latitude Justice presumably has in making judgments about buildings and sidewalks, as well as 1500 vacant and abandoned properties, his ethical lapses should be a cause for concern, especially since his boss is Mayor Kalb. A few citizens who have had dealings with Justice told me he is not the most truthful of public servants.

Justice followed the well-worn path down which the not too bright, the not too ethical, and the not too successful find a refuge in city government, where they advance by serving the interests of the kind of rich, clever, and overprivileged people they themselves are obviously not: think Bauer, think Kalb, think Baughman, think Mohr, think Loper, and think Malone. It was Rev. Malone, recall, the adulterous pastor, who publicly complained he was not getting the respect that he should be accorded as councilman.

If Justice's failures in the private sector are any indication, his performance as a public servant should be monitored closely. Justice owned a business at 817 Spring Lane named Quality Sheathing Co. He failed to pay Workmen's Compensation taxes to the state, which put a lien on his property and got a judgment against him for $7,053.76. The condition of the building at 817 Spring Lane that housed Justice's Quality Sheathing Co. and the sidewalks in front of that building are one of the worst eyesores in Portsmouth. 817 Spring Lane, does not reflect well on Justice's performance as the Portsmouth's Inspector of Buildings and sidewalks. A candidate for City Council received a citation from the city for keeping so-called junk on his premises, but there is far more junk inside 817 Spring Lane, constituting a serious fire hazard. Has Justice cited anyone for the hazardous junk in the building where his tax lapses occurred?

817 Spring Lane does not reflect well on the Building Inspector

Interior of 817 Spring Lane

Harold Daub told me the Health Dept. instructed Justice he had to remove weed patches on sidewalks in front of property Justice owns on 18th St. Whom do we turn to when the Inspector of Sidewalks and Enforcer of City Codes is violating codes? The Health Dept.!

Checks and Balances

Why did the framers of the City Charter, back in 1928, assign authority over sidewalks to the Auditor, the city’s chief financial officer? Why didn’t they assign responsibility for sidewalk repairs to the mayor, since the mayor is chief executive officer of the city and has the say over who is hired and who is fired in the City Engineering Dept.? Logically, it would seem the mayor, not the auditor, should oversee sidewalk repairs. But politics, not logic, was apparently what the framers of the Charter had in mind when they gave authority over sidewalks to the auditor. By provisions of the City Charter, the mayor already has enough opportunity to show favoritism in making purchases for the city and awarding contracts . Why give him authority over sidewalk repairs as well? That process is too susceptible to political hanky-panky. Suppose, for example, that the biggest property owner in the city was the chief financial supporter of the mayor. Wouldn’t the mayor be tempted to think his biggest supporter’s many houses and sidewalks were not in need of repairs whereas a political opponent’s houses and sidewalks might be deemed to be in bad shape? By making whoever inspected and repaired the sidewalks accountable to the auditor, rather than the mayor, the framers of the Charter were probably trying to prevent the mayor from having control over a procedure that might easily be politicized and abused. As Councilman Mollette pointed out in a discussion about sidewalk repairs, what the Charter provides with regard to sidewalks is part of a system of checks and balances. Just as the framers of the U.S. Constitution set up a system of checks and balances for the branches of the federal government, the framers of the Portsmouth City Charter apparently tried to provide some checks and balances among the offices of city government. The mayor in particular, as the chief executive officer, must not be allowed too much power, because power corrupts. It should be noted that the Charter allows the mayor to also serve as the head of any other department in city government, with the exception of Dept. of Finance. That appears to be another instance of using checks and balances, of making the auditor be a check on, and balance to, the mayor. The mayor cannot tell the auditor what to do.

But the checks-and-balances approach of the framers of the City Charter were eventually ignored. Somewhere along the way, the Council stopped being the branch of the city government that authorized sidewalk repairs and the Auditor stopped sending out and keeping record of the notices. The City Engineering Dept., over which the Mayor has authority, appears to have taken complete control of sidewalk repairs. The power that the framers of the City Charter chose not to give the mayor he nevertheless eventually acquired. The mayor is now in a position, through the department of the City Engineering, to influence whose sidewalks are deemed OK and whose are not. Putting such power in the hands of the mayor was bad enough, but it got worse.

In 2005, the City Council at Mayor Kalb's urging passed Ordinance 2005-87, making an important modification in the way the city, departing from the City Charter, was handling sidewalk repairs. The mayor argued in cases where sidewalks have been damaged as a result of trees planted near or on them by the city, then the city should pay for those repairs. That seems like a very fair and sensible proposal. But what the proposed change actually would do is give the mayor even more opportunity for mischief than he already has in regard to sidewalks. Suppose a political supporter of the mayor has sidewalks that are so badly in need of repair that they have to be fixed, but suppose that property owner prefers the city rather than himself pay for those repairs. Tapping into public monies is a practice that the overprivileged of Portsmouth have become so addicted to that they can’t stand spending a dime if somehow the public can be made to pay instead. Whether it is an unoccupied house or useless department store they want taken off their hands or a sidewalk that needs to be repaired, they want the public to foot the bill. Our current mayor is only too eager to oblige the overprivileged of Portsmouth. In fact, Mayor Kalb allowed the owner of a department store to unload it not once but twice on the city, for when the courts ruled the first sale of the Marting department store illegal, Mayor Kalb and his cronies brazenly turned around and took the useless building off the hands of its owner a second time. A mayor who would do that wouldn’t hesitate to shenaniganize sidewalks.

Speaking as a private citizen, Paul Penix pointed out at the 24 Oct. 2005 City Council meeting that the proposed change in the sidewalks procedures Mayor Kalb wanted was in violation of the City Charter. At the 11 Nov. 2005 Council meeting, when the ordinance to change the sidewalk procedures was up for a second reading, Penix repeated his warning. He said that while he was in favor of making the city pay for damages resulting from trees the city planted, “he felt the designation of the Mayor as the person who would notify property owners responsible for sidewalks would violate the Charter.” He was absolutely right. What he did not point out, however, was that the city government was already in violation of the City Charter by allowing the City Engineering Dept., i.e., Mayor Kalb, to have control over sidewalk repairs.

City Solicitor: Master of Obfuscation

The somewhat haphazard and apparently politically biased procedures that the City Engineering Dept now follows in requiring property owners to repair their sidewalks was what the framers of the Charter were apparently trying to prevent. But Portsmouth’s Master of Obfuscation (obfuscation), City Solicitor Kuhn, according to the minutes of the 24 Oct. meeting “acknowledged that the Charter does provide that notices will be sent out by the Auditor but it does not say that is exclusively the only place from which these notices can be sent.” Kuhn is either so dense or evasive that he makes Alberto Gonzales look like a graduate of Harvard Law School. We haven't had an honest city solicitor in a Kuhn's age. The issue is not who will send out the notices but by whose authority they are sent out, and who has oversight responsibility for the notices from start to finish. The City Solicitor, as usual, was not being precise. The Charter does not state notices will be sent out by the Auditor; the Charter states the “City Auditor shall (emphasis added) cause written notice[s]” to be sent out. Then the Charter adds, “A copy of the notice, with the time and manner of service endorsed thereon, signed by the person serving it, shall (emphasis added) be returned to the office of the City Auditor and there filed and preserved.” Merriam-Webster states that when used in laws, regulations, or directives, the helping verb shall is meant “to express what is mandatory.” It is what must be done. So the City Charter mandates that, once the City Council rules that certain property owners must fix their sidewalks, the Auditor or somebody of the Auditor’s choosing, must notify those property owners. What has happened instead is that the City Council and the Auditor have relinquished the authorities and responsibilities assigned to them by Charter to the City Engineer’s Dept., which is a department directly under the mayor’s control.

The issue is not whether Mayor Kalb is going to send out notices, because his office, as he pointed out, doesn’t and isn’t seeking to send out notices. The issue is whether the Dept. of Engineering, in violation of Section 111 of the City Charter, is going to continue to unilaterally make the decisions on who must repair their sidewalks, and is going to continue to send out the notices, and is going to continue to keep (or not to keep) the records of those notices. The issue is whether the City Engineering Dept., which the mayor has authority over, is going to continue to operate without any oversight from the Auditor or from anybody other than the mayor.

Paul Penix’s language at the 24 Oct. meeting is worth noting. He said that putting the mayor in charge of sidewalk repairs “could result in ‘selective enforcement’ should the Mayor have issues with certain citizens.” Penix made it clear that he wasn’t just talking about hypotheticals. Some residents in his ward already felt “selective enforcement” was taking place. The phrase “selective enforcement” is a euphemism. “Selective enforcement” is the kind of language citizens who address the City Council must resort to. If they are clearer and more specific in their criticism, if they call a spade a spade, and name names, they will be gaveled down by Council President Baughman, and if they persist in criticizing city officials they are ushered out of Council Chambers by Police Chief Horner. No criticism of city officials is allowed at Portsmouth's authoritarian City Council meetings. What Paul Penix apparently meant by “selective enforcement” of sidewalk codes is that Mayor Kalb might reward political friends by ignoring their sidewalks and punishing those “certain citizens” the Mayor has issues with. The mayor himself doesn’t need to be the one to punish “certain citizens”: he only needs to get subordinates in the Engineering Dept., who are answerable to him, to select them for him. Is there no Justice in the Engineering Dept.? Yes, unfortunately there is: Larry Justice.

Quality Shafting

What City Solicitor Kuhn was either trying to hide or, in a more charitable interpretation, was oblivious to, at the 24 Oct. meeting, is that the City Charter makes the Auditor’s Office that part of city government that will insure that sidewalk repairs are overseen by someone other than the mayor. It was not the intent of the framers of the City Charter that the Auditor’s Office would do the selecting and marking of sidewalks or that it had to be the office or department that sent out the notices. The Charter states that the Auditor could “cause” or authorize another department to send out the notices. But in doing so it would not, or at least it should not, relinquish the authority and responsibility over sidewalks assigned to it by the Charter.

The Portsmouth City Charter was written in the wake of the so-called Progressive Era of American history, when legislating against graft and corruption at the local, state, and national level became a civic crusade. Public construction projects, including the laying out and repairing of sidewalks was just one area in which crooked local politicians filled their pockets. Section 111 of the City Charter should be understood as an attempt to legislate against potential corruption. An honest and competent city solicitor who was combating rather than abetting corruption, would be expected to have that understanding of the Charter. But regardless of what the intent of the framers of the Charter was, the language of Section 111 is clear, and the city government is clearly not following it.

If the framers of the City Charter had concerns about the mayor when it came to sidewalks, what would they have thought if the Mayor and the Building Inspector were in charge of disposing of 1500 hundred vacant and abandoned properties as the two of them are in the so-called Land Reutilization Program. There is a committee to provide cover for this program, chaired by a new hire, a "sanitarian" in the Health Dept. What is a sanitarian with all of five months experience doing chairing a committee charged with the disposition of 1500 pieces of property? I do not mean to suggest any parallels with a certain stenographer of the Building Committee, but with Kalb and Justice in cahoots, with no City Charter provisions in place to provide checks and balances, and our Crooked City Council looking the other way, the results could be catastrophic. With Kalb pulling the strings and Justice finagling the files, 1500 other properties may end up in as bad a condition as the building, at 817 Spring Lane. It will be Quality Shafting, not Quality Sheathing.

In my next blog I will give particular instances of sidewalk shenanigans, naming names and singling out sidewalks of Portsmouth's overprivileged.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kalb's Brain

Kalb at Council Meeting

The news has been dominated this week with reactions to the hasty departure from Washington of Karl Rove, “Bush’s Brain.”

For the last several years, ever since Jim Kalb was elected mayor of Portsmouth, I have been struck by the similarities between Bush and Kalb, from their purported past heavy drug use to their incompetence and conspicuous lack of intelligence. Kalb has become a joke locally for the same reason Bush has nationally and internationally. It may say something about where this country is headed that the chief executive officer, at both the national and local levels, both the President of the United States and the Mayor of Portsmouth, appear to suffer from a very serious handicap: like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, neither of them appears to have a brain.

Unable to think for themselves, they rely on others to do their thinking for them. If Karl Rove is Bush’s brain, who is Kalb’s? As far as I can figure out, it’s the man who was instrumental in helping him get elected, Neal Hatcher. The flatulent frat boy who found himself elevated to the White House by the likes of Karl Rove and the serial grocery clerk who was put in the mayor’s chair at the Municipal Building by the likes of Neal Hatcher, that is not the American Dream: that is the American nightmare. There is a tendency in Portsmouth for the over-privileged to tap the socially marginal and misdemeanor miscreants for public office. Remember ex-felon Mike Malone's interest in serving on the City Council, which the City Clerk and the City Solicitor did nothing to discourage? Don't be flabbergasted to someday see Tim Loper as a candidate for mayor. David Kuhn did everything he could to keep Loper on City Council, even though he was unqualified to serve, according to the city charter, because he was not a legal resident of the ward he claimed to represent.

If Hatcher is Kalb’s brain, it would explain why the city government has been tied up in knots for the last several years over the issue of a new municipal building. Kalb has said publicly more than once that the land the present municipal building sits on is “prime real estate” and that some unnamed developer wants it. Kalb and the city government may have accommodated that unnamed developer by systematically neglecting upkeep of the Municipal Building while at the same time declaring it decrepit and dangerous. Though the Municipal Building may have become decrepit and dangerous as a result of systematic neglect, it is hard to believe it is that bad because it was built at about the same time, in the same style, and of the same kind of materials as the Portsmouth Post Office, which has been serving the public well for the last seventy-five years and looks like it will do so for another fifty years, provided the building is maintained properly.

But the Municipal Building, Kalb tells us over and over, is dangerous and has to be torn down. Since Kalb is incapable of generating ideas on his own, where did he get this idea? Probably from the unnamed developer who covets the “prime real estate.” And who is this unnamed developer if it isn’t Kalb’s brain, Neal Hatcher? Otherwise why would Kalb not say who the developer is? Why the need for secrecy? Because if it were confirmed that the controversial Hatcher is the unnamed developer there would be a storm of protest and possibly the Municipal Building might be rescued, restored, and treasured for being the historical landmark that it is, every bit as architecturally distinguished and useful as the Post Office is. If Hatcher is the real estate developer who is behind this whole mess about the Municipal Building, Mayor Kalb might be subject to the kind of recall movement that led to Mayor Bauer’s recall from office. That may be the reason for the secrecy.

Peer Evaluation

I have asked some half dozen people who have worked with Kalb at Kroger's what they think of his being mayor. They all expressed surprise, if not astonishment, at his occupying that top municipal office. A Kroger employee who had moved away from Portsmouth and then returned some years later told me he was absolutely flabbergasted to learn Kalb was mayor. He just could not believe it. But let’s give Kalb his due. A long time employee of Kroger’s, Kalb should be given credit for holding down that job as long as he did. Especially in Portsmouth, having and holding on to a job is no small achievement, and Kroger’s is a successful company that has been in a highly competitive business a long time. Kroger’s is the largest retail grocery chain in the country. It isn’t as if Kalb was employed in some shady business or some pork-financed operation of the kind that Portsmouth is noted for, such as the Welcome Center, whose unqualified director is the wife of recalled mayor Greg Bauer. Kroger’s is not the Welcome Center, or the Portsmouth Municipal Housing Authority, where jobs are provided for relatives of politicians. Kroger’s is the real deal. Why, then, would people who worked with and had the chance to get to know Kalb up close be surprised, astonished and even flabbergasted to find him serving as mayor? The reason is that though Kalb has worked for Kroger for many years, he has not been what you would consider a prize-winning employee. On the job, he did not display the industriousness, smarts, or ambition that would explain how he came to be the chief executive officer of a city of some twenty-thousand people with an annual budget of millions of dollars. If it were not for the union and seniority, he might have been gone from Kroger's long ago.

Kalb was not only not the star at the top of the Kroger tree, he was not one of the brighter bulbs on that tree either. He could stack shelves and punch the cash register with the teen-agers and young adults that Kroger employs to do that kind of work, but those young people usually move on to other jobs and careers or, in exceptional cases, move up the Kroger ladder. I can think of at least a dozen SSU students who worked full or part-time at Kroger’s, and I can think of a few of them who moved on to other Kroger stores at the managerial level. But Kalb did not move up. He did not move on. He stayed at the Portsmouth Kroger’s at or near the bottom of the pecking and register-punching order. In his long and lackluster career at Kroger’s, Kalb did not become a department manager. He did not even become an assistant department manager, not even after a larger new store was built, with presumably new opportunities for advancement for employees. To say he was not executive material, to say he was not even assistant manager material, would be an understatement. I sometimes wonder if Jim Kalb as mayor is not the cross the community has to bear for its low academic standards and its traditional tolerance for drugs and crime.

To understand why Kalb has worked as long as he has at Kroger’s is to appreciate the sway of seniority and the power of unions. The late Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa said that it was working at a Kroger warehouse, in Detroit, that convinced him militant labor unions were an absolute necessity for workers. Hoffa organized the first union at Kroger’s, in Detroit, and Hoffa’s son Jim as Teamster president is still putting the pressure on Kroger’s in Michigan on behalf of Teamster members. If Kalb owes the mayorship to Neal Hatcher, he may he owe his longevity at Kroger’s, indirectly, to Jimmy Hoffa.

Portsmouth’s Legendary Pothead

Kalb’s education, or lack of it, may have held him back. He did not spend his junior and senior years at Portsmouth High preparing for college. He spent his junior and senior years at the Scioto County Vocational-Technical school. Whatever studying electronics might have consisted of at Vo-Tec back in the early 1970s, when Kalb (shown at left) was a student there, it was nothing he was able to draw on to help him advance at Kroger’s. In the 1973 PHS yearbook, the only extra-curricular activity Kalb is credited with was being a “Cafeteria Worker.” There may be something to the legend that the long-haired Kalb was a pothead in high school and continued as a post-graduate in that role for some years after. According to Austin Leedom, who has copies of the original court records to prove it, Kalb was arrested sixteen times after the age of eighteen, including for smoking marijuana. (What must his juvenile record have looked like?) Somewhere along the way, Kalb also became addicted to nicotine, which Malcolm X claimed was a harder habit to break than heroin. Kalb’s trips to Kentucky in a city vehicle to buy lottery tickets and cigs suggest he still likes to gamble and smoke. His difficulty staying focused at council meetings, of alternately dozing off and waking to engage in tirades, and challenging members of the Concerned Citizens to a public debate, may have something to do with at least one of his addictions. In contrast to Kalb, his high school classmate Howard Baughman (shown at right) was in the Latin Club, the Spanish Club, the Social Studies Club, played Golf and Volleyball, was the Football Manager, and a Homeroom Officer. Baughman was obviously preparing for college and the future, even if he later dropped out of college and had to settle for being a furniture salesman. If he did not play athletics, Kalb kept up his macho credentials by becoming a biker.

Unfortunately, too often people who otherwise have achieved little in life look to public office to get the recognition and influence they were unable to achieve in the private sector and in their personal life. Until Rove came along, George W. Bush was a miserable failure, as a student, as an oil entrepreneur, and as a baseball owner. (Think Texas Rangers.) It was his father’s millions and his family’s influence that bailed him out. Then, using the lowest of political tactics, Rove got Bush elected governor and then president, twice. And now, as commander-in-chief, Bush, claiming God is on his side, is responsible for failures so pervasive and catastrophic in their human and material consequences that his incompetence rises to level of criminality.

At the city level, the highest office is the mayor. In Portsmouth, the mayor’s office is becoming a haven for losers who have not achieved success in the private sector but are willing to sell their souls to the over-privileged in exchange for becoming a posturing political figurehead. Prior to becoming mayor, Greg Bauer was a failure at the graphics business, possibly because he was using his nose for purposes neither the Lord nor evolution intended; Kalb, for all his passion for speed, was a slow-show at the supermarket; and Baughman, who will probably be the next mayor because he is related to the Godfather, is chief of the La-Z-Boys at Covert’s Furniture. It may not be a requirement for being mayor of Portsmouth, but being an underachiever or failure apparently is an advantage. A mayor not having a brain is no impediment in Portsmouth. To those who control the city, a no-brainer is a definite plus. On her valuable website, PortsmouthCitizens.info, Teresa Mollette wrote in reference to Kalb as mayor, “It always astonishes me the people who are actually occupying positions in public offices that should require some amount of experience and a fair share of intelligence lack both.” As reported on the front page of the Portsmouth Daily Times (31 Jan. 2007), at the same time that the city was facing a $272,000 deficit, Kalb ineptly and inaptly asked for a ten percent raise. How much brains does that take? What would Kroger's have done if he made such a request?

I would have less contempt for Kalb if the price for his betrayal of the public trust was a little higher than it is. I don’t discount the possibility that he is profiting financially for the services he is providing to the over-privileged of Portsmouth, but I think his chief compensation and his chief need is psychological, not financial. He has an almost pathological need for respect, as you would expect someone who seems congenitally incapable of earning it would be. I doubt that he is taking anything under the table. Perhaps only a born loser would be willing to sell out for so little: a ten percent raise; a luxury SUV with a city seal on it, a vehicle worthy of His Honor; and the privilege of telling those concerned citizens who criticize him at City Council meetings to shut up, something he would not be allowed to get away with at Kroger’s. That’s all he’s asking for really – a $5,000 raise, a big car, and the right to insult citizens. Is that too much to ask in exchange for his soul?

Union Man

One of the advantages of being in a strong union is that Kalb can be the mayor and still remain an employee of Kroger’s, with all the rights and privileges, including insurance coverage. Jimmy Hoffa did not die for Kalb’s sins, but at least he provided him with job security. Whatever else he may have lacked, Jimmy Hoffa had balls and a brain. Kalb better not give up his Kroger job given his poor performance as mayor. To retain his union rights and privileges, as I understand it, Kalb only has to put in a minimum number of hours at Kroger’s each week, as provided for in the union contract. I see nothing wrong with the mayor moonlighting, particularly given his low salary, but I object as a taxpayer in principle to his moonlighting at Kroger’s during the morning. In practice, I doubt if it makes much difference to the future of the city whether Kalb is working behind a checkout counter at Kroger’s or behind his desk at the Municipal Building. It doesn’t make much difference where somebody who’s out to lunch works. But when I look up at the clock at Kroger’s and see that it is 10 AM and he is behind the checkout counter and not at the Municipal Building, I resent that he is not willing to at least keep up appearances. If he needs to work a certain number of hours at Kroger’s to keep his job open there, let him turn on the checkout charm in the evening or on weekends when the taxpayers are not paying for it. At least let him pretend at 10 AM on weekdays to be wrestling with the crises of the city, at the Municipal Building that he is letting go to hell, and not chatting it up with customers at Kroger’s. At least let him pretend he has a brain and is not simply waiting for the over-privileged to tell him what to do next.

It's 10 AM. Do you know where your mayor is?

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