Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blogger NA Girl points the way to a "Council With a Vision."

Earlier today, I referred an inquiring reader to articles previously published by NA Girl in New Albany Renewal.

She’s back tonight with a fresh posting, provocatively titled A Council With a Vision – which Charlottesville, Virginia proudly boasts.

“Mindful of our responsibility to future generations, Charlottesville will build a distinctive, world class, small city … ”

Stunning, as is the remainder of the document.

Meanwhile, CM Dan Coffey’s barbecued bologna and fellow Siamese CM Steve Price’s whining nickel-and-dime defeatism continue to embarrass New Albany regionally.

Visit New Albany Renewal, and follow the links. Then begin to contemplate alternatives to our own self-defeating electoral “dross to bear.”

NAC mail bag: "Benefits of local ownership" & "The Hometown Advantage."

An NA Confidential reader writes:

We enjoyed your take on the arrival of Applebee's, and seem to recall that some months ago, you ran a series of articles on issues relating to chains and local economies. I can't find them by searching.

There's been much written here on the topic, but what I believe you're remembering are a couple of entries in NA Girl's New Albany Renewal, both written in February.

She hasn't had time to update her blog lately, so I hope she won't mind my reprinting these two excellent articles here, with links back to the source.

---

Benefits of Local Ownership, from New Albany Renewal.

Independent businesses not only compete with large chains but with prevailing attitudes that favor the large chains. Consider some of the benefits of local ownership:

The profits from local businesses circulate within the community. Independent businesses patronize smaller regional wholesalers and distributors. They rely on other local businesses for services such as banking, accounting, and printing.

Local merchants have a vested in interest in the community. Their property taxes support the services that they use. Small business owners support community organizations, volunteer, and donate more financial support locally than large corporations.

A homegrown economy composed of a diverse and numerous independent businesses provides a healthy, competitive marketplace.
Check out these links for more information about supporting independent businesses and a healthy local economy:

http://www.newrules.org/
http://www.amiba.net/
http://www.boulder-iba.org/
www.livingeconomies.org

---

The Hometown Advantage, from New Albany Renewal.
Stacy Mitchell is a researcher for the Institute for Local Self Reliance and the author of "The Hometown Advantage." In her book she explores the trend toward a chain store economy and why that might not be the best thing for communities.

There is a perception that giant chains offer more convenience, wider selection, better service, and lower prices. It is assumed that chains create jobs and generate additional tax revenues. Economic development policy that offers incentives and grants and builds infrastructure to attract chains is based on these assumptions. When we look past the assumptions we discover that the public costs may outweigh the gains.

Chains have a place in the economy but does it make sense to use our tax dollars to give large corporations an advantage over locally-owned, independents?

Large chains reduce retail diversity. Reduced competition leaves the consumer at the mercy of absentee-owned companies that can raise prices or abandon the community.

Stacy Mitchell points out , "Local businesses enrich the civic fabric. Small merchants care about their communities more because they are part of those communities. The taxes they pay provide services, like schools and police and parks, that they and their families use. Small merchants give to community causes more than their big competitors. Their purchases and profits tend to circulate within and strengthen the local economy rather than flowing to distant suppliers or corporate headquarters."

UPDATED: Scribner Place: Same questions, same answers, different meeting.

The Wednesday Courier-Journal reports on yesterday’s city/county Scribner Place meeting.

Floyd may aid Scribner Place; Officials wary of 16-year commitment, by Ben Zion Hershberg, bhershberg@courier-journal.com (short shelf life for C-J links).

An excerpt:

Several county officials said Floyd could provide up to about $135,000 a year to help finance the Scribner Place project in downtown New Albany -- but they didn't know if they could commit the money for 16 years, as city officials requested.

Given that the C-J’s Hershberg generally is an impeccable source for the utterances of grandstanding oppositionists on the city council, but none are included in his article today, one must wonder whether the Gang of Four even attended the meeting.

Perhaps they chose to dial them in.

----

Wednesday afternoon update: County board gets answers about Scribner Place, by Amany Ali, Tribune City Editor.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tribune editorial: It's time to begin building Scribner Place.

As city and county officials met today to discuss funding for Scribner Place, and the level of participation by the county in the downtown renewal project, the Tribune contributed yet another strong editorial endorsement of Scribner Place -- along with an almost exasperated expression of impatience.

It's time for both city and county officials to come together, reach an agreement and begin building ... Scribner Place is too important to downtown New Albany just to let it wither away ... People are getting tired of talking. It's time to start building.

NA Confidential was unable to attend today's meeting owing to work commitments. Did you go? If so, was the gathering worthy of comment?

Note: Tribune editorials are not archived on line.

Commissioners to host Scribner Place extravaganza this afternoon as Luddite ox carts converge on Hauss Square.

On Tuesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m., the Floyd County Commissioners are hosting the long-overdue Scribner Place fact gathering carnival and medicine show.

City, county talk Scribner Place, by Amany Ali, Tribune City Editor.

For the very first time, and perhaps the last, the County Commissioners, County Council, City Council and Mayor James Garner all will come together under one big rhetorical tent in the friendly confines of the second-floor commissioners' room to discuss the project and to provide the city council's obstructionist Gang of Four with its largest peer audience of the year.

Accordingly, by astutely bribing 1st District Councilman Dan Coffey's chief advisor, Lucky Elmo, with a bottle of MD 20/20, NA Confidential has obtained a carbon copy of CM Coffey's internal memorandum for this afternoon's meeting.

It has been edited for legibility.

1. Resend Scribner Place ordinance (not air mail - too expensive).
2. If they won't resend it, move to put it on the table for all to see.
3. With handy Dick Tracy gear, burn it ... FIRE! FIRE!!!



The meeting today is open to the public, but there will be no public speaking time.

Happy days are here again: New Albany has an Applebee's -- can flush toilets be far behind?

If you’re looking for firm proof that I sincerely, genuinely want the Tribune to be a better newspaper, look no further.

Free of charge, here’s a labor saving, ready-to-use template for the Tribune reporter who draws the short straw and must stoop to herald the arrival of Applebee’s in New Albany.

Applebee’s comes to Albany, Oregon, by Alex Paul, Albany Democrat-Herald.

His or her research thus completed, the lucky Tribune reporter can proceed directly to the new Applebee’s on Grant Line Road (conveniently located within stumbling distance of Wal-Mart), camera in hand, and photograph the groovy “neighborhood wall,” which incorporates unique local memorabilia to help distinguish the 1,700 “neighborhood” locations of Applebee’s in 49 states.

Looking for the other side to the story? Not a problem, either, because I'm happy to oblige.

Visit my buddy Lew Bryson’s web site and read his classic essay, “Death to Chain Restaurants.”

An excerpt:

Why is a successful chain restaurant bad for my town?
Because it sucks up loan money that local, unique businesses could be using. A banker will always loan money to a guy with a chain restaurant franchise over a guy with a new idea: the chain idea is safe, proven, and bankable. It's also boring, leveling, and is never going to make your town a destination. Sure, it's convenient, it's popular, it's reliable. But what kind of great new food is going to come from a place that gets its potatoes pre-peeled and pre-sliced in 100 lb. plastic bags from a depot 500 miles away? Will people from far away come to your town, shop in the other stores in your town, and tell other people where they live to go to your town...because of your local Ruby Tuesday's? No, but I've done all of that for the Miss Albany Diner in Albany, NY, and it's worth the trip.

The last time Lew came into town, we skipped the Cracker Barrel and had breakfast at Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville.

You get the drift.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Curmudgeon visits the Lions Club for beer talk.

At the behest of Maury Goldberg, I was privileged tonight to speak to the weekly gathering of the Lions Club at Tommy Lancaster's restaurant on Market Street.

Although blogging was briefly touched upon, the bulk of the discussion was devoted to beer and brewing, and the club members were attentive and brimming with excellent questions.

The fried chicken wasn't shabby, either. Not only does the Lions Club feed guest speakers, but they also award them a nice framed certificate.

Thanks to Maury for the invitation! I had a marvelous time.

"Those nickels and dimes are ours," growled the councilman.

3rd District councilman Steve Price has announced a major discovery in his quest to locate New Albany's missing nickels and dimes.

CM Price, shown here exploring a sinkhole at the base of Brambleberry Knob, has unearthed a rusty Prince Albert pipe tobacco can with 14 nickels, 8 dimes and 3 quarters, adding up to a record haul of $2.25.

Unfortunately, the desperately needed pocket change may not belong to the city owing to the sinkhole's location in the boundary area between city and county.

Floyd County councilman and finance minister Larry McAllister has offered to arm wrestle CM Price for the booty, saying "we've got trials to pay for."

But fellow city councilman Dan Coffey believes CM McAllister is mistaken, and that CM Price's hard-earned find is his to keep -- for donation to the depleted city coffers.

In a party line call, Coffey told reporters, "it just goes to show that they didn't need cell phones, ordinance enforcement or city courts back in Prince Albert's time, and neither do me -- I mean, we."

Monday morning contemplation: "Principles for Cultivation of Our Economy."

Recently NA Confidential was sent this link to the Creative Tampa Bay web site:
Principles for Cultivatation of Our Economy.

These principles are so exciting that I'm reprinting them.

Readers interested in workable strategies for fulfilling New Albany's untapped potential are urged to look beyond the morbid miasma of negativity that we're currently being urged to accept as our miserable fate, and forward to how ideas like these can be applied to the future development of New Albany.

To be progressive is to "promote or favor progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods."

Certainly at the forefront of these ideas and methods is a recognition of the value of creativity, diversity, authenticity and responsibility, as outlined below.
----

Creativity is fundamental to being human and is a critical resource to individual, community and economic life. Creative communities are vibrant, humanizing places, nurturing personal growth, sparking cultural and technological breakthroughs, producing jobs and wealth, and accepting a variety of life styles and culture.

CreativeTampaBay is committed to the growth, prosperity and excellence of communities, and all who live and work there.

We believe in the vision and the opportunities of a future driven by the power of ideas. Ideas are the growth engines of tomorrow, so the nurturing of the communities where ideas can flourish is the key to success. Ideas take root where creativity is cultivated and creativity thrives where communities are committed to ideas.

Creativity resides in everyone, everywhere, so building a community of ideas means empowering all people with the ability to express and use the genius of their own creativity and bring it to bear as responsible citizens.
These principles are our call to action.


PRINCIPLES:

Cultivate and reward creativity. Everyone is part of the value chain of creativity. Creativity can happen at anytime, anywhere, and it’s happening in our communities right now. Pay attention.

Invest in the infrastructure that fosters creativity. That includes arts and culture, nightlife, the music scene, restaurants, artists and designers, innovators, entrepreneurs, affordable spaces, lively neighborhoods, spirituality, education, density, public spaces and third places.

Embrace diversity. It gives birth to creativity, innovation and positive economic impact. People of different backgrounds and experiences contribute a diversity of ideas, expressions, talents and perspectives that enrich communities. This is how ideas flourish and build vital communities.

Support the connectors. Collaborate to compete in a new way to get everyone in the game.

Value risk-taking. Convert a “no” climate into a “yes” climate. Invest in opportunity-making, not just problem-solving. Tap into the creative talent, technology and energy in our communities. Challenge conventional wisdom.

Be authentic. Identify the value you add and focus on those assets where you can be unique. Dare to be different, not simply the look-alike of another community. Resist monoculture and homogeneity.

Invest in and build on quality of place. While inherited features such as history, climate, natural resources and population are important, other critical features such as arts and culture, open and green spaces, vibrant downtowns and centers of learning can be built and strengthened.

Remove barriers to creativity, such as mediocrity. Those carriers include intolerance, disconnectedness, sprawl, poverty, bad schools, exclusivity and social and environmental degradation.

Take personal responsibility for change in your community. Improvise. Make things happen. Development is a “do-it-yourself” enterprise.

Honor the creativity in every person. High quality, lifelong education is critical to developing and retaining creative individuals as a resource for communities.

We accept the responsibility to be the stewards of creativity in our communities. We understand the ideas and principles in this document and will adapt them to reflect our communities’ unique needs and assets. We commit to ourselves and each other that we will go back to our communities and infuse these ideas in our personal lives, social lives, work lives, neighborhoods, homes, organizations and habits and share the accomplishments with each other so that we all can move forward and succeed together in a more creative Tampa Bay.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A reminder: NA Confidential's policy on reader comments is explained.

Newcomers, please take note.

NA Confidential follows a policy with respect to your comments.

First, you must be registered with blogger.com according to the procedures specified. This is required not as a means of directing traffic to blogger.com, but to reduce the instances of flaming and anonymous attacks.

Second, although pen names are perfectly acceptable, I must know your identity (and, of course, will keep it confidential).

To reiterate, I insist upon this solely to lessen the frequency of malicious anonymity, which plagues certain other blogs hereabouts.

You may e-mail me at the address given within my profile and explain who you are. Failure to comply means that your comments may be deleted.

Thanks for reading, and please consider becoming a part of the community here, one that is respectful of the prerequisites of civilized discourse.

The editor strikes back.

In today’s edition of the Tribune, Managing Editor Chris Morris devotes the editorial slot to a ruminative exploration of the comparative ethical merits of atheism and Christianity.

Not!

Actually, Chris's editorial urges New Albany and Providence high schools to resume their annual football match.

Amusingly, he prefaces the piece thusly:

This column, which deals with football, is for all of my blog buddies who say all I do is write about sports.

Good one, Chris.

Speaking of the always reliable advice to write about what you know, I'm ready to begin my beer column whenever there's space. C'mon, Chris, we go way back -- and you have a book section now, and what goes better with books than beer?

Just a thought. Now, back to the preview of this afternoon's crucial A's - Orioles game.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Courier-Journal says: "Change in sanitation legal."

Lapping the absentee Tribune, today's Courier-Journal reports:

The way apparently has been cleared for New Albany Mayor James Garner to proceed with his plan to privatize the city's sanitation department.

Change in sanitation legal, say attorneys; New Albany mayor plans to hire private trash hauler, by Ben Zion Hershberg, bhershberg@courier-journal.com (short shelf life for C-J links).

The C-J’s Hershberg continues:

Lawyers for Garner and the City Council agreed this week that the mayor is within his authority in negotiating a contract with a private garbage-hauling company.

But, as always, there’s darkness on the horizon:

His union will file suit against the city if it completes the contract with Industrial Disposal, (union president Mickey) Thompson said. He said it doesn't believe Garner followed state requirements for privatizing, and he thinks Garner failed to negotiate in good faith when he completed a new contract with the union last month without saying that he planned to privatize.

Naturally, the scenario would not be complete without vaudevillian grandstanding by our local legislative body’s most consistently dim bulb:

Councilman Dan Coffey said he plans to propose an ordinance at the next council meeting that would make the sanitation department's budget a part of the city's general fund, removing it from the sewer board budget.

That would require budget cuts in other departments, Coffey said, but would keep sanitation a part of city government, as the public wants. He said he doesn't know yet how much support the ordinance will get from other council members.

Perhaps CM Coffey and his “no progress at any price” obstructionists on the council might donate their yearly “discretionary” district income to the sanitation bail-out.

Surely the council also possesses some form of travel stipend that could be thrown into the pot.

Of course, the 3rd District’s Steve Price remains diligently on the hunt for nickels and dimes, this morning joining the bemused catfish for a stroll on the bottom of Silver Creek.


Friday, August 26, 2005

OEO Badger visits ESSNA's meeting; Gang of Four/Five conspicuously absent.

“I’m going to be living at the police department.”
Newly appointed OEO Pam Badger.

Officer Badger spoke at the monthly meeting of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association on Thursday evening, introducing herself to a packed room and providing an ambitious outline of her busy months ahead.

It should be noted that neither 3rd District Councilman Steve Price, nor his council colleagues Coffey, Schmidt, Kochert and Seabrook – all of whom have crassly and incessantly politicized the selection of an ordinance enforcement officer as part of an ongoing insurrection against the 21st century– were in attendance tonight.

Surely they read notice of the meeting in NA Confidential?

New Albany’s new ordinance enforcement officer indicated that she is charged with residential, not commercial, enforcement of those ordinances dealing with junk, garbage, weeds, old cars and the like. Structural issues pertaining to homes remain the responsibility of the Building Commissioner, and of course relevant health issues go to the Health Department.

Officer Badger welcomes public input. First, she will issue warnings about violations, and then write citations for problems that go unremedied. In those cases that require city action, the property owner will be billed for the clean-up services by adding these charges to his or her property taxes.

Title searches and follow-ups will take much time, said Officer Badger. She’ll be working with the city attorney and the city clerk to ensure that fines are collected and actions initiated.

Association members in attendance chimed in with horror stories, a few of which can be glimpsed from the meeting site at Muir Manor, and as they did so, I was reminded of a bicycle ride I took a few weeks ago, one that brought me into CM Seabrook’s neighborhood.

It’s off of Klerner Lane, relatively near to Indiana University Southeast, and comprised of relatively new homes – far from ostentatious, but indisputably nice, with well tended lawns and gutters generally attached to the roofs.

Without exception, the homes seemed to be single-family dwellings, and I couldn’t find a single duplex with mattresses, broken furniture and weather-beaten appliances stacked on the porch.

Searching in vain for plywood sheets covering broken or missing glass, or chest-high weeds, or abandoned house stripped of interior walls and all plumbing, or impromptu street side body shops, or festive dancing rats, I concluded that property values in such a neighborhood must remain fairly stable over time.

Riddle me this, Mr. Seabrook: What sort of “suit” would a city councilman wear if it could be proven that continued inaction on ordinance enforcement bears a direct correlation to diminishing property values in parts of the city that need it the most?

Here’s a clue: We’re a nation of … what?

Get it? Ready for a bit of comparative study?

Sounds like fun.

It’s regrettable when people who claim to know better don’t behave that way, but if you’ve lived in New Albany for any length of time, you already understand that this city is cursed – wracked, lashed, afflicted – with painfully low standards of achievement.

It isn’t clear why this is so, although we may surmise that the wretchedness of our condition has become exacerbated during the most recent decades of the city’s two centuries of existence, because if our ancestors had gone about their business the way we go about ours, there would be no city here to be serially neglected.

Over time, certainly in conjunction with societal changes that are forever beyond the immediate control of any person involved with municipal governance, but just as surely stemming in large measure from an institutionalized absence of creativity on the part of the city’s “movers and shakers,” there has arisen a culture of non-compliance with certain of the civilized world’s basic assumptions.

Specifically, these are the assumptions that have been formulated so as to contribute to the overall well being of people who live close together in an urban setting.

Officer Badger now begins the task of assisting the community to reclaim its sense of compliance with these basic shared assumptions, but as she does so, rancorous political sniping against the very nature of her task continues unabated from members of the city council who have careened so far out of control that if New Albany’s mayor were to announce that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, they’d lapse into default accusatory pontification without so much as looking at the sky to see if it might be true.

Does the Gang of Four, and its occasional cohort and fellow enabler from the Republican side of the aisle, really have a commitment to cleaning up New Albany?

Or, like CM Kochert chief among them, do they feel that it’s a vote-losing proposition? Something else that can be blamed on Mayor Garner after they’ve done all they can to sabotage it?

Councilmen, it’s time to ditch the phony Pilate routine and save the dull nods for someone gullible – Forrest Gump, perhaps – and step up to the plate now with a strong and unequivocal public expression of support for ordinance enforcement and Officer Badger’s gutsy foray into places where most of you fear to tread.

Not neglected properties ... but accountability.

Send your statements to NA Confidential for publication – and be a part of the solution by leading, not politicking.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Blogplace safety: "Small" beer for "little" people?

A customer just called to let me know that my posting on the Lupulin Land Harvest Hop Fest attracted concern over at The Random Objection Generator blog:

Anonymous said...

4th Lupulin Land Harvest Hop Fest at Rich O's begins Friday, October 7. Once again, we’ll be exceeding OSHA’s legal limits on IBU’s per square foot of floor space when Lupulin Land 2005 begins on Friday, October 7.

anyone who is concerned about Richos blatantly violating OSHA should contact Indiana OSHA about this

2:56 PM, August 25, 2005

The term International Bittering Units (IBU) refers to a way of quantifying hop bitterness in a beer. Since it's a hop fest, there'll be more bitter beers than usual, but to my knowledge, this measurement falls outside OSHA's domain.

It would appear that I'm skyrocketing in popularity down in Tiny Town, with a bashability quotient approaching that of the mayor:

Anonymous said...

well maybe it wont violate OSHA but it might violate the fire code

3:48 PM, August 25, 2005


You'll have to go there yourself to see how the thread plays out.

I'm bored.

Mark your calendars: Harvest Homecoming and Lupulin Land, this October.

Looking ahead to October, we see that Saturday, October 1 is the date for the Harvest Homecoming parade, followed by booth daze from Thursday through Sunday (October 6 through 9).

In the spirit of the homecoming celebration, but also as an alternative to the Bud Light mentality that tends to pervade the annual HH experience, we at Rich O's, Sportstime and the New Albanian Brewing Company decided to coordinate the opening of our annual harvest hop festival with the Harvest Homecoming booth weekend.

4th Lupulin Land Harvest Hop Fest at Rich O's begins Friday, October 7.

There's always a chance that by HH 2006, some of these beers will be available downtown as well.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Newly appointed OEO begins work as the hunt for spare change continues.

Volunteer Hoosier may have broken the story first, but here are two local media takes on yesterday’s appointment of Pam Badger as OEO:

Long-awaited code-enforcement position is filled in New Albany, by Ben Zion Hershberg, bhershberg@courier-journal.com (short shelf life for C-J links).

City hires enforcement officer, by Amany Ali, Tribune City Editor.

Officer Badger will attend this Thursday's meeting of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, at 7:00 p.m. at Muir Manor (corner of 13th Street and East Spring Street).

In other news ...

A team of volunteers headed by 3rd District CM Steve Price found five more nickels and two dimes in a Crown Royal bag hidden beneath a loose cement slab behind the City-County Building.

CM Price and "concern taxpayer" are demanding a full investigation.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

3rd District’s CM Price: “I’m chasing nickels and dimes/ While the rest of the world passes me by.”*

Both local newspapers provide Tuesday coverage of the city council’s budgetary work session yesterday.

First, excerpts from the Tribune’s Council debates sanitation fate, by Amany Ali, City Editor.

Working through a proposed budget for 2006 for the City of New Albany was the intention of a work session last night, but most of the talk among City Council members was how jobs in the Sanitation Department could be saved. Last night's session was the third held by the council.

Councilman Steve Price thinks the Sanitation Department can be saved by making cuts in several areas, including contract services, travel expenses for some city employees and excessive cellular telephone bills. He also thinks the city can use about $265,000 of Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) money to help bail out sanitation. By doing that, the city would reduce its EDIT contribution for Scribner Place by giving $137,000.

"I'm just knocking nickels and dimes off," Price said.

Over at the Courier-Journal, the regular reporter wastes no time in lending undeserved credence to the Gang of Four’s continually misleading assertion that the Great Sanitation Debate of ’05 and the Scribner Place project are linked:

Members of the New Albany City Council discussed cutting the city's 2006 budget yesterday to save the Sanitation Department from privatization, with some of the talk focusing on the city's financial commitment to the Scribner Place development downtown …

… "The cuts are here" if city leaders are willing to make them, Price said.

New Albany council looks for ways to save sanitation, by Ben Zion Hershberg, bhershberg@courier-journal.com (short shelf life on C-J links).

It’s a sad day when the council’s Gang of Four has become too numbingly predictable to satirize, but at some point the pervasive mediocrity of these time-serving obstructionists simply must be allowed to stand on its own lack of merit.

To my 3rd District CM: Can you articulate a vision for the city of New Albany that properly embodies the aspirations of your own district?

If you cannot, then why did you seek election in the first place?

---

* with apologies to Social Distortion, the musical group, whose song “Nickels and Dimes” is quoted in the title.

Officer Pam Badger appointed OEO by police chief Harl.

Well, if I'd gone to the Public Works meeting as intended ...

At any rate, the ordinance enforcement era in New Albany begins now. Read a brief account at Volunteer Hoosier: A Red-Letter Day in NA.

Apologies ...

... to Tom, Helen, Greg and New Alb Annie. I vowed to attend the public works meeting today, but there's too much on my plate and I simply can't make it.

Next week looks more promising.

A homebrewing day at the Kentucky State Fair ... 1996.

At the Potable Curmudgeon's beer blog, an account of a day working the home brew booth at the Kentucky State Fair.

PC '96 - A Day at the Fair.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Business up at New Albany DVD as city's Luddites finally given their "full Inquisition."

Today, more free publicity for an unpopular local business.

Pastors rallying against adult store ; Prosecutor urged to file charges, By Ben Zion Hershberg, bhershberg@courier-journal.com (short shelf life on C-J links).
An excerpt:

Two pastors are sharply critical of Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson for failing to file criminal charges against an adult video store near downtown New Albany.


The Rev. Gary Cooper, left, and the Rev. Tony Goebel (right) minister to a sinner caught coming out of New Albany DVD, an adult video store located near to the streets paved with gold that lead to Caesar’s.

The Mullahs are critical of Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson’s failure to bring criminal charges against New Albany DVD for violating a “state law that makes it illegal to sell or display materials harmful to minors within 500 feet of a church or school.”

It is uncertain whether photos of war dead in Iraq, “American Idol” videos and Councilman Dan Coffey’s barbecued bologna recipe fall within these “harmful” parameters, but in any event, the prosecuting attorney is understandably too busy contending with the access demands of "Court TV" during the forthcoming Camm trial of the century to comment on the NADVD case.

Look at this dump: 317 East 10th Street.

This might turn into a regular Monday morning feature.


The photos above and below are courtesy of Greg Roberts, President of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, who adds:

"I would like to request that the New Albany City Council come out to 317 East 10th Street and clean up this mess! Please bring your rakes, shovels and a police officer with you. You will need an officer with you to handle these people. Why should we have to live near dumps like this? Why should we have to put up with absentee landlords that don't care for anything except that monthly check? This needs to be addressed NOW!"


The photos originally were posted on the Clean Up New Albany forum, where a discussion can be found here.

As of Monday, August 22, it has been three weeks since the city council's obstructionist Gang of Four staged its sit-down strike against ordinance enforcement in New Albany.

Profiles in abject and supremely petty moral cowardice: CMs Coffey, Schmidt, Price & Kochert publicly urinate on code enforcement in NA.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Smoke 'em if you got 'em, says the 'Bune -- but not while you're pumping that $3.00 a gallon gas.

Damn it, Chris Morris, just when I’ve been complimenting the Tribune for its seeming maturation and overall improvement, you decide to unleash a ditzy “man-on-the-street” soapbox rant and dress it up like an editorial.

I’m referring to today’s “Smokers beware: Big Brother is coming after you.”

Selected excerpts:

Louisville has now passed a smoking ordinance. The new law is one of those feel-good ordinances … I know second-hand smoke can be dangerous, but the last time I looked, cigarettes are a legal product … since an anti-smoking ordinance makes everyone feel good, then that makes it okay … but in our politically correct society, nothing surprises me anymore.

Long-suffering ‘Bune readers will recognize the argumentation as vintage LaDukian "around the horn" illogic – an unconnected jumble of assertions that lack support, laced with populist appeals to emotion, and with an undefined buzz-word or two (“politically correct,” “smoking police”) thrown in for good measure.

Perhaps inevitably, Chris chooses to hang his rhetorical hat on the convenient but ill-conceived “politically correct” nature of smoking regulations, and this leads the reader suddenly and unexpectedly to a completely different topic.

Sports.

Of course, it’s always about sports at the ‘Bune, but specifically in this instance:

Recently, the geniuses who make the NCAA what it is, told colleges they could no longer have Native American nicknames on their uniforms during NCAA tournament events … it’s okay to use student athletes to make millions for member institutions … but it’s not OK to honor the Seminole Nation by having the name Seminoles sewn on jerseys … I would think most Native Americans in this country are honored to have a college, such as Florida State, use their name as the school’s nickname.

Chris, did you ask any of the Native Americans?

Have you researched the history of Native American opinion with regard to stereotypical depictions?

While NA Confidential agrees that “the NCAA is full of hypocrisy,” that’s only because college sports itself and most of its fans are hypocritical to the core, so let’s return instead to the smoking ban.

Did you ask any of the victims of second-hand smoke? You acknowledge that they exist, but apparently view them as negligible insofar as the pursuit of “freedom” (whatever that means) is concerned.

Have you researched public health findings and recommendations with respect to smoking and second-hand smoke?

Did you read former FDA chief David Kessler's “A Question of Intent?”

Have you seen the movie “Super Size Me?”

Have you read “Fast Food Nation?”

If so, you might not be so quick to blithely refer to cheeseburgers in a flippant matter as the next target of the regulators. Adults make choices ... but do children?

Smokers make choices ... but what about non-smokers? Whose "rights" and "freedoms" take precedence?

Meanwhile, NA Confidential remains under the impression, perhaps mistaken, that the Tribune’s editorial slot exists for the purpose of presenting the newspaper’s official position on matters of importance.

Opinion columns such as Chris's today, although written by the editor himself, certainly are not to be considered as editorials in spite of their positioning. Certainly they'd be better viewed elsewhere within the newspaper, lest there be confusion that the ‘Bune has officially come out against progressive measures affecting public health and minority fairness.

And for manifest destiny.

That's because there was an even worse example of the rant genre earlier in the week, when a jarringly juvenile 'Bune “editorial” on oil prices injudiciously denounced environmental regulation, conveniently perpetuating the stereotyping of the indolent, selfish, energy-guzzling American by hysterically screaming that a country of our "size" shouldn’t have to pay $3 a gallon for gasoline.

It would appear that size really does matter, after all. However, it ignores a tankful of relevant questions.

Is it politically correct for us to use such a large proportion of the planet’s resources?

Should a country of, say, France’s size have to pay $5 a gallon? What about China? Angola? Peru?

What size determines a "right" and a "freedom" to exploit?

Do we really wish to sanction the notion that might makes right when it comes to a supposedly “free” market in oil? Could that principle be used against us?

Is this overly simplistic screed the Tribune’s official position? If not, shouldn’t it be presented in the form of an opinion column, signed by the author, and not occupying the lead editorial position?

Does the Tribune yet have an editorial board? Perhaps the new publisher might consider a community advisory board in the fashion of the Courier-Journal.

Chris, in closing, the world outside our village is complex, and the way to make sense of it is to study, think, learn and grow. Anyone sitting on a barstool, driving a cab or listening to talk radio can lash out in anger and frustration, but we expect more than barely informed drivel from a newspaper – especially from its editor.

You don’t smoke; neither do I.

But although we at NABC still allow smoking at our business (with a non-smoking seating area on the pub side), I’m here to tell you in all earnestness that public attitudes toward smoking are rapidly changing, and not because of governmental directive from bureaucrats above.

The pressure is coming from below, not above, and it is coming from ordinary people who are tired of the intrinsic and undeniable invasiveness of tobacco smoke. It’s a veritable civil war out there over this issue, and while the recently enacted Louisville ordinance probably is too watered down to make either side happy, it's another step toward consensus.

Just as the “freedom” to scream “fire” in a crowded theater has been debated and refined during America’s history, so the definition of “right” to smoke is evolving in our day and time.

One simply can’t do justice to such complicated topics by dismissing them with the crowd-pleasing but misleading “politically correct” wave of the hand.

Mr. Tucker and Mr. Nichols – if you're reading, can you let us know whether the editorials discussed above reflect an official editorial policy of the newspaper?

And, if so, how they're to be justified?

A new blog debuts: (What) Future of Floyd County, Indiana?

On Wednesday, I was idly checking the references on my site meter when up popped a link for Greenville Concerned Citizens.

In GCC's news section, this appeared:

We have also updated the LINKS page with more resources of local interest, for example, links to a variety of New Albany blogs (can someone start a blog for rural Floyd County?)

Yesterday I became aware of just such a "county" blog:

(What) Future of Floyd County, Indiana?

Blooger "Knobus Residentiis" (identity undisclosed) describes the blog thusly:

This blog was created to allow residents to engage in a rational and educated discussion of our county's future. This includes all of Floyd County: New Albany, the townships of Franklin, Georgetown, Greenville and Lafayette, and the unincorporated areas. Direct personal attacks or slurs, including those against any group, or unsubstantiated allegations, will not be permitted.

KR's first posting asks the question, "Why do we not look at consolidating all Floyd County governments into one entity?"

And a good question it is.

Take it away, Knobus.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ordinance enforcement remains in limbo as the Gang of Four mimics Mr. Zimmerman.

Last evening's city council meeting was described today by a customer as "all spark, no fire."

Glaringly, no action was taken on naming an ordinance enforcement officer, which reminds me of my favorite recent headline.

Profiles in abject and supremely petty moral cowardice: CMs Coffey, Schmidt, Price & Kochert publicly urinate on code enforcement in NA.

Predictably, it would appear that the "no progress at any price" position on ordinance enforcement has undergone yet another in an evolving series of tactical shifts, with the major talking points now being (a) the necessity of keeping the position stillborn until someone is found who is completely apolitical and has no ties to this community whatsoever, and (b) the inexcusable sloth of any current city officeholder who fails to stop a half-dozen times on the way home from the dreaded "third floor" to cite ordinance violators viewed along the way.

Our trogs are nothing if not resourceful, and someday might harness their obstructionist venom for the public good.

Until then, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, "it's a wonder that they still know how to breathe."

The song?

Why, "Idiot Wind," of course.

Links to coverage of last night's City Council meeting.

NA Confidential had a prior commitment last evening, enjoyed it thoroughly, missed the city council meeting entirely, and went to sleep without a single discordant thought of the sort customarily engendered by listening to CM Steve Price embarrass himself and his district again ... and again … and again.

Others weren't as fortunate.

Randy Smith of Volunteer Hoosier provides this account of the council meeting, surely with more to come later in the day: Full Moon Over N.A.

As has become the norm, the Courier-Journal focuses on the banner headline best suited for tittering at Highlands wine and cheese tastings:

New Albany council blasts plan for garbage, by Ben Zion Hershberg bhershberg@courier-journal.com (short shelf life for C-J links).

Obviously disoriented by last night’s non-events, New Albany’s Luddites are reduced to making the usual anonymous accusations about bond kickbacks and gangland threats, while giving The Random Objection Generator a healthy heave and coming up with a bold new shrill demand that ordinance enforcement must wait until we find someone sufficiently apolitical to do the job.

We’re told that Diogenes has a slightly used lamp, if that helps the naysayers to navigate the dank and narrow confines of their spitwad blogyard.

Links to the Tribune's coverage will be added if and when they're posted.

Councilman Cappuccino threatens to stop the engine of New Albany ...

... unless he gets the keys to a gleaming new public toilet like this one, so unfairly located on the city's northside, and well away from the district the councilman has worked so hard to keep poor.


NA-FC parks soon to get $80,000 facelift, by Kyle Lowry, Tribune Staff Writer (photo borrowed from the Tribune).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Council's "Gang of Four" massing on the border of civility; attack against the 21st century expected by nightfall.

In yesterday’s Courier-Journal, Ben Zion Hershberg chronicled the City Council’s various trial balloons for a Sanitation Department intervention and bailout, but the proposals were not explored in depth.

Privatization of sanitation opposed; New Albany council plans alternatives.

Beyond the necessary theatrics to ensure that their political flanks are covered prior to the next election, it remains unclear what jurisdiction the City Council really has in this area.

Be that as it may, among the “fresh” new ideas emanating from the hallowed halls of CM Coffey’s alma mater, Bazooka Joe U. (in Hershberg’s words):

An ordinance that would let any business or household in the city choose its own private waste hauler, preventing city government from giving an exclusive contract to one company.

This proves what?

As Volunteer Hoosier notes: “It would have you dealing directly with one hauling company, while your neighbor deals with another, and the guy across the street struggles to get his car out of the drive because it's blocked by the half-dozen or more garbage trucks jockeying for position.”

A resolution stating that the sewer department's subsidy of the sanitation department should continue through the end of the year, giving the council and the department time to develop an alternative to the mayor's plan.

The “mayor ate my homework” defense, redux.

If one thing has been proven conclusively time and again throughout the history of New Albany, it would be that longer you’ve served in office, the more time it takes to find things.

Does this seem backward?

Why, yes – we are.

A resolution that would reduce the city's financial commitment to Scribner Place, a downtown development project. It would make more of the economic development income tax money now committed to the project available for sanitation and other city needs.

Ah, the savory legislative plat de jour … and out from the barbecued bologna kitchen to be reheated for the umpteenth time.

Ignore for a moment the precedent being sought by this maneuver, which in essence is the freedom to break a contract by nothing more so than whim.

Rather, recall that our local political dysfunction grows best in the fertile soil of chaos -- and it all makes sense.

Not unexpectedly, it’s back to the culture wars for New Albany, with the obstructionist lunatic fringe seated to the right remaining determined to hoist the Scribner Place straw man at every opportunity so that it can be pelted with Luddite brickbats, meanwhile ignoring the most simplistic of municipal cost/benefit analyses as though such a concept were written in Sanskrit.

English is challenge enough.

Aside from the random biochemical reactions passing as deep thought amongst the luminaries of the Gang of Four, Scribner Place and the Great Sanitation Debate of ’05 are and have been wholly separate matters, should remain wholly separate matters, and would not be an issue at this juncture in the least if not for the indisputably malign influence of New Albany’s four-headed Mt. Rushmore of ineptitude.

Scribner Place is a beneficial public/private investment that will help lead the way to attract people and their money downtown, where some of the money will be spent, and some of it will make its way back to local government, where it then can be used (if you insist) to defray economically inefficient but politically expedient and electorally popular departments.

Like Sanitation.

Consequently, if you support a city-run Sanitation Department and are prepared to pay more each and every year to have it out of general principle, that’s just dandy, but by simple extension you should be just as supportive of the forthcoming revitalization of downtown, so that a broader and stronger local economy can generate revenue to keep the price of your preferred city-owned garbage pickup affordable.

Not that you won’t be complaining again, anyway, two years from now, or that retaining the current system makes any sense given the numbers involved, but if your objective is “saving” Sanitation, it makes no sense to abandon revitalization as though it were some sort of “price” to pay for garbage service.

It isn’t a price at all – it’s an obligation on the part of government to move the city forward.

On the other hand, if you support another ritualistic public effort toward the emasculation of Scribner Place, and cheer further messy public acknowledgments that partisan political flim-flammery comes before the good of the many in the jaundiced eyes of the Gang of Four … and if you’re licking your tiny, envious chops at the de facto abandonment of the best plan to achieve progress toward downtown revitalization that has been presented in your lifetime … and if in your world, preventing less than a dozen net job losses is more important than the economic interests of the remaining 39,975 people in New Albany … then by all means, cuddle in the bosoms of your accommodating CMs Coffey, Price, Schmidt and Kochert, and receive exactly what you deserve.

But don’t neglect the Astroglide.

Like Bob Knight said – if rape is inevitable …

---

Further reading:

Volunteer Hoosier, The Facts Speak for Themselves

Volunteer Hoosier, Here Come the Faeries

New Albany Tribune, Sanitation concerns to be prominent subject of tomorrow's gathering, by “staff reports.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Commissioner John Reisert’s lamentable choice of words.

In today’s Tribune, County Reporter Kyle Lowry writes:

The Floyd County Board of Commissioners is no closer to making a recommendation to the County Council on the Scribner Place downtown revitalization project following a public hearing at the council's meeting last week.

County Commissioners John Reisert and Steve Bush attended the public hearing.

"I was very disappointed with citizen response," Reisert said. "We had people who spoke in favor of it but they were all hired guns.”

Hired guns?

All of them?

Of the twelve citizens who rose to speak for the Scribner Place project at last week’s meeting, one was Steve Bush, Reisert’s fellow commissioner.

Is he a "hired gun"?

Of the remaining eleven, a case can be made that six have some degree of professional interest in the project’s completion: Maury Goldberg, Bill Koehler, the director of LifeSpan Resources (I didn’t get her name), Jane Alcorn of DNA, Mike Ricke, and John Rosenbarger.

But does having a professional interest mean they're "hired guns"?

The five others speaking in favor of the project were Randy Smith, Curtis Peters, Jennifer (sorry, didn’t catch her last name), Greg Roberts and Ruthanne Wolfe.

Perhaps Commissioner Reisert can explain the creative sense in which these five residents are “hired guns"?

Is he implying that they were paid to speak?

Although Commissioner Reisert has as much right to utter unintelligible drivel as councilmen Dan Coffey and Steve Price, he’s plainly wrong to insinuate that proponents of the Scribner Place project are mercenaries.

Reisert doesn't neglect the other side of the ledger:

"We had people who spoke against it, but those are the people who speak against anything."

NA Confidential will leave it to David Huckleberry, Carol Lamb, George Mouser and Susan Johnson to defend themselves against this Reisertian nugget of … accuracy?

Public hearing sheds no light on Scribner Place, by Kyle Lowry, Tribune Staff Reporter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Scenes from the open-air museum IV: When the Gang of Four/Comes knocking at your door.


Scenes from the open-air museum III: Discarded anonymous poster's balls found by wood nymphs in Community Park.

Scenes from the open-air museum II: Another of the "little people" passes muster with Queen Troglobyte.

Scenes from the open-air museum I: Concern(ed) Taxpayer is mad as hell, and he's not going to take ... off his mask?

Of learning from one's mistakes -- and choosing the right horse.

For some amongst us, it is a virtue to remain fixed and motionless throughout life’s invariably rich and evolving pageant, never stretching, never growing, never learning, and never capable of smiling when the occasion demands it and saying, “I was mistaken.”

We are not to be counted among such people.

Regular readers of NA Confidential will recall that in the beginning, almost one long year ago, the New Albanian landscape was critically surveyed with the impatience (some would say impertinence) of a novice.

In fall, 2004, we were incited by Mayor James Garner’s infamous “respect” letter to the Courier-Journal, a missive that even he probably wishes had been filed in his desk rather than mailed, as so many of Abraham Lincoln’s more pointed commentaries were penned and then withheld, the Great Emancipator understanding that there are times when venting is best facilitated privately.

Primarily from this letter, and from this letter alone, we assumed the expression on the mayor’s face to the public to be one of uninformed arrogance, and owing to a determination on our part to press forward with our diagnosis of the traditional New Albanian disease of proud backwardness, we freely and eagerly drew conclusions from the evidence at hand.

We have since been proven wrong in coming to these hasty conclusions.

And we apologize for them.

The mayor’s deficiencies in working a crowd are obvious, and he recognizes his shortcomings, but an inability (or reluctance) to actively practice the time-tested political shams of hucksterism and demagoguery might be regarded as an attribute in a better educated community, particularly when accompanied by an encyclopedic command of the relevant facts, and a vision for the future.

This vision may be imperfect, but it embraces the basic tenets of what should be the fundamental aim of any city’s leader: Improving the quality of life for all, not some, of the citizenry, and preparing the city for the challenges of the future.

In New Albany’s specific case, Mayor Garner sees that we must embark upon the laborious task of lessening the municipal dysfunction bequeathed to us over a long period of neglect and desperation, and rededicating ourselves to the task of investing in the future -- not just of buildings, but of people.

Mayor James Garner has proven himself to be equal to the pursuit of this unforgiving and maddening task, and in a startling refutation of politics as usual, accordingly has sacrificed vast chunks of political capital in the process of doing what he not only feels is right, but can support with facts and figures.

At the same time, those opposing his leadership for whatever motive have failed to articulate a coherent vision, refused to answer the facts presented by the mayor and his administration, and owing to this utter lack of philosophical and programmatic content, must now stoop to the subterranean levels of political mudslinging – disgraceful even by New Albany’s disgusting standards -- in order to arrest the progress that they fear will compromise their own undeniably culpable positions in this most dysfunctional of systems.

In the broadest sense, New Albany will succeed only if it gets smarter. Mayor Garner seeks this unquestioned prerequisite.

Meanwhile, the Gang of Four and the entrenched interests it represents are in opposition to a smarter city, one prepared for the demands of the 21st century.

Missteps? Of course there’ll be some. But in the end, it’s an easy choice for us.

We regret only that we didn’t see the truth sooner, but a proper respect for posterity demands that no revisions derived from hindsight be made to the written record, and none shall be.

Dogmatic partisans are quite free to select at random from the 400 postings that have appeared on NA Confidential, to arrange them in any matter that they see fit, and by doing so continue to pay us the ultimate compliment:

Reading what we write.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Is New Albany's Gang of Four preparing an ambush of Scribner Place? Only the shadow knows.

Word on the street, as yet unverified, is that the shamelessly regressive members of the New Albany City Council are planning a push to rescind the council’s Scribner Place resolution as part of a last-ditch sanitation department bailout scheme.

Details are sketchy, but such excremental political maneuvering on the part of the city's most visible group of ward-heeling looters has been widely anticipated, and could come as early as the forthcoming City Council meeting on Thursday, August 18.

If true, it would seem to indicate that the lawyerly investigation into the bidding process demanded by the city's conspiracy theorists has turned up no smoking gun.

Furthermore, having previously urinated in a highly public fashion on the conceptual basis of ordinance enforcement in New Albany as a payback for their colleague Jack Messer's interest in the position, additional grandstanding on the topic of Scribner Place would allow the Coffey/Price/Schmidt clique to yet again humiliate a fellow council member, this time the besieged Donnie Blevins.

Sadly, the civilized world continues to look on, smirking and giggling, as New Albany persists in its favored traditional pastime of self-destructive political demagoguery, with the chief architects of the twice-monthly bludgeoning having no more of a clue as to a viable future for the city than the denizens of the spitwad blogyard over yonder.

Here at NA Confidential, we remain eternal optimists, and refuse to believe that our central civic embarrassment, the Gang of Four, would be so gutless as to float such a resolution while Mayor Garner is on holiday.

Then again, we also thought that even the likes of CM Dan Coffey and CM Steve Price would refrain from attacking the positions of city officials Tony Toran and Adam Dickey as a thinly-veiled quid pro quo for CM Coffey's and Mrs. Price's catastrophic losses in the Democratic party leadership races last spring.

But they did. Apparently subtlety wasn't among the degree programs offered by Bazooka Joe University.

To save time, we'll make a space here for the link to Ben Zion Hershberg's Courier-Journal article tomorrow morning: Here's what the Gang told me to tell you simple folks ... and why we here in Louisville continue to laugh.

ESSNA teams with Caesar's Foundation for neighborhood benches.

Greg Roberts, President of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, writes to let us know about the latest success in neighborhood improvement.

If you get a chance today or tomorrow, drive along Elm, Market and Spring Streets to take a look at the new benches being installed.


The East Spring Neighborhood Association applied for a grant from the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County and received the funds as a part of our neighborhood revitalization and beautification project. The benches are being installed by the street department. Tell me what you think!

Six of the benches were installed today near these locations on Spring Street: Calumet Club, Muir Manor, Pyke-Calloway Funeral Home, the neighborhood health center, the Masonic Lodge and the St. Mary's playground -- and there's more to come.

California's Coffee House returns, adds full menu of Mexican meals.

There never was a clear explanation as to why California's Coffee House closed as abruptly as it did six or so weeks ago, but it's back up and running at the same location, 1515 E Market Street, and with full Mexican meals now included on the bill of fare.


As you can see, there are banners aplenty. The new food menus are posted on the windows in front, along with the hours:


Since the business opened in March, it's gone through more than a few changes even before it briefly disappeared, but let's hope California's is back for good. The neighborhood needs it.

Save Our City? Of course, although it would help to recall that the first rule is “don’t harm the patient.”

“I read. I read for various purposes, and one of them is to learn what my fellow beings are up to.”
Nero Wolfe, fictional detective

Given the increasingly ill-tempered political atmosphere in New Albany during the first half of August, 2005, we’re as foolish to guess when the venom will cease spewing as we’d be to predict when it finally will rain.

If you’re stumbling through the overheated city streets with a lamp held aloft, scanning the pages of the serenely detached Courier-Journal, or perhaps attempting to decipher the coded crayon Luddite scrawling that passes for wisdom in a town never truly comfortable with the concept of literacy -- and searching for a sense of perspective in New Albany -- you just might come away disappointed.

But look more closely. There’s been much good news of late, although it has been lost amidst the kamikaze attacks that have come to characterize the city’s political discourse.

Verily, one cannot uphold the veracity of our city’s approaching rebirth without conceding the inevitability of teething pains, and we’re witnessing this phenomenon now.

The thing to remember is that for each councilman cynically grandstanding to obstruct changes that will expose his brand of quackery for what it really is, there are two or three citizens quietly working to move New Albany forward – preparing business plans, restoring homes and properties, eager to assist in the revitalization of New Albany by applying their entrepreneurial self-interest to the task of creating wealth, increasing the tax base and providing an enhanced quality-of-life for the future.

"Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions—and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth."
Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged

For each untutored Scribner Place naysayer who mistakes his own contempt toward a perceived class of people for logic in the larger sense, there are a dozen residents of downtown New Albany who eagerly support the Scribner Place project and see it as a rare phenomenon capable of uniting the community’s most capable visionaries, business owners and hard-working idealists toward a common goal of sustainable redevelopment in the heart of the city.

For each anonymous attack emanating from the ranks of the perpetually disaffected, for whom the chaos of dysfunction is the devil they know, and preferable to the uncertainty of change, there is a reciprocating act of public kindness – and not always because it is this or that person’s job to be kind.

“Baseball is both intensely traditional and interestingly progressive. By progressive I mean steadily improving.”
George F. Will

So do we.

We’re well aware of the problems faced by all cities, most of which owe to a culture of unaccountability that did not manifest itself overnight. Rather, it is a long-term phenomenon, one that has eroded the prestige and self-image of a great many American cities, and it will require long-term strategies and efforts to combat.

Like ordinance enforcement, revised zooming and planning codes and neighborhood involvement.

Each of us has the right to express our unhappiness, albeit on occasion running the obvious risk of assuming that our own dismay is transferable to the world at large, but in the end, is it accurate, fair, or even remotely useful given the work that remains to be done to contend that a half-century’s worth of disappointment can be attributed to the current mayor’s watch?

Isn’t it true that the self-governed are pointing these crooked fingers at themselves? What role have we played during this time? How have we voted? What have been our expectations?

How have we been the solution, not the problem?

For all the insensible clamor, and all the violent rhetoric, and all the bile, spite, envy and simple mean-spiritedness running rampant, there has yet to be conceived or introduced any semblance of a plan or a strategy with which our persistent opponents of progress propose to move New Albany into the 21st century.

Not one.

Neither from CM Dan Coffey, nor from CM Steve Price, although Coffey has a plan to surrender, and Price remains allergic to cell phones and other visible signs of the modern age.

Not from the half-dozen frequent and anonymous posters at Speak Out, Lout (NA), although these ranks likely include at least two councilmen’s wives as well as one prominent contributor who accepts pay packets from the odious regime she so publicly detests.

Neither from CM Bill Schmidt nor from CM Larry Kochert, although both are capable of doing good, but seem helplessly possessed by the worst political angels of their natures during a time when the city needs them the most.

Not from the Main Street G.O.P. headquarters, although like Nixon’s White House, it is diligently recording all of it for posterity.

No, not one of these personages has found the time to step back from the fatally tainted, scheming and conniving politics of the past to bother with putting forth a plan for improving the city.

If only by default, it is left to New Albany’s progressives to move forward.

And we have been.

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
Frederick Douglass

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Here's one the 'Bune missed: CT Spon-Com at Big-Box.

LOCAL NEWS BEAT

New Albany police have reported that a man identified only as “concern taxpayer” spontaneously combusted today just outside the Wal-Mart Super Store on Grant Line Road.

The deafening explosion rattled windowpanes as terrified shoppers clutched their credit cards and sought shelter at the Dale Earnhardt collectibles aisle, where good values on Ol’ #3 Condoms and silky NASCAR thongs were too good for some shoppers to resist in spite of the pandemonium.

According to eyewitness Prunella McCorkle of Nabb, the self-detonated concerned taxpayer seemed to be “very angry.”

“He parked his rusty Edsel in the handicapped spot and slammed the door off the hinges,” she said, “and he kept muttering to himself – something about Laura taking the high road, again and again."

“I saw him grab a woman carrying groceries, and he was saying, ‘the hell with those idiots. I have had to learn the hard way! The Little People of New Albany. Who or totally fed up-Pisted off and Madder than Hell. And keep preaching to the choir! Stay Focus Laura.’”

"It was so, so ... ungrammatical."

McCorkle borrowed this reporter’s hankie before continuing.

“All of a sudden, one of those cute little progressive.com insurance cars came driving past looking for a parking place, and concern taxpayer went totally berserk, screaming and kicking and spitting at it, all red-faced with the veins popping out … the next thing I knew, there was an explosion, and he … he was … gone.”

Psychiatric specialists warn that spontaneous combustion, while rare, can occur when factors like hatred, rage and an inability to fathom the modern world combine to increase body heat to the point where black humours ascend from gross fumes and create melancholy vapours, igniting underbrush in a soul that has been dried to a crisp by decades of being deprived of the milk of human kindness … and so it all goes “BOOM.”

To lessen the chances of combusting spontaneously, experts urge that ill-tempered and anonymous taxpayers try and remember that, “it’s only a blog, Daddy-O.”


Sorry, Annie -- Luke wins by a nose.

Indeed, the exposed brick can be viewed at the intersection of State and Spring.


Luke Clippinger provided the first correct answer, and he will be awarded a half-price demitasse of Progressive Beer (but he must return home to claim it).


The second place winner, New Alb Annie, will receive a mint-condition copy of "The Collected Works of Concern Taxpayer" signed by the author in crayon, and a matching ink pen cap to storing them for easy future reference.


Thanks for playing the New Albany Game. It didn't rain, did it?

Identify the photo and win a prize.

What is it?


No, it isn't an aerial view of ruins from the Madoc era, or the "little person's" idea of a swank patio.

It's the old bricks peeking through the modern paving on one of New Albany's major arteries.

Can you guess where?

The first correct answer will be rewarded with a half-price demitasse of Progressive Beer.

The second place winner will receive "The Collected Works of Concern Taxpayer" and a matching ink pen cap for storing them for easy reference.

Third place has been reserved for CM Steve Price's showing in the 2007 two-man race for council in the 3rd District.

We hope you have a rainy Sunday.

What we can do: Downtown properties that do it right.

By request, the preceding four photos show downtown properties suggested to us by local historical preservationists as examples of how to "do it" right.

Of course, there are others.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Downtown done right IV - Kaiser Tobacco.


Kaiser Tobacco Posted by Picasa

Downtown done right III - Hieb Building and Endris Jewelers.


Hieb Building and Endris Jewelers Posted by Picasa

Downtown done right II - Reibel House.


Reibel House Posted by Picasa

Downtown done right I - The Parthenon.


The Parthenon Posted by Picasa

Now they want to see me in their sermons -- sheesh.

Over at Troglobyte Central, an anonymous contributor intoned:

Let's all pray for Baylor's soul. He's drunk and does not know what he's saying. Were the little people. And we are United. He does not know how to play nice. so continue with the issues. GOD BLESS BAYLOR. PRAY ONE DAY HE WILL CHANGE HIS WAYS.

Really, LP, I’m moved ... up from the easy chair and straight over to the fridge for another round.

Flatter me all you like, wee ones, but I’m not lowering the price on those $8 pints of "progressive" beer.

Friday, August 12, 2005

On the mayor's private business difficulties.

As first broached yesterday at the Diggin’ in the Dirt blog, and explained in depth today by the Courier-Journal’s Ben Zion Hershberg (did a councilman call him directly with the tip, or use a proxy?) in today’s C-J, Mayor James Garner’s dry cleaning business is struggling, and he’s being sued for back rent.

Predictably, this news has been greeted with undisguised glee by more than a few city residents, including some who are small business owners (see above), and who undoubtedly regard the mayor’s business problems as a comeuppance of sorts.

Politics being what it is, this reaction is perfectly understandable, if not especially dignified, and I’m sure that Mayor Garner knew there were going to be days like this when he decided to run for office.

As anyone who ever attended Sunday School and didn't doze through it will tell you, there’ll never be a shortage of human beings who delight in the mishaps and “failings” of others, whatever their sources.

Indeed, among others, the Great Emancipator recognized that in the metaphorical sphere, human nature is composed of greater and lesser angels, and since local politics itself is nothing if not an intensified version of this dualistic outlook, it stands to reason that the emotions are hotter and run deeper than at other times.

Speaking personally, I have only this to say:

If you’ve never been an entrepreneur – if you’ve never gone out on a limb and started a business because you’re convinced that you have ideas and goals worth pursuing, and if you’ve never worked night and day to nurture your creation, and if you’ve never looked into the mirror at the bags where your eyes used to be and thought that you’d have been better off doing anything other than filling out forms, mopping, arbitrating employee disputes, dealing with suppliers and losing sleep -- then you possess little or no right to judge what it feels like to be on stage each and every day, struggling to get it right, with the glare of the spotlight always shining, and never being able to relax because it’s a competitive world and there’s no guarantee that your customer will return no matter how hard you try.

You’re perfectly free to criticize the mayor for his policies, to disagree with his decisions, to attack, maul, chew up and spit out to your heart’s content when it comes to politics – just don’t pretend you understand what being in business for yourself is like unless you’ve tried it yourself.

I’ve tended to laugh at the anonymous, vicarious viciousness that has increased in intolerance and intensity as this overheated summer has progressed, knowing that such mean-spiritedness is stoked not by “little people,” but by “little minds,” and for short-term ends that rarely add up to any coherent program for the advancement of society, but are designed to settle scores and wreak the havoc so essential to societal dysfunction and the petty politico’s desire to harness this dysfunction to his own ends.

See also: Profiles in abject and supremely petty moral cowardice: CMs Coffey, Schmidt, Price & Kochert publicly urinate on code enforcement in NA.

However, understanding full well that to say what I’m about to say will prompt the mindless guffaws of the underachieving jackals incessantly preying on the trials and travails of others who dare at least to try and achieve, permit me to say this to the mayor.

I feel your pain, and I hope it gets better.

Today we see as never before why the most talented and capable members of the community seldom go into politics. You, James Garner, at least have stepped up to the plate, and you're taking your cuts. More power to you.

You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't -- and if you're an entrepreneur, you get plenty enough of that each and every day without having to answer to anonymous troglobytes, lunatic fringe councilmen and clueless naysayers out to giggle at misfortune.

That's New Albany. The sooner it changes, the better. Mayor Garner understands this. Do you?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New Albany Source, an interactive city guide, debuts.

Readers, hats off to Jim and Tabitha Sprigler for creating New Albany Source, an interactive city guide for New Albany. Let's all contribute to building this site by submitting information.

Verbatim, here’s the scoop:

Welcome to New Albany Source. This site is loaded with information about your community. All of these sections come complete with an events calendar and a directory of information. We encourage you to take advantage of the New Albany Source message boards to leave reviews of restaurants, and local events. We would also like to read about your experiences with businesses in our review area. If you have any questions about this site, or would like to offer suggestions please do so in our general discussion forum. Tell us what you would like to see and share your photos. This site is in its infancy stage. I am still making my way around town collecting menus, information and photos. Check back often to see the progress.

If you know of a local business or organization that you would like listed on
New Albany Source, by all means, let us know. You can reach us at info@newalbanysource.com.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Revitalization and theology: The Floyd County Council hears Scribner Place pros and cons.

As we’ve long suspected, the roots of the community discord with respect to downtown revitalization are quasi-theological in nature.

More about that in a moment.

Although deprived of at least some measure of immediacy by decisions reached since the Floyd County Council’s forum on Scribner Place was first announced, the hearing Tuesday night was a crisp and informative exercise, one efficiently moderated by the council’s no-nonsense president, Ted Heavrin.

A dozen speakers, including Commissioner Steve Bush, supported the Scribner Place project and urged the county body’s participation in funding, while four attendees opposed Scribner Place and the county’s involvement in it.

We were struck by the differences in content and tone between the presentations of those supporting the project and those opposing it.

A sampling of quotes from the pro-Scribner Place speakers:

“Let’s work together.”

“There’s a market for this kind of venue.”

“We need to have a concern for quality of life issues.”

“Public/private investment makes it happen.”

“The legacy we will create for our children and grandchildren.”

“Not the golden goose, but a catalyst.”

“You can be certain it will leverage development.”

Their remarks were interspersed with statistics and insightful commentary that revealed close attention to detail, a grasp of relevant demographic trends, and a recognition that the transformation of downtown New Albany in the wake of Scribner Place will be very attractive both to city dwellers and to many of the residents of the county, who in fact are likely to spend a greater proportion of their discretionary incomes here in Floyd County and not in Louisville’s Highlands or far east side.

All this is tantamount to liberation theology, at least in the view of this heretic, who desires nothing so much as the freeing of the city from its self-imposed limits and the maximizing of its potential.

And, sadly, there's the rub; success itself is a sort of purgatory for those who have for so long defined themselves by failure.

As always, opponents of the project seem to confuse their own befuddled unwillingness to adapt comfortably to the conditions of the present century with an assumed inability on the part of all others to cope and succeed in the here and now.

It is a joyless, somber and almost always morbid worldview that seems to deny the slightest possibility of human attainment, one perpetually framed in terms of dollars and cents as the sole arbiter of life, and stated with a decidedly Calvinist inflection.

Fingers furiously wagging, they suggest that we are preordained to a life of grim toil without pleasure, and might as well get used to it – and to those of you exploring beyond the pale, refusing to accept your intrinsic unworthiness, be aware that we’re always watching, and will deal with your vices when the time is right.

With the exception of the inimitable George Mouser, who stated his opposition on principle to state involvement with religious organizations like the YMCA, the four speaking against Scribner Place on Tuesday evening approached the issue from the grim perspective of what we can’t do, of what we’ll never be able to do, and of what they steadfastly refuse to do with respect to assisting those in the community who actually can do, and who have demonstrated such an aptitude for achievement.

Ademittedly, this minor-key improvisation on a theme of “we are fatally flawed and have no hope of improvement” has been consistent throughout the Scribner Place debate. The situation is dire, we don’t have anything, history has shown that we can’t be trusted, we’ll never be able to do anything right, we’re simply too stupid, too graft-ridden, and altogether too unresponsive to the needs of the few who cannot see that an enhanced quality of life is possible right here, right now, for the many.

Make no mistake, I’m not religious by nature, and I share Mr. Mouser’s qualms about state involvement with religion, but it is clear that the long-running debate about Scribner Place is far less about church and state, and even less about money, than it is about a cultural rift in the community that opponents of progress are quite willing to exploit.

Whether originating in the city or in the county, vocal opposition to Scribner Place seems based at least in part on a common opposition to the very notion of a lifestyle that incorporates “quality of life” as a defining principle.

Certainly one has the right to object to such a worldview, but to do so without acknowledging the obvious evidence that economic growth in the United States increasingly is inseparable from "quality of life" issues is simply to ignore facts, and as we've noted previously, you're entitled to your own opinion, not to your own facts.

Listening to the Scribner Place opponents recite their familiar litanies of gloom and doom, we recalled the words of H.L. Mencken:

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

That fear is alive, well, and resilient in New Albany.
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Floyd holds forum on Scribner Place funding; Most favor aiding New Albany project, by Christie Smythe, Courier-Journal (short shelf life on I links).

Split County Council hears support for Scribner Place, by Kyle Lowry, Tribune staff reporter.

A new claim to fame: Indiana's largest chicken, right here in NA.

Alert reader Knighttrain recently pointed to the existence of a chicken in front of the South Side restaurant.


Here's a close-up of the fowl.


I don't know about you, but this makes me, uh, hungry?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

UPDATED: Big Party in Tiny Town – NA’s lunatic fringe shifts focus to the best garbage pick-up bid, while retaining its monopoly on fatuousness.

Wednesday morning city council updates:

Coverage from Volunteer Hoosier:
Report: City Council Special Meeting, by Randy Smith.

Coverage from the Courier-Journal:

Lawyers to review sanitation plan; New Albany mayor wants privatization, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life on C-J links).

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The worst team in the history of baseball, the 1962 New York Mets, managed to win 25% of its games.

In like fashion, every ward-heeling demagogue reeling from a steady series of crushing defeats, who sees his political future turning ever cloudier, eventually has his day. So it is that at this evening’s special gathering of the New Albany City Council, it would appear that CM Dan Coffey finally succeeded in forcing an investigation into something.

An investigation into what naturally matters far less than winning a round for the first time in recent memory, so we’ll be good sports even if he isn't and congratulate the councilman in taking the first step toward bringing his imaginary city hall ogres to heel.

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For those just tuning in to this latest chapter in the struggle for New Albany’s future, we should note that conspiracy theories, class-induced constipation and simple, unvarnished envy constitute the lifeblood of the city’s “no progress at any price” faction of unreconstructed Luddites, who look to people like Dan Coffey for unscrupulous populist leadership in the same way that hormonal lemmings make for sheer face of the nearest cliff.

Appropriately, as this most recent demonstration of shameless, irony-free political grandstanding drew to a close, New Albany’s “little people” immediately took to the streets in a spontaneous demonstration of wee joy and small fervor, pouring gaily onto the plaza in the shadows of daisies, skinny-dipping in birdbaths, and drinking enough chilled thimbles of Regressive Grog to float a pencil -- and afterward, doze atop a discarded Big Buford wrapper.

Meanwhile, at this morning’s Board of Public Works meeting, city attorney
Shane Gibson explained the process of bidding with respect to the selection of a waste disposal “partner” for the public/private sanitation deal proposed by the Mayor, and said there was “no illegality in the process,” and that “the argument (alleging illegality) is absolutely ridiculous and false.”

Well, there you have it.

Take it away, investigators, and take it from us – it was Elvis on the grassy knoll.

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Last week, during a casual discussion of the Great Sanitation Debate of ’05, one of my customers commented that many people favor municipal garbage service because they’re leery of mafia-owned sanitation companies.

This seemed rather extreme to me, at least until I made a quick, simple Google search that yielded dozens of hits on the topic of the mob and its traditional relationship with trash hauling entities.

Which isn’t to suggest that Industrial Disposal or other companies making bids on New Albany’s sanitation contract have mob connections, but merely to point out that each of us carries a randomly loaded database of convenient cultural references and flagged markers like this one, gleaned from our own experience, but also from each movie and television show we’ve watched, book we’ve read, and conversation we’ve enjoyed.

Anyway, who needs the Sopranos if you already have “Giovanni” Mattingly?

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Earlier today, we indulged in a bit of blog-borne tweaking for the sake of drawing attention to an egregious instance of filth in the neighborhood.

See UPDATED: CM Mark Seabrook sees this scene every day ...

The long-suffering couple residing adjacent to this sore thumb of a poster-house for effective ordinance enforcement had taken the case to the city council on two previous occasions, with no action forthcoming, and decided today to bring their photos and facts to the Board of Public Works.

Along with NA Confidential, they were more than a tad chagrined at the contradictory manner by which Councilman Mark Seabrook publicly acknowledged their ongoing problem (“I drive past it every day on the way to work”) at the last council meeting before promising to abstain on the appointment of an ordinance enforcement officer, thus abetting the political mirror-gazing of council colleagues Dan Coffey, Bill Schmidt, Larry Kochert and Steve Price.

See Profiles in abject and supremely petty moral cowardice: CMs Coffey, Schmidt, Price & Kochert publicly urinate on code enforcement in NA.

It so happens that CM Price, himself a discerning purveyor of rental housing, is councilman for the 3rd District, where the rapidly disintegrating house in question is located.

Not unsurprisingly, CM Price was not in attendance this morning at the public works meeting, but his long-serving predecessor, Maury Goldberg, sat with the neighbors, offered support, and later spoke rather forcefully on behalf of ordinance enforcement, presenting numerous examples of derelict buildings and unkempt properties, and urging that something be done even if an ordinance enforcement officer has not been approved.

Maury also attended tonight’s County Council hearing on Scribner Place, and by stating firm support for the project, as well as an understanding of the cooperation required to achieve it, displayed a good grasp of the issues that actually matter to the 3rd District.

What a refreshing alternative to the ritualistic daily embarrassment meted out in a dirge-like cadence by the sitting councilman, whose “no Price for any progress” platform is a an insulting provocation to the city’s most progressive district.

See also City Council members calling sanitation bidding process into question, by Amany Ali, Tribune City Editor (9 August edition).