Portsmouth, Ohio -- "The city where Southern hospitality begins." Remember this slogan for our once-revered home? Some of you young people do not, I am sure, and for good reason. For many years now, the sleepy little Appalachian town of 21,000 inhabitants has been a hotbed of alleged political misconduct and criminal schemes amid public unrest. Young people, you may have the unfortunate opportunity to view your hometown at its worst.
In a new report from the Portsmouth Daily Times (Frank Lewis, "Mayor Says Council May Ask Her To Pay For Renovations, or Resign," February 20 2010), Mayor Jane Murray claims she has been frustrated while working on the city's financial issues and on a request by City Council to pay for the renovations to her own office. She also believes that if she does not resign, members of Council are going to actively work to have her recalled.
Murray said she believes the public knows, “this city has been run by a handful of people for the last 50 years.” She goes on to explain that the public is tired of the "handful of people" and they have a right to be "infuriated at these political games."
Since nothing could seem to worsen the lines of communication at city hall, I would make all public servants complete a small homework assignment to be completed and published in the Daily Times.
1. The Integrity of City Government
a. Have the mayor name the alleged "handful of people" bent on control of the city.
b. Have the mayor tell in exact detail what they are trying to control and by what means they are doing it.
2. The Climate for Change
a. Have each City Council member and the Mayor identify the #1 budget concern in Portsmouth.
b. Require each City Council member and the Mayor to offer the single best solution for accomplishing the #1 budget concern in Portsmouth.
3. The Personalities of Elected Officials
a. Require each City Council member and the Mayor to name the #1 impediment to getting along and to working together.
b. Require each City Council member and the Mayor to identify the means of removing the #1 impediment to getting along and to working together.
4. The State of the City
a. Have each City Council member and the Mayor identify the #1 reason for the alleged deplorable state of the city.
b. Have each City Council member and the Mayor write a brief plan for improving the #1 reason for the deplorable state of the city.
5. Common Sense
a. Have each City Council member and the Mayor identify (in specific terms) one new, needed, positive step to be made in a short time that everyone in the government can agree to and accomplish.
b. Implement the best of the new, needed, positive steps with foresight, cooperation and amendment.
Why Are People Disgusted?
The people of Portsmouth have spoken their will time and time again. They have become accustomed to falsehoods, rants, and threats from within their city chambers. They realize the tremendous work it will take to improve their city within the budget and with the cooperation of dedicated, committed officials. The task is tremendous. But, does city government wish to confirm the work as an impossibility?
Portsmouth City Council has become the model for the non-working assemblage of individuals dedicated to disagreement. To each faction in charge, I would remind you that you represent the total population, not just your individual or group interest. Take into account the negativity generated by your petty arguments and the wasted time spent in delaying progress because of your own personal shortcomings.
As our town stagnates with see-saw decisions and rank discontent, we continue to lose the benefits of any present satisfying existence. No one of our officials should represent special interests in conflict with the general public good. For those who stand in the way, it is time to get together, get to work, or get out if you do not want to represent those trying to contribute to the solution.