Monday, June 30, 2008

Online talk radio : New Albany Now launches tonight with a schools discussion.

We’re here today to tout something truly revolutionary: Tonight's live call-in to New Albany Now, a new online radio talk show being launched at 6:00 p.m.

Visit:
www.blogtalkradio.com/Randy-Smith
(New Albany Now)

Here is what you will find there, courtesy of New Albany Now.

----

"The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School System is soliciting public comment on how it might reconstitute its mix of schools. Stakeholders at Pine View and Silver Street elementary schools are gathering support to make the case that closing those schools would be shortsighted. We're talking with people in the community with a point of view on this issue."

We have callers scheduled (it's a call-in show, so we are dependent on community participation), and we'll go for one hour. The NAFCCSC Board of Trustees meets Monday at 7:00 p.m. and during the agenda period labeled "President's Prerogative," it is expected that a number of parents and other stakeholders will be expressing their opinions.

Callers have two options for participation. Online callers with any kind of microphone should be able to participate by merely pressing the "Click to Talk" icon on the show page. Callers away from their computers may call (347) 539-5928 (539-JWCT [Join With Callers Tonight]).

NAC readers are invited to join us with comments on the state of our schools, the "Resources and Results Committee," and the importance to the community of our neighborhood schools.

As the school board itself is in executive session at 6 p.m., we won't have the opportunity to speak live with any of them, but there should be plenty of opportunity in coming weeks to hear what they have to say. Tonight we'll hear from residents, including some who plan to address the school board during their public session.

This evening's show is sponsored by Destinations Booksellers, New Albany's full-service general independent bookstore on E. Spring Street in New Albany.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Looking ahead to a bicentennial in 2013, and whether it's already behind an eight ball.


The Sunday editions of our local newspapers feature reports from the bicentennial celebration underway in Charlestown, Indiana (founded 1808), and for New Albanians, this event in a neighboring town presupposes a question.

Will our city be doing anything special to mark its 200th birthday in 2013?

Five years isn’t much time when one considers the reality of the situation. New Albany does self-defeating ennui the way New Orleans cooks piquant gumbo, and the same small group of energetic and capable organizers inevitably will at some point be charged with planning and executing a celebration, while another small band of embittered flat-earthers hurl brickbats and mock the entire process from their typically anonymous perches.

All the while, roughly 80% of the city’s residents will remain oblivious to the occasion, although at least some of them will turn out for the festivities if there’s the promise of a swill walk, free elephant’s ears, a fundamentalist prayer breakfast or the ritual burning of a progressive or three.

Seriously ... since I'm one of those destined for the stake, my fear is that for the sake of expedience, we’ll pass up the chance in 2013 to showcase the good things about New Albany in a unique and fresh way, and opt instead to make the bicentennial a part of Harvest Homecoming. Nothing against the latter (really); it’s just that a branded bicentennial event would be the ideal platform from which to declare the victory of progressive thinking in a revitalized urban area.

Or, conversely, to perform last rites. Wanna buy your door prize tickets now?

REWIND: Playing by the rules means just saying "no" to plagiarism, doesn't it?

All this anonymous talk of late comparing me with Reverend Jeremiah Wright is worrisome.

What if folks begin to think that I'm religious? I'd never be able to live that one down.

Meanwhile, on the recurring topic of attribution and intellectual dishonesty, it should be noted that permission to publish someone else's words is meaningless if attribution is not provided.

Let's go back to September, 2007, and consider anew what it means to pretend ... and to be a very bad actor.

---

Playing by the rules means just saying "no" to plagiarism, doesn't it? (9/11/07)

I’m always amused when people who “play by the rules” aren’t able to follow them.

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.

(thanks RS)

There'll be more time to barbecue the bologna.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Maybe we need to increase their subsidies ... again.

Imagine it costing more to live farther away. Isn't that anti-American?

---

Fuel Prices Shift Math for Life in Far Suburbs (New York Times)

“Living closer in, in a smaller space, where you don’t have that commute,” he said. “It’s definitely something we talk about. Before it was ‘we spend too much time driving.’ Now, it’s ‘we spend too much time and money driving.’ ”

Across the nation, the realization is taking hold that rising energy prices are less a momentary blip than a change with lasting consequences. The shift to costlier fuel is threatening to slow the decades-old migration away from cities, while exacerbating the housing downturn by diminishing the appeal of larger homes set far from urban jobs.

Erik(a) at FOS stealing again? Say it isn't so.

In which we pillage the mailbag ...

Mark, you bring up a good point.

The forever faux perfesser’s “Obama’s kitchen” post, while credited to Brad, actually appears to have come from yet another cowardly unattributed source, Hoosiers for Fair Taxation, where I can’t find anyone taking credit for the slander and innuendo. My guess is Brad cribbed it from the anonymous cretin therein.

And, the most recent Freedom to Screech posting about “a few more simple rules” appeared first on the Indiana Barrister blog, which attributes it to Jennifer Wagner.

I hope that helps. As we’ve noted many times before, you’d think a self-proclaimed academic would know the few simple rules of intellectual honesty, but when the poseur's foundation is intellectually dishonest – not to mention as rotten as termite-infested wood – then you can’t expect the rules to be followed (or even known, for that matter).

That’s fiar and open debate, Open Air Museum style, and another reason why we make so very little progress in these benumbed parts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

From North Carolina to Grant Line Road in ten not so easy elected officials.

Yesterday’s “New Life for Old Factories” presentation in Madison was highly informative, and well attended by New Albanians (six of us, I believe). To make a long story short, North Carolina is ahead of the pack when it comes to offering tax incentives and other inducements for those seeking to develop archaic factories, mill buildings, schools and public utility structures into newly usable revenue generators.

The results are stunning.

Indiana may lag behind, and one wonders why our governor did not accompany his Major Moves program with North Carolinian-style carrots/incentives for adaptive reuse of what we already have, but no matter.

Creative solutions actually do exist in Indiana, although you wouldn’t know it by observing the actions of Floyd County’s commissioners and council, our two governing entities, who continue to insist that the only way of improving the historic County Home (North Annex) building on Grant Line Road is to demolish it, ostensibly to allow the contemporary institutional, er, “grandeur” of its Timpermanesque replacement to be seen from the egalitarian confines of the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Speaking of lowest common denominators, currently the county’s leadership cadre doesn’t have the money to do even that, short of sending orange-festooned jailbirds with hammers to begin chipping away in the fashion of the Berlin Wall’s demise, or indulging in the time-honored local solution of summarily torching the edifice (moving the Youth Shelter kids away to a tent city first, of course), and this constitutes a rarely fortunate turn of events stemming from Indiana’s property tax class warfare.

Perhaps a thought process (is that legal?) somewhat removed from used car sales Philistinism will yet prevail, sensible options for adaptive reuse will be considered, and progress in the North Carolina sense -- savor the irony in that analogy -- might yet blossom right here in the domain of the Open Air Museum of Ignorance, Superstition and Backwardness.

Meanwhile, before anyone jumps in here to passionately defend the Youth Shelter, let’s be clear about the gist. I'm for the Youth Shelter. My comments here are not about the Youth Shelter, not about its employees, and not about its inhabitants.

To my knowledge, there is nothing in the mandate of the Youth Shelter that says a historic building should be thoughtlessly demolished when all available facts suggest it is cheaper to renovate such a structure than to build a new one. Throughout the previous months of this discussion, council, commissioners and Youth Shelter supporters alike have consistently sought to shift the conversation away from the merits of County Home reuse to the emotional insinuation that anyone opposing the politicos’ shortsighted “resolve” is guilty of ignoring, rejecting and detesting troubled kids.

No, it isn’t, that particular argument is flagrantly invalid, and the people advancing it need to become better actors.

As with most other political failings locally, the suggested fate of the County Home has far less to do with thoughtful future planning than it does with an abject and egregious absence of imagination on the part of elected officials. Once a historical building is gone, it’s gone for good, but imagination somehow continues to cling to survival hereabouts -- if only it might be acknowledged and nurtured.

Ironically, the clients of the Youth Shelter might have a better grasp of imagination, creativity and adaptive solutions owing to their own unfortunate circumstances than the generally well-meaning adults who insist on skewing the argument illogically. That's too bad.

In the archives:

NAC: Sekula on the North Annex: "Clarify and frame this discussion and ensure that it is portrayed accurately."

NAC: New thread: North Annex, preservationists, youth shelter advocates and ... and ...

NAC: North Annex? It's time to address Floyd County's political culture and its congenital cultural amnesia.

And: Bass Ackward (Diggin’ in the Dirt blog)

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Photo credit: Floyd County Historical Association

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"New Life for Old Factories" today in Madison.

Here's where I'll be today. More later.

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* FROM HISTORIC MADISON INC.

**"New Life for Old Factories" Presentation Slated for June 26
* A program entitled "New Life for Old Factories: Strategies forRehabilitating Historic Industrial Properties" will be presented onThursday, June 26 at noon in St. Michael the Archangel Church, 519 E. 3rdStreet in the Madison, Indiana National Historic Landmark District. MyrickHoward, President of Preservation North Carolina, and an expert inpreserving and reusing old mill buildings for new uses is the speaker.

The program is aimed at real estate developers, realtors,elected officials, community leaders and owners of older factory andcommercial properties. However anyone with an interest may attend theevent. A light lunch will be provided.

Myrick Howard has 30 years of experience in the preservation andredevelopment of endangered historic properties as President of NorthCarolina's statewide historic preservation organization. He has overseenmore than 500 rehabilitation projects resulting in more than $200 million ofprivate investment. He has been widely published and has made presentationsthroughout the United States and abroad. His most recent book isentitled *BuyingTime for Heritage*.

Mr. Howard's presentation is a joint program by HistoricMadison, Inc. and Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. Funding forthis program was provided by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and theNational Trust for Historic Preservation.

For additional information contact Historic Madison, Inc. at(812) 265-2967 or by email at hmihmfi@seidata.com.

"We do": An open letter.

Dear REALpro,

Sorry you left so quickly today. It would have been nice to have a few words. I understand that I may have been a bit harsh. At least it was sincere, and I really meant it.

You say that math's your thing, and I can appreciate that. You’re not that old, but you found a way to apply your grasp of math to real estate and rental properties, by calculating costs and expenses, and knowing when to flip and when not to flip. You played the game the way the game's always been played.

Congratulations. I’m so impressed that I’m tempted to drink Bud Light and think it’s beer.

Not.

Your math skills are all well and good, but you see, your outlook is reminiscent of discredited colonialism as practiced by the long defunct European monarchies, who conducted grand experiments in profitability on playing fields located in far-off lands. They were fascinated with numbers, too, and they could count on one thing in the end: The effects of their actions would be felt only in those places where they, the ones initiating the actions, didn’t live themselves.

Rather like you.

You live up on the hill, in a grandiose subdivision of garish exurban McMansions (pun intended), and those properties you flip are in the center of the doughnut, and involve real people … but they’re not YOUR people, are they? Your people are a demographic devoted to vacuous consumption, right? Meanwhile, those degraded downtowners ... they’re just pieces on the math wunderkind’s chess board, aren’t they?

Heck, it looks to me like those doughnut centers were just made for speculators like you … so that you could finance a home quite far removed from contact with any of the people that your actions impact on a daily basis, even as you ignore the concepts and the ideas that are relevant to your work area.

Yes, I know about your trauma, about the time that you didn’t do your homework, didn’t know what you were getting into, and because there were historical preservation covenants involved, you couldn’t plasticize a rental property (are you still the president of the rental property owners support group -- rental property owners being those business people who should be paying the same property tax as other business people?), so now all problems can be traced back to those nasty historical preservation people who you never really engaged, anyway, and you want to know what?

That’s just tiresome.

You spoke of your demographic. Are they all as undereducated as you when it comes to aesthetics? Do they all think that neighborhoods are the same thing as unguarded apple trees, with fruit ripe for the plucking? I know lots of folks your age, and others your age work for me, and they get it.

You don’t, and you need to learn. When you say that the exteriors of one of your rental properties don’t matter, and only the interiors do … and then you turn around and apply for a UEZ fa├žade grant (approved) for your business on the corner of State and Elm … you’re saying that exteriors do matter for a business. But wait – a rental property’s a business, too … right? Or did we already cover that little bit of blatant hypocrisy?

Then, when you put a front door on your new business, one that should be on your or The Gary's exurban McMansion (pun intended), you serve notice again that your generation wouldn’t know aesthetic if it bit you on the ass. But I know that’s not true (see above) because I know 27-year-olds who know art. What’s crazy about that is their commitment to people, to neighborhoods, and to progress. Atypical? You tell me. I'm very confused here. It upsets you that you can’t demolish two poorly maintained rental properties and build a nice brick four-plex on the same spot, one that would look at home in any exurban development.

But, my dear boy, it simply ain’t the exurb. It’s the inner city. It’s supposed to work a certain way because that’s how it was built. And nothing – nothing – you said today shows me that you “get” any part of it other than the fact of your exploiting it. Prove me wrong. I'm waiting.

I’m calling you out not because I want to make another mortal enemy (rest assured, I have enough of those already). It’s because I’m an optimist, and I believe that with the proper effort, almost anyone can understand the program. One of the fellows sitting next to you talked of looking for success in those places that have achieved it. That’s where you should start. Right now, all you’ve done is provide indication of cluelessness. Where I come from, that’s nothing to brag about.

Tough love, math guy. That’s where it’s at. I hope you get it … sooner, rather than later. I don't want to be your enemy. But when your chosen "business" threatens neighborhoods ... well, let those chips fall where they may.

Roger

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Updated: Friday news shocker: Self-inflicted wounds bleed.

It's nice to see the mainstream media catching up to what more forward thinking constituencies have been writing about for years now. It'd be even nicer to see New Albany do the same. Does anyone know if Dennis Brooks watches Good Morning America?



The above seems to work fine in most browsers. If not, three different links to the same video are below..

Ghostburbs 1

Ghostburbs 2

Ghostburbs 3

NABC in the news, and why downtown brewing is a progressive phenomenon.

The Tribune’s Daniel Suddeath did a nice job with this article in yesterday's newspaper.

NABC to open downtown New Albany Brewhouse by fall

We’re hoping that things go according to plan, such as we have one. The project is to the point that matters could proceed fairly quickly during July, and the goal remains to have a taproom presence by Harvest Homecoming, with the brewery being installed shortly thereafter, and beer starting to hit the regional market in the first quarter of 2009.

Aside from that, here's a personal opinion.

As a misplaced European, I retain a healthy sense of irony about NABC’s expansion, which will result in a big personal expenditure toward community improvement in an area, downtown, that houses two underachieving councilmen congenitally opposed to any manifestations of progress, whether for themselves (the hardest part to explain) or the people they pretend to represent.

So, make no mistake: The prospect of good beer being brewed downtown is a mortal affront to Dan Coffey, Steve Price, their hapless acolytes and the mantra of collective woe and failure that is their only daily stock in trade. When you spend your days chanting “we can’t,” you have a vested interest in stacking the deck so that no one else can step forward and prove that “we can.” It’s the only “politics” known by the Coffeys and Prices of New Albany, and as such, it’s a petty and vindictive way of reinforcing pathetic self-esteem in an ever-changing world.

It isn’t an accident that we call them “progressive” pints of beer. Insofar as I waste any time at all thinking about people and ideas that can play no part in moving the world forward, it is to provide reinforcement for the people and ideas that can make a difference, and are making a difference. In our own small way, NABC proudly inhabits the latter camp. If it ever ceases to do so, I’ll join Councilman Cappuccino in the rag-picking business.

Good news from City Hall: Silver Street supporters, New Albany's mayor join forces.

Silver Street supporters, New Albany's mayor join forces, by Tara Hettinger (News-Tribune).

On Monday, New Albany Mayor Doug England told a group of concerned parents and community members — who are fighting to keep Silver Street Elementary open — that he understands the importance of being able to walk to school.

He did just that as a child … (and) England told the group he is in favor of keeping the school open, because it encourages walkers and helps to define the area.“The school is the heart of the neighborhood and if you take the heart away, the neighborhood just dies,” England said.

I’m delighted to see Mayor England involved in this unfolding story.

It’s hard to imagine a public entity playing its hand any more ineptly than the school corporation has managed to date, with its imported hatchet-wielding consultant, rubber-stamp “cover” committee designed for no other reason than to ultimately take the fall, and a penchant for secrecy that’s positively Nixonian in scope.

Toss into the mix a school board member or two whose prime mandate seems to be sticking it to “them people” downtown (if Linden Meadows were a tune, I'd be humming it), and we’re approaching a readymade Mel Brooks comedic epic – except that the more one considers it, the story isn’t funny, and even the addition of a flatulent campfire scene out behind the administration building wouldn’t make it so.

I’ll say it again: I have friends in the school corporation, and it pains me to note their employer’s stance in this matter. At this point, it isn’t just that the validity of the Superintendent’s pre-determined course of school resource “action” is questionable. It’s that the method pursued in achieving it is bordering on the reprehensible.

That’s very alarming.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hear it from a Marine: "Anonymity ... essentially a cowardly way to get one’s point across without having to actually put anything at risk."

From its inception in 2004, NA Confidential has been about ideas.

From the beginning, we have suggested that if the city of New Albany’s collective experience over past decades has come to mirror insanity, i.e., the constant repetition of the same act over and over in the hope that the outcome might someday be different, then perhaps it is time at long last to learn from these mistakes, to study the underlying assumptions in light of verifiable reality in other locales, to implement possible solutions based on the veracity of these realities, and in short, alter the self-defeating paradigm.

From early discussions about the creative class, through examinations of New Urbanism, and always set against a backdrop of our local political class’s often bewildered and generally hostile attitude toward virtually anything that smacks of change, we have provided abundant and cogent reasoning for our positions. I needn’t do more to support this point than recommend a casual perusal of close to 2,000 postings over this period, as well as the comments attached and discussions engendered.

It is an impressive body of work by anyone’s definition, and I'm proud of it. Yes, we’ve missed a few, but hit or miss, we’ve always taken full and unqualified responsibility for our words by signing our names and being here to engage in the dialogue. We have not been afraid.

It’s been a while since we reprinted the following letter to the editor from Stars and Stripes (July 22-28, 2001; Pacific edition). It remains a powerful statement from a serviceman about those qualities that the majority of New Albanians, if asked, would quickly claim as their own: Courage, honor, integrity and responsibility.

Unfortunately, there are those for whom these concepts are variable and optional, to be forgotten in the heat of bilious attacks and expressions of hatred, and that’s rather sad, because in the end, anonymity is an act of vandalism, and …

Anonymity is cowardly.

In reply to the July 18 letter “Benefits of anonymity,” I must strongly disagree with the characterization of Stars and Stripes’ policy on anonymous letters as cowardly. Anonymity, on the other hand, is essentially a cowardly way to get one’s point across without having to actually put anything at risk. Honor and courage dictate that any just cause is worthy of risking something of value.

How effective would the “95 Theses” have been if Martin Luther had nailed them up signed “Anonymous?” And how about an anonymous “Declaration of Independence?” Abraham Lincoln could have written an anonymous “Emancipation Proclamation,” and maybe spared his own life at the hands of bigots.

When you truly feel that you are right, even about small matters, don’t be too cowardly to put your name on it.

I agree with the assessment of hypocrisy, and I despise the media —
Stars and Stripes
included — practice of quoting unnamed or unidentified sources. Most readers are educated, and quick to discount such spineless drivel.

Anonymity is too often a shield for lies and exaggerations, and is widely recognized as such. As an American and a Marine, I am happy to have a forum that will print the voice of dissent, as long as it is not skulking in the shadows.

The letter writer has sadly mistaken “freedom of speech” for “freedom from accountability.” The
Stars and Stripes
policy only censors those who are looking to whine without repercussion or who have no stomach for defending what they believe is right. People who will not identify themselves, censor themselves. They can pity themselves anonymously too, I don’t want to hear it.

Please don’t complain “out of respect … for those who serve today.” That’s me. I can complain for myself, and I’ll sign my name to it when I do.

Jerry M. Milton
Camp Foster, Okinawa

Not exactly a fox in the henhouse ... more like Jethro behind the wheel of a Boeing.

Yes, I know – Dan Coffey being given a seat on the Redevelopment Commission is no different than placing Pope Benedict XVI (dude has more Roman numerals than a Chicago album) on the board of Emily’s List, but you have to give one thing to Coffey: He shows up for meetings … and that’s obviously detrimental to the city’s health.

So, was that the intent in appointing him?

Meanwhile, conjoined CM Steve Price is the council’s representative on the Urban Enterprise Association board, which has held six meetings to date in 2008. Price has attended two.

Could that be because there is no “P” in urban enterprise?

Batting .333 is excellent when it comes to baseball, less so when it comes to civic responsibility … don’t you think?

REWIND: City Councilman Cappuccino speaks with NA Confidential.

While the Wizard of Westside's current "legislative" efforts have been devoted to publicly spitting in the eyes of "them people," which by intimate extension means opposing any recognizable commitment to downtown redevelopment (the fact that he sits on the Redevelopment Commission is to be regarded as an expression of irony, an appreciation for which has long since bred out of the American gene pool), the self-aggrandizing caterwauling didn’t exactly begin yesterday.

Rather, like a scene from “Groundhog Day,” the grandstanding has dragged on through endlessly repetitive cycles for as long as there’s been an audience in attendance and an ephemeral, pointless political scheme to hatch, and in April, 2005, the drivel-based, drooling filibuster was aimed at ordinance enforcement, thus inspiring the following satire. Now that the council president has indicated an interest in examining anew New Albany's regrettable housing situation, NAC's interview has again become topical.

Kindly note that the political entities satirized below are fictional creations of the author … and surely not to be mistaken for living, breathing people?


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Published on Monday, April 18, 2005.

NAC: Today in the studio we have a very special guest, the esteemed city councilman of long standing, Mr. Cappuccino.

CC: Thank you (preening) … now, where’s that red light? Citizens, just last week, as I spent quality time with my beloved hobby of antique furniture refinishing, which I’d gladly settle for doing in a heartbeat if not for the hopes and dreams of dozens of honest, salt-of-the-earth West Side families, who depend on me to bring home their bacon, improve their drainage, install their water heaters and protect them from the Ordinance Nazis – hah! Boy, that’s a real knee-slapper – I gotta thank my friend Li’l Stevie here (Cappuccino hoists a doll atop his knee) for coming up with the Ordinance Nazi phrase, right Li’l Stevie?

LS: Yes sir, Mr. Cappuccino, you’re dead right, just like always … hey, there they are! NAZIS! NAZIS! Hide the video poker machine!

NAC: He’s certainly well tanned.

CC: Did you say well tamed? It runs in the family. Hmm, like I was piously intoning … anyway, my downtrodden westsiders need me, and as the Wizard I whiz only for them, even if it kills me.

NAC: All right. Here’s our first question, Mr. Cappuccino. Do you support ordinance enforcement in the city of New Albany?

CC: Well, Knack, when it comes to enforcing the prevailing laws, we have to be extra careful to avoid those questionable practices that might be conscrewed as discriminatory. We must understand at all times that there’s a higher principle involved than just the exterior design tastes and storage practices of fine, church-going, taxpaying people who have chosen to make New Albany their homes, and that’s because they have a right to expect a certain level of respect for the lifestyles they’ve chosen to lead.

NAC: Are you talking about the higher principle of fairness?

CC: (Rolling his eyes) Fairness? That’s what those godless Louisvillians are always pushing. Heck, we have plenty of fairness in New Albany, just so long as you’re normal. (Cappuccino strikes a theatrical pose) No, not, fairness, but the very lifeblood of the city itself, without which we’d have nothing.

NAC: The rule of law?

CC: (Exasperated) Law, schmaw. No, VOTES! Can’t live with ‘em when they’re cast by those hoity toity East Enders, and can’t live without ‘em if they’re my neighbors on the West Side! They don’t call me the Wizard for nothing, you know. At the same time, my world-famous barbecued bologna cookouts only go so far, and at some point, you have to earn the respect of your constituents, and one great way to do that is to protect them from the heat.

NAC: Wait -- did you say barbecued bologna?

CC: Yes, I can smell it and taste it right now. My neighbor Marcelene cooks it up right. Cube the bologna, cook some onions in oil, throw in your favorite barbecue sauce, let it simmer … man, let me tell you, that’s living. Right Li’l Stevie?

LS: And you can put it in Tupperware, Mr, Cappuccino! Save it for a rainy day! Save it for a rainy day!

NAC: Mr. Cappuccino, what were your thoughts last year when the city of New Albany began enforcing the right of way for street sweeping?

DC: Quite frankly, it was a blatant attack on our cherished West End way of life – family, church, iced tea, NASCAR and the ice cream social, all under siege by the Silver Hills elite and the book-readin’ snobs. You know, I’d call it discrimination, maybe even genocide … if I knew what genocide meant …

NAC: To be perfectly honest, that sounds somewhat paranoid.

CC: You book learners are all the same, and it’s a good thing I don’t have to read those books to know what’s in ‘em for me. Listen, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean the pointy-heads aren’t out to get you. Every self-respecting ward heeler knows that ordinances are just like women – you’ve got to squeeeeze ‘em a little until they start making sense. Go and clean up the porno shop, and the people in the district love you. But when it comes to making them move the old appliances off the porch … well, that’s different. They’ll turn on you, vote against you, and all that tasty bologna’s wasted.

NAC: So, can you explain your vote in favor of ordinance enforcement?

CC: Of course I can. Like I said, I’m for it.

NAC: And what about your public statement that you are in favor of rental unit inspections?

CC: I’m for that, too.

NAC: But won’t you lose votes if such measures are adopted?

CC: There’s the rub, knacker. Being for 'em is one thing, but you didn’t hear me say anything about FUNDING them properly, did you? Or writing that ordinance so it'd have any chance of working?

NAC: Perhaps we’re beginning to understand the central equation.

CC: Don't you see? If we give the uppity East Enders and City Hall what they want, and then it doesn’t work out in the end … well, you just try and guess who gets blamed when it tanks – right Li’l Stevie?

LS: Right, boss!! My friends, I’m not anti-parks, and I’m not anti-progress … I’m anti-success!! No, wait, I mean I’m anti-egress!! No, that’s zoning-speak. I’m anti-Garner!! That’s it!! It's all his fault!!

CC: Yes it is. It’s kind of like the good spy, bad spy thing in MAD magazine.

NAC: Oh, so you read MAD magazine?

CC: NO! For the last time, I don’t read … but I know what people are writing. It’s a trick that Dick Nixon would have taught me if he would’ve been a Democrat … not that I was ever a Republican, mind you. Like I always say, be proud, be Democrat!

LS: NAZIS! NAZIS! They’re coming now, and they have books!!

NAC: But I thought the Nazis burned books?

CC: Who knows, but I’ve found that the biggest words tend to make the best open fire underneath that skillet of barbecued bologna.

NAC: But isn’t there an ordinance against open fires?

CC: Not where I come from, tenderfoot: The Wild, Wild West.

NAC: Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have today. Thanks to Mr. Cappuccino and Li’l Stevie for speaking with us today.

CC: Thanks, and just a quick reminder to my constituents – I have the keys to the crapper, if any of you need to use it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Radio Pyongyang is more transparent than this: Belated confirmation that Tucker is out, Grahn in at the Tribune.

(Don't forget Monday's essential Mencken: "Homo Neanderthalensis" (1925) ... or, fundamentals of the Open Air Museum.)

In early May, a reader of NA Confidential wrote a private e-mail noting that John Tucker was no longer publisher of the Tribune. The reader pointed to a Tribune web site listing that identified Jim Grahn as publisher.

I was very busy and sat on this for at least two weeks. Finally, on May 28, there was a chance to ask the question publicly:

Speaking of the Tribune, has anyone seen this odd revelation at the newspaper's website?

PUBLISHER: Jim Grahn jim.grahn(at)newsandtribune.com

The last reference to John Tucker came in March, according to the search mechanism, and his name appears nowhere in the "contact us" section. There is no staff listing in yesterday's newspaper. Clues, anyone?

Later that day, the Tribune’s Shea Van Hoy joined the conversation:

To answer your other question, John Tucker is still here. What you folks have noticed is a realignment of some duties, which we haven't made public yet. Something will be forthcoming.

Now, at long last, almost six weeks after the NAC reader first pointed it out, yesterday’s Tribune finally confirmed the news:

Grahn takes over Tribune top spot (June 22)

Jim Grahn has been named publisher of New Albany-based The Tribune, an award-winning daily newspaper serving readers across Floyd County.A veteran of newspapers for two decades, Grahn most recently served since 2005 as the advertising director of The Tribune and The Evening News of Jeffersonville. Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. owns both.

“New organizational and content changes will allow us to focus more intently on our individual counties,” Grahn said. “We want to make sure we provide the best service possible to our readers and advertisers while continuing our unsurpassed local news coverage.”

Grahn replaces John Tucker, who will remain publisher of The Evening News and its printing facility.

Am I the only one who finds both this time frame and the mode of information dissemination bothersome?

Note the word "replace" in yesterday's announcement. Seems to me that’s more than a mere “realignment” of duties, seeing as the original question referred specifically to John Tucker’s presence at the Tribune. He's not there, and would seem not to have been since early May at the latest.

Why the secrecy?

Monday's essential Mencken: "Homo Neanderthalensis" (1925) ... or, fundamentals of the Open Air Museum.

H.L. Mencken -- the Sage of Baltimore -- wrote the following in the run-up to what came to be known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, and it is undoubtedly the single most influential essay that I have read during a lifetime of reading, hands down ... no contest.

Insofar as I am a polemicist, Mencken is the reason. Just the other day, during the course of a long discussion about the myriad inadequacies and terminal shortsightedness of local politicians like Dan Coffey and Steve Price, I asked an acquaintance whether he'd ever read Mencken. The answer was no.

Well, let this be the place he starts, because in this essay, Mencken -- who wrote the piece in 1925 and died thirty years later -- addresses the city of New Albany in the year 2008, and does so with such uncanny accuracy that I defy any educated person herein to suppress a broad smile ... and a sad, knowing nod.

I've underlined a few passages that continue to resonate with me through the years.


---

Homo Neanderthalensis.
By H. L. Mencken.
The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 29, 1925.


I

Such obscenities as the forthcoming trial of the Tennessee evolutionist, if they serve no other purpose, at least call attention dramatically to the fact that enlightenment, among mankind, is very narrowly dispersed. It is common to assume that human progress affects everyone - that even the dullest man, in these bright days, knows more than any man of, say, the Eighteenth Century, and is far more civilized. This assumption is quite erroneous. The men of the educated minority, no doubt, know more than their predecessors, and of some of them, perhaps, it may be said that they are more civilized - though I should not like to be put to giving names - but the great masses of men, even in this inspired republic, are precisely where the mob was at the dawn of history. They are ignorant, they are dishonest, they are cowardly, they are ignoble. They know little if anything that is worth knowing, and there is not the slightest sign of a natural desire among them to increase their knowledge.

Such immortal vermin, true enough, get their share of the fruits of human progress, and so they may be said, in a way, to have their part in it. The most ignorant man, when he is ill, may enjoy whatever boons and usufructs modern medicine may offer - that is, provided he is too poor to choose his own doctor. He is free, if he wants to, to take a bath. The literature of the world is at his disposal in public libraries. He may look at works of art. He may hear good music. He has at hand a thousand devices for making life less wearisome and more tolerable: the telephone, railroads, bichloride tablets, newspapers, sewers, correspondence schools, delicatessen. But he had no more to do with bringing these things into the world than the horned cattle in the fields, and he does no more to increase them today than the birds of the air.

On the contrary, he is generally against them, and sometimes with immense violence. Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men. Every valuable thing that has been added to the store of man's possessions has been derided by them when it was new, and destroyed by them when they had the power. They have fought every new truth ever heard of, and they have killed every truth-seeker who got into their hands.

II

The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. They mirror very accurately his congenital hatred of knowledge, his bitter enmity to the man who knows more than he does, and so gets more out of life. Certainly it cannot have gone unnoticed that their membership is recruited, in the overwhelming main, from the lower orders - that no man of any education or other human dignity belongs to them. What they propose to do, at bottom and in brief, is to make the superior man infamous - by mere abuse if it is sufficient, and if it is not, then by law.

Such organizations, of course, must have leaders; there must be men in them whose ignorance and imbecility are measurably less abject than the ignorance and imbecility of the average. These super-Chandala often attain to a considerable power, especially in democratic states. Their followers trust them and look up to them; sometimes, when the pack is on the loose, it is necessary to conciliate them. But their puissance cannot conceal their incurable inferiority. They belong to the mob as surely as their dupes, and the thing that animates them is precisely the mob's hatred of superiority. Whatever lies above the level of their comprehension is of the devil. A glass of wine delights civilized men; they themselves, drinking it, would get drunk. Ergo, wine must be prohibited. The hypothesis of evolution is credited by all men of education; they themselves can't understand it. Ergo, its teaching must be put down.

This simple fact explains such phenomena as the Tennessee buffoonery. Nothing else can. We must think of human progress, not as of something going on in the race in general, but as of something going on in a small minority, perpetually beleaguered in a few walled towns. Now and then the horde of barbarians outside breaks through, and we have an armed effort to halt the process. That is, we have a Reformation, a French Revolution, a war for democracy, a Great Awakening. The minority is decimated and driven to cover. But a few survive - and a few are enough to carry on.

III

The inferior man's reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex - because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. All superstitions are such short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious. So on what seem to be higher levels. No man who has not had a long and arduous education can understand even the most elementary concepts of modern pathology. But even a hind at the plow can grasp the theory of chiropractic in two lessons. Hence the vast popularity of chiropractic among the submerged - and of osteopathy, Christian Science and other such quackeries with it. They are idiotic, but they are simple - and every man prefers what he can understand to what puzzles and dismays him.

The popularity of Fundamentalism among the inferior orders of men is explicable in exactly the same way. The cosmogonies that educated men toy with are all inordinately complex. To comprehend their veriest outlines requires an immense stock of knowledge, and a habit of thought. It would be as vain to try to teach to peasants or to the city proletariat as it would be to try to teach them to streptococci. But the cosmogony of Genesis is so simple that even a yokel can grasp it. It is set forth in a few phrases. It offers, to an ignorant man, the irresistible reasonableness of the nonsensical. So he accepts it with loud hosannas, and has one more excuse for hating his betters.

Politics and the fine arts repeat the story. The issues that the former throw up are often so complex that, in the present state of human knowledge, they must remain impenetrable, even to the most enlightened men. How much easier to follow a mountebank with a shibboleth - a Coolidge, a Wilson or a Roosevelt! The arts, like the sciences, demand special training, often very difficult. But in jazz there are simple rhythms, comprehensible even to savages.

IV

What all this amounts to is that the human race is divided into two sharply differentiated and mutually antagonistic classes, almost two genera - a small minority that plays with ideas and is capable of taking them in, and a vast majority that finds them painful, and is thus arrayed against them, and against all who have traffic with them. The intellectual heritage of the race belongs to the minority, and to the minority only. The majority has no more to do with it than it has to do with ecclesiastic politics on Mars. In so far as that heritage is apprehended, it is viewed with enmity. But in the main it is not apprehended at all.

That is why Beethoven survives. Of the 110,000,000 so-called human beings who now live in the United States, flogged and crazed by Coolidge, Rotary, the Ku Klux and the newspapers, it is probable that at least 108,000,000 have never heard of him at all. To these immortals, made in God's image, one of the greatest artists the human race has ever produced is not even a name. So far as they are concerned he might as well have died at birth. The gorgeous and incomparable beauties that he created are nothing to them. They get no value out of the fact that he existed. They are completely unaware of what he did in the world, and would not be interested if they were told.

The fact saves good Ludwig's bacon. His music survives because it lies outside the plane of the popular apprehension, like the colors beyond violet or the concept of honor. If it could be brought within range, it would at once arouse hostility. Its complexity would challenge; its lace of moral purpose would affright. Soon there would be a movement to put it down, and Baptist clergymen would range the land denouncing it, and in the end some poor musician, taken in the un-American act of playing it, would be put on trial before a jury of Ku Kluxers, and railroaded to the calaboose.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

7 Wonders of Louisville? Muhammad Ali Center isn't on the list? Did R.O.C.K. do that?

The following press release comes courtesy of One Southern Indiana, which works hard to keep the exurb exactly the way it is now. Rev up your Hummers, and read on:

7 Wonders of Louisville - in Southern Indiana

The Falls of the Ohio was named one of the "7 Wonders of Louisville" - a great representation for Southern Indiana! The other "Wonders" are:

Belle of Louisville; Cave Hill Cemetery; Churchill Downs; Olmsted Parks System; Slugger Museum and Bat Factory; and Waverly Hills.

Over 6,000 total votes were cast in this popular community-wide contest. This contest was co-sponsored by the Mayor's Office, Louisville Historical League, and LouisvilleMoJo.com.

The top 7 Wonders were selected from a list of 20 historical and cultural sites, which had been previously determined by an earlier nomination contest. May is 'Hometown Tourist' month, and with increasing fuel costs, Louisville is fortunate to have many fascinating things to see and do within the metro region.

Area residents are encouraged to visit these '7 Wonders' during this upcoming summer, as well as all of our beautiful cultural and heritage landmarks.

With Louisville MoJo involved, I'd have expected some mention of strip clubs or escort services, but perhaps the web site's level of support wasn't sufficiently high, and besides, 1SI's bedmate, Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana, would have been dismayed.

Speaking of the arbiter of regional culture, ROCK's latest cultural campaign is an on-line lobbying effort and petition to encourage the state of Kentucky to offer "In God We Trust" worship license plates: "This is a critical moment for Kentucky to stand up for the principles behind our nation's motto - 'In God We Trust' - and protect our heritage."

To each his own. I suppose heritage items like the slaughter of Native Americans (never pursued without the sanction of organized religion), slavery and the persecution of homesexuals are important in a historically ignorant sort of way ... right?

I suppose it's hard to quibble with the saccharine-safe list of "wonders," which seem to have been chosen with an eye on tourism alone, but I do wish to contest the inclusion of Waverly Hills. If symbolism is the intent, then the Muhammad Ali Center should be on the list.

Perhaps the organizers reasoned that a black man running for president was enough to antagonize local racist residents during one calendar year, and yet the fact renains that Ali is from here, is revered throughout the world outside Louisville, and that should count for something.

What again is the nature of the culture that we're supposed to be reclaiming?

The Highwayman sez: "The (Greenway) bridge issues over both Silver Creek and the Ohio River ... closer to being resolved sensibly."

I'm really glad that Lloyd reminded me of his Friday posting, because I couldn't attend last Thursday's workshop on Greenway progress. Here is the Highwayman's report on the session:

A 6 p.m. workshop update on New Albany's Greenway project was held prior to the regular council gathering last evening and there was good news to report. The bridge issues over both Silver Creek and the Ohio River seem to be closer to being resolved sensibly.

The current plan is to use the abandoned railroad bridge at the Loop Island trail to connect us to Clarksville and postpone the idea of a vehicular bridge over Silver Creek for now. It appears that common sense finally floated to the surface.

It was also reported that the K & I Bridge connection is getting ever closer to a reality as well. All of that is still a year plus into the future but at least the conversation is more in the "gonna happen" sphere. One can only hope it stays that way ...

We expect retired dual councilpersons Schmidt & Schmidt to readying their Bics for the certain self-immolation to come, given that senior citizens should not be required to walk 75 yards outside the air-conditioned confines of their cars, and who cares if 40+ acres of wetlands is bulldozed in favor of a bridge, but in any event, for the rest of Lloyd's observations, go here: A Few Notes from the 6-19-08 NA Council Meeting.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A periodic reminder: NA Confidential's mask-free policy on reader comments is explained.

Okay, folks ("snowbird" et al) ... it's time for another brief reminder of our disclosure policy. Thanks to all readers for your support of persnal responsibility in the blogosphere.

----

Newcomers, please take note.

NA Confidential believes in a higher bar than is customary in the blogosphere, and follows a disclosure policy with respect to reader comments.

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

Second, although pen names are perfectly acceptable, the senior editor (yours truly) must be informed of your identity, and according to your preference, it will be kept confidential.

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

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

Thanks for reading, and please consider becoming a part of the community here, one that is respectful of the prerequisites of civilized discourse, and that seeks to engage visitors in dialogue.

Roger (senior editor)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Council to revisit indoor smoking ban, examine state of the city's housing.

City Council president Jeff Gahan had two interesting things to say last night, both coming during speaking time allotted to public officials.

First, he announced that at the council's next meeting on July 7, one or more council committees to examine housing conditions in New Albany will be established. NAC applauds CM Gahan's interest in drawing attention to this issue.

Second, there will be a public hearing to be held at 6:00 p.m. on July 7 (prior to the regular council meeting) on the topic of an indoor smoking ban in New Albany. According to the council president, there was little public interest in a ban last year when the idea was briefly introduced by the gloriously departed Larry Kochert (see below), but now a newly heightened awareness suggests that a ban be revisited.

(Shrug) ... looks like I was wrong about this one. Here's what I wrote on January 11, 2008:

At the conclusion of Monday’s New Albany city council meeting, former councilman Larry Kochert’s smoking ordinance was quietly struck from the lengthy list of accumulated, tabled ordinances, where it had reposed in unceremonious limbo for so long that I can’t remember when it was first proposed.

In truth, not a soul on last year’s dysfunctional council besides Kochert cared to expend a farthing of political spare change on the matter, and even Da King himself abandoned the idea almost as fast as he broached it. That’s no surprise, because as phantasmagoric Kochertian legacies go, the smoking ban ordinance was right down the center of the plate, with much puffing, posturing and pontificating, followed by serial inaction and the eventual hushed dumping of the evidence at night alongside the street spam and litter by the side of the legislative goat path.

So, what are the prospects for the issue of a smoking ban returning to the city council’s agenda during the next four years? I don’t see a smoking ban advocate among the current group, do you?

Apparently there are two or three. After all, we've already courageously dealt with novelty lighters. Of course, there'll be more to say on this matter. Until then, here are entertaining links to three previous articles

Dark ages, New Albany smoking ban back in the news.

How to extend your fringe, to curb your butt, and to recite the Lord's Prayer -- and other city council items.

Emperor Kochert’s newly progressive anti-smoking clothes -- and their utterly striking invisibility.

Coffey council comedic relief for Thursday, June 19.

Today's Exhibit A in the Open Air Museum of Ignorance and Superstition is R-08-34, a resolution that was defeated 6 to 3 at last evening’s city council meeting.

It was a Seinfeld kind of zoning resolution – in other words, it was something about nothing at all, offered by a flailing and resentful councilman who variously described it as altering absolutely nothing and providing vital protection, rather as though it were a blocks-long prophylactic with holes the size of shotgun houses, all for the ostensible purpose of helping Westendians learn how to say “no” to developers who make offers for their property. It wasn’t explained why a zoning change might make the word “no” easier to say.

When asked, the city’s planner characterized the resolution’s proposed rules change as an “academic exercise,” and in essence, the very fact of its inclusion constituted reality of another dimension, namely, as another in an unceasing series of de facto bi-monthly filibusters belched into the public record by the increasingly irrelevant Wizard of Westside.

According to the right Reverend Coffey, his personally enumerated Westendians were vociferously united in favor of his resolution, so much so that not a single resident of the councilman’s district attended the meeting to speak on the topic, and of course it was left unsaid whether Coffey’s petition signers were occupants of the 65% of West End housing stock presently serving as rental property, or if they were among the 15% of foreclosures, or (could it be) those actually owing their own homes in the area he has “protected” so well for so long.

Of course, transparent nonsense, flagrant illogic and comic book capers are Coffey’s sole stock in political trade, and as the councilman tied himself in contradictory assertions, we just laughed aloud like always.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, Coffey gotta grandstand, and it was a sight to behold when Jack Messer, who undertook to rebut the Wizard’s inanities, reminded the council that Coffey’s Swiss cheese condom resolution might have the unintended effect of lowering property values in an area where the incumbent has done so much to depress the economy that little beyond replanting the native hardwood forest might succeed at this point.

In response, Coffey got the demonic gleam that comes when he believes deep down that he has a valid “gotcha,” and with Steve Price’s vacuous Jethro nodding vigorously in agreement, the Wizard cooed: If the people thought their property values would be going down, then why didn’t they come to the meeting and say so?

Then came a voice from the crowd:

“What, did you tell them not to come?”

The gleam turned to a glower, the assembled crowd hooted some more, the filibuster dragged on for a few more counts, and another twenty-five minutes of the council’s term was lost owing to the necessity of massaging Dan Coffey’s needy ego.

It’s no way to do business … then again, we ain’t open air for nothing, are we?

Obliviousness may or may not be a conflict of interest.




Thursday, June 19, 2008

Even Deeper Throat: "Let it all hang out."

The city of Louisville’s web site refers to the municipality as “Possibility City.” This resonates in a slightly more positive way than New Albany’s current unofficial appellation: “The Open Air Museum of Ignorance and Superstition … Hon. Dan Coffey, Il Duce ad hoc.”

It would appear that the fine art of the table has been used to render this evening’s meeting somewhat less than previously billed, but I thought I’d share the unedited (well, just a wee bit) response of NAC’s ever helpful mole, Even Deeper Throat, to the morning’s discussion thread. We appreciate EDT's other side of matters, and the usual Progressive Pint is poured and waiting.

I’ll be attending tonight, anyway, because I’m in the mood to grind a few little people underfoot like so many granules of spilled Captain Crunch. Hope to see a few of you there.

Thoughts, anyone?

----

There comes a time when people on the inside and the outside will have to use their energies and look at the numbers that go beyond concepts. When they do they will realize that the sewer utility is already self sufficient. This is not a secret, it is only the special projects that go far beyond what the EPA has required that go to reward developers, lawyers (Gibson made 75k off the city last year and Fifer averaged about 80k per year+ the rest of the bond writers) and the like that keep the need for new monies alive. All of this is available to the public. Any so-called political activists in the community should also know this.

Beyond this, look at the paving season, which has at the most another 90 days. The most the city could get done would use another 2 million, yet the mayor is asking for five times that amount. I THINK YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ABOUT THE COUNCIL PRESIDENT AND I HAVE ENCOURAGED HIM TO LET IT ALL HANG OUT---BUT-- there are too many on the council that still just do not get it. There is no reason for the sewer utility to use the edit funds. Expanded TIF districts will help with the infrastructure improvements we need.

When I tell you some council members do not get it -- believe me -- Coffey is a liar, anti-progress-backstabber and many other things besides the fact that you can't trust him BUT he does see exactly what the mayor is doing with all of the funding more clearly than ANY OTHER council member … he sees it clearly and quickly … he just does not care, which is his worst fault.

MY THOUGHT IS THAT---We have a few council members now that are there trying to make NA a better place. I believe there are, at the most, four that fall into that category. HOWEVER, in the executive there are a number of people, more than you can imagine that are simply trying to make money off of the city and they are very good. I think the council president should do more. But I know for a fact he is the one who has been a pain for the Mayor and is the only one who is trying to get the right monies funding the right areas. You would not believe the number of times his phone rings and it is the Mayor wanting to meet over this or that to try to slip something through. I know this is old hat, but this council needs not only work sessions--but executive sessions so they CAN talk among themselves and come to understand exactly how the ducks should be lined up.

Pretense, foolish optimism and the ascendancy of New Albany’s “Destructive Class.”

The times are tough now
Just getting tougher
This old world is rough
It's just getting rougher
Cover me
Come on baby cover me
Well I'm looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me
-- “Cover Me,” by Bruce Springsteen


As a prelude to the evening’s council follies, here are four commentaries of significance at NA Shadow Council. I recommend you visit the site and read each in its entirety.

At Root, This is Our Goal
As a matter of fact, by stripping New Albany's income tax revenues to "save" ratepayers from a sewer rate increase, a council majority is handing your tax dollars to businesses and outsiders who don't even pay taxes. Why, we ask, should that be treated as some type of "salvation?"

Logical Conclusions
By all logical interpretation, the current regime (administrative or legislative) desires to use at least a portion of those revenues to prop up the sewer utility.Why not, then, go all the way?Let's divert 100% of taxes to keeping sewer rates artificially low. Let's abandon 100% of city services. Building inspection? Zero it out. Police protection? Zero it out? Fire protection? Forget about it.

Dump It in the Sewers!
There is a rational solution to making our sewer utility permanently viable. But demagoguery is blocking it. By appealing to the least common denominator in the populace, the regrettably naive and ignorant (ignorant=unknowledgeable, which is not to say that they are stupid, just gullible and susceptible to the machinations of politicians who prosper at their expense), the entrenched regressive majority of the council is both pandering and insulting the constituency it purports to represent.

A June Week of Consequence
Our illustrious Sewer Board, purportedly not under the direction of our current chief executive, is prepared to continue a policy designed to further degrade New Albany, and by extension, the prosperity of all New Albanians.

Hmm, so I’m not the only one surmising that the longer the England administration waits to expend the slightest farthing of political capital, the more it is likely that it doesn’t have any. Is it just me, or are we witnessing retreat on every front?

Is it just me, or is watching this dysfunctional entity called New Albany meander yet again down a path of self-mutilation and sheer nuttiness goes far beyond the titillation of NASCAR wrecks and Hollywood rehab breakdowns into the realm of the purely psychotic?

Is the England team ever going to go for the jugular – damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead – or not?

While we ponder the answers to these questions, which would have been familiar to a New Albanian of fifty years ago, such is our perennial level of dysfunction, let’s keep it fair and balanced. Council president Gahan, this one’s for you:

Does the bizarre council alliance that continues to endorse the use of economic development monies to subsidize sewer rates -- a collection of strange bedfellows that seemingly unites good and thoughtful people with the most self-aggrandizing, doltish ward heelers this city has to offer -- intend to offer something of an alternative to throwing EDIT money down the drain pipe, or do we spend another three years fighting the lost battles of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, oblivious to the opportunities that finally are landing on our doorsteps?

Is it really worth allying with the likes of Dan Coffey and Steve Price to reward the incapable and to stymie the city’s progress?

For that matter, can any elected official in this city step outside the box – just once would be appreciated -- and eschew the politics of anti-this and anti-that and anti-them people, and present a coherent program to accomplish something?

Anything?

Will there ever be an end to the passive-aggressive tug of turf war that consumes all the time and most of the resources while the remainder of the planet shrugs, turns the pages of the calendar and gets on with the business of planning for the future?

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it’s not a chicken-and-egg argument, or some encrypted ancient code that can’t be fathomed by New Albanian eyes. Pre-schoolers can figure it out. The city’s future depends on a bigger pie, and a bigger pie can be achieved with new blood and new money. Quite a few people spend their months working toward this end, and when the city’s political leaders play their time-encrusted games and take their “against it” cues from embittered troglodytes like Dan Coffey, it’s not just comical.

It’s deadly. It’s leprosy and Ebola rolled into one. It sends investors fleeing for more sensible places like Chad and Bolivia. It takes every principle of successful urban reinvention and sacrifices it on an altar of class-conscious spite. Pat Robertson on the board of Atheists International makes more sense than Dan Coffey at Redevelopment, and so it goes.

Other cities extend a hand. We trot out Coffey with a nail-studded board, warning newcomers that they're not welcomed. Understandably, they take their money and spend it elsewhere, leaving Coffey to beam with pride at how, once again, he saved his constituents from a better life.

And, council president, whatever your seeming good intentions in allying with the lunatics for whatever short-term political gain there is to be derived from expediency, make no mistake: You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. You have the information? You envision a plan to use it and solve the sewer fixation once and for all? For God’s sake, man, use it. Offer an alternative. Tell us how we get it done, because time is running out. Quit communicating in code. Be a leader.

But maybe failure is a foregone conclusion in a city where ignorance has been elevated to a virtual religion and education is regarded as a Scarlet Letter to be subjected to the derision of those whose only contribution is to jeer at things they don’t understand. If anyone can explain the source of these resentments against the modern world, we're all ears.

So tell me, council president and fellow factionalists: What do we say to those people who see New Albany not for what it has been, but for what it might be, the ones with money in their hands, but with Dan Coffey and Steve Price blocking their way?

They look at New Albany, and they see a place oozing with potential. All they’re asking is for the city to keep its end of the deal and address infrastructure, so tell me, how do we pave the streets? How do we bring down the tradition of starving the city of investment to appease that segment of the population least capable of contributing to its necessary reinvention?

Is New Albany’s birthright perpetual squalor, and the diminished expectations of the conjoined councilmen, or can we hope for something more?

Yes, I’m being harsh, and it’s purely intentional, but I know for a fact that there are members of the current council who have the brains to address these questions and perhaps even to prove me wrong by explaining the answers. And yet, so far, these same council members are busy pandering to those among them who have nothing to offer except venom.

Why is this? Any of you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Polo anyone? Even Ralph Lauren thinks Dan Coffey can't win.

Credit The 'Ville Voice for cuing up the following, culled from what are surely the beautifully designed pages of RL Magazine, described as a luxury lifestyle quarterly by its publisher, Ralph Lauren.

Update America: Louisville, Reframed by Kristen Carr Jandoli

Most people’s image of Louisville doesn’t stray far from Churchill Downs’ julep-steeped parade of sleek Thoroughbreds and their blue-blooded, extravagantly hatted owners come Derby Day. But among the city’s younger residents, a foremost source of pride these days is Louisville’s dynamic contemporary-art scene, which some liken to the heyday of New York’s SoHo. With its creative class reaching critical mass, Louisville is poised for national recognition with Museum Plaza, a new 62-story multiuse skyscraper that will serve as an anchor for the city’s art institutions.

Museum Plaza is just the latest example of Louisville’s commitment to expanding its cultural boundaries. “There is a willingness and eagerness to embrace change and seek out a little more sophistication,” says Steve Wilson, a philanthropist, art collector, and real estate impresario who with his wife, Laura Lee Brown, is a major backer of the $500 million project.


Friend and Canadian transplant Jay Jordan, director and curator of the New Center for Contemporary Art on the other Market Street gets into the mix as well:

“People here have something to prove, and there is a real interest in making Louisville a great place for artists to be.” It all started, he says, in the late 1990s, when several galleries popped up on Market Street and young artists began staging group shows in lofts and warehouses.

Did we mention that all this national attention grabbing creative activity is taking place 4.4 miles from here? Why, yes, we did. In 2005.

It would seem, then, that a complementary effort hereabouts just might prove useful. Or, as neighborhood activist Greg Roberts said in the 2005 comments, "I totally agree...Now we have to find a way to market New Albany to people in Louisville. I know several people that would love to move downtown New Albany or to a surrounding neighborhood. I think we need to push harder...and start a unique marketing campaign for New Albany."

Readers will also note that those same comments contain the beginnings of a joint community effort to work toward that goal. The New Albany Historic Home Tour has become an annual success and we're less than a week away from a bona fide housing market study as reported halfway through Daniel Suddeath's City Wrap in the Tribune last week.

Dan Coffey, of course, seeks to demonize the very people who spent more than two years acting on those possibilities for no particular reason other than that their success reflects poorly on his own inability to create positive change with legislative and financial authority and quadruple the amount of time.

When first presented with the study opportunity as a member of the Redevelopment Commission, Coffey said no market study was necessary because he already knew what to do in the neighborhoods. Absent any exposition of that imaginary newfound knowledge, he then resorted to claiming unfairness since his district, which he routinely portrays as in desperate need of help while simultaneously refusing to offer any, wasn't the probable center of study attention. As part of that broadside, he further complained that the study would benefit real estate agents and builders more than residents, saying that he was "tired of advertising for businesses that need to do it themselves".

Aside from the erroneous conclusion that improving neighborhoods doesn't improve resident prospects therein, one has to wonder why he would argue that the study is useless and of no help to his constituents but then immediately demand inclusion. Isn't that akin to advocating that his district be the hub of what he himself described as inequitable, wasted subsidy?

It's pure nonsense but, like so many of Coffey's backward pirouettes, eventually of no significance. When it came time to make a decision after several prattle-filled meetings, he abstained. Luckily, there are three other members of the Redevelopment Commission that actually understood the work and dedication that went into making the study possible and how aiding those traits with professional expertise could benefit the community. Such considerations are apparently lost on Coffey.

However, whether he realizes it or not, the real impetus behind his bitterness is revealed a little more each day. Coffey, who fights modernity like he got a dishonorable discharge from Don Quixote's army because of an eight ball habit, is losing. Power. Influence. Relevance. All of it. The more smart, capable people we attract to New Albany and its civic affairs, the less Coffey has of any of those things. It's arguable that deciding to grant him as little sovereignty as possible is, in itself, a sign of intelligence.

When the maintenance of one's personal sense of worth is dependent on saying "I told you so" in response to failure, it's only failure that produces worth. As proven by my neighbors, though, saying "we should" often leads to "we can". "Did" and "are" soon follow.

It's something that the artists and entrepreneurs in Louisville understand. It's something that more and more people in this community understand. Dan Coffey may abstain from a vote now and again but he can't abstain from the world. And he certainly can't make us. In that, he will fail.

In the general interest of maintaining our lead on the curve, let me be the first to tell him "I told you so".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thanks.


NAC's counter topped 250,000 at 10:18 a.m.

It'll be four years in the saddle come October, and we thank each and every one of you for returning each day to read about the life and times of New Albania.

Here’s a civic expenditure that is guaranteed to pass muster, even (especially) with the Luddite cadres in New Albany.

Last week the Courier-Journal reported that at the June 19 meeting of New Albany’s city council, members “will be asked … to approve a request from Mayor Doug England's administration to appropriate $1 million from a fund donated to the city by the Caesars Indiana riverboat casino.”

Read it here: New Albany council asked to appropriate $1 million

The England administration describes the ultimate destination of this money as “capital outlays,” meaning that specific projects are not being identified at this point in time.

But NAC just learned that Councilman Cappuccino intends to hijack the cool million in question, not for his personal enrichment – he’s far too unambitious for that – but to further efforts to protect Westendia from modernization by funding a pet program that he’s calling Relocate Them People Now (RTPN).

Here’s an excerpt from Cappuccino’s crayon-encrusted press release.

Just like you, I’ve always known that too many uppity progressives spoil the barbecued bologna, and so I come to you today with an exciting proposal to get them people out of town so we can return to our God-fearing lifestyle of poverty and dropping out of high school early to dig ditches.

Them people always talk about cleaning up the city, well, what about cleaning out some of them people? All they ever do is complain about how things might get better for all of us, but do we really want that? Can you imagine how much harder you’d have to work to keep up your property if it becomes more valuable? And if them people make us keep up out property, what happens to the rental business then? And how do I make a living preying on constituents slightly dumber than me?

That’s why I’m taking that million bucks, and instead of them people buying us out, we’ll buy them out – and ship ‘em off to France or Birdseye or wherever it is they keep talking about being so much better than here. Once we’re finished cleansing the IQs around here, we can get back to some sun tea, horseshoes and inbreeding.

Hmm, my only questions are these: Do we have more than two days to consider the offer? And will my 3rd district councilman "Nanny" Price fight to rezone our neighborhood to prevent our departure?

What's that sound ... the door hitting us in the you-know-where? That figures, but I hear there'll be a gala book burning after we're gone.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Photo essay: Two-way streets amid one-way politics?











On one hand, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if political yard signs were outlawed entirely. Generations of local candidates have refrained from substance in favor of playing games with often illegal yard sign placement, and it’s a sadly telling commentary on the apathy and shortsightedness of the electorate that this practice continues unabated.

However, it’s a presidential election year, and the perfect opportunity for me to annoy the passing Luddites and Philistines hereabouts … and, as I learned Saturday night, an equally providential opportunity for them to annoy me, which might explain how our Obama yard sign was uprooted, presumably by the same stumbling, swill-fueled obscenity spewers congregating on Spring circa midnight after the street dance at St. Mary’s concluded.

I can guess that the vandal isn’t a member of the card carrying coterie of the conjoined city councilmen because the 8664 sign remained unscathed, and surely the city’s Coffeyites would be more outraged by the concept of road and street reform symbolized by 8664 than threatened by the eventuality of a black president. After all, as affirmed by centuries of American history, one hardly needs to drive an automobile to be racist.

The overwhelming odds are that our Obama sign was upended by a fellow Democrat, which in the Floyd County tradition of mafioso-tinged conservatism is scarcely distinguishable from a Republican. That’s too bad … for all of us.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

REWIND: Inspired by George Clooney and Warren Beatty.

The original title of the following essay was: George Clooney's “Good Night, and Good Luck” will lure NA Confidential to the multiplex.

On 10/13/05, I vowed to obtain a DVD of the movie "Reds." It never happened, but this weekend we're watching it courtesy of Netflix. This inspired me to search the NAC archives, hence today's reprint. Eventually we saw Clooney's paean to Edward R. Murrow, and my recap can be read here: Drop everything you're doing and go see Good Night, and Good Luck.

Meanwhile, the experience of watching "Reds" again after so long has been inspiring, and I recommend it to readers. Speaking of Reds, in this case the Cincinnati variety, we're off today to watch the home team play the Red Sox. I'll have a tankard for you at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport ... and contemplate the New Albanian revolution.

---

On average, NA Confidential views one film every two weeks.

Recent choices have included the documentary “When We Were Kings,” foreign films “The Dreamers,” “Goodbye, Lenin,” and “Colonel Redl,” and “Beyond the Sea,” Kevin Spacey’s bizarre paean to the singer Bobby Darin.

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fell into the play list somehow, and although it was amusing, one cannot do justice to the concept without explaining exactly why travelers must carry a towel.

To be truthful, if it were not for the convenient “order history” feature at http://www.netflix.com/, it would have been difficult to compile the preceding list.

When it is suggested that I accompany Mrs. Confidential to an actual movie theater, my astonished reaction invariably apes that of fictional detective Nero Wolfe’s annoyance at being asked to walk from his brownstone out onto the street.

“Out there? To the theater?

Merry disclaimers aside, when the opportunity to see George Clooney's “Good Night, and Good Luck” comes around, I’ll not only go to the theater to see it, but I’ll offer to drive.

That’ll confuse her.

The movie is reviewed in the current issue of Rolling Stone, and here are excerpts.

Does George Clooney have a box-office death wish? You have to wonder why the star of Ocean's Eleven would risk his standing as a pinup for ka-ching to direct, co-write and co-star in a movie set in the 1950s, shot in black-and-white and focused on a fifty-year-old battle between TV newsman Edward R. Murrow, indelibly played by David Strathairn, and the Commie-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Wonder no more. Clooney knows exactly what he's doing: blowing the dust off ancient TV history to expose today's fat, complacent news media as even more ready to bow to networks, sponsors and the White House. As Murrow said in a 1958 speech, which frames Clooney's dynamite film, the powers that be much prefer TV as an instrument to "distract, delude, amuse and insulate." Challenge is a loser's game …

… For a paltry $8 million, Clooney has crafted a period piece that speaks potently to a here-and-now when constitutional rights are being threatened in the name of the Patriot Act, and the American media trade in truth for access.


Obviously, the subject matter of Clooney’s film is a fastball in NA Confidential’s socio-political wheelhouse.

Journalist Edward R. Murrow was referring to the McCarthyism of the 1950’s when he said, “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason," but I’m certain that he’d have no objection to my applying this sentiment to the vacuous populism of New Albany’s Siamese Councilman, Dan Coffey & Steve Price -- but where's the Tribune's Murrow when we need him?

Besides that, it’s always enjoyable to view the reaction when handsome Hollywood idols turn inexplicably subversive and craft important films about genuinely significant historical topics.

In 1981, at the height of the Reagan Revolution, Warren Beatty completed and released “Reds,” a three and a half hour dramatization of leftist American journalist John Reed’s life and times during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent red baiting of the post-Great War era.

A quarter century later, “Reds” remains a great favorite, but my elderly videotape is shot, and a replacement DVD purchase looms.

Murrow said, “Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”

He might have added, “especially when it comes to ideas.”

Ideas are the currency and the lifeblood of progress, and proliferate when the human mind is challenged and stimulated – by conversation, reading, playing … and sometimes even watching movies.

Next up for Clooney: Ocean's 13, in which he leads the gang to New Albany to help UCM Price uncover those missing nickels and dimes, because as you know, nickels and dimes add up ... to inanity.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lost River Market & Deli in Paoli, Indiana.

We took a field trip Wednesday to West Baden Springs and French Lick, which are adjoining "jazz age" resort and spa towns in south central Indiana. There'll be more about these places in another posting, perhaps on Sunday.

In route to West Baden, Highway 150 passes through the town of Paoli, where I recalled my World Class Beverages rep Tisha telling me there was a good bottled beer selection at a food cooperative and market. Indeed there is, and a more unlikely spot in a place like Paoli is hard to imagine. Here are some photos of the Lost River Market & Deli. It's a block off the main square, reasonably priced for a healthy lunch, chock full of good and fresh foodstuffs to take away, and offers mix 'n' match six-packs for $9.99.

Excellent. Visit their website for more information, and especially for Louisville metro area readers, be sure to stop by whenever you're taking the back way to Bloomington.






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