Thursday, September 25, 2008


With the possible exception of Portsmouth’s Mayor Jim Kalb, almost everyone agrees that the United States faces the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression. In a special televised address to the nation (9/24/08), President Bush warned “our entire economy is in danger.” The extraordinary crisis led John McCain to call a halt to his campaign for the presidency and to cancel a debate with Barack Obama.

With the possible exception of Mayor Kalb, almost everyone agrees Ohio also faces the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The Buckeye state faces a reported projected deficit of $540 million this year, leading Governor Strickland to call for massive cuts in Ohio’s budget, starting with programs for the poor. “The state agency that administers programs for poor families is cutting almost $80 million from its budget,” the New York Times reported in an article “Ohio: Programs for Poor Faced Millions in Budget Cuts,” (9/25/08). Governor Strickland announced universities would have to cut back budgets drastically, including Portsmouth’s Shawnee State University, which for over a decade, during the Vern Riffe era, had lived high on the hog and at the bottom of U.S. News annual rankings, all the while receiving special multimillion dollar subsidies from the state. We can expect cutbacks in higher education. The mayor of Toledo and some 60 other Toledo officials are taking two days off without pay in response to the economic crisis. How about Mayor Kalb returning the ten percent raise he put in this year’s budget?

Living in some kind of alternate financial universe, Mayor Kalb continues his campaign to spend approximately $12 million dollars on two new city buildings, one of which happens to be 125-years-old and in terrible condition. Kalb had the engineering department produce, at taxpayer expense, posters of the architectural pornography that Tanner Stone had come up with for the so-called City Center and Justice Center. To seduce the public into thinking the City Center represents progress, there are about as many of these pornographic architectural posters in businesses and banks along Chillicothe St. as there are prostitutes along John St.

The new $38 million Grant Bridge opened for traffic two years ago, in October. Has the bridge revived downtown Portsmouth? Hardly. About eight out of ten cars that come across from Kentucky, by my observation, take a right turn, avoiding Chillicothe St. and downtown Portsmouth. Now we are being told the City Center will play an important role in reviving downtown Portsmouth.

Kalb has done what he can to make us believe the Marting building is a holy architectural site. Beautiful old churches are torn down, crucifixes are tossed on the trash heap, but the Marting building is supposed to be architecturally priceless. Dollar signs, not crosses, are what count in Portsmouth. They even plan to have an art exhibit in the unhealthy, unsafe Marting building in October, as if it was the Louvre, but the state fire marshal may have something to say about that. Don’t we already have a heavily subsidized art museum in Portsmouth? Wouldn’t that be the appropriate place for an art exhibit? Yes, it would be, but the dishonest people who are trying to raise taxes for the Marting building will stop at nothing, which is what the Marting building is. Nothing. Misrepresentation and lies go along with Kalbonomics. They claimed that Senator Voinovich promised pork would be available to subsidize the City Center, but a spokeswoman in the Senator’s office said no such promise had been made.

How much is Portsmouth’s city government in the red? With the kind of foggy bookkeeping characteristic of Kalbonomics, it is difficult to say. At the first city council meeting of the year (1-14-08) Auditor Williams said the city faced a projected $272 thousand dollar budget deficit, and, he added, if the city doesn’t have a million dollars in the kitty by November 30, we are in real trouble. November 30 is only two months away. Will the city be solvent? City officials are mentioning the "B" word. Bankruptcy! Though Kalb will be the last to admit it, in view of the international global crisis, Portsmouth faces a reckoning, but that reckoning is scheduled after the Nov. 3 election, when voters will get to express their views on the City Center, which someone has dubbed “The Kalb Mahal.” A man whom Kroger’s did not promote above the level of grocery clerk, and would have fired if they could have, according to what I have been told by present and former employees, this notorious underachiever is in charge of the city’s future at this moment. And what’s uppermost on his mind? The Kalb Mahal.

The current economic crisis has not stopped Mayor Kalb from feathering his own nest and providing a few more perks for himself. Last January, when the current economic crisis was already underway, Kalb tucked a ten percent raise for himself in the budget. He has more recently got himself a new city automobile. As mayor, Kalb says he has the authority to take any new car the city has on order, and he chose a new Dodge Charger that was originally designated for the Police Department. He felt he needed a car that befitted the dignity of a man of his importance. If the City Center becomes a reality, he will have a more spacious corner office, on the third floor of the City Center, as befits the dignity of a man of his importance.

To the left are examples of Tanner Stone's architectural pornography, drawings of the so-called Adelphia building, on the cover of the study that was done of the building, a total waste of taxpayers' money because the badly leaking building was infested with toxic black mold and was beyond repair. Nobody bothered to notice the building was worthless until after the absentee Los Angeles landlord, represented by Portsmouth attorney Mike Mearan, unloaded the property off on the city.

There is so much political baggage, so much bitterness, so much dishonest shit attached to the moldering Marting building/City Center that it is like a cancer metastisizing in our community. The opposition to the City Center, against Kalb’s Mahal, grows with each passing week. Along with the architectural pornography on Chillicothe St., there may be graffiti, such as “STOP THE SHITTY CENTER!” That’s what it may come to. That may be the last word on Kalbonomics. “STOP THE SHITTY CENTER!”

Tanner Stone drawing of City Center, more architectural pornography to seduce the citizens of Portsmouth

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stop SLAPPing


I mentioned at the end of my last posting that I wanted to say something more about the suit Portsmouth attorney and city councilman Michael Mearan filed against me in which he claimed I had libeled him by calling him a “shyster.” What he is trying to do is SLAPP me down. The emergence of SLAPPing coincides with and is a response to the Blogosphere, where ordinary citizens can document, publicize, and express their disapproval of the misdeeds of public figures, from the president of the United States to a member of the local city council. Expressing an opinion of public figures is every citizen’s constitutional right.

I will turn to Wikipedia for the definition of SLAPP, an acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. These are suits about speech on any public issue, such as those Mearan becomes involved with as a member of city council. To quote Wikipedia, SLAPP “is a lawsuit or a threat of lawsuit that is intended to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the costs of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Winning the lawsuit is not necessarily the intent of the person filing the SLAPP. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticisms.” Referring to SLAPPs, New York Supreme Court Judge J. Nicholas Colabella wrote, “Short of a gun to the head, a greater threat to the First Amendment expression can scarcely be imagined.” Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller wrote “A SLAPP Against Freedom,” which began, “While authoritarian regimes silence critics by murdering or jailing them, journalists (and other critics) in the United States face gentler, but still effective, intimidation: libel lawsuits.”

Mearan’s suit against me is a glaring example of SLAPP. Anyone who knows him, or of him by reputation, could have figured that out. No way in the world would he go forward with a suit in which he would have to testify under oath, in court, about his reputation for being involved in prostitution and drug trafficking. Nor would he be willing to testify about his role as chairman of the City Building Committee, which recommended that the city “utilize the Adelphia building site to construct a City Hall complex to house all city departments with the exception of the Health Department.” Mearan’s role as chair of the City Building Committee was a direct conflict of interest since a client of his, who owned the Adelphia site, stood to benefit financially if the city utilized the site for public purposes.

Mearan slapped me with a suit to stop me from expressing my opinion about his conflict of interest as chair of the Building Committee and to stop me from expressing my opinion, granted to me under the First Amendment, about his role as the lawyer for Karol Craft and her son Timothy, who were given what a counsel for the Ohio Supreme Court called Mearan’s “disastrous” advice to accept a loan from a “business associate” of Mearan. What the Supreme Court counsel apparently failed to notice was that the loan was not only disastrous for Mrs. Craft, who lost her home as a result of it, but also criminally usurious, which should by law invalidate everything that followed, including Mrs. Craft’s loss of her home. Mrs. Craft’s claims that her signature was forged on the deed by which ownership of her property was passed on to an employee of Mearan. That is another matter Mearan would have to testify to if the suit goes to trial.

But Mearan probably never intended to testify to anything when he SLAPPed his suit against me, and neither do the hundreds of other public officials and public figures across the country who are resorting to SLAPPs to silence and intimidate their critics. SLAPPing has become so widespread that some twenty-five states and one territory, according to Wikipedia, have passed legislation to curb the abuse. California, as far back as 1993, was one of the first states to take action against SLAPPers. California even has a SLAPPback law that allows victims to recover their legal costs from SLAPPers. Libel suits have since declined in California, presumably as a result of Anti-SLAPP statutes. A public interest group, the California Anti-SLAPP Project, maintains a helpful website. On that site is “A Survival Guide for Slapp Victims.” Another helpful website is the SLAPP Resource Center. Ohio’s neighbors Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee have anti-SLAPP statutes or case law, but Ohio does not. Perhaps our representative in the Ohio House of Representatives, Assistant House Democratic Leader, Todd Book, can help introduce Anti-SLAPP legislation once he finishes his Indian Head Rock crusade. I would like to see Anti-SLAPP legislation someday listed as an achievement on the Todd Book Wikipedia site.

As dense as he sometimes appears to be, I think Mearan must understand by now that he is not going to get away with SLAPPing. He started to SLAPP Sentinel editor Austin Leedom but has apparently backed off. We Portsmouth bloggers are not going to let ourselves be SLAPPed around by the likes of Mike Mearan. In spite of the adage that a man who serves as his own lawyer has a fool for a client, Mearan is representing himself in his suit against me. Since he does not plan to bring this suit against me to trial, he saves himself the expense of a lawyer. I am not spared that expense, but fortunately that is an expense I can meet. That is not always the case with victims of SLAPP suits, and that is not the case with Mrs. Craft, the seventy-year-old homeless widow, who has been railroaded by Mearan far more cruelly than I have been SLAPPed. Notwithstanding rumors that Mearan’s pandering to the vices of the legal establishment in Portsmouth gains him a peculiar kind of immunity, I will see justice done, sooner or later, or I will die trying.

Friday, September 12, 2008


In an undated letter sent to me in June, 2008, Portsmouth attorney Michael Mearan informed me that, in my blog River Vices, “you make numerous false statements referring to me as ‘Shyster Lawyer.’” Later in the letter, he stated, “I have limited my practice to representation of the ‘little guy.’ As a small town lawyer, my reputation is an integral part of my practice. The term ‘shyster’ is defined in Wikipedia as someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law.” At the end of his letter, he wrote, “The River Vices articles previously referred to have held me out to public embarrassment and ridicule. Unless you can furnish me with specific acts that justify your use of the term shyster, I’m asking you to print a ‘sincere’ correction and apology in River Vices on or before July 1, 2008.”

Instead of apologizing, I provided Mearan with examples of why I believe he is a shyster lawyer in the following River Vices postings: “Mearan’s Conflict of Interest,” on June 19; “Dirty Deeds,” on July 16; “American Dreams, American Nightmares,” on July 10; and “Loan Shark?” on July 31. These postings provide examples of Mearan’s unethical and unscrupulous actions in connection with his chairmanship of the City Building Committee and in his role as the attorney for Mrs. Karol Craft and her son, Timothy Lyons, who lost their home after Mearan arranged a criminally usurious loan for them with Joe Lester. Instead of representing “the little guy,” as Mearan put it, in my opinion he preys upon “the little guy” and “the little gal.”

Before the July 1 deadline Mearan gave me, he filed suit against me, repeating the charges he had made in his undated June letter and asking the court for $25,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages. My lawyer, D. Joe Griffith of Dagger, Johnston, Miller, et al, in a letter dated June 25, collegially requested Mearan dismiss the complaint and give himself some “cooling down time.” In a letter dated July 1, Mearan heatedly declined to dismiss the complaint.

On July 7, 2008, a First Set of Interrogatories, a Request for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admission were served to Mearan via U.S. Mail. Those 7 following Requests for Admissions are as follows:

Requests for Admissions

1. “Admit that it is on record with the Scioto County Recorder’s Office that there are liens filed against Michael H. Mearan for unpaid taxes.”

2. “Admit that Attorney Michael H. Mearan has, in Scioto County or the City of Portsmouth, participated in either the purchase and/or sale of illegal drugs.

3. “Admit that Attorney Michael H. Mearan has in the last 10 years illegally solicited the services of prostitutes and/or received compensation for brokering sexual activities.

4. “Admit that within the past 10 years Attorney Michael H. Mearan has participated in illegal gambling activities.”

5. “Admit that Attorney Michael H. Mearan has, within the [last] 10 to 20 years, within the City of Portsmouth and/or Scioto County earned a reputation for engaging the solicitation of prostitution, the use and/or sale of illegal drugs and/or participation in illegal gambling.”

6. “Admit that the River Vices articles written by defendant constitute statements of opinion.”

7. “Admit that Attorney Michael H. Mearan, in July of 2007 and June of 2008, was a Portsmouth City Council Person.”

These Requests for Admissions were accompanied by a set of Interrogatories, which can be found on under “Mearan.”

By September 12, 2008, Mr. Mearan had failed to deny the Requests for Admissions in the appropriate time frame allowed by law. Therefore, on September 12, through my attorney, I filed a motion for Summary Judgment, that is for the dismissal of the case.

Motion for Summary Judgment

“Now comes the defendant, Robert J. Forrey, by and through counsel, and pursuant to Civil Rule 36(A) moves the Court for Summary Judgment in the instant case as there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The reasons which more fully support Defendant’s Motion are contained in the accompanying Memorandum.”

The Memorandum can be found on under “Mearan.”

Now it is up to Judge Harcha to rule on the motion for Summary Judgment.

I will have more to say about this case in my next post.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Our Jughead Mayor

Mayor Kalb at work at Kroger's

A national debate is raging over whether candidates for the presidency and vice presidency have the experience to qualify them for high office. Being a Harvard Law School graduate and president of the Harvard Law Review and a community organizer and state senator and then Senator from Illinois does not qualify Barack Obama for being president? And being a mayor and then governor of Alaska does not qualify Sarah Palin for being vice president of the United States? Excuse me America, but how would you feel if the only experience the highest executive officer in your municipal corporation, the mayor, was as a failed grocery clerk? How would you feel if your chief executive was a Jughead whose chief concern in life is with what “wheels” he’s driving. If you try to find the mayor in his office some Friday, chances are he’s off on some weekend motorcycle rally. Don’t look for him Thursdays, either, because he hasn’t completely given up his day job as a grocery clerk at Kroger’s, which he drives to on Thursdays in the city car he is so ashamed of.

If you do find Kalb in his office, chances are, when he is not stewing over the inadequacy of the salary he is receiving for being the city’s part-time mayor, he’s stewing over the indignity of having to drive a city automobile that is not commensurate with his importance as the chief executive officer of Portsmouth. On August 29, Frank Lewis reported in the Portsmouth Daily Times that “Some questions in the community have prompted Portsmouth Mayor James Kalb to respond with answers as to why he will be driving a new 2008 model car earmarked for Portsmouth Police Department under the capital improvements budget.” Now that he has, with the help of the City Solicitor, put Captain Queeg in dry dock, Kalb has eliminated his chief rival in the Car Wars that has raged in city government for the last couple of years. Portsmouth city government was not wide enough to accommodate both Mayor Kalb and Police Chief Horner, two men with extremely low ethical and very high vehicular (i.e. testicular) standards.

As reported by Frank Lewis, Horner told Kalb “I know you have put yourself in for a car, but we've got this seized vehicle, this (2005 Chrysler) 300, and if you look at it and you like it, we'll put new wheels on it and everything, and it will still belong to the police department, but you can drive that for the mayor's office.” A seized 2005 Chrysler 300 doesn’t have the cojones of a seized Cadillac Escalade, which was what Horner was driving, but the mayor swallowed his pride and accepted the Chrysler 300 because he “felt it would be a proper car for taking visiting officials around in.” The only standard Kalb has for cars he drives around is whether or not his car is going to impress the visitors he hauls around our run-down drug and prostitute plagued city.

The Shame! The Shame!

Kalb drove the seized Chrysler 300 for a couple of weeks, but then Horner told him that Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said it was against the law for the mayor to be driving a seized vehicle. Frank Lewis reported that Kalb got upset. “Here I am without a car,” Kalb complained, sounding like a seven-year-old, “and they're getting all of their cars . . .” Actually, Kalb was not without a car. He had available to him as mayor a 1999 Ford Victoria, but he told Lewis, “It's not a bad car, but it's not something I would want to pick up a ranking official in. It's got holes in the seat, and the carpet is threadbare.” How dare anyone expect the mayor of Portsmouth to drive visitors around in a 1999 “Vic” with holes in the seat and a threadbare carpet! And think of the humiliation when he drives to his second job Thursday mornings at Kroger’s, and those other grocery clerks who have so little respect for him whisper behind his back about the Ford with the threadbare carpets that he has driven to work in. The shame! The shame!

Kalb's Ford Victoria, which he is so ashamed of, parked next to Kroger's on a Thursday Morning

Kalb told the PDT he believes “the mayor of a city should have a car at least as new and that runs as well as other cars being utilized by city employees. Sixty percent of the employees in the city are driving nicer vehicles than the mayor is driving,” Kalb said. “I would think that position (mayor) would require a decent car to drive.” Kalb may not have had a clue that a huge rock was being heisted from the Ohio, but he’s figured out the percentage of people under him who have cars better than his. What formula does he use to come up with that sixty percent? What weight did he assign to the age, the mileage, the condition, and how threadbare the carpet is? Since he spends so little time at his computer, accept to read Moe’s Forum, how did he do all the calculations to figure out who has a better car than him? Is he getting help from the city council math wizard David Malone? Is that who helps him decide how to rank a 1999 Ford Victoria, a seized Cadillac Escalade, and a seized 2005 Chrysler 300?

Kalb got even with Horner. The police department had on order two new cars, a Ford Crown Victoria and a Dodge Charger. As chief executive officer, the mayor has first dibs on any new car, provided it is not a seized vehicle. “Sure,” he told the PDT, “the mayor can take any car in the city and drive it if he wants.” Having already lost face by driving the 1999 Ford Victoria, Kalb wanted no part of the 2008 Ford Victoria. He chose the Dodge Charger.

Former City Building Committee stenographer (and Councilman Mike Mearan’s employee) Heather Hren got very good mileage when she drove a sub-sub-compact Chevy Aveo in transporting illegal drugs from Columbus to Portsmouth, and Mearan, who rented the Aveo for her, should be commended for thinking of fuel efficiency first, as he also does for himself when he scampers around town in his motor scooter. Jughead’s buddy Archie Andrews, growing up in the 1940s, drove a 1916 Model T Ford and was proud of it, but the generation of Potheads who never came of age in the 1960s got their priorities all mixed up and think the car, or the cycle, makes the man.

Kalb acts as if he is doing this for us, the citizens of Portsmouth. It is our dignity that he is protecting by driving around in the newest, biggest, snazziest car in the city fleet. You see, we are supposed to be thankful he doesn’t have to feel ashamed to be driving ranking visitors around Portsmouth in a car that is in the lowest fortieth percentile.

I recently received an email from somebody who claimed, “I was a classmate of Mayor Kalb in high school and when I found out recently he was the mayor of Portsmouth I could not stop laughing. This guy was an irrelevant goof, a petty criminal.” I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the emailer’s memory, but others in Portsmouth have told me the same thing. I am embarrassed, as a citizen of Portsmouth, not that Kalb had to drive ranking visitors around in a 1999 Ford Victoria, but that ranking visitors had to drive around with him, because Kalb probably graduated not in the fortieth but the fifth percentile of his class. I would guess ninety-five percent of his classmate had a better academic record than him. If Kalb got what he deserved, and what he’s worth, he would be driving Archie Andrew’s jalopy, with Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, not some ranking visitors, along for the joyride.