The Portside Smokescreen

Fans of “A Prairie Home Companion”, that all-weather mainstay of public radio, became well acquainted with the manners and customs of Lake Wobegon, MN, the mythical “little town that time forgot, that the decades cannot improve”. The venerable scribe of Portsmouth, Ms. Ida Kay Jordan, would be right at home there, too, spinning her yarns about fabled Portside-on-the-Elizabeth, the enchanted venue in which, by her account, all people were truly created equal and good times were enjoyed by all. (See her latest homage in the May 7, 2017, edition of the Portsmouth Currents or online at KEEP THE NEW PORTSIDE “SIMPLE, FUN”.) With substantial support from city council for a Portside resurrection and a possible handout from the Virginia Port Authority for some or all of the $750,000 projected cost, she might well see a new structure rise close to where its predecessor stood. Continue reading

October, and Just Before, Surprises

In national politics, the “October Surprise” is some headline-grabbing revelation about a candidate in a high-profile race in the month before an election. The news, usually negative,  is expected to change the outcome of the political contest. Locally, the post-Labor Day “reveal” of People for Portsmouth PAC endorsed candidates and the just-announced Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Steering Committee PAC endorsements could be considered in the same category . . . almost. In the cases of our hometown PACs, many of the candidates getting the nods from the “powers that be” in the African- and European-American elites were totally predictable (marked TP below). Some were reasonably predictable (RP). Others were complete shockers (CS). Asterisks (*) denote special cases. See if you agree. Continue reading

City Council Candidate Forum, September 10, 2016


Portsmouth Taxpayer Alliance Co-chair and Forum Moderator Pat Simons

The Portsmouth Taxpayer Alliance hosted a forum for city council candidates in place of their regular monthly business meeting. Although invitations went out to all ten candidates, seven attended: Rev. Leon J. Boone, Mr. Nathan J. Clark, Mr. Mark A. Geduldig-Yatrofsky, Ms. Lisa L. Lucas-Burke, Council Member Elizabeth M. Psimas, Ms. S. C. “Cathy” Revell, and former Council Member Ray A. Smith, Sr. The candidates had two minutes for both opening and closing statements and up to one-and-half minutes per response to a series of wide-ranging questions submitted in writing by those in attendance. The video record of the forum at The running time is about an hour and twenty-seven minutes. (Videography by Mr. Peter Olanitori for


Candidate Leon J. Boone


Candidate Nathan J. Clark


Candidate Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky


Candidate Lisa L. Lucas-Burke


Council Member Elizabeth M. Psimas


Candidate S. C. “Cathy” Revell


Candidate Ray A. Smith, Sr.

Publisher’s Notebook: People for Portsmouth Endorsements and Interview

For a long-time advocate of openness in the civic realm, the candidate endorsements by the People for Portsmouth Political Action Committee were epoch making. Many organizations in our city and region — the Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Steering Committee, the teachers association, the firefighters’ union, the police association, the realtors’ association, to name a few — select their favorite candidates, bestowing praise and often contributions upon them. Some of these groups vet candidates through a nominally competitive process involving questionnaires and interviews for everyone running; others, anoint their champions in backrooms without any notice to non-members that they are deciding whom to endorse. Whatever the process, as private organizations they are free to choose whomever they like for reasons known only to members of the selection committees. Continue reading

School Board Candidate Forum, August 25, 2016

The People for Portsmouth Political Action Committee hosted a school board candidate forum at the Scottish Rite Center on Cedar Lane. All eight candidates — incumbent Board Members Sarah Duncan Hinds, Ted Lamb, Keith Nance, and Costella Williams; and challengers Angelia Allen, Lakeesha “Klu” Atkinson, De’Andre Barnes, and Joanne Clarke — attended and gave good account of themselves. Ms. Laura Geller, the lead investigative reporter for WVEC-TV13 News Now, served as moderator. Continue reading

Mayoral Candidate 2016: Cliff Page

[Mr. Cliff Page is one of the six certified candidates for Mayor of Portsmouth. He provided the following response to our offer to introduce him to PCW readers:]

I am glad to share my web and Facebook links with your subscribers and visitors: and
You may also share my websites title page. The Web site has an Issues and Positions page where a substantive 54-page, comprehensive document may be downloaded and a two-page bulleted Positions at a Glance page for those who may fall asleep reading the former. Both documents can be opened from the web site and both are in PDF format and can be printed or emailed.
Additionally there is a blog page,, which is also linked with my Facebook page where issues can be viewed, liked and shared, and commented upon.  Currently, there are four major issues which I consider top agenda items: High Speed Rail to Portsmouth, Increase Democracy in Portsmouth by Expanding the Council with a Ward System, Support for Veterans and the Confederate Monument.  The site also has a page to aid citizens in registering and voting and provides links concerning the subject.


Open Letter 2 to Mayor and Council re: Post-2018 Waste Disposal

Mr. Mayor and Honorable Members of City Council:

I had wanted to write this immediately after the last meeting of council, but life got in the way, so better late than never. I appreciate your vigorous pursuit of an answer regarding the failure of the post-2018 municipal waste disposal RFP process to deliver a workable alternative to what SPSA has offered its member communities. You could have taken the easy way out and affirmed the judgment of the city purchasing administrator that neither of the bids was in the best interests of the city. Instead, in the June 14 work session, Council Member Whitaker asked the right questions of Mr. Ammons, and the mayor and council colleagues supported his efforts to obtain an explanation of the purchasing agent’s ruling. Although I do not know what clarification you may have extracted in closed session, I am pleased that you did not let the matter lie. I hope that this upcoming meeting of council will bring additional relevant information into the public realm and facilitate reaching a waste disposal decision that is truly in the best interests of the citizenry. Continue reading

Publisher’s Notebook: Of Wars, Hot and Cold

As I belatedly watched the PBS tribute commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Ken Burns’s documentary, “The Civil War”, one particularly insightful observation struck both a nerve and a chord. Discussing why he found the subject so compelling that he would devote the effort to making an eleven-hour series about it, Burns said, “[Everything] in American history led up to it, and everything since has been a consequence of it. . . . [T]he centrality of the Civil War in our lives, and [how it shaped] the meaning of who we are as Americans [makes this event] the subject in American history.” Continue reading

Publisher’s Notebook: Ali T. Sprinkle Endorsement

This has been hard to write for several reasons: the institutional mission of; the absence of mainstream media coverage of this contest and the resulting dearth of objective information about the candidates’ qualifications; and the racially-charged climate in our community and our country as this campaign season has progressed. (The last item will be the topic of a subsequent article.) Of course, I could exercise the option of keeping my own counsel on this subject to avoid controversy and bruised feelings, but if our community is to achieve its full potential as a nurturing “village”, people of good will have to engage with each other candidly on tough issues. This is a time for such engagement. Continue reading