Let us recall both the political careers of Michael Coleman and Andy Ginther advanced primarily due to their involvement in covering up scandals. Coleman, then an attorney at Schottenstein, Zox and Dunn, stepped forward to aid billionaire Les Wexner’s alleged bribery of City Council President Jerry Hammond. Remember $220,000 was funneled from friends of Les to the Major Chord jazz club in the Short North. The deal was that New Albany would get water and sewer services extended from Columbus and paid for by city residents and Hammond would get a jazz club.
When the scheme was busted, Coleman took the lead role with attorney Larry James in explaining how the apparent investment bribe was really supposed to be a non-profit contribution to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center. Coleman had the paper to prove it and a newly appointed seat on Columbus City Council.
Ginther was appointed to the Columbus School Board, where he covered up the “data-rigging scandal” by forcing out the School’s internal auditor who was on the investigative trail. This is how Ginther won his chops to serve on Council and become the Council President.
Now Mayor Coleman wants you to believe that he was totally in the dark on what his Asian development liaison Bob Hsieh was doing on behalf of the purchaser of his over-priced house, Ms. Lee. The Mayor’s former development director, Boyce Safford, told a gathered group of minority contractors in April 2009 that “You have to play the game.”
The game is simple. You need to personally enrich the coffers of Coleman or Ginther’s campaign, or in the case of the Mayor, give him a sweetheart deal on the house. Not only was city employee Hsieh involved in the deal, but so was realtor Mike Jones who handled the sale of the house while serving as an appointee on the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA). BZA is where the real money is made when variances for multimillion dollar developments come before Council.
I have seen many of these BZA deals at Council when a developer wants to make a fortune by shoehorning a tacky, shoddily-made apartment complex into too small of a space. It’s the BZA that comes to the rescue as the money flows into the coffers of Council members and the Mayor.
With city political operatives Hsieh and Jones, Coleman sold his Berwick house for $520,000 in 2010 despite the appraised value being $404,000. According to public property records, in a three-year period which included 185 home sales in the Berwick, no house sold for more than $420,000. So, it looks like an $100,000 bribe to the Mayor.
Equally important as the house Coleman sold is the condo he tried to sell at an inflated price. He bought the condo for $456,000, sharing it with his gal pal tied to Wexner’s L-brand and tried to sell it to Ms. Li for $624,900. This would have represented a 37 percent profit in a two-year period. The sale went south and three months later and Coleman is mysteriously stepping down.
What we suspect is that the FBI can count. And when an inflated property deal looks like a bribe, it probably is a bribe.
Husted whores for gas and oil interests
In mid-August, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted decided to hook for the oil and gas industry in the state. In one of the most undemocratic pronouncements in modern Ohio history, Husted—neither a judge or a legislator—has decided that people in Athens, Fulton, and Medina counties can’t vote on a citizen’s initiative known as the Community Bill of Rights. The Community Environmental Legal Fund has been working with groups in these counties to pass initiatives making clean air, soil and water a right. These type of initiatives are being used to fight back against the Koch brothers and pollution caused by the fracking industry and would allow local governments to sue large, polluting corporations on behalf of their residents.
Husted has dictated that citizens be denied the right to vote on these resolutions, pretending that he’s the Justice of the Supreme Court, he says that the courts have already ruled in a certain way. Really? All of these initiatives have what is called a severability clause. That is, if a court rules that it violates Ohio law or the Ohio Constitution, it does not take on the force of a local ordinance. Rather, it would stand as a resolution of sentiment for the people, expressing their belief that their community, friends, and neighbors are entitled to a non-polluted environment.
People should not tolerate a political Koch-whore like Husted. His office, and Boards of Elections, need to be occupied. Residents of dozens of villages, townships, and municipalities must begin to gather signatures and demand that their Boards of Elections ignore the incoherent mutterings of a wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil and gas industry masquerading as a public official.