Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
In the fall of 2006, we removed the ancient draft beer box beneath the bar at the Public House and installed a new one.
The old one, which had been in place since 1992, was still functional, but because of corrosion and leakage, it became impossible to use indoors. Our worker at the time built two sets of casters and rolled it out the back door, where it remained parked, fully exposed to the weather and scrap metal thieves, throughout the winter and into 2007.
That is, until a month ago, when I paid my itinerant handyman an unspecified sum to move the keg box to my garage for the ostensible aim of rehabbing it in preparation for the annual NA Confidential Harvest Homecoming Parade Party at my home.
Life promptly intruded, and just yesterday I finally remembered to plug in the venerable appliance and see if it actually still worked. I’m delighted to report that she’s cooling as I write. All that's needed is a good scrubbing.
And so …
Saturday, October 6 is the date for this year’s HHPP at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Confidential. If you know us well enough to know where we live, and if you’re not embarrassed at the prospect of being spotted drinking beer on the porch with me, you’re a default invitee.
Festivities will start circa 10:00 a.m. with the institution of cigars, White Castles (jalapeno cheese) and espresso as we watch the city workers prepare the parade route. The taps will be open during this time, as it is well known that somewhere in the world, it’s after 12 noon.
This year’s draft beer selection will be NABC Bob’s Old 15-B (porter); Bluegrass Brewing Company (Main & Clay) Oktoberfest, and our traditional Poperings Hommel Ale from Belgium. A fourth surprise may be on tap if it arrives in time.
Please bring a beer snack. There will be a main course of yet to be determined food, likely a pot of vegetarian chili, and day-long grazing. Anything that goes well with beer is eligible.
If you’re in the parade itself, stop by for adult refreshments afterward. There’ll be bottles of Sprecher sodas for non-alcoholic thirst quenching.
As a final note, please contribute your suggestion for the wording on our banner this year.
The best suggestion yet was inspired by last year’s plan (sadly, we didn’t follow through) to actually have a “stealth” float in the parade, seemingly innocuous, but at the last moment (a la “Animal House”) to reveal that we’ve all dressed in women’s clothes, with the theme being: “NA Confidential: DRAGGING New Albany into the 21st century.”
Ah … what might have been … but perhaps a banner denouncing our do-nothing councilman would be enough. Let me know.
And, come by for a beer next Saturday.
Here is the coverage from last year: Time for just one more -- beer, not parade float.
Friday, September 28, 2007
A local group wants to build a second component to downtown New Albany’s public Scribner Place development, city administration officials say.
A proposed deal would see the city build a parking garage immediately east of the under-construction YMCA and aquatic center. The private developer would then build a structure atop the garage, obtaining a unique view of the Ohio River.
At the most recent city council meeting, as Dan Coffey and Bill Schmidt outlined their newest old plans for an obstructionist jihad against the 21st century, in this particular instance by renewing the battle against the parking garage that's already been built, Mayor James Garner requested (and in a quite effective deadpan, no less) that the council wait to do so until it hears the proposal outlined by the Tribune's Campbell in the article above.
However, by the informal Gang of Four protocol specifying that the council's lead opposition to progress come from within the council district "threatened" with progress, the logical candidate to lead the Luddite battle against this latest perfectly sensible proposal isn't Coffey, but fellow conjoined councilman Steve Price. The location of the new garage would be just east of Scribner Place (itself located in Coffey's 1st district), which should place it within Price's long-suffering 3rd.
Given the intimate link between rental properties and "Re-elect Steve Price to City Council" yard signs, perhaps the best way for the city to approach the new parking garage would be to pretend it is a massive slumlord empowerment property. Dave Thrasher's art students could disguise the architect's drawings by adding cheap vinyl siding, porch appliances and nice, homey touches like virtual graffiti (for example, numerous "Property tax crisis" slogans) to the cement. Instead of the formless metrosexual people that typically populate such renderings, there could be shirtless meth users with pants around the ankles, unsupervised children in the streets, and unregulated boom cars running them down.
One can only imagine the pride swelling Price's chest as he votes in favor or assisting the constituency that benefits most from his, er, stewardship.
Once approved, the project can be changed back to its original form and the city of the future, as opposed to the past, can reap the benefits. Yes, the Gang of Two will spend the next four years bitching and moaning, but that's okay. They would, anyway, and we'd have another piece of the downtown revitalization puzzle in place.
Get 'em started, Dave. And make it comfy, will ya?
Thursday, September 27, 2007
--David L. Matthews, chairman of the Floyd County Republican Party
That’s six long months for the Republican chairman to formulate a platform plank – any platform plank will do, thanks – that pertains to the city of New Albany in this day and time.
Instead, from the relative solitude of his suburban Greenville command bunker, Matthews has leaped into the New Albany mayoral fray by unleashing the first salvo of his party’s forthcoming negative campaign against Democrat Doug England, with the intended beneficiary being Republican candidate Randy “Silence Is Golden, Golden” Hubbard.
But with yesterday's letter to the editor of the Tribune, Matthews uncannily (and surely unintentionally) corroborated something I wrote in this space just two weeks ago:
It’s beyond debate: Hubbard “tete-a-tete” avoidance mode noted by city residents, Tribune columnist, the Who’s Tommy, and man in moon.
In this continually widening Republican void, where platform planks and ideas go to die, I’m left to surmise that Hubbard’s “duck ‘n’ cover” defensive posture circa the Labor Day opening political campaign weekend is merely a tactical prelude to calculated fireworks later in the autumn. It’s just about the only thing that makes sense at this point.
My best guess would be an 11th hour outburst of negative campaigning in October, with the saintly Hubbard himself deigning to remain “above” the muddy fray while local confederates do the dirty work of contrasting Hubbard’s purportedly impeccable law enforcement credentials with patronage abuse questions that linger in the public consciousness from England’s two previous terms as mayor.
Such a late attack strategy would at least explain Hubbard’s odd reticence as England has aggressively lapped the somnolent ex-sheriff early in the contest, and twice opening bloody cuts: First, with the Democratic candidate’s city hall relocation press conference and Hubbard’s subsequent conceptual disorientation, and second, in the aftermath of the GOP candidate’s inexplicable debate withdrawal …
It is highly flattered to have been proven absolutely correct, even if I erred slightly in thinking that the Republicans might wait until October to begin dropping napalm.
Silly me, although when you have a dog that won’t hunt, perhaps it’s best to periodically squeeze off a few noisy rounds to make the folks back home think they might be having meat for dinner instead of the same tired soup bone.
If only the voters in New Albany might be gifted with red meat from the Republican party.
Of course, it cannot be denied that Doug England carries baggage from previous administrations, and by the terms of political engagement, it’s certainly not unfair for the GOP to play dirty and to go negative, even this early in the contest.
It's just that for once we'd love to see these terms of engagement altered to reflect the power of ideas rather than the soiling capacity of spitballs.
Given that Hubbard has failed to articulate any platform planks of substance … given that he refuses to debate England one on one and ask questions of England himself rather than permit Matthews to carry his lunch pail … given that neither Hubbard nor his party chairman have shown any willingness or ability to address New Albany’s big ticket urban issues at this decisive time, we must regard Matthew’s swift boat pyrotechnics as strictly diversionary in nature, and we’ll continue to do so until Hubbard shows signs of a pulse.
Whether NAC’s opinion matters of not (hold your catcalls, Troglodyte Nation), we’ve spent much of the past three years bemoaning the lack of substantive dialogue on pressing local issues, and positing that we stand at a particularly important juncture with respect to the city’s future viability.
Meanwhile, Matthews can do no better than deploy a Republican Youth League operative’s second-hand smirk to mock England’s willingness to discuss issues on any street corner, and before any size crowd, even as Hubbard’s catatonic silence threatens more of the same cautious, caretaking “conservatism” that has managed to “conserve” only those numerous bad political and governmental habits that have led to regress in the first place.
And, without a debate. How short-sighted (read: arrogant) is that?
England has made one thing perfectly clear, and arguably, it is the most important point that any candidate for public office in New Albany needs to make in 2007: Doing nothing is not an option at this point in the city’s history.
The sooner Matthews, Hubbard and the GOP grasp this self-evident wisdom -- shall we accompany the GOP brain trust on a walking tour of the historic city core to promote much needed consciousness-raising? -- the sooner a genuine debate can be joined and a legitimate alternative offered.
With the mud already flying, there seems depressingly little hope for optimism … but somewhere, at least, Karl Rove is smiling.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Such is the case today with this thought-provoking piece ... or, at least, close enough for rock and roll, by proxy.
Pop quiz essay question: How do the thoughts expressed below jibe with social devolution?
“Wannabes” - Getting It Backwards
“If you want change, then change your habits, beliefs and thinking; if you don’t want change, keep repeating what you already do.”
New Albany gets the government and services it deserves. It does so, because New Albanian’s don’t participate at the level they should.
New Albany is like a homeless person sitting on the street corner, unwashed, unemployed, while shaking a Styrofoam cup, looking for a handout - depending on others to do for them, while muttering “poor me“ over and over to themselves.
A thoughtful person - maybe even a blind person - should be able to see the obvious: New Albany is at a crossroads. But can its citizens figure that out? A community that expects its government to lead loses. Look at Gary, Indiana or any other down-at-the-heels community. When will locals take control of their present and future and stop expecting others to provide for them, lead them and take on tasks that should be partnerships between the citizenry, business community and the elected officials?
Larry Kochert calls unelected citizens concerned about their government “wannabe’s”. While this ludicrous, pithy and really stupid comment refers to the failure of the city council to perform its legally mandated responsibility, this ludicrous, pithy and really stupid remark goes further to reflect “public officials” attitudes toward citizen participation.
About two years ago citizen participation forced four idiots on the city council to vote in favor of a project they had spent months trying to kill. The idiots failed; but they wasted valuable time and made the town look like fools in the process. Now that project is being built at the end of State and Main streets.
New Albany’s elected “elite” believe that they alone have the right to define the direction of the city. Unfortunately many of its citizens seem to believe the same thing.
Talking with various people about what citizens can do this election year I keep hearing “Wait until the election is over, then we’ll know what the new mayor wants.” These citizens are concerned about the “new administration” taking ownership of any plans or programs that they may not control. Why give up the power the voters have – why not define the city YOU want, not what THEY choose.
This is an election year. This is EXACTLY the time these plans should be updated; this is EXACTLY the time for citizens to take control of their town and their future. They did it once with Scribner Place; they can do it again, and again, and again. Any actions SHOULD take place NOW - before the election. This would be considered an unstoppable citizens movement by the most intelligent elected official. And what elected official doesn’t follow the crowd?
It doesn’t matter if England or Hubbard is elected . . . That decision is up to the voting citizens of New Albany.
But stop letting the “elected elite” set the community agenda. This is the time – BEFORE the election - for those officials to be telling us exactly what they plan to do for the city - “for” not “to”.
But this is also the time for the citizens to be telling the candidates exactly what THEY expect of them once the election is over. Consider this a call to arms - a manifesto if you will - but a philosophy New Albany should adopt.
As long as the citizenry refuses to take responsibility for themselves and their community - others will do their thinking for them. And then you get the government you deserve.
Seize the day, the day is now.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
We’re told that Tom Johnson, masonry restoration contractor and owner of Keystone Restorations, has completed a deal to purchase the building after Develop New Albany made a grant of $5,000 to help Johnson meet the asking price of the building’s owner, a Mr. Stewart, whose persistent and disgraceful neglect of the 1840’s railroad structure brought it to within weeks of being torn down by the city.
While it continues to strike NA Confidential as odd that people like this Stewart fellow should be rewarded with cash for what amounts to serial anti-social behavior against the city at large – the lash, public stocks or stringent financial penalties all seem more appropriate – it remains that an agreement to sell has been struck, an agreement in principle has been inked by both parties, and work apparently will soon begin on stabilization.
“This will be extremely dangerous and risky work that few would attempt,” said an insider, “but Tom has a remarkable track record and feels confident that he can accomplish it.”
Monday, September 24, 2007
Score One for the Good Guys (Kerberos' Korner blog):
In case you haven't heard, Gary McCartin has withdrawn his variance request ...
... While this round is over, I am leery as to what the future holds. In other words, I hope this is the last of it, but I would not be surprised if something new arises from this situation.
See: Why is “The Gary” proposing duplexes for a locale so far removed from the churches that (his) people want to attend?
With the harvest winding down, there is ample leisure time to kick at Aying’s cobblestones amid rustling leaves and a slightly chilly breeze presaging the arrival of winter, before pausing to admire the charming silhouette of the onion-domed church in the square.
From that spot, it’s only a few yards to the Ayinger brewery’s prominent hostelry and blessed brewery tap for a half-liter of Oktober-Fest lager ... and if you’re as lucky as I was the last time we occupied a table there, you may find yourself devouring an elk steak from the presiding Inselkammer family’s private hunting preserve.
In fact, when I escorted a group to Aying in September of 2004, the Inselkammers personally greeted us upon our return from the late afternoon brewery tour and stayed close by until we were seated and enjoying the amazing dinner.
The brewery that occupies such an important place in this bucolic setting is thoroughly modern in terms of production technique and marketing savvy, and yet scrupulously traditional when it comes to the makeup of the beer in your glass. It’s a graceful balancing act that seems almost effortless in its efficiency.
However, make no mistake about it: It’s hard work, and the Inselkammers’ business model is just as impressive as its beer. The family has invested upward of 13 million Euros since the mid 1980’s, first constructing a new distribution and packaging center, then adding a state-of-the-art, extremely green, fully computerized brewery, and finally completely renovating their hotel and restaurant.
Ayinger’s beers, which still taste as though they were crafted by lederhosen-clad villagers in the Alps foothills, are aggressively exported around the world, and are routinely rated in the upper reaches whenever the Bavarian brewing art is quantified.
As such, they’re a perfect accompaniment to our forthcoming Ayinger Oktober-Fest beer dinner at Bistro New Albany, which will commence at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, October 1.
My enduring affection for Ayinger’s excellent line of Bavarian beers has prompted me to pair them with another authentic and stellar menu concocted by Chef Dave Clancy, owner of Bistro New Albany. There’ll be fewer (and less alcoholic) beers than offered during previous beer dinners, but larger portions, as befits generally lower alcohol contents and the expansiveness of traditional German drinking and dining.
Pray to your particular Gods for crisp fall weather and a chance to dine outdoors in the friendly confines of Bistro New Albany's patio.
Here is the menu and the pairings. The price per person (excluding tax and gratuity) is $45, which includes a complimentaryAyinger glass, 1/2 liter of Oktober-Fest, and 4 x 5-oz bottled beer samples. Contact Bistro New Albany at 812-949-5227 for reservations and further details.
-Opening toast/Brotzeit (beer snack)
Ayinger’s Oktober-Fest Marzen, a tawny golden/amber autumn seasonal lager, will be on tap throughout the evening, and we’ll begin the meal with an Oktoberfest toast in an Ayinger signature glass that is yours to keep.
-Gurkensalat (cucumber salad)
-Brau-Weisse … traditional unfiltered golden wheat ale
-Gulaschsuppe (goulash soup)
-Jahrhundert-Bier … golden “export” style lager
-Sauerbraten with Kartoffelpuffer (brined and roasted beef with potato cakes)
-Altbairisch Dunkel … “Old Bavarian” dark lager
-Schwarzwalderkirschtorte (black forest cake)
-Celebrator Doppelbock … rich, dark Double Bock
Photo credit: Ayinger's web site
Sunday, September 23, 2007
TELL US WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PURPOSAL?
First, it’s spelled wrong: P-R-O-P-O-S-A-L, girls.
As for the numbers, which have been generated by unelected “wannabes” outside the council chamber, seemingly contradicting President Kochert’s flatulent insistence that the council itself is capable of resolving the issue without anyone’s help (except Anna’s, we presume), here is what is wrong with the numbers.
The difference between the most and least numerous is almost 600, while a truly fair redistricting would constitute a swing of no more than 100 residents between districts. With 6404 as the normative district population (2000 census figures), that would mean that a "fair" redistricting would mean the largest district would be no larger than 6454 people and the smallest would be no more than 6354 people.
There is no question that this can be accomplished. The "will" to accomplish it is another matter.
The legal principle involved is not dependent on the number of neighborhood associations represented in the mawsuit, or on the total number of plaintiffs, or won which of them serves on a board, or is running for office, or, for that matter, anything else. The lawsuit has to do with a legal principle, and this legal principle -- one man, one vote --evidently has proven inconvenient to some in New Albany who are unaccustomed to life in a democracy. That's too bad, but it doesn't change the legal principle.
The fact remains: The council serially botched its statutory duty to redistrict, and prior to last Thursday, seemed intent on botching its belated effort to make amends. In short, the council must do it, and do it correctly; so says the law, and so say the Feds. It is hoped the latter process of correction will soon begin in earnest, not in craven deference to the wishes of the radical obstructionist cabal whose sole interest is political self-perpetuation.
It’s as simple as that.
Now, back to the morning coffee.
The Gang of Four's semi-official propaganda agency is spewing bile faster than we can respond, so we'll begin with yesterday’s FOS posting: WANNABE'S AGENDA IS ~ $$$$$$$
Says the faux educator therein: “Again, the "wannabe's agenda" is purely about a $$$$$$ settlement!”
It’s a lie, but so it goes here in the open air museum.
Am I the only one who finds it humorous that women pretending to be a man – pretending to be a college professor, no less – find it expedient to accuse someone else of being a “wannabe?”
Plenty of venom, but very little appreciation for irony … and, alas, you’ll observe that they didn’t bother trying to refute a solitary aspect of the case against the council, against the council’s unwillingness to enforce the rule of law, and against the revulsion generated by Bill Schmidt’s “assassinate Caesar” plan.
Seeing as Larry Kochert already has conceded the merits of the plaintiffs’ argument, refutation isn’t really possible, is it?
At the very least, the coward of the county has (for once) performed a genuine public service by reprinting Jeff Gillenwater’s statement to the city council on redistricting, which I read aloud during the non-agenda public speaking portion of Thursday’s council meeting.
Gee thanks, guys. I put that time to good use drinking Progressive Pints. Next time, let me know what you’d like to reprint, and I can provide an electronic file. No sense in requiring your elderly informant to do all that typing … but come to think of it, all of that would require you to dispense with the perpetual disguise, and you don’t have sufficient courage for that sort of disclosure, do you?
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, following a contentious meeting and the final, non-agenda item public speaking round, the city council suddenly regained a measure of sanity and dramatically entertained a motion to form a committee of at-large council persons and plaintiffs in the redistricting lawsuit in the hope of achieving resolution prior to trial.
This moment came after three of the plaintiffs carefully and factually outlined the current situation. We’ll see about publishing these comments later this weekend.
After counsel was consulted, the vote was 5 to 3 in favor of the committee, with Bill Schmidt (bafflingly and incredibly) abstaining.
Needless to say, Larry Kochert and Dan Coffey remain bitterly opposed. Steve Price joined them in voting against the committee even though he almost certainly doesn’t grasp the impact of the determination of his brethren to run the bus off the cliff rather than join together to ensure equality of representation in New Albany.
Apologies for scooping the Tribune, but Mr. Campbell left early.
There’ll be more on this topic in the coming days, but before then, I’d like to thank Dan Coffey for introducing the following NAC blog post into the public record during the meeting:
Redistricted dimensions of Kochert & Ko. Koup revealed by our friendly informant, Even Deeper Throat.
This should effectively thwart any effort by the council’s vindictive bloc to resuscitate the “Caesar’s assassination” scenario that our informant previously and correctly reported, because any effort to do so in the future would only prove that our report was spot on.
And Coffey and Co. would really, really hate that.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Why is “The Gary” proposing duplexes for a locale so far removed from the churches that (his) people want to attend?
WTF: Slumlord Proposes Duplex Near DePauw Avenue
The long and the short of it is that Gary (McCartin) is applying for a variance in order to knock down the existing structure and build two 2-story duplexes ... in a proposed historic neighborhood. I don't think so!
Gary's reputation as a landlord is less than stellar. The one way we will beat this variance is to show up October 2nd at 7 p.m. at the City-County building and show our support for our neighborhood.
NAC has been corresponding with several local neighborhood activists, and here is a sampling of their comments about The Gary’s latest variance fix:
Here comes the next wave from Mr. McCartin … I've no doubt the residents over there are sufficiently mobilizing.
----Hard to imagine he’d be interested in that corner. It isn’t a cornfield, and it’s fairly far away from the church that he thinks all of us want to attend.
There couldn't be a more inappropriate place for 2 duplexes on the face of the planet.
I’m not a conspiracy buff, but you have to wonder if this latest headscratcher is some sort of diversionary maneuver. Maybe he's in need of pocket change - who knows?
Some good that may come from this, the folks in and around DePauw may decide to seek historic district status. After the variance is denied (and it will be denied) that would be the definitive "get out and stay out" message to Mr. McCartin.
An interesting aside - the MLS for this property expired on Aug. 30 with no sale, and the asking price was $84,900. Neighbors interested in purchasing the property contacted Marquis Realty prior to the expiration date and were told the property was sold.
Much in the same way that rogue slumlords poison the “keg of nails” for those rental property owners who are legitimate, Gary McCartin continues to pursue his goal of a shoddy fleur-de-lis-tattooed exurb in every backyard – something that has the unintended (or is it?) consequence of discrediting legitimate suburban development plans offered by thoughtful developers … and yes, there are some hereabouts.
There will be more on the Vance/DePauw story next week. Meanwhile, let's try for a big contingent at the October 2 hearing. Video cameras, anyone?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
"What have you been eating?" the Mother asked, with solicitude.
"Nothing but a keg of Nails," was the reply.
"What!" exclaimed the Mother; "a whole keg of Nails, at your age! Why, you will kill yourself that way. Go quickly, my child, and swallow a claw-hammer."
Come to think of it, I enjoyed an excellent ostrich summer sausage while vacationing in Wisconsin, and spit nary a single nail in the process.
Anyway, back home again in the legislative epicenter of the open air museum, nickels and dimes are back on the agenda of Thursday’s city council meeting:
New Albany City Council to consider exceeding 3 percent benchmark for office workers, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune):
Last year, council members made four exceptions to the blanket 3 percent raise. Sewer Billing Director Kelly Welsh got an 18 percent raise, while three bookkeepers were granted 5.5 percent raises.
Councilman Steve Price said he is ambivalent about the exceptions.
“I kind of feel, sometimes you do that, you open a keg of nails,” said Price, though, he added, “I do realize there’s some people down there underpaid. I’m open to it.”
NAC received this comment from a frequent reader:
We need to invent a random expression generator so we don't have to wait for Steve Price to be interviewed by the press or appear in public. But then, we don't want to throw the baby out with the spoiled milk.
Speaking of steadily souring lactose, Thursday’s council agenda offers the intriguing possibility that lame duck Mayor James Garner’s most strident and verbose critic may soon be commuting by golf cart to sit alongside him at stormwater board meetings.
Nathan Grimes – Stormwater Board member
Valla Ann Bolovschak – Stormwater Board member
According to cue, the cuddly faux professor (and the pants-wearin’ half of the Vaudeville team of Vicki Ann Denschak and Their Trognomic Tub Thumping Team) has issued a timely press release to extol the virtues of her benefactress:
Thank you Valla Ann Bolovschak for your tireless efforts have lead to a great deal of the saving of the federal funding. And for your major role in our local greenway project and your many hours of hard work. We can safely say that because of your involvement in this planning with the City of New Albany's Greenway Project will reflect the values important to our community.
You have left an indelible mark on this project.
Something just left an indelible mark on my office rug, and I think it was one of our cats.
At least it wasn’t an ostrich, because nails have a way of scratching the porcelain on grandma’s piggy bank, but one thing’s for sure.
While the category of “wannabe” may or may not include those securing appointments after demonstrating the consistent inability to win elections, the underachieving and obfuscatory city council president Larry Kochert will forever be remembered chiefly as a “wannabeen.”
After all, a few fine tooth combs are good for the dog.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Please call Senator Luke Kenley at (317) 232-9400 or (800) 382-9467 (State Tax and Financing Policy Commission Chairman looking at cutting tax rates for slumlords) and tell him that you do not agree that slumlords should be given a tax break. These are businesses!!!
Please see the following article:
Landlords call for parity on taxes; Floyd real estate agent among those at meeting (Courier-Journal)
It seems to me that begging for tax abatements in and of itself constitutes an implicit admission that rental properties are, in fact, business enterprises and not charitable undertakings.
Note, however, that Senator Kenley artfully avoided connecting the word “economic” with rental property ownership, preferring instead to deploy the word “social” in the context of “rehabbing” – as though renting your property were an act of altruism, and with filthy lucre never entering into a strictly angelic tableau.
Many rental property owners serve an "important social function in terms of rehabbing certain areas in lots of communities," Kenley said. "We're discouraging them now" instead of offering them incentives, he said.
Right, Luke. Quadplexes as touchy, feely methods of bonding with other human beings? Can I own one, too?
Perhaps we need to negotiate a bit of quid pro quo, in the sense of extending tax abatements to rental property owners, who in turn can be recognized as full-board business owners, with all the rights and responsibilities (read: code enforcement and an inspections program) implied therein.
What a marvy compromise that would be ... and already, I here Pat Harrison practicing the flicking of her Bic in preparation for a self-immolating bonfire at the court house.
By the way, Ms. Harrison never has answered the questions we asked of her on August 28: More on the “American Dream” of rental property exploitation.
Her “businesses” must really be keeping her busy these days.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Are you in favor of the rule of law? Hypocritical, contemptuous city council “has-beens” think you’re a “wannabe.”
Kochert’s patented and increasingly tiresome “fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly” reaction is to shirk responsibility for years of indolent sloth, to shift the blame to those who are in favor of rule of law, to talk ludicrous smack about the rule of law costing far too much than we can afford, and to toss out a half-baked, kitchen-table redistricting proposal in the faint hope that it passes muster with the Feds.
The proposal will move ahead, Kochert said. Now that a hearing has taken place, the council will publicly discuss the map in upcoming council meetings before any vote is taken.
Kochert said it was the charge of the City Council to draw the map, not a panel of residents.
“They’re wannabes,” Kochert said. “They want to be leaders of the community. The law says the council does the redistricting” …
… Redistricting is mandated every 10 years, two years after each federal census. Though the council redistricted in 1992, it failed to do so in 2002, when two such proposals lacked support.
The last sentence is the one that really matters, isn't it?
Amid the self-serving and spiteful blather from the council’s Keystone Kommissars, it’s worth remembering that the message to the city council as provided by a magistrate during the pre-trial hearing was quite simple.
1. It is a matter of fact that the council has erred, and the council will lose if a trial occurs.
2. To avoid ignominy and great expense, the council must do its job as mandated under law.
3. To avoid ignominy and great expense, the council must do its job correctly, also as mandated under law.
Kochert’s own words speak volumes. I interpret them as: "It's my job, by God, and now that I have no choice, I'll do it as quickly and sloppily as possible because in New Albany, slipshod is job one!"
Thanks. As a plaintiff, I’ll speak only for myself.
Larry Kochert is as blatant and shameless a hypocrite as New Albany has seen in almost two centuries of its existence, and given the venality and ignorance that has gripped the city for so much of its history, that’s saying something -- and it isn't hopeful.
For Kochert, who has served on two successive councils, neither of which did its statutory duty to redistrict until being forced to do so at the point of an edict, now to thump his chest and proclaim, “The law says the council does the redistricting,” is more than just hypocritical. It is breathtakingly arrogant, and sadly indicative of the old (and older) school’s unwillingness to turn calendar pages for fear of admitting that its shelf life has long since expired.
So, is it true? Are the plaintiffs “wannabes?”
Well, I wannabe living in a city where it isn’t necessary to file a lawsuit to convince an elected official to do his statutory duty, and to do it correctly.
I wannabe living in a city where the process of redistricting, which is essential to any concept of fair and equal representation, is carried out publicly, openly, and at a time when ordinary people can make themselves heard.
I wannabe living in a city where fairness and equality of representation aren’t held hostage by the fear and blindness of one solitary councilman, in this case, Dan Coffey, whose ongoing jihad against modernity is compelling him to draw a line in the redistricting sand, and which if the line held, almost certainly will fulfill the gloom and doom prophecy of great monetary expense – all for the sole purpose of preserving Coffey’s antediluvian fiefdom from the taint of progress.
I wannabe living in a city where Kochert’s bluff and obfuscation are seen not as some cartoon-panel stand on behalf of democracy -- Slippery Man to the rescue against those damned pesky pergessives -- but rather a transparently contemptuous assault against democratic principles, as embodied by his open contempt for anyone who might seek to become a part of the democratic process without his explicit approval, as extended by the King from his throne in the garage where he used to conduct elections in a fashion that would have embarrassed the junta in Burma.
I wannabe living in a city that grasps how far removed Larry Kochert’s patriarchal and parochial vision of limited citizen participation is from the sort that genuinely prefaces growth, progress and self-realization, and that Kochert’s version, far from being a prescription for evolution, instead is a dire diagnosis of the extent to which devolution and accompanying low common standards have been permitted to erode whatever skills New Albany’s ruling class once possessed.
Yes, and I wannabe living in a 21st-century city, not a 19th-century city. The great redistricting debate of 2007 is not about preserving the feudal privileges of people my age and older, a group that includes most of New Albany’s governing caste and all of the good old boys who populate it.
Rather, it’s about a large number of children that I barely know, and about what sort of city will be there for them when they come of age. The Kocherts, Coffeys and Schmidts of this city seem to think that they're somehow protecting future generations from progress, when in fact, they're achieving nothing other than dooming future generations to the conditions now prevalent in the rental property shantytowns of Harrisonapolis and Gregoryville.
Absolutely: I wannabe living in a city with a future vision. That's why all of us, not just a cadre of elected officials, are charged with civic participation. That's why we'll continue to participate.
Meanwhile, the council's Gang of Four has no future vision, on redistricting or anything else.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
11 homes in the project have already been sold, according to Moss, with many more on the way as the development, which both saves historic homes from the landfill and provides investment opportunities for those who may otherwise lack them, continues to mature into what the C-J's headline refers to as a neighborhood reborn.
As CHDO Executive Director John Miller astutely observes in the article,"You can't beat reusing homes. That's the smartest growth there is."
Beyond the far-reaching implications of Miller's comment, though, I was struck by the attitude of the new homeowner featured in the story, Jeffrey Lane.
"It's a good situation for the ones that can get into it," he said. "There's still work I need to do to make it better. That will come in time."
It's that attitude, a willingness to take a chance and the belief that one's own work can make a difference in turning a calculated risk into a life changing proposition, is the foundation upon which New Albany itself will be reborn. It's no surprise that some in the community-- those whose self-imagined importance are threatened by higher standards-- choose to fight people like Jeffrey Lane, but it's damn gratifying to see him winning.
Thank you to those, many of whom are mentioned in the article, for helping someone to succeed. An even bigger thank you, though, is reserved for Jeffrey Lane for realizing that, as important as buying a house is, it's only the first step in being a good neighbor and citizen. Welcome to the neighborhood.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Surprise, surprise: Kochert's public hearing a farce, as is the Gang of Four's redistricting proposal.
(Further along than it is at present … but that’s another digression, isn’t it?)
Moments into yesterday’s public hearing on redistricting, one that was rendered largely inconsequential owing to city council president Kochert’s predictable unwillingness to schedule it at a convenient time, the 1st district’s Dan Coffey preemptively sniffed the air from his slumping position on the wrong side of the council table, wagged a jowl and twitched an ear protruding from a face that remained beet red throughout, and began incoherently babbling about a “small group of people dictating policy” and his obligation to “return power to the people.”
Um, thanks, Councilman Cappuccino. When you have time, can you introduce to your nice bunny buddy Harvey?
Ah, but might that small group be as few as four in number… say, the Gang of Four?
And while I have you on the line, what’s with the transparent rancor yesterday? After all, the sacred Coffey Clause lies unaltered at the very heart of the redistricting plan being thrust intemperately forward: Thou shalt not touch this. That’s right, out of six council district, does anyone care to guess which of them is the only one that will be unaffected by redistricting?
Here’s a clue: Barbecued bologna on a shingle.
In due course on Thursday, we here at Plaintiff Central were saddened to learn that the council cabal representing Bill “Ancien Régime” Schmidt had been talked down off the gerrymandering ledge, from where we had hoped they’d tumble of their own hubris, and would instead be substituting a far less controversial plan for public consideration at Friday’s hearing.
Not a good plan, mind you, but one less bad than the first, which they’d previously concocted over Sanka and Little Debbies at the Schmidt family’s kitchen table.
Ultimately, we’ll never know how serious the Gang of Four was with respect to its preferred disruptive shenanigans, which included th cowardly gerrymandering of primary election winner Bob Caesar out of his 2nd district home, but as reports continue to trickle in that the embittered lame duck Schmidt is actively campaigning for Caesar’s Republican challenger in geriatric circles, and Kochert keeps slamming in Aebersold clips to replace the blanks he’s been firing, it seems obvious that a coup was given no small measure of thought.
Where I come from, non-support for the party of affiliation tells you something about commitment to “Democratic” principles – and it isn’t about democracy at all. They’re capable of almost anything so long as it achieves a fundamentally self-aggrandizing aim.
Apart from seven council persons (minus Bev Crump and Donnie Blevins) and various public officials, public attendance at the hearing tallied a grand total of seven. A time of day that blatantly disrespected the “working man” that all Gang of Four card-carriers incessantly purport to protect was correctly criticized by 6th district councilman Jeff Gahan, and answered dryly by Kochert. Boredom was the prevailing emotion registered by council members, excepting of course Coffey, whose blood pressure remained dangerously elevated, and who was heard to mutter dark nothings throughout the 50-minute duration.
Sole citizen speaker and plaintiff Randy Smith read aloud his statement, which was published here yesterday, and County Clerk Linda Moeller spoke briefly about the Election Day difficulties that would be engendered by splitting precincts to achieve numerical equality in council districts.
Randy responded by pointing out that Indiana state law does not reference the difficulty inherent in the task, but mandates that, “The boundary of a city legislative body district may cross a precinct line if the districts would not otherwise contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population.” It was also observed that in most Indiana counties, split precincts are a fact of life.
Gahan then expanded on one of Moeller’s comments by distributing maps that show precinct changes under current consideration at the county level. In effect, as the city council rushes to redistrict by the end of November, the county is planning to alter the configuration of the city’s precincts, primarily through adding smaller ones to larger ones to reduce the numerical disparities that all agree complicate the act of redistricting.
Of course, rather than wait until next spring to redistrict after considering these and other factors, Kochert continues to proclaim an urgency that has eluded him throughout his soon to be mercifully concluded council tenure, falsely insisting that the council has been “ordered” by a judge to finish its work before the end of November.
Consequently, expect today’s newspaper coverage to feature Kochert’s talking-point excuse for the Gang of Four’s newfound haste:
“We’re saving the taxpayers money by doing a shoddy job now as opposed to later.”
Or, as in a series of recent reprises of what might as well be New Albany’s official slogan:
“We’ve completely botched it so many times before that now we can’t afford to do it correctly – and can’t possibly be expected to try.”
Thank you, sir. May we have another?
Never mind. The Gang of Four has been giving it to us for quite some time now.
Print media coverage will be appended here when it goes on-line.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Smith: “Kitchen table” council redistricting plan a “clear misunderstanding of the people’s right to equal protection under the laws ... "
The council will be holding a public meeting about redistricting today at 2:00 p.m., and this statement will be read aloud then. In spite of the inconvenient timing, readers are urged to attend.
Some members of this council seem to have taken umbrage to my previous attempts to communicate with this council. Of course, now we are communicating THROUGH counsel. Nonetheless, I thought it prudent to read from prepared comments so as to avoid offending you.
I think it is a great thing that you are offering the people this scant chance to participate in their government as you discuss perhaps the most important element of our democratic system – the right to be fairly represented.
I’m not sure, however, that this body understands the seriousness of what it proposes to undertake. Drawing fair legislative districts is not the type of thing you can ask a relative to do one weekend at the kitchen table. Drawing fair legislative districts has nothing to do with fitting a size 14 foot into a size 9 shoe.
Rumor has it that the lone plan you are considering has done nothing to address the unequal representation inherently present in our current precinct boundaries. It is not enough to treat the disease, wish the patient well, and send her home to die. It is especially not enough when a cure is possible. It would be unethical for a physician to say a disease is inoperable without at first examining the patient.
Such examination as this council has purportedly performed constitutes malpractice. And yet, you are rushing your patient, the one you each swore to protect, out the office door without offering anything more than platitudes.
Despite what you may have been told, a population variance between districts of 8, 9, or 10 percent is not permissible under Indiana statutes (I.C. 36-4-6-3). Municipal districts “shall contain as nearly as possible, equal population.”
(b) The legislative body shall adopt an ordinance to divide the city into six (6) districts that:
(1) are composed of contiguous territory, except for territory that is not contiguous to any other part of the city;
(2) are reasonably compact;
(3) do not cross precinct boundary lines, except as provided in subsection (c) or (d); and
(4) contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population.
(c) The boundary of a city legislative district may cross a precinct boundary line if:
(1) more than one (1) member of the legislative body elected from the districts established under subsection (b) resides in one (1) precinct established under IC 3-11-1.5 after the most recent municipal election; and
(2) following the establishment of a legislative district whose boundary crosses a precinct boundary line, not more than one (1) member of the the legislative body elected from districts resides within the same city legislative body district.
(d) The boundary of a city legislative body district may cross a precinct line if the districts would not otherwise contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population.
(e) A city legislative body district with a boundary described by subsection (c) or (d) may not cross a census block boundary line:
(1) except when following a precinct boundary line; or
(2) unless the city legislative body certifies in the ordinance that the census block has no population and is not likely to ever have population.
(f) The legislative body may not adopt an ordinance dividing the city into districts with boundaries described by subsection (c) or (d) unless the clerk of the city mails a written notice to the circuit court clerk. The notice must:
(1) state that the legislative body is considering the adoption of an ordinance described by this subsection;
(2) be mailed not later than ten (10) days before the legislative body adopts the ordinance.
(g) The division under subsection (b) shall be made:
(1) during the second year after a year in which a federal decennial census is conducted; and
(2) when required to assign annexed territory to a district. This division may be made at any other time, subject to IC 3-11-1.5-32.
(l) A copy of the ordinance establishing districts under this section must be filed with the circuit court clerk of the county that contains the greatest population of the city not later than thirty (30) days after the ordinance is adopted.
Section 23. of the Indiana Constitution enumerates in its Bill of Rights this language: “The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.”
The United States Constitution provides in its 14th Amendment that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
When a council member publicly states that, “Bill Schmidt is retired. He has enough time to represent more people,” then that council member is demonstrating a complete ignorance of representative government as it existed, oh, say, 45 years ago.
When a council member says “We have more important things to do,” then that council member shows a clear misunderstanding of the people’s right to equal protection under the laws and equal representation.
I will grant that this council, as constituted, did not commit the original violation of Indiana law that showed such contempt for the people’s rights. More than one of its sitting members did violate that law, though.
One of those members, your current president, knowingly made demonstrably false claims about the currently pending lawsuit regarding redistricting of city legislative districts. I know that he did that in full knowledge of what he was doing, although I doubt he recognized the consequences of misrepresenting the words of a federal magistrate. I suspect that he did it deliberately to railroad this council, to panic this council, to disrespect this council and motivate it to act with haste and without deliberation. In other words, to PRETEND to cure the disease and then hope that the “troublemakers” will go away.
Your president told you, during your regular council meeting just nine days ago, that “the judge” has ordered you to redistrict by November 22, 2007. No such order exists. As a party to the current lawsuit, I would know. As parties to the current lawsuit, you should know. Ask your president to show you that order before you act hastily and extend this council’s illegal refusal to create districts that “contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population.”
Your president told you, during your regular council meeting just nine days ago, that “the judge” would not allow more than one public hearing with regard to redistricting. No such order exists. As a party to the current lawsuit, I would know. As parties to the current lawsuit, you should know. Ask your president to show you that order before you act hastily and extend this council’s illegal refusal to create districts that “contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population.”
When you discover that I am telling you the truth and that he is not, ask yourself whether you are being treated with the respect due to you from a colleague. Ask yourself if you are being played for a fool, and ask yourself who it is who thinks you are so annoyed by a simple public interest lawsuit filed by your constituents that you would blindly proceed to compound this folly.
Furthermore, I will testify to you that the plaintiffs in the relevant lawsuit have no desire to compel this council to act in haste, and certainly no desire to force a redistricting except within a reasonable period of time. We, as you know, asked for a deadline of June 30 of next year. We, as you know, asked for the maximum amount of sunshine and public participation. It was your representatives who sought to bring forward a kitchen-table plan in the midst of an election campaign.
Yes, we are scheduled for a court date in early December. We are even closer to the beginning of sworn evidentiary depositions and subpoenas for the production of relevant documents. We, the plaintiffs, and your representatives, have every reason to believe that the council, and the city will lose the case on its merits. If you have not been informed of that reality by those representatives, please take the time during this meeting to ask THEM why I might say such a thing.
Ask your representatives how they answered the question regarding whether this council had, at present, the requisite expertise to do ANY lawful redistricting, much less to proceed with an unexamined kitchen-table plan. Ask them what the estimated costs are for demographic experts and consultants on both sides of the lawsuit, not to mention the legal fees and deposition costs that lie ahead. And ask them who will be required to pay those expenses, fees, and costs.
Then know this: It is not the plaintiffs who are pressing for an ordinance in November. It never occurred to us. That was the defendants’ proposal. We are convinced that there is no good faith behind your offer and we are preparing for a December trial. The passage of an ordinance prior to December will not forestall a trial – it will make it an even messier and more contentious affair, at great cost to all residents of the City of New Albany and to your reputations.
Isaiah 1:18 records this scripture: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
I believe that a majority of this council can set aside its annoyance with us constituents/plaintiffs and come to an agreement that delays the lawsuit and all its financial and reputational liabilities. A reasoned, deliberate, exaggeratedly public process will serve the city you represent and set a sterling example for future deliberations of this council.
I will not address the other items of recent discussion that all of you are aware of. These were and are shameful and it is to the credit of this body as a whole and, I suspect, to its counsel, that those repulsive intentions were never subjected to wide public scrutiny. Had this council acted on those malicious intentions, far more than legal challenges would have ensued. I have little doubt that felony indictments would have been issued.
Much to my amazement, not to mention the amazement of many who know me, I stand here with an olive branch, provided this council does the right thing. Give us a call. You know the numbers.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Redistricted dimensions of Kochert & Ko. Koup revealed by our friendly informant, Even Deeper Throat.
It’s a power play.
Under the proposed redistricting they’ll be touting tomorrow at the illegal "hearing", Bob Caesar would be gerrymandered completely out of the 2nd district. Even if he wins and the switch is made after the election, he will not be allowed to represent a district where he does not live, at which point the Democratic Party could appoint someone of its choice. The front runner, coming in the back door, would be the man Caesar overwhelmingly defeated in the primary, Bill Schmidt, or worse yet, Schmidt’s wife, whose fingerprints are all over this hurried "new" plan of Larry Kochert’s, which Anna started drawing up the day after the primary was over.
You can bet that Larry will be pushing it because it will have the further effect of overloading the 6th district with Republican voters, and of course he and Jeff Gahan are not going out to dinner much lately.
What most people, even the Tribune, don’t seem to understand is that Kochert’s statement at the last council meeting is entirely false. He told the council that “the judge” ordered it to redistrict by November 22, 2007. But there is no record of any such order, and Jerry Ulrich, the council attorney, knows it because he was the only other council representative at the meeting besides Kochert himself. Seeing as the plaintiffs were seeking to have redistricting finished by the summer of 2008, there’s actually no hurry at all, unless the only objective is to arrogantly negate the ballots cast in a fair election by putting into place a gerrymandering plan drawn up by the wife of the defeated candidate - and he's campaigning for the Republican.
Think of it as the Kochert & Ko. Koup. The misspelling is by design. Have a good day, NAC – the empire is striking back. Think anyone else in town will notice?
Monday through Friday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to Noon for the home-made breakfast buffet.
More information from Teresa:
We now have delivery service for Downtown New Albany, Monday through Friday, too! Order by 11:00 a.m. for scheduled delivery 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There's a two lunch minimum and we will accept payment by check or cash.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
That's just down the way from NABC, Rich O's and Sportstime. Our 40 employees already are salivating. Israel says that the bill of fare will be simple -- tacos, burritos and quesadillas -- as it was when he first opened the Charlestown Road taqueria.
There have easily been a dozen different eateries in the Grantline Center location during the past fifteen years, and in the neighborhood, we jokingly refer to it as the Bermuda Triangle of restaurants. It probably is more indicative of the reality that typically undercapitalized operators seek a cheap spot, find it, and remain as undercapitalized as before.
A big difference this time is that Israel already has established two reputations for brilliance in Mexican food, first at the original taqueria, and later at his current Market Street storefront, with its gloriously expanded menu.
Verily, any kitchen of his automatically qualifies as a destination business, and I suspect he'll do just fine on Grant Line Road.
I can feel the waistline expanding already.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Yes, it’s time to revisit Vicki Ann Denschak’s bilious Freedom to Screech blog and read “Professor Erik’s” original thoughts about … wait … it now seems that they’re not exactly original.
As the noted noted linguist Gomer Pyle once observed, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise."
09. 11. 01
The imaginary lecturer’s first two paragraphs are cribbed in their entirety (sans attribution, which is the faux academic’s longstanding, loathsome habit) from an essay by John Peters.
Poignantly, Ms. Denschak inserts her own leadoff sentence into the second paragraph. Not only is it grammatically incorrect, but she misspells singer Shania Twain’s name.
Further along, there’s another whole paragraph stolen from an article by Stacey Colino published in 2002.
And, the sentence following the paragraph originally written by Colino can be found here.
What was that about rules? Consider this random definition from the Northwestern University website:
Northwestern's "Principles Regarding Academic Integrity" defines plagiarism as "submitting material that in part or whole is not entirely one's own work without attributing those same portions to their correct source."
Gee, you’d think a college professor would know that.
It’s beyond debate: Hubbard “tete-a-tete” avoidance mode noted by city residents, Tribune columnist, the Who’s Tommy, and man in moon.
A couple of weeks back, NA Confidential was entirely unsurprised to learn that Republican mayoral candidate Randy Hubbard would be cravenly sidestepping an October debate with his Democratic opponent, Doug England.
Randy Hubbard and the headlong flight from ideas.
Apparently Plan A is the hope is that England will commit an unforced error capable of being exploited for electoral gain. There seems to be no Plan B. In the interim, Hubbard’s attempted gravitas seems increasingly less plausible than what is almost certainly the non-spinnable reality: A comprehensive absence of platform content, grasp and ideas on the part of a reluctant candidate desperately recruited by his own party for the sole reason of warding off an expected insurgency emanating from the upstart outsider residing at the Admiral Bicknell.
With Hubbard’s silence deepening by the day and his electoral stock quavering, the Tribune’s Sunday guest columnist Daniel Robison opportunistically spotted an opening and commented serviceably on September 2 in Englandfest tickets available.
(Hubbard) recently told IU Southeast that he can’t face off against Democratic nominee Doug England in mid-October because of time constraints; an excuse I would’ve taken for a joke if it weren’t Hubbard’s true explanation.
Hubbard’s move suggests he has all but thrown in the towel. If he cared at all about Nov. 5’s outcome, he would’ve agreed to this showdown — at the very least to prevent England from milking the situation for his campaign’s benefit. And refusing to debate is certainly no way to comfort donors nor attract new money, the true lifeline of a campaign.
But such obviousness apparently can’t to be taken for granted in Hubbard’s camp. Undeterred by his opponent’s refusal to RSVP for the debate, England has smartly stated that he will turn the event into a one-candidate forum, effectively turning a would-be debate into a promotional event for himself on Oct. 16.
In this continually widening Republican void, where platform planks and ideas go to die, I’m left to surmise that Hubbard’s “duck ‘n’ cover” defensive posture circa the Labor Day opening political campaign weekend was merely a tactical prelude to calculated fireworks later in the autumn.
It’s just about the only thing that makes sense at this point.
My best guess would be an 11th hour outburst of negative campaigning in October, with the saintly Hubbard himself deigning to remain “above” the muddy fray while local confederates do the dirty work of contrasting Hubbard’s purportedly impeccable law enforcement credentials with patronage abuse questions that linger in the public consciousness from England’s two previous terms as mayor.
Such a late attack strategy would at least explain Hubbard’s odd reticence as England has aggressively lapped the somnolent ex-sheriff early in the contest, and twice opening bloody cuts: First, with the Democratic candidate’s city hall relocation press conference and Hubbard’s subsequent conceptual disorientation, and second, in the aftermath of the GOP candidate’s inexplicable debate withdrawal, as referenced previously by columnist Robison.
As Hubbard’s image resolution bytes grows ever fuzzier, surely England’s team is tempted to consider a more conservative campaign, but I’ve never been one to advocate running out the clock. It seems to me that Hubbard’s virtually pulse-free profile, coupled with the likelihood of a textbook GOP smear campaign down the road, actually provides England with yet another tactical opportunity, albeit counterintuitive, to land a haymaker.
If people on New Albany’s streets know anything, it is that the hyperkinetic England won’t sit still for a moment if again elected mayor. He may do the right thing, and he may do the wrong thing, but he possesses sufficient energy and vision to do something.
Love him or hate him, this much is known.
Unfortunately for England, many of these same people haven’t completely forgotten that there were reasons for his crushing defeat at the hands of Regina Overton in 1999. These reasons include hubris, which the ex-mayor seems to have convincingly addressed on numerous occasions since re-entering the political fray, and the public’s lingering recollection of behind-the-scenes patronage scandals and slushy improprieties … which he has not.
At least, not yet.
Hence the current, golden opportunity.
By mustering a measure of introspection as to the lessons of the past and the wisdom of age, and by offering a wee bit of penitence as a prelude to a hopeful future, England might now stage a bold preemptive strike and earnestly address the legacy of backroom dealings that inevitably arises whenever his 2007 candidacy is discussed around town, and in particular, as these perceptions pertain to individuals whose shadowy influence at the time has come to be viewed as malign rather than constructive.
England might reassure voters that having learned from experience, there is no need to fear that history might repeat itself. He might explicitly distance himself from the key backroom players of the time. He might close by pledging that a future England administration will not become entangled in the sort of good-old-boy’s school patronage disbursements and borderline ethical fundraising ties that sadly discredited otherwise successful terms in office.
In fact, he might raise the bar even higher. Dare we broach the possibility of an ethics commission for municipal government in New Albany?
If Hubbard intends to open fire, then England should make the gunslinger's powder as wet as possible as a prelude to spiking the barrel on election day.
Then again, maybe I’m mistaken about it all.
Perhaps the mayoral contest is all but sewn up, and England need not make such a journey as a necessary step toward ensuring a third act in his mayoral history. Certainly I’ll still vote for him either way, although with this niggling caveat:
The suggestions offered here serve primarily to address doubts and concerns that have been expressed to me in wide ranging conversations with friends and acquaintances, most of whom acknowledge England’s considerable chutzpah, while remaining far less enamored of some members in his past, and perhaps present, entourage.
My mind’s made up, but they’re the ones who might yet need reassurances that this time around, sharing in the spoils on the part of certain of England’s coterie is subordinated to creating more for all the city’s residents.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Promptly at 10:05 a.m., the first historic home tourists were queued outside on the front steps. They proved to be a baker’s dozen descendents of the Schwartzels, who bought the house in 1913 and lived in it until after World War II.
Among them was the youngest (and last surviving) Schwartzel daughter, now aged 77, who left the house at the age of 17 in 1947 and had not returned since. Spry and sharp, she led the clan and one very attentive homeowner room by room through the house, dispensing anecdotes and details about its original configuration, which has been much altered on the ground floor.
She showed us where her father hid the hootch during Prohibition, explained that the dormitory-scale floorplan of the house was a crucial factor in its purchase by a couple intending to have a large family (they had 9 children in all), and referred to the physical location as an "island" during the 1937 flood, with only one pathway above water level leading out of the neighborhood to a grocery store down the street.
If the walls could talk, it would indeed be wonderful, but living history is far better. If not for the home tour, would we have had the opportunity to hear the tales told on Saturday morning?
Kudos to the tour organizers. It was an honor to meet the Schwartzel kin and the day’s many other visitors. The good feeling evidently was shared by others who, like us, opened their homes for the day, as in this account at Diggin’ in the Dirt: Life After the Historic Homes Tour.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
And you wonder why I hate chains.
Protesters march outside Applebee's where mother had to cover up
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Armed with babies wearing onesies emblazoned with "breast is best" and "I eat at mom's," protesters marched in front of an Applebee's restaurant on Saturday to support a woman who says she was told to cover up by a restaurant manager.
Around 200 people, some of them carrying signs and breast-feeding, marched in front of the restaurant as drivers honked and gave the thumbs-up, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on its Web site.
The protest was in support of Brooke Ryan, who said she was breast-feeding her 7-month-old son in June when a manager asked her to cover up. Ryan did not attend the event for "personal reasons."
The protest was one of 60 that have been held at different Applebee's restaurants in recent weeks. Kentucky state law prohibits any interference from a breast-feeding mother.
"You're just trying to do something special and normal, but you're being treated like a second-class citizen," said Maren McGimsey.
"You have a country that sees breasts only for sexual purposes."
Applebee's international guest relations manager Alex Bressett said the restaurant's "policies regarding breast-feeding are consistent with the laws of the states in which we operate."
Dick Stewart, a candidate for New Albany City Council, suffered a stroke in early August, affecting his ability to speak, friends and colleagues confirmed Friday.
To be sure, strokes are a nasty business. Dick and I disagree on almost every pertinent issue, but I wish him the best of luck and speed in his recovery.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
In short, nothing whatsoever worthy of Con-Dem-nation, a fine time had by all, and money in the coffers of New Albany's foremost cultural entity.
And now, home tour 2007 ... perhaps a nap on Sunday?
Friday, September 07, 2007
The city council met as scheduled last evening, but owing to work commitments, it was spared the beanie’s presence (and apparently the Courier-Journal’s, too; this morning’s on-line coverage is non-existent).
Later on Friday, the Tribune’s thoughts will be inserted here.
Meanwhile, meeting reports are trickling into NAC as I prepare for a final round of vigorous (aargh) housecleaning prior to tomorrow’s home tour, with duties remaining that include displaying NA Confidential t-shirts and my Christopher Hitchens’s “God Is Not Great” book prominently in the foyer; positioning the draft beer system, pretzel bowls and espresso machine for daylong service; and making sure the cats’ basement exile locale is serviceable.
In other words, fresh litter in all their boxes – come to think of it, not unlike the pristine appearance of the council’s agenda prior to it being soiled by grubby wardheeling hands.
Following lunch, I’ll proceed back to work to see what new and intriguing adventures await me there, and to ready multiple growlers to yield progressive beer samples for this evening’s Carnegie Center fundraiser.
In the future, readers are kindly solicited to issue periodic reminders to me on the perils of overextending one’s self -- not that I’ll pay attention to them, but you’ll be in the position of “I told you so” when the vertebrae begin to crack.
I am told that in regard to the council’s obligation to redistrict, Slippery Larry Kochert has announced a comprehensive AnnaPlan of action expressly designed to thwart the spirit of the mandated settlement, to resuscitate the Gang of Four’s hegemony, to merrily gerrymander, and to upend the results of the forthcoming election, and in response to this, one can only shrug and ask:
Would you expect otherwise from such a long-term, deep-seated political malignancy?
Speaking only for myself, I’m serene. If the worst case scenario of potential council chicanery is true, then there are as many unforeseen stumbling blocks for the dysfunctional connivers as potential gains for their less luminous members.
Consequently, equanimity is the order of the day. Just watch calmly as Kochert and Co.’s mendacity levels trip Geiger counters from the new Albanian floodplain to the steppes of Central Asia, and remember that their frantic last-minute haste, and the expedient excuse for skullduggery that it provides them, both are the product of obfuscation and sloth on the part of a council that failed to do its job for more than three and a half years, coming on the heels of a previous council’s failure to do its job when its time came to adjust New Albany’ districts.
The council didn't even bother to cop a plea when it came to the negligence charge.
Reflect dispassionately as the obstructionist cabal now seeks to exhume the zombie-like primary election victim Bill Schmidt from his political grave, and ask yourself this question:
In seeking simple fairness according to law, who has sought to repair the damage borne of the council’s refusal to perform its duties … and who on the council now seeks to “fix” it by the usual methods?
Verily, it’s easy to be serene when virtue is its own reward, and when others across the aisle (the chasm) are so transparently toxic.
There’ll be much to add on this topic, and the council’s redistricting soft shoe performance truly won’t be over until the magistrate sings. Make note that a public meeting about redistricting has been inconveniently scheduled for Friday, September 14 at 2:00 p.m. Readers should try to attend it if at all possible.
Now, about those toilets …
Thursday, September 06, 2007
I’m looking forward to this agenda item:
Jerry Ulrich & Larry Kochert – report on redistricting lawsuit.
While we’re on the topic of the council’s newfound commitment to redistrict (at the point of an edict), here’s a classic Steve Price moment, as described with notable restraint by the Courier-Journal’s Dick Kaukas:
Steve Price, District 3 councilman, said whatever redistricting plan is adopted could make it more challenging for some incumbents to win re-election.
For instance, Price said, one proposal being considered would take away a precinct now in District 3 and replace it with another that is now in an adjacent district.
"That could make it a little harder," Price said, because voters in the precinct new to his district won't be as familiar with him and his record.
But Price acknowledged he will have four years to make himself known.
That’s certainly a hopeful sign, since Price is so well known in the presently configured 3rd council district that more than 60% of registered Democrats regularly vote against him, and this fact brings us to Price’s main opponent in the forthcoming fall election, Republican Brenda Scharlow, and her simple yet functional platform, which is now posted at the GOP web site:
1. Enforce Ordinances
2. Clean Up Our Neighborhoods
3. Improve City Parks
4. 2-way VS 1-way Street Evaluations
5. Promote Business in the Downtown
It isn’t exactly weighty, but it touches the needed bases, and so I’m delighted to endorse a Republican candidate for perhaps the first time in my life.
Vote Brenda Scharlow in November.
Yes, there is a third candidate in the 3rd district race. We’ve been monitoring Libertarian Thomas Keister’s web site for signs that he knows anything at all about the current state of affairs in New Albany, and that he intends to take the race seriously.
As yet, no such evidence has emerged that Keister is willing or able to apply his Libertarian principles to the 3rd district’s current dilemma. Until Keister, who has all the appearances of a budding perennial candidate (one Verle Huffman is enough for this reporter's lifetime), manages to be credible, there is no reason to risk yet another 3-way vote split that will have the inevitable result of returning the underachieving Price to office.
Who’s going to the meeting tonight?
I’ll be the one wearing the beanie.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
South Side Inn to serve again; Downtown New Albany landmark gets update, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal).
In recent weeks, a lot of work has been done to refurbish the downtown New Albany landmark under its new owners, C.W. Thomas and Brent Bagshaw …
… Thomas and Bagshaw, both of Henryville, are friends and production workers at Essroc Cement in Speed. They said they bought the business for about $40,000 and will spend about $100,000 to whip it into shape for an anticipated October reopening.
They said one of the reasons they decided to take on the effort was the traffic expected to be generated by Scribner Place, the combined YMCA and municipal aquatic center being built nearby for about $23 million. Scribner Place is expected to open in the fall of 2008.
That’s delicious (CHORTLE) irony, isn’t it?
Now that a return to regular portions of Friday fish and fixings finally is in the offing, the city’s $165,000 yearly investment in Scribner Place is looking even more reasonable than it was before, although Caesar's might yet conclude that $20 million can buy lots of Dom Perignon and caviar.
For our further edification, reporter Kaukas continues:
Across Main Street at Schmitt Furniture, President Louis Schmitt said he hopes (restaurant manager Kenny) Lynch is right.
"We're excited about any business that is willing to invest in downtown," Schmitt said, adding that the furniture store attracted business for the restaurant and "it was also a nice draw for us."
It's wonderful that Mr. Schmitt can see the importance of investment, and with a revitalized South Side packing them in, and the gleaming new Scribner Place project just across Main Street, perhaps it’s time for Schmitt Furniture to do its part and AT LONG LAST RESTORE THE BOARDED UP WINDOWS ON ITS BUILDING.
How about it, Mr. Schmitt?
Is there a political angle to all this that I'm missing?
Even Deeper Throat -- are you somewhere in the room?
New Albany business clears hurdle toward liquor license
By unanimous vote, the Floyd County Alcohol Beverage Board today recommended that a liquor license be granted to B&B Bar and Grill at 211 E. Main St. in New Albany.
Lonnie Gibson, a member of the Indiana State Excise Police and one of the local board’s four members, said the recommendation is subject to review and approval by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
Three residents spoke in opposition, including Jack Messer, a member of the New Albany City Council and a city police officer. Messer said that a city ordinance to promote restaurants as part of downtown revitalization was not intended to produce “a drinking establishment on every corner.” B&B, which is not yet open, is next door to Connor’s, a restaurant that also serves alcohol.
Carl Holliday and Steve Goodman, who own the property where both restaurants are located, and Robert and Brenda Gresham, owners of B&B, said there were no grounds for denying the license. The Greshams said they had spent more than $10,000 on their kitchen, indicating they intended to sell food and not just alcoholic drinks.
Gibson said reasons for denial, which include substantial community opposition and questions about the reputation of the business owners, didn’t exist in this case.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Silvercrest, in New Albany, to house seniors (News and Tribune).
The endangered Silvercrest site has been purchased by local developer and Southeast Christian stalwart Matt Chalfant, who sees senior citizen housing as its future. Area preservationists are both relieved and wary; Chalfant’s previous record as a developer is long on cornfield conversions and short on adaptive re-use. It is as yet uncertain whether religious litmus tests will be required for lodgers.
Ind. Decisions - "Court stomps Indiana wine shipping laws" (Indiana Law Blog).
As Indiana’s wholesalers babble nonsensically and pose grim (and unrealistic) scenarios of Internet alcohol sales to minors, there’s been another welcome chink taken out of the armor of their diminishing monopoly: “Two years after wine lovers thought markets had been opened to them, a federal court in Indiana may have finally kicked down the doors.”
Hearing set on New Albany district borders (Courier-Journal).
Under pressure from a federal lawsuit and after years of delay, the New Albany City Council is finally taking steps to redistrict itself. A public hearing to get residents' views on redrawing the boundaries of the six districts from which council members are elected has been set for Sept. 14.
In other words, having been forced into compliance at the point of a court edict, city council president Larry Kochert now emits bountiful sweetness and light with regard to redistricting. Isn’t it funny how federal mandates tend to focus one’s concentration on matters previously deemed unimportant?