Thursday, April 30, 2009

Today's Tribune column: "Two-way, better way."

Who'd have guessed that in New Albany, "road rage" would come to signify determined opposition to slower traffic speeds and greater pedestrian safety? That's life in the open air museum.

BAYLOR: Two-way, better way

Out there — in the wider world, beyond the Knobs, and even past the state line — there is broad agreement as to the merits of slower, calmer automotive traffic patterns.

Open thread: City council work session on paving options.

For a summary of last evening's council work session, visit Mrs. Baird's blog: "LET'S PAVE SOME ROADS".
Plan A: Pay as you go, use available T.I.F. and EDIT funds (not completely drain these funds) to cut down on debt and pave the streets over time, approximately 3 years.

or

Plan B: Obtain a draw bond (similar to a line of credit) and pave as many streets as possible in as short of time as possible.Either way, the streets need to be paved as we all know.

Additionally lower fuel prices mean lower prices to blacktop the streets so time is of the essence.
Feel free to discuss.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

To pave or not to pave? Council to plumb depths of Grandma's cookie jar in work session tonight.

The Green Mouse sez:

City council work session, tonight, 5:30 p.m., to discuss nickels and dimes for paving the streets. Until notified otherwise, we're guessing the meeting will take place in the customary 3rd-floor shrine to Band-Aids, and also that the public can attend it.

Given that the streets are in need of paving, this seems like an excellent idea, doesn't it? Honk if you're planning on attending. I have a previous obligation, and will be unable to watch.

Video: "I Am A Craft Brewer."

As a proud member of the craft brewing community, I get misty-eyed, patriotic and feisty watching this video.



I Am A Craft Brewer from I Am A Craft Brewer on Vimeo.

Watch the video and get a hint of why I feel so strongly about the bond between creative enterprises like craft beer and the revitalization dynamic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mitch McConnell cracks me up.

Arlen Specter has switched parties, and Kentucky's slightly less objectionable of two right-wing Republican dinosaurs has declared it a grave national emergency:

Not long after Specter met privately with Republican senators to explain his decision, the party's leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, said the switch posed a "threat to the country." The issue, he said, "really relates to ... whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants, without restraint, without a check or balance."
Whatever. It didn't bother Mitch when the GOP had the same majority, did it? Then it was righteous and patriotic, wasn't it? Now, I'm just hopeful that Al Franken gets past the latest legal challenge mounted by the party that once urged Democrats (in 2000) to back away fro recounts and lawsuits for the good of the country.

Hypocrites. Meanwhile, thanks to JR for this link: More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops, by Laurie Goodstein (New York Times).
Polls show that the ranks of atheists are growing. The American Religious Identification Survey, a major study released last month, found that those who claimed “no religion” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Open thread: Brownfields clean-up at old Hoosier Panel site?

Here's the scoop from the morning C-J.

New Albany Redevelopment Commission order new tests on site, by Grace Schneider (Courier-Journal).

New Albany's plan to buy an old industrial woodworking site as a possible "brownfields" reclamation project has raised concerns because of a recent environmental report that found heavy metals in groundwater there.

The findings of the study prompted the New Albany Redevelopment Commission to order additional tests for the former Hoosier Panel site at 2045 Silver St. to determine whether the contamination has spread beyond the property. The 15-acre site borders a residential area.

Here is this week's short Bank Street Brewhouse update.

Steve Coomes gave some love to NABC's latest hire in Saturday's C-J dining news and notes: BBC brewer moves to New Albanian Brewing Co.

The concrete pads on the north side of the building are for the brewery walk-in cooler and the outdoor seating area. Both should materialize very soon.

The wood frame construction by the alley is the grain storage room. DME tells us that the brewing equipment should arrive circa May 11, with installation to proceed immediately.

I enjoyed this anonymous comment on Mrs. Baird's blog:

DON'T SEEM TO BE MANY PATRONS AT YOUR NEW PLACE. I WISH YOU WELL, AND HOPE YOUR BUSINESS FAILS DOWNTOWN.

Sounds like a Rushism to me. I'm always flattered by the use of screaming caps, because I can see the veins popping out of a righteous neck. It makes me laugh, and in stressful times like these, we need more laughs. Sorry to disappoint my anonymous friend, but business has been good so far, although it will remain hard to relax until the brewing system is up and running.

A reminder: Reservations for Oaks and Derby evenings at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

And, at the original NABC Pub & Pizzeria, on Thursday, April 30: Guided Sierra Nevada sampling in Prost. Note that on Derby Day, only the pizzeria side will be open for business. We just don't draw enough to have both the pub and pizzeria operating.

We appreciate your support.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We want out ... wait ... not just yet.

Thanks to S for the tip:

Rick Perry, After Raising Secession, Calls For Fed Help With Swine Flu (The Huffington Post).

Less than two weeks after raising the prospect of seceding from the union, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling on the federal government to come to his state's aid in the midst of the swine flu outbreak.

Get ready for the Great Paving Compromise of '09, and '10, and '11 ...

If the most interesting man in the world prefers Dos Equis, is it really possible that he's the most interesting man in the world?

Meanwhile, the Tribune's Daniel Suddeath takes a look at the state of the city's streets, a recalcitrant council and its "Nickels and Dimes" do-as-little-as-possible decay management bloc, and the mayor's inexplicable, ongoing reluctance to expend political capital.

Council members, administration officials meet over resurfacing plan

England is just ready to see something happen.

“I’m going to respect [the council’s] wishes. This is not a time to fight and argue, this is a time to get something done,” he said.

Is getting something done really possible with the current political dynamic in place?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Early Returns on This Mornings Clean Up Efforts!

Early risers get the empty dumpters! Althought the tire dumpster is already half full

West Ender's Becky Roy & Shirley Baird along with the usual suspects!

Downtown is abuzz as well.

Hi Pat! Keep up the good work!

Mayor England at his finest! No this wasn't photoshopped!!
All in all I'm calling it a good start to the day.
We may accomplish our goal of a clean city after all!Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 24, 2009

They won't even spell the word "s*x" in their e-mail broadsides.

Here's a column I wish I'd have written. It's by Debbie Harbeson, and appeared in the Evening News on Thursday.

HARBESON: Are you ready to talk ROCK?

Bryan Wickens, ROCK’s leader, wrote a guest column in last week’s Evening News where he referred to his organization’s methods of gathering information on sex shops.

He wrote, “We do not enter these establishments, but retain the services of professionals.”

I don’t understand. If you are doing Christ’s work, shouldn’t you go in there yourself? Try as I might, I just can’t picture Jesus as a moralistic lawyer hiring some so-called professional to be with the sinners instead of doing it himself.

The Onion cracks me up.

It's unfair of LEO's Fat Lip blog to make me laugh this hard ... courtesy of the old reliable, The Onion.
Two hand jobs and a stick of beef jerky

If smokers on the outside think the rising cost of cigarettes is out of control, maybe they should just be happy they’re not behind bars.

The Onion reports on what it takes these days to score a pack of smokes in prison.

Downtown events this Sunday (April 26).

Come to think of it, the Bank Street Brewhouse is open Sundays from noon to 8:00 p.m., and the Windsor's doing Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Bag 'o Trash & One Limb At a Time!

On Saturday April 4th the Uptown Neighborhood Association and a few friends gathered around the dumpsters dropped in place by our very own street department at the Silver Street Elementary School and set out to clean up the neighborhood.

Once again the numbers of live bodies were few but the hearts of those participating would not be daunted.

Once again by Sunday afternoon all five dumpsters were brimming over with debris. One of the more encouraging aspects of this event was that landlords and real estate folks were right there with us picking up other peoples trash.

Brian Haesley went so far as to bring a dump truck which we promptly filled with yard waste and storm debris. Our thanks goes out to him for participating.

Pat Harrison was there as well making sure we didn't dehydrate by handing out plenty of bottled water.

In addition one our At Large Councilman Kevin Zurchmeide brought along two strapping young lads who dug right into heaving the larger limbs over the side of the truck body.

Another big victory that occurred during this exercise is that New Albany City Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson just happened on the scene Sunday morning as an unscrupulous soul was attempting to throw his truckload of old road tractor tires in the dumpster.

He explained to the lad that Commercial Motor Vehicle tires need be disposed
of properly.

That is to say the owners of such must pay those who deal with said tires to take them away as opposed to clogging taxpayer supported landfills with them!

As to whether or not the message soaked in, only time will tell. I will say to those who may be tempted though that we are watching you!

For you doubting Thomas’s out there I really do have pictures of all the above but Picasa and I aren’t getting on well this evening.

So we fast forward to this upcoming Saturday and find the West End Neighborhhood Group setting up at the intersection of West Market & old West 7th Street to rid their highways & byways of unsightly debris of any and all manner.

The time frame is from 8AM to 4PM and all are encouraged to lend a hand.

One need not live in this area to participate.

To the contrary. Doing so would not only show support for those who organized this weekend but would go far to send the message that we are serious about cleaning up all of New Albany.

So come on out, grab a trash bag and fill ‘er up! If you have any questions you may call 812-945-4100.

See you Saturday!

Louisville's Metro Council, the Courier-Journal and littering.

Relevance from The Ville Voice blog. I keep seeing 13th Street in New Albany.

----

Anti-Littering Ordinance Targets C-J, by Rick Redding (on Metro Council).

Councilman Brent Ackerson is introducing an ordinance tonight, along with eight co-sponsors, that is likely to fly through the Public Safety Committee and come up for a full vote next month. It’s an anti-littering ordinance, but it really targets the Courier-Journal.


“My staff has gotten more calls on this issue that for any other subject, including storm debris, since I took office,” said Ackerson, whose District 26 encompasses St. Matthews.

Here’s what it’s all about. The newspaper produces a weekly advertising circular that is delivered only to non-subscribers. It requires its carriers to deliver these flyers to each address that doesn’t receive a newspaper. You can call and request to be taken off the list, but most people don’t, sort of like the no-call telemarketers’ list.

The C-J, of course, promises advertisers distribution throughout the county. It’s no doubt part of the reason Arnold Garson keeps bragging about the paper reaching 85 percent of local residents. Maybe not. But the point is that the carriers typically toss the flyers on driveways, in yards or on sidewalks. And it really falls under the definition of littering. When residents don’t fetch them, they end up piling up.

Most newspaper carriers make their deliveries by car, and with so many customers dropping the service, there are longer stretches of neighborhoods with no subscribers.

And a lot of the flyers end up in dumpsters, undelivered. Or storm drains or ditches. This is something the C-J doesn’t tell its advertisers.

The new ordinance doesn’t outlaw the flyers. It does require that they be delivered to front porches, and not tossed out the windows of delivery vehicles.
Other sponsors include Council members Jon Ackerson, King, Henderson, Butler, Welch, Blackwell, Peden and Flood.


If it passes, the C-J will have to make some serious changes in its system of delivery.

Today's Tribune column: Broadening the Resources for (Pre-Determined) Results debate.

Bluegill didn't get marquee billing, but I owe him a few pints for his contribution to today's column in the Tribune.

BAYLOR: Misdirected resources, mistaken results

Before we took up residence along Spring Street in 2003, we didn’t have the conceptual grounding to explain exactly why we wanted to reconnect with the urban core, except that it felt right.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random questions for the conjoined.

Have there ever been two council persons less interested in investment within their own council districts than Dan Coffey and Steve Price (1st and 3rd, respectively)?

How is it that politicians who publicly dismiss investment in their own districts manage to be re-elected?

Is this quintessentially American, or Un-American?

Give that they disavowed investment in their own council districts when financial times were good, how can they possibly contribute to solutions when financial times aren't as good?

Just wondering.

Open thread: Tinges in city hall vs. city council?

Among yesterday’s spirited comments was this from IAH:

I have to be honest. Lately, there does seem to be a "give the executive branch a pass" tinge here at NAC. (please note "tinge").

That’s an excellent point, and I’m glad you brought it up. Knowing that this will inspire rage and teabagging within the Luddite bloc, it remains fairly simple to me.

The bulk of the mayor’s stated campaign platform echoes my personal concerns. Although too much of it has languished, and I believe the executive branch has erred in its parsimony with its political capital, at least there has been recognition of problems, ideas for solutions, and a general pattern of recognizing these, if not epochal success in achievement.

Meanwhile, the Coffey Council has largely pursued its traditional strategy of politically-motivated (and in my 3rd district councilman’s case, congenitally vacuous) obstructionism without advancing a coherent vision of its own.

At all.

Yes, I know that there are council persons who get it. However, in the main, and as Steve Miller once presciently noted, “time keeps on slipping into the future.”

That’s the way it looks to me. Notions of positive solutions in the executive branch, and more petty posturing in the legislative/purse string branch. I’ll take the side that has articulated a position over the side that hasn’t, but that’s just me.

You are quite free to disagree, here, according to the usual guidelines of identity-based responsibility. I’ll monitor Mrs. Baird’s blog for replies of the other sort.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Open thread: What really needs to be happening at the rebuilt Riverfront Amphitheater to make the game worth the flame?

Just shy of a year ago, prior to the hurricane's definitive statement of destructive intent, I gathered together previous NAC postings on the status of our riverfront venue.

A thriving (and progressive?) RiverStage in Jeffersonville, and in New Albany ... er, never mind.

The amphitheater is back in the news after the mayor met with characters from the Wizard of Oz to announce a target date for canopy replacement, and that there'll be munchkins running amok near the boat landing in September thanks to a performances of L. Frank Baum's story.

Surreal. Just plain surreal.

My take: It's a wonderful thing to have the riverside venue recapped, and thanks to the mayor for getting the job done. At the same time, performances like Dorothy's are not what really needs to be staged there.

You?

NABC events at both locations, and a Bank Street update.

Having two business locations has made it imperative to be clear about what is happening and when, but more significantly, where it’s taking place.

NABC Bank Street Brewhouse – 415 Bank Street

Thursday, April 23: Pasty and a pint for St. George's Day, April 23, at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Oaks and Derby evenings: Reservations for Oaks and Derby evenings at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

NABC Pub & Pizzeria – 3312 Plaza Drive

Thursday, April 30: Guided Sierra Nevada sampling in Prost on Thursday, April 30.

It’s business as usual at the pub and pizzeria, and production is back to normal at the existing brewery. Consequently, you’ll be seeing more NABC brands returning to the taps in the coming weeks.

We believe the new brewing system will be delivered to Bank Street on or about May 11. In the meantime, the build-out on the north side is proceeding, with a smaller concrete footer for the brewery’s walk-in cooler, and the larger one (poured today?) for the outdoor seating area.

Your support and patronage are appreciated.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Surreal. Just plain surreal.

Photo credit: Tribune. Thanks to M and J for the tip. Article here: Hollywood classic coming to New Albany riverfront.

From the web: "The Kentucky Derby Really Is Decadent and Depraved."

I don't know the author's name, but no matter; this is funny, and whoever wrote it has the Derby nailed dead to rights without actually being in the area to witness the atrocity first-hand. Think I'm exaggerating? Try drinking a mint julep ... or, for that matter, chugging mass-market swill at the "chow wagon," then come back by ... and we'll chat.

I know Bluegill disagrees, and that's okay. I'm hoping he posts his eloquent response, as he did last year when I first referred to this article in a MySpace blog.

---

Okay, so it's early May. Baseball season is in full swing. The NBA playoffs are just beginning their grueling and exciting spectacle. NFL mini-camps are under way and first-rounders are negotiating contracts or falling off of motorcycles. And who is SportsCenter interviewing for ten minutes a day?

A horse pimp.

Yeah, you might call him a "breeder" or a "rancher." Hell, you can call him "Steve" for all I care. The fact is, his job is to monitor horse fucking, making sure the right studs mount the right fillies, and if he becomes the best that he can be... he will be the leading expert on horse cock in the Southwestern United States.

And why are guys like this dominating the coverage of every channel I allow my TV to broadcast?
The Kentucky Derby, also known to me as "that. . . fucking. . . horse race," is why. I hate the Kentucky Derby more than I hate nightclubs, suicide bombers and every citizen of Miami combined.

I despise the Derby for the same reason I despise 21st Century R&B and 2001: A Space Odyssey. They thrive by circulating so much hype around nearly non-existent substance until the hype becomes the substance. Of course what I call "hype," Derby fans call "tradition."

It's this "tradition" that lands on front pages across the country, that eats up countless minutes of TV and radio time, that makes me throw things violently around my living room every time I hear Steve The Horse Cock Man talk about his advanced breeding techniques.

Let's not forget that all this tradition comes from the Deep South. Yup, from the countryside that brought you cotton plantations, the Confederacy, country music, and grits comes little men riding big horses in a circle for less than two minutes. Sell hot dogs in the stands and whiskey at the bar and you can garner enough fat alcoholics with no real lot in life to become obsessed with it. Instant tradition.

But no, I am wrong there, at least in a sense, because that insinuates that this "sport" is somehow for the layman, the Joe Schmoes who watch Monday Night Football at a bar with their office buddies and have to split a plate of nachos because they've spent all their money on utility bills and mortgage payments.

While the Derby does attract that business, the race is not held for these people, the ones who generally swelter in the lower deck stands or standing-room-only areas. It is held for the rich Good Ol' Boys, the ones born into money and made stock and mutual fund transactions before they saw the first breast they didn't drink from. It is a game for brokers, traders, owners and presidents. Important People with Important Things on their Important Minds that must be soothed with imported liquor.

And why not? After all, the Derby isn't about the ability of the horses or the jockeys or the leadership of the trainers. It's about gambling, which is really a bedfellow of investing, putting your money in the right places to get a profitable return. The experts on the Derby don't talk strategy and execution in the days before the big race. Instead they talk about celebrity picks, oddsmakers tactics and the who-owns-what schmoozing that leads everyone to believe that George Steinbrenner's horse is the favorite. That's not sports analysis, that's brandy-and-cigar conversation used to break the ice before a corporate merger discussion.

The Derby pulls all these heavyweight bosses to the track through another facet of self-promotion: pageantry. Blow the trumpets, drop confetti from the sky and make a big hoopla about an event by inviting celebrity guests, A-listers if possible. Promote the shit out of that shit until a major broadcast network sets up cameras and gives it a prime daytime slot. Then they have to promote the shit out of your shit, too. With a big-time network behind you, you could get all those bigwig corporate shits to bet lots of shit while getting shitty on martinis in the VIP Lounge even if you were hosting a shit-tossing competition.

Hell, if it all works out, you could go crazy with it. Invite the trumpets, blow the big-time network and drop the celebrity guests from the sky. Hell, even I would watch it then.

But when it all comes down to it, the Kentucky Derby is a bloated topic of evening conversation for the greedheads around the world, and I want it, its pageantry and Steve off my fucking television set.

Original link: "The Kentucky Derby Really Is Decadent and Depraved."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

He's baaacck ...

As Bluegill noted at the time:

This is another textbook case of "I'm ignorant and angry about it."
Well, he's even angrier now, and we're again obliged to refute.

There was a spirited debate here earlier in the week, when an eastender expressed alarm over the dire threat to humanity (and pedestrians) posed by the notion of converting Spring Street back to two-way traffic.

Open thread: Entitled to one's own opinions on two-way streets, but not one's own facts?

Today he's back with the suggestion that Spring Street should be one way from Silver Hills to Silver Creek, and Main Street be made one way the opposite direction for cosmic balance.

LETTERS: April 19, 2009 (scroll down)

In the process, only the briefest mention is made of the writer's original obsession with pedestrian safety, which has been replaced by a determination to make these one-way streets even more "arterial" than they were before.

Mr. Bledsoe, if you're reading (in a specific, not general sense), would you please consult this website: Traffic Calming 101, and report back to the Tribune with your finding? Or, report back to us?

Or, merely acknowledge the existence of extensive, well-researched arguments in opposition to your own view (and respond to them if you will)?

Please?

Downtown parking issues come bubbling to the surface, and it's not a bad problem to have, really, just a confusing one.

The Tribune leads off Sunday's edition with required coverage of Infantile Over Louisville, and then shifts into the sort of topic that many of us kept hoping would someday become a problem: Downtown parking.

Chronic parking offenders owe city of New Albany thousands, by Daniel Suddeath.

The council's current shared confusion over parking probably is forgivable in the short term, given that not all of the body's members (a) ever bother trying to understand downtown development issues, anyway, and (b) consequently regard their ignorance as a badge of honor (see "conjoined councilmen").

Even so, Dan Coffey's comments to Suddeath veer perilously close to intelligibility, leaving me a bit confused over downtown business owner and resident Brandon Thompson's logic:

Brandon Thompson lives and works out of a building he owns along Pearl Street, and stands as the top offender in terms of money owed to New Albany.

He took credit for two vehicles cited with more than $31,245 worth of penalties and fines for 313 tickets in the name of Kimberly Hassmann, and vowed to fight legal action in court if it comes to it.

“It’s my building, I live there and I have a business there. When I come home at night with my groceries, why wouldn’t I want to park in front of my own building?” Thompson asked.

At night? Were the tickets he knowingly accumulated issued at night, or during the day? Do we enforce at night? A car parked there at night would escape scrutiny, wouldn't it?

But that's only one aspect of the emerging need to control downtown parking, so what's the best way to approach this wonderful new problem?

Amnesty? On fines and penalties, or just penalties? Should people who willfully violated laws be held accountable in some way, or excused because everyone else was doing it, too?

Unlimited parking passes that would allow residents to occupy commercial parking spaces? With such permits, might residents park in front of my business at will?

What's the administration's position?

Many questions, indeed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pasty and a pint for St. George's Day, April 23, at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Miss England, Miss Laura Coleman, will join MPs, Peers and representatives of stgeorgesday.com at the annual St. George’s Day celebration at the Houses of Parliament this year. St. George is the Patron Saint of England, and St. George’s Day, on Thursday, April 23, is England’s national day.*

There’s a first time for everything, and so we’ll offer a modest celebration of St. George’s Day at the Bank Street Brewhouse on Thursday, April 23.

My wife, whose late mother was English born and bred, informs me that nothing should go into a genuine pasty (PAH-stee; specialties of Cornwall and Devon) save beef, potato and onion, with requisite seasoning deriving from the use of ketchup.

Accordingly, Chef Lehman and sous chef Andrew Gunn plan to ignore tradition, opting instead for a lamb pasty with broccoli puree as the Thursday evening St. George’s Day food special, which will be available from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

For representative ale, there’ll be cask-conditioned Beak’s Best on the hand pull, and also our Community Dark (English Mild Ale) on standard tap.

I wonder if there’ll be a soccer game on cable?

*St. George’s Day Dot Com

British Life and Culture

I'd really rather be in St. Louis again this year.

There isn't much reason for me to recap the many and varied ways that I detest the annual Blunder over Louisville, other than to remind readers that in many parts of the world, the sound of warplanes is cause to fear for your life. Here, it somehow qualifies as entertainment.

Both locations of NABC will be open today for regular business hours. This primarily applies to Hoosiers, because the sanctioned blockades of interstate commerce generally preclude visits from our Louisville patrons on Blunder day.

It's also the kickoff of the NBA playoffs, and accordingly, a time for religious observance in my household. What was that? The NBA? Yes, the NBA. That's the league with the world's best athletes, and where the players generate vast revenues and are fairly paid for their labor, as opposed to collegiate roundball, where they are inadequately remunerated and the revenue goes elsewhere.

Me? I need to go buy a lawnmower.

And drink beer?

Yes, but probably not simultaneously. There's an ordinance against that, and knowing my luck, someone might even try to enforce it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Okay, I'll say it: Messer and Coffey unite to promote cynicism in Wendy's flip-flop.

Some of you won't agree with me today, and that's fine. I'm sure you'll let me know about it.

When it comes to the relative merits of our elected council persons, most readers know that I hold Jack Messer in high esteem.

Conversely, my view on Dan Coffey is that far more often than not, his caterwauling political career is an unmitigated embarrassment to the council and the city.

Last night, Messer and Coffey flip-flopped on a controversial zoning change. The result was the same, a 5-4 turndown of what we’ll always remember as the Wendy’s ordinance, with Coffey’s dramatic closing flip negating Messer’s breathtaking flop and carrying the day against the change.

Briefly summarized, the two-year-long battle over the last remaining expanse of Charlestown Road green space on the city side of the beltway has been intensely political and occasionally personal, if for no other reason that the people involved, and more importantly, their careers. On one side is a group of respected, professional landowning types that includes County Commissioner Mark Seabrook, and their less savory chosen contractor, the famously condescending Gary McCartin.

On the other, there is a highly organized and motivated collection of neighborhood residents, who have played their defensive game to perfection, maintaining team discipline, researching legal precedents and attending all requisite meetings.

Bunches and bunches of meetings, in fact.

One proposal after another, or as some might say, one end-around after another, has passed or not passed muster with the planning authorities and arrived in better or worse condition before the council for mandated vetting, setting the stage for the usual preening and posturing, and perhaps more productive council hours have been squandered as a result than for any other single activity save full-contact sewer immersion.

As I reported earlier this morning, the Wendy’s proposal was defeated a few weeks ago in its 1st reading, with Messer voting “nay” (against the zoning change) and Coffey “aye.” When the ordinance returned for its 2nd and 3rd readings, Messer was on holiday. Chief “nay” voter Jeff Gahan (did he already know what was to come?) aggressively pushed for the final two votes to be held, much to the anguished squeals of the property’s owners, whose attorney Krafty John could not be present, and the result was two 4-4 tallies. Previous experience suggested that ties counted as “nay,” but council attorney Stan Robison subsequently announced that his research indicated otherwise, hence the presumed finality of last night’s reconstituted fourth and fifth readings.

Reconstructing all this as impartially as possible, it would seem that Messer had confided to some before the meeting that he’d be changing his vote based on a visit to the site, which allayed his initial concerns over increased traffic in the area. Perhaps this accounted for the strange tension in the corridor, as though something unexpected was fully expected to occur. Afterwards, it was plain that Messer’s voting strategy was largely predicated on his dead-certain expectation that traditional enemy Coffey would follow suit, change his vote and restore the status quo, enabling Messer to fulfill his tactical goal of … of what?

Of something, I guess.

However, aloud and for the council record, Messer explained his shift not as a thoughtful reaction to traffic patterns, but as a resounding vote in favor of the right of property owners to seek zoning changes, which sounded far more like Kevin “I am not Ward Churchill” Zurschmiede’s recent paean to fellow Republican Seabrook than that of a Democrat.

But I digress. For his part, Coffey described his last-second conversion as stemming from the realization that Randy Smith is right (huh?), and also the neighborhood advocates, in that there exists no coherent planning and zoning “plan” to follow in making such decisions, and that this was sufficiently troubling for him to change his stance after three (3) previous votes in favor of what he now opposed.

Hmm. Simply stated, it strains credulity to accept any of it at face value, and from either council member involved.

In effect, I’m being asked to believe that a city policeman of long standing didn’t have an accurate reading of traffic patterns, and that a ward heeler whose career defines contempt for any and all planning save that bearing his personal Bazooka Joe stamp might suddenly gain respect for the notion.

Furthermore, there is the strong suggestion that one politician, Messer, could score points of an as yet undefined nature by reading the behavioral playbook of another, Coffey, and proceed with the absolute certainty that Coffey would play his part and salivate at the ringing of a chosen bell. Since when has Dan Cofey been so easily read? How could anyone be thus assured, given the mercurial nature of Coffey’s previous machinations?

Politically, I still respect and support Messer, and I still abhor Coffey, but here’s why this travesty bothers me so much.

In this whole, sordid, ongoing struggle, only one entity emerges as anything approximating heroic, and that’s the neighborhood activists on Lafayette and Savannah.

Yes, there’s a fair share of NIMBY at work, and there always will be in such cases. However, the activists assiduously did their homework, patiently slogged through entire meetings, enduring Steve Price’s homespun platitudes and awaiting their assigned slot, generally at the very end, and in the final reckoning, came off as capable of articulating a principle, supporting the principle with facts, and performing the expected function of informed citizens in a democracy.

Granted, they got the outcome they sought, and given their perseverance and all-around chutzpah, they deserved it.

Here’s the problem.

The crass machinations and blatant cynicism of the flippy-floppy Wendy’s voting outcome tells both the neighbors and the remainder of the city that the final decision had almost nothing to do with the right reasons, and for the right reasons as based on law and order.

It was purely political.

In the end, the neighbors might as well have eschewed the hard work, stayed home to tend to their lives, and played the same style of game as the council persons by quietly raising money and making payoffs to the appropriate parties in the time honored fashion of machine-run cities everywhere.

Note that I’m not suggesting that something like this occurred. I don’t believe it did, and what's more, it might not have been the best strategy for the neighbors to try and outbid folks wealthier than them. But it would have been drop-dead cynical, and as illustrated by the terms of the final outcome, fully in keeping with prevailing trends.

It remains that last night's maneuvering sent an unmistakable message that political gamesmanship absolutely comes first, and facts always come second. Citizens thought they were playing – dare we say it? – by a shared sense of the rules, but the rules ultimately weren’t what mattered. Rather, what mattered were two council persons jockeying with each other for position, to the utter exclusion of the commonweal.

Sad.

Typical of New Albany, but very, very, sad.

Jaws drop as Messer, Coffey execute simultaneous 180-degree flip-flops, killing Wendy's ... for now?

Here's the ordinance:

Z-09-05 Ordinance Amending the Code of Ordinances of New Albany, Indiana, Title XV, Chapter 156, (Docket P-02-09; Fairway Developers d/b/a The Charleston’s LLC, by Gary McCartin)

The battle lines seemed drawn those many weeks ago when the first reading resulted in a 5-4 vote against the plan commission's affirmative recommendation.

For: Caesar, Benedetti, Zurschmiede and Coffey
Against: Price, McLaughlin, Gahan, Gonder and Messer

Then came the quasi-epochal (sorry, D), Gahan-inspired call for 2nd and 3rd readings with the developers' attorney and Messer both absent. These resulted in 4-4 washes, and it was over ... but it wasn't over, with council attorney Robison determing that there could be no stake through the heart without a clear, non-draw.

Which brings us to tonight, and the neighborhood again in attendance. With Wi-Fi not available, I noted that something about the attitude made me uneasy, like a trick was about to be played. I shrugged it off and awaited the expected 5-4 vote against the Wendy's, and that's exactly what we got, except that when it came time for Messer to vote, he launched into full explanation mode and flipped to "aye."

A gasp rose from the crowd, but it wasn't over. Coffey, who'd voted three times in favor, now offered his own explanations before joining Messer in the act of flipping, though opposite, becoming a "nay," and the ordinance was defeated.

I'll leave it at that, adding only that one explanation offered for Messer's change in voting heart was his certainty that Coffey would always vote differently out of spite owing to animus between the two, thus assuring that Messer could serve whatever political purpose necessary for the flip while knowing that the council president would kill the proposal just to be contrarian.

I don't buy it, but for the residents of the neighborhood, who've now viewed something like a dozen votes in two years, it doesn't matter.

In most other ways last evening, the council sought to serve notice that its struggles over turf with the England administration will surely manage to handicap the city for months to come. A high point for me was Price's suggestion that the UEA staff person is paid too much not to be the man in charge of a merged UEA and DNA, with the implication being that Mike Ladd's salary comes from city coffers.

Seeing as Price spent a year as council representative to the UEA, and actually attended roughly half the meetings, he might have known that the city does not pay Ladd's salary -- unless the information was hidden in grandma's cookie jar, which Price is strictly forbidden from invading.

I'm tired.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Councilman Cappuccino prepares for tonight's city council meeting by throwing neighborhood tantrum.

Here's the agenda for tonight's city council meeting.

Last on the list: The zoning ordinance that wouldn't die, as The Gary emerges from the Wendy's value meal graveyard to once again challenge his sister's ethical sensibility -- a challenge that she'll once again fail according to the ironclad dictate that New Albany politicians forever and always aim for the lowest of common denominators, not the higher ground.

Meanwhile, the inexplicable and inexcusable presence of the Wizard of Westside on any commission with the most remote connection to commonly shared concepts of "redevelopment" was again made laughingly obvious yesterday:
Dan Coffey upset over selection for homeownership bid in New Albany, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune).

New Albany’s bid for neighborhood stabilization funds targeted the S. Ellen Jones area — a move that angered Redevelopment Commission member and City Council President Dan Coffey.

Open thread: Entitled to one's own opinions on two-way streets, but not one's own facts?

Here are two viewpoints on the merits of two-way street conversions. The first comes from a Tribune reader (scroll to the bottom):

LETTERS: April 16, 2009

The second comes from people who know what they're talking about:

Traffic Calming 101

Discuss if you wish.

Human rights and the curriculum at Bazooka Joe U.

The thinly cloaked Republican yammering about tea parties has genuinely moved me -- from my couch, and to the refrigerator for another beer.*

This week's Tribune column offers yet another example of New Albany's unwillingness to observe its own legal playbook: BAYLOR: Human rights in New Albany?

----

* with apologies to Pat Paulson

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

David Pierce joins NABC as Director of Brewing Operations.

I’m pleased to announce that the New Albanian Brewing Company has hired David R. Pierce to fill the newly created position of Director of Brewing Operations.

David, who will begin work immediately, joins NABC’s two veteran brewers, Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson. Their popular beers like Elector, Hoptimus, Beak’s Best, Community Dark, Mt. Lee, Kaiser and Thunderfoot will remain the foundation of NABC’s game plan, both on-premise at our two locations and as part of the evolving off-premise distribution.

David will begin work immediately, familiarizing himself with NABC’s portfolio of beers, and serving as de facto project manager overseeing the installation of our new 15-barrel (30-bbl fermenter) DME brewing system, which is slated for shipping in late April or early May to our new downtown New Albany production brewing facility, the Bank Street Brewhouse.

He’s not coming aboard to formulate his own beers. He’s coming to help us make full use of the new system and to achieve the full potential of our existing brands.

You should know that during his 17 years in commercial brewing, David has done it all. He opened Louisville’s first two brewpubs in the modern era, the Silo (now defunct) and Bluegrass Brewing Company, and formulated their rosters of on-premise beers. He sold and installed DME brewing systems, and served as a widely sought consultant to brewers nationwide. More recently, he has specialized in all aspects of BBC's production brewing, quality control and coordination for off-premise distribution.

He’s just the man we need to take it to the next level, and beyond. I’ll happily answer any questions you might have – after I get some sleep.

More than twenty years after middle school, it still doesn't add up.

Some random thoughts and observances on the last of the Resources for Results public hearings at Highland Hills:

* While some individual members of the committee may very well be interested in public input, anyone who believes the school system is genuinely concerned about it might have their own desk at the school. The presentation was lousy, with attendees unable to make heads or tails of information glossed over in literally five minutes. There wasn't even time to read it quickly while the system's man talked over top of it.

* If the maximum time spans allotted to public input during the entire three-year Resources process are added together, they amount to about seven and a half hours.

* I'll again point out that the school system made no effort to distribute data or any other information to the public prior to any of the meetings. Apparently, the average citizen is supposed to be able to absorb three years worth of study, analyze it, and develop cogent, three minute public arguments about it in the one minute interim between the aforementioned useless presentation and the public speaking portion of the hearing. Either that, or the school system is betting on the fact that such a restrictive scenario will keep them from it. I'm betting on the latter. It was insulting enough that the school system's printed warnings against the use of profanity became quickly relevant.

* According to Kathy Ayres, the enrollment numbers presented on slide 8 of the school system's show don't match the enrollment numbers provided by either the state's Department of Education or the school system's capital projects list. There are discrepancies as large as 275 students.

* A Silver Street teacher pointed out that, if one does the math, the magic 300 enrollment number used as a cut off by the school system for it's ciphering does not actually reflect optimum class size. It should be lower.

* If my sources are correct, only one "hill" parent spoke during any of the three hearings and no one spoke in favor of closing schools. If public input is given as much weight as the school system claims it is, neither the committee nor Dr. Brooks has sufficient impetus to close a school.

* Walking into Highland Hills Middle School for the first time, I immediately realized why parents who spend any time there would think our tax dollars are being wasted. If we can afford to build that, there's no justifiable reason to be talking about closing schools.

What I said in my three minutes, before the last paragraph was cut off by the school system's director of communication, whose title is an obvious misnomer:

I know the Resources for Results Committee has put in a tremendous amount of time examining the questions put before it, even if public and other outside input has been severely limited. As a result, I’m not here tonight as a city resident to rehash the many solid arguments already put forth by my peers concerning the benefits of walkable, neighborhood schools and their positive impact on urban communities. I know the committee has heard them and trust that they, as stewards of our common future, will take them seriously enough to grant them the further exploration and discussion they deserve as they consider their recommendations.

I am here tonight, though, to show solidarity with those county residents whose rural lifestyles are being taken from them. As many of us in the city have worked tirelessly to inject new life, investment, and increased residency into our neighborhoods - only to end up feeling threatened by lack of acknowledgment from the school system and closed-door discussions - I realize that same pattern has been repeated in outlying areas – only in reverse.

There is a growing movement in outlying areas of Floyd County to protect the rural lifestyle that attracted many residents to them in the first place. As residents have become more active in pursuing limits to unchecked growth and the fiscal and environmental damage it causes, county government has responded with a master plan designed to guide and control it. Such actions are essential to maintaining both the character and sustainability of the area and provide a good example of what can happen when citizens and governmental institutions cooperate.

Unfortunately, those good works in the city and county have yet to be reflected in school system policy. While city residents and government attempt to increase growth in the city by investing in infrastructure improvements, business development, and urban amenities, the school system has focused its investments in outlying areas, hampering those efforts. At the same time, while county residents and government seek to reign in massive developments and set land use standards, the school system has thrown open the gates by favoring the expansion of rural schools, even going so far as to overbuild past their own demographic projections, encouraging the further suburbanization of the Knobs.

In both cases, our tax dollars are being pitted against each other, being used to pursue conflicting outcomes. That can’t possibly be the most efficient use of resources.

The good news is that those city and county residents share common goals—more development in the urban city and less in the rural county. We’re on the same train. Moreover, national demographic trends suggest that we’re on the right track. The millennial generation who’s coming of age now is showing great propensity for reversing the outward migration trends of recent decades, preferring instead to return to more densely populated urban areas to live and raise families. It’s that generation- not their parents - whose children will determine our school system’s needs for the next few decades.

With Dr. Brooks’ departure imminent, I would encourage the committee to join in that spirit of cooperation, to get on that train, and explore some tracks that may not have been presented you as of yet in preparation for new leadership. We should be planning based on who and where we want to be twenty or thirty years from now rather than just what you’re stuck with this summer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Urbanism vs. Resources for Pre-Determined Results vs. elevated liver counts.

It was my intention to attend tonight’s last of three public hearings at Highland Hills Middle School on the topic of Resources for (Pre-Determined) Results.

Really, it was, but after a day spent dealing with business/work on one side and a roof being placed atop our house on the other, I couldn’t get my butt off the couch and into the car. I feel bad about it. Sorry. It isn’t because I don’t care. It’s just an inordinately stressful time on the job, and from the outset, the school corporation’s “resources” charade has left me cold, angry and feeling too much like I’ve seen this movie before and didn't enjoy it then, either.

In fact, ever since Resources for Results bubbled to the service, and the school corporation shifted into damage control mode as part of a vapid spin cycle as incompetently rendered as any we’ve seen of late, I’ve been thinking that there's something about this cover committee farce annoyingly redolent of past city vs. county game-playing, even if I can’t put my finger on it.

Populism usually isn’t my bag, but I’ll vent, anyway.

It’s very frustrating to me to contemplate the extent to which so many earnest, harried neighborhood activists – most of them hanging by their proverbial fingernails to various tiny bits of hope that they can somehow reverse 30 years of institutionalized idiocy, turn the situation around, and make the urban core viable again – must watch as their efforts are effectively sabotaged by the further impending loss of neighborhood schools at the behest of a school corporation that seems to believe it educates in a vacuum.

Granted, I don't have children, and some of these hard working activists don't, either, and yet I feel bad for them and worse for the families watching helplessly as the rug gets pulled out from under their struggles. This has been even sadder owing to the artlessness of the school system's proceedings.

While I’m at it, if anyone spots a scintilla of evidence that the current elected school board has contributed an ounce of leadership to the “resources” sham, please let me know. I'll eat my hat. If just one of them publicly confessed to the resources committee being a staged, rigged joke, perhaps that's something we might build from to begin a genuine dialogue. Like New Albany in general, the only ones we hear from are the ones least able to contribute to the solution. Is it in the water?

Yes, this is one of the weakest pieces I've written in a while. I feel bad about that, too, and it quite possibly will offend someone. I'm dog tired, my blood alcohol is way too low, and the hypocrisy level is cresting above my ability to be coherent. As I wrote previously, I have friends in the school corporation's upper echelons. By now I thought that at least one or two of them might have tried to respond with a counter argument. Regrettably, there has been nothing except the sounds of silence. That bothers me. Maybe I'm not living right. Maybe they're feeling guilty. Maybe both.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to be fitted for my British Redcoat uniform in preparation for attending tomorrow's tea party. After all, I'm no populist.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dr. Brooks goes to Indy?

We're told that at tonight's school board meeting, NA-FC superintendent Dennis Brooks announced his intention to retire at then end of June and decamp to Indianapolis to devote his professional resources for Tony Bennett's presumably pre-determined results.

The outside consultant Phyllis Amick's whereabouts are unknown at this time.

The last of three public meetings designed to allow limited public input for the superintendent's otherwise foregone inner-city school closings decision takes place on Tuesday evening at Highland Hills Middle School.

In the interim, and for your own personal edification, I recommend Googling "walkable neighborhood schools" and perusing the results.

Bluegill's PR tip o' the day.

If one has something negative to say about New Albany, broadcasting it to a large swath of the exact demographic we're trying to attract to the city isn't a good idea.

One might temporarily feel better, but we all look worse.

Louisvillians don't vote in Southern Indiana. Hoosier political battles will not be won or lost in the Louisville media. Economic ones might be.

Please refrain from negatively impacting our investments with one's words. Barring that, please refrain from words.

Open thread: Remuneration in the news.

It's time for the annual Tribune listing of top pay. Enjoy, and discuss if the spirit moves you.

Firefighters top New Albany’s salary list again for 2008

A look at 2008’s top paid employees, vendors in Floyd County

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chocolate and beer atop the concrete bar.

No, we're not this crowded. It was the scene at Schimpff's yesterday afternoon, roughly 15 minutes before closing at 5:00 p.m.


Just before five, the owner locked the doors and announced through her bullhorn that they'd be reopening a few minutes later for candy sales without ice cream.

I bought four pounds of assorted morsels, which currently are atop the concrete bar at the Bank Street Brewhouse. We'll be here until 8:00 p.m. today for beer and chocolate. If you come down, bring a few servings of fried chicken, will ya?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Bank Street Brewhouse will observe tomorrow's holiday with beer and chocolate.

NABC Grant Line (pub and pizzeria) will be closed on Easter Sunday. Then again, we're always closed on Sunday, aren't we?

However, the irreligious among us (we rather enjoy each other's company) will be opening the Bank Street Brewhouse from Noon to 8:00 p.m. for frivolity, beer and chocolate. The latter will be the only food available, because the kitchen will be closed, unless Chef Josh permits us to grill the Easter Bunny outside.

If you're in the market for adult refreshment between religious observances, family visits and meals, drop by and say hello.

REWIND: Heaven on their minds.

(Originally posted on March 23, 2008)

In his preface to “Bertrand Russell on God and Religion,” the book’s editor, Al Seckel, writes:

There is a marvelous anecdote from the occasion of Russell's ninetieth birthday that best serves to summarize his attitude toward God and religion. A London lady sat next to him at this party, and over the soup she suggested to him that he was not only the world's most famous atheist but, by this time, very probably the world's oldest atheist. "What will you do, Bertie, if it turns out you're wrong?" she asked. "I mean, what if -- uh -- when the time comes, you should meet Him? What will you say?" Russell was delighted with the question. His bright, birdlike eyes grew even brighter as he contemplated this possible future dialogue, and then he pointed a finger upward and cried, "Why, I should say, 'God, you gave us insufficient evidence.'"

Earlier in the week Barack Obama eloquently spoke of intolerance, and the predictable result was a backlash of … well, intolerance, with a sizeable proportion of the bile emanating from the very same people who see themselves as religious, and who embrace the mission of reminding us of it on a daily basis, and of course it is hypocrisy of this magnitude that lies as much at the heart of America as those noble ideals we prefer to enshrine as our national myth. Forgive me then for celebrating today’s decidedly non-secular holiday with H. L. Mencken:

The truth is that Christian theology, like every other theology, is not only opposed to the scientific spirit; it is also opposed to all other attempts at rational thinking. Not by accident does Genesis 3 make the father of knowledge a serpent -- slimy, sneaking and abominable. Since the earliest days the church, as an organization, has thrown itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man. It has been, at all times and everywhere, the habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions. It was, for centuries, an apologist for slavery, as it was the apologist for the divine right of kings.
-- From “Treatise on the Gods”

I’ve posted another essay elsewhere: Your own personal Easter.

From a purely psychological standpoint, even I can’t deny the efficacy of Easter’s promise of hope and comfort, both in the universal sense of human uncertainty when it comes to ultimate meanings, and specifically for those who are at a point of loneliness and despair. Bleak is not a place that lends itself to hope, but concepts like Easter hold out the promise of redemption.

If you’re a believer, I do sincerely hope you find solace, inspiration and comfort from Easter. As an unbeliever, I promise to make good use of the day, beginning with the overdue search for that long-lost bonnet.

Eyesore Project in Gary, Indiana.

Thanks to M for this link.

Eyesore Project targets Gary's abandoned buildings, by Marisa Kwiatkowski (NWI.com)

A 12-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in Gary recently after her alleged aggressor dragged her into a nearby abandoned home, police said.

For years, officials have argued that crime festers in the city's empty or abandoned buildings. Now, nine of those properties are being targeted by the Lake Street Community Oriented Policing Office's Eyesore Project. The office is manned by volunteers recruited by the Miller Citizens Corp.'s Public Safety Committee, according to the organization.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"And the winner is… *drumroll*… New Albany."

New Albany Crowned BS Neighborhood Derby 2009 Champion

This was a marvelous opportunity to talk about the good in New Albany. As neighborhoods go, we're far from perfect, but there is value in articulating what's possible. Congrats, New Albanians.

Neighborhood Derby voting winding down ... limited supply of Kessler 1/2 pints remain in play.

It's the final hours of voting: BS Neighborhood Derby 2009.

Mr. G made a comment during the discussion at Broken Sidewalk, and it is well deserving of citation here. He is writing of the two neighborhoods that made the final, New Albany and Germantown/Schnitzelburg/Paristown.
I love both of these places and for roughly the same reasons–they’re gritty, got history out the wazoo, and a funky atmosphere that which includes residents who care about things even if it means being out of step with more gentrified folk.

Great bars and joints to eat? Yep. Plenty of creatives? Check. A bunch of different churches that care why they’re there and have members coming in from the burbs. You betcha’.

I frequently go to Sunergos for my beans, like Check’s and Flabby’s because they remind me of good old N’Awlins places and was sorry to see the Germantown Cafe close because Steve really did make the best fried chicken.

But you can stretch out more, get a view, and find more choices in the little places in New Albany. Studios has a better beer selection and a menu that lets anybody in your group be happy. We have mo’ better beer, and make it here. I can go the Preston’s on Pearl St. to buy my pens and walk over to Destinations for a better selection of good reading than any Borders holds. The Carnegie Center is a jewel, literally, and all this being on the river caters to some water rat spirit in me, here where I can’t have the sea or mountains.

I’m delighted these two odd neighborhoods made the finals, because they’re scrappy, hard-working, and full of promise, and so often overlooked by more gentrified folk who think the sun must revolve around their center of the universe.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Another potential ROCKlamation project?

Every time I listen to the well-intentioned and hopelessly oblivious activists of Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana ROCK), many of whom seem to have consciously refrained from any objective study of history that does not begin with the words “Holy Bible,” I immediately think of articles like this one. It is an obituary that appeared in a recent issue of The Economist.

Is the institutionalized “exploitation of blacks” part of the hallowed American history that ROCK seeks so avidly (and for the most part thoughtlessly) to reclaim? How many Christian pulpits supported the institution of slavery?

Take your time, soldiers. It isn’t like really I expect a coherent answer to be forthcoming, although you’d think that an organization fronted by a highly trained lawyer making almost 100 Gs per annum just might be able to articulate the occasional historical analogy that doesn't have to do with with puritanical sex preoccupations.

I'm so naive.

John Hope Franklin (April 2, 2009; from The Economist print edition)

John Hope Franklin, historian of race in America, died on March 25th, aged 94

Militancy was not in his nature. He was too scrupulous a historian for that, and too courteous a man. Asked whether he hated the South, he would say, on the contrary, that he loved it. His deepest professional debt was to a white man, Ted Currier, who had inspired him to study history and had given him $500 to see him through Harvard. Yet, alongside the dignity and the ready smiles, a sense of outrage burned. He longed to tell white tourists thronging Washington that the Capitol had been built by slaves, and that Pennsylvania Avenue had held a slave market, “right by where the Smithsonian is”. Profits made possible by enslaving blacks had not only allowed Thomas Jefferson to enjoy fine French wines: they had also underpinned America’s banks, its economic dynamism and its dominance in the world. The exploitation of blacks was something he admitted he had “never got over”.

Have any of you noticed the streets need paving?

Funny, I didn't hear any of the council persons suggest that we take EDIT money out of groundless sewer subsidies and put it into something vaguelt resembling economic development like paving and repairing despoiled streets -- something about not being able to walk, chew gum and practice ward-heeling, all at the same time?

BAYLOR: Conjoined nickels and dimes

New Albany’s roadways have gnarly crevasses the size of Texas, reverse Matterhorns pointing toward the balmy bowels of the earth, double-wide fissures for concealing stray mobile homes, and damp, darkened craters suitable for use as ready-made impound lots, since those automobiles eventually hitting bottom are too far out of cell-phone range to be rescued.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

BS Neighborhood Derby Final: New Albany and Germantown-Schnitzelburg-Paristown.

I was supposed to be eating Duck (not "cold" duck) and drinking Thunderfoot tonight, but my stomach turned up sour after a demanding day and I'm recuperating at home. I'm not happy about it, seeing as I've missed three potential evening activities all at once. So be it. Maybe I should be living a bit cleaner.

So far the neighborhood derby voting has been Bluegill's baby, and after he gets finished with his portions of Chef Josh's repast, perhaps he'd like to add his thoughts below. Jeff, feel free to alter this post.

Until then, here's the link to the finals between New Albany and Germantown-Schnitzelburg-Paristown, which upset number one seed Highlands.

Vote here: BS Neighborhood Derby 2009

Remember, folks: Don't be dishonorable.

By the way, rumor has it that Steve Price wants to vote against New Albany, and can't because there aren't any five-year-olds around to help him with Internet access.

Ask Rep. Ed Clere in person ... at a town hall meeting coming soon to a venue near you.

From Representative Ed Clere, a schedule for three town hall meetings, and your opportunity to ask him in person why the property tax caps he favors discriminate in favor of rental property owners:

9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 11, S. Ellen Jones Elementary School

6:30-8 p.m. Friday, April 17, Purdue Technology Center

6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, Hoosier Room, Indiana University Southeast

The legislative session ends on April 29, so the first two will be prior to the end of session, and the third will be a post-session wrap-up.


Here's more on the topic, as published in the Tribune:
CLERE: Let’s have a chat

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

BS Neighborhood Derby Final Four: NA vs. Butchertown-Nulu-East Market


When it comes to the BS Crown, the auto workers in Detroit may as well be copperheads in Birdseye.

Vote, or we'll turn it over like Michigan State. And Bob Seger will write songs about us. For Dan Coffey's eight track player.

BS Neighborhood Derby: The Final Countdown

*graphic from tournament host BrokenSidewalk.com

Monday, April 06, 2009

Night of the Undead: McCartin/Wendy's project out of the grave, says council attorney.

I wasn't able to establish a Wi-Fi connection for the city council meeting. Although there might be more comments to come, it's necessary to fast-forward to the very end of the meeting, just before adjournment, for the excitement.

It was then that council attorney Stan Robison announced the filing of the council's lawsuit against the city over the mayor's hiring practices (see my Thursday Tribune column for a bit more on this), and then revealed that his research indicates that the 4-4 vote on second and third readings of the latest McCartin/Wendy's project on Charlestown Road did not in fact drive a stake through the heart of the plan.

Rather, it was tantamount to not voting at all. If the council does not schedule what amounts to a re-vote before the end of a specified period of days (missed the exact number), dating from the plan's initial approval before the Plan Commission, it will constitute de facto approval. Given that the first reading went 5-4 against, and conceding that the sister of the developer probably won't be suffering from ethical epiphanies between now and the rescheduled vote, the score should remain 5-4 against.

But chicanery is both a council tradition and Dan Coffey's only real specialty. Stay tuned.

May have spoken too soon.

For the first time this year, I'm having trouble picking up the library's Wi-Fi signal. This message is coming from my phone. Check back ... maybe it'll clear up before the meeting starts.

Develop New Albany's "First Tuesday" at NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse, April 7.

I'll be blogging live from tonight's city council meeting, but until then, here's a promo of tomorrow's Develop New Albany function at the Bank Street Brewhouse. There'll be nibbles (while they last ... I have this feeling) from Chef Josh, and a cash bar with NABC beers and Turtle Run wine -- all staged in back, where the brewing equipment will eventually be.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

An answer would do.

In Representative Ed Clere’s Tribune column last Tuesday, he wrote that he hadn't heard from "anyone opposed to the (property tax) caps."

After commenting here at NAC, I resolved to contact Rep. Clere's office and make my opinion about property tax caps known. I didn’t save an exact copy of my words, as typed into the e-mail form at the official web site, but here's the gist of it:

Count me among those opposed, at least until it is explained to me why rental property ownership is not a business activity to be taxed at the same 3% rate as my own.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, it has digressed from there.

A “we read all mail” reply was duly e-generated, and then on Thursday, while enjoying a day spent out of town, I received a phone message from one of the Representative’s representatives, who acknowledged receiving my e-mail, noted that the Courier-Journal (is that the name of the newspaper "down there"?) was about to do a story on the same topic, and asked me if I’d be interested in providing the writer with the “I’m against it” perspective on property tax caps.

I didn’t call back to let him arrange matters for the story, which appeared today. Rather, I waited until the story appeared to return the flippant assistant’s phone call and to perhaps make something clear to him.

Basically, neither he nor his boss has yet undertaken to venture an answer to my question.

I'd really like to know. Why is the rental property ownership business deserving of a 1% discount?

Or, conversely, why is my business subject to a 1% surcharge?

Recall that nowhere in any of this did I indicate inexorable opposition to the idea of property tax caps, even if persistent Republican hypocrisy on the matter of actively starving local governments of cash, and then encouraging mayors to beg like trained seals for the relative farthings to be gleaned from an alcohol excise tax increase on my non-rental property beer business, makes me want to vomit long and loud.

I've asked a question. Can the elected official please make a stab at answering it?

Or am I asking too much?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Wednesday, April 8: Cask-Conditioned Thunderfoot Release Dinner at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Join NABC on Wednesday, April 8, for a four-course gourmet meal at our new Bank Street Brewhouse. Here is Chef Josh Lehman’s menu.

First Course
Celery Root Soup
Duck Confit Salad, Roasted Baby Beets

Second Course
Seared Duck Breast
Caramelized Onions, Pomegranate, Oats, Duck Stock Reduction

Third Course
Capriole Mont St. Francis
Bing & Tart Cherries, Duck Chip

Fourth Course
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Sour Apple, Mole

Each course will be paired with a 4-ounce serving of limited release, cask-conditioned NABC Thunderfoot, an Imperial Stout aged 13 months on oak chips and dried Bing cherries. This exclusive release was the only firkin produced.

The New Albanian Bank Street Brewhouse is located at 415 Bank Street in downtown New Albany. Our Thunderfoot Release Dinner takes place on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The price is $40 per person, and does not include tax and gratuity. Seating is by reservation only, and there are 30 seats available in all. Phone 812-725-9585 to make your reservations (voice mail available).

Space aliens curiously reticent.

In the comments section of a posting on Mrs. Baird's blog, the enduringly Denschakian trognonymity of Freedom to Screech/Citizens for Abnormality is being subjected to a robust skewering by one or more similarly anonymous rabble rousers.

NAC abhors anonymity in all instances.

Except when it's this funny ... and so brutally accurate.

The blog owner herself has appealed for CFA to come back from the rubber room ... in vain. It reminds me of the Great Pumpkin. Visit the site, and read the thread. I can already hear the laughter.

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OTHER PEOPLES' IDEAS

Since CFA President Vicki Denhart is unavailable, let me attempt to answer the questions posted here.

1. Does Citizens For Accountability have a position on CM Benedetti's repeated failure to recuse herself from her brother's agenda items?

No. She’s on our side so we have a double standard.

2. Can anyone provide me with contact information for Citizens for Acountability?

We have no office and work out of Ms. Denhart’s living room.

3. Please educate us on how CFA saved $2 million. Did it really happen or is this as true as the alien abductions?

We didn’t have much to do with it, since our President is a nutcase and everyone in local government knows it. However, we try to claim credit for the LOIT not yet kicking in. We say “$2 million” saved since we place absolutely no value on the new services the tax would allow the city and county to provide. We call is waste because we place no value on improved parks for our citizens, we place no value on additional code enforcement, we place no value on cultural amenities, we place no value on sidewalks, bike lanes, farmers markets, and we place no value on economic development, even though that in the long run will increase the tax base. We place no value on these things so you shouldn’t either. Anyone who thinks salaries for code enforcement officers, or money for economic development or parks has value is corrupt. Anyone who thinks new services afforded by the LOIT have value should be investigated by the FBI and CIA. We hate them people.

4. Are low bid lawyers an answer to help the city save money?

Yes. We don’t think the city should ever issue a bond. Also, we view compliance with state and federal regulations and an unnecessary intrusion of outsiders on our way of doing things. However, our primary objection to Mr. Gibson’s contract is that Mayor England wants it. We don’t like Mayor England’s policies and we don’t like Mayor England’s vision for the city. Therefore, we will oppose him on everything, whether reasonable or otherwise.

5. What PROOF does Citizens for Accountability’s one member have that fraud exists in the Mayor’s office?

We have no proof. We do not like Mayor England. New Albany never has had a mayor we do like. We are suspicious of all politicians except those politicians who only criticize other politicians with more vision. Since we do not like him, we anonymously spread rumors about Mayor England. Also, we created a Blog called Freedom of Speech to help spread the rumors. We do not fact check. We are anonymous because we do not want to be sued for defamation. Defamation is our primary strategy. We would use facts but we have none.

Brad
Director of Communications
Citizens for Accountability

ROCK stages "Alamo" revival as contagion from the west threatens Indiana.

Is Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK) standing guard to ensure that basic fairness and human dignity not be permitted to infect properly God-accredited families and children right here in Hoosierland?

Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman, from the Des Moines Register.

Iowa's only a state away ... and we thought that wall funded by Major Moves was going to protect us against immigrants.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Open thread: Resources for (Pre-Determined) Results, Round One.

I was busy at work and could not attend. Thoughts from those who did?
School performance plan hearing draws a crowd; Many fear 2 Floyd buildings to close, by Harold J. Adams (Courier-Journal)

About 100 people turned out last night to get a look at the work of a committee that has been studying whether to close some schools in Floyd County, adjust attendance zones or find another way to improve education there.

The Resources for Results committee, appointed three years ago by Superintendent Dennis Brooks, held the first of three planned public hearings at Hazelwood Middle School.

Of paving "bond"-age, pot holes and power struggles.

The print edition depicts council president Dan Coffey in full-grandstand, with the heading "Power Play."

Well, of course it is. When Coffey's involved, when hasn't it been a power play?

The obvious aside, has anyone noticed that the streets need paving?
New Albany City Council questions Doug England’s hires, street paving plan, by Daniel Suddeath (Tribune).

This week, New Albany City Council President Dan Coffey removed a measure from next Monday’s meeting agenda that included a $10 million bond issue for street repair.

It was one of many decisions, rifts and accusations against Mayor Doug England’s administration mooted by council members and their attorney during a work session Wednesday.
Random question: How many of the insurgent council persons currently proposing EDIT monies to be used for paving previously voted in favor of flushing the same EDIT monies down city sewers as a form of Luddite subsidy?

By the way, has anyone noticed that our streets need paving?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It takes a turn or two along the way.

As we await the Highwayman's next sexy, stunning tale of Studio's peace talks, here is today's Tribune column link:

BAYLOR: Poking sticks into cages

Once upon a time at our pub and pizzeria, two male customers came bouncing inside in an obvious state of delirious pre-intoxication — whether liquid or herbal couldn’t be determined — and ordered pizza.
I should be devoting time today to organize our Don't Tread On Booze Anti-Taxus Tea Party, but it makes more sense to me to spend the day drinking in celebration of Indiana's surely short-lived competitive alcohol pricing advantage over Kentucky, but then again, the Commonwealth has Coach Calipari now, and there's nothing more capitalistic than paying the basketball coach more than the state's budget for health care, so just remember our new urban mantra at NAC:

Livin' for the city ... workin' for the subsidy.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Be Afwaid--Be Vewy Vewy Afwaid!!

Hmmmmm-let’s see!

Report on the eerily bizzare near sane Common Council Work Session concerning the city's budget (and alleged abuses)?

Or speak of an afterglow of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale accompanied by broccoli cheese soup, fried fish, and a lengthy conversation with Landlord Association founder Brian Haeseley topped off with an oversized portion of strawberry cheesecake?

Damn! I hate making these decisions!

OK! Since my good friend and able Tribune reporter Daniel Suddeath was present for the former, I shall leave it in his very capable hands for the moment. I reserve the option of coming back to it later however.

Instead I’ll dwell here on the latter.

So with my partner in crime Mark Cassidy & I having survived almost three hours of Councilmen v Professoress debate, we proceeded to Studio’s for nourishment and medication.

As I was pouring my first beer of the evening in walks Mr. Haeseley calls me by name and says he would like to have a one on one with me concerning rental property issues sometime soon.

I responded that I’d be glad to and Mark & I made our way into the dining room. As I sat down it occurred to me that there was no time like the present. So without further ado I invited Brian to join us.

He began the conversation by saying that although we seemed to be on opposite sides of the fence, he felt that we’d both misunderstood the point the other was trying to make and would like to discuss the issue to find where we could agree.

He seemed sincere and I’m all about finding allies as opposed to making enemies so we dove in head first.

We spoke frankly of registration, tenants rights, owners responsibilities, inspections, the city’s responsibilities, sheriff’s sales, property liens, foreclosures, evictions, rats, trash, weeds, and much more.

In the end although we still disagreed on what constitutes a “business” we did come to terms on cleanups. It is EVERYBODY’S job.

So much so that I think I got a commitment out of him to actively join us this weekend with the Uptown Neighborhood effort.

I also believe we came a better understanding of who is responsible for what at least in broad terms.

I explained to him the hurdles we’ve run into in dealing with city officials and he in turn schooled me on the differences between a tax lien sale and a sheriff’s sale in terms of who gets title when and how. Neither is simple nor quick but both are doable in terms of abandoned housing.

I came away encouraged that the lines of communication had been opened at least. Time alone will tell if either of us will be able to successfully put our money where our mouths are.

But hey! We gotta start some where!

There was much more detail to this first conversation but I’ve been going since 6AM and I’ve got to do it all over again in a few hours.

More to come later!

HB 1604 amendment: "Indiana wants to raise excise taxes 100%."

I've been in this business long enough to know that there is no rationality when it comes to the taxation of alcoholic beverages, and there probably never will be. In hard times, we get stuck harder.

That's the way it has been, and will continue to be. It's also the reason that I remain hypersensitive to the moralizing and hypocrisy of groups like Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK), whose advocacy of the glories of past repression will at some point include breweries within the imperative of burning sinners, at which time luminous entities like New Albany's city council might finally grasp the nature of the slippery slope they're cascading down.

To be honest, it would be far easier for me to accept such an excise tax increase if the wizards populating Indiana's legislative branch would be consistent and treat small breweries the same as small wineries. It would be easier still if political gladhanding didn't result in property tax breaks to rental property owners like Pat Harrison, who insist that their profit-making activity isn't a business, but is more deserving of favors than mine, even as my business (I don't deny what it is) pays a point higher than hers.

See yesterday's "Clere: An objection and a question" for more.

If some of the largesse comes back to the community in the form of economic development assistance, then I might bear the tax increase with a tad more equanimity, although I'd rather write my check to the city than to the state. I'd hate to see some of the percentage leak away during the trip up I-65 and back.

Meanwhile, the following is reprinted from the Hoosier Beer Geek blog.

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Indiana wants to raise excise taxes 100%

We don't get all that political here at Hoosier Beer Geek, but this one really gets under my skin, and I had to post this tonight in hopes that we might be able to make a difference before Thursday's vote.

This Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will be considering an amendment to HB 1604 which increases the excise tax on Alcohol by 100% to help fund the Marion County Capital Improvement Board shortfall caused by the Pacers, Colts and Convention Center operating losses. In an effort to gain support for the idea, the anticipated $42 million increase in alcohol taxes would be distributed statewide to cities and towns throughout Indiana on a population basis for economic development initiatives. Only Indianapolis ' portion ($8 million annually) of this increase would go to the Marion County Capital Improvement Board.

Call your State Senator and Representative and tell them:

NO NEW ALCOHOL TAXES!!

House Switchboard: 800-382-9842

Senate Switchboard: 800-382-9467

Call the numbers above and ask for the Senator or the Representative below and let them know raising alcohol taxes is not the way to pay for the losses that the Indianapolis sports teams have accrued. Already, 46% of the cost of beer today is taxes, and in no way would it be fair to increase that amount.

This is the aim of House Bill 1613: DIGEST OF INTRODUCED BILL

Increases alcoholic beverage excise taxes. Increases the beer and cider excise tax from $0.115 to $0.65 per gallon. Increases the wine excise tax from $0.47 to $2.07 per gallon. Increases the liquor excise tax from $2.68 to $6.95 per gallon. Provides that each of the funds that receives these excise taxes will receive the same percentage of the new rates as the percentage it receives under the existing rates.

You can verify who your Senator or Representative is by going to the following site: www.capwiz.com/la and entering your address. This will give you the information you need to call or email your Senator or Representative

You can also email by going to this address: http://axetaxesnotjobs.com/

That page is sponsored by Diageo, but it does make it very easy to find and contact your Senator, state rep, and the Governor.

What are you thoughts about this legislation?