Tuesday, April 27

“Song of the Soul:
Stories of Hospice in South Africa”

Janet Parrott – Director/Producer/Editor from Columbus, Ohio
Sponsored by the Film Council of Greater Columbus, the Free Press, the Drexel and the Central Ohio Greed Education Fund

Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St., Bexley
truth@freepress.org, 253-2571

by Bob Fitrakis

How many hours are in a month? Don’t ask the police chief’s son, Officer Jason Jackson. Law-enforcement sources say that Jason’s figures just don’t add up for the “special duty” police security he coordinated for the South of Main project. You remember the South of Main project? Chief Jackson’s good buddy Tommy Banks “rescued” the project from the evil clutches of the non-profit South of Main Development Corporation headed by the dreaded Shawn Thompson. Or so the spin goes.

The real battle was over who would control the housing assets in the future: a non-profit or a for-profit entity. Say $10 million is put into “low-income” housing stock, primarily public funds. How long does it have to serve “low-income” residents? What happens after 10 years when the property is worth some $30 million? Who owns it then?

The non-profit South of Main was taken out of the picture when it was squeezed by certain bankers and city officials. Thompson was inflexible when it came to understanding the needs of very powerful people. She insisted that the low-income housing assets belonged to the community through a non-profit organization. The Columbus Police Intelligence Unit entered the fray, apparently siding with mysterious “for-profit” persons-whoever they may be. A raid by the Columbus Police effectively killed the South of Main Development Corporation. So far, no criminal charges have ever been brought against the South of Main, although it was widely alleged that they were mismanaging their finances.

Anyway, hear the one about Tommy and the Chief wanting to go into business together? Something to do with housing. Since Banks took over the South of Main project, sources say it looks as though over $100,000 in security has been provided by Special Duty Columbus Police. And Officer Jason Jackson has worked hard coordinating those assignments. In one month, police worked so diligently that they billed for 200 hours more than exist in an actual month.

Oops! Inquiring minds want to know whether he was a victim of the late, great “new math” movement, or protecting his dad’s future housing assets. Who’s mismanaging finances now?

Lucky dog
Speaking of mismanagement, former Police Intelligence Supervisor-now reassigned-Commander Curtis Marcum handled the South of Main raid for the Chief. Maybe he should’ve raided his brother-in-law Tony Lombardi’s place. Who knows what he would’ve turned up. Perhaps Lombardi’s reported card-playing buddy Franklin County Prosecutor Michael Miller. According to a police intelligence report, Miller allegedly likes an occasional high-stakes game of cards upstairs at The Refectory. You know, the same type of game that got retired Police Sergeant Mt. Vernon Johnson killed. And who better to spin stories with over a friendly game of poker than Lombardi? Lord knows Lombardi’s reportedly got some tales to tell.

Like the little matter of being a suspect in two murders, according to police intelligence files. James D. Colliver, Lombardi’s partner in the car dealership Contemporary Cars, met an untimely demise. Redrum! 187! So did Frank Yassanoff soon after he filed charges in 1970 against Lombardi for allegedly falsifying auto titles. Hopefully, Lombardi has better luck at picking cards than business partners. Just like Bojangles’ dog, they got a tendency to “up and die” on him.

On the topic of luck, Lombardi’s had pretty good luck in the Franklin County Courts. A grand theft charge was dismissed in June 1975 and a charge of passing bad checks was dismissed in November of the same year, according to a police intelligence report. Sure, there was the little run of bad luck in May 1983 when Lombardi pled guilty to two charges of passing bad checks, but what the hell. It could’ve been worse. After all, the prosecutor dismissed 10 other counts pending against Tony.

More bad news in March 1984 when he was convicted of gambling, yet “luck was a lady” that year and he got a one-year suspended sentence. There’s probably a really good reason why the prosecutor’s office dropped a unauthorized use of dealer’s plates charge against Lombardi in 1984. And the little matter of the allegations concerning kickbacks to a Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee during that period were never substantiated.

So, this Chief Jackson thing is really just a witch-hunt and Commander Marcum is being a scapegoat just because he has a lucky dog of a brother-in-law. And anyone who says otherwise, or anything about any of Marcum’s family members being in Mt. Vernon Johnson’s bookie book, is just an unlucky liar.

Burns me up
Did you hear the rumor about a really lucky police commander formerly in Internal Affairs-recently reassigned-who just happens to be holding a very valuable electronic Rolodex? Now suppose the names of some very powerful people-law enforcement leaders, politicians, judges-who frequented high-priced prostitutes were in that Rolodex? No, it’s not the Heidi Fleiss scandal, it’s a Cowtown Caper. One Anthony D. Mennucci ran a high-priced call girl ring in Columbus and his Rolodex, once securely in police custody, has disappeared.

The key question in the Chief Jackson investigation remains: “Why did the chief go so easy on former Internal Affairs Commander Burns?” This investigation ain’t about “racism,” it’s about who runs the prostitution and gambling rackets in Columbus. Bet on it.

The Free Press Annual

You are invited to join us
Saturday, May 1, 2010

Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio
67 Innis (south of German Village off High Street)

$15 individual, $25 couple, low-income negotiable
(pay at the door only)

Dinner will begin at 6:00pm – the awards ceremony at 7:00pm

2010 Honorees:

In celebration of the Free Press 40th anniversary, we will honor four individuals with the Libby Award for Community Activism

Margie Daffey
Michael Gruber
Connie Everett
Bob Studzinski

Stan Embry – Bill Moss Award for Outstanding African American Activist

Marc Morin – Native American Indian Center Selma Walker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Human Rights Activism

For more information: truth@freepress.org, 253-2571

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Free Press Second Saturday Salon

6:30-midnight. Join us for food, drink, music, art, progressive networking, and a visit by filmmaker John Ennis, director and star of “Free For All” — shot in Columbus about the stolen 2004 election.

Location: 1021 E. Broad St., side door, parking in lot in rear.

Campaign questions
by Bob Fitrakis

What really happened in the 1992 sheriff’s election in Franklin County? This question is currently being probed by the Ohio Elections Commission. On Monday, the Commission found insufficient evidence to investigate money-laundering allegations against Sheriff Jim Karnes, former Franklin County Democratic Party Chair Fran Ryan, and the Franklin County Democratic Party. The commission will investigate allegations against Karnes’ 1992 campaign manager and former Elections Commission member, Greg Kostelac, and has suspended him as an investigator for the commission.

New information obtained by Columbus Alive sheds more light on the Kostelac investigation. Kostelac admits that he personally delivered $14,000 in checks made out to the Franklin County Democratic Party to Ryan on October 26 and 27, 1992. He acknowledges that Mark Wolfe, Franklin County kingpin in the adult entertainment industry, arranged for seven contributors to give $2,000 apiece.

An audiotape of a conversation between former Franklin County Republican Party Executive Director Terry Casey-now a private political consultant and associate of Kostelac-and a member of the Smith campaign crew reveals that there was a falling-out between Karnes and Kostelac immediately following the election. “Greg’s no fan of Karnes,” Casey informed the Smith campaign earlier this year, and there was “…no deal with Karnes” and Mark Wolfe. The campaign donations solicited from Wolfe by Kostelac were “motivated by wanting to screw Earl…. Karnes [was] kind of oblivious” to Greg’s deal, according to Casey.

Casey lobbied hard to keep Kostelac from being investigated: “…he’s not a dumb guy, [it’s] very, very important to keep Greg out of it.” In Casey’s analysis, then-Party Chair Ryan “didn’t have a clue” on how the 1992 Franklin County campaigns were going. “[She]…didn’t think Karnes had a chance. [She thought] Farlow could beat Miller,” Casey said. The latter is reference to the race for county prosecutor between Bev Farlow and successful incumbent Michael Miller.

Casey implies that Kostelac was forced in desperation to go to the pornography industry because of poor political decisions on the part of Ryan.

In her defense, Ryan says: “Everyone knows how hard I worked to get out the sample ballot and the election tabloid. And if I did something wrong, why would I list every donation from Greg right down to the dollar; and why would I have left that file in the Democratic Party headquarters if I had something to hide?”

Ryan insists “that Greg approached me. It was my understanding that he wanted to work for the party. After all, he wanted my job.” After Ryan’s resignation, Kostelac applied to chair the Franklin County Democrats and was not selected. Later, he applied to be chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, also unsuccessfully.

Casey also said that Kostelac went so far as to “whet Wolfe’s appetite” with a nasty, negative “TV script” about Smith to entice the donations. Casey refers to “Karnes’ stupidity,” as Kostelac circumvented his candidate’s wishes and cut a deal directly with Ryan.

Ryan is on record stating that Kostelac asked her for a loan and she told him: “…if he raised money for the party, then I would give him a loan.” The problem is that Ryan’s statement just doesn’t add up unless Kostelac was trying to launder money. Kostelac raised $14,000; he gives it to Ryan; she loans him $8,000, which the Karnes campaign pays back. That equals $22,000 for Fran and $0 for the Karnes campaign. The question remains, why didn’t Kostelac simply put the $14,000 into the Karnes campaign?

Alive has learned that other factors played into Kostelac’s decision as well. Kostelac was having financial problems at the time he took the money from the porn industry. An invoice dated November 18, 1992 from Kostelac to Ryan refers to an “oral agreement” between the two that would result in Kostelac being paid $6,000 if three conditions were met. First, Kostelac must raise the money to pay himself; second, Karnes must win the election; and third, the Karnes campaign had to pay back the $8,000 loan to the Franklin County Democratic Party.

According to Sheriff Karnes, his campaign paid Kostelac nothing. “I kept asking him ‘What do I owe you?’ and he kept saying ‘You don’t,'” Karnes recalls. Party insiders and Karnes campaign workers report that at the post-election victory party at La Scala Restaurant, Kostelac took possession of the Karnes campaign cash box instead of turning it over to the treasurer, reportedly to “settle up with Fran.” Sources report that this was the beginning of a falling-out between Karnes and Kostelac. Highly placed Karnes campaign sources and Franklin County staffers all report that the final break between Karnes and Kostelac came after Kostelac asked the Karnes campaign committee for a personal loan.

Sources in the Karnes campaign report around “five hundred dollars in bounced checks” from Kostelac. Alive has also learned that Kostelac bounced checks to various political campaigns and organizations. Check #1412 for $100 from Greg Kostelac and Associates dated October 25, 1993 to the Franklin County Democratic Party was returned for “insufficient funds.”

Tapes released by the Smith campaign indicate that at least two of the contributors lined up by Mark Wolfe may have gotten some or all of their campaign money from other individuals, possibly in violation of campaign law. One of the individual contributors who was given part of the $14,000 from Wolfe, Dr. Joanna Demas, states that “…It’s possible that he [Tom Wolfe, Mark Wolfe’s brother] gave me a majority of the money. But I made that donation because I believed in what I was doing. Now, maybe I was naive in not asking why is this made out to the Democratic Party and not to Jim Karnes.”

Cynthia DeSantis, a local hairdresser, was tapped while staying at Tom Wolfe’s house in Los Angeles. DeSantis, who also was one of the $2,000 contributors, states that she was “doing a favor for my best friend.” That friend was identified as Mark Long, an employee of Mark Wolfe. DeSantis says that, “I believe it was cash.”