A note for An Ohio State University

Will  new president  Ted “Top Gun” Carter finally announce that the senior administration moved across the street from the campus itself in July, and place a sign on 15 E. 15th Ave., other than Smashburger’s and Chicken Tenders?  And on Bricker Hall, now unannounced home to the Department of Economics?

His opening remarks to the Columbus Dispatch (Jan. 12, 2024): “I believe I’m where I’m supposed to be.” “Carter said he now gets to the chief spokesperson for Ohio State and what it stands for…. ‘I’m looking forward to making sure [Ohio elected officials]  know that we’re going to be doing the right things for the right reasons here at Ohio State.’”

Will OSU finally turn off the indoor lights overnight at 15 E. 15th Ave., and reduce its use of fossil fuels across campus, despite years of promises? And finish the first floor of University Square South which is now unsuitable for human use including for Buckeyes’ scrimmages?

Will Leslie Wexner be asked to resign over the continuing Jeffrey Epstein sex scandals for the best interest of OSU? And will he be compelled  finally to donate the not yet paid 30 per cent of his promised $100 million contribution for naming rights in six feet high illuminated letters? Who speaks for the  overall well-being and identity of the university? Do not ask the Office of Integrity or Marketing and Communications.

Lawless Columbus, Continued

Sixth installment

Across its hierarchy and divisions, the City of Columbus continues its quest for national distinction and exceptionality. But it is never in the ways that it touts publicly in the awkward, misleading rhetoric of both its “communications spokespeople” and its unqualified, out of town advertising agencies and highly paid consultants to develop proposals to solicit plans [sic] that never materialize. I have lost count.

My own and others’ previous articles detail the refusal of the City Attorney to pursue the illegal failings of contributors AEP and Rumpke while Zach Klein pointlessly but noisily sues Kia, Hyundai, and, oh yes, the State of Ohio. He only pursues delinquent large rental housing owners and managers after Zoning UnEnforcement neglects to do its legally required work and hundreds of persons without resources are left homeless or buildings explode.

The assistant city attorney in charge of Zoning colludes illegally with private landlords and Ohio State University with orders not to enforce zoning laws, thus endangering the safety and lives of tens of thousands of permanent and student residents. Student tenants have come close to death.

The City Attorney’s assistant who is the Columbus Police Department’s liaison orders officers not to enforce the law or issue citations in certain absentee landlord-dominated neighborhoods. This takes place at the same moment that the “mayor,” Upper Arlington realtor E. Remy, and Council president and PPT mutter without policy or plans, budgets or timetables about “safety” being their highest priority. Of course, Andy mumbles emptily about this most recently at his underpublicized “public” playdate, i.e., swearing in for this third term, for his “supporters” at COSI on Jan. 6, 2023.

Of course, CPD remains short-handed and seriously lacking leadership, communication, resources, and direction. Nothing has compensated the force for the “mayor’s” out of control multi-million-dollar retirement bonuses with no guidelines or guardrails.

Officers on the beat speak to citizens about their high levels of demoralization and disorganization. They admit to not enforcing traffic laws, in particular, because they cannot expect the City Attorney’s office or the Franklin County Courts to support them. Neither the City Attorney nor Council nor the media have any interest in these facts of life and death in Columbus.

(My evidence comes directly from police and zoning enforcement officers, enforcement records, and everyday visible evidence. This is not anecdotal or hearsay.)

This is the same “mayor” who makes unethical and very likely illegal telephone calls to a county judge while she is hearing cases in which the “mayor” and his City are principals. Recognizing that the “mayor” clearly crossed inappropriate, ethical, and likely legal lines, Judge Mingo chose to report it and recuse herself from the case. However, for reasons obvious to any observer other than Columbus’ “news ‘media,’” she did not announce her actions until after the “mayor” secured re-election by outspending his challenger by more than 100 to 1, and engaging in dishonest campaigning. The media did its best to ignore the election. That is a significant factor in the resulting vote totals. (Bill Bush, “Judge: Columbus Mayor Ginther improperly contacted me in Greyhound terminal case,” Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 8, 2023)

The City Attorney was forced to deal with this case because Joe Motil’s attorney Phil Harmon filed a demand that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate. Knowing Columbus well, they insisted that that person not be affiliated with the City. (Bush, “Special prosecutor to investigate Ginther’s call to judge in Columbus bus terminal case,” Dec. 21, 2023; Bush, “Mayor’s alleged call to judge probed,” Dec. 23, 2023; Dean Narciso, “Columbus’ pick for special prosecutor in problem of Ginther’s call to judge questioned,” Jan. 9, 2024).

As is his practice, Zach Klein turned immediately to the small municipality of Whitehall, a few miles away from Columbus. The former City Attorney and now mayor of Whitehall admits publicly to be being Andy Ginther’s friend for at least 20 years since they were “young Dems.”

Equally powerfully, regardless of problematic personal connections, a paid employee of a nearby town simply cannot be an independent special investigator. That transparent point is lost to new Whitehall city attorney Brad Nicodemus who immediately accepted his second appointment as special agent for Columbus. In his comments in “Special prosecutor denies conflict in probe of mayor” (Narciso, Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 10, 2024), Nicodemus makes it very clear that he does not understand “conflict of interest.” In this, he joins Columbus’ “mayor,” City Attorney’s office, and City Council. Yet, some of them claim law degrees.

Both Nicodemus and Zach Klein’s office also ignored that in his previous assignment as a special prosecutor for Columbus in 2020, Nicodemus supported the City. Three police officers indicted for criminal misconduct during public rallies following George Floyd’s murder were found innocent. Nicodemus argued that Columbus police officer’s use of pepper spray against protestors was “reasonable.”

Not only was this position extremely unpopular. Nicodemus’ co-counsel Kathleen Garber quit her appointment after the dismissal of charges against two officers. Nicodemus continued to work for the acquittal of the third officer. His public statements were weak and self-contradictory, displaying no respect for either the public or the laws as written. (Read the Dispatch articles for his quotations)

What role did the City Attorney play in advising the “mayor,” City Council, and former Director of Public (that is, Private) Services Jennifer Gallagher who resigned from her position just as the Ohio Ethics Commission was slated to rule on its multi-year investigation of documented charges of blatant conflict of interest? We know that Zach Klein was involved in the City’s own refusal to act on the clear conflict of interest allegation of Gallagher’s awarding contracts to her husband’s company. The referral to the state resulted in years of delay.

Of course, no one in the City can comment on Gallagher leaving City employment for a position already in hand with a City private contractor HNTB, a transportation-infrastructure design firm that is already a City client. That, we know well, is the Columbus Way. (Bush, “Ginther’s Public Service director leaving for new job,” Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 5, 2024)

What role did the City Attorney’s office play in the City’s collusion with AEP to mislead more than 180,000 Columbus electric customers about higher bills after the City renegotiated its misleading “green energy deal” with AEP? Not only was this, too, not announced publicly until after the Nov. 7 election, but former mayor and head of the Columbus Downtown Development Commission Michael Col0eman is the official  paid liaison. How can that be? (Bush, “Columbus electric customers to see higher bill after city renegotiates energy deal,” Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 4, 2024; “Where’s the $1 billion in promised Ohio-based solar, wind? Columbus program years behind,” Jan. 4, 2024)

What role did the City Attorney’s office play in the “mayor” and City Council’s purposefully delayed until after the November election announcement of their unexplained, illogical, and counterproductive radical new “tax abatement for all” developers’ resolution?

It is not a “plan” but another unregulated action in support of the private against the public of all residents of all of the city. Not at all aligned with meeting the city’s overwhelming need for truly affordable housing for the working classes, the poor, and homeless, and only adding to the preexisting surplus of (overwhelmingly unaesthetic and poorly located) unaffordable housing, public services including schools, police, and the physical city are further weakened.  (Joe Motil, “Developers run show in Columbus like the NRA. New tax abatement policy makes the city their ATM,” Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 9, 2024; Jim Weiker, “Columbus expands some tax breaks to entire city to help double home construction,” Dec. 12, 2023; Bill Bush, “Weeks after election, Ginther, Council go big on tax abatement expansion for housing,” Dec. 5, 2023)

Finally, I end with the example of recent experience with the City Attorney’s Prosecutor’s Office. On the advice Columbus police officers, my wife and I met with an “intake officer” in the Prosecutors division. We requested both action and advice in response to neighbors who are harassing us illegally. Among other illegal actions, they have filed three false police reports.

We spent more than two hours on a Friday afternoon in mid-December. Providing documentary material, we met separately for an hour each with an intake officer and a law school student intern. They were attentive and courteous. At the end of our meeting, the officer told me not to expect a decision until January 2 or later.

To our surprise,  within a few days, we received an unsigned one-page form letter of outright rejection dated and postmarked the next business day after our meeting. Contradicting what we were told, our petition for City action was immediately dismissed without any consideration. In other words, we were denied our rights under City, state, and federal laws.

The form letter states, “there is insufficient evidence to support probable cause.” But it does not explain why or what would constitute “sufficient evidence”  or even how “probable cause” was construed. That matters. There is no evidence to indicate that any qualified person, anyone at all, or even an AI program, “thoroughly review[ed] the totality of the documentation” or any bit of it.

There is no reference to any of the written or oral documentation. The immediate rejection confirms that no one reviewed anything, thus denying what we were promised and our rights under law.

Even more frightening, the brief form letter contradicts the essence of law in the United States. Ignorantly, it states that the anonymous person reached their conclusion by: “applying the known facts to the applicable law.”

I underscore:

  1. One cannot “apply” to the “applicable.” That is impossible—logically, intellectually, legally, and even rhetorically.
  2. If that were not sufficiently damning, the author of the letter issued formally under the auspices of City Attorney Zach Klein does not know that the centuries-old legal doctrine is in fact “applying the relevant laws to the known facts.” It is not the opposite, as they put into print.

Weeks later, I remain shocked by this.

I immediately wrote a letter of appeal, well within the stated 30-day window for that action. I asked for its receipt to be confirmed. Weeks later, I am still waiting.

Is anyone in the City Attorney’s Office, the “mayor,” City Council, or City employment familiar with the United States Bill of Rights or any other law? Evidently not.

It’s only 2024.

(By the way, why is a legal request to the Columbus City Attorney Prosecutors Office rejected with an envelope that states “Franklin Country Municipal Court”? These are two different legal entities and jurisdictions.)

See Harvey J. Graff

“Columbus isn’t Cowtown or Silicon Valley Heartland; It’s the lawless wild-wild

Midwest,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, April 20, 2022

“The City that breaks its laws has a police force that refuses to enforce the city’s laws: The Columbus Way, Part One,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Nov. 13, 2022

“The City that breaks its laws has a police force that refuses to enforce the city’s laws: The Columbus Way, Part Two,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Nov. 16. 2022

Andy Ginther as Columbus, Ohio’s very own shabby 21st century limitation of New York City’s 1860-1870s Boss Tweed,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Nov. 19, 2022  

“Lawless, Unsafe, and Dirty: The Dying University District.” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, May 2, 2023

“A City versus its people. The unjust city: The Columbus Way. Part One,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Oct. 22, 2023

“A City versus its people. The unjust city: The Columbus Way. Part Two,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Oct. 27, 2023

“Columbus 2023 Mayor’s and City Council Elections: If you can’t do your job and be re-elected fairly, then lie, cheat, and steal the election. The Anti-democratic Columbus Way,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Nov.  8, 2023

“Nov. 7, 2023 confirms the continuing reign of anti-democratic Columbus,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Nov. 10 ,  2023

“The City of Columbus continues to prove itself incapable of learning: The contradiction and corruption of ever-expanding public subsidies for private development ‘tax abatements,’” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Nov. 26, 2023

“Andy Ginther and his crowd can’t even lie with straight prose: ‘Plan will help city meet housing demand,’ Guest Essay, Dec. 3, 2023,” Busting Myths, Columbus Free Press, Dec. 6, 2023


Harvey J. Graff is Professor Emeritus of English and History, inaugural Ohio Eminent Scholar in Literacy Studies, and Academy Professor, Ohio State University. Author of many books on literacy, children and youth, cities, and interdisciplinarity, most recently he published Searching for Literacy: The Social and Intellectual Origins of Literacy Studies (2022). My Life with Literacy: The Continuing Education of a Historian. The Intersections of the Personal, the Political, the Academic, and Place is forthcoming. “Reconstructing the new ‘uni-versity’ from the ashes of the ‘multi- and mega-versity’” is in progress. He is also editing Changing Paths of Academic Lives: Revising How We Understand Higher Education/Universities, 1960s to 2020s and Beyond, a collection of original essays.