Monday, November 24, 2014

He only plays a psychiatrist during redevelopment meetings.

Last week, there was a meeting.

ON THE AVENUES: Really, the word “progressive” embarrasses you? That’s okay, because political cowardice disgusts me.

 ... Of course, right now, as it stands, the city’s interminable, fear-driven delay of street grid reform is quite effectively achieving the very same result, by leaving in place a one-way arterial street grid that nullifies every penny-ante ribbon cutting and “stay open late” promotion tossed into the air by increasingly desperate indie shop owners in the absence of a downtown economic development plan, because while street grid reform could be so very helpful, and constitute an economic development plan in itself, it would fatally embarrass a Democratic mayor to be seen openly advocating it.

It's exactly as if Jeff Gahan were to say it's okay to be gay, just as long as you don't kiss in public.

When the meeting was finished, and David Duggins, the city’s selective economic development director, had dispensed with strong-arming those in attendance as to what they were and were not interested in hearing -- according to Mr. Duggins -- he and I began a private discussion.

Soon the topic arose of the city’s persistent lies and fabrications pertaining to heavy truck traffic as diverted from Main to Spring, Market and Elm. Mr. Duggins brushed off my comments.

I replied that it’s easy for him to ignore something he never directly experiences, both by virtue of living in a less dense area of Clark County, and being neither a walker nor a biker. In short, I told him that when you’re not the one suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome caused by the window-rattling din of trucks that were not there before, you’ve no idea how it detracts from your “quality of life.”

He greeted this with a massive, dismissive and scornful scoff, chortling, “That’s what Hawkins on Main Street always said, too, and that guy’s just plain crazy.”

Now, I never knew that working as a selective economic development director came imbued with psychiatric diagnosis credentials, but if the Hawkins fellow in question indeed is "crazy" as characterized by Mr. Duggins, then he’s crazy like a fox.

Because: Guess where the trucks are NOT, any longer.


Interested in helping formulate a platform incorporating principle, rather than poppycock?

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

It's a Monday morning caption contest.

(we probably already know who'll win)

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

On Thanksgiving week, "It’s Time to Rethink American Exceptionalism."

There was a good discussion of this topic at Fb two weeks ago.

There are a couple of billion people in the world, and most of them are NOT trying to come here, although by all rights they SHOULD, given that we're the greatest country, and an obvious magnet ... and once we've established ourselves as greatest, it wouldn't be hospitable not to welcome everyone. But it doesn't work like that. Why?

The writer Bromwich offers a variant of something I've always maintained: If a guy stands up in a tavern and begins boasting about his greatness, it is regarded as an impolite imposition. Do it in a stadium, and we're all supposed to stand, chant and sing.

It’s Time to Rethink American Exceptionalism, by David Bromwich (, via The Nation)

To believe that our nation has always been exceptional requires a suppression of ordinary skepticism and a belief that calls for extraordinary arrogance.

... On the whole, is American exceptionalism a force for good? The question shouldn’t be hard to answer. To make an exception of yourself is as immoral a proceeding for a nation as it is for an individual. When we say of a person (usually someone who has gone off the rails), “He thinks the rules don’t apply to him,” we mean that he is a danger to others and perhaps to himself. People who act on such a belief don’t as a rule examine themselves deeply or write a history of the self to justify their understanding that they are unique. Very little effort is involved in their willfulness. Such exceptionalism, indeed, comes from an excess of will unaccompanied by awareness of the necessity for self-restraint.

And then there's this:

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Saturday, Part 3: Taco Punk pop-up at Bank Street Brewhouse.

Pop-ups are difficult, because there is no established routine, and choreography in the kitchen and serving arts is are more important than you might think. Gabe Sowder did it all in the kitchen and Stephen Powell ran the whole floor. They rocked it.

At any rate, the two-night pop-up worked pretty well in spite of a few glitches, and the food was quite good. Thanks to all who came out, and look for an announcement of future intent. We all think that NABC and Taco Punk is an excellent match ... but I'll be coy until I'm not.

I was in bed, asleep, by 9:30 p.m. and slept until 8:00 a.m. It had been a long day, but it left me very excited.


Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

My Saturday, Part 2: Flat12 Bierwerks Jeffersonville on opening day.

The Vintage Fire Museum gig was nicely attended, but visitors started tapering away around 3:30 p.m., so there was time for me to pack up the taps and check out the new Flat12 Bierwerks location nearby on Riverside Drive for its opening day.

I didn't bother taking photos while there, and so the one above is borrowed from the Flat12 Facebook page, where you can see other views of the taproom and festivities. Chad Sprigler and family have done a fine job on the taproom space, which includes a deck and a majestic view of the river. There'll be light snacks on an appetizer/flatbread theme, but it's meant to be a taproom, not an eatery.

Yesterday's crowd was big and fun, and I had time to drink a couple beers and shoot the breeze with Rob Caputo, my comrade on the board of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. As I joked with Rob: He gets a state-of-the-art biking and pedestrian bridge to Louisville. Bank Street Brewhouse? We get an outmoded one-way street and some old, rotting jack-o-lanterns.

Facing the now abandoned Democratic HQ, appropriately.

Suffice to say, it's going to be great fun having Flat12 in Jeffersonville. Now that the taproom is up and running, Flat12's brewery buildout will be next on the completion list.

Red Yeti finally is brewing for on-site consumption a few blocks from Flat12 on Spring Street, and Donum Dei off Grant Line Road in New Albany is due any minute. Then there's the as-yet amorphous Wrecker Brewing project on Market Street near my house. In far less than a year, the Sunny Side could go from NABC's two breweries to six, perhaps more.

And that's very good.


Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

My Saturday, Part 1: Chili, brats, beer and Bir at the Vintage Fire Museum in Jeffersonville.

The beer, music and majority of the museum's volunteers came to yesterday's fundraiser from New Albany. As noted, the museum itself is situated in Jeffersonville. I merely note these observations in the service of exceedingly weird history.


Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jingle Walk and Holiday Fest program for downtown NA, next Saturday, November 29.

NABC will release draft Naughty Claus at both locations on Wednesday, November 26. You can taste it during Jingle Walk,  when 22-0z "bomber" bottles will be on sale, too. 
(Not bad; only 3 unnecessary exclamation marks to edit)

Here's the program of activities in downtown New Albany for Saturday, November 29, as planned by Develop New Albany. I can't tell you how excited it makes me to know that in only a month, Christmas will be over.

However, for those of you who enjoy the holiday season, Jingle Walk and Holiday Fest have evolved into solid events.

Note that in Indiana, it is very easy for wineries to be a part of events like this. Breweries operate under an entirely different licensing mechanism, and it isn't as simple for us. This partially explains the absence of beer from the Jingle Walk. In addition, Keg Liquors -- NABC's Jungle Walk sampling station the last three years -- has relocated, and so that option was removed. Finally, Bank Street Brewhouse will be open and offering beer samples on the 29th, as well as brewery tours.

There may be another surprise in store at BSB during Thanksgiving weekend, but it can wait a bit longer.


6th Annual Downtown Jingle Walk - November 29th

Develop New Albany invites you to our Annual Jingle Walk in our Historic Downtown. We will celebrate the beginning of the Holiday Season on November 29th.

Jingle Walk (1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.)

The day of fun begins with the Jingle Walk at 1:00 p.m. Sample local wines from area wineries while shopping in our Historic Downtown. If you haven't visited downtown recently you will see a downtown full of locally owned stores, boutiques, museums and art galleries.

Participating Wineries include: Cedar Creek Winery, Best Winery, Huber’s Winery, Mallow Run Winery, Winzerwald Winery, Indian Creek Winery, Quibbles Winery, Scout Mountain, Bottles Unlimited, and River City Winery.

The Jingle Walk begins at 1:00 p.m. near Bicentennial Park in Historic Downtown New Albany. (Near Intersection of Bank Street and Market Streets) If you purchase your tickets online we will have your tickets waiting for you in the Jingle Walk tent located near Bicentennial Park.

Jingle Walk Tickets are $20.00 each and if you pre-purchase your ticket you will get the choice of a souvenir wine bag or an around the neck wine holder.

Must be of legal drinking age to participate in the Jingle Walk.

HolidayFest - A New Holiday Family Tradition - Nov 29th

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will begin at approximately 6 p.m. in Bicentennial Park.

HolidayFest Schedule of Free Events:

  • 3:00 - 5:30 PM at YMCA (Ages 0-12) - All children who participate will receive a Golden Ticket for a toy.
  • Kids activities will include a Christmas obstacle course, face painting, crafts, and bouncy house.
  • Photo opportunity with Santa Claus
  • Scavenger hunt with prizes for ages 12 and up, registration begins at 1:00 p.m. in Bicentennial Park.
  • There will be a Chili cook-off with the local firehouses
  • Street food, Christmas trees and wreaths will be available for sale during the event.
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony in the Bicentennial Park - 6:00 p.m.

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

Infographic: "Shopping Local for the Holidays."

A big holiday shopping weekend is coming up, and in this household, we avoid the term "Black Friday" to describe it. That's because language matters, and if one is involved in any fashion with independent local business (I partly own two), "Black Friday" is a term denoting big box, chain-based hegemony. Why would I use language designed to oppress me and denigrate what I do? My personal preference is Plaid Friday. In terms of color, there's a whole rainbow to choose from. I won't give chains the pleasure.

Thanks to Destinations Booksellers for the infographic -- go here for a full-sized version.

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

Three things to do on a warm Saturday in November that don't involve watching sports.

The Friday night portion of Bank Street Brewhouse's pop-up kitchen with Taco Punk (Gabe Sowder) seemed to go pretty well. It'll play again tonight, beginning around 6:00 p.m.

Pop-Up Taco Punk at Bank Street Brewhouse, Nov. 21 & 22 (6 p.m. - close).

In Jeffersonville: How could I say no to Curt Peters, my philosophy mentor at IU Southeast, when he asked if NABC could bring Rosa L. Stumblebus, our draft truck, to the Vintage Fire Museum today?

Vintage Fire Museum offers "Chili, Brats, and (NABC) Brew," this Saturday.

A short distance from the Vintage Fire Museum, our pals from Indy are opening their tap room. Brewing is to follow early next year.

Flat12 Bierwerks taproom location in Jeffersonville: "Soft" opening on Nov. 22, grand opening on Dec. 6, brewing to follow.

Thanks to readers who support these and other events. Think globally ... drink (and eat, and shop) locally.

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Are we about to see "Mainland: The Sequel" at the Coyle property on I-Spring Street in New Albany?

The Green Mouse has been listening to an array of hot rumors concerning the redevelopment potential of the Coyle property, located adjacent to I-Spring Street, which is being listed by Mike Kopp.

As we learned on Tuesday morning, insofar as the city's economic development squad has a pattern for downtown economic piecemealing in the ongoing absence of an actual, coherent plan, it is to refrain from any substantive action until prompted by realtors like Kopp , at which point it is permissible to consider helpful infrastructure improvements, i.e., replacing sidewalks not repaired since the Eisenhower administration.

In short, we've been told on more than one occasion that pro-activity in downtown economic development simply is not possible because such a tool kit does not exist -- and, by obvious extension, city officials do not possess sufficient creative instincts (or passion) to assemble one.

However, when it comes to the Coyle ground, as with the infamous Mainland condo project debacle of previous years, the rumor mill suggests that the city is perfectly willing to ante up so long as the asker is not an independent local business.

Sounds like a One Southern Indiana memo, doesn't it?

The Green Mouse believes the Urban Enterprise Association (forcibly annexed by the Gahan administration to serve as handy ATM, and controlled by Mr. Duggins) will be asked to fund a feasibility study for "upscale" housing infill on the property, as undertaken by a big-time Indianapolis development firm.

This may seem innocuous, but almost certainly it is the prelude to the city proposing to further subsidize this company to the tune of considerably more than just chump change.

Did I mention that the current administration has no downtown economic development plan?

It was to have happened with Mainland in the form of a $15 million parking garage, and there's been no evidence of outside-the-box thinking since that ship ingloriously sank of its own hubris.

"Careerists" like Maalox may be gone, but the 1Si-indoctrinated team in place at present isn't exactly populated by people who've learned from different teachers than the time-servers who preceded them.

We need to pay very close attention to what happens next. First things first: Two way streets, now, as were promised by Jeff Gahan in 2011. Only then do we consider the next in a probable series of Mainlandings.

If City Hall elects to shovel buckets of cash to an Indianapolis company to do what Matt Chalfant is doing entirely on his own ... if there's no downtown economic development plan, and no completed streets .. then City Hall quite obviously does not deserve to be elected again, and should not be elected again.

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

David Karem tells big greasy whoppers about the Big Four Bridge.

David Karem must think we aren't very bright.

Pedestrian bridge will close rather than salt or shovel snow and ice, by Gordon Boyd (WAVE-3)

"This is a bridge that is not part of the Kentucky highway transportation system," Karem said. "It's an amenity now. So when it comes to maintenance and repairs, we're on our own."

JeffG reminds us of the arrangement v.v. the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Bamboozled again. This bridge is primary transportation infrastructure, not an amenity. Can you imagine them saying they wouldn't clean the Kennedy Bridge? Remember when removing non-automobile options from the new bridge was justified by opening this one for that traffic?

You can feel the gears grinding in their heads: "How can it be 'primary' if it doesn't involve a car?"

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

The Mayor's Minute, missing words: "I had a wonderful time at the 46th annual mayor's breakfast last Saturday."

That's odd. Here's the way it read on the posters.

Perhaps the facts are beginning to seep in.

"Government officials can worship, pray, and participate in religious events in their personal capacities. But they are not permitted to provide credibility or prestige to their religion by lending a government office and government title to religious events."

Don't forget: Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Following up: Progressive embarrassment, political cowardice and NA falling behind Jeffersonville.

There was this, and quite a lot of you read it today. I'm thankful.

ON THE AVENUES: Really, the word “progressive” embarrasses you? That’s okay, because political cowardice disgusts me.

... Of course, right now, as it stands, the city’s interminable, fear-driven delay of street grid reform is quite effectively achieving the very same result (small business failure), by leaving in place a one-way arterial street grid that nullifies every penny-ante ribbon cutting and “stay open late” promotion tossed into the air by increasingly desperate indie shop owners in the absence of a downtown economic development plan, because while street grid reform could be so very helpful, and constitute an economic development plan in itself, it would fatally embarrass a Democratic mayor to be seen openly advocating it.

Subsequently, JeffG succinctly applied my column's conclusions to a real-life evening with real, live people.

K and I spent last evening at BSB with a group of artists, musicians, and writers preparing for an exhibit and performances in New Albany. Initial conversation was about redevelopment in various areas of the metro. When it came to NA, the very first thing mentioned (and not by K or me) was that there are some good things happening (independent businesses and arts) but that the streets "are so wide and fast, it makes it all less appealing". The first response? Another person pointed to Elm Street where they'd just been, saying, "Yeah, people do what seems like 80 mph just on that street, and it's smaller than some of the rest", pointing out Spring as worse. When I explained that some of us are aware and have been petitioning the City for change, the original commenter said "I'm sure you are, it's needed" and then proceeded to make a comparison with Jeffersonville, where the streets are narrower, slower, and more visitor friendly. Then someone else mentioned that the general consensus among their acquaintances was that they wished New Albany's businesses and activities were in Jeffersonville.

That's right, Jeff and David and John and Adam.

In Jeffersonville.

Back in July, I clearly repudiated Big Four Envy, and enunciated the program by which New Albany could have its own "Big Four." We're due for a reprise, so here is an excerpt.

ON THE AVENUES: We have our own Big Four. They’re called Main, Market, Spring and Elm.

... The Big Four Bridge is open every day, and people use it every day. It isn’t open once a year, or once a month. It’s every day. As I write, metro Louisville residents are making the Big Four part of their daily arsenal of lifestyle and recreational choices. That’s all of it in a nutshell. Meanwhile, New Albany has the ideal means to steal a march not just on Jeffersonville, but on the remainder of the metropolitan area, by thinking about what makes the Big Four “special” on a daily basis … just without an actual bridge.

With our streets.

We have a street study coming from the nationally renowned Jeff Speck, who (believe it or not) knows even more about such matters than Bob Caesar, and when Speck’s study is finished, we must embrace walkability and embark upon a progressive, rapid, no-compromises program of traffic calming, complete streets and two-way street conversions.

By doing so, and by staking a claim to being the most walkable and bikeable neighborhood in metro Louisville, we can utilize the street grid we already possess to enhance our quality of life every single day, not just during those exhaustively conjured “special” occasions.

In effect, and to a far greater physical degree, New Albany’s street grid is our Big Four Bridge. The reformatted street grid is the canvas, and its users will do the painting. A walkable and bikeable street grid will be the daily complement to business and residential interests, rather than catering solely to cars and trucks alone, encouraging a broader base for the type of “special” activities the city currently takes upon itself to plan. They’ll happen more often, and more spontaneously, as instigated by businesses and residents.

In short, New Albany can be rendered “special” every single day by design, with the street grid supporting revitalization, not working against it – as our sad, outmoded truck-choked, speeding one-way streets do now.

There's the tourist slogan: "New Albany: For 196 Years, We Coulda Been a Contender."

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

NABC and Starlight Distilling: "Put a Hoosier spin on Thanksgiving."

It's an honor having NABC's Hoosier Daddy and Black & Blue Grass on the table with these many other fine Indiana food and drink products, made right here in Indiana -- including vodka from our friends at Starlight Distillery. Thanks to Luanne Mattson and the Southern Indiana Tourism Coalition for helping to make it happen.

Indiana’s holiday bounty: Put a Hoosier spin on Thanksgiving (video from Fox59)

The Hoosier State has plenty to offer when it comes to unique holiday treats.

Mark Newman from Visit Indiana stopped by FOX59 Morning News to let viewers know how to put a signature Hoosier spin on Thanksgiving dinner.

ON THE AVENUES: Really, the word “progressive” embarrasses you? That’s okay, because political cowardice disgusts me.

ON THE AVENUES: Really, the word “progressive” embarrasses you? That’s okay, because political cowardice disgusts me.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

We’ve all experienced those disturbing times during a verbal debate when you know you’ve been whipped.

Your opponent’s grasp of facts and overall rhetorical excellence has you pinned, wiggle room is gone, and disaster looms. You can hope only to limit the damage, and perhaps survive to debate another day.

So it was that one of those times did not occur on Tuesday morning, during or after the merchant meeting, when the city’s economic development director, David Duggins, both publicly and privately read me what he imagined was an impassioned riot act.

Unfortunately, all he managed to do was concede almost every point we’ve tried to make in the past year with respect to City Hall’s persistent errors, with the result that the third floor’s credibility reserve is coughing vapors.

It may have been exasperation, anger, envy at City Hall’s inability to respond in kind, or maybe even exhausted vulnerability. I’m intentionally omitting delusional arrogance, but whatever the rationale, Mr. Duggins’s words to me formed a composite, abject expression of institutional impotence, one reeking of raw political terror, and offering further ample evidence that especially since November 4, when the local Democratic Party suffered a purely epic thrashing at the polls, the once mighty machine’s threadbare wheels have thrown their bolts and are rolling merrily across the landscape.

The cement blocks are being fetched, a motley collection of meth heads stands by eager to salvage copper wiring, and a fleet of U-Hauls are being dispatched to facilitate the magic kingdom’s overdue housecleaning. Surveying the carnage, Dixiecrat Party chairman Adam Dickey has chosen the junior high school tactic of censoring social media, but it’ll take more than a prayer breakfast and another failed “get out the vote” drive to avoid impending disintegration.

My shovel’s in hand. Just tell me where to dig. Better yet, maybe a few of us can dig together.


Mr. Duggins said many amazing things during the course of the group meeting and the private chat following it. Once my jaw dropped the first time, I left it safely on the floor to avoid over-exertion.

Although Mr. Duggins has not ever owned an independent local business, he freely offered marketing advice to those who do. He took a departed shop owner to task for being a complainer, when all she ever did was ask why the city allowed an adjoining building to fall quite literally to pieces outside her front window.

Perhaps the building commissioner was busy leveling historic buildings elsewhere.

Mr. Duggins openly conceded that the city does not customarily address sidewalks or sewers until a developer or realtor steps in, and an investor makes the first expenditure, and he brushed aside the counter argument that doing so beforehand actually might spur greater investment and constitute an actual economic development program, as opposed to piecemeal infusions of scattershot cash.

But it was my prodding on two-way streets, traffic calming and walkability that prompted the most memorable portion of the dialogue, and in the process, snapped this camel’s back.


To reprise, it has long been NAC’s contention that compared with pro-active “by the usual chamber of commerce numbers” efforts aimed at economic development as defined by the tired imperative of the suburban industrial park, this administration has neither understood the economic implications of independent local business, nor has bothered to openly embrace any organized, overt effort or plan to be of assistance to them.

Furthermore, while conceding that an economic development plan for independent local businesses, especially those located in a bloc amid the historic business district core, might be an unfair challenge to One Southern Indiana caliber non-thinkers in the absence of readily identifiable templates, we’ve insisted that thinking outside self-imposed boxes is by no means impossible. After all, these independent local businesses have invested heavily in themselves, with time, money and enthusiasm – and with almost no assistance from municipal governmental entities apart from “moral” support.

This is why we’ve consistently pointed to the city’s street grid as the ideal, contemporary infrastructure “bonus” readily available for molding into an asset occupying an extensive geographical area, one that enhances the urban experience for residents and visitor alike, whether working, shopping or living in or near downtown.

We’ve pointed to walkable and bikeable streets as an organic whole, running two ways, completed and calmed, and connected to IU Southeast, the Purdue Center, the Greenway and the Knobs, comprising New Albany’s only realistic equivalent of a magnet and generator comparable to the Big Four Bridge in Jeffersonville, because what makes the Big Four so special is that it is not at all special – it is open and available for public use every single day, not every now and then.

So it might be with two-way streets and walkability in New Albany, which brings us to the Jeff Speck study, as commissioned a full two years after mayor Jeff Gahan took office, in spite of campaign assurances that street reform would be pursued energetically.


And so it transpired that when queried about two-way streets, Mr. Duggins revealed a mind-blowing factoid guaranteed to impress, nay, astound, those who closely follow local events. For not once but twice, and in the strongest terms, he demanded that I come to grips with the ongoing Jeff Gahan term as undoubtedly the most progressive era in recent New Albany municipal history, and quite likely the most progressive period ever -- in a city that celebrated its 196th birthday just last year.

As proof, Mr. Duggins pointed in effect to the very absence of two-way street conversions, asking me to accept as evidence of City Hall’s innate progressivism an unrealized, barely enunciated intent – the many shadowy, non-transparent, Rosenbargian behind-the-scenes steps the city has taken thus far to commission Speck’s study, and to perhaps someday glacially come around to considering the incremental possibility of timidly sticking its toes into the waters of two-way streets and an accompanying, comprehensive street grid reform plan.

You see? Dyed-in-the-wool progressivism … in camouflage.

I was very confused. In fact, only moments before this presentation of Gahan’s solidly FDR-like progressive record, and still quite dazed at the Orwellian fog suddenly shrouding the proceedings, Mr. Duggins had somewhat imperiously dismissed the notion that those business owners in attendance might wish to talk about the street grid. Mind you, it was not his meeting to chair, and not his agenda to write. In essence, he refused to address the topic publicly. In fairness, he probably wasn’t happy with me for asking questions of substance.

Since he wouldn’t talk about streets while the others were there, I was compelled to wait until they had gone, and only then asked: If City Hall is a progressive entity, and if it recognizes the absolute necessity of street grid reform to help people like those in the room, as well as neighborhoods and the city’s prospects overall – as it constantly claims it does, privately – then in the name of wholly Jeeebus, why not lead the discussion?

Why not make sure that independent local business owners know the proven record of two way streets in promoting downtown business districts?

Why not make sure that neighborhood residents know the proven record of walkability enhancement in improving quality of life and lifting their property values?

Why not ensure support for the reform by getting out in front of the issue, driving it, and doing precisely what advocates are supposed to do?

Fairly paraphrased, here is the reply.

While impeccably progressive, City Hall could not possibly appear to be advocating progressive measures, not ever, because to do so would be to enable the administration’s powerful and dangerous naysaying enemies, who in spite of Jeff Gahan’s 64% vote tally in 2011 – the most lopsided majority in decades – somehow retain their uncanny ability to disrupt the mayor’s well-ordered universe at the merest hint of progressive leanings, because the “Old Guard” would be incited to … to …

To do what, exactly?

Well, to name the most prominent living example, any public appearance of progressivism on the part of City Hall would incite “Old Guard” stalwarts like Republican county commissioner Mark Seabrook -- of course the mayor dramatically and repeatedly spit in his eye during the course of the city-county parks department split, but that was different -- to rear back and belittle the helpless mayor by bellowing, “Ha Ha – you’re just appeasing those nasty progressives with two-way streets! Whatcha gonna do next, have some kind of FAIRNESS ordinance?" 

(Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but no. I’m paraphrasing, but honoring the tone. How could I make this up?)

Hence, the institutionalized New Albany City Hall Department of the Way on Down, Down Low, shielding the progressivism that dare not speak its name, a malady that only Speck’s study can dissipate, because then, and only then, can an administration with a 2/3 electoral mandate, but which remains terrified of Seabrook’s schoolyard taunts, finally point to the egg-head consultant’s findings and deploy them as the political cover it cannot function without. Note that I’d freely accused them of this very weakness on numerous occasions – and now the city’s economic development director wasn’t even trying to deny it.

Being the stubborn sort, I persisted: And yet, really, why couldn’t City Hall engage small business owners to explain the virtues of a walkable street grid?

If we did that and even one small business failed, they’d blame us.

Of course, right now, as it stands, the city’s interminable, fear-driven delay of street grid reform is quite effectively achieving the very same result, by leaving in place a one-way arterial street grid that nullifies every penny-ante ribbon cutting and “stay open late” promotion tossed into the air by increasingly desperate indie shop owners in the absence of a downtown economic development plan, because while street grid reform could be so very helpful, and constitute an economic development plan in itself, it would fatally embarrass a Democratic mayor to be seen openly advocating it.

It's exactly as if Gahan were to say it's okay to be gay, just as long as you don't kiss in public.


It’s simple.

I’m proud to be identified as a progressive, and what's more, I'm capable of presenting my reasons and arguing my points. But I’m far more ashamed of myself for supporting Gahan in 2011 than he is embarrassed at the ignominy of the term “progressive.” All I can do is learn from my mistakes. He doesn't believe he's made any. There's a difference.

One more thing.

Late in the chat, Mr. Duggins suggested I stop lashing the discredited, careerist city medevelopment wrecker John Rosenbarger, saying that at best, he was no more than a figurehead for the Main Street plan, and cannot be blamed for constantly acting through the years in such a way as to maintain his employment, even if it meant a steady stream of blatant lies sufficient to make Pinocchio blush.

I shrugged, but Mr. Duggins continued, assuring me that he’d never be one of those careerists like Rosenbarger; after all, he certainly isn’t making very much money working for the city of New Albany, and while personally loyal to the sitting mayor, he’d someday get out when the getting was good.

Teeth clenched, I smiled.

As one who has invested his entire life savings in a downtown business, and arises each day wondering when or if there'll be a return, there’s nothing like having the city's economic development director -- you know, the one without an economic development plan -- tell you that hes footloose and fancy free, and able to leave any time he wishes.

I won’t even waste a stray “go to hell” or "fuck off" on cluelessness of that astounding magnitude.

It's quite enough, thank you. If you refuse to take ownership, you’re not getting credit. Blame is another matter. Local Democrats in general, and the current administration in particular, always have dismissed progressive ideas because they feared no consequences. As such, we’re obliged to try to prove them wrong.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, because the insurgency begins right ... now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pastafarians, the colander crown and your next driving license photo.

The "ex-porn star" reference in the title strikes me as gratuitous, but click bait is hardly confined to scam sites. Meanwhile, the essay is a thoughtful piece on religious freedom.

‘Pastafarian’ Ex-Porn Star Gains The Right To Wear A Pasta Strainer In Her Driver’s License Photo, by Jack Jenkins (Think Progress)

... In all of these cases, the strainer-wearers claimed to be Pastafarians, or followers of the FSM. The religion was founded in 2005 when Bobby Henderson, then a physics student, protested a decision by a Kansas school board that allowed the faith-based theory of intelligent design to be taught alongside evolution. Henderson responded to the move by sending a letter to the school board satirically critiquing the inclusion, arguing that if teaching intelligent design was an attempt to appease creationist Christians, respect should also be given to those who hold “the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster" ...

... Taken together, colander-crowned Pastafarians such as Lemmon are part of a growing movement among the broader atheist community to push the boundaries of religious freedom — particularly in the United States. Responding to a case brought by the American Humanist Association, for example, an Oregon judge recently declared Secular Humanism a religion for legal purposes, setting up a precedent that could benefit atheists who wish to enjoy privileges traditionally afforded to religious Americans.

Can NA pass the "Strong Towns Strength Test" without a cheat sheet?

2 or 3 ... 4 tops.

Discussion? This might make an ideal opening tip next Tuesday.

Drinking Progressively: Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

Click the link to see the ten questions.
Strong Towns Strength Test, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

... We understand that cities are complex, adaptable systems that defy easy or precise measurement, so we asked ourselves: are there simple observations we use to signal that a city is either a strong town or on its way to becoming one? If you went to a place and had a little bit of time, could you scratch the surface and get a sense of how strong and resilient it was?

Here are ten simple questions we call the Strong Towns Strength Test. A Strong Town should be able to answer “yes” to each of these questions.

"Better access": City boldly affirms street grid reform with 2-way conversion of E. 5th, then heads to the Roadhouse for some ice cold longnecks.

On the very same day that David Duggins, the city's presumed economic development director, informed a room filled with downtown merchants that they needn't be interested in piddling infrastructure concerns when the customarily disjointed, uncoordinated "special event this weekend" marketing efforts aided scantily (if at all) by his crack team of One Southern Indiana oligarchy-fluffing veterans seem to be going so very swimmingly, there was a Board of Public Works meeting.

Downtown business owner: "Without the city itself doing more, we can kiss (revitalization) goodbye."

After reciting the pledge of allegiance to what remains of the local Democratic Party while facing a portrait of Walt Disney, a lapdog board displaying no visible signs of fatigue following a physically demanding weekend of prayer breakfasts approved an earthshaking street reform that caused puzzled observers to wonder: "Why pay Jeff Speck when they can retrofit East 5th Street with some spray paint and leftover stop signs?"

Nov 18 New Albany approves two-way conversion for East Fifth Street, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — One way versus two-way streets has been a hot topic of discussion in New Albany over the past year.

Though not on as large of a scale as what some have called for, the city moved Tuesday to convert one street to two-way traffic.

To coincide with improvements made to East Main Street, the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety agreed to switch East Fifth Street to two-way traffic from Culbertson Avenue to Main Street.

City Engineer Larry Summers suggested the conversion in order to “better provide access to the businesses, clubs and residences along E. Fifth Street.”

The three-member board of works — which is appointed by the mayor — approved the request without much discussion.

Larry surely did not intend to do so, but he has nonetheless contributed yet another mysterious phrase for examination by those of us who genuinely care about words, their meaning, and the primacy of ideas: "Better access" now takes its place alongside "quality of life" and "public safety" as concepts the Gaha administration is utterly incapable of defining coherently amid their all too frequent use.

But the entertainment doesn't stop there.

Main Street is already a two-way route, and the bulk of improvements to the road including the addition of grassy medians were recently completed ...

The board took under advisement a $289,141 change order for the work Tuesday.

Wes Christmas, an engineer with the city-hired firm Clark-Dietz, said the additional costs were for the removal of an abandoned railroad track discovered during construction, added paving expenses and the complete reconstruction of Main Street between Vincennes Street and 16th Street.

What the hell. A few hundred thousand here, a few more there ... and then there is Mr. Christmas, who contributes a wonderful aside.

Christmas said he reviewed the change order with city legal staff “ad nauseam”, but added he had no issue with the board of works taking extra time to review the proposal.

Really, Wes?

Ad nauseam? I'll give you a better usage than that:

"City officials and Clark-Dietz have insisted ad nauseam that the Main Street Project would achieve its desired ends, but they lied through their collective sets of teeth."

Take it away, JeffG.

You gotta love the Main Street Project. City officials promised commercial trucks would not be diverted to other streets and that traffic would slow down. A couple million dollars later, trucks have been diverted and the remaining traffic is speeding along as usual. In New Albany, that's batting a thousand.

Maybe it's time we all checked into those U-Haul prices -- or a treatment facility.

Looking ahead to city elections in 2015, the Floyd County GOP has a new central committee.

"Please welcome the new Floyd County Republican Party Central Committee: Chairman, Chris Lane, Vice Chair, Aaron Minnich, Secretary, Dale Bagshaw and Treasurer, Shawn Carruthers."

One out of two proper spellings of Dale Bagshaw's name isn't that bad.

Until proven otherwise, what this reshuffle means to me is that fresh off its recent lopsided wins in the county, Republicans are serious about contending city elections in 2015. Dave Matthews got what he was capable of getting in the county, and a new slate will renew efforts in the city.

I'm no Republican, but it's fairly clear that the party's urban odds have gotten far better in the aftermath of its 2014 county/state performance, and more significantly, in comparison with the continued deterioration of the Demo-Dixiecrat political machine, in both mechanics and intellectual content.

Insurgent lines grow ever more sharp. Voting Republican is one thing, but building a credible alternative to our exhausted and cowardly Democrats is something else entirely. You'd think the latter couldn't afford to lose its left wing during challenging times like these, but you may be giving the censors in charge a little bit too much credit for tactical grasp.

It's fairly certain that Dave Matthews and I disagree on most issues, but I'll give him his due: As he steps aside, he has left his forces in fine fettle.

What does Adam Dickey carry in his wallet?

Perhaps a post-it note with U-Haul prices is advisable.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Drinking Progressively: Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

I've been trying to get the word out to those expecting Drinking (and Thinking) Progressively to being tonight ... I made a change until next Tuesday.

Drinking Progressively: Let's make it Tuesday evenings, beginning on November 25.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 56: Yo, Warren -- it's the kids, trucks and neglected public safety edition for your pliant board.

It's more fun taking photos of window-rattling behemoths when you are not compelled to remove gloves first.

Downtown business owner: "Without the city itself doing more, we can kiss (revitalization) goodbye."

There was supposed to be a city-sponsored meeting of non-profit organization representatives at The Exchange on Thursday, but it has been postponed, with as yet no reason offered.

As of 6:40 a.m., the Merchant Meeting (downtown business owners) scheduled for The Loft on Spring is a go for 8:30 a.m.

The gang that can't shoot straight but fancies itself an empire is striking back, but that's not the point at present. Rather, we don't always hear from retail operators downtown. What do they think about matters discussed frequently at NA Confidential, pertaining to the business climate, the city's non-existent economic development plan for downtown, and the like?

Here is the testimony of one, as originally posted as a comment here. I'm not the writer, but as you read, think about this: How might the city of New Albany assist the entirety of downtown in the absence of "tools" for growth in the traditional, chamber of commerce and industrial park sense?

Hint: Two-way streets are a proven boon for independent small business. As components of infrastructure, they function every single day, not just for "special" events that attract attention to the events themselves and actually detract from the scene, and cannot support day-to-day realities.

We wait, and wait.


The revitalization of downtown which has occurred is fading quickly from what I am seeing. In my humble opinion, yes, some restaurants were brought in through the actions of a few. Some opened and not long after closed. Then more arrived and have maintained so far. Then additional retail stores appeared and the growth was looking good. All I have ever truly seen promoted are the restaurants, which is good, but more promotion for all types of businesses is needed. Shame on the city or its powers that be for not doing more and being forward thinking.

What future projects are truly related to continued growth? Adding living quarters downtown is great but not enough.

Many have already come and gone and more leaving. What can be done to continue the excitement and growth? Downtown has been rather dead customer wise the last several months, kinda like it was when I first opened downtown almost ten years ago.


Billow disappeared, Keg Liquors moved out of downtown, Endris is closing, Aunt Arties Antique Mall is closing, Celtic Connection is next to close, Opal Gypsy is closed more often than open, The Dandy Lion is rarely opened, what use to be the Little Chef has a new tenant but just sitting closed, and who knows what else is coming up. Pretty scary times wouldn't you say?

Why is this occurring? The revitalization is fading away very quickly. Partly responsible are the business owners themselves, not being dedicated enough possibly. Not enough support from the local community itself in a continuous regular all year round support. No true support from the City in promoting downtown other than the restaurants. We need way more than restaurants for the revitalization to continue.

Shame on Develop New Albany and New Albany First for not doing more and especially the City forces that be and what they haven't done so far.

I do not have the answers but what revitalization occurred in the past resulted mainly from small business owners taking a chance and choosing downtown New Albany on their own. Some of them did not have the proper business knowledge to succeed for long maybe. Others had enough stamina to last as things occurred and enough business sense to grow.

Some came after seeing a growth happening and wanted to be a part of that.

I guess what I believe is that all of that is good and was happenstance but without the city itself doing more, we can kiss it all goodbye.


There isn't much to add. I keep thinking of what we've been told so consistently by the city's economic development team: "But there isn't anything we can do because we don't have the proper tools to do anything."

As such, simple logic ordains this conclusion:

If you have been unable to do anything, then you cannot take credit for what has been done.

That's a tweet I suspect Warren Nash will not favor.

Milk is liquid snot: "Milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, it might also be detrimental."

To me, it's always been aesthetic.

Milk is little more than liquid snot, and to drink it by the glass has struck me as revolting for over thirty years. It's just a bonus to be "un-American" by rejecting milk in liquid form, although I've returned to eating cereal with almond milk as moistening agent.

I adore cheese, cream-based sauces, dairy-laden desserts and Milk Stout; obviously, I can tolerate lactose, but drink it from a glass?

That's just wrong.


Got Milk? Might Not Be Doing You Much Good, by Aaron E. Carroll (NYT)

Almost no one will dispute that when a baby is born, breast milk is the best nutrition a mother can provide. All mammals nurse their young, and breast milk benefits a newborn infant in ways above and beyond nutrition. In fact, until 1 to 2 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and more promote breast-feeding as optimal.

Unfortunately, breast-feeding until that age is often difficult, if not impossible, because mothers have to return to work, and children go off to preschool or day care. So we often replace human milk with the milk of cows or other animals. But at a certain point, we have to acknowledge that we are the only mammals on the planet that continue to consume milk after childhood, often in great amounts.

More and more evidence is surfacing, however, that milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, it might also be detrimental. This is in spite of the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture and other organizations advocate that even adults should drink at least three cups a day.