Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Council redistricting lawsuit: Battling disinformation is like swatting gnats.

It should be obvious by now that not all local bloggers have, shall we tactfully say, the same honorable standards for differentiation when it comes to fact and fiction.

Because of this unfortunate variance, and also because not all local bloggers are noted for their commitment to predictability as it pertains to the frequency of updates and corrections, I’m compelled to make a public note of blatant disinformation appearing in two July 29, 2007 postings of the Fiscally Conservative Floyd County Democrat blog.

The first was corrected, and graciously, but the second has not been set straight as of the time of this writing.

From the outset, it should be known that I am one of 20 plaintiffs in the council redistricting lawsuit, which is explained in this NAC posting of May 16, 2006:

Tribune reports: Redistricting lawsuit filed today.

“Twenty residents sued New Albany and the City Council Tuesday afternoon, claiming population imbalance in council districts and calling for a special commission to investigate.”

To echo the words of our colleague Bluegill, there’s ample time for the council to grandstand over take-home police cars, but not time for it to address a state-mandated redistricting that is three years overdue.

Make that four.

The attorney for the plaintiffs is Stephen Beardsley, the attorney for the city council is Jerry Ulrich, and if there has been any progress made in any noteworthy way toward resolving the complaint in the 14+ months that have passed since the suit was originally filed, I’m not aware of it.

In fact, I’ve expressed frequent and periodically scathing public annoyance at not being kept informed by our own attorney, which makes it all the more surprising that Yvonne Kersey (“Con-Dem”), author of the FCFCD blog, spent most of the blogday on Monday insisting first that I had been privy to a top level meeting between a judge, two attorneys and selected city council members, and then when her opening bluff was called, expediently coming up with a new version of the story holding that a “Mr. Baylor” called the Federal Building in search of attorney Beardsley during the aforementioned conclave – with the clear insinuation that the Mr. Baylor in question was up to no good.

That there are 19 other plaintiffs in the case seems to have eluded Con-Dem, who has chosen to focus erroneously on just one.

Now, as farfetched as it may sound, it may actually be the case that someone else named Mr. Baylor, or someone pretending to be Mr. Baylor, phoned the Federal Building in search of Stephen Beardsley on the day in question, resulting in a clerk walking into a meeting room and repeating my surname in the presence of city councilmen Kevin Zurschmiede and Larry Kochert, who Ms. Kersey insists have “verified” her much amended blog report.

But that seems highly doubtful, doesn’t it?

Seeing as Ms. Kersey has chosen to leave my name on her second of two published falsehoods in spite of my request to edit it, I’ve little choice except to state the following for the public record:

I have neither telephoned the Federal Building nor spoken with a clerk there – to my knowledge, not a single time ever in my life.

Furthermore, I have not spoken with Mr. Ulrich for two or three weeks, perhaps longer; the last time I can remember chatting with him was on the way out of the City-County building following a council meeting, although it may have been in passing at the Bistro New Albany.

Also, the last time I spoke with Mr. Beardsley was roughly two weeks ago, at the former Main Street Grind, where a witness with whom I was breakfasting can verify that the topic of the conversation was the birth of his grandchild, and that I did not mention the redistricting case at all. In fact, I've not discussed the redistricting case with attorney Beardsley for nine months or more, and probably closer to a year, since shortly after it was filed.

It is disconcerting to waste valuable time on such matters, which might have been laid to rest with a simple phone call, but such is the recurring pattern of vividly turgid (and untruthful) revelation, followed by a silence sufficiently lengthy for the bald-faced lie to coalesce, and by the time the retraction (if any) is issued, the damage already has been done.

Toward what purpose? That is much harder to determine. The blogger Con-Dem herself speaks of the possibility of Democrats having “a caucus meeting so we can put Mr. (Bill) Schmidt back in,” which is a real knee-slapper considering the overwhelming defeat suffered by the incumbent at the hands of challenger Bob Caesar.

Bizarrely, Ms. Kersey asks: “IS THIS THE REAL STORY, AFTER ALL? ARE THE FACTS RIGHT ON THIS ONE, THIS TIME?”

As with the first time, the answer is “no.”

But that hasn’t stopped her before, has it?

----

Yesterday's first Con-Dem post: WHAT IS IT -- SOMETHING NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Night of the living plastic bottled swill Hell … but a good time for the discerning.

Imagine that you’ve paid the very reasonable price of $80 for a chartered bus seat, a ticket in the right field stands to watch the Chicago Cubs vs. the homestanding Cincinnati Reds, a pre-game picnic meal of barbecue and the fixings, and all the craft draft beer you can drink before and after the game.

Imagine that the three craft beers on tap on the bus are BBC APA (Main & Clay), Browning’s She-Devil IPA, and Browning’s Helles, the latter a German-style golden lager perfectly familiar to any person who has ever suckled an ice-cold Bud Light.

Imagine that such an unprecedented deal isn’t quite good enough for you, so you ignore the craft beer you’ve already paid for, pack a cooler with canned and bottled swill, throw back a dozen or more overpriced “waters,” as Sergio would call them, during the ballgame, and at a moment of supreme self-revelation during the journey home, begin belting out an off-key version of the best-forgotten, hoary seventies paean to piddling Parrotland, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw” – all the while believing that in your choice of beer, music and life, you’re being somehow clever and the life of the party.


I can’t imagine it, although I experienced it on Saturday.

However, it is my pleasure to report that entirely apart from redneck contingents originating in my (sighhh) home town of New Albany, there is good beer to be found at the Hofbrauhaus Newport, and even at Great American Ball Park itself. Within 100 yards of our seats at the home field of the Reds, I found Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale, BarrelHouse Red Legg and an unidentified Flying Dog, along with a Red Hook IPA -- all ridiculously priced at $7.25 per plastic cup, but at least bearing tangible sign of hops and hope.

Meanwhile, mainstream America supped predictably at the altar of mainstream plastic bottles as the Reds bowed unconvincingly to the Cubs by an 8-1 score before a sellout “home” crowd of 42,500, of whom at least six of ten were Cubs, not Reds, supporters.

That’s surreal, but not as surreal as the bizarro-world spectacle of swill-hounds eschewing all-inclusive craft beer for the nadir of American brewing. Might I have been able to assist by providing salt, limes and other irrelevancies?


Verily, I should be used to it by now, but there are times when New Albany can really get to a guy ... and follow him back and forth during an otherwise marvelous break.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Council vs. stormwater board: Media coverage.

Sunday edition elaboration from the Courier-Journal following yesterday's rare Saturday morning city council meeting :

New Albany ponders changes; Council might curb storm-water board, by Dick Kaukas.

The New Albany City Council took a first step yesterday toward restricting the powers of the city's storm water board, which recently agreed to a $507,000 no-bid contract with a private company to manage the city's drainage system.

Technically, the council voted 5-1 at a special meeting to repeal the ordinance that created the board a year ago.

But council members, including Beverly Crump and Kevin Zurschmiede, made it clear that what they really want to do is amend the ordinance ...

For the moment, the Tribune has not posted Eric Scott Campbell’s meeting coverage to its web site. We’ll check back Sunday afternoon.

Council spanner lands, according to New Albany Today.

NAC had no intention of letting the dysfunctional drama manufacturing firm otherwise known as the New Albany city council interfere with a whole blessed day off to watch the Reds lose to the Cubs.

But Maury Goldberg's New Albany Today blog is reporting that ...

Breaking News on New Albany Today!

The New Albany City Council votes to repeal the Stormwater Board.


Street Department Union filed for an Injunction to prevent the contract between the Stormwater Board and EMC from taking effect on August 1, 2007.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

CM Coffey calls special meeting to revoke city charter, squelch dissent and declare barbecued bologna the official municipal delectable.

Well, not exactly. Councilman Cappuccino wasn't alone in moving for a meeting, and he merely seeks to disband that nasty stormwater drainage board, which has been the bane of Coffey’s existence ever since President Kochert handed over the drain-o dossier and beseeched the Wizard of Westside to go forth and stultify.

Coffey: Disband New Albany drainage board; Contract approval surprised officials; board chair emphasizes independence, by Eric Scott Campbell (News & Tribune).

New Albany City Councilman Dan Coffey, the legislature’s liaison to the year-old Stormwater Board, has proposed disbanding and reconstituting the panel ...

... Coffey plans to introduce the bill at a hastily arranged Saturday council meeting, a week after the Stormwater Board surprised many city officials by voting to transfer the utility’s employees to the control of management contractor Environmental Management Corp.

As you may recall, Coffey enthusiastically responded to the challenge of serving as council liaison by dodging board meetings, where he might have been compelled to take dictation from uppity people with genuine university degrees who wouldn’t know a Bazooka Joe parchment from the doggie droppings on a typical Parisian street.

But there’s more. The Courier-Journal's Dick Kaukas adds spice to the story with this:

City Clerk Marcey Wisman said the special meeting had been called by five of the council's nine members, as permitted under council rules. She said the five who called the meeting are Coffey, Donnie Blevins, Bill Schmidt, Steve Price and Jeff Gahan.

Kochert, a recurring pillar of the obstructionist Gang of Four, can’t very well sign his name to Coffey’s EMC purge consent form, seeing as the lame duck’s own sewer board just finished awarding a no-bid contract of its own. Meeting agenda items pertaining to the city budget and departmental contract policies make it difficult to discern who hopes to accomplish what.

With battle lines blurred and so much remaining to obfuscate before December 31, when a new council alignment comes into being and the Gang's position may well be eroded, will it be a Saturday morning massacre, with all council members fully caffeinated, if not contemplative? Will the Krispy Kreme deliveryman make an unscheduled appearance? Does anyone really believe that Drew Carey can replace Bob Barker?

Why bother reading pulp fiction when real life is so endlessly entertaining?

Friday, July 27, 2007

One Southern Indiana chairman flicks his Bic as ROCK proposes to burn the sinners.

Coincidentally, I noticed the “XXX – Garbage In, Garbage Out” billboard while traveling on I-65 yesterday, and having taken an interest in the topic almost 30 years ago while in high school, leaped to the conclusion that it was another wild salvo in the decades-long effort to shut down Clarksville’s Theatair-X -- now sans those legendary drive-in accoutrements, and merely the adult "superstore" crowding the outer fringe of the 10th wonder of the world, otherwise known as the Veterans Parkway chain store paradise, and on an everyday basis scaring away good Christians from supporting the war in Iraq by eating at the nearby Cheddar’s, where each appetizer purchased is another nail in bin Laden's coffin.

Turns out my hunch was mostly on the mark. In this news story, the Courier-Journal notes the most recent …

Anti-pornography effort launched in Clarksville; Billboard targets adult businesses, by Harold J. Adams

A Louisville-based anti-pornography group came to Clarksville yesterday to launch a campaign against pornography and sex-related businesses in the metro area.

Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana, or ROCK, held a news conference under a campaign billboard at Veterans Parkway and Interstate 65.


I’m so old that I remember Citizens for Decency through Law, a representative of which made a presentation to my senior civics class in 1978. We’d scheduled an employee of Theatair-X to appear and provide instructive counterpoint, but he cancelled at the last minute. Later that year, he was shot down while mowing his yard. My aversion to cutting grass dates to that time.

At any rate, being innocently asked to “reclaim” a culture so seldom in evidence, and so consistently elusive in a pluralistic society, requires a certain commitment to impartiality and a respect for a multiplicity of viewpoints.

Unfortunately, after visiting ROCK’s website and seeing photos of the group’s president (unsurprisingly, one of several New Albany residents involved) in the general vicinity of our nation’s failed and perfectly impeachable chief executive, and also beaming alongside the banner at the Colorado base camp of Focus on Family, you'll excuse me for guessing that we’ll be having none of it during the course of this latest fundamentalist crusade.

But I’m most curious about this section in reporter Adams’s article:

(ROCK President Bryan) Wickens was joined by Kerry Stemler, chairman of One Southern Indiana, the Clark and Floyd counties' chamber of commerce and economic development council.

"We need ... an economy that our children and grandchildren will want to be a part of," Stemler said.

Boy, is THAT a loaded statement.

Leaving aside the suitability of 1SI’s chairman publicly siding with a haywire religious lobby group, we’ve seen lately that the development council’s tortured definition of a suitably futuristic regional economy still includes a healthy fetish for exurban sprawl, a jolly endorsement of continuing dependence on foreign oil and a concurrently blatant disregard for mass transportation strategies; excuse me for being impertinent, but aren’t discussions over these matters closer to 1SI’s ideal (if not its daily) purpose than providing photo-op succor to native Christian extremists?

Back in 1978, one of our topic presentation pieces was extracted from the pages of Hustler (I’d really prefer you not ask how we obtained it), one featuring photos of disfigured and mutilated corpses and the title, “War – The Ultimate Obscenity.”

Three decades later, it's all I recall from that class. Contrary to popular opinion, I actually did learn something in high school.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

LEO's Stephen George on the death of a bicyclist; NAC's junior editor on the Bridges Project and oil addiction.

A tip of the hat goes to Stephen George.

The LEO writer has made metro transportation his personal issue, and he’s a tenacious bulldog about it. It's refreshing to see a writer filling the classic role.

Sadly, I’m so old that I can remember when such journalistic dynamos were the stock in trade of the Courier-Journal, but now, given the numbing and dumbing effects of two decades of stewardship by Gannett (a word that bears a striking resemblance to the Spanish word “garrote,” which is a length of chain, wire or rope used to strangle someone to death, or in this usage: “From its hidden vantage point in the back seat, the Courier-Journal editorial board has shamelessly Gannetted/garroted the concept of 8664 on a regular basis.”)

George’s article this week:

A bridge to bike-friendly

How Chips Cronen, the cyclist who died on the Second Street Bridge earlier this month, will help change the way you think about road riding — for the better.


Here are a handful of links that will help you understand the significance of Cronen’s death:

A Cyclist’s Death

Safe Streets Louisville

Reasons you should ride a bicycle & your business should use bike based couriers

Meanwhile, yesterday NAC pointed toward:

(An) 8664 event today on the Great Lawn of Louisville's Waterfront Park.

This led to a wonderful posting at John Gonder’s blog:

A Utopian Greenway ?

Later in the day on Wednesday, my colleague Bluegill weighed in on the configuration of the Greenway and provided this instructive comment, which I’m now lifting to the marquee:

A part of the problem is that the (Greenway) project is being mostly funded with federal transportation dollars.

The politicians who decry oil company price gouging and our involvement in the Middle East in relation to oil are the very same bunch who perpetuate a transportation funding system that heavily favors gas guzzling automobile projects at the expense of fuel-sparing ones.

Per Thomas Friedman of the NY Times and many others, we pay for it all twice. Once at the pump, where dollars ultimately end up in the oily hands of those funding terrorists, insurgents, etc., and then again with our tax dollars via the military who are given the life threatening but ridiculous job of warding off the groups we fund.

Meanwhile, our tax dollars are used to create single occupancy vehicle projects that not only exacerbate our dependence on the above cycle but also preclude a significant portion of the population from getting to jobs, school, and other life improving activities.

If that's not enough, development groups like One Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville Incorporated then come around asking for even more tax dollars, at least a portion of which will be used to convince us that following that same path as quickly and blindly as possible is the only way to salvage our economic well-being.

The only person who represents us at the federal level who currently seems to understand all that (and who knows what's happened to Yarmuth) is Indiana Senator Richard Lugar.

Readers, particularly very pro-business Republicans, should check out the energy section of his web site, particularly the link to curing our oil addiction.

It's not at all disingenuous to suggest that the Bridges Project and automobile portions of the Greenway support terrorism.

I'm especially pleased. I already knew that NABC's brewing equipment helps to kill fascists. Now I can take the added pleasure in knowing that my Trek hybrid is a weapon against terrorism, and that I don't even have to shop 'til I drop to be a cog in the war.

Before all this came up, we noted that New Albany could use a "positive spirit" enlargement pill when it comes to attitudes toward bicycling, but don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

8664 event today on the Great Lawn of Louisville's Waterfront Park.

(8:25 a.m. update: Want to see what a "true greenway should look like?" Go to John Gonder's blog and see: A Utopian Greenway? )

Why is it that every time I read a C-J agitprop piece lancing the straw man that the formerly "great" newspaper has laboriously constructed from 8664's mostly thoughtful advocacy, I think of the all-too-extant proposal to build an automotive bridge for a "greenway" (?) right through the middle of the Loop Island Wetlands in New Albany?

And how we can't revise the plan to do the right thing because the money we don't have already is budgeted?

In turn, why does that remind me of Mrs. Schmidt's reasoning to the effect that a "greenway" must be entirely automotive because it's the only way that grandparents might be able to use it with their grandchildren -- as though walking and biking ends at the age of, say, 56?

Oops, I almost forgot. There's an 8664 event today. The following came to us from Tyler and JC. You can register to receive e-mail notices at 8664's website.

----

What: 8664 Event
When: 5:40 pm Wednesday
Where: The Great Lawn, Waterfront Park

Join us this afternoon to celebrate Louisville's waterfront and support 8664. We're going to gather on the east side of the Great Lawn before the Waterfront Wednesday concert to show this community what the downtown portion of the Bridges Project will do to our waterfront. Please come help us form a line 75 feet north of I-64 showing how much more of our park will be covered by concrete.

Bring a $10 donation and receive an "Our way or the highway" t-shirt. Supplies are limited. Get there early to allow time for parking. Your best bet might be to park on Witherspoon or Preston.

Stay for the concert. The WFPK Waterfront Wednesday concert will start at 6 pm and go until dark. This will be the quietest concert on the waterfront until we replace I-64 with a parkway, so stick around and enjoy Louisville's waterfront.

Special Thanks
Thanks to all the people who have contributed online and/or sent checks. Interestingly, we've received contributions from Washington, DC, Vermont and Seattle. Keep the support coming and we'll keep focusing on Louisville's future. If you haven't already, you can help us today and contribute online.

Thanks for keeping the faith.

Peace,

Tyler Allen and JC Stites
http://www.8664.org/

8664 Mission
To advocate for the revitalization of Louisville through the removal of Interstate 64 along the riverfront and the adoption of a transportation plan that will provide long-term benefits to the region's citizens, neighborhoods, environment and economy.

PS Another CJ web-only readers letter:

Traffic not so bad

I have been driving from Oldham County to Broadway on weekday mornings this summer. During construction on the Restore64 project, I have switched from taking I-64 to 9th Street to exiting I-65 at Jefferson St. I've noticed no difference; in fact I-65 may be the better route anyway. I can't help thinking that if the "through" traffic were required to "go around" via an East End Bridge (or the Snyder within Kentucky); the traffic from the Gene Snyder to Spaghetti Junction would be relieved substantially.
--LAURIE SPEZZANO Crestwood, Ky.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The vision thing ... and just doing it.

Just draw up a proposal of what you envision for New Albany and present it to the City Fathers and fight for the adoption of the proposal. Stop talking and Just Do It!

The preceding is a comment that was appended to yesterday’s posting about attitudes toward bicycling in New Albany. The comment comes from a friend, so it is far from a trognonymous jab from behind the hedge. Emphatically, my repeating it in this context should not be construed as a provocation of any sort. Rather, I’d like to use it as a starting point to ask a question.

Isn’t "just do it" precisely what is being done?

From my perspective, we’ve all but gone blind “envisioning” New Albany, and amid a prevailing "banana republic" atmosphere of timidity, unresponsiveness and irrationality, “just do it” would seem to have become the active mantra of a small and growing band of entrepreneurs, investors, activists and consumers. Their collective strength seems to be growing by the day, and overall, we’re grinding forward and making progress in dragging the city, albeit kicking and screaming, into the 20th century.

(Yes, I know. Suffice to say we were a bit behind the curve, and still are, but things are better than they were three years ago … aren’t they? I believe they are better, because at least now, we can see some movement)

But enough from me. Readers, what do you think? In practical terms, what can be done to assist the "just do it" mentality?

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Albany could use a "positive spirit" enlargement pill when it comes to attitudes toward bicycling, but don't hold your breath.

Yesterday I took issue with the Luddite tendencies of the Tribune’s soccer-bashing sports editor, so it’s only fair (and balanced) that kudos are duly dispensed for outstanding achievements in local journalism. Consider this Sunday commentary by guest columnist Daniel Robison:

ROBISON: Switch gears for new future in cycling.

Lately a lot has been made of Louisville's supposed bike-friendliness. Profiles on the local news and stories in local publications have covered the topic from all angles recently, creating (to those who care) an awareness of all things Louisville bike riding. But what about southern Indiana; how does our area measure up?

As Daniel can’t help noticing, our local area “measures up” to Louisville in progressive dispensations made for bicycling just as well as it does in other measures of progressive thinking, which is to say, there is little sign of a pulse … and a toe tag is being prepared.

Interestingly, the youthful columnist goes on to make a telling point that has escaped too many other local observers, including yours truly at NAC:

One of New Albany's recent road improvement projects, Mt. Tabor Road, has been closed for months and still appears far from completion. With so much time and money invested in this mile-or-so stretch of pavement and with such repairs so few a far between, one would expect a definitive product, right?

But if there are to be bike lanes on this new road, then I must be blind. Sure, there are sidewalks and tidy gutters, but the absence of bike lanes constitutes a lost opportunity that will most likely not be corrected until the road is repaired again in decades …

… Many other cities across the nation have gotten the memo; the inclusion of bike lanes has been a part of new road construction for years in many parts of the country and across the world. Why shouldn't New Albany at least try to embrace this same positive spirit present in other communities?

That’s an excellent question, Daniel, and unfortunately it would appear that one of the very few ordinances that New Albany aggressively enforces is the one expressly outlawing “positive spirit.”

In fact, council persons running the gamut of legislative expertise from “C” (Coffey) to “P” (Price) presumably have the anti-positive spirit ordinance tattooed on their arms for quick and easy reference during those long council hours when lame-duck President Kochert permits rules of order to lapse as he doodles on the draft of his moribund smoking decree. You see, there’s public speaking time, city official speaking time, and personal agenda speaking time, with the latter being shared by the Bicknellian shadow cabinet minsters customarily found chortling on the back row.

Ah, but I digress.

Again.

It should be noted that the city’s planning arms have in fact incorporated bicycling lanes into at least some of their projections; bicycling paths are being included in the Vicky Ann Denschak Memorial Greenway; and one mayoral candidate, Doug England, has made NAC aware that he has a personal understanding of the issues involved and has considered prospects for future implementation.

Meanwhile, as GOP mayoral hopeful Randy Hubbard promises to study the meaning of the word “bicycle,” and entertains suggestions from citizens, most of whom don't ride one, it remains that the real answer is quite simple. Contrary to what many casual observers believe, the context of commuting to and from work and play by bicycle is as important as recreational cycling in these discussions, and that's because the most hopeful future revitalization plans for New Albany inside the beltway are inexorably linked with the sort of person who'd like to have the option of commuting by bike when possible. So ...

Until such a time as we see any single person is New Albany’s ruling structure – elected, appointed, political, non-partisan, religious, secular, secretarial or janitorial – riding to work on a bicycle, we’ll not see much in the way of “positive spirit” pertaining to a topic like bicycling.

And that’s because New Albany’s collective 800-lb gorilla, and the ultimate source of the psychosis that so degrades all our future prospects, is an utter failure on the part of government and citizenry alike to muster any degree of comprehension as to what is occurring in the larger world that lies outside their own exceedingly narrow comfort zones.

Consequently, it isn’t just that so many drivers don’t ride bicycles and lack any semblance of understanding of the issues explicated so clearly by Daniel Robison, it’s that they can’t even imagine doing so and moreover cannot imagine life outside the confines of an automobile – and if they can’t imagine it, then how could anyone else? It follows that those who are able to imagine it must be mistaken, defective, or both, and any person sighted on a bicycle must be either too poor to afford a car or restricted to riding a bike because of a mental illness, DUI conviction, bad personal credit or contrarian tendencies. It will be disapointing to many trognonymous opinion generators to learn that of these reasons, only the contrarian one applies to the senior editor.

One of the most telling recent examples of this startling local absence of empathy came when 3rd district councilman (and 36% solution) Price attempted to somehow make the case for a tighter grip on take-home police vehicles by explaining that he knows how it’s possible to waste gasoline, seeing as he does it himself driving around his neighborhood.

Of course, he might choose to walk the neighborhood’s sidewalks or ride a bike, and yet how often has Price or any other person working in the City County Building been spotted riding a bike or walking to work, or to meetings, or -- for once -- just for the sheer hell of it? Until a few of them do, expect more "Stasis-R-Us" – the official mindset and motto of New Albany.

But good job nonetheless, Daniel. Opening cans of worms in front of squeamish folks who’d rather not see them wiggle is an innate skill, and one that should serve you well in the future. Good luck in graduate school. Perhaps we should have a Progressive Pint or two before your departure?

Photos of bikes, biking and bike lanes in Haarlem, Netherlands were taken by the senior editor in February, 2007.




Posted by Picasa

“Dork and Mindy” advocate openness – behind their bleeding skull voodoo masks, of course.

Professor Erika’s latest blogomanic screed is a particularly intemperate boilerplate directed against the mayor of New Albany, the city’s street department head, and its police and fire chiefs – all of whom the masquerading academic identifies by name prior to hiking a grizzled leg for indiscriminate spraying.

Nothing about this dysfunctional behavior is unusual, except that in this case, she hilariously invokes the memory of Honest Abe at Gettysburg to preface a mighty thunderclap of rhetorical flatulence on behalf of the nobility of “transparency.”

What's good for the goose ...

Actually, few people who actually manage to be elected to a public office are capable of hypocrisy on this massive a scale, but don’t take my word for it.

Consider that he (“Erik”) actually is she (Ms. Denhart), and that she pretends to be a college professor. Remember that her character assassination always is conducted anonymously, and that she is abetted in her covert activities by a “citizens advocate” (Ms. Bolovschak) who continues to disingenuously deny involvement in the juvenile shenanigans.

And yet, she – make that “they” – rage and blow about the importance of “transparency.”

Did I say hypocrisy? Add a heaping bilespoon of cowardice, and voila! It’s “freedom” of speech, embittered troglodyte-style.

Serve with obvious buffoonery and toadstool sandwiches for best results.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Attack of the killer elitist soccer snobs -- quick, find us a journalist ... now!

(See also a fine letter to the editor on the same topic: Hutsell should kick it. It was published on July 21, as the finishing touches were being put on this essay.)

As noted many times in this space, the New Albany Tribune has made steady and quantifiable progress overall during the past two years. Might it now be time for the spirit of reform and renovation to be extended to that last, enduringly unreconstructed bastion of overt anti-intellectualism, the sports page?

Don’t count on it.

Nowhere else in the newspaper does the underachieving editorial "balls and bats in the belfry" legacy of the long-departed Eddie LaDuke remain more firmly ensconced than in sports, LaDuke’s former realm.

The most recent example of this lamentably bovine sensibility found the newspaper’s sports editor, Mike Hutsell, carefully constructing a massive straw man from the notion of David Beckham as heavenly deliverance for American soccer, and gleefully bashing it to bits with all the sparkle of a ‘roid enraged offensive lineman at a suburban Atlanta pit bull fight.

HUTSELL: Beckham will make it OK, right?

Hey, did you hear? We finally have our next great savior for the sport of soccer in the United States. No really, it’s happened this time.

As Hutsell takes his rhetorical Louisville Slugger to a handily contrived proposition, one holding that a much-hyped English professional player can single-handedly transform native sporting customs in the obtuse Colonies, it is acutely revealing that the real target of the editor's jibes – those who are in the habit of making exaggerated claims about Beckham's potential influence – are none other than Hutsell’s fellow sports scribes nationwide, for whom facts are just as inconvenient as they are for our local kiddie game assessors, personal prejudices just as likely to be substituted for logic, and straw men by far the favored sparring partner on a daily basis.

Tellingly, the idea of “Beckham as savior” currently is being expounded far less often by those millions of Americans for whom soccer has personal value than it is by media pundits in search of a mechanical rabbit to inspire addled greyhounds to adrenalize.

After all, those millions who enjoy the sport are busy pursuing their passion in the open air and have little inclination to play semantic games with frustrated ex-jocks on the sports page. Just as delightfully, by refusing to adopt the customary American sporting paradigm, they effectively render Hutsell’s tragic-comic foray into sociology (American soccer as an “elitist mindset” of the “upper-middle class of society”) into the utter absurdity that by all accounts it is.

Assuming he speaks Spanish, Hutsell might consider explaining this "upper-middle class" bias to New Albany’s Hispanic population, many of whom seem quite content to kick the ball around area parks and fields without official editorial sanction.

Seems almost disrespectful, doesn't it?

It all goes to show that while the local newspaper’s sports writers perform adequately when bound to the task of recounting baskets drained or balls roped by members of area high school teams, providing them with a soap box for commentary is a recipe for submerging the level of discourse to that of sports talk radio. Given low attention spans and the current state of sporting “civilization” on the airwaves, I imagine this occurrence isn’t entirely a coincidence.

Personally, I cherish the truly special times when the Tribune’s sports columnists surgically remove the discussion at hand from all necessary contexts, and with the speed of a Formula One race car, descend at full boor into inanity, trivialization or both.

Prior to Hutsell’s unintentionally hilarious sociological consideration of American soccer, there was Matthew Cress’s lamentation at the murder-suicide case of professional thespo-wrestler Chris Benoit. With a solemnity more in keeping for departed statesmen, tyrants or church fathers, Cress wrote that in spite of the senselessness of the tragedy, he’d been such a fan of Benoit that he couldn’t bring himself to “hate” him.

That's an interesting angle. Naturally, a far more edifying approach would have been to question the very nature of the megabuck wrestling farce, and if that is deemed off limits owing to the profit imperative, perhaps examine the many premature deaths and crippling injuries suffered by these muscle-bound “sporting” entertainers, but far be it from me to rain on the parade of deltoid worship.

No, not I. After all, I’m a baseball fan, and accustomed to looking the other way so long as the ball travels 500 feet or more on a checked swing. Do you think Bud Selig ever noticed?

Ironically, as sports editor Hutsell follows suit with the AM radio masses in lobbing dying quails at sporting pursuits that fall outside the mainstream of Larry the Cable Guy’s viewing range, the best sports columnist on the Tribune's staff, Aidan Kelly, writes about ... yes, soccer, and does so with erudition and flair.

Whassat? Soccer? That sissy game that a billion people in the world play in spite of the objections of the greatest country in the history of the world? Damn, that sounds Un-Uhmerican, dudintit? Hey, pass the cheetohs, would ya? There’s a rasslin’ match showing. Anyone got a Natty Light?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sportstime 20th gala musical views, and an unrelated digression on the theme of craft beer growth.



From top to bottom, they're Roz Tate, Stephen Powell and Jared Williamson, as captured peforming at last Saturday's Sportstime Pizza 20th anniversary party. Longtime friend and sidekick Paul Nevitt played alongside Roz, who has remained a pub regular even if it had been 12 years since he played music live on site prior to last Saturday's gig. Many readers are familiar with Stephen, who has bartended and served for NABC for many a year, and of course Jared, along with Jesse Williams, brews Progressive Pints in the NABC garage brewhouse.

I'll be traveling with Jared today to Indianapolis for the 12th edition of the Indiana Microbrewers Festival (3:00 p.m. to - 7:00 p.m. at Opti Park at 820 E. 66th St.) It's the state of Indiana's biggest microbrewing celebration, always a great show, and worth using as a pretext for noting that our business sector has much to celebrate. Consider these statistics:

Growth of the craft beer industry was 12% by volume for 2006. The craft beer industry eclipsed 6.7 million barrels of craft beer produced in the U.S. in 2006.

The fastest growing craft beer sector in 2006 was microbreweries (up 16%), showing customer support for local breweries.

Craft beer is the fastest growing segment for supermarket scan data. 17.8% growth was stronger than all other alcohol beverage categories.

Craft beer sales share is 3.20% by volume and 4.99 % by dollars.

Craft beer industry sales have grown 31.5% over the last 3 years.

Total U.S. Craft Beer Industry Annual Dollar Volume: $4.7 billion.

----

All that, and it tastes damned good, too.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Westendians roused from their hovels to joyously chant the Coffey mantra: Numbness at the top = dullness all around.

With two council members absent, including the titular council head “Lame Duck Larry” Kochert, we were left with numbers insufficient for permanence on third readings of ordinances like the evening’s finale, Z-07-10, pertaining to fringe area expansion in the vicinity of Highway 111 and Two Mile Lane. There must be five votes on way or another on such matters.

By pure coincidence (suuurre), this fringe area debate offered the occasion for maximum grandstanding at minimum coherence by the council’s always luminous vice president, Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey, sitting in for the King and fondling the gavel with such affection that the Green Door might have opened at any moment and a geriatric Marilyn Chambers stepped into our midst.

Aargh.

You may visit this formerly great newspaper for by-the-numbers council meeting coverage: New Albany council votes against using 'rainy day' funds, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal).

Later today, when the Tribune’s web site is updated, reporter Eric Scott Campbell’s coverage will be linked here.

Over the course of three council sessions, the saga of Z-07-10 has provided a perfect case in point as to the damage suffered by a city that is content to elect semi-literate ward heelers to positions of authority.

During the first reading on June 21, CM Coffey led the charge against Z-07-10 on the grounds of his own rambling interpretation of legalese before meekly “passing” in the midst of a unanimous favorable vote.

At the second reading on July 2, Coffey manned the ramparts a second time as it was explained in detail that passing Z-07-10 would provide city planners with a degree of control over future development in the area, and that the ordinance itself neither stipulates the dimension of these future plans nor precludes those adhering to expanded guidelines, which at any rate would still require council approval following the usual zoning process.

Coffey voted “aye” along with the rest.

Last night, with a third and final reading looming, the ever conniving Wizard came loaded for bear, with two members of the public in tow to testify as to the detrimental effects of future development on the fringe area and offering gloomy forecasts of the potential effects of flooding, autos and pavement on what currently remains farmland.

Certainly there is merit in such prognostications, but the council’s own rules for public speaking expressly forbid addressing those items not on the agenda – and Z-07-10 has nothing to do with the shape, dimension or existence of future development.


Accordingly, the council president should have deferred these comments until after the vote was taken, when non-agenda item public speaking is allowed, but the council’s acting president last night was none other than Coffey himself, who used the dire comments as a springboard to raise the anti-21st century pulses of congenital obstructionist Bill Schmidt, habitual fence sitter Donnie Blevins and the existential nay-sayer Steve Price, who worried aloud about the effects of future fringe development on local populations of pretty birds while reaching for the handiest of his Biblical water-borne doomsday scenarios.

The lamentable result of all this grandstanding is renewed defiance on the part of the council’s know-nothing bloc, nary a jot of legislative substance to actually prevent the future developments in the fringe that the know-nothings claim to fear the most, and an immediate return to the topic when the full complement of council members again assembles, something that hasn’t happened in a while.

For Coffey, doltish author of the chaos, there’s the recurring juvenile pride of knowing that once again he’s managed to score a hat trick, managing to be for, against and undecided on three readings of the same ordinance.

Now that’s incredible.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cold coffey, stale biscuits, lumpy gravy and Cappuccino's planned mass deportation of functionaries.

Amid rumblings of discontent inside his hermit kingdom of Westendia, Councilman Cappuccino is expected to leave the secured perimeter of his West 7th "green with envy zone" compound in order to attend tonight’s city council meeting, where he has promised to kick-off a star-studded witch hunt in an effort to expose the identities of “political appointees … who are not needed."

New Albany council to look at city's ongoing expenses; Using 'rainy day' funds has uncertain support, by Dick Kaukas (Louisville Courier-Journal).

Unfortunately neither the CJ’s pliant reporter nor NAC was unable to interview CM Cappuccino at last evening’s official grand opening of Speakeasy Jazz, because, as noted political commentator and bridge player Chico Marx once noted, “He fool us. He no show up.”

Perhaps Cappuccino was busy renewing his auctioneer’s license, planting a pumpkin patch in honor of Whittaker Chambers, or searching for the crucial information that has constantly eluded his grasp.

Meanwhile, having gracefully dodged the poison arrow recently launched in her direction by the villainous and cowardly two-headed Denschak troll, city clerk Marcey Wisman helpfully provides the council meeting agenda here.

---

With the second half of the 2007 political season fast approaching, we’re still scratching our heads and wondering:

Whatever became of the city council redistricting lawsuit?

Will the 3rd council district be graced with a platform from either GOP candidate Brenda Scharlow or Libertarian pro wrestling chronicler Thomas Keister?

Did 5th district Democratic nominee Diane Benedetti ever take advantage of her free ticket to the Muhammad Ali Center?

Will the GOP caretaker mayoral candidate Randy Hubbard risk venturing an opinion – on anything?

Just wondering. And you?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Westenders to NAC: "WE NEED YOUR HELP BECAUSE OUR CITY COUNCILMAN COFFEY WILL NOT HELP US."

(Don't forget this evening's Speakeasy Jazz grand opening and ribbon cutting)

It wasn’t that long ago that unidentified “RESIDENTS OF NEW ALBANY” were asking me, a mere blogging Publican, to “GO TO HELL.”

Oooh ... AHHH ... it's trognonymous hate mail!

Actually, it's one of my favorite Alice Cooper songs* ... but I digress.

Yesterday I received an anonymous letter with a far different tone. In it were two photos of trash-strewn, overgrown housing eyesores.

----

July 15, 2007

DEAR MR. BAYLOR

WE ARE GLAD THAT YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING CLEAN UP UNSAFE HOUSES IN THE EAST END.

ALL OF THE INTEREST IS IN CLEANING UP THE MESSES IN THE EAST END.
WE WISH THAT YOU WOULD HELP US CLEAN UP THE MESSES IN THE WEST END.
WE NEED YOUR HELP BECAUSE OUR CITY COUNCILMAN COFFEY WILL NOT HELP US.
PLEASE SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP THE WEST END.

WEST END RESIDENTS

----

Make no mistake: As it pertains to ordinance enforcement, rental property reform and basic human decency, NA Confidential’s blogvocacy has never been restricted to one neighborhood, one council district or one type of resident. New Albany's west end is no exception, and you may recall these words, as written in May by my colleague Bluegill:

This is the house in which my mother grew up, 216 W. 10th, right in the middle of the 1st district. It's currently a foreclosure, for sale for $10,900. When I first stopped by to look at it, the back door was kicked in and it was full of trash. It's been that way for months.

The houses across the street are worse, with boarded up windows. Judging by the number of cars parked out front on my last visit, at least one of them is occupied. It would seem an opportunity for a caring local representative to either hold the landlords responsible for the egregious violations or to inform the beleaguered homeowners of the city assistance programs available.

All I've heard from incumbent and former redevelopment liaison Dan Coffey are the reasons why we can't. I guess they believed him.

I hope they believe Theresa Timberlake on Tuesday.

From NAC’s Primary Primer: Introduction and 1st council district (D) endorsement.

Although Theresa Timberlake pushed Coffey to the brink of much deserved retirement, she unfortunately didn’t win the race. That’s a shame, because she looked to be the breath of fresh air so desperately needed in the 1st district. Fortunately, Coffey’s threadbare margin illustrates that there is a hunger for quantifiable change in the 1st district.

To those who westenders who wrote the letter published above, rest assured that when it comes to better neighborhoods, “we” want “all” of “us” to be a part of the solution. The problem so far has been in getting “all” of us to leave past prejudices at the door and to work toward a unity of purpose that is calibrated to succeed, not fail. The Dan Coffeys of the world survive in a fragmented habitat divided into units sufficiently weak that their bullying and braying is mistaken for leadership, not the demagoguery and spitefulness that it really is.

Herewith, NAC renews the call for a meeting between representatives of all the city’s neighborhoods, whether these representatives are organized into neighborhood associations, or block watches, or informal groupings of concerned citizens. What matters is working together to make progress, not perpetuating divisiveness and dysfunction by remaining separate.

Tragically, Coffey’s 1st district seat is uncontested, but other races are not. Given the impending vote scrum, it’s a fine time for togetherness, don’t you think?

----

* For the record, here are the lyrics to "Go To Hell" (1976).

For criminal acts and violence on the stage
For being a brat
Refusing to act your age
For all of the decent citizens you've enraged
You can go to Hell

For gambling and drinking alcohol constantly
For making us doubt our parents authority
For choosing to be a living obscenity
You can go to Hell

You're something that never should have happened
You even make your Grandma sick

You'd poison a blind man's dog and steal his cane
You'd gift wrap a leper
And mail him to your Aunt Jane
You'd even force-feed a diabetic a candy cane
You can go to Hell

You're something that never should have happened
You even make your Grandma sick

For criminal acts and violence on the stage
For being a brat
Refusing to act your age
For all of the decent citizens you've enraged
You can go to Hell

Tonight: Speakeasy ribbon cutting and grand opening.

Visit the Speakeasy Jazz web site for more information.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tonight: Anti-predatory lending educational workshop.

(Press release courtesy of Ted Fulmore)

National City, S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association and East Spring Street Neighborhood Association to Host Anti-Predatory Lending Educational Workshop

Learn How to Protect Yourself from Abusive Lenders

Abusive or predatory lenders target people who are strapped for cash. But the loans they push usually have sky-high interest rates and fees. They’re often illegal, too.

This workshop, presented by Deborah Williams (National City), will teach residents how to recognize predatory lending, understand loan terms, find the best loan deal, and much more.

Foreclosures around the country are approaching record levels. Don’t miss this valuable workshop – your financial future could depend on it.

Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

When: Tuesday, July 17th – 6:30 p. m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: S. Ellen Jones Elementary School, 600 East 11th Street, New Albany, Indiana
(Meeting to take place in the cafeteria)

For more information, please call 812.941.0098 or visit www.SEllenJones.org.

Church bulldozers again: "Potential threat to one, if not two, historic buildings in downtown New Albany."

The following e-mail came to NAC from Greg Sekula, who is director of the Southern Regional Office of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.

Against all odds, the senior editor has elected to exercise restraint in jumping to scathing conclusions about the tendency of downtown churches to be woefully unresponsive to issues pertaining to historic preservation. Instead, let's just permit Greg to tell the story.

---

I want to alert you about a potential threat to one, if not two, historic buildings in downtown New Albany. For several months, Historic Landmarks has been involved in conversations with trustees of Centenary Methodist Church concerning the fate of the fire-damaged Frank Marsh house at 417 E. 4th Street. The house, which was the home of local author Greg Seidel and his family, sustained damage in a December 2006 fire. While the damage appears on the surface to be extensive, a site visit and tour of the house has revealed a building that generally is still structurally sound on the first and second floors with some water and surface damage. A limited portion of the roof structure will likely require some rebuilding or reinforcement.

However, the building, in HLFI's opinion, is certainly salvageable and would be conducive to adaptive re-use for office or retail use with plenty of parking in the area that could be leased for the new use (including parking owned by the church which sits largely unused during the weekday).

Centenary Methodist also owns a grass-lawn vacant lot two doors to the north which it purchased with the intent of developing a children's playground on the site. This never materialized and the church has been maintaining the vacant lot. Between the vacant lot and the fire-damaged house is a brick c. 1840 Federal style townhouse that is privately owned and reported to be available for sale.

Initially, Centenary was on a demolition track for the house and was going to leave the lot vacant with no immediate plans for re-development. This would further the erosion of the urban fabric in this section of the downtown which we believe is antithetical to on-going revitalization efforts. After some discussion and persuasion, the trustees appeared amenable to working with HLFI to attempt to market the house in its present state. The idea that was discussed as late as last Friday with a church rep. was to have the church clean-out the house (using its insurance proceeds - cost between $1200-$1700) to make it a bit more attractive to potential buyers and to work with HLFI and local preservation advocates to advertise the house for a minimum 30-day period at $15,000 (price verbally desired by the church which reflected, in its opinion, the value of the vacant lot).

Ed Clere, a local real estate broker, offered his assistance to place the property in the MLS for this abbreviated period. A clean-out estimate was obtained last Friday. However, this morning, I received a call from a church trustee indicating that the trustees yesterday had decided to pursue demolition. The hope was to package the vacant lots with someone who might also want to purchase the brick house in between and redevelop the property. This would mean ultimately the demolition of the two historic structures remaining on the block!

I have asked the church trustee to go back to the Board and see if the church would consider a sale of the house "as is" and the vacant lot it owns as well to alleviate the interest in land speculation that seems to be driving the church in its decision-making. I can't say at this time if HLFI could play a role here given our current "active" project portfolio, but will consider it in order to avoid the inevitable loss of both buildings.

I would love to partner with another local non-profit to save this block. Ideas are welcome here. Will keep you informed of the situation. In the meantime, if any of you know of members of Centenary who might be sympathetic to a preservation approach for this property, please let me know ASAP, and we can try and see if they can exert any influence with the trustees.
(Photos courtesy of Greg Sekula)

Monday, July 16, 2007

A troggledy sewer pipe with a northerly view.

Our favorite masquerading and trognonymous faux prof is at it again:

THE KING OF INCOMPETENCE ~ FLUSHES THE TAXPAYERS OF NEW ALBANY DOWN THE COMMODE !

That's a unique perspective, Erika. How's the weather down there, anyway?

New Albany welcomes another retailer to downtown.

I saw the (illegal) sign on Spring Street last Thursday, and did a double take. A garage sale every day of the week? Is that actually possible?


It's always important to make customers feel welcome: "Who wants to be in jail?"

On Saturday morning, the trinkets were spread across the long-vacant lot pictured below, and I suppose that's why "garage sale" seems semantically out of place. Although it's a "sale," there isn't exactly a "garage" from which to conduct it, and anyway, if a "garage sale" is every day, doesn't it cease being a "garage sale" and start being a "flea market"?

Furthermore, is trashiness a New Albanian birthright? Or, is it just a case of plain folks getting by? And if one undertakes to discuss aesthetics, does it automatically imply deadly "elitism"?

Wonder if they carry any used spark plugs?



Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Frank Rich on George W. Bush's "fundamental cowardice."

Each week on Monday, or occasionally Tuesday, my good friend Jerry provides the Confidential household with a gently used copy of the previous Sunday’s New York Times.

The very first thing I do is profusely thank Jerry. The second is to read Frank Rich’s op-ed commentary. Usually I reread it at least once. To me, Rich is the man, and not just because I’m in complete agreement with histypically scathing assessments of the failed Bush administration.

It’s because he writes extremely well. Last Sunday, Rich once again hit the middle of the target.

A Profile in Cowardice, by Frank Rich (The New York Times; Sunday 08 July 2007).

There was never any question that President Bush would grant amnesty to Scooter Libby, the man who knows too much about the lies told to sell the war in Iraq. The only questions were when, and how, Mr. Bush would buy Mr. Libby's silence. Now we have the answers, and they're at least as incriminating as the act itself. They reveal the continued ferocity of a White House cover-up and expose the true character of a commander in chief whose tough-guy shtick can no longer camouflage his fundamental cowardice.

While we’re on the topic, and not to exclude other executive branch worthies, here’s the latest from filmmaker Robert Greenwald.

----

Dear activists, colleagues and friends,

That's right, we said the "I" word. And you should be saying it too -- to your family, your friends, your neighbors, your pets and the hearty 26% of Americans who somehow still believe the Bush/Cheney team more worthy of sitting in the Oval Office than an undisclosed location stripped of all authority to further damage the country we love.

You'll want to say it even more after watching our video with the evidence for impeachment right there:
http://impeachcheney.org/?utm_source=rgemail

Dick Cheney has been a malevolent force on the checks and balances of American government for over six years. He has subverted government processes to lead us into this tragedy in Iraq, and is now seeking to do the same with Iran. Two countries, mind you, he did business with while CEO of Halliburton.

We are at an important moment in American history. For if we don't take action in light of the High Crimes and Misdemeanors committed by one Richard Cheney, we might as well throw the word away. Because there will never be a time when it is more justified.

Sign the petition:
http://impeachcheney.org/petition.php?utm_source=rgemail

14 representatives already support H. Res 333, the articles of Impeachment against Dick Cheney. Your signatures will be used to get other House members to to sign on. We are working with a substantial and growing coalition led by Democrats.com and AfterDowningStreet.org.

Let's make this travesty a turning point in our history. Please join us in restoring democratic principles to our government by
IMPEACHING DICK CHENEY.

Sincerely,
Robert, Cliff, Paris, Jim G and the entire Brave New Films team

----

Did someone mention a troika?

Or more precisely, will Mike “Hot Wheels” Sodrel again call on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to preach to the Ninth District’s conservative cadres as part of his next campaign against Baron Hill?

The GOP had best break out the Kool-Aid. The faithful are going to be needing it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Further along: Sportstime Pizza will be 20 years old on July 14 ... time to party like it's 1987.

It will surprise casual readers and more than a few patrons to learn that Sportstime Pizza actually came first.


Before Rich O's Public House (1990) lurched into existence … before I became a part of the business in 1992 … and long before the New Albanian Brewing Company began brewing (the company was first incorporated in 1994, and craft beer production commenced in 2002), there was Sportstime Pizza, occupying the strip mall space that previously had been a Noble Roman pizza franchise.

Rich O’Connell -- eventual namesake of the Public House, husband of Sharon and father of current co-owners Amy and Kate -- took over the Noble Roman operation in the summer of 1987. He correctly pronounced it hopeless, began reshuffling the deck, severed the franchise agreement and soon changed the name to Sportstime Pizza.

Around that time I began drinking (mostly bad) beer there with my friends and eating the first of several thousand pizzas. Shortly thereafter, through sheer coincidence, Rich added bottled Pilsner Urquell to the menu and contracted to buy the whole building.

My drinking habits began to inch upward.

In 1990, two of his cronies opened Rich O’s BBQ, which passed to Amy’s control within weeks when they became bored with trite and outdated notions of honest labor and consistent effort. In 1992 my tenure at what became the Public House began, and then Amy and I were married, and then her parents were divorced … and in 1994 we formed the New Albanian Brewing Company with Kate, who later married Jeff. In 2002 brewing began, the following year Amy and I were divorced, and if this whole story sounds like something lifted from the pages of the afternoon soaps, I can assure you that all of it is quite factual, if hazy in spots.

Through these many roller-coaster plot twists, Sportstime has endured, and while lately we’ve made a conscious decision to market the NABC name as a means of increasing the brewery’s visibility and establishing brand name equity for the house beers, it’s obvious that the Sportstime legend isn’t going away and retains an enduring appeal for several generations of customers. For this, we’re quite grateful – whichever name one chooses to call us.

On Saturday, July 14, we’ll devote the day to a birthday party in Prost beginning at 3:00 p.m., with business as usual being conducted elsewhere in the building. Old photos and accounts are being collected, and if readers have any that they’d be willing to share just for the day, please bring them along. Were you one of the few, the proud and the many hundreds who worked for us at any point during the past two decades? If so, and assuming there are no lawsuits pending, we'd like to see you, too. There’ll be beer and food specials and a few surprises, although my effort to engage 1980’s pop culture icons Def Leppard, Pat Riley and Ginger Lynn for the day just didn’t work out.

However, we hear that Roz Tate might strum a bit. Let’s hope that it comes to pass.

Remember, this one’s about the venerable Sportstime dining area, which often gets short shrift compared to the cachet of Rich O’s and the brewery. But we've not forgotten our upbringings, and July 14th will be a loving observance of our roots. Both old-timers and newbies are invited to poke their heads into Prost (anyone remember when Strandz ‘n’ Threadz was there?) and glimpse the way most things have changed and some have stayed the same.

It’s still a work in Progress.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Enjoy your home in the nude



Though it's been neglected lately, this house on Main Street, pictured in 1975, hasn't changed much. Other historic properties haven't been so lucky. As a result, people all over the city make good use of the historic image archive provided at the New Albany-Floyd County Library and bug Floyd County Historian Dave Barksdale incessantly, all in an attempt to decipher what the architect had in mind prior to their home becoming an emasculated, vinyl covered gymnophobe.

Fortunately, the Internet just became an even better source of nude photography.

A group of solid citizens have been working for the past couple of years to turn a happy discovery into a useful tool and an early version of the Historic Homes Digital Library is now online.

As the developers explain:
The Historic Homes of Southern Indiana Digital Photo Archive is a collection of MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Listings from the 1960's and 70's that were discovered in a real estate office in the early 2000's. In 2004, Realtor Ed Clere and Floyd County Historian David C. Barksdale applied for a $2000 matching grant from the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana and the Indiana Humanities Council. The Southern Indiana Board of Realtors provided a $2000 matching grant to support "this historically significant project."

It is hoped that these images will provide a historic record of homes in Southern Indiana to be used by historians, genealogist, and architectural preservationists in our community.

If a house was sold in New Albany, Floyd County, or Jeffersonville between the late '60s and mid '70s, there's a strong chance the real estate listing and accompanying photo are now within easy reach. The site crew is looking for feedback, so search away and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Develop New Albany newsletter now published monthly.

At least until I burn out. The July newsletter of Develop New Albany is available here as a .pdf:

The Renaissance Chronicle.

Fellow Develop New Albany board member Stacey Mecier got the ball rolling earlier this year, and I've taken the reins in an effort to get the newsletter published once a month (if possible). There is room in it for items that may have been missed otherwise. Feedback is appreciated (got it, Nora) and can be sent to the e-mail address in my profile.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

C-J looks for council action points, finds talking points. Next?

I may have missed it, but did the Tribune ever get around to acknowledging the errant Striegel photo swap on July 4?

Life marches on, and here's a news item from yesterday: New Albany leaders face challenges; Some plans may be put on hold, by Dick Kaukas (The Courier-Journal).

With a lame-duck mayor and at least four of the nine City Council seats about to change hands, the second half of this year will pose significant challenges for New Albany's government leaders.

Mayor James Garner lost the Democratic primary in May to former Mayor Doug England, who will face Republican Randy Hubbard, a former Floyd County sheriff, in the November election.

At least four council members also are leaving. Larry Kochert, the president of the council, and Beverly Crump did not seek re-election. Bill Schmidt and Donnie Blevins lost to other Democrats in the primary.

With so much change coming, some officials might be tempted to put off important decisions until the new mayor and council take office Jan. 1. But Garner said he believes there's a good chance to avoid that kind of stagnation.


According to the reporter Kaukas, there is hope among those council members interviewed for the article that substantive action might yet be taken on a handful of issues, including:

Indoor smoking ban.
The committee leader, CM Kevin Zurschmiede, expressed wariness of comprehensive strategies, promised exemptions to any possible ban, and forecast pressure on the council to act “one way or the other.”

Since the worst way to act is by granting exemptions, expect it.

One Southern Indiana.
1SI, the regional chamber of commerce, has long requested a yearly tithe of $92,000 from the city of New Albany. As noted by NAC junior editor Bluegill yesterday, the money would be used (among other things) to encourage governmental units to continue “spending billions of public dollars on the continuation and expansion of transportations systems that necessitate a steady or increased demand for oil.”

Interestingly, while not turning a deaf ear to 1SI’s plea, CM Jeff Gahan has raised the prospect of increased council funding for Develop New Albany, of which the author is a board member, and that is charged with assisting in downtown New Albany growth.

Are we ready for a debate as to which of these two organizations better serves the cause smart growth in downtown?

Take-home cars.
CM Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey chose his interview slot to repeat concerns over “city employees taking home vehicles after regular working hours,” and added that, “a new council committee he heads is gathering information to determine how many take-home cars the city provides, who gets them, where the people who use them live and the like.”

If Coffey’s committee holds hearings and determines that pumpkin-patch inhabiting, double-nought Progressive spies are to blame for fuel wastage, his connection to Joe McCarthy will be complete, and as an added bonus, he’ll have recaptured the elusive heart of the cop-baiting Prof. Erika.

She likes anyone who'll give the finger to the police.

Police and firefighter hiring procedures.
The city council president, a mercifully lame duck Larry Kochert, reiterated his obsession with altering the hiring process of the city’s police and fire departments, noting that it’s “the big thing for me,” but refusing to divulge specific remedies.

In other words, more of the same from the King.

The council will hold budget hearings this Saturday, July 14, beginning at 9:00 a.m. CM Gahan, the rare visionary currently inhabiting a seat on the city’s legislative body, has proposed an idea that might someday make these deliberations, and other information, more widely available. According to Kaukas:

… If there is enough money, he wants the council to consider setting up a new "information technology department" to oversee city phone, computer and other systems and make sure they're up to date and work well together.

More facts on hand for the likes of the perpetually deprived Coffey to selectively ignore?

That makes perfect sense … so don’t hold your breath.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Economist strikes again: “Vote for me, dimwit.”

I was introduced to The Economist in late 1980’s while working for a Louisville company that abstracted news articles for a then-embryonic (and today obsolete) CD-ROM reader’s guide.

Seldom has a weekly issue been missed since. Following is a succinct description of The Economist, as culled from Wikipedia:

The Economist is a weekly news and international affairs publication owned by "The Economist Newspaper Ltd" and edited in London. It has been in continuous publication since James Wilson established it in September 1843. As of 2006, its average circulation topped one million copies a week, about half of which are sold in North America. Consequently it is often seen as a transatlantic (as opposed to solely British) news source.

According to its contents page, the aim of The Economist is "to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress."

Subjects covered include international news, economics, politics, business, finance, science, technology and the arts. The publication is targeted at the high-end "prestige" segment of the market and counts among its audience influential business and government decision-makers.

It takes a strongly argued editorial stance on many issues, especially its support for free trade and fiscal conservatism; it can thus be considered as a magazine which practices advocacy journalism.


Although The Economist calls itself a newspaper and refers to its staff as correspondents, it is printed in magazine form on glossy paper, like a newsmagazine.

Having dispensed with proper introductions, we now proceed to a recent “Lexington” commentary in The Economist. It is the perfect segue to the fall election cycle.

Lexington: Vote for me, dimwit, from The Economist print edition (June 14, 2007):

ANYONE who follows an election campaign too closely will sometimes get the feeling that politicians think voters are idiots. A new book says they are. Or rather, Bryan Caplan, an economics professor at George Mason University, makes the slightly politer claim that voters systematically favour irrational policies. In a democracy, rational politicians give them what they (irrationally) want. In “The Myth of the Rational Voter”, Mr. Caplan explains why this happens, why it matters and what we can do about it …

… he identifies four biases that prompt voters systematically to demand policies that make them worse off. First, people do not understand how the pursuit of private profits often yields public benefits: they have an anti-market bias. Second, they underestimate the benefits of interactions with foreigners: they have an anti-foreign bias. Third, they equate prosperity with employment rather than production: Mr. Caplan calls this the “make-work bias”. Finally, they tend to think economic conditions are worse than they are, a bias towards pessimism.

"Unworthy, timid ignorance?"

"Voters systematically favour irrational policies?"

You'd be forgiven for thinking that The Economist was speaking of New Albany politics. Does Erika, our charming mock prof, read The Economist ... or The Trognonomist? I'm "voting" for the latter.

At any rate, please consider reading “Vote for me, dimwit” in its entirety, and discuss if you please. I'm going to work for a while.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Moore's "Sicko" another must-watch. Be prepared to examine your premises.

(Gone bikin': I'm taking a personal day with full pay --that's $0.00 -- on Sunday. See you Monday morning. Keep those lovely cards and letters coming.)

The last time I attended a public screening of a Michael Moore movie, it was in 2004 for Fahrenheit 9-11. The crowd was feisty, the derision palpable, and undisguised contempt for George W. Bush heavy in the air-conditioned confines of the theater.

I loved it.

Tonight we viewed Sicko, Moore’s latest polemic, and although the demographic in attendance was much the same as for documentary filmmaker’s previous effort, the atmosphere was quite different. Ostensibly, Sicko makes the case for publicly funded, universal health care, citing models in Canada, Great Britain, France and Cuba as examples. The crowd expressed indignation when challenged and laughed when prompted -- like Moore's other films, there are ample moments of mirth -- but the overall reaction was muted and somewhat somber, perhaps because the root questions inevitably run deeper than the film's broad topic.

Is the profit motive compatible with considerations of health – of life and death? Why do we permit health care to be controlled by for-profit insurance companies and pharmaceuticals manufacturers? How is this “better” than control by much loathed government bureaucrats? Moreover, what does it say about Americans as a people when so many are uninsured or underinsured, and even those who are fully insured are subject to degradation and humiliation at the whim of corporate shareholders who reward their own bureaucrats to enhance return by withholding care?

Wikipedia offers a balanced overview of the film’s themes and includes links to opinions on all sides of the critical spectrum, and you may consult it for a more expansive look at the film.

But when you watch the movie, pay close attention to the testimony submitted to Moore by Tony Benn, the legendary left-wing British Labour politician, and later, to comments made by one of the American expatriates in France. Benn muses that historically oppressed Americans are too frightened, ignorant and demoralized to vote, when voting (“the ballet”) is in the end more powerful than money (“the wallet”).

Conversely, the American expatriate suggests that life is good in France precisely because of fear, in this case the government’s healthy fear of the French people, who’ve not forgotten what it means to take to the streets to seek redress for slights. Of course, Moore’s film was completed before the recent French presidential election and the victory of conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, who vows that there’ll be less fun and more work, although it is likely that Benn is correct when he predicts revolution as the likely outcome of any attempt to do away with current European health care systems.

Can it really be that Americans, seemingly the world’s most macho patriots, are too afraid to demand necessary fixes? Too depressed and demoralized? It’s not something that we’re accustomed to discussing or admitting, and in broaching this topic, I find Moore at his most controversial in Sicko – even more so than in staging the “9-11 workers go to Cuba” stunt that so far has attracted the most media attention.

Perhaps there is another explanation for why the United States is the way it is when it comes to health care, insurance and related issues. In a brief examination of the failed health care program early in the first Clinton administration, the list of contributors to lobbying efforts against Hillary’s reform brief scrolls past, and while it is no surprise to see the names of insurance and pharmaceutical giants, sizeable monies donated by the Christian Coalition surely elicits a double take.

Have I missed something? Is there something about being Christian that argues against a concept like universal, publicly funded health care, and in favor of the contemporary approach? If so, then why do I dread that the answer is almost certain to have far more to do with capitalism than with Christianity?

In essence, are we the only western democracy without some form of national health insurance because too many of us continue to embrace the superstition of “God’s will” as applied to ultimate fate, and to a sort of “the ill must be guilty of something” Calvinism? The people from Canada, the UK and France interviewed by Moore appear to a diverse lot, all of whom seem to share an attitude of secular commitment on the part of haves to help have-nots, sans religious sanction, which a French doctor summarizes as (gasp) “from each according to his means, to each according to his needs.”

Yes, I understand fully that a mere two hours of agitprop isn’t enough to explicate the many sides of the story. I know it isn’t that simple.

So, why am I feeling sick?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Oooh ... AHHH ... it's trognonymous hate mail!

Posted by Picasa

The acrid aftertaste of anonymous snailhatemail is always easier to swallow when chased with a Progressive Pint from NABC (pictured above, Croupier IPA).

When the cowards start sending mash notes, you must be doing something right, but if the city's "little people" graduate to outright stalking, can someone please let me know?

I'd hate to trip over them on my way to the pub.