Friday, October 26, 2012

Canning the Can-Can Man

The canned party animal Randy Yohe (first on left)
 kicking up his heels as a can-can dancer

The kid glove treatment of law enforcement of WSAZ’s Randy Yohe suggests that the protected class of criminals in Appalachian Ohio includes not just the drug-dealing sons of  police chiefs, as was the case in Portsmouth, but of “on-air personalities” as well. At 12:30 a.m., Saturday evening, October 21, 2012, according to the story in the Ironton Tribune, Yohe drove through a stop sign in Coal Grove and also went over the centerline and a concrete lane divider. The arresting officer found an open container of alcohol in Yohe’s silver Ford F-150, a violation of Ohio law, as well as illegal drugs (marijuana) and drug paraphernalia. Yohe was taken to the Ironton Police Department where his blood alcohol level was recorded as .12, well above the legal limit .08. Since no mention was made of marijuana showing up in the blood work, I am assuming Yohe was drunk but not stoned.
Yohe claimed that the pot and the paraphernalia were left in his car by a friend he had given a lift to. This sounds suspiciously like the kind of hot air one can expect from an on-air personality. Should there be some kind of recognition (call it the Yohe Prize) for drunk drivers who don’t let friends drive stoned? Did the Coal Grove police ask Yohe for the name of the  alleged passenger so that they could check out Yohe’s claim that the drugs were not his? The Tribune story doesn’t say, but I doubt that the police even asked for the name. On the following Monday, Coal Grove Police Chief Eric Spurlock reduced the DUI charge to “aggravated reckless driving.” There’s no mistaking Spurlock for Sherlock. The sweeping under the rug has begun. The DUI charge could have led to Yohe losing his license for six months. The police and the media in many communities are in a symbiotic, you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours, relationship, as we learned only too well in Portsmouth when Charles Horner was the chief and  the Portsmouth Daily Times turned a blind eye for years to the criminal behavior of his drug dealing son.
Instead of being locked up for the night, Yohe was released on his own recognizance and allowed to call a taxi to take him home. The hung-over  Yohe  publicly apologized to his employer (WSAZ) and his wife, but not to the viewers of WSAZ, whose trust as a reporter he had violated, or to the public, whose safety he had jeopardized by driving drunk. A Tribune reader asked, “What if he had of hit my mother, sister, brother or grandchild while driving intoxicated?” Another reader, commenting on what he or she considered the kid-glove treatment of Yohe, protested. “This is not right. Shame on you Chief Spurlock.” Another reader with the moniker “stupid redneck” wrote, “It couldn’t happen to a more deserving person. I have watched him report on pot busts and know for a fact that he showed damaging footage in the report that had nothing to do with the people involved. I hope he gets fired and never works again.” Another reader wrote, “I am beginning to see how the news works now . . . we will see how long this will run until it is swept under a rug.” Someone on Topix reported Yohe appeared to have been under the influence of something on WSAZ a few weeks ago when he lost his train of thought and said nothing for thirty seconds, an eternity in on-air time. Time has run out for this on-air personality, for the Can-Can man has been canned so he no longer can. I guess Steve Hayes wont be doing any more   “Rapping with Randy” interviews on  WNXT, interviews in which  Hayes deferred  to the West Virginian Yohe as the on-air authority on crime in Appalachia.
I think it was the arrogance Yohe displayed as an on-air personality that makes the apparent pampering of him by Chief Spurlock so hard to take. Called YoYo unaffectionately by one of his critics, Yohe used to blow in and out of Portsmouth like the city mouse, the big cheese from the metropolis (Charleston-Huntington!), deigning to report on the doings of the country mice of Scioto County. I recall him coming in noisily about fifteen minutes late, blaming the traffic, and interrupting a public meeting Portsmouth mayor Jane Murray was conducting. He had the attitude that Murray, having started the meeting without him, was obliged to fill him in on what had taken place in his absence before the meeting could resume. Along with his buddy, our local  on-air personality at WNXT (someone on Topix wondered if Yohe had been driving home drunk “from his buddy Steve’s house”), Yohe played a prominent part in the demonizing of Mayor Murray by the media. One can easily imagine how Yohe would have covered the story if it was she who had been arrested for drunk driving with an open container and drugs in her possession. But on-air personalities and the drug-dealing sons of police chiefs are not to be SLAPPed around. That kind of treatment is reserved for uppity women.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who's Mentally Unfit for Sheriff?

Little Chuck Horner
Sat in a corner
Talking like a tough guy.
“Fee, fi, fo, fum—
That day  will  surely come
When Sheriff Matt Dillon am I.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Building Trouble: 2837 Scioto Trail

2837 Scioto Trail, on Horners Architectural Trail of Tears

       A recent post by Jane Murray on her lively website wegottroublerighthereinrivercity calls attention to the checkered history of 2837 Scioto Trail, a building now being occupied by the SOLACE group, which, in my opinion, started out with the praiseworthy purpose of consoling the families and friends of deceased drug addicts, but was hijacked by former Portsmouth police chief Charles Horner for his own political purposes. Horner has been building trouble his entire phony drug-busting career. Having failed miserably as a drug-busting police chief, Horner was already planning to abandon ship, the ship from which he had frequently been AWOL for physical and mental problems, and run for sheriff. 

       It was ironic that SOLACE should end up in the singularly ugly building that had last been occupied, briefly, by a pill mill. That its occupancy was brief was owing not to Chief Horner, whose failures as a drug-buster are legendary, but rather to former Mayor Murray, whose recall from office, with additional irony, Horner and the landlord of 2837 Scioto Trail, Ronald Cole, were instrumental in bringing about. Cole circulated petitions to recall Murray, and Horner, in a typical treacherous betrayal of whomever the mayor (his boss) happened to be, was first to sign a recall petition for Murray. Did Horner’s slowness in dealing with the pill mill on the trail have anything to do with the camaraderie that he and Cole might have shared as a result of their cooperating in the campaign to recall Murray? And did SOLACE’s moving into 2837 Scioto Trail having anything to do with the image problems the Coles had created as a result of hosting pill millers in the building? Who better to help take the pill-mill stigma off the ugly building than SOLACE? Just as Horner had used SOLACE to cover up his notorious ineffectiveness in fighting the drug epidemic, did Cole use SOLACE to rehabilitate 2837 Scioto Trail? Murray wrote in her post, “[T]hough the committed people in the local prescription drug fighting organization SOLACE are no doubt unaware, the very building in which they have located in Portsmouth is at none other than 2837 Scioto Trail.” Is it possible the SOLACE folk were that gullible and unaware of what they were getting into when they moved into that building?

The Ladies of Solace not saying no to Horner
       Along with a number of other buildings in Portsmouth (think of the police station in the Municipal Building, the Marting building, the Marting’s Annex, the Adelphia building, the gas company building on Clair Street), 2837 Scioto Trail has become part of an architectural trail of tears that Horner created in his sorry political career. Now he covets the County Sheriff complex, and if with the help of SOLACE members he is elected, that edifice too will be haunted by his controversial presence, for wherever Horner goes he builds trouble.

Adelphia building, on Horner's architectural trail of tears

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just Say No to Horner, #3

“Psst! Psst! Hey, Marshall Dillon. It’s me, your buddy Chuck, up here on the billboard.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just Say No to Horner #2

Even a beautiful sixty-nine year old senior Just Says No to Horner

Letter circulating among Scioto seniors

“I said have you ordered your Just Say No to Horner t-shirt?”

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Horner’s Son

 "Comments from the Web" in the  Portsmouth Daily Times (2/12/2012)

Horner’s Son: People Who Live in Crack Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones

David Horner, son of the former Portsmouth police chief, has injected himself into his father’s campaign for sheriff of Scioto County, thereby making himself a campaign issue. Presumably it was Horner’s son who earlier this year signed a post in an online chatroom  as DavidHorner2, responding to previous anonymous responders who identified themselves as Pepprkorn, firstresponder1, and ramz711.  Criticizing the three, who didn’t have anything good to say about his father, DavidHorner2 began, “People like you kill me.”  Then he turns in particular to firstresponder1, who had asked “how in the heck does this guy run for sheriff when he is on worker’s compensation????” Horner1 responded snidely, “So your [sic] telling me if you had P.T.O. [paid or personal time off, i.e. workman’s comp] you wouldn’t take it?” [F]irstresponder1 had also written, “also i think the next sheriff will be the current one [Donini] we have right now.” Horner2 replied to firstresponder1, “As to the Sheriff part, The only reason I could think you don’t want [Charles] Horner in there and the current one [Donini] to stay is because Horner actually does something besides sit at a desk all day. Are you afraid he is going to make it hard for you to score your drugs or is it that he already has and your [sic] mad?” (Quoted in  Comments from the Web, in the  Portsmouth Daily Times [2/12/2012].)
The chutzpah of David Horner lecturing anybody about drugs  might escape you if you didn’t know that the police chief’s son had not only been using drugs but had been dealing them  from high school onwards. That adolescent  stage of David Horner’s drug career culminated on June 25, 2000, according to Shawnee Sentinel writer John Welton, when he was arrested at the age of nineteen and subsequently found guilty  of   possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia. I looked in  the  Portsmouth Daily Times  archives for the whole month of  June, 2000, but found no  mention of David Horner’s arrest. I looked also at court records, but found no mention of his arrest there either. Does this mean Horner’s son was not arrested? Hardly, because the PDT has a long tradition of not reporting embarrassing news about anyone connected with the wealthy and influential crooks who control the city politically and economically. When Jeff Barron made the mistake of reporting that a drug dealer who was arrested worked as a mechanic at Glockner Motors, he was fired not long afterwards. There was a report on the arrest of Horner’s son in court records, according to John Welton, but it had been expunged. “The criminal records of the Chief’s son had been hidden by court order in March 2003 by judge Richard Schisler,” Welton reported in The Sentinel on July 18, 2003. Welton, whose handle was Doug Deep, had dug deep and found that David Horner’s   arrest for drugs record had not been completely expunged.
 David Horner continued selling drugs  after his 2000 conviction. A person in a position to know told me that Horner’s son  had brazenly sold drugs in Damon’s Restaurant, directly across from the Portsmouth police station. I learned from published sources that he was also selling drugs in New Boston, where  an ambitious New Boston sergeant, Matt Powell, was  making a name for himself as a drug-buster. Powell claimed he was close to arresting David Horner for dealing drugs in New Boston, but Chief Horner,  in an effort to prevent his son  from being arrested, began putting obstacles in Powell’s way. According to a timeline John Welton assembled for these events, during January, 2003, David Horner was “under surveillance by Sgt. Matt Powell for possible criminal activity in the Village of New Boston. Drug dealers claim that they tipped off Chief Horner that his son was being investigated by Sgt. Matt Powell.”
Even after his conviction in 2000 David Horner as a twenty-something continued to receive preferential treatment when he got in trouble with the law. A very reliable person told me of hearing on a police scanner that a David Horner had been found to have drugs and paraphernalia in his car when he was stopped by police in West Portsmouth. No  report of this incident appeared in the local media nor is there any reference to it in David Horner’s rap sheet. Another person told me of  hearing on another occasion that Horner’s son had been stopped in Sciotoville and found to be in possession of  drugs. A senior citizen couple told me they were near Andy’s Glass shop on 8th Street when David Horner drove into the back of a truck. Obviously in a drugged state, Horner was detained by two Portsmouth police officers until Chief Horner arrived and drove him away. That accident was not reported in the media, nor is there any record of it on David Horner’s rap sheet. These unreported incidents took place about ten years ago. But as recently as two years ago, while Horner was still  chief, a Portsmouth police officer told me Horner was still protecting his son. That’s all he would tell me, and I think he regretted telling me that much, because he was taking a chance telling me anything. 
Being father of a  son,  but one who fortunately has never had a drug problem, I can sympathize with Horner’s father doing everything he could  to prevent his son from being arrested and sent to prison, but I cannot condone his failure to uphold the law, which as a police officer,  he was sworn to do.  Horner elbowed his way up the ranks of the Portsmouth police force, from Sergeant Screw-up, to Captain Incompetent, to Chief Enabler, finding it easier to ignore and cover up than confront his son’s drug problems.

Did an automobile accident in front of Andy's Glass go unreported?

I began this piece by quoting Horner’s son boasting that his father “actually does something beside sit at a desk all day,” the implication being that that’s all Donini does, sit at his desk all day.   But John Welton thought that  that was just what the father was guilty of,  as far as his addicted son was concerned—he sat on  his rear. “I have an agenda for you Chief Horner, Welton wrote in The Sentinel. “Get off your butt  and do your job. Why don’t you go to the Sciotoville crack house where you have admitted to Sentinel  staff members that you were aware your son is buying his crack. Call me a liar Chief Horner. We notified you of the drug house, as we have done on many of your local busts, and your words were, ‘I know he’s there but what can I do? If he doesn’t buy it there, he will buy it somewhere else.’ Well heck, Chuck, if you shut off his supply then he might have to leave town with the other drug users and our town would be safe. That is a terrible reason for not busting a dope house you know exists.” Yes,  Welton is an ex-felon, but in my experience in Portsmouth the indicted felons are far more truthful than the unindicted felons who control the city poitically and economically. If the scales of justice had been balanced,  David Horner himself would probably be an ex-felon.
It would have been better for his father, for his mother and for himself, if  Horner’s son had not gotten involved at all in his father’s campaign because in doing so he calls attention not only to his own history of drug abuse but to his father’s  helping to cover it up.  In fact, it would have been better for everybody in Scioto County if Horner had not chosen to run for sheriff because if he is elected, the same cycle will probably begin again. Horner cannot help being Horner. And now there is someone else who could end up paying for the sins not only of the father but also of the grandfather. There is in David Horner’s rap sheet,  if it too hasn’t been expunged, a record of his paternity case against a woman who bore two children while she consorted with him during his drug daze. David legally challenged  that he was the biological father of one of the two children, and DNA tests proved he was right. He therefore was not legally obligated to provide financial support for the unrelated child. For the sake of the child whom he did accept as his, it would be better if that child did not have a grandfather who might become the despised sheriff of Scioto County, just as it would have been better for David if he had not had to grow up as the son of the despised Portsmouth police chief.
In view of David Horner’s past drug-dealing, and in view of his father’s reported covering up for him, it is ironic that members of the SOLACE group are backing his father for sheriff. I believe some members of  SOLACE have been bamboozled by Horner, but those who know him best—and who knows Horner better than members of the Portsmouth police force?—want no part of him. In a straw vote conducted by the Portsmouth police union, Horner got not a single vote favoring him for sheriff.
I would not have written this particular post about Horner’s son if he  hadn’t implied firstresponder1 was a druggie just because firstresponder1 predicted Horner’s father would not be elected sheriff.  “Are you afraid he is going to make it hard for you to score your drugs or is it that he already has and your [sic] mad?” Horner’s son asked responder1. Apparently Horner’s son  has not learned that people who live in crack houses should not throw stones. 

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Shawnee State University's Academic Reputation

Billboard near Shawnee State U.

The report yesterday (1 Nov. 2012) from CBS news that Shawnee State U. is among the worst American universities in terms of retention of students is hardly news to those familiar with the history of S.S.U. Just as Central State U., has a mission to serve poor black students, S.S.U. has one to serve poor white  students in the Appalachian region of south central Ohio. Retention rates, given this constituency, are not going to be good. Could the rates be better? Certainly,  in the case of S.S.U. At least some students used to stay at S.S.U. only long enough to pick up their first  financial aid check, but former President James Chapman stopped the worst of that racket.  But the  Board of Trustees have historically made what is bad at S.S.U. worse. Still, the rates would  have been bad even if the trustees were better and if the administration had been better at retention.
In terms of retention, at least, the switch from quarters to semesters was the single worse thing that has happened in the last ten years  at S.S.U. The quarter academic calendar is better for disadvantaged students in a number of ways, including retention. But semesters work better for advantaged students, who are much better prepared financially and academically than disadvantaged students, sothe powers that be, most of whom were educated at semester colleges and universities, decided  higher education in Ohio could not exist half slave and half free—oops I mean half quarters and half semesters. Uniformity in calendar was pushed even if public colleges and universities  of  Ohio  were very different in character and student body.  If Ohio University could not stop the semester juggernaut, S.S.U. had no choice but to go along.

Two postings I made on the academic reputation at S.S.U. can be found by clicking on the two links below. Much of the documentation in them is missing because the damnable fee Flickr photo service summarily deleted my charts and illustrations  once I switched to the free photo service provided by Google.