Welcome aboard Joe. I'm not electrically inclined, but it almost sounds like the polarity may be reversed. It's not really likely that there would be a reverse on most drill presses. Any time i add an outlet i have to look up which terminal gets white/black, and it's also possible that somebody did some work on the motor and reversed a connection. If it's a 110/240 motor, make sure it's not wired for 220 with a standard 110v plug--a prior owner may not have switched to a proper plug.
As for the lever below the pulley cover--i'm attaching a few pictures of mine. The larger lever is most likely to draw the motor in/out for belt tensioning. You may find a smaller lever near it, and a similar one on the other side--on mine those are set screws for the motor mount shafts. Once they are loosened, the larger lever on the right (facing drill press) slides the motor in/out to loosen/tighten belt. On the left side, opposite the rods, is an adjustment for the return spring. I've never seen a manual for mine, but the return spring adjustment procedure is the same for many drill presses. Same with chuck/spindle removal--same for a lot of them. I struggled for months to find a manual for mine--no luck, but finally read enough other manuals to figure out that these are really fairly simple machines and many share similar characteristics. Good luck.