Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A small portion of it actually pertains to stormwater.



Six years after the last edition, what now is being referred to as the "first" edition of the Stormwater News was mailed to residents in December. I can't find it anywhere on-line, but the tactile edition is slick and glossy. There are no production credits. However, there are updates about the mayor, the parks system, the East Main Street semi-trailer diversion project, and one or two grudging mentions of stormwater, including a note by the director, urging New Albanians to keep things clean.

City council agrees to proceed with a $7 million bond for General Mills, but there are dissenters.

Daniel Suddeath explains the 5-2 vote in favor of proceeding with a $7 million offer to General Mills.

NEW ALBANY — There’s no guarantee the facility won’t close, or that the bond will pass, but the New Albany City Council agreed Tuesday to proceed with the steps to foot a $7 million bond in hopes it will convince General Mills to keep the Pillsbury plant open.

By a 5-2 vote, the council approved a nonbinding resolution that stated its support of moving forward with the bond. The council and likely the New Albany Redevelopment Commission will have to cast ballots on the $7 million bond before it becomes official.

Councilmen Kevin Zurschmiede and Greg Phipps voted against the resolution, saying they need more details about the bond package before agreeing to use taxpayer funds to support a business.

Meanwhile, an academic rushed in where the politicians feared to tread ... except Zurschmiede and Phipps.

Should New Albany be giving General Mills $7 million?, by David A. Mann (Louisville Business First)

... But such offers aren't necessarily beneficial for cities. In general, this kind of move doesn't really pay off for cities because they will never recoup their investment through higher tax revenue, he said.

"They're just handing a company a pile of money," (Josh) Pinkston said. "If that's a good idea … why just General Mills? Why not hand out a big pot of money for other companies in New Albany?"

He described an incentive package such as this one as political risk management. City leaders do not want to be seen as the guys who let General Mills leave, he said. But paying companies to stay is not really efficient economic development policy.

"This is $7 million they are taking away from the taxpayers of New Albany and giving it to General Mills," Pinkston said. And, he wonders what the long-term cost of that would be.

Then again, Phipps is an academic, too. Perhaps we need more of them.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Green Mouse makes the call: Kevin Zurschmiede will be the GOP's mayoral candidate.


True, the Green Mouse might be getting jerked around, but this makes three sources entirely independent of each other, and that's good enough for us.

The massage is clear, don't you think?

Zurschmiede declaring for the GOP gives New Albany one highly Republican candidate (David White, running as a Democrat), a somewhat less qualified Republican candidate (Zurschmiede), and a DemoDisneyDixiecrat (Jeff Gahan) -- meaning that everything to the left of Jon Huntsman belongs to the principled independent ... which is me.

I'm quite happy starting the campaign at precisely this point. In fact, irrespective of the results of the nominally Democratic primary, it looks like I'll be representing any Democrats whose beliefs precluded a vote for Mitt Romney in 2012 or John McCain in 2008, all local independents, and any remaining Greens and Libertarians seeking refuge from the prevailing rightward tack.

Groovy. I wonder if Bob Caesar will endorse a Republican?


Drinking Progressively is OFF for tonight (Tuesday, January 27). Back next week.


It's been quite instructive so far, but I'm giving Drinking Progressively the night off. I must be at BSB for a few minutes at 6 to meet a client, but I won't be staying long. It's a busy week for me, with much to tend to before Winterfest in Indianapolis this weekend.

AND there's a special city council meeting tonight to hear the city's Pillsbury proposal. You may even get to see the mayor in person at a council meeting for the second (gasp) straight week, equaling the three-year total. Is it live, or is it the hologram?

AND on Thursday night, there's the first Speck street network meeting at the library. Be there, be heard. Streets need revamping now, not later.

AND on Friday night, you can attend the re-enthronement fashion show ad hear 11 reasons why reading comprehension eludes the Gahan team. The Old Gahanians chose the Culbertson Mansion on Main Street because it's the only place downtown they could find for a photo-op without block-long semi rigs thundering past to shake their cameras. Anyway, the noise would drown out the merry clinking of their long-necked swill.

By then, we MIGHT have a declared Republican candidate for mayor. Now all the GOP needs is a coherent massage.


New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 72: It's a BOW snorefest Tuesday, and according to Wes Christmas, what you are seeing isn't happening.


If I'm to believe my own two eyes, that semi is DIVERTING from the Main Street corridor. Fortunately, I'm using Wes Christmas's two eyes, and he says, "In short the items are an indication of the intent of the project and the efforts the design team and City staff made to create a corridor that is safe and walkable while continuing to serve the same vehicles it did prior to construction."

He's an engineer. I foolishly trust my own two eyes.


The peculiar charm of Truck Through City is the way 80,000 lb behemoths accent the historic architecture. It's almost like ballet, isn't it?


No, the BakeMark guy wasn't delivering biscuits to St. Mary's. He was trying to beat the stop light at 7th.


Somewhere behind this one, there's a restaurant we urge visitors to patronize. Nice view.


Face it: You want to break out the bicycle and ride right alongside him.


Later this week, the mayor's presumed re-enthronement begins at the Culbertson Mansion, on Main Street. It's the only place downtown he could find for a photo-op without a Tiger Truck thundering past to shake the camera.

Sorry, Wes, I keep forgetting.

What my own two eyes keep seeing, and what shakes the windows early in the morning and far into the night, isn't really happening.

It's all a figment of Warren's Naps.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Information about the Pillsbury "business retention and factory-modernization package."

Two morsels for thought as we await the outcome.

$7 million works out to $3,500 per worker, per year, for five years (based on 400 employees at Pillsbury and Sonoco). From Charlie White's C-J coverage:

General Mills purchased Pillsbury in summer of 2000 from British food company Diageo for $10.5 billion. In fiscal year 2014, General Mills had global net sales of $19.2 billion.

Indiana economic development officials provided General Mills more than $100,000 in incentives in the last 10 years to ensure kept its workforce of about 480. But over the last three to four years, the company shifted manufacturing of some product lines to its more modern operation in Murfreesboro, Tenn., plant. The food giant spent $100 million expanding there four years ago.

Second, there is no reference to the concurrent implications of negotiations between General Mills and the union, as mentioned previously. Is our $7 million in proposed incentives keeping pay as it is, or does it accompany concessions from the union?

In trying to educate myself about these issues, I've been wondering if there's a Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union local in Murfreesboro. If there is, I can't find on-line references to it.

Readers, do you know?

Worth the dough? New Albany may offer $7 million to keep Pillsbury Plant, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — Last week, several New Albany City Council members pledged to diligently work on solutions to keep the General Mills plant open.
On Tuesday, the council will be asked to give its blessing for a $7 million bond package Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration hopes will stave off the closure, which General Mills announced Jan. 8 could happen within 18 months ...

 ... "We have assembled a business retention and factory-modernization package for our friends at General Mills to consider,” Gahan stated in a news release issued Friday afternoon.

“Our goal is to keep the New Albany facility in continuous operation for as long as possible.”

In the moving vans pull up outside this address ...


 ... then incumbent council person Kevin Zurschmiede's name might yet appear here:


And that's because one man's organ grinder is another man's 800-lb gorilla.


Well -- let's hear it.

New Albany looks to Greece.

Photo credit: Guardian

Sort of a Salvador Allende moment for the EU, wouldn't you say?

Don't miss this comment, also in The Guardian: Greece shows what can happen when the young revolt against corrupt elites (Paul Mason).

The rise of Syriza can’t just be explained by the crisis in the eurozone: a youthful generation of professionals has had enough of tax-evading oligarchs ... From outside, Greece looks like a giant negative: but what lies beneath the rise of the radical left is the emergence of positive new values – among a layer of young people much wider than Syriza’s natural support base. These are the classic values of the networked generation: self-reliance, creativity, the willingness to treat life as a social experiment, a global outlook.

Negotiating the terms of engagement. Imagine that.

Syriza’s historic win puts Greece on collision course with Europe, by Ian Traynor and Helena Smith (Guardian)


  • Voters reject EU austerity for radical alternative of far-left party
  • Upstarts fall two seats short of an overall majority
  • ‘Greece has turned a page,’ says 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras


European politics has been plunged into a volatile new era following a historic victory in Greece’s general election by far-left radicals committed to ending years of austerity.

More than five years into the euro crisis that started in Greece in October 2009 and raised questions about the single currency’s survival, Greek voters roundly rejected the savage spending cuts and tax rises imposed by Europe which reduced the country to penury ...

... The clock is already ticking. When the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, French president François Hollande, British prime minister David Cameron et al assemble for an EU summit in Brussels in just over a fortnight, they will be joined at Europe’s top table by (Alexis) Tsipras, probably the only man there not wearing a tie. The symbolism will be enormous. Europe’s anti-mainstream mavericks and populists are no longer just hammering on the doors.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Word: "Modern corporate capitalism is anything but natural."

Relating Atkins' eloquently simple reminder to the local scene, it's an election year.

Among the likely candidates for mayor, both hopefuls running as Democrats -- Jeff "Corporate Welfare" Gahan and David "My Career in Big Biz" White -- adhere to the "natural economy" myth punctured here.

The eventual chosen Republican, whether Dale Bagshaw or Steve Burks or Mark Seabrook (maybe he's calculating odds again, maybe not) will accept the inevitability of "natural market forces" as holy writ; in Burks' case, it'll be so tightly wrapped with scripture that Jesus will be swaddled in Armani.

In short: They're all conservatives, differing only by tiny incremental degrees.

Then there's me. I've never been much for "if you can't beat them, join them." Insofar as possible, I'd rather shift toward playing by different, localized rules. If we accept New Albany as a construct personifying "wonderfully and delightfully us," then I favor keeping our resources here as often as possible, and seeing just how wonderful and delightful we can be.

Corporations are Artificial, Too, by David Atkins ("Political Animal" blog at Washington Monthly)

... But there’s another key lie in the conservative “natural economy” story, which is that modern corporate capitalism is anything but natural. It’s an artificial system encoded arbitrarily into law and interpreted in a specific way that tends to give maximum advantage to executive and shareholders at the expense of society.

Actually, MOST movies are "too dumb to criticize." Time for some book-readin'.

It's a preachin' kind of Sunday.

I tend to avoid American mainstream movies, as they tend to be depressingly stupid. Two hours expended to glare in pained annoyance, while books await reading, strikes me as a poor bargain even when drunk.

Lately I've been avoiding social media expressions of polarized dumbassery, whether emanating from knee-jerking parties to the right or left. It is increasingly evident that social media was developed to be abused by the 99%, go the glee of the 1%, as the ones who should be marching together to take back what is theirs instead attack each other.

It's called divide and conquer, folks, and you buy into it every single day. Rather than emulating 19th-century peasants prostrate on their knees, praying to the Tsar (or the Koch Brothers, or "fill in the blank: with the name of any multinational corporation) for some measure of hope, perhaps we might commence a shift aimed at taking some of it back.

Without knowing or caring why the sniper was sent to Iraq in the first place -- why soldiers are sent anywhere throughout history -- it's all diversion and fluff. Metaphorically, we cannot all work "for" ourselves, but we needn't work for the Man, either. Ideas and words matter, and it's never too late to invest in the time required to grasp their meaning.

Sermon concluded.

'American Sniper' Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize, by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone)

Almost.

 ... Filmmakers like Eastwood, who could have cleared things up, only muddy the waters more. Sometimes there's no such thing as "just a human story." Sometimes a story is meaningless or worse without real context, and this is one of them.

Low comedy? It's in DNA's DNA, but the Speck proposals offer a final chance for redemption.


I got your networking, guys: Two way streets.

But you must want to learn what the possibilities mean, and stop planning prom parties.

For a full eight days after Jeff Gahan’s vest-hugging, muffler-dragging politburo peeked timorously out of its down-low bunker and at long last allowed Jeff Speck’s Downtown Street Network Proposal (which it had possessed for a whole month) to be seen by city residents, Develop New Albany remained silent.

Nothing unusual there ... and that's the big, recurring problem.

Finally a link appeared on DNA’s Facebook page. Previously, the best our formally chartered Main Street organization could manage was a bizarre web poll asking if we’d rather have bagels or two-way streets downtown.

Unsurprisingly, the National Main Street Center, DNA’s purported policy parent, has not stated a position on bagels versus English muffins or whole wheat toast.

However, it has been interested in one- to two-way street conversions since at least 2006 – and DNA has been avoiding discussion of this and other matters of genuine significance for just as long, citing ad nauseam its non-profit status as proof of an inability (read: unwillingness) to follow its own organizational mandate and take a stand for something that supports its mission.

Of course, there are embarrassing exceptions. When the topic is Susan Kaempfer's quarter-million dollar farmers market build-out, DNA hurriedly sheds ballast and tramples napping house cats in a rush to the front of the queue in support of politically-motivated pork-barrel expenditures.

Somehow, that's different -- and the "somehow" never manages to get explained.

Again and again, one witnesses the mind-numbing conceptual numbness, thinking that surely by sheer law of average even DNA’s perennially stopped clock has an outside chance to be right twice in a decade, give or take a leap year, but somehow it succeeds in forging consistent group-thought capable of freezing time dead-ice solid.

Instead, DNA functions as a random billboard generator, merrily touting whomever will pay it, from churches to retail, and from eateries to realtors, although precisely one retailer is represented at the board level, and no restaurant or bar owners or managers can be found seated there.

Come to think of it, that's no coincidence, is it?

After all, small indie retailers and food service businesses are the entities that have by far done the most for downtown with the least governmental assistance (is there a number lower than zero?) They simply have no time to coddle bad actors.

Indies also are the ones that might finally get some help from City Hall if Gahan can bring himself to lead for once, and implement Speck’s proposals in a timely fashion, instead of dragging feet of concrete through an election season that stands to place progress in an even colder deep-freeze than New Albany's unenviable historical standard.

It's just my opinion, and feel free to disagree, but the advent of Speck's street network proposals is last call for DNA, which must support street reform explicitly and publicly, and contribute to advocacy for implementation. Anything less, and it's time to dissolve DNA and start from scratch.

The city needs a Main Street organization with cojones, don't you think?

Put it on the platform.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Editorial cartoon: Our Leashes of Command.


Bridge opens early + tolls in 2017 = Gahan MIA.


Tolling is not slated to begin until 2017, but that's water under a future bridge. The question for New Albany remains the same: What can we do pro-actively to plan for the repercussions?

Jeff Speck's downtown street network proposals address this vital need to address prospective pass-through traffic. They also illustrate how a comprehensive civic lifestyle rejigging downtown would support numerous other aspects of economic development and future municipal planning with integration and connectivity.

Mayor Jeff Gahan claims to understand the former, but refuses to discuss the latter, presumably owing to the fact that modernity to local DemoDisneyDixiecrats is like garlic to a vampire -- or Lite beer to the Publican.

Gahan's re-election campaign officially begins next week. His current Speck timetable calls for year-long delays in courage and resolve. The early arrival of the new downtown bridge provides additional proof that Gahan's politically-motivated delays can only hurt New Albany.

SPANNING TIME: New downtown bridge to open ahead of schedule, by Matt Koesters (News and Tribune)

LOUISVILLE — Two summers ago, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear predicted that in three years’ time, a new bridge connecting downtown Louisville and Southern Indiana would be open to traffic.
Beshear admitted Friday that he doesn’t mind that he was wrong.

“This time, it’s a good thing that I was wrong, because I’m excited to announce that just a year from today, three months ahead of schedule, the mighty towers of concrete and steel that you see rising behind me will be complete,” Beshear said, speaking at a press conference on the Louisville bank of the Ohio River. “The cables will be strung, the deck laid, the stripes painted and cars and trucks will be flowing across the first new bridge in more than half a century across the Ohio River into downtown Louisville.”

The accelerated schedule for the opening of the new bridge will allow for more in-depth work to be done on the existing John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge. When the new downtown bridge opens, Interstate 65 traffic in both directions will shift to the new bridge for six months.

“In recent weeks, we made the decision to invest in a more complete and long-lasting overhaul of the Kennedy Bridge,” Beshear said. “We made that decision for two reasons: First, more extensive improvements are needed to add decades of life to the 52-year-old bridge, and second, completing the work now will save money and reduce impacts on drivers long-term.”

Friday, January 23, 2015

Gahan's plan for keep Pillsbury: A $7 million bond issue.

Props to the News and Tribune's Daniel Suddeath, who is tweeting about the city's offer to General Mills.

New Albany City Council to consider $7 million bond package Tuesday to update Pillsbury Plant in hopes of keeping facility open.

The bond incentive resolution for General Mills deal states the Pillsbury plant in New Albany would have to stay open a min. of 5 years.

If resolution approved, New Albany Redevelopment Commission and NA Council would have to take additional votes, same as any bond issue.

According to city, Pillsbury plant paid $661k in property taxes in 2014 and $7 million over last decade.

The financing plan would be a mix of tax-increment financing and possibly EDIT money, per David Duggins, city economic development director.






11 reasons why reading comprehension eludes the Gahan team.


There are more, but you already knew that.

ON THE AVENUES: Leadership? It depends on the entity Jeff Gahan is pretending to lead.


ON THE AVENUES: Jeff Gahan, the Speck proposals, and City Hall's $75,000 roll of toilet paper.


ON THE AVENUES: Pretty in pink slips, aren’t they?


ON THE AVENUES BOARD OF WORKS SPECIAL: City Hall’s shelf life for excuses expires today.


ON THE AVENUES: To the third floor -- but first, we throw the rascals out.


ON THE AVENUES SUNDAY SPECIAL: How many businesses already have died because of City Hall’s street grid procrastination?


ON THE AVENUES: The Adamite Chronicles: Have muzzle, will drivel.


ON THE AVENUES: Better access, quality of life, public safety, and various other Orwellian aspects of the New Albanist’s experience.


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


ON THE AVENUES: Why not a progressive movement in New Albany? It sure beats a two-party debacle.


ON THE AVENUES: Does New Albany even have an intellectual history?

A classy sendoff for Greg Balmer.


The Bookseller has posted a video of the funeral procession, as viewed from a bit further up the street. It was a first-rate sendoff for former coroner Greg Balmer.

A good candidate is hard to find. You always get another kind.



Nowadays, they're really hard to find.

NASH: Looking for a few good leaders, by Matt Nash (News and Tribune)

While candidates for election this year that run as Democrat or Republican have less than two weeks to file for their candidacy, anyone wanting to run as an independent in the general election in November has until the end of June to declare. There has been some talk on social media about the possible run as an independent for mayor and another for the fifth district council seat, but there has been no official announcement. Also, if any of the positions up for election this year are not filled, the party leaders may enter a candidate in one of those positions for November.

Yes, I'm running for mayor. No, I haven't submitted the papers. But you can count on it.

In an article earlier this week in the News and Tribune, the GOP chairman claimed that at least two people were interested in running for mayor, but they would decide between themselves who would be the candidate. This makes me think that neither candidate wants to be mayor very badly.

I had this impression, too. However, please let it be Pastor Burks.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Is Pastor Burks eyeing the mayor's chair?


The Green Mouse says that at tomorrow's big mayoral nominee announcement by the Floyd County Republican Party, the invocation (no, not a pause for reflection) will be given by Pastor Steve Burks, who'll then be revealed as the party's candidate.

If true, this could be really interesting. Remember when Pastor Burks was peeved about the removal of the rote council prayer?

ON THE AVENUES: Separating church and council (January 9, 2012).


But lest we scoff, Burks is on a two-contest political winning streak. He was the top vote-getter in the 2012 Floyd County Council at-large race, then traded sideways to become a trustee just two months ago.
County Councilman Burks wins New Albany trustee’s seat

FLOYD COUNTY — Republican Steve Burks will be trading one seat for another after scoring a victory over an incumbent Tuesday night.

Burks received 5,540 votes, or 52.9 percent, while Democrat Jeannie Freiberger received 4,926 votes, or 4,926 votes, in the New Albany Township Trustee race.

Burks is a pastor and also an at-large Floyd County councilman, so he will have to resign his seat.

“I do benevolence all the time. That is what I do,” he said of his new post, which is largely tasked with helping the less fortunate. “I will try to be more efficient in that department. I want to give people a hand up instead of a hand out. I want people to be accountable."

Let's return to Twitter for a taste of what we'll be in for, apart from another candidate espousing the virtues of Mitt Romney:

"The greatness of our nation is diminishing because we have lost our moral compass. In order to be great again morality is not an option."

ON THE AVENUES: Leadership? It depends on the entity Jeff Gahan is pretending to lead.

ON THE AVENUES: Leadership? It depends on the entity Jeff Gahan is pretending to lead.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.


I met with a journalist yesterday to be interviewed for a forthcoming article about civic affairs, and eventually the conversation turned to Jeff Speck’s Downtown Street Network Proposal for New Albany, and a good question followed:

“So, what does the mayor think about it?”

Well, Jeff Gahan doesn’t think much about Speck, at least as we are left to guess from sparse, cautious public pronouncements that might be mistaken for the oracle of Delphi’s vapor-induced gibberish, except that the latter had a far better feel for genuine poetry.

As I write, tea leaves will magically reconstitute the Gettysburg Address before Gahan emerges from the Down Low Bunker to lead on this issue. The candidate who once promised vigorous action for street change – privately, of course – now has adopted the pose of elderly, buzz-kill, petty-local-bureaucrat-in-chief:

“You can rest assured that we won’t do anything to let those anti-establishment inmates run your asylum.”

Of course, as remains plainly evident, the asylum itself is to be taken for granted, and the founding principle of any local political party is immutable: Our inmates, not yours. It may be the only promise a local DemoDisneyDixiecrat ever kept – and that’s the problem.

Especially in an election year.

---

In fact, the current governing cabal may well comprise the most uniformly anti-intellectual grouping witnessed hereabouts since the 1990s milieu of England Doug, Guido and His Angry Inch, but even then, there was Carl Malysz, who while often bizarrely mistaken in terms of job performance, could converse quite fluently about the history of Poland and Central Europe, areas that lie to the east, somewhat beyond Silver Creek, and must be feared as a result.

Thus, it is quite possible that what we have here is a failure to recall vocabulary lessons from halcyon days of ScribnerWood. I’m happy to be of assistance.

LEAD

lēd/

verb

1. cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc., while moving forward.

2. be in charge or command of.
"a military delegation was led by the Chief of Staff"
synonyms: be the leader of, be the head of, preside over, head, command,govern, rule, be in charge of, be in command of, be in control of, run,control, direct, be at the helm of

noun

1. the initiative in an action; an example for others to follow.
"The US is now taking the environmental lead"
synonyms: first position, forefront, primacy, dominance, superiority, ascendancy

2. a position of advantage in a contest; first place.
"they were beaten 5-3 after twice being in the lead"
synonyms: the leading position, first place, the van, the vanguard

There you have it.

Clearly, Mayor Gahan stopped reading after the first definition. He intends to lead, and desires us to be led, not unlike a tethered animal – perhaps a burro, alpaca or camel. Naturally, as an authoritarian, he must be in charge, but in the sense of taking the initiative, providing an example and occupying the vanguard, not so much.

My view is that the animal should break into a trot. This would illustrate an important lesson about ropes, bridles, leashes, and the proper identification of the real parties responsible for leading the issue of street network reform from the very start.

---

Hence the most telling reflex of Gahan’s hermetic politburo, which is a profoundly passive-aggressive daily exercise in “divide and conquer” politics.

There are New Albanians favoring Speck, and others opposed, and all of them will be reassured privately that the forever “principled” mayor and his minions are in complete agreement with the public, whatever the public’s proclivities.

But aloud and for attribution, a pose of lofty and vacuous mayoral distance will be maintained as the respective camps are encouraged to compete with each other to curry Lord Gahan’s favor by bestowing kisses, showering flattery, reaffirming fealty – and most important of all – ensuring the big guy’s re-election in 2015.

In short, Gahan will not “lead” in any coherent sense of leadership.

In effect, having all but ceded the possibility of substantive action on street network reform until 2016, the mayor instead is demanding to be rewarded first, with another term. Only then can anything happen, and if anything happens at all, it will do so owing to the bare, stated minimum of traffic alterations aimed at preparing for a changed dynamic when Ohio River bridge tolls come on line.

As for the second and far more transformational aspect of Speck’s proposals, altering social conditions and facilitating a civic lifestyle change, Gahan’s silence speaks volumes.

It would be easy for rational observers to formulate the situation like this: Gahan does not understand the sweeping potential impact of such a social transformation, because if he did, he would not press forward with fluffy and unnecessary enemas like the farmers market debacle on the corner of Bank and Market.

But that formulation is incorrect. You see, Gahan actually does understand the transformational stakes, and he cannot allow them to occur, because his only guiding principle as a political party-bound mayor is to maintain the continued dominance of the DemoDisneyDixiecrat local power and patronage machine.

And the DemoDisneyDixiecrat local power and patronage machine simply cannot survive a sweeping civic lifestyle change. To implement Jeff Speck’s Downtown Street Network Proposal on any basis of its lifestyle component, however slight, is tantamount to glasnost, perestroika and the French revolution rolled into one, or put more succinctly: A swift and painful demise for the local DemoDisneyDixiecrats.

To do so would be to reward the party’s critics, not its Luddites.

To do so would be to concede that the best-ever idea for reality-based economic development in New Albany originated so far outside the DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party’s wheelhouse that it might have been mailed to us from … Poland and Central Europe.

However, Speck's from the East Coast, and there is a serious flaw in Gahan’s brutally deceptive “Me or Nothing in 2016.”

We need not play along … politically.

Ongoing efforts on the part of the citizenry to advance the cause of Speck’s street network proposals and to advocate their immediate implementation, are fitting and proper. They must and will continue, but they are utterly separate from the politicized blackmail being practiced at present.

Since Gahan has determined to do nothing in 2015, it follows that nothing will happen in 2015. That’s regrettable, but doing something in 2016, beginning on the first of January, is not reliant on Gahan’s presence. Rather, it relies on the disposition of his replacement. If the replacement is not beholden to a political patronage machine, all the better.

Select the correct replacement, and we’re one step closer to rational streets … and rational politics.

"Locals Everywhere Want to Know: What's Wrong With America?"

My personal experience with questions like these began in Europe during the summer of '85.

What baffles so many of them, though, is how ordinary Americans in startling numbers have been persuaded to dislike "big government" and yet support its new representatives, bought and paid for by the rich.

The answer is the same now as then, although arguably it's far worse: Vote cultural myth instead of bread 'n' butter reality, and see what happens.

Locals Everywhere Want to Know: What's Wrong With America?, by Ann Jones (The Nation)

Other things I've had to answer for include:

* Why can't you Americans stop interfering with women's health care?

* Why can't you understand science?

* How can you still be so blind to the reality of climate change?

* How can you speak of the rule of law when your presidents break international laws to make war whenever they want?

* How can you hand over the power to blow up the planet to one lone, ordinary man?

* How can you throw away the Geneva Conventions and your principles to advocate torture?

* Why do you Americans like guns so much? Why do you kill each other at such a rate?

To many, the most baffling and important question of all is: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up more and more trouble for all of us?