Bob Bytes Back Archive: 11/20/1996 With friends Like These…

With friends like these…
by Bob Fitrakis

Vincent Carbone, or was it Vito, called Tommy Banks an “exquisite gentleman” when asked about Tommy’s controversial building project with the Governor’s former Chief of Staff Paul Mifsud. This is understandable since the Carbone family and Banks are in the construction business together.

What is equally clear is that Mayor Greg Lashutka’s investigation of Police Chief James Jackson will involve his self-proclaimed “cousin” Tommy, and here’s why. In the spring of 1995 or thereabouts, Tommy allegedly was facing possible rape charges involving an incident at his newly built home in Gahanna. Law-enforcement sources say that Banks invited a teenager working at his property into his big new house for a tour, and it turned ugly. Allegedly, Tommy sexually assaulted the teenager, at least that’s what she told her employers and others. Sources report that Tommy “stuck real close” to Chief Jackson during this period. Reportedly, pressure was put on the victim, as well as insinuation that nothing would come of her complaint. Maybe that’s why the alleged victim never filed a formal charge.

Hard to believe? Not hardly, if you know Tommy’s track record. For example, while Columbus Alive was investigating the above incident, another report turned up on Banks. The Gahanna Police Department filed an Ohio Uniform Incident Report on April 29, 1996. The report, #96-00916, contains allegations from a Gahanna resident who claimed that Tommy Banks stalked her for over two months from February 15 to April 28, 1996. The victim, according to the report, stated that Banks “continually harassed and threatened” her. Allegedly, the married Banks repeatedly asked her out and harassed her by phone. He appeared at her place of employment and “damaged her vehicle when she tried to leave,” according to the report. Banks, the file notes, “threatened to harm her or her family.”

And then it gets even more interesting. The victim stated “that Mr. Banks had told her he has connections with the Mafia and is extremely wealthy and powerful; and that if she refuses him he’ll have her killed.” The complainant told police that she simply wanted to document the threats in case Banks took the action, the report states.

This is typical Banks, according to those who have worked with him. Upper Arlington architect Dennis Green, currently involved in a civil suit with Banks, has stated under oath that Banks threatened him as well. “Tommy Banks was flashing around a Teamster ring, it looked like a Masonic ring, saying he didn’t think I’d show for the meeting and he might have to have some of the boys from Cleveland ‘pick me up,'” Green said.

A former Banks employee who worked with Tommy at his Huntington office, which features double-paned glass and where visitors have to be buzzed in, told Alive that Tommy’s office manager and close personal friend Nancy Rogers, who keeps many of Tommy’s business secrets, “…could never leave here because they’d find her at the bottom of the river.”

“He [Banks] always carries a gun,” the employee stated, “As a joke he likes to take it halfway out of the holster and threaten to shoot you.”

Some sense of humor; no wonder the Chief likes to run with him. Banks, a former employee of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, was fired by Sheriff Earl Smith. As part of a legal settlement, Banks is still allowed to play cop on “special duty” directing funeral traffic. Smith recalls that the settlement limits Banks to carrying his gun while on-duty only. The Gahanna Police report lists Banks as a “Franklin County Sheriff’s Officer-Reserve.” It also lists Banks’ pager number. When I paged Banks for comment, he left a brief message on my answering machine. A call from his lawyer, Ritchey Hollenbaugh, soon followed. Banks’ paid counsel demanded to know how I got Tommy’s pager number. When I told him about Tommy’s “menacing by stalking” file, Hollenbaugh pleaded ignorance. But still, he wanted to know “Why are you hounding my client?”

Seems Hollenbaugh regards my columns and the news stories in the Columbus Alive as inappropriate, particularly a recent one that dared point out that Banks’s construction application to The Ohio State University for the $75 million Schottenstein arena management job contained two obvious factual errors. One, Tommy had neither the bachelor’s degree he claimed to have been awarded-by OSU-in business administration; and two, he doesn’t really have the OSU master’s degree in engineering he listed. But Ritchey was able to clarify that for me. “It’s not a misrepresentation, it’s a mistake. Misrepresentation would be a falsification. A mistake is inadvertent, like a typo,” he explained.

Now I understand. I have Tommy all wrong. He’s made a few mistakes. And so has the Chief for allegedly protecting him. Inadvertently. I should have known, with my double Ph.D’s in Astrophysics and Brain Surgery. Oops! Typo. And I really appreciate Ritchey’s parting counsel, or was it a threat? “Be careful out there,” he said.

Fitrakis has a Ph.D. in Political Science. Honest.


Bob Bytes Back Archive: 9/25/1996 Desperate and Clueless

by Bob Fitrakis

Another politically bleak week: trade gap widens by 43 percent; credit card delinquencies hit a record high; but violent crime goes down 9 percent. Yet Bill Clinton and Bob Dole continue to run for district attorney instead of president. It’s just the real national problems like trade policy and stagnant household income that they’re clueless about.

Ask them about drugs and crime, boy, do they have answers. Desperate for political hot-button issues, they bellow: “lock ’em up, beat ’em up, kill ’em quicker, more cops, fewer civil liberties….”

Dole wants to double prison spending-must have been talking to the Brothers Voinovich. I wonder if Paul Mifsud is still working for his campaign? Dole also called for more “drug news.” Here’s some: 85 percent of drug addiction is legally prescribed.

Ask Chief Justice Rehnquist, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Kitty Dukakis, Elvis, etc. In the early ’80s, high school kids used to work themselves into such a frenzy at the “Just Say No” clubs that they had to go chug a beer just to cool down afterwards. Clinton wants to spend $700 million for “the largest anti-drug effort in history, “but he won’t give the Congressional Black Caucus an answer on whether he backs an investigation into the CIA’s (aka Cocaine Importing Agency) involvement with crack trafficking in the inner-cities of the U.S.

An American institution
Speaking of crime, the Pentagon finally released documents showing that U.S. Army training manuals used at the notorious School of the Americas advocated executions, torture, coercion, blackmail, and other God-fearing American tactics against Third World insurgents. Yes, indeed, our U.S. tax dollars at work abroad.

We, as a people, are responsible for our drug-running, murdering, and torturing government. Sorry, that’s the way democracy works. We are paid to train and “educate” most of the Western Hemisphere’s most heinous butchers. Like “Blow Torch” Bob D’Aubuisson who was the leader of El Salvador’s right-wing death squads, the Salvadoran soldiers who assassinated six Jesuit priests in 1989, and “our man in Panama” General Manuel Noriega.

Recently, the largest-ever protest occurred at Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the School of the Americas. Four hundred and fifty people-including 300 Catholic nuns-converged on the main gate and called for its closing. Believing “The Truth Cannot Be Silenced,” 13 U.S. citizens remain in prison for willfully and openly trespassing at the School in the finest tradition of civil disobedience.

As for President Clinton, the White House recently called the School “a force for good and not evil.” Hey, did I tell ya how they pioneered that really thin highly conductive wire that could be inserted in the penile shaft like a catheter and hooked to any portable military field telephone? Just a few cranks of the field telephone and your average Third World non-white Native American-type starts telling you everything you want to know. You usually don’t even have to torture him all that long to get information. Must be what the President means by a “force” for good.

Cliff and Jim
Enough bleakness, there’s still some heroic Americans fighting the good fight. Cliff Arnebeck, probably the most decent and thoughtful candidate in central Ohio this year, is once again calling for real Congressional campaign finance reform. Arnebeck is Deborah Pryce’s Democratic opponent in the 15th district.

Arnebeck, Tom Erney and I are all part of a lawsuit against the state of Ohio with our lead plaintiff, former Republican Congressman Clarence Miller. Our suit argues that it’s unfair for the Democratic and Republican parties to draw up the Congressional districts to favor their party’s incumbent Congressperson. Take for example, Franklin County: the state legislature created two relatively safe Republican districts by dividing the Columbus voters into two separate districts and attaching overwhelmingly Republican rural counties like Delaware, Licking and Union. If the city of Columbus had been left intact as a Congressional district, we’d actually have a competitive Congressional race this year. In Cleveland, they created a black minority district that votes 84 percent Democratic. And they call it “democracy.” We’re arguing that a non-partisan body should draw up Congressional districts in a fair and impartial manner. Whoa, is that radical or what?

Worthington School Board member Jim Timko continues his fight against the lock-step majority on the board. Timko refused to bow to community pressure and instead acted on his own conscience. He believes that former Worthington Kilbourne student Max Seeman “didn’t do anything wrong” in sitting during a senior pride rally. At least nothing so evil as to require a police paddy wagon to remove Max from the school and his suspension.

“The message it sends is we’re going to do everything we can to control your behavior,” Timko stated. “You don’t understand the Worthington mentality. ‘We don’t make mistakes.’ That’s what the school board is saying, and that’s wrong.”

Timko is consulting with one of the state’s leading civil rights attorneys to discuss his options following his September 9th censure by his fellow board members. He admits to being “flabbergasted” after the “junta” voted four to one for censure. And well he should.

The Worthington school board is going to have a hell of a time explaining to a judge how they offered a completed resolution of censure and disapproval, and issued a prepared statement on the resolution behind Timko’s back. Can you say violation of open meetings law? Can you say violation of Sunshine Laws? Obviously, the paddy wagon came for the wrong people. The board is acting criminally, not Max Seeman.

BobBytes Back Archives:8/27/1996 Polistinks

by Bob Fitrakis

The train keeps a’rolling . . . the Clinton choo-choo . . . all aboard and park your principles in the excess baggage car. “You see, you got to vote for Clinton, ’cause of Newt Gingrich. If ya don’t, the Republicans will hurt workin’ people and people on welfare,” or so they explain on the train to Centristville.
Clinton’s visit to Columbus is like an episode of Twilight Zone. He’s created a bizarro world of gutless, soulless, and repentant baby boomers. The most vacuous and unprincipled Democratic president elected this century. President NAFTA, President GATT, destroyer of the New Deal.

Now, let me get this right. In 1992 I reluctantly supported Clinton, because if I didn’t, terrible things would happen. The Republicans would pass a free-trade agreement sending hundreds and thousands of U.S. jobs to sweatshops in the Third World and polluting the global environment. I voted for the Democrat so the Republicans wouldn’t create a police state with 100,000 police added to the streets causing the subsequent erosion of civil liberties based on hypocritical crime hysteria and stereotyping of the poor and minorities. I was supposed to vote for Clinton so the Republicans wouldn’t pass a vicious, mean-spirited Welfare Reform Act. So there would be universal health care, less poverty, etc.

Wait a minute. I voted for Clinton and I got Reagan and Bush’s GATT and NAFTA policies. I got Richard Nixon’s law-and-order agenda. I got Gingrich’s welfare reform act. I got 42 million Americans without health care in 1996 instead of 37 million in 1992. I got 15.1% of Americans living in poverty today instead of 14.2% four years ago. With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?

Fear of Newt has neutered the Democratic Party. Today’s so-called Clintonesque “New Democrats” are still to the left of Mussolini, but are definitely to the right of the Eisenhower Republicans and, dare I say, Richard Nixon. The Democratic Party has turned itself into the pre-Ronald Reagan Republican Party and it now celebrates its hollow victory in Chicago.

“Oh my party’s bound and gagged and they’ve tied it to a chair. Won’t you please come to Chicago…”

Umberto’s inner-belt blues
Can Umberto Fedeli pick ’em, or what? Seems S.E. Johnson Company’s having a problem with its paving of Cleveland’s inner belt. According to Saturday’s Plain Dealer, Johnson’s resurfacing of part of Interstate 480 began “to crumble several months after completion.” Hope they’ve got insurance!

As previously noted, S.E. Johnson won $32 million in third-lane construction contracts from the Ohio Turnpike Commission earlier this year. In July, the company switched its liability insurance to the less-than-renowned Fedeli Group. The Fedeli Group is sort of like the Gang of Four, or the Mob of Three, or Horde of Two. The Group’s sole owner is Turnpike Commission Chair Umberto Fedeli.

Hopefully, everyone’s favorite minority front, Banks Carbone, didn’t use S.E. Johnson for the foundation work at the residence of Paul Mifsud, the governor’s former chief of staff. You can count on the fact that Banks didn’t actually do the work. He’s essentially subcontracts. Maybe T.G. can find an actual minority architect or builder to check the pavement and concrete work at Paul’s place.

A whiff of Y-Town
Something’s rotten in Y-town.

The Youngstown City Health Department received an Ohio Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative Grant from the Ohio Health Department. So far, so good, no smell.

But, the mayor of Y-town can’t document or provide proof of service contracts for $40,395 in grant funds. The money was spent and apparently no one was contracted to provide the required Save-the-Babies services. Starting to have a bit of an odd odor.

The Most Honorable Patrick J. Ungaro, mayor of Youngstown, was looking for a little favor from Georgie-boy-perhaps Y-town’s all-time favorite guv. Ungaro wanted the governor to look the other way over Youngstown’s inability to “provide executed personal service contracts for grant personnel,” as referenced in an August 9, 1996 letter to Ungaro from Ohio Department of Health Director Peter Somani. This is the grant equivalent of “no show” or “ghost” employees. Definitely a strong stench, particularly as, in a letter dated June 4, 1996, the guv had agreed that he would “would explore the state’s ability to waive recoupment of $40,395” of the missing funds. One wonders why our pro-life governor wouldn’t be more vigilant over such funds. But hey, Paul Mifsud-since resigned under a suspicious cloud-was running the show in the governor’s office then and I understand he’s got more than a few friends in Y-town.

Due to heightened scrutiny in the wake of Mifsud’s most untimely departure, the feds are looking very closely at the activities of the Voinovich administration. One federal source suggests that evidence points to the pockets of local Y-town politicals as the best possible recoupment site.

Now sources say a deal has been cut where Mayor Ungaro will look contrite and return the mysteriously missing money.

As the saying goes, “Y-town is mob…I mean, my town.”