Firing of Portsmouth City Manager Triggers Recall Campaign

When Mayor Jim Kalb called the City Council to order, standing on the steps of the city building, a crowd of residents spilled out through the lobby doors. Councilwoman JoAnn Aeh made the motion to appoint Sam Sutherland as Interim City Manager. Kevin W. Johnson then nominated Derek Allen (whose recent dismissal had triggered the crisis). The crowd broke out in boisterous applause, which momentarily delayed the proceedings.

Mayor Kalb objected to Allen’s nomination, suggesting it would be illegal. After requesting the City Solicitor’s opinion, John Haas stated that the city charter stipulated the interim must be appointed from among the city’s current department heads.

The vote was then called and four members cast their ballots in favor of Sutherland, two voted against. The factions held — Kalb, Aeh, Lowe, and Meadows (the Anti-Allen partisans) continued to ride roughshod over the objections of Kevin E. Johnson and Kevin W. Johnson.

The contest has the potential to realign Portsmouth political coalitions, and, in the process, divide the local Republican Party, whose leadership is increasingly being undermined by scandals. It is an open secret that the Bryan Davis faction of the local Republican party, which controls the county commission, has been seeking the ouster of Allen for months.

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City Solicitor John Haas addresses the public at a special meeting of the Portsmouth City Council on the 23rd of December, 2017. In order to accommodate an outraged public, Portsmouth City Council held its meeting in the lobby of the City Building. Residents were restricted by council to keep their comments to the issue of appointing an Interim City Manager.  Left-to-right, Jo Ann Aeh (2nd Ward), James Kalb (4th Ward), Tom Lowe (6th Ward), Gene Meadows (5th Ward), Diana Ratliff (City Clerk), Kevin W. Johnson (1st Ward), Kevin E. Johnson (3rd Ward), and John Haas (City Solicitor).  Photo Credit:  Screenshot from Crowd Agency Live Stream

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Pillich Calls for Public Option in Ohio

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Connie Pillich speaking in Portsmouth, Ohio (5 December 2017). Photo Credit:  SOPM Media.

 

"Having a healthy Ohio is not just a quality of life issue, it is an economic issue, too.  The only way I can grow the economy is to have a healthy workforce. I want to strengthen Medicaid in Ohio by requiring competitive bidding so that your dollars are spent the most effective and efficient way possible and I want to fight to maintain Medicaid expansion. If we lose Medicaid expansion, 700,000 Ohioans will lose their insurance — 26,000 are veterans, and a quarter of our hospitals will close. The economic impact on our state is going to be disastrous if we let Medicaid expansion go away. And every single Republican running for Governor will get rid of Medicaid expansion. I also want to make sure we redirect our resources to the police, our firefighters, our EMTs, the hospitals, the social workers, who are on the front-line fighting the opioid crisis. And I want to create a public option for healthcare.  Let anybody buy Medicaid. Let anybody buy the state law makers’ insurance because when I’m governor I want people to have access to affordable care and I want it to be in every single county, no matter your zip code, and I also want them to have access to the same thing the politicians have because if it is good enough for them it is good enough for all of us."

-- Connie Pillich in Portsmouth, Ohio (5 December 2017).

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Progressive Victories in New Boston and Beyond

Since last week’s election returns, the national media has focused on a number of significant victories for progressive and Democratic candidates, with many commentators concluding that the results point to trouble for President Trump and his Republican Party loyalists. We do not simply hope this is true, we intend to make it true.

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Ryan Ottney, who won election to the New Boston Village Council, helped kick off the SOPM's Progressive Voices Speaker Series in March 2017. Photo Credit:  SOPM Media

 

The moral and political corruption embodied by Trump is shared among Republican office holders across Ohio. From Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis to Congressman Brad Wenstrup, Ohio’s Republican officeholders model the same lack of ethical standards and back the same heartless and failed policies that have only enriched the wealthiest of Americans, while undermining social programs with proven records of helping working and middle-class Americans. Voters in Ohio and across the nation are heeding the wake-up call of the real reformers, the real champions of the common man and woman.

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“Set Thy House In Order”: The Need for a Nonpartisan Economic Development Agency

On Thursday, September 28th, the Board of Directors of the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) held their first meeting since the Scioto County Commissioners decided to end SOPA’s official role in promoting economic development in the county. The Board met in the Welcome Center Conference Room, which overflowed with Board Members, the County Commissioners, the press, and interested members of the public.

A week prior to the meeting, the Commissioners Bryan Davis, Mike Crabtree, and Cathy Coleman announced:

"We do not feel Scioto County can be adequately represented in the future by SOPA. The board has noticed for some time the inability of SOPA to secure major projects in Scioto County, the mismanagement of recent projects, the angering of potential new employers, and the repeated threats over time of resignation by your Director, Jason Kester. Coupled with the recent notice of the pending departure of his assistant, Adam Phillips; a misrepresentation of a public official's statement by the director, and an adversarial, and in some cases, disrespectful behavior of some of the employees and board members, we are left with no other option than to end the current arrangement.”

The Commissioners’ announcement unleashed a firestorm of criticism on social media and put all involved on the defensive.

At Thursday’s meeting, a calm Bud Sayre presided as usual, and by the end of the two-hour meeting, he had given an impromptu, but well-reasoned defense of the the Port Authority's success under the leadership of Jason Kester. Pointing to over 1000 jobs saved or created, Sayre said he would "stand on our accomplishments, as a board, on Jason’s accomplishments.” Many nodded in agreement when Sayre concluded: "You can’t overlook what was saved or started. The successes certainly outweigh any failures.” Sayre’s defense of SOPA and Kester came during the public comment section of the meeting, speaking on his on behalf, after Bryan Davis and the Commissioners had attempted to justify their decision.

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Republican County Commissioner Bryan Davis (standing) defended the Scioto County Commission's recent decision to terminate the Port Authority's official role in promoting the county's economic development. During the public comments, Commissioner Davis called for the resignation of any Board members who disagreed with the new "direction.”  Photo Credit: SOPM Media (28 September 2017).

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Bernie Country

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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders addresses a "town hall" style meeting at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio (22 August 2017).  Photo Courtesy Toni Dengel, SOPM Media

 

“I’m here in ‘Trump Country,’” Bernie Sanders announced when he visited Portsmouth, Ohio, on Tuesday for one of his signature town hall meetings.  These five words, six syllables helped frame one of the Senator’s main points  – Donald Trump may have won this county and region by large numbers, and thus led the national media to brand us “Trump Country,” but the reality is that there are no red states or blue states. According to Bernie, local and national issues like the opioid epidemic, affordable healthcare, student debt, a living wage, mass incarceration, climate change, and economic inequalities are issues facing all Americans, whether here in southern Ohio, or in communities on the East and West coasts.

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Let the Endorsements Begin

Richard Crosby Makes Congressional Campaign Stop in Portsmouth

On Friday, June 16th, the 14th Street Community Center in Portsmouth hosted the most recent meeting of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement. Popular interest remained focused on national political controversies and contests.  With the communities of southern Ohio divided between the 2nd Congressional District in the West and the 6th Congressional District in the East, area residents were eager to sign the anti-gerrymandering (Fair Districts=Fair Elections) petition, and volunteers signed petition booklets to secure additional signatures.  In this effort, members of the SOPM have joined forces with the local Democratic Party in Adams and Scioto counties; the Republicans are noticeably absent from the field of election law reformers.

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Attorney Richard Crosby visited Portsmouth to discusses his candidacy for US Representative in Ohio's 2nd District.  (Photo Credit:  Submitted Photo, SOPM Media)

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Everhard Visits Portsmouth

Last Thursday, May 18th, Dr. Janet Everhard brought her campaign to Portsmouth, Ohio, the 2nd Congressional District's most eastern city.  Arriving in the evening in time to catch the tail end of a “Spring Picnic” hosted by the Federated Democratic Women of Scioto County, Everhard spent the night in town, on the river front.  The highpoint of her visit came on Friday evening when she spoke at the monthly meeting of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement, which hosted Everhard as part of the “Progressive Speakers Series."

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Dr. Janet Everhard meeting with supporters of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement, May 19th, 2017.  Everhard blasted incumbent Congressman Brad Wenstrup for supporting the repeal of the ACA and the protections it provides Americans with pre-existing health conditions.  Photo credit:  SOPM Media Team.
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"Unsung Heroes" In Our Midst: An Interview with Trabian Shorters

“We had started out with the same negative perception as anyone else, that there is a problem with black men that needed fixing,” Trabian Shorters said. “But then we find all of these unsung heroes. We have all of these black men not getting credit for being part of the solution while, at the same time, the black man is being viewed by society as a poster child for the problem. That was stupid.”  Shorters, the founder of BMe Community (for Black Male Engagement), an organization working to change the negative image of what is going on in the nation's black community by focusing on all the good being done by black men.

(Courtland Milloy/The Washington Post)
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Mickey Edwards Brings Congressional Campaign to Portsmouth

On April 21st, the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement hosted Mickey Edwards of Cincinnati, candidate for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District.  Edwards hopes to best a growing field of rivals in the Democratic Party primary and and take on Republican incumbent Brad Wenstrup in November 2018.

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Mickey Edwards of Cincinnati, candidate for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, spoke at the April meeting of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement.  Photo Credit:  SOPM Media.

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All Politics Are Local: May Primary Election News & Opinion

Voters in Scioto County will go to the polls on May 2 to vote in elections for First and Third Ward Council members (Portsmouth) and for Village Councilperson-at-Large (New Boston).

Portsmouth voters across the city will also have the opportunity to vote on proposed changes to the city’s charter amending the number of hours municipal employees may work.

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