Friday, May 22, 2015

NARBA was excluded from Boomtown, so I'll be there selling good books.

On Sunday, the second Boomtown Ball takes place in downtown New Albany. Last year for the inaugural, and at the city's behest, a small group of local food and drink purveyors put together the vending plan for alcoholic beverages. The intent was to devote a portion of the take to setting up the New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association ... and we've followed through with it.

Our Mission Statement
The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit trade organization serving the independent restaurant, bar and on-premise food and drink industry in New Albany, Indiana. NARBA serves as the unified voice of its members on government and public relations issues. It also provides programs that offer educational and operational benefits for members. NARBA represents New Albany’s best known and most vibrant local independent business segment, and is dedicated to the advancement and preservation of New Albany as an urban community.

Charitable Initiatives
NARBA organizes and hosts annual fundraising events in order to give back to the community that has so generously supported its members.

NARBA is on Facebook, and still working through various legal details. If all goes as planned, there may be an event coming later in the year. It's fiendishly difficult getting insanely busy food and drink peeps together, but gradually, we're making progress.

Unfortunately, for reasons that never have been clearly explained to NARBA, the libations segment of this year's Boomtown was chartered without the association's participation. Either the city or Production Simple giveth, and also taketh away.

"Fundamentally" local?

Not Boomtown, which is Fundamentally Louisville, but what can a poor boy do, 'cept sing in a rock 'n' roll band ... and toss the occasional Molotov cocktail during intermission?

So, I've turned instead to Plan B. On Sunday, I've reserved space amid the Flea Off scrum, and will be selling books. That's right. Books. Here's what I'll be selling.

Come and see me.

Street safety? Since Jeff Gahan is supine and inert, here's "What to Do When You're Hit By a Car."

Every picture tells a story -- don't it?

Nice new yellow paint for the cars.

Diddly squat for the walkers.

Do crosswalks ever get any attention?

What to Do When You're Hit By a Car, by Laura Bliss (City Lab)

One Sunday morning in March, as I was walking through a crosswalk on the way to buy groceries, a car turned left into me. I screamed as it knocked my hip, hard, and thrust me to the pavement. The driver stopped short and leaped out of the vehicle, shouting what seemed like nonsensical apologies as I cried and swore on the ground: I’m so sorry, I just didn’t see you.

Luckily, my injuries weren’t life-threatening: just a nasty bruise that smeared my hip for about a month and some very real PTSD.

The aftermath disturbed me the most. I wasn’t prepared for the game I had to play in order to ensure justice for myself.

Here’s what I mean: In the event of a collision, there are crucial steps pedestrians and cyclists must take to protect themselves, medically, financially, and legally. I took some of these steps, and failed to take others because I didn’t know that I should. There were real consequences to not knowing the right strategy.

So, reader, if you are ever hit by a car as a pedestrian or cyclist—or if you witness an accident of this kind—here’s what you need to do.

Passion, Prem and Burqa Boxers.

Last week, my friends Jonathan and Leilah introduced me to Premlatha (Prem) Durham, who is conducting an ongoing Instagram survey of "passionate" people and their stories, as a prelude to a documentary she is producing called Burqa Boxers.

Burqa Boxers is a documentary about young Muslim women in Kolkata, India, who are "challenging stereotypes" by learning boxing from Razia Shabnam, one of the first Indian female boxing coaches.

My task for Instagram was to briefly explain how my passion for beer now has morphed into a campaign for mayor, and with it a different but fully complementary set of passions. The photo Prem chose dates to April, when Diana and I visited Lexington.

I hugely enjoyed meeting Prem and hearing about her work. When the time comes to view Burqa Boxers, we certainly will.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: “I Just Want to Know, Can I Park Here Somewhere?”

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: “I Just Want to Know, Can I Park Here Somewhere?”

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

There are at least two dated references in this column, which originally was published as "Can’t stuff ‘em in a burlap sack, either" on March 29, 2012.

In a rare admission of failure as it pertains to inside jokes, I've changed the title, primarily because after three years, I can't recall the nature of the inside joke being referenced at the time.

Specifically: The Riverview housing and parking garage giveaway died deservedly and ingloriously, and gasoline prices have fallen a tad in three years. Now, are we ready for that overdue discussion of parking meters?


My forthcoming documentary is going to be called, “I Just Want to Know, Can I Park Here Somewhere?”

It will be filmed on location in downtown New Albany, with a large cast to include prominent living and deceased examples of: Ducking-and-covering elected officials, their overburdened economic development appointees, shrugging policemen, knowledgeable but bureaucratic planners, thinly stretched street department workers, officious board of works members, eternally fractious business and property owners, neighborhood busybodies and thoroughly confused out-of-town visitors.

At the end of this three-hour movie, there’ll emerge no single instance of agreement among any two of the respective parties mentioned above, and nothing even distantly approximating a quantifiable answer to the question asked in the title, but just to give the ending a nice, down-home New Albanian zeitgeist type of feel, I’ll have Develop New Albany on hand to claim complete credit for an outcome that doesn’t even exist.

In fact, they can call it Drive By City if they like.

For those who are struggling to keep score, please open your “Principles of Banana Republic Management” textbooks to page 105 … or just load the app on your smart phone. It’s called “Is It Even Possible To Do a Worse Job of This?”


Once upon a time, in the golden age lasting approximately 25 minutes following curtain calls at the conclusion of World War II, New Albany made vague gestures at enforcing its own traffic ordinances by using policemen to issue tickets. However, because the cops were needed to control rampant episodes of social disarray stemming from the city’s refusal to enforce its buildings and housing codes (see: The Slumlord Empowerment Act), ticketing went somewhat out of fashion.

At any rate, monies collected mostly reverted to the state of Indiana, where they were used to finance measures aimed at thwarting home rule while allowing the simultaneously disingenuous promulgation of the opposite, and when it came to parking tickets downtown, no one bothered to collect the fines incurred.

When city officials did try, certain prominent local citizens – often those veritable doyens of tottering local political party structures – refused to pay, promptly threatened to sue anyone within pellet scattering range, and as a sign of genuine civic solidarity, doused themselves with lighter fluid with Bics close at hand.

After all, there was hardly any activity downtown, so what did it matter to anyone?


Then, something completely nutzoid occurred. During the Garner Administration, the city council unanimously approved the creation of a riverfront development area. This was the pretext for a delineated zone in which modified three-way alcoholic beverage permits could be issued apart from the state’s self-defeating quota, and this single, elegant and inexpensive act immediately leveraged numerous independent small business investments in food and drink establishments within the historic downtown commercial district. The first stirrings of a revival began, and overnight, utter chaos descended.

As it turns out, there was nothing whatever – statutory, administrative or experiential – that foresaw the possibility of progress, as opposed to regress. All the rules and practices, and most of the people in charge of them, were jigged only to manage decay, and decay alone.

At this critical moment in the city’s history, Develop New Albany’s invisible cadres rushed in to take complete credit for the progress gained by entrepreneurial investments that had little if anything to do with DNA, and to contribute nothing to the resolution of problems stemming from improvements … rather like State Farm, but without the money to pay claims, which is where the Urban Enterprise Association comes in … but I digress.


During the epochal third England Administration, which ingloriously perished when the Democratic executive’s hand-picked Republican successor was crushed prior to his suffering a humiliating council race loss to a comparative non-entity, the mayor took precious time away from his lifelong hobby of dispensing politically-motivated favors with other people’s money to heroically sidestep any involvement with downtown parking issues.

Hizzonner simply decreed that downtown parking rules would not be enforced, so that revenue from fines in that particular locality of the city would be lost, but not in other localities, with there being no clear explanation to this very day of where one might park illegally and expect a ticket, or park illegally and not be ticketed, and if cited, whether there’d be any effort on the city’s part to collect the fine, other than a frayed, adapted Wheel of Fortune board game and a case-by-case heave-ho.

For a number of downtown merchants and their employees, non-enforcement has proven to be the best policy of all, seeing as it is their aim to park their vehicles as closely as possible to their own front doors. Other building owners zealously guard their surface parking lots lest someone dare make an offer to pay or use of the spaces. Still more surface lots are owned by the city, which spins the wheel yet another time so as to determine whether these spaces are to be free of charge or paid, and if paid, to guess aloud if the checks received will ever be endorsed.

And then there’s the proposed Riverview development, and a rare, once-in-a-lifetime chance for the city to pay $15 million for a parking garage and then give it away to private interests which may or may not let anyone else use it.


It doesn’t stop there. As I write my documentary prospectus for publishing over at Kickstarter, the price of gasoline has climbed above $4 per gallon, which means more of the city’s least thoughtful citizens will be riding their bicycles in all directions through streets and on sidewalks, without the slightest effort at internal control, or any degree of external regulation.

Automobile drivers impaired by their cell phones weave in and around these oblivious cyclists, as well as roaming packs of skateboarders, at ridiculous rates of speed, regarding all non-automotive presences as targets (if they ever see them in the first place).

Meanwhile, the sensible, oft-cited benefits of traffic calming, two-way street conversions, enforcement of bicycling rules, opportunities for pedestrians to walk safely and an overall elevation of a human-scaled city to primacy even if it means sacrificing a full two minutes of time traveled by car – well, these are routinely derided by those congenital obstructionists for whom New Albany remains a collection of distracting impediments to speeding through and exiting as quickly as possible out the other side.

And, no matter where one looks, the only clear presence on the local scene when it comes to resolving these many issues is a great big hole – not where the giveaway parking garage might go, but the obscure place where leadership is supposed to be, but never is.

Of course, if there was any such thing as public transportation in the Open Air Museum … no, never mind.

Hey, you – can I borrow your lighter? It’ll only take a minute.


Recent columns:

May 14: ON THE AVENUES: Take this cult of personality and shove it.

May 7: ON THE AVENUES: In Havel I trust.

April 30: ON THE AVENUES: Until philosophers become kings.

April 27: ON THE AVENUES MONDAY SPECIAL: Et tu, Greg Phipps? Or: Anger and the electoral variability of transparency.

April 23: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Anachronisms and intellectuals, here and there.

April 16: ON THE AVENUES: Say a prayer for NA Confidentialas it conducts this exclusive interview with Councilman Cappuccino.

"Protected bike lanes are now official federal policy."

Photo credit: People for Bikes

Recognize these "star-spangled" ideas?

They're integral to Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposal, which currently is consigned to oblivion or 2017, whichever comes (or mayor goes) first.

The feds jump on board: Protected bike lanes are now official federal policy, by Michael Andersen (People for Bikes)

Protected bike lanes are now officially star-spangled.

Eight years after New York City created a Netherlands-inspired bikeway on 9th Avenue by putting it on the curb side of a car parking lane, the physically separated designs once perceived as outlandish haven’t just become increasingly common from coast to coast—they’ve been detailed in a new design guide by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The FHWA guidance released Tuesday is the result of two years of research into numerous modern protected bike lanes around the country, in consultation with a team of national experts.

“Separated bike lanes have great potential to fill needs in creating low-stress bicycle networks,” the FHWA document says, citing last year’s study by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities. “Many potential cyclists (including children and the elderly) may avoid on-street cycling if no physical separation from vehicular traffic is provided.”

This bicyclist seems mistrustful of the Main Street sharrows.

Walking to the merchant meeting at the Culbertson Mansion on Tuesday morning, I'd just crossed Main Street when I saw a person on a bicycle coming toward me, eastbound.

At first glance, seconds before I took the photo, he was riding in the otherwise empty parking lane with a couple of cars approaching behind him. The bump-out was just ahead of him, and he was going to be compelled to move out into the "sharrows" lane whether he liked it or not. There was some hesitancy, but he did.

The driver of the first car chose the opportunity afforded at the median-free 10th Street intersection to quickly pass the bicycle on the left. Maybe he didn't want to share the road, after all.

I thought to myself: "Just imagine what the Main Street design might have been under capable leadership, and with reality-based design."

Damn, that guy looks familiar.

Nah, couldn't be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PourGate 2013: It took two years, but this new law silences Dr. Tom Harris and the Floyd County Health Department.

As it began.

On June 14, 2013, the New Albanian Brewing Company was peaceably vending beer at Bicentennial Park, by means of a supplemental catering permit issued by the company's governing agency, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

The Floyd County Health Department arrived and said that NABC also needed a temporary food serving permit.

I said no, that's incorrect.

They persisted, and a two-year-long struggle commenced.

An Indiana Public Access Request was filed, and the Dr. Tom Harris and the FCHD's attorney laughed it off. NABC filed an appeal, based on a previous Indiana appeals court ruling (Ft. Wayne v Kotsopoulus; thanks, Bob) and the FCHD's board slightly moderated the department's error, but did not correct it.

The FCHD then childishly slandered NABC with a web site photo equating Bank Street Brewhouse with e coli, and NABC filed a tort claim notice. An ultimately fruitless search for adults in county government began.

They blamed it on the webmaster.

By late 2013, the Indiana Attorney General's office had agreed with NABC's reference to the court ruling, and found the FCHD to have absolutely no basis for its claim that a temporary food service permit was needed to pour beer.

The FCHD overtly and publicly stated that it would ignore this directive.

Throughout 2014, NABC and other vendors adhered to the FCHD's improvised 2013 requirement, which although amended, remained utterly baseless and without statutory authority.

Now a new summer vending season is beginning in 2015, and there is a new development.

On July 1, 2015, when a "beer bill" authored by Rep. Ed Clere officially becomes state law, it will be demonstrated for a third (and we trust final) time that the FCHD and its head, Dr. Tom Harris, were mistaken all along.

The new law is clear and explicit, as based on the two preceding legal precedents, both hitherto ignored by the FCHD.

All thanks to Ed Clere.

His hard work in compelling local government functionaries to obey their own laws will not be forgotten, especially by me.

If we lived in a culture of accountability, Dr. Tom Harris would be cashiered on July 1, 2015, when the new law takes effect. For two years, Harris and his department have made a mockery of Indiana state law and the principle of due process.

For what purpose, Mark Seabrook?

Following is the text of the new law. After that, there is a (maybe) complete compendium of NAC links telling the story of PourGate.


“HOUSE ENROLLED ACT No. 1311, AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning alcohol and tobacco.”


Sec. 30.

(a) As used in this section, "permit holder" means the holder of:

(1) a farm winery permit under IC 7.1-3-12-5; or
(2) a brewer's permit under IC 7.1-3-2-7(5).

(b) A permit holder that sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages by the glass at a festival, fair, or other temporary location authorized by the permit holder's permit under IC 7.1, is not considered to be a food establishment and is exempt from the requirements of this title that apply to food establishments, if the following requirements are met:

(1) The holder of a farm winery permit furnishes only the following for consumption on the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge:

(A) Wine samples.
(B) Wine by the glass.

The holder may not serve or furnish any food, including any fruit, condiment, flavoring, or garnish added to the wine after the wine is poured from its original container.

(2) The holder of a brewer's permit furnishes only the following for consumption on the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge:

(A) Beer samples.
(B) Beer by the glass.

The holder may not serve or furnish any food, including any fruit, condiment, flavoring, or garnish added to the beer after the beer is poured from its original container.

(c) A local unit of government (as defined in IC 14-22-31.5-1) may not require any licensure, registration, or certification of a permit holder as a condition of providing alcoholic beverages at a festival, fair, or other temporary location authorized by the permit holder's permit under IC 7.1, if the permit holder meets the requirements of this section.


Following is as complete a compendium of links as could be mustered in an hour and a half without Roger losing his mind. I should be awarded a effing Pulitzer Prize for this. They appear in reverse chronological order.


October 9, 2014: Not only that, but I even washed my hands before pressing "send."

October 6, 2014: A message to Harvest Homecoming food vendors about temporary food (and beer) service fees.

June 2, 2014: Is Hot Water More Effective than Cold for Washing Tom Harris Right Out of My Hair?

May 27, 2014: A fresh round of bald-faced lies from the Floyd County Health Department's resident Red Shirts.

April 9, 2014: Rick Fox speaks the prettiest public access language I've ever heard. Is that Mark Seabrook I hear chortling?

February 28, 2014: The Floyd County Health Department admits to being mistaken ... in only one instance, but hey, it's a start.


December 28, 2013: In which the Floyd County Health Department ignores the Attorney General of the state of Indiana.

December 21, 2013: N and T: "State: Floyd County Health Department shouldn’t require permit."

December 11, 2013: Complete text: “Floyd County/ New Albany ordinance issue in violation of IC 7.1-3-9-2, 7.1-3-9-6″

December 10, 2013: Banner headline Tuesday, Part One: In the matter of PourGate, total and unequivocal defeat for the Floyd County Health Department.

November 16, 2013: Your PourGate update for Saturday, November 16: A waiting game.

September 7, 2013: Yo, Floyd County Health Department, your invoice is ready. Cash only, please. I'm not sure I trust your checks.

September 4, 2013: In which we learn percentages: "That minus is too low to see."

September 3, 2013: Your PourGate update for Tuesday, September 3, and a letter to the editor.


August 27, 2013: Your PourGate update for Tuesday, August 27.

August 24, 2013: My second favorite News and Tribune reader comment yet.

August 21, 2013: Any adults in county government surface yet?

August 20, 2013: Your PourGate update for Tuesday, August 20.

August 19, 2013: My favorite News and Tribune reader comment yet.

August 17, 2013: N and T: "JEERS ... to the Floyd County Health Department ... "

August 17, 2013: These machines kill fascists, pathogens and bureaucrats.

August 16, 2013: When pressed by Eater Louisville and N and T, FCHD unable to get its story straight.

August 15, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: When the whip comes down.

August 15, 2013: Solid News and Tribune story places spotlight on the Health Department's chronic disingenuousness.

August 14, 2013: Citizen to FCHD: "I will not stand for our public officials and public departments to promote ... public bullying.

August 14, 2013: Your Wednesday PourGate Update: Health department spins the web site wheel twice on Tuesday.

August 14, 2013: GAW News: "Pride of the Dipshits (UPDATE) Floyd County Health Department."

August 13, 2013: Now the Floyd County Health Department is working to keep food safe from Roger -- not E coli.

August 13, 2013: Floyd County Health Department adds photo of handsome devil to its web site, but retains actionable photo.

August 13, 2013: A cease and desist, a tort claim notice, and Dr. Tom at large.

August 13, 2013: NABC to Floyd County Commissioners, Health Department: "This malicious activity has caused, and continues to cause, financial harm to the claimants’ businesses and corresponding reputations."

August 13, 2013: NABC to Floyd County Commissioners, Health Department: "Cease and desist."

August 12, 2013: At Eater Louisville: "Floyd County Health Department Uses Bank Street Brewhouse to set 'Foodborne Diseases' Photo Shoot."

August 8, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: The fruitless search for adults in county government.

August 7, 2013: Midweek PourGate update: What's up with the Health Department these days?

August 3, 2013: Hegemony in action.

August 2, 2013: Local citizen journalist views health department's web site retaliation and expresses revulsion.

August 2, 2013: Equal protection from health department bureaucrats? Just give that wheel a heave.

August 1, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: "Kneel and Kiss My Ring, You Degraded Alcoholic."

JULY 2013

July 31, 2013: Got trench warfare if they want it.

July 30, 2013: Clear as mud: Floyd County Health Dept. Hearing Appeals Board has many feelings, but not very much law.

July 30, 2013: Dr. Tom plays his Goebbels card. Can Neidermeyer be far behind?

July 29, 2013: Guest column: "The Health Department's Pussy Riot."

July 28, 2013: In the search for Instigator Zero, expect papers to be shredded.

July 26, 2013: NABC before the FCHD Board 4: Late breaking news.

July 26, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: NABC before the FCHD Board 3.

July 26, 2013: NABC before the FCHD Board 2: NABC's case.

July 26, 2013: NABC before the FCHD Board 1: The health department’s case.

July 25, 2013: These magic moments: Health department board, 5:30 p.m., today.

July 24, 2013: Let's see if a formal complaint will do the trick.

July 24, 2013: The hearing is tomorrow, but the Floyd County Health Department is stonewalling about its public access obligations.

July 23, 2013: Dressing up for a date with the Health Department board.

July 18, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: Sunscreen, lube, and Dr. Tom's cabin.

July 1, 2013: Where bureaucrats are bureaucrats ... and yeast are scared.

July 1, 2013: Tuneless zombie bureaucrats? These and more pesky facts at Louisville Beer Dot Com.

JUNE 2013

June 29, 2013: Democrats address "controversy" over Health Department's actions.

June 29, 2013: BicenPk concert of Jun 28: Let's just Occupy the Health Department.

June 28, 2013: Concert tonight, but the PourGate saga continues as we prepare to vend Progressive Pints under protest.

June 28, 2013: I'm a voyeur. I was there to watch the show, not instigate it.

June 27, 2013: My note to the Indiana Public Access Counselor, informing the office of my request of the Floyd County Health Department.

June 26, 2013: Health Department refers public access request to same attorney who advises commissioners -- making a full circle.

June 26, 2013: "In an effort to facilitate seemingly scant communication," my e-mail to Dr. Harris.

June 25, 2013: Isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?

June 24, 2013: Updating the Floyd County Health Department's "Beer Pour War" of 2013.

June 22, 2013: Roger has issued a Indiana Public Access request to the Floyd County Health Department.

June 22, 2013: Bureaucrats, potato chips and the need for a city health department.

June 21, 2013: Jeeebus, what a week. Here's a review.

June 20, 2013: On the song and dance routine of Dr. Tom Harris.

June 20, 2013: ON THE AVENUES: The long train of usurpations adds a caboose.

June 20, 2013: Health Department's revenue enhancement + Develop New Albany's event calendar = ?

June 19, 2013: No parking lot for bicycles.

June 19, 2013: Preview: NABC's appeal to the Floyd County Health Department.

June 18, 2013: Sentenced to county septic inspections?

June 18, 2013: No Tricentennial for DNA in wartime, unfortunately.

June 17, 2013: Food handling, panhandling and regulatory free-basing.

June 16, 2013: Another day, another Floyd County Health Department power grab.

Nash, Bored of Works to downtown merchants: Shut up, stop complaining, consider selling nice carrots.

Got tomatoes?

Let's see if I have this straight.

Business owners who have invested in downtown New Albany with the reasonable expectation of a level playing field, and who conduct their transactions all year-round, observe that temporary unannounced street changes necessitated by a politically-motivated farmers market capital improvement project -- one not once discussed or vetted publicly in any coherent way -- interferes with their operations on a profitable day of the week.

They follow the instructions handed down to them from above, and make space in their work day to come to the Board of Works  (it not being an option to hold meetings any other time than mornings on a Tuesday, or to communicate with the public in any other manner) so as to make this point: In the absence (yet again) of transparency and communication, and while not questioning the utility of the farmers market itself, why are year-round bricks 'n' mortar merchants inconvenienced for the sake of businesses (i.e., the farmers) that are located outside the city?

It's hardly hoisting the black flag: Shouldn't they have been part of the conversation, and shouldn't they have been informed?

The board chews its cud for a week, and then predictably, instead of providing answers to the earnest questions asked, it expresses outrage at being inconvenienced, and abruptly transforms the requests into a referendum on the farmers market itself. The usual suspects are assembled to pledge fealty, denounce the interlopers, and provide vapid theater of the absurd. The Democratic party chairman takes notes, better to bring Redevelopment onto the side of "fundamentally better" conformity.

Not only is this entire charade intellectually dishonest -- and I risk insulting the word "intellectual" by connecting it with a politicized appendage like the board of works -- but it speaks to the core vindictiveness of the Gahan administration. 

There'll never be a "zero-budget" consideration of top-down assumptions, which if questioned, will result in the discrediting of the questioner (see: Dan Coffey vs. Diane Benedetti in the 5th).

The only thing missing at yesterday's by-the-numbers show trial was Warren Nash selling popcorn and admission tickets, with a percentage of the proceeds going directly to Jeff Gahan's re-election fund.

Perhaps Antiques Attic can purchase penance by paying its Temerity Tax directly to the mayor.

Board gives vote of confidence to New Albany Farmers Market, by Chris Morris (Repel the Interlopers Digest)

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Farmers Market isn’t going anywhere — at least not for the next nine weeks.

The New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety gave the market a vote of confidence Tuesday, which means Bank Street, from Market to Spring, will remain closed from 6 a.m. to around 1 p.m. each Saturday for vendors to sell goods until the Farmers Market pavilion renovations are completed in July.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Transparency Part Two: Boomtown is coming, and so City Hall skips today's merchant mixer meeting.

"Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation."
-- Atifete Jahjaga

There are times when all you can do is shrug.

Transparency Part One: NAFC schools now "striving" for it.

This is a positive development. Only a month ago, the school corporation had wagons circled. Now some glasnost is sneaking through.

Sunshine. It's good for the soul.

Striving for transparency: NA-FC School Board packets may soon be available before meetings, by Chris Morris (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — Beginning soon you may be able to read the same information as members of the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. board on the Thursday prior to a Monday meeting.

That is with a few exceptions.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 89: Let US help you with the issues WE caused by closing the street.

Worthy of a touristic postcard, isn't it? 

My single favorite plot device, one sprinkled "liberally" through local board meetings (see what I did there?), is when the bureaucrats who caused the problem in the first place earnestly promise to "look into" resolving it.

Concern grows over New Albany Farmers Market (Suddeath; N and T)

Though the closure is only expected to last until construction is completed on the new Farmers Market pavilion, some business owners chided the city for shutting down a second block of Bank Street so that vendors could set up booths ...

... But the market is intended to help farmers and businesses, so the city and organizers want to ensure people are satisfied with the operation, (Susan) Kaempfer and (Mickey) Thompson said.

“We’re trying to do anything we can to accommodate everyone while the street is closed,” Kaempfer said ...

Feeling better yet?

Let's hope this week's collection of photos, subtitled "tons and tons of steel for your quality of life" help to ease the pain of lost revenue. Just remember: They're looking into it.

Wrist slap: Run a red light, kill three kids -- hey, I thought it was green.

In which we learn that "Kentuckiana" isn't the only place in the country where drivers are not held accountable when they murder walkers and persons riding bicycles.

The Oregonian: Run a Red Light and Kill 3 Kids? “Just a Tragic Accident”, by Angie Schmitt (Streetsblog)

In February, a pickup truck driver in suburban Eugene, Oregon, ran through a red light at 40 miles an hour, killing three children — 4-year-old Tyler Hudson, 5-year-old McKenzie Hudson, and 8-year-old John Day — and critically injuring their mother. The family was walking with the right-of-way in a crosswalk, returning from getting ice cream.

The response to this horrible loss of life? Law enforcement and the state’s largest paper, The Oregonian, have chalked it up as a “tragic accident.”

The Lane County district attorney recently announced there won’t be any criminal charges for the driver, Larry LaThorpe, 68, formerly a commercial truck driver. LaThorpe’s defense is simple enough: He thought the light was green. And that, it seems, is all you have to say to avoid prosecution for killing three children with your motor vehicle.

"'Gay, dyslexic ex-alcoholic' Ivan Massow launches London mayor campaign."

It may appear to be just another crazy story from the big city, and one absent relevance to li'l ol' Nawbany, but there's a crucial aspect of Ivan Massow's candidacy.

He's a Tory ... meaning he's a conservative.

Verily, we're not in 'Bama any more ...

'Gay, dyslexic ex-alcoholic' Ivan Massow launches London mayor campaign, by Aisha Gani (The Guardian)

The Tory-supporting businessman Ivan Massow has launched his bid to become the next mayor of London with a candid YouTube video in which he introduces himself as “gay, ex-alcoholic and dyslexic”.

Massow, 47, said the 70-second pop art-style animated video gave an “honest warts-and-all” portrayal of him.

His voiceover begins: “I’m Ivan and I want to be your mayor of London.” He adds: “I’m gay, I’m an ex-alcoholic, I’m dyslexic, I’m adopted, I’m an activist, I’m a businessman, I’m a disruptor, I’m a doer. I’m not your typical ‘politician’ politician” – at which point the cartoon turns grey.

He says he is “someone who takes the tube, someone who hates sitting in traffic, someone who hates red tape, someone who hates politics as normal.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Meet Houndmouth, the Best Little Indy Rock Band in Americana."

Me and the ale.

But seriously -- did this guy really use the word "Indianans"? It's "Hoosier," national journalist. H-O-O-S-I-E-R.

Apart from this one small hair-puller, Matt Myers is interviewed, and the Houndmouth foursome get some ink.

By the way, the renewal of the Boomtown Ball is this coming Sunday. Houndmouth won't be closing with a show in 2015, but it should be a fun day nonetheless.

Meet Houndmouth, the Best Little Indy Rock Band in Americana, by Michael Bialas (Huffington Post)

When Houndmouth was ready to start its sophomore album, the fearless foursome went for broke and reached out to Dave Cobb to see if the Nashville producer would take on the project.

Cobb, right now one of the hottest names in the roots hierarchy, already has pushed artists such as Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson toward the next level and is on the verge of propelling promising acts such as honeyhoney and Anderson East into the Americana stratosphere with their 2015 records.

Cobb had other ideas for Houndmouth after he was approached by Matt Myers, the Indiana group's unassuming frontman and guitarist who shares vocal and songwriting duties with his three former high school acquaintances.

Hangout 2015 text"We called him and said, 'Do you want to do our next record?" Myers related over the phone last week as Houndmouth was heading to its next tour stop -- the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. "He said, 'Yeah, but I don't want to make another fucking Americana record.' "

Your sulking inner sphincter.

It is impossible to consider toilet training for adults (see link below) without first thinking about Ignatius J. Reilly and his reactive valve.

Ignatius Jacques Reilly is something of a modern Don Quixote—eccentric, idealistic, and creative, sometimes to the point of delusion. In his foreword to the book, Walker Percy describes Ignatius as a "slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one." He disdains modernity, particularly pop culture. The disdain becomes his obsession: he goes to movies in order to mock their perversity and express his outrage with the contemporary world's lack of "theology and geometry." He prefers the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages, and the Early Medieval philosopher Boethius in particular. However he also enjoys many modern comforts and conveniences, and is given to claiming that the rednecks of rural Louisiana hate all modern technology which they associate with progress. The workings of his pyloric valve play an important role in his life, reacting strongly to incidents in a fashion that he likens to Cassandra in terms of prophetic significance.

The novel is called A Confederacy of Dunces, and if you haven't read it, you must.

Meanwhile, here is some pooth.

The truth about poo: we’re doing it wrong, by Annalisa Barbieri (The Guardian)

In my large Italian family, I grew up with the subject of poo, bottoms and constipation readily – and far too frequently – discussed at the dinner table. I’d be about to raise a raviolo to my mouth, only to hear how someone’s piles had popped, just that morning.

This doesn’t mean I’m anal (sorry) about the subject. It’s fascinating away from the lunch table. Late last year, I read that we are pooing all wrong: we should be squatting, not sitting, on a toilet bowl. Then a book called Charming Bowels by Giulia Enders caused something of a storm in its native Germany and I got fully immersed in the subject.

Hungarian banks, comedians and food.

Conceding a persistent Eurocentrism, I find this utterly fascinating, but first, on another Magyar note, do you know the origin of the comedian Louis C.K.'s stage name?

C.K.'s stage name is an approximate English pronunciation of his Hungarian surname, Székely (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈseːkej]).

As usual, I'm now craving goulash -- not the beef and paprika soup, which is fine, but Székely Goulash.

Kraut and pork and paprika.


Goulash in the melting pot, at American Dirt.

On the corner of an otherwise nondescript strip mall just outside of New Brunswick, New Jersey, I encountered this storefront:

Nothing particularly special about it in the grand scheme of things—nothing that jumps out, just from viewing the exterior.

But the name is distinctive. Magyar. For those not in the know, Magyarország is the word for Hungary…in Hungarian. The word we know to describe this formerly large territory comes from the Roman Catholic Latin word used in the Middle Ages, Hungaria, which is no doubt easier for most Anglophones to say. But “Magyar” is the Hungarian word for the Hungarian language, as well as the demonym Hungarians would use: from their linguistically isolated position in Central Europe (neither Germanic nor Slavic), they refer to themselves as Magyars.

For the same reason that I still receive inquiries about my brewing company from ethnic Albanians ...

The name is a tacit shibboleth. Since most Americans who aren’t auditioning for Jeopardy are unlikely to recognize the word “Magyar”, this bank clearly intends to attract those who are in the know—who can make the connection that Magyar is about Hungarians.

There's more. Go read it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Human rights in New Albany?

Thus far in 2015, it has been a year in which the United States Supreme Court took up same-sex marriage, and the streets of Baltimore echoed with violence. In America, we're debating the legalities and illegalities of immigration, the pros and cons of the death penalty, and theory and practice of terrorism.

In Indiana, among other forays, a recent question has been whether intravenous drug users deserve to contract HIV for using dirty needles. In short, considerations of civil rights and human rights are very much with us ... if we bother to listen to their recitation.

Civil right and human rights co-exist and are very much a part of one another. Both are designed so that people can live the lives they choose without fear of persecution, and these rights apply to every single person no matter where they live in the world.

Often in these pages, we advocate the notion of progress by design, and since 2012, New Albany has possessed a reconstituted Human Rights Commission. Since it was formed again and duly stocked with appointees, it has had very little to do, not because New Albany is a fundamentally functional utopia of tolerance and good sense, but because City Hall's evident design for the HRC has been that it remain unused -- reserved for show and public relations pronouncements, while kept hermetically sealed and out of controversy's way.

This has disgusted me from day one, and continues to do so. It implies that "quality of life" derives solely from capital intensive building projects, and has nothing to do with fundamental human dignity. It is both cynical and cowardly to first enable a Human Rights Commission, then render it caged and impotent.

My most recent reprinting of the following column on the topic of the Human Rights Commission was on March 21, 2011. The column itself was written in 2009. Ironically, as I read the final paragraphs, there is considerable itony. We certainly did determine that the members of New Albany's political class could vote "for" something.

Unfortunately, they seem to be content with form over content. This needs to change.


REWIND: Human rights in New Albany? (2009).

As you already know, I am running for city council at-large, and my newspaper column is on hiatus pending the outcome of the primary election in May. During my first incarnation as columnist, from January 2009 through February 2011, a total of 111 essays were published, and because many of them pertain directly to campaign issues, it seems appropriate to reprint some of them. The following appeared in the Tribune on April 16, 2009.


Human rights in New Albany?

To my delight, last week the Iowa Supreme Court defied the American theocratic establishment by affirming a non-discriminatory definition of marriage as a secular institution, existing concurrent with organized religion, but not dependent on its supernatural sanction for validity.

By doing so, the court did its own little bit to reclaim genuinely salvageable culture, correctly espousing the rule of law and exposing the fraudulence of those whose vision of America as a “Christian nation” forever requires depriving fellow Americans of basic human rights clearly enunciated during the founding. Moreover, I’m reminded of this passage written by H. L. Mencken more than 75 years ago:

“The truth is that Christian theology, like every other theology, is not only opposed to the scientific spirit; it is also opposed to all other attempts at rational thinking … Since the earliest days the church, as an organization, has thrown itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man. It has been, at all times and everywhere, the habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions. It was, for centuries, an apologist for slavery, as it was the apologist for the divine right of kings.”

Coincidentally, my wife and I, who were married in 2004 by the city clerk, recently had the chance to watch “Milk,” the acclaimed biopic of gay activist, politician and martyr Harvey Milk. Sean Penn, the finest actor of his generation, stars in a riveting, Oscar-winning performance as the title character. Drop what you’re doing, rent the DVD of “Milk,” and prepare to be challenged, rewarded and enriched.

While the real Harvey Milk’s principled political activism in the diverse milieu of 1970’s San Francisco specifically espoused gay rights, his focal point is inseparable from the broader context of human rights and freedoms, providing the basis for a question I won’t stop asking until some semblance of a coherent answer is provided:

Precisely which aspects of the past are organizations like Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK) seeking to reclaim?


Buried deep within New Albany’s terminally neglected Code of Ordinances is a 1974 law mandating a Human Rights Commission. It existed for a time, and then was unceremoniously discarded, so today I’m embracing a custodial public service duty by reminding the community that there is statutory authority to re-energize and staff a new Human Right Commission. We should do so immediately.

The administration of Mayor James Garner displayed a keen private grasp of the moribund commission’s potential importance, but nothing happened, and if you’re looking for a nutshell summary of the Garner era, this is as good a place as any to begin. Excellent intentions were accompanied by a supreme mastery of detail, but an inexplicable absence of political acumen and simple stick-to-it-ive-ness resulted in stasis.

No matter. That was then, and this is now. I support a rehabilitated Human Rights Commission simply because I always try to put myself in others’ shoes, imagining how it must feel to do as I’ve done by publicly promoting civic improvements and espousing reforms in an effort to make the city itself a more livable and civilized place, while recognizing that even these hard-fought gains may not provide protection from discrimination and harassment owing to race, gender or sexual orientation.

For instance, consider the fundamental human act of walking.

I walk New Albany’s streets on a daily basis, and do so at all hours, seldom giving the notion a second thought. Then again, I’m a white male standing well over six feet, and weighing 270 lbs. at last reading. Naturally, in a world filled to the brim with firearms, physical stature alone neither precludes violent acts nor negates harassment … but it does have a way of reducing problems.

Even so, occasionally a passing dullard finds it amusing to bait a man my size. Imagine going out for a walk as a more vulnerable potential target: Female, or gay, or an ethnic minority, or handicapped, or all four together, perhaps leading one to forsake activities and pursuits taken for granted by others, thanks to social and cultural primitivism that extends well beyond familiar urban woes like drugs and impoverishment, into public racism, overt homophobia and violence.

Just as speeding is not an enforcement issue, but a design issue, so goes an active daily consideration of human rights. A tweaked and reconstituted Human Rights Commission, even if chronically underfunded in the sad New Albanian tradition of penny wise, pound foolish, might provide an effective bully pulpit for making this city a place that welcomes diversity and its accompanying benefits, and not views “different” as opportunities for abuse and exploitation.

Now is the time. Is there the will?

A Human Rights Commission is sorely needed in a place where topics like basic rights, diversity, and fundamental human dignity are regularly the targets of gleeful disparagement and outright malice on the part of those of dominant white, male culture, who've obviously never suffered institutionalized deprivation.

Furthermore, thinking back to its conceptual origins in housing discrimination, a functional Human Rights Commission might be a component of solutions to the city’s rental housing problems. Tenant rights and human rights are cut from the same bolt, aren’t they?

Are any members of our local political establishment willing to go on record as supporting the revival of New Albany’s Human Rights Commission?

Or: Are any of them willing to go on record as supporting anything?

Downtown housing? "People increasingly want to live by such amenities" as Specked-out complete streets.

Roger, when are you going to write about something other than transportation infrastructure?

I do, and I will, but what should be evident after all this time is that when it comes to the way a city is run on a daily basis, it's all about infrastructure. After all a mayor is not the CEO of a company producing flanges, nor an event planner, and definitely not a rock star.

Rather, he or she is charged with using the city's resources to best set the table and to lay a foundation for enhanced economic development and a bettering of our quality of life as residents. Connectivity, transparency and multimodality are fine themes to begin the coordination of infrastructure by design, as opposed to political party monetization imperatives.

When infrastructure management directly impacts economic development and quality of life, we see the scenario below, in Minneapolis, where a greenway is in part responsible for new housing, and subsequently, desired urban density -- growth where it make sense to grow.

New Albany has just such a project, designed to work in precisely the same fashion. It's called Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposals. The sooner we implement them, the faster their planned socioeconomic outcomes begin to transform downtown New Albany, with ripple effects that eventually can and will extend to the city limits.

But until we've done something, there has been nothing. Eighteen months are too long to wait to start thinking about beginning. If the incumbent mayor Jeff Gahan can't bring himself to acknowledge openly what he insists are his privately held beliefs, then he must be replaced by someone who will.

I have a person in mind, too.

Streetscapes: Midtown Greenway spurs urban development, especially in Uptown, by Thomas Fisher (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Few places in the Twin Cities have changed as dramatically as the northern edge of Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway, where during the past decade, developers have invested more than $200 million and constructed more than 1,200 apartment units in mostly six-story buildings that extend from Hennepin to Lyndale avenues.

Whatever you might think about the design of individual structures or the rental rates of many units, the sheer size, scale and speed of the development remains impressive, with buildings sometimes as colorful as some of the cyclists on the adjacent bike path.

That bike path, stretching 5½ miles along a former below-grade rail line, helped attract these apartment buildings, as well as others farther to the west and a few to the east. The corridor amply deserves its recent receipt of a 2014 “Great Places Award” from the Sensible Land Use Coalition, which recognized the years of work by the Midtown Greenway Coalition to make this one of the nation’s best urban bike trails. People increasingly want to live by such amenities, and the transformation of the former industrial area into one of the city’s hottest housing locations, in such a short time, testifies to the power of a place like this.

For all the appeal of what the development community has created, however, the Midtown Greenway still needs improvement ...

... Over the past 70 years, American cities have faced pressures to suburbanize, replacing the higher-density land uses before the Great Depression with lower-density, large-lot development, which led to lower tax revenues, even as aging urban infrastructure required higher maintenance and repair costs. Although caught between that rock and a hard place, cities have often continued to pursue suburban projects, however self-defeating the result. The development along the Greenway shows another way.

The "solution is density," in which small parks play a design role.

There is no room for creative design downtown? Red = blank urban fabric.

Once New Albany had a grand post office at the corner of Spring and Pearl. It was targeted by Suburban Think and bulldozed in the 1960s for conversion into a mundane parking lot.

So it remained until just a few years ago, when we spent far too much money, perhaps a million and counting, to transform the space into what's known now as Bicentennial Park, one bounded by a building, an alley, and two one-way streets, one of which is a high-speed arterial.

The appearance of Bicentennial Park undoubtedly is an improvement on the poorly maintained parking lot owned by notorious slumlords, but it was built without multi-modal use in mind -- and might mere beautification have been done less expensively?

Also, as with the farmers market build-out at Market and Bank, a crucial street corner is tied to an occasional use concept rather than soon-to-be possible infill construction. With all due respect to my friend David White, high rises never were as much the objective as achieving density by filling gaps downtown.

The overall "message" as conveyed by the city's design, and its periodic use of Bicentennial Park for organized events, is that it isn't really a public space meant for adaptation and impromptu use. Rather, it's for shows and for gigs it wasn't built to support, meaning that each such temporary use must be funded again, over and over. How does this make sense?

The planning and design of Bicentennial Park were decreed from the top-down, and they ignore inclusive principles of community and placemaking in favor of finding a spot to erect a self-congratulatory plaque.

Meanwhile, in DC ... a counter example.

Fairfax trades a parking lot for a new park, by Canaan Merchant (Greater Greater Washington)

Old Town Square in Fairfax used to be a park that nobody used because it was wedged between two parking lots in the middle of the city's small, historic core. Now it's bigger and more inviting, and it's helping Fairfax embrace its urban roots.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

An idea from Bloomington, Indiana: The Farmers' Market Advisory Council.

It's a farmers market Saturday in downtown New Albany, and as we've seen recently ... once again ... persistently poor communications in a time of rising expectations can be a toxic brew.

City Hall non-transparency yet again: Independent downtown businesses negatively impacted by Saturday farmers market street closing.

Mulberry House Antiques and "an encroaching Farmers Market.

As a Twitter friend suggests, we might look regionally to other successful examples of a farmers market for useful clues as to the constructive fostering of cooperation.

His example is Bloomington, Indiana. Note first that in Bloomington, the farmers market is operated by the parks department.

Then, expanding this example, ponder an advisory board in New Albany representing not only vendors and customers, but downtown merchants. The point is constantly made hereabouts that the presence of the farmers market is a boon to downtown merchants. That's plausible, and if so, wouldn't inter-relatedness be enhanced by including merchants in the loop of communications?

People say I'm a dreamer.

But I'm not the only one.

About the Farmers' Market Advisory Council

The Farmers' Market Advisory Council consists of nine members representing two groups, Market customers and Market vendors. The Council acts in an advisory capacity to the Board of Park Commissioners and Park staff on policy matters relating to the Farmers' Market.

Meetings are usually held at 5:15 p.m. the third Monday of each month in the Parks and Recreation Department Conference Room, located in Suite 250 at 401 N. Morton St. in City Hall. Advisory Council meetings are open to the public.

Sheet rock is easy. Utopianism is hard.

What makes this such an effective piece of writing is the author's ability to peel back the layers of a story far more nuanced than it appears at first glance.

They Built It. No One Came.

By Penelope Greenmay (New York Times)

... Their ideals were lofty but simple: They would live off the land, farming with Colonial-era tools, along with a band of like-minded men dressed in homespun robes wielding scythes and pickaxes. They would sleep in atmospheric log cabins and other 18th-century structures that they had rescued from the area and that they began to reconstruct, painstakingly, brick by crumbling brick and log by log.

But what if you built a commune, and no one came?

It turns out it’s not so easy to cook up a utopia from scratch.

On Joseph Mitchell and the "grammar of hard facts."

The book is Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker, by Thomas Kunkel, and in honesty, my attention was snagged by the very phrase "grammar of hard facts."

As tactile newspapers continue their decline (or evolution, as some would suggest), will this old-school reportorial stereotype become even more entrenched in mythology -- or will we be too busy with user-generated ephemera to care?

Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker: The grammar of hard facts (The Economist)

... Researching a story, Mitchell could spend whole days on the bus, taking notes on what he saw out of the window, or wandering around a cemetery to identify the weeds that grew there. Mitchell, wrote one critic, could “achieve the same effects with the grammar of hard facts that Dickens achieved with the rhetoric of imagination.” He came to be widely imitated. Calvin Trillin dedicated one of his books “to the New Yorker reporter who set the standard—Joseph Mitchell.”