Tuesday, April 28, 2015

City Hall don't Google: Just look at all these anchor seals and logos and brands.

This just keeps getting better.

There are cities ...




And a bank ...


A water sealant product ...


A youth ministry ...


And, of course, a beer.


For platinum-level Team Gahan corporate members, there is now the ultimate in the anchoring of personal loyalties.


But just because New Albany's new anchor-based "Hold Down City" seal is now being seen everywhere, it doesn't mean we're using it, or anything like that.

It's just a BRANDING mechanism.

Get it?

Branding mud-struck: Why did the city of New Albany steal Anchor Brewing's seal?

Branding mud-struck: Why did the city of New Albany steal Anchor Brewing's seal?



There's a definite resemblance. Maybe the legal department should have looked a bit closer before anchoring the city to a new "branding mechanism."


We receive comments, like this one here: Seals, branding mechanisms and a city anchored into place by sheer dullness of bureaucratic intent.

It's sadly fitting they've chosen an anchor as a graphic representation of the city. An anchor fixes a potentially moving object to a place. It gets stuck in the mud and silt and keeps things from moving. That's why it's called an anchor.

This is not a "marketing piece", a "branding image" - it's not a progressive symbol, it doesn't imply a growing and vital city. An anchor? Who designed this?

This is "marketing" just like offering seven MILLION dollars to Pillsbury AFTER they said they they were leaving - that wasn't a "plan to attract businesses to the city" either. Too little and much, much too late.

And another by e-mail.

In going through files recently, I noticed that the city's new "branding logo" has replaced the old city seal on mundane printed things such as the city sewer bill.

I'v also noticed the inclusion of the city's new "branding logo" on the new street signs.

Questions abound:

1) How can the city seal be changed without public discussion and vote by council?

2) Why wasn't someone with real graphic design experience used to create versions of the logo that could be easily seen at various distances or in various uses?

The artwork is much too "thin" and confusing when seen in reverse, at a distance on street signs.

Who designed it, why and at whose request? Was a fee paid?

Sorry, but these questions are disallowed. After all, the new un-seal, as appended to metal and stone objects all across town, is temporary. Only permanent features may be questioned.

But if you persist, try sending smoke signals to the Bored of Works.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 87: Trucker tort is rejected, so the same vehicles continue to defile downtown streets as the Bored of Works does nothing.


Well, not exactly nothing.

After all, board chairman Warren Naps has been busy creating creative electoral art installations, like the one pictured above.

As the heavy trucks continue to thunder past, we have learned that the city actually is willing to publicly differ with the tort claims of trucking and heavy industrial value extractors, even if nothing will be done to address the damage they're doing to other downtown streets apart from Main Street, and in spite of the mayor as yet being unable to state a viewpoint.

Tort claim to reverse East Main Street work in New Albany denied, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — The city will reject a tort claim filed on behalf of some of the largest trucking and hauling companies in New Albany demanding the East Main Street project be removed and any similar changes proposed for Spring Street be scrapped.

Is it yet the the neighborhood's turn to sue Gahan for terminal inaction?

By the way, here are the porn stud heavy metal wheeled shots for the week.






Yo, Warren: "The benefits of removing stop lights."


The problem?

Streets need to have two-way traffic lanes for the regimen of 4-way stops to work.

The solution?

Two Way Streets Now.

The benefits of removing stop lights, by Robert Steuteville (Better! Cities & Towns)

A growing number of experts advocate stop light removal to save money, improve safety, make cities more walkable, and boost traffic flow.

... Planner Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City and former Director of Design of the National Endowment for the Arts, is a big proponent of removing traffic signals. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has eliminated many in the last year based on Speck's downtown revitalization plan. Four-way stops improve traffic flow because automobiles don't have to come to an extended stop and wait while signals change, Speck points out. For pedestrians, four-way stops are much better—because every automobile has to come to a complete stop and traffic is calmed.

According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

Speck said doing away with most of the downtown traffic signals in favor of four-way stops would make for a "dramatic change" to the downtown. Such an arrangement favors pedestrians — "The pedestrian is king" in the setup, he said — and he said motorists will prefer it because they don’t have to idle at traffic signals waiting for lights to change.

Monday, April 27, 2015

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

ON THE AVENUES MONDAY SPECIAL: Et tu, Greg Phipps? Or: The electoral variability of transparency. 

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

I’ve been thinking about 2011, when Greg Phipps defeated Steve Price in the primary, and then won the 3rd district city council seat against Jameson Bledsoe in November. For one shining moment, there was dancing in the streets; then we met the new boss, but I won't look back in anger.

On October 26, 2011, Daniel Suddeath previewed the contest in the News and Tribune.

Phipps was unable to be reached for additional comment, but stated in his election questionnaire submitted to the News and Tribune that some council members have been more interested in “playing politics than finding solutions to our city’s problems.”

“Integrity needs to be restored to the city council,” said Phipps, who is a 50-year-old senior lecturer and coordinator of sociology in the Indiana University Southeast School of Social Sciences.

It is Phipps’ first campaign for elected office, but he’s the president of the New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals and was president of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association in 2007.

He said better transparency is needed in local government, and said he would hold semi-annual public forums, if elected.

“I honestly believe I can provide new and progressive leadership for the residents of the third district and the city as a whole,” he said.

The calendar reads 2015, and Phipps is running for re-election. He is unopposed in the May 5 primary, and has little reason to be substantive, but last week, on April 21, he offered a genuine bolt-from-the-sky, out-of-the-blue revelation, posting a Facebook assessment of Mayor Jeff Gahan's position on street grid reform in New Albany, which centers on Jeff Speck’s downtown street network proposals, whether they’ll ever come to fruition, and if so, when.

Note that like Phipps, Gahan seeks re-election.

Mayor Gahan is committed to making our downtown streets more friendly to drivers and walkers. Three concepts are being developed to address this issue. What makes it great is that the federal government is going to cover 80% of the cost. Soon we will have options to improve the way we move, which will include more 2-way streets, better signage, and safer crossings. I’m sure downtown residents and businesses will be pleased with the results. Two additional items must be considered before moving forward: 1) the cost of the project. 2) There must be a plan to allow trucks in and out of downtown.

Why is this noteworthy?

To date, Gahan has made no verifiable or attributable public statement suggesting a positive position on the topic, openly and for the record. The mayor has made numerous private comments, most of which have come with “not to be repeated” warnings appended.

Love or hate Jeff Gahan, this much is beyond dispute: He has maintained a rigorous, non-committal public neutrality on street grid reform. At least on this one topic, he has been transparently non-transparent.

Consequently, for Phipps to suggest mere days prior to the primary that Gahan now advocates street grid reform, albeit as a bizarre milquetoast on the down-low, whimpering in a watered-down variety of bureaucratically-worded pablum, constitutes real news.

As such, given months of mayoral silence, we must ask for proof.

Exactly when did Gahan say this, and to whom?

Where can I read it in his words?

Can you show me?

How do we know it’s really true?

More than once since last Tuesday, I've asked the Phipps camp to verify the source of this statement with something (anything) attributable to Gahan himself.

I've received no answer, and yet as a university instructor and sociologist, surely Phipps understands that the validity of any affirmative claim is suspect if it cannot be verified and attributed in precisely the same fashion as my requests for proof of mayoral street grid intent, on the record, in the open, for all to see.

Without such standards of evidence, academic research would be rendered moot. They’re also questions any reputable journalist would ask, aren’t they?

Obviously, politics constitutes a different set of rules, most of them dubious, and yet during his first run for office, it was Phipps himself who raised the bar and said he'd approach such issues “analytically,” adding that “I have no desire to become a career politician.”

And yet four years later, certain shoes seem to have shifted feet -- and it's getting ugly.

Some might say that by asking reasonable questions, I’m unfairly stalking or bullying Phipps. It isn't true. My satiric references to yard sign sizes aside, what I’m doing is requesting intellectual accountability from a university professor who has chosen to be a public official, and who has previously indicated with explicitness that he accepts precisely such scrutiny.

Except when they're my questions,

Moreover, I’m asking for accountability from Phipps as it pertains to his specific role as public official. After all, I remain a constituent. If Phipps wishes to explain which questions from constituents are deemed proper for his response and which are not, it’s an explanation of potential interest to all voters in his district, and not just me.

He should offer this parsing of  constituent service now … verifiably, openly, and for attribution. That’s what greater transparency in local government is all about, right?

In my insistence on making these points, is there negativity, cynicism or anger?

Not much, if any. It may resemble the act of trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle in a pea soup fog while wearing mittens, but I’m not angry about it. Providentially, my colleague Jeff G. has helped me understand this “oversimplification” of anger with an excerpt from an interview with the late comedian, George Carlin.

April 3, 2004: Dirty old man: George Carlin on obscenity in the age of Ashcroft, by Charles Taylor (Salon)

... When people say, “What are you so angry about?” Well, that’s a terrible oversimplification because I don’t live an angry life as people who know me for five minutes or five years will say. They rarely see me in an angry mood. I get irritated like anyone else, in traffic or in a long line that’s not moving. But I don’t carry anger around. What I feel is a sense of betrayal by my species and by my culture — that they lost their way and misled me, too, to a degree.

I’m a disappointed idealist. I think of myself as a skeptic, a realist. I think the cynics are the people who left the gas tank on the Ford Pinto, companies that kill people and just cross them out because they can’t afford to retool. That’s a cynical position. But the saying goes, if you scratch a cynic, you find a disappointed idealist, and that’s what’s going on with me. Down deep and underneath, the flame still flickers. I wish for an idealist, utopic world but the realist in me says it’s never gonna happen because of the way they’ve structured power and money and control and the hierarchies they’ve established.

I'm not angry.

But I'm quite capable of voting my disappointment.

---

Recent columns:

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.

April 9: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Complexities and simplicities in Boomtown.

April 8: ON THE AVENUES SPECIAL: The proper separation of church and council.

April 2: ON THE AVENUES: On brewing economic development.

Smith: "Sewer Utility Still Draining Tax Dollars."


Randy Smith lays it out. Read and discuss.

Sewer Utility Still Draining Tax Dollars

Quite a few of the incumbents, including Mayor Jeff “M” Gahan, are boasting about the state of our sewer system (Gahan is also the paid president of the city-owned municipal utility).

But it turns out that our elected officials have resumed an illegal shell game with taxpayer money once again being used to disguise the true state of the utility’s finances.

Just four years ago I asked voters in New Albany’s Fifth Council District to elect me. During that campaign, I pleaded with Gahan to promise to end that subsidy. He denied it was illegal and declined to make such a pledge.

I had thought the chicanery had finally ended when I read last year that the subsidy had been removed. But just to make sure, I perused the city’s 2015 budget. There, to my astonishment, was yet another transfer of $570,000 from the income tax fund (EDIT) to the sewer utility.

Read it all, right here

Keith Olbermann explains why you should boycott the NFL Draft and Mayweather-Pacquiao.



Matters of principle can be inconvenient, can't they?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

There oughta be a law against yard signs this big.


File under: Capitulation.

What they're saying: David White's video for WNAS.

As the weeks have passed in route to May's primary election, for which voting already is underway and will conclude on May 5 with what is still quaintly known as Election Day, I've referenced periodic public candidate statements of substance, generally unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. 

Again: Public. Not what was transmitted on the sly during a brief chat in a smoke-filled back room, but what has been transparent and in the open. Familiar gems such as "yard signs win elections, not people" and "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later" have been omitted. 

That's because my aim has been to determine whether any at all of our declared candidates have had anything at all to say, and I've quoted all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they're involved in a contested race.

Happily, most have had something of value to offer. 

---

Democratic mayoral candidate David White offers an overview of his campaign platform in this video clip for WNAS, New Albany High School's television and radio station. White's primary opponent is the incumbent, Jeff Gahan.



David White's web site

David White's Fb page

What they're saying: Kevin Zurschmiede's video for WNAS.

As the weeks have passed in route to May's primary election, for which voting already is underway and will conclude on May 5 with what is still quaintly known as Election Day, I've referenced periodic public candidate statements of substance, generally unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. 

Again: Public. Not what was transmitted on the sly during a brief chat in a smoke-filled back room, but what has been transparent and in the open. Familiar gems such as "yard signs win elections, not people" and "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later" have been omitted. 

That's because my aim has been to determine whether any at all of our declared candidates have had anything at all to say, and I've quoted all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they're involved in a contested race.

Happily, most have had something of value to offer. 

---

Republican mayoral candidate Kevin Zurschmiede offers an overview of his campaign platform in this video clip for WNAS, New Albany High School's television and radio station. Zurschmiede is unopposed in the primary.



Kevin Zurschmiede's web site

Kevin Zurschmiede's Fb page

Funds transfer: It's somehow comforting to know that Dan Coffey's back off the rails.


He's come a long way, hasn't he?

Once upon a time, Councilman Cappuccino opposed every last municipal expenditure, ranging from the (now) miniscule YMCA tithe all the way down to a buck ninety-eight post-it notes for city office staff.

These days, the caterwauling and finger-pointing are deployed to support the incessant hum of Jeff Gahan's wondrous Eternal TIF ATM, and there can be only one reason for that: Finally we elected a mayor who understands the way that transaction fees are supposed to work.

Coffey is unopposed. If you live in the 1st council district and would consider running for council as an independent, please let us know.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

When it comes to doubling down for the one true faith, size definitely matters.

Before.

As the depth of one's fealty is assured, so are the physical manifestations enhanced.

After. 

This much is clear.

Where before, 3rd district councilman Greg Phipps repeatedly and passionately pledged  -- both aloud and for written attribution -- that he was willing to stake his political career and council seat on the strength of transparent advocacy for Jeff Speck's downtown street network proposals, now he's changed the paradigm and is hitching his wagon to Jeff Gahan and the Democratic Party machine, trusting them non-analytically, without evidence.

After all, it is Gahan who absolutely and incessantly refuses to be open and above board about fading hope for Speck's proposals as a curative for our rotten streets. We've asked for tangible evidence to the contrary, and been greeted with chirping crickets. Gag order in place, Phipps is now aligned with cynical political non-transparency, and that's very, very depressing.

To slightly paraphrase Bluegill: We remember not so long ago when Phipps would have decried this type of insider gamesmanship. That shift, though -- that practiced, furtive glance in the other direction -- is the basis of political power in New Albany, particularly among the Democratic majority.

Too bad. I'm by no means angry, but sad at seeing once again what the local party machine can do to kneecap integrity.

"I Dig the Hustings" by Jeff Gahan and the Deaf Aids. Phase one, in which Doris gets her boasts.




With apologies to John Lennon.

One article you simply MUST read: "Cities for People—or Cars?"

Photo credit: Shutterstock, via The American Conservative

I'm pulling two paragraphs below as teaser, but you simply must read the entire essay at The American Conservative, which commissioned Charles "Strong Towns" Marohn to write it.

Let that soak in. New Urbanism in this context is neither a "liberal" nor "conservative" issue. It is a "people" issue.

Now, know this: Marohn's essay might as well be Platform Plank Numero Uno in the Baylor for Mayor independent campaign. It is principled, positive, and borne out in voluminous human experience, all across America and the planet:

New Urbanism is a civic design movement ... (advocating) the reforming development practices to support traditional patterns: building close-together homes in slow increments over time and storefronts pulled up to the street instead of buried behind nearly empty parking lots—designing cities and towns for people first and then for automobiles, not the other way around.

What good is independence without independent thinking? Please read Marohn's entire essay.

Cities for People—or Cars?: New Urbanism rediscovers centuries of walkable wisdom, by Charles Marohn (The American Conservative)

... The central task of the Millennial generation is not going to be expanding the boundaries of our cities but managing their contraction. We must find a way to unwind all of these widely dispersed and unproductive investments while providing opportunities for a good life—a modernized American Dream—in strong cities, towns, and neighborhoods. And we have to do all of this with the drag of large debts and a failed national system for growth, development, and economic management that largely associates auto-based development with progress.

This makes the work of the New Urbanists even more important. They are the ones who have applied the rigor needed to understand how a city really works. What are the nuances that make a neighborhood cohesive? Where do we place public buildings and how do we design them so they are not just functional but make a city wealthier? How do we make “good neighbors,” as Robert Frost might ask, without fences and a large setback?

4 days later: CM Phipps, can you show us where Mayor Gahan said or wrote this for attribution?

This.



And this.



And then, some of these.



Mr. Disney scripts some mean gag orders, doesn't he?

Stockholm Syndrome: CM Phipps mouths the Gahan street grid gospel as the mayor remains shamefully mute.

Take time to consider Heinberg's "Fight of the Century: Localization in a Globalized World."

This excerpt from Richard Heinberg's latest book, Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels is heavy reading, but necessary.

It isn't possible to summarize briefly, so I'll extract three chunks. The first paragraph aptly sets the scene.

Fight of the Century: Localization in a Globalized World, by Richard Heinberg (Common Dreams)
As the world economy crashes against debt and resource limits, many countries are responding by attempting to salvage what are actually their most expendable features—corrupt, insolvent banks and bloated militaries—while leaving the majority of their people to languish in “austerity.” This has resulted in a series of uprisings, taking a variety of forms in different nations. Such conditions and responses will lead, sooner or later, to social as well as economic upheaval—and a collapse of the support infrastructure on which billions depend for their very survival.

As such, the emphasis returns to local strategies.

Thinking in terms of simplification, contraction, and decentralization is more accurate and helpful, and probably less scary, than contemplating collapse. It also opens avenues for foreseeing, reshaping, and even harnessing inevitable social processes so as to minimize hardship and maximize possible benefits.

I's especially struck by Heinberg's description of popular uprisings and their likelihood. It is a them only recently considered by local writer Erica Rucker in LEO Weekly: America is burning: 
indignation and the end of civility.

A global popular uprising is the predictable result of governments’ cuts in social services, their efforts to shield wealthy investors from consequences of their own greed, and rising food and fuel prices. In recent years, recurring protests have erupted in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America. The long-range aims of protesters are in many cases unformulated or unarticulated, but the immediate reasons for the protests are not hard to discern. As food and fuel prices squeeze, poor people naturally feel the pinch first. When the poor are still able to get by, they are often reluctant to risk assembling in the street to oppose corrupt, entrenched regimes. When they can no longer make ends meet, the risks of protest seem less significant—there is nothing to lose; life is intolerable anyway. Widespread protest opens the opportunity for needed political and economic reforms, but it also leads to the prospect of bloody crackdowns and reduced social and political stability.

"When the poor are still able to get by" reminds me of another bit of timeless wisdom.

Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

You may recognize it. That's Thomas Jefferson.

(Thanks to Jeff G for the link)

Friday, April 24, 2015

What I'm saying: Those candidates who have earned my vote are ...


Earlier today, you learned why I'm choosing not to vote for at-large council aspirant Brad Bell.

What I'm saying: Sorry, Brad Bell, but I cannot support your at-large candidacy.

I simply will not cast a vote in favor of any candidate failing to grasp the efficacy and sheer transformative potential of complete streets in New Albany, of which two-way traffic is an important core component, and yet not the only one.

In like fashion, and speaking only for myself, unequivocal support for two-way/complete streets and overall street grid reform in New Albany -- in summary, Jeff Speck's downtown street network proposals in their entirety -- constitutes my yardstick for determining candidate support on May 5.

un·e·quiv·o·calˌənəˈkwivək(ə)l/adjective
leaving no doubt; unambiguous ... "an unequivocal answer" ... synonyms: unambiguous, unmistakable, indisputable, incontrovertible, indubitable, undeniable

Of the nine at-large candidates for council, I see three who qualify by this standard: Democrats John Gonder (incumbent) and Hannegan Roseberry, as well as Republican Al Knable. Of the remaining at-large contestants on the Democratic ledger, there is the incumbent Shirley Baird; challengers James Garner and Adam Keeler; and Bell (who plainly does not "get" it in the least).

GOP at-large hopefuls Bob Hornung and David Barksdale have not made their views known, insofar as I can tell. They still might. I'm listening.

Gonder and Roseberry have qualified for my vote in the primary, which is what matters to me today. Knable also has done so; in fact, he was perhaps the first of any to make his position known. He has my vote in November.

If you are not mentioned in the above paragraph and feel that I've overlooked something, please let me know. It might help me make a choice. Just remember this word: Unequivocal.

Democrats Cliff Staten and Greg Phipps (incumbent) are running unopposed for council in the 6th and 3rd districts, respectively. The 6th is my "pizzeria & pub" district, and I'd vote for Staten if permitted. The 3rd is my "home" district, and while Phipps admittedly has consistently espoused street grid reform, his recent phantom (and unattributed) endorsement of King Gahan the Silent's non-position on streets, accompanied by an ongoing refusal to answer constituent questions about it, are very dismaying, to say the least. While it can be no more than a symbolic gesture, I will withhold my vote from Phipps in the primary. It is my hope that he returns to reliability by November.

As for mayor, the only candidate who has been open and forthright about Speck advocacy is me, running as an independent, but my name will not be on the ballot until November.

I am unaware of Republican Kevin Zurschmiede's thoughts on the matter. He is running unopposed during the primary.

David White, a Republican running as a Democrat, obviously has crawled into bed with New Albany's trucking and heavy industrial civic value extractors, led by Padgett Inc., which is filing suit against the city to preserve the sacred interstate highways otherwise known as Market, Spring and Elm. Let's merely say that this is not at all encouraging.

And, as already should be painfully clear to inhabitants of the moon, and occupants of yurts somewhere in the Mongolian steppe, the incumbent mayor, Jeff Gahan, has prevaricated, obfuscated and utterly refused to take a public position on Speck's sorely needed plan, thus bizarrely kneecapping with supreme cowardice the very same project that people like Phipps have committed so much personal time and political capital in espousing.

 In some ways, I'd cherish the chance to vote for White in the primary, if for no other reason than as a counterweight to Gahan. Alas, White has refused all entreaties to take streets seriously and get genuinely principled about Speck.

If you're for Speck, then the only logical choice in the mayoral primary is "none of the above," and withholding your vote, as I'll be doing.

Now is the time for tactical urbanism in New Albany.

Fighting Padgett with paint (brushes).

We've talked about it, and now that Greg Phipps' new best incumbent friend intends to delay street grid reform for up to 18 months out of naked political terror, it's time for tactical urbanism to begin.

Let's roll.

If you're interested, let me know. I'm not speaking here of my campaign. Rather, it's about what we can do to jump-start initiative, and to dispense with the perennial top-down thinking of the usual suspects, who cannot undertake any worthwhile reform without first tying the largesse to campaign finance.

Tactical Urbanists Are Improving Cities, One Rogue Fix at a Time, by Emily Matchar (Smithsonian)

And city governments are paying attention, turning homemade infrastructure changes into permanent solutions

One rainy January night in Raleigh, North Carolina, Matt Tomasulo went out to commit what some would call vandalism. Along with his girlfriend and a friend, the graduate student walked around downtown hanging homemade signs on lampposts and telephone poles. The signs featured arrows pointing the way to popular downtown destinations, along with average walking times. Tomasulo called the project “guerrilla wayfinding.” His decidedly un-criminal intent was to promote more walking among Raleigh citizens.

Frustrated by the syrup-slow pace and red tape of the traditional civic change process, citizens across the country are bypassing the bureaucratic machine entirely and undertaking quick, low-cost city improvements without government sanction. They’re creating pop-up parks in abandoned lots. They’re installing free library boxes on street corners. They’re creating homemade traffic-slowing devices using temporary obstacles like potted plants to make their streets safer.

New York-based urban planner Mike Lydon coined the term “tactical urbanism” several years ago to describe the phenomenon. Now, Lydon and fellow planner Anthony Garcia have come out with a new book, Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-term Change, offering a history of the movement and a guide for aspiring practitioners.

What I'm saying: Sorry, Brad Bell, but I cannot support your at-large candidacy.

video

And I feel bad about it. But I simply will not cast a vote in favor of any candidate failing to grasp the efficacy and sheer transformative potential of complete streets in New Albany, of which two-way traffic is an important core component, and yet not the only one.


Seals, branding mechanisms and a city anchored into place by sheer dullness of bureaucratic intent.

Cult of personality at last night's DemoDisneyDixiecrat gala.

Yesterday afternoon, when the kaka was hitting the fan, and City Hall at long last decided to release concrete information on local beverage vending at Boomtown and the summer concert series, you may have noticed the letterhead.


Looks like an official city seal, doesn't it? And yet, insofar as City Hall On the Down Low has conjured any semblance of a statement on seal swapping, it has denied that a logo now appearing on virtually every city-owned object not capable of fleeing to Birdseye is "official."

As here:

As McLaughlin dozes, Coffey expresses his dislike of fuddy-duddy steamboat seal-bearing visitors.

 ... The city's economic dishevelment facilitator, David Duggins, at long last became interested in the melee, and vaulted forward to volunteer this: The new symbol is a "marketing piece" and "branding mechanism," and not a new official seal.

Branding and marketing. By executive order. Small wonder we remain anchored.

My guess is that the new marketing mechanism was Duggins' idea all along. As a reader pointed out yesterday:

You know, for just being a "marketing tool", that anchor/bridge splat thingy sure acts like it's a city seal ...

If Bob "CeeSaw" Caesar is reading, please be advised that we await the Bicentennial Commission's financial statements as promised during the most recent council meeting.

Until then, here's Vic Megenity to ask a question about seals that almost surely will be stonewalled into oblivion. It's small wonder that Team Gahan has become allergic to two-way streets, as these are disturbing metaphors for two-way communications.

And they show no willingness to do that.

---

Concern over steamboat symbol (also available at N & T)

By l850, New Albany became the largest and most important city in Indiana, thanks primarily to its steamboat building.

Of the over 400 steamboats built, the Robert E. Lee was, according to the New Albany Ledger in l866, the grandest ever built. With its Rosewood furniture and crystal chandeliers, it proudly plied the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers until it was destroyed by fire in l882 with the loss of 21 lives. This steamboat had gained national fame by winning its famous race with the Natchez, from New Orleans to St. Louis in l870.

By the late l890s, the city of New Albany commemorated its steamboat building era by making the R.E. Lee its official symbol. That symbol has been prominently displayed with a huge Bruce Fox creation on the front of the City-County Building as well as printed documents and brochures. It was used prominently to celebrate our Centennial Celebration in 1913 and our Bicentennial in 2013.

Several months ago, the city started using a completely different symbol — twin arches with a giant anchor hanging between. That symbol is now used on all city printed material and most recently scores of city street signs have this prominently displayed. No one has been able to explain what this giant anchor represents.

According to the dictionary, it means to prevent movement and to hold fast. Why would anyone want this as a symbol of our city?

The board of directors of the Floyd Count Historical Society recently voted unanimously to keep the historic Robert E. Lee as our city’s official symbol and that was presented to the New Albany City Council on April 6. The council stated it had no input on this change, yet they took no action to make sure this symbol is not lost to history.

We are very alarmed and concerned that this new anchor symbol was apparently created by the mayor’s office without a vote being taken from democratically elected representatives or by involving the public in providing input if it was decided democratically to choose a new symbol. No one could explain to us who, why, where, when or how this symbol was created.

Every citizen of New Albany should be alarmed at the undemocratic method of forcing through this drastic change in our New Albany symbol that has proudly served us for well over 100 years.
The Floyd County Historical Society’s mission is to protect and preserve our rich history. We, therefore, call on all city officials from the mayor to the city council to take immediate steps to restore the Robert E. Lee as our official symbol.

Please do not steal this symbol of our rich history but rather embrace it for future generations.

— Victor Megenity, vice-president, Floyd County Historical Society, New Albany

Thursday, April 23, 2015

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

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

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

When this column was published on March 28, 2013, there remained a measure of hope, albeit it faint and fleeting, that our local Democratic Party might somehow rally, reboot and become a positive contributor to the city's future.

But just as the USSR's brutal crushing of the Hungarian revolt in 1956 put an end to faith-based international illusions about Soviet-style communism as a potential curative, Jeff Gahan's term in office has only reinforced the local DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party's sycophantic and slush-choked self-preservation instincts.

In essence, New Albany is ruled by a troika: Gahan as mayor, Adam Dickey (party chairman and Redevelopment Commission power broker) and Shane Gibson (party treasurer and the city's "corporate" legal counsel), abetted by a handful of petty and pliant functionaries, and arriving at the vast majority of decisions as far from public sight as any Politburo edict ever was observed to be oozing from hairline cracks in the Kremlin's yards-thick masonry.

And yet, however much Gahan's $15-per-city-voter campaign war chest might be monetized from capital projects and calculated to reinforce the cabal's non-responsive existence, voters still have a choice. The single best way to exercise it is to refrain from voting for Gahan. This is the first, necessary step.

At least in November, there'll be a clear choice. On to the essay.

---

Francis Spufford’s novel is Red Plenty. The story takes place in the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev era, a time when ever so briefly, it appeared as though the USSR’s planned economy would make good on its promise of economic paradise. In fact, Khrushchev himself provided a firm date for the fruition: 1980.

(It didn’t happen, but you already knew that)

A narrator appears at the beginning of each of the novel’s main sections, providing a non-fictionalized background of historical events. The passages combine to serve as a concise Soviet era refresher course for those unfamiliar, and this is good, because nowadays, the USSR is fading from view everywhere in the world save for the deeper recesses of Vladimir Putin’s subconscious.

In the following excerpt, it is explained what occurred in Russia when the Bolsheviks were victorious in the Civil War, but found themselves still at odds with a distinctly Russian intellectual tradition, one actively opposing the Tsar, yet not necessarily welcoming the Bolshevik triumph.

The Bolsheviks had been having trouble with the old kind of intellectual ever since the revolution. The tiny professoriat they inherited – a fraction of an educated class which was itself a small fraction of Russia’s literate minority – was shaped by an ethical tradition more than a century old. Pre-revolutionary Russian intellectuals felt a sense of public obligation not shared by their equivalents abroad. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, it had been obvious to anyone educated that the tsarist regime was an embarrassing, oppressive anachronism. To be one of the lucky few who could read about the world outside therefore gave you a responsibility to try and do something about Russia; usually not in a directly political way, unless you were one of those with a very pronounced bump of idealism, but by building up an alternate Russia in culture, in novels and poetry and art where stupidity was not enthroned. Above all, to be an intellectual was to feel that you were, at least potentially, one of those who spoke truth to power. By teaching and learning at all, you were implicitly acting as a witness, as a prophet of a larger life.

Before going any further, exactly what is an intellectual?

An intellectual is a person who primarily uses intelligence in either a professional or an individual capacity. As a substantive or adjective, it refers to the work product of such persons, to the so-called "life of the mind" generally, or to an aspect of something where learning, erudition, and informed and critical thinking are the focus …

The real question is this: What happens when the life of the mind meets the daily reality of politics, which has been defined as “who gets what, when, and how”?

In Spufford’s novel, a flowering of youthful idealism in the USSR after the tyrant Stalin’s death shows signs of evolving into a skilled, influential – yes, even intellectual – force for change, one not seen since in the country since before the famine, purges and World War II, but ultimately the Communist Party’s domineering inertia proves far too entrenched to be dislodged. Intellectuals prove no match for bureaucratic time-servers whose governing habits are fixed, and self-interests pre-eminent.

---

So, what happens in New Albany when the life of the mind meets the daily reality of “politics as usual” … specifically, more years than not, of Democratic Party politics as usual?

Now, I’m not about to suggest a Soviet scenario from the age of Khrushchev is a perfect analogy with the decades-long political stalemate in New Albany.

At the same time, there are distinct similarities as they pertain to those of us hereabouts seeking to speak truth to power and prophesying a larger life – in short, those commonly finding themselves marginalized by the local Party’s fixed governing habits and traditionally insular self-interests.

Perhaps the common thread linking Russian Tsarism, Soviet Communism and our locally dysfunctional two-party political duopoly (Democrats as hegemonic in New Albany, Republicans in Floyd County) is that each one of them operated, or in our case continues to operate, in such a manner as to make it absolutely necessary for anyone capable of independent thought to reject their non-creative bureaucratic tendencies, and to seek instead alternate cultures where Spufford’s “stupidity” is not perpetually enthroned.

And, just as many Russian intellectuals regarded Communism as scant improvement on Tsarist rule, educated and progressive New Albanians understand that while the Democratic Party is largely inert and unresponsive, with year after year of underachieving gridlock in spite of 8-1 Democratic council majorities with sitting Democratic mayors, Republican Party rule would be Philistinism of an even more mind-numbing and pervasive variety.

Hence, the tendency of New Albanian intellectuals to seek refuge in the cool embrace of Progressive Pints.

---

Paraphrasing Spufford, “New Albany’s local Democrats have been having trouble with the intellectuals ever since LBJ lost the South.”

Given the Dixiecratic, ward-heeling tendencies of a local Democratic Party so long ensconced – so firmly enamored of right-wing Heavrinist twaddle that when Doug England anointed a longtime Republican named Irv Stumler to succeed him as Democratic mayor, it took weeks for anyone on the inside of the machine to get the joke, and they still didn’t – I find myself annually tolerating the Democratic Party’s municipal stranglehold as the only alternative to future Republican jihad, while not exactly popping corks at the sclerotic inability of Democrats to innovate during times that have fairly demanded agile improvisation.

Indeed, England’s colossal (and hilarious) Stumler miscalculation in 2011 provided a rallying point for the candidacy and eventual electoral success of Jeff Gahan, but significantly, the argument then was not about platforms and policies. Rather, it concerned who was a member of which club, and who was not. The miniscule differential in substance between the two intra-party camps was inconsequential, and moot still ruled.

My point: Forget the –isms. In the USSR, an entrenched and elephantine Communist Party could not make reform possible until it collapsed of its own weight, a quarter-century after Khrushchev’s sloppy ouster.

In New Albany, are we fated to endure the parallel track, remembering that Gorbachev’s “reforms” in the USSR (glasnost, perestroika) were far too little, way too late?

Accordingly, should our native intelligentsia celebrate the local Democratic Party’s recent turn toward new leadership?

To be sure, they’re younger and brighter than before. Some of them might actually have voted for Barack Obama, and are willing to defy the odds by openly admitting to it. Verily, one cannot entirely dismiss hope, however naïve, that the local Democratic Party will cease being a Tsarist-style anachronism, especially in the absence of any semblance of coherent Republican counterweight – itself, as always, a far less savory specter of dim-witted theocratic fascism than Democratic stasis.

But I will tell you this, and with considerable pride: I have no apologies whatsoever for harboring progressive inclinations and intellectual leanings … no regrets for witnessing, reading, thinking, dreaming, speaking truth to what passes for power and pointing to the possibility of a larger civic life in New Albany. After all, there is a noble progressive political and ethical tradition to uphold, even here in battered New Albania, and we remain hard at work “building up” the alternate culture. If we don’t, who will?

The local Democratic Party may or may not have noticed any of this, and if it has, comprehension may as yet be lacking.

But does that really matter?

Irv still nutzoid, and Gilderbloom's research wasted on New Albany -- and Greg Fischer, for that matter.


In a phrase that might serve as New Albany's official civic motto, no one really wants to talk about it, but a few weeks back, when Dr. Gilderbloom's most recent streets research project started being picked up by national media, Irv Stumler apparently visited the University of Louisville to demand that Gilderbloom be silenced, because how dare peer-reviewed academic research be allowed to deny the sanctity of New Albany's 18-wheeled Luddite exceptionalism?

Depending on the report, Stumler either was laughed off campus or curtly told that if he didn't take a chill pill, he would be forcibly removed.

Calm down, Irv: "Why one-way streets are bad for everyone but speeding cars."


This episode occurred around the same time that Stumler, a self-anointed civic pillar of propriety, was lurching from door to door downtown, foaming at the mouth, spinning colossal untruths about the dastardly effects of two-way (complete) streets and traffic calming.

Irv Stumler peddles humongous whoppers, feels no shame at all, insults entire city.


By this point, he'd already been at it for a while.

Irv Stumler launches new Jolly Rancher bombardment in his jihad against modernity.


Now that the erstwhile Republican and current Democratic mayoral candidate David White has crawled into bed with the likes of Stumler, who four years ago when smitten with Doug England just couldn't recall which way he swings politically, we're asked to come on out and celebrate the virtues of municipal value extraction, with a diesel fuel chaser.

David White wants all NA merchants standing to be harmed by Padgett's lawsuit to attend a David White party at Padgett.


And Gilderbloom? He's still at it, apparently enjoying the luxury of dealing with facts, as opposed to reflex bile emissions. Keep reading to learn who is even less enamored of Gilderbloom than Stumler.

U of L professor John Gilderbloom gains national notice for one-way street research, by David Serchuk (Insider Louisville)

University of Louisville professor John Gilderbloom has just seen his national profile rise dramatically via a story about him and his research in The Washington Post.
The story — titled “Why one-way streets are bad for everyone but speeding cars” — highlights research conducted by Gilderbloom, the director of the U of L’s Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods, and William Riggs, an assistant professor from the California Polytechnic State University. Their research centers around the thesis that two-way streets in residential neighborhoods are safer, boost housing values, and are less prone to crime than one-way streets.

Cutting all the way to the chase ...

Gilderbloom tells Insider Louisville that Mayor Greg Fischer has given him the cold shoulder when it comes to his research. He says he’s invited the mayor to speak to his graduate students in urban and public affairs at U of L — as former Mayors Jerry Abramson and David Armstrong did — and was told by the mayor’s office that Fischer wasn’t available.

“He won’t speak to me,” Gilderbloom says, “nor will several top officials there.” He claims it’s because his research runs counter to Fischer’s growth-focused ideology.

A visual Fischer goes full Gahan on the ad hoc demolition of historic properties.


Dear Louisville

Been there, done that. Jeff Gahan personally inspected the historic tavern building at 922 Culbertson, then rejected subsequent evidence that didn't jibe with his "professional" opinion as a former salesman of veneer products. The building came down. Palms were greased. Coffey got his rocks off, and now the site is being monetized for campaign finance.


Signed ... the Hood


PS -- If anyone sees our council person, can you let us know? 

---

Tonight is the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, when Greg Fischer and Jeff Gahan will take the stage to trade yarns about those dumbass preservationists. You see, Gahan wanna Omni, too, and why not learn from the best?

We discussed it last October.

ON THE AVENUES: Now on tap at the ghost of Haughey’s Place: The politics of pure spite.

... With the mayor having conceded moments after the demolition that a mysterious, secret infill “plan” was in place all along, and with the very existence of this unrevealed plan neatly explaining the city’s ongoing reluctance to clearly explicate the building’s presumed decay – again, other than to insist that the same “public safety” concerns currently unenforced on hazardous one-way streets pressingly applied to this one, lone building sans any semblance of due diligence – it is obvious that Sekula made the error of fatally intruding into what was, in effect, a finished deal, one done dirt cheap in timeless and enduring New Albany civic fashion.

Regime. Change. Now.

Metro didn’t require engineering report before demolition of buildings at Omni site, by Stephen George (Insider Louisville)

By declaring the buildings an immediate safety risk, Metro avoided a lengthy public approval process that includes a one-week notice of intent to demolish, public review and input, and an additional mandatory review for any building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, such as the Morrissey Garage. That process applies to all private developers working on historic sites or structures.

Mayor Greg Fischer told IL on Wednesday he is comfortable with the conclusions drawn about the buildings, which stood on the site of the biggest economic development project in downtown Louisville’s history. He said he visited and personally examined the buildings and was concerned they could collapse, threatening public safety.

“I understood the importance of that decision. I went in those buildings myself, and I saw the state of disrepair they were in as well,” he said. “I saw that also there was a homeless camp inside there. What I did not want to see is those buildings collapse with people inside them, people being killed.

“So unfortunately these buildings couldn’t be saved, and that’s why they needed to come down,” he continued. “As I said, I checked it out myself as well, and I understand a verbal engineering report told us that’s what had to happen.”

Author Frederic Morton has died. I recommend these two books written by him.


The 11-year history of this blog contains numerous references to Vienna, and also to my fixation with the 19th- and 20th-century history of the Austro-Hungarian empire. That familiar mustard yellow and green color scheme deployed by the Habsburgs rocks my world, and I;ve been to almost every stop on my own self-designed Archduke Franz ferdinand heritage trail.

My first visit to Vienna was in 1985, a which point I'd already read Morton's book, A Nervous Splendor. After my third trip to the Austrian capital, he released Thunder at Twilight. To me, these remain essential texts for tourists.

Frederic Morton, Author Who Chronicled the Rothschilds, Dies at 90

... It was in his nonfiction that Mr. Morton most closely examined the Austria that gave him his identity. Most notably, in “A Nervous Splendor: Vienna, 1888-1889” (1979), he recounted a year in the life of the city and its well-known figures — including Freud, Mahler, Gustav Klimt and Arthur Schnitzler — and especially the events surrounding the murder by Crown Prince Rudolf of his teenage mistress and his subsequent suicide, an episode known as Mayerling for the hunting lodge where the killings occurred. (Another National Book Award finalist, that book also served as the basis for a stage musical, “Rudolf,” with music by Frank Wildhorn, the American composer of “Jekyll and Hyde.” It has been staged in Budapest, Vienna and elsewhere.)

Mr. Morton was born on Oct. 5, 1924, into a middle-class family named Mandelbaum — his father’s business made belt buckles for the Austrian Army — and as a boy he was known as Fritz, though his given name, his daughter said, may have been Frederic. In 1938, after the Anschluss, as the German annexation of Austria was known, his father was sent to Dachau, but he was later released. The family fled the country in 1939, first to London and shortly thereafter to New York, where the elder Mandelbaum changed his name, reportedly to be able to join a union known to be unfriendly to Jews.

Young Frederic went to a trade school and learned to be a baker, and later attended City College of New York and Columbia. From the first, he wrote his fiction in English, beginning with the novel “The Hound” (1947), the story of a privileged youth in 1939 Vienna and his comeuppance.

Mr. Morton’s other books include “Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913-14” (1989), a study of the city as Europe plunges toward World War I, and a memoir, “Runaway Waltz” (2005).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

City belatedly gets around to releasing concrete information on Boomtown, summer concert series, etc.


Boomtown Ball.
Bicentennial Park Concert Series.
July 3 Fireworks at the Amphitheater.

You should know that for several weeks, questions about these city-sponsored events have been asked of the city by previous local vendors, and answered vaguely or incompletely, if answered at all.

Why is it so frustrating for these businesses not to get timely information? It's because food and drink businesses like those involved in the past with these specially staged events must budget, make schedules, staff and plan ahead. They always have done so -- and they have always come through and delivered for event attendees.

Only this week on Tuesday morning, as City Hall's persistently poor communications skills started being discussed yet again, loudly and publicly on social media following the downtown merchant meeting, did the ice finally begin to thaw.

This morning I reported what (was) known about Boomtown amid the fog, and then later in the afternoon, through a miraculous and surely coincidental communications breakthrough, this press release (below) suddenly appeared.

In it, we learn the "preferred" and "professional" caterer's name that David Duggins forgot to remember on Tuesday: It's Festival Cuisine & Spirits, with a primary office in Louisville and a storage warehouse on Pearl Street in New Albany (note that this year, it's beer and wine only at Boomtown).

All we've been told by the city in way of explanation is that the city placed alcoholic beverage catering in the hands of Louisville-based Production Simple, and Production Simple hired Festival Cuisine & Spirits.

Also, it is revealed for the first time publicly that while Boomtown's primary components are Louisville based, localism will be observed during the Bicentennial Park Concert Series and July 3 Fireworks show, via something called the Downtown Bar and Restaurant Association.

Perhaps City Hall means the New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association, unless NARBA already has a rival non-profit. In this city, anything is possible.

And, as revealed previously, local bricks and mortar retailers will have their booth fees waived by the Louisville-based Flea Off Market, and that's good news for retailers.

Why has Team Gahan sought so assiduously to make Boomtown such a Louisville-centric event, when local building blocks might be used -- when the band curating the event, Houndmouth, hails from New Albany and environs?

That's anyone's guess. Maybe it's Greg Fischer's idea. So, read the tea leaves, break out that dusty Ouija Board and spin a bottle ... or flip a coin. Mayor Jeff Gahan's administration is the single most furtive, secretive and non-transparent administrative entity in living memory, as well as the one most willing to award credit to itself. In fact, the most surprising development this year came on April 9, when Gahan chose not to celebrate his victory over General Lee at Appomattox Court House.

Verily, we all have become dentists, merrily pulling teeth. Novocaine, anyone?




Brains, brew, Transylvania University and me.



“Philosophy is at once the most sublime and the most trivial of human pursuits” 
– William James

I'm delighted to be spending the day tomorrow in Lexington, Kentucky, where I'll be the guest of the philosophy department at Transylvania University.

It's worth noting that not only does Lexington excel at better beer, but it's also the place where I've now twice been able to speak about better beer in academic settings; the craft beer writing symposium at UK in February, 2014, was the first.

Thanks to Peter and Jack for making this possible. I'm looking forward to it.


What is known about Boomtown, amid the fog.

I'm going to tell you some things I know about the Boomtown festival, coming downtown on Sunday, May 24. If the following reports appear scant and contradictory, it's because I'm restricting sources to those that are open and public (yesterday's merchant meeting) or ones disclosed directly to me (the Flea Off e-mail). 

---

We learned yesterday that the city of New Albany has ceded event planning sovereignty to the Louisville's musical promotions firm Production Simple as it pertains to control of alcoholic beverage vending at this year's second Boomtown show, slated for Sunday, May 24.

David Duggins told yesterday's Merchant Meeting attendees that last year's consortium of local businesses operating under the aegis of an NABC catering permit for the occasion, a group now formally chartered as the New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association, would not be repeated this year. No reason was offered for this.

Rather, in 2015 Production Simple will utilize its "preferred" and "professional" beverage caterer from Louisville, the name of which Duggins conceded he could not remember, although he repeated the word "professional" several times, and explained the caterer is "local" by virtue of having a warehouse located in New Albany.

In addition, the Louisville street bazaar known as Flea Off returns to Boomtown in 2015. Yesterday Duggins told the merchants that while local alcoholic alcoholic beverage vendors would be excluded from participation, local restaurants could contact Flea Off and register to serve food, even though a representative of Flea Off recently declaimed responsibility for both food and drink in an e-mail to the author.

Duggins also noted that while Flea Off vendors typically pay for their space, the city of New Albany has negotiated a special deal, and local retail stores and other entities will be allowed free booth space for Boomtown. Finally, the band Houndmouth will not be performing this year, as it did in 2014 at the conclusion of Boomtown, although the Houndmouth "brand" still fully backs Boomtown.

Now, many of you have asked me about beer for Boomtown and other summer events (Bicentennial Park concert series, July 3 fireworks, et al). Remembering that I'm on leave of absence from NABC in order to campaign for mayor, and have referred communications to others within the company, all I can say is that little is known to me or them. In short, the situation is almost completely opaque.

Unofficially, I am told that NABC beer will be sold by the "professional" caterer at Boomtown, but because no one knows who it is, and the level of craft beer commitment it possesses, there is simply no way for me to predict its offerings or how much it cares about craft. This, too, is opaque.

As to what happens when the concert series begins on Friday, June 5, it's also anyone's guess about vendors and beverage choices. As of this writing, no information has been forthcoming for public attribution, and there is no way of knowing whether local vendors will be involved, or Production Simple's "professional" caterer, or an entity yet to be revealed.

Frustrated by the persistent fog?

Trust me. I know how it feels. That's why I'm running for mayor in the first place.

Stockholm Syndrome: CM Phipps mouths the Gahan street grid gospel as the mayor remains shamefully mute.

Jeff I Am

Deploying rather curious timing, incumbent 3rd district councilman Greg Phipps chose Tuesday to serve as eager medium for Mayor Jeff Gahan.

me·di·um
ˈmēdēəm
noun

2. the intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts on objects at a distance ... "radio communication needs no physical medium between the two stations"

Knuckles surely were rapped.

Re-elect Greg Phipps for City Council

Mayor Gahan is committed to making our downtown streets more friendly to drivers and walkers. Three concepts are being developed to address this issue. What makes it great is that the federal government is going to cover 80% of the cost. Soon we will have options to improve the way we move, which will include more 2-way streets, better signage, and safer crossings. I’m sure downtown residents and businesses will be pleased with the results. Two additional items must be considered before moving forward: 1) the cost of the project. 2) There must be a plan to allow truck in and out of downtown.

Anyone with a bucket? This paragraph comes perilously close to making me physically ill.

Note the carefully chosen, quasi-Orwellian code words. These constitute the shameful fine print in the sausage factory's standard disclaimer: We may have implied "all meat," but it all depends on what the definition of political cowardice is.

"Drivers" naturally come first, before "walkers." What was a pristine street network plan submitted by the nation's preeminent expert now is being subdivided into three nebulous and undisclosed "concepts." These unidentified "options" are coming "soon," although we're not told when that might be -- but it's already known that 18 months is the duration of "soon" as minted by our forever pliant Bored of Works. We're informed that we'll be pleased with "results," which of course are not defined. And, of course, we must "allow" trucks to operate, a caveat which is entirely and ridiculously redundant owing to the fact that no previous plan, including Jeff Speck's, ever once suggested barring them.

Worst of all, the words in Greg Phipps' posting don't even sound like his. He typically does not write this badly. Rather, they read like the prepared script from videos in which the hostages insist they're being treated well. Either way, they're the sound of capitulation.

Let's be clear.

Yet again, someone other than the mayor is lecturing us about the mayor's "real" intentions. But not until the voice we hear is Jeff Gahan's ... not until Gahan takes ownership of these wonderful street grid commitments ... not until he explains these and other matters himself, aloud, unequivocally and for attribution when public questions are answered by the man himself, should we relax our fully justified skepticism. It's warm and fuzzy that his fan club seeks to speak for him, but it isn't enough. He must speak for himself -- for once in his life.

It is disappointing that once again, Phipps has opted for being a willing cog in the very same political machine he once decried. Following is a Facebook comment from a Phipps constituent.

F#*k the trucks, what about the actual people that live in this city, the people that pay taxes so these trucks can ruin our landscapes, can run over our beloved pets, that rattle our windows, that break our car windows with crap falling out their truck beds, that commit crimes that the city overlooks because it fills their pockets. I'm tired of paying fines for not moving my car so the weekly street sweeper can pick up the ashes of these trucks but yet will not get a speeding ticket on Spring Street. We need answers, Mr. Gahan.

Those answers won't be coming from the mayor, will they?