Thursday, July 19, 2018

Did the developer of Phase 2 at the Summit Springs Luxury Mudslide Strip Mine Fun Park violate a cease and desist order yesterday?

Photo credit: Tyler Stewart.

On Tuesday evening, the Plan Commission decided not to appear unseemly.

New Albany Plan Commission: Phase 2 of Summit Springs needs more detail, by Danielle Grady (Tom May Mimeograph Machine)

NEW ALBANY — Plans to start a phase two of the Summit Springs commercial and residential development are not detailed enough for New Albany’s plan commission yet. At a Tuesday meeting, the voting body tabled requests by the developers to consider plans for a 14-story residential tower and more on top of a hill overlooking State Street.

The usual suspects yawned.

David Ruckman, a land surveyor for the project, said that the request from the plan commission for more details was “expected.”

“It’s a process,” he said.

Had Ruckman said, "it's just a game," he'd have disqualified himself for duty by telling the truth, and on Wednesday, less than 12 hours after the meeting, there were questions about the willingness of developers to observe a cease and desist order pertaining to clearing land for the next stage of the environmental atrocity.

The Green Mouse was told:

A neighbor on Fawcett Hill emailed us today saying he saw a dump truck and a flatbed truck hauling something up Fawcett Hill. Some of us have called Scott Wood. Scott said he sent out Larry Summers. Says they were removing old dead trees. When asked if they were removing more live trees, Scot said he "didn't know." If they are, the construction firm is violating the cease and desist order. Also, did you see the picture News and Tribune took? It shows the hill sliding down behind Taco Bell.

It's a wonderful photo, indeed (see above).

At a time when public housing residents face daily insults from their colonial overlords as a prelude to demolition, Team Gahan brags about million-dollar condos in the middle of a strip mine.

Amid the blather and propaganda, we can be sure of one truthful eventuality: the volume of stormwater runoff coming from Summit Springs will be matched only by the amount of kickbacks flowing into the mayor's campaign piggy bank.

A 2016 reprise: "High atop Summit Springs with friends (and relatives) in low places."

Plan Commission to consider phase two of the Summit Springs Kelley Enrichment cluster muck development atrocity.

Buffalo Dis-Trace: White folks dress up like their bison-killing ancestors as we glance at Jacobi, Toombs & Lanz's big role in Gahan campaign finance.

Watery light beer wars are our new favorite spectator sport.

I've got dibs on the Porta Potty concession.

Not really a caption contest as Gahan and Duggins bond over light beers.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Bell's Two Hearted Ale is an iconic American classic.

Having resolved to devote a permanent tap for Bell's Two Hearted Ale at Pints&union, I became curious and a tad nostalgic.

When was this tasty mainstay first brewed?

It seems as though Two Hearted has been around forever, but the answer is the year 2000.

I think the Midwest has a great finesse for balance in IPAs,” (Laura) Bell says. “The West Coast tends to put the bitterness upfront. Two Hearted looks outside of the hops for other characteristics. It’s not just about having the assaulting bitterness on your tongue. I want to be able to drink and IPA and say, ‘I’ll have another one.’”

The Centennial hop has been around since the mid 1970s, but wasn’t widely used when Bell’s decided to make it the sole varietal in Two Hearted. “I think Centennial has these very piney, grapefruit and floral flavors and aromatic qualities.”

It's my recollection that we first poured Bell's Two Hearted Ale at the Public House around 2002. It was among the first regional IPAs we could get on a dependable basis at a good price point, and Centennial hops were a big deal at the time. In my world, they still are.

From the start, I was drawn to Two Hearted Ale for literary reasons. It's no longer fashionable to profess interest in Ernest Hemingway's writing, and so as a practicing contrarian, I persevere with Papa.

The river is a popular destination for recreational fishing. As such, it was the title of a famous short story, "Big Two-Hearted River", by U.S. author Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway used the name because of its appeal; however, the geography of the story indicates that Hemingway was really describing a different trout stream, the Fox River near Seney. The story, set after World War I, was first published in 1925 as part of the collection In Our Time and republished in 1972 as part of The Nick Adams Stories.

Sensibly, the beer from Bell's was not named for the Fox River, although it wouldn't surprise me if another brewery might have tried making Foxxed River Ale at some point.

The word "iconic" is overused, but I'll argue strongly for its appropriateness in the instance of Bell's Two Hearted Ale.

Brewed with 100% Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest and named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this IPA is bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine to grapefruit from massive hop additions in both the kettle and the fermenter.

Perfectly balanced with a malt backbone and combined with the signature fruity aromas of Bell's house yeast, this beer is remarkably drinkable and well suited for adventures everywhere.

Obviously I'm a fan of Bell's and its founder, and cherish the opportunities over the years to chat with Larry, especially the time we enjoyed a lengthy digression into Russian history with two or three of his beers at the Eccentric Cafe. When the Cubs won the World Series, the first name to pop into my head was my old friend Bob Gunn (also a Hemingway aficionado). The second was Larry Bell.

Here's a recent article about Larry, Laura and their brewery's progress, followed by an observation.

Larry Bell has no plans to hire Bell's Brewery CEO after daughter departs, by Brad Devereaux (MLive)

... Today, (Larry) Bell remains at the helm of the company.

His daughter, Laura Bell, served as CEO for more than a year until she stepped down from the position in May and the company is not planning on hiring a new CEO at this point, Bell said. Laura Bell remains a shareholder, he said.

"I continue as I have always been since day one, president of Bell's," he said. "In essence, the buck has always stopped with me and that's how it continues to be ...

In closing, consider this.

Two Hearted is Bell's Brewery's top seller, Bell said, and if the beer was its own microbrewery it would be the 13th largest in the country, he said.

In Michigan in the summertime "Oberon is rocking it," he said, and Amber Ale, which helped build the business, continues to be the third most popular beer.

If you were contemplating a bar or eatery in a place like New Albany, and these three beers from a famous craft brewery are its best sellers nationally, why wouldn't you pour them all the time (rotating Oberon in the off-season, and maybe adding a fourth non-rotating Bell's tap) rather than constantly flip through the catalog?

You'd be known as the Bell's bar in town.

How can this be anything but helpful to your business?

ON THE AVENUES: Confusion, exile, ignobility and resistance amid various other Chronicles of New Gahania.

ON THE AVENUES: Confusion, exile, ignobility and resistance amid various other Chronicles of New Gahania.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

I'm feeling really upbeat about today’s encore presentation of a column originally published on November 5, 2015 – just two days after the municipal election, when the Resistance commenced in New Albany a whole year prior to the advent of Trump.

2016 was when the rest of America belatedly awakened to the necessity.

I’m happy because resorting to a column rerun means I’m up to my ears in work pertaining to the arrival of something far more important than either Deaf Gahan or The Donald, this being Pints&union. Gradually the necessary pieces have fallen into place, and we should be ready to debut next week.

Meanwhile, I'm reminded that resistance begins right here at home. What was the original Public House in 1992 if not the local opposition to the nationwide stranglehold of wretched mass-market swill?

Perhaps amazingly, that particular battle was won, and now the world of better beer is overdue for some sprucing up and remodeling, hence the notion of putting a stop to the revolving door of on-premise beer selection.

Quality, reliability and dependability as revolutionary doctrines? Life's a pendulum, folks, and if you wait around long enough, when it finally swings back the effect is not unlike a fastball right down the middle of the plate.

Returning to the local political scene, it is forever instructive to read old commentaries and compare them to now. I was wrong about Trump's accession and Gahan's statewide political ambition (at least in the short term), but much of the remainder stands up nicely.

I'm not sure that anyone foresaw Gahan's acquisition of David Barksdale, flipping a presumed Republican into a sycophantic mayoral piss boy.

Just remember that when it comes to manipulation and money, the mayor can be trusted to exploit the weak and vulnerable by finding and tapping their jugulars. Gahan simultaneously milked Barksdale for a crucial fifth Reisz Mahal vote and neutered a Republican. The historian blithely handed the charlatan power on a silver platter.

Barksdale's abrupt collapse might be sad, except it's all hamartia and hubris to to me: "Hamartia is the (fatal) flaw, hubris is the behavior that does not acknowledge it."

Gotta go order beer now.


Confusion, exile, ignobility and resistance (2015).

Recently I overheard a conversation at the coffee shop about the point of no return, the last straw – the time when one decides to jump ship.

In this instance, the precise topic was the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency. Would such a revolting development merit moving to another country?

Would it mean exile?

To be more precise, would it mean self-exile?

Self-exile is often depicted as a form of protest by the person that claims it, to avoid persecution or legal matters (such as tax or criminal allegations), an act of shame or repentance, or isolating oneself to be able to devote time to a particular thing.

Granted, Trump’s elevation is unlikely, and any conceivable notion of exile remains problematic in the absence of any substantive tradition of asylum for gravely disillusioned Americans seeking refuge in the civilized world – places like Bamberg, Poperinge or Copenhagen.

Even so, I still believe that a plea for asylum accompanied by a few photos of New Albany's slumlord properties, one-way streets and economic dishevelment cadre just might do the trick. Any self-respecting resident of the Netherlands would be utterly appalled, and offer his spare room.

It so happens that I was reading The Economist on the very same day, specifically, an obituary for the Irish playwright Brian Friel.

Interviewers sometimes suggested he might have stayed in America longer. It was ever the land of liberation for him, the place his characters would leave for as soon as the potato crop was in. But he knew that, if he went, homesickness for green Ireland would gnaw away at him as surely as at them. Exile was not the answer. There was a strange dignity in staying but wavering, trying to balance emotions that would not be reconciled. Confusion, he insisted, “is not an ignoble condition”.

Emigration is a recurring motif in Ireland. During the Great Famine, Irish men and women left the island in droves, primarily to avoid starvation. In the decades that followed, and right up until the recent times, consistent patterns of self-exile continued owing to Ireland’s anemic economy and the absence of reasonable prospects for a life at home.

Over time, it’s the sort of reality calculated to produce torment and melancholy in a country’s cultural milieu, to be expressed in art, theater, music and writing. The playwright Friel decided escape was not the answer, and while he explored more universal themes in his work, we can guess that a certain intrinsic stubbornness played a role.

I can relate to that. Of course, there are other reasons for choosing exile, including war, pestilence and political vicissitude. It is the latter that concerns us today.

To be blunt: Does our recently concluded municipal election constitute one of these “jump ship” moments?


Or, is this a pertinent juncture for progressives to face the cruel facts about New Albany’s perennial hopelessness, and choose exile in a locale where the “A” students rule?

I don’t think it is, but these are bleak times, indeed. Book readers have almost as much reason to be scared as sheep during a second Jeff Gahan term in office. However, there are a few reasons for optimism amid the gloom, and his looting goons.

First, although you wouldn’t know it in the absence of detailed analysis by any traditional local media source, Gahan’s victory was not a landslide. It’s undeniable that a win is a win, but the incumbent lost 11% of his decisive 2011 mandate. 53% of the voters opted for Gahan, and 47% expressed a preference for his two challengers. It’s bad, but closer than before. Another $50 million in TIF bonds and he's toast.

And we'll be broke.

The Republicans made incremental gains, picking up two seats on the council. Along with independents Scott Blair and Dan Coffey, three Republicans occasionally might be able to throw a spanner into Gahan’s luxury palace construction plans.

Unfortunately, the winner as usual was apathy, with more than 70% of the city’s voters refraining from participating in the election. They’re about to get what they deserve, good and hard. So are the rest of us, especially the dissidents who challenged the re-coronation.

Still, I’m not giving up, primarily because giving up is something I resent having to do. For one thing, "love it or leave it" is a false dichotomy in my contrarian’s cosmos.

There’s a third way, by staying and continue trying to change this bastion of underachievement for the better, in whatever way can be mustered, great or small, if for no other reason than to prove that old white males need not be angry quasi-fascist reactionaries.

They can be angry muckraking leftist malcontents.

It isn’t as though I lack for experience in such endeavors, because however one might describe my clan, it was outnumbered long before the 2015 election took place. I’ve been a dissenting thorn in the side of presumed propriety since the 5th grade, and I’m not finished yet.

(See what I did there?)

Underdog defines my life. Among other things, I’m a humanist, an atheist and a heretic. Hereabouts, roughly nine bad beers are sold for every good one, and so that’s the one I drink. My diet includes more pickled herring than hamburgers. I took the Bernie Sanders test, and got 95%. Pro sports mean more to me than college, and education always trumps athletics. A car is an onerous appendage to be regrettably accepted, not exalted as an extension of one’s tumescent genitalia.

I support local independent business, level playing fields, the rank and file, walking and biking, human rights, diversity and fundamental decency. I oppose cliques, boorishness, time servers, cowards and willful stupidity.

At least simple ignorance is correctable.


Make no mistake, taxpayers: Gahan’s going to come out spending, and as before, it’ll be for those otherwise senseless capital project "wants" best calculated to preserve the Democratic Party’s stranglehold on power, and never as intended to alter any fundamental problems in the city. Too many people profit from decay management and pretend-decay-rectification, and Gahan needs his share of their money.

If nothing else, he’s really good at that.

Once the customary flagellations and reprisals take place. Gahan’s insipid cult of personality will be propagated even more heavily in preparation for the next step in his ambition, perhaps a State Senate run in 2018. Gahan’s team of acolytes is in place, its arrogance undoubtedly stoked by victory.

But it’s a machine with numerous holes, more illusion than substance. That’s because Gahan’s only palpable objective is political self-aggrandizement. Like most cults of personality, the aura doesn’t extend past the shadow of the chieftain, and his narcissistic need to be viewed as the fount of all wisdom is so ludicrous that it cannot survive dismemberment.

I shall continue writing the dismantlement manual, and soon enough, the curtain will be parted to reveal the great and mighty Oz, pulling at his levers. Meanwhile, let’s remember that Gahanism itself is no political doctrine.

It is a giant sucking sound of a well-tuned fundraising mechanism that never met a book.

Gahanism is neither defined by concrete ideology, nor illuminated by transparency. Rather, it is measured by crass transactions made in back corridors, rubber-stamped by co-opted functionaries, and executed to produce maximum monetization for candidate and political organization alike. It’s a pyramid scheme, and it might well crash and burn even before Gahan declares for higher office.

His political prospects will return to room temperature soon enough. Meanwhile, I’m not going anywhere, because Gahanism doesn’t frighten me. It is soulless, anti-intellectual, and so much the personification of unalloyed mediocrity that if the mayor did not exist, a reanimated Ayn Rand would have to invent him, so as to be denounced by John Galt over social media.

I can hear the bleating of the dullards now, just as I’ve heard it before: “BLAH BLAH BLAH if you don’t like it here, why don’t you move somewhere else BLAH BLAH BLAH.”

Ah, but you see, jumping ship is the one thing I cannot do, because I’ve got to be myself … and self-exile isn’t me.

Like Friel, I'm staying put. If you agree, start stockpiling paint, sit tight and wait for instructions.


Recent columns:

July 12: ON THE AVENUES: Thanks to Joe Phillips, there'll be pints, union and good times downtown.

July 5: ON THE AVENUES: For Deaf Gahan and the Reisz Five, their luxury city hall will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.

June 28: ON THE AVENUES: Said the spider to the fly -- will you please take a slice of Reisz?

June 21: ON THE AVENUES: Government Lives Matter, so it's $10,000,000 for Gahan's luxury city hall clique enhancement. Happy dumpster diving, peasants!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Welcome, my son -- welcome to the Jeff Gahan Money Machine.

These are most of the CFA reports for the Gahan campaign finance effort since 2011.

We're going to be sorting through them, looking for connections. Of course, the tens of thousands of clams enumerated in these official reports are the legal contributions only. They don't include the envelopes that accompany potted plants and fruit baskets.

If you have monetization stories to tell, let the Green Mouse know. There's so much money to follow that we despair of having the time to track all the leads.

Have you ever wondered why one man needs so much money? We have. If those walls at the Roadhouse could talk ...

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Glory days in the bike saddle at the Radler Tankstelle.

Not my photo, but you get the idea.

(Today's BEER WITH A SOCIALIST is a code-sharing lesson with SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS)

Last month I was reminiscing about the Frankfurt-Vienna beercycling ride 15 years ago.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: That time in 2003 when we rode bicycles to Schneider Weisse.

Counting side trips and frivolity, the journey turned out to be roughly 550 miles, just about all of it on paved and marked bike paths separated from motorized traffic. There was some gravel, though not much. Much of the time these were country lanes between villages, woven together and connected with short stretches of custom-built pathway.

After Passau in Germany, the way to Vienna was along on side or the other of the Danube River, which I think was Europe's first long-distance bike route. It's a veritable interstate highway, with signage advertising services for cyclists, not cars.

Somewhere along the way in Germany or Austria I saw a pictograph of a man on a bicycle hoisting a foamy stein of beer: "Radler Tankstelle, 100 meters."

Radler = bicyclist
Tankstelle = gas station (cars)

So, it meant "place for a bicyclist to fill his or her tank" -- with beer. Now THAT'S what I call civilization. 

"Radler" also has come to identify a beer for bicyclists, sort of a German-style Shandy, half of it lager (or wheat beer) and the other half carbonated fruit soda.

The term Radler originates with a drink called Radlermass (literally “cyclist liter”) that was originally created by Innkeeper Franz Kugler in a small town named Deisenhofen, just outside Munich. During the great cycling boom of the Roaring Twenties, Kugler created a bicycle trail from Munich, through the woods, which led directly to his drinking establishment. On a beautiful June day in 1922, a reported “13,000 cyclists” crashed Kugler’s party. Fast running out of beer, he blended it 50/50 with a lemon soda he could never seem to get rid of, and the rest is history.

Cutting the beer with soda also halves the alcohol content. I'll concede that personally, while I can endorse the notion of a Radler or Shandy, it never made a great deal of sense to me.

While exercising I prefer either water or the soda straight, without the beer. Afterward while recuperating, I'm all about the beer without the soda. But different strokes, and at Pints&union we'll be carrying cans of the Stiegl Radler, which is lager and grapefruit soda.

As a side note, the late great Kevin Richards, who unfortunately missed the 2003 biking trip, is the only person I've ever known who could refresh himself with multiple Trappist Ales during a lunchtime sag in Belgium and cycle another 30 miles.

It's another reason why he can't ever be replaced. Wherever Kevin is, I hope he's riding.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

We're told that peak inner city suburban Gahanism on Market Street will be delayed.

At this morning's merchant meeting, attendees were told by the city's business coordinator Tonya Fischer that the recently ballyhooed Market Street "facelift" between Pearl and State will not be finished before Harvest Homecoming. Rather, it is to begin afterward.

She hinted that burrowed deeply somewhere in the shadowy labyrinth of Jeff Gahan's down-low bunker, there'd been second thoughts about the final configuration of this expenditure with money donated by the Horseshoe Foundation.

One might hope, but Team Gahan doesn't take well to critiques or criticism, and my guess is it's about bad timing with regard to the annual festival.

But let's make no mistake. Nothing I've seen lately epitomizes the city's gorwing problem with "institutional inbreeding" quite as grandly as HWC Engineering's (who else?) hilarious mock-ups of this project, a Disney-meets-outlet mall pastiche of anti-urban design elements reflecting the emperor's perennial tastelessness as well as the apparent absence of integrity among staffers placed in charge of preserving an asinine median, adding a car-centric turn lane to westbound Market (which barely registers vehicular traffic), felling any and all nearby trees, truncating the sidewalk on the northern side, adding IKEA chairs and hideous commemorative median "art," then boldly declaring victory for pedestrians in a setting that has been "upgraded" for drivers alone.

Even George Orwell might register a guffaw at the sheer mindlessness of it. What's more, amid the comedy of the mayor's loyal kept Republican (David Barksdale) wrestling with the city engineer for control of the project on behalf of the redevelopment commission so he could ensure that all existing trees were designated for removal -- it's gotta be a fetish, folks, the dude who hates trees sitting on the Tree Board -- there was the fact that all the money was slotted for the north side of the street, and none at all on the south side, where two completely restored older buildings are about open for business.

It's the same closed-loop people making the same moribund and template-inspired decisions with the same continuing obligation to connect the dots between contract winners and the mayor's campaign finance war chest; currently they are completely exhausted of any semblance of creativity, and unfortunately, it shows.

We'll have to abide these cumulative design mistakes for decades, scraping to pay for genuinely useful improvements because there'll be nothing left in the till that isn't committed to the Reisz Mahal, the Summit Springs Mudslide & Fun Park and a parks department with a budget exceeding that of some postage stamp principalities.

There's an answer: FireGahan2019. Catch up with the lunacy via these links: 

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Umbrageous boughs? Not on Market between Pearl and State.

Peak inner city suburban Gahanism as HWC recommends buying IKEA when two local furniture dealers are yards away from the redesign atrocity.

Peak inner city suburban Gahanism via faux "input," pre-determined outcomes, clear-cutting, IKEA chairs and raging HWC paranoia. Welcome to your "improved" Market Street.

Goodbye to the Fork in the Road, hello to "Mayor Jeff Gahan presents, "A Fork Amid the Sidewalk" -- and fork YOU if you don't obey.

A 2016 reprise: "High atop Summit Springs with friends (and relatives) in low places."

There's a bureaucratic fix scheduled for this evening. The action is necessary to keep the campaign finance spigot pouring gravy to those porcine troughs.

They're in it for the money: Team Gahan and its Plan Commission's cowardly and abject capitulation to the Kelleys and their Summit Springs development atrocity continues tonight.

We've all been here before, and so from June 9, 2016 ...


ON THE AVENUES: High atop Summit Springs with friends (and relatives) in low places.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.


But first …


My fellow New Albanians, as your legally elected mayor I’m committed to making New Albany a fundamentally better place to live.

Lately there has been controversy about a development project called Summit Springs – retail, offices, living space and a hotel. It’s an unusually complicated situation, but I believe this development will contribute to the improvement of the city, and so I’m going to explain it to you.

In zoning-speak, Summit Springs is a Planned Unit Development (PUDD). It originated many years ago and was approved, according to the planning and zoning rules in effect at the time.

Then there were delays, and in the city’s view, the property’s owners (the Kelleys) lost the plot. The city felt they needed to seek approval a second time, owing to changed circumstances. They disagreed. This led to them filing a lawsuit against the city, and eventually, the judge ruled against us, making their development inevitable.

Precisely because there are valid concerns about the hilltop site for the second phase of Summit Springs, I decided as mayor that the city would be better off actively participating in the refashioned development project, rather than standing aside and doing nothing.

In my view, by virtue of partnering with the property owners and their development company, the city could more effectively enforce the terms stipulated by the PUDD. Moreover, with the city constructing the necessary access road, we could tie Summit Springs to State Street’s existing grid in a comprehensive way, ensuring traffic would be better controlled on this already busy thoroughfare.

This decision to create a “public-private partnership” was mine, and mine alone. Whether you agree or disagree, know that the buck stops with me. I possess the ultimate authority, and my department heads follow a script that I write.

Having said this, I also take full responsibility for a few missteps along the way.

Had the city won the lawsuit, the ultimate development plan may have turned out differently, but in case we lost, we needed to have a contingency plan of our own.

This is why it appears to some of you that we were spending money to fight the developer even as we were preparing for the possibility of joining the development. Actually, what we were doing was being prepared.

Consequently, it has been suggested that the city’s economic development director may have been overly zealous in taking part in preliminary discussions with the development company hired to build Summit Springs – before the lawsuit was resolved, and in conjunction with the development company’s owner, who happens to be the economic development director’s brother-in-law.

It was a mistake for me to ignore the conceivable conflicts of interest in this situation, and while I honestly believe there was no impropriety, it’s certainly true that appearances matter.

Furthermore, I’ve come to see that nepotism is a potentially serious matter, and as such, I’ll be appointing an independent board of review to examine all such cases in my administration, regardless of where this body’s investigation leads. The run-up Summit Springs will be included in this process.

Now, back to Summit Springs. The bottom line is that while our city council is justified in revisiting its planning and zooming ordinances so as to account for future developments, and should do so expeditiously, it cannot retroactively change the rules for Summit Springs.

I’ve met with the families on Fawcett Hill Road, and their two major requests – to keep their road from becoming a through-way, and to increase the depth of the green buffer between their homes and the Summit Springs development – are both reasonable and do-able.

Because the city is partnering with the Kelleys on Summit Springs, I like my chances of ensuring these requests are honored. I’ll see to it that they are, and that’s a promise. We’ll get it right.

Finally, not only are we obligated to follow the law with regard to the Summit Springs PUDD, and to safeguard those nearby residents of Fawcett Hill, but we must be mindful of our ongoing, city-wide difficulties with stormwater runoff. We’ve been doing our best, but we simply must do better.

It’s past time for a comprehensive, updated storm water master plan, and it will begin at Summit Springs. Ultimately, this revised master plan will include the usual proven engineering solutions as well as innovative “green” incentives for homeowners and businesses to do their little bit in restoring hydrological equilibrium to the city of New Albany.

Thanks for your time. I’m confident that the key to future success with projects like Summit Springs is a fundamental enhancement of communications with the public, because after all, your tax dollars are at stake. Call or e-mail me any time.


NA Confidential Department of Egregious Fiction Disclaimer:

“Yet again, you’ve been reading the words Mayor Jeff Gahan has not said, and will not say. These words are unlikely to be uttered, ever. Try to forget them. If you can’t forget, drink harder.”


The Courier-Journal’s Lexy Gross provides an excellent overview of Summit Springs in the context of Monday’s city council meeting (See also: Tighter development restrictions sought in New Albany, by Jerod Clapp).

Locals ask council for help to fight N.A. project

Some residents were disappointed to learn Monday night that the New Albany City Council probably won't take action against a disputed development project, despite acknowledging that city officials and the developer potentially violated a 2008 city ordinance in the process.

"It’s so clear this is not proper procedure," said resident Aaron Hellems, who has continuously fought the so-called Summit Springs project. "It’s so clear that no one really wants to step up to the plate and do anything about it. They feel empathy and understand we’re in a difficult position, but when it comes to saying this is wrong and needs to be corrected, no one is willing to take it up."

The development in question -- located off State Street in New Albany -- was last approved by the city's plan commission and council eight years ago. The planned unit development district, or the PUDD, was delayed because of economic conditions at the time, according to the city's counsel, Shane Gibson.

At some point early on, the city agreed it would pay for an extension of Daisy Lane, forming a public-private partnership with the developer ...

It was left to Dan Coffey to astutely quiz the 800-lb gorilla.

"When did we go from being in a lawsuit against (the Kelleys) to being a partner with them?" Coffey asked Gibson Monday.

Gibson, who as corporate counsel for the city has been privy to the location of so many dead bodies that he probably knows the mayor’s gym locker combination, simply ignored Coffey’s query.

Scott Blair noticed, and promptly followed up, asking Gibson this question a second time, and the attorney quickly copped a plea.

He said he didn’t know.

Well, of course he didn’t. No one in the city knew, either.

In March, no one knew that Summit Springs was about to rise from the dead. No one knew that when it did, the city already had executed a deft 180-degree turn, ditched a three-year lawsuit faster than a used condom, and claimed a piece of the action, boastfully deploying that most exhausted of bromides, “public-private partnership,” to explain the turnabout.

In a city where 25% of the inhabitants live beneath the poverty line, no one knew how important is was for us to have a high-end hotel property clinging to the side of a geological questionable hillside, with an exhilarating view of Louisville for those well-appointed visitors in town to see friends who’ve taken up residence at the “luxury” balsa bocce hutches known as Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats.

But everyone knew, at least once the clearcutting began on the hillside, owing to statutory pre-emptive bat breeding regulations understood by so few public officials that John Rosenbarger came close to unceremoniously botching them within the confines of his Ohio River Greenway fiefdom, before rushing chainsaws at the last possible moment to further denude a constantly eroding riverbank.

By then, the full frontal Summit Springs slope already had been timbered, and when the inevitable questions started being asked, Scott Wood stepped forward to take responsibility. On Monday, Gibson again stated that Wood acted alone, entirely removed from City Hall’s oversight.

You’ll recall Richard Nixon saying the same about the Watergate break-in.

It’s a surprise that Wood wasn’t fired –not because he approved a clear-cut explicitly prohibited by the PUDD in question, but because by doing so, his boss’s public-private cat was loosened from its restraining bag, and the city was forced to come forward with its hackneyed “another heroic Gahan victory for God and country” press release before the errors in spelling and syntax had been corrected by the third floor’s cleaning lady.

Coffey’s question again: "When did we go from being in a lawsuit against (the Kelleys) to being a partner with them?"


For how long a period was the city spending money to contest the development it subsequently joined, while at the same time spending money to plan the exact terms of its participation?

Until we know the answer, there is an ongoing and perfectly legitimate question about conflicts of interest, even if wasn’t obvious at first.

The city’s economic development director is David Duggins. His sister is married to Paul Wheatley, chosen by the Kelleys to develop their land. Duggins’ preferred model of old school, back slapping, golf course visiting, strip club patronizing, hundred dollar handshake “economic development” (with taxpayer expense account) is tailor-made for just this sort of abuse – as is Gahan’s refusal to learn the meaning of the word “nepotism.”

However, one thing is clear. A City Hall constantly prattling about its prowess in public-private partnerships should be able to guarantee implementation of the Fawcett Hill Accords.

By doing so, Jeff Gahan would at least spare these ignored residents the financial burden of engaging attorneys and waging a war of legal attrition, which is their only choice at present.


When I told this story to a local political old-timer and asked for his reaction, here is what he said.

“John Gonder lives up on Fawcett Hill Road, right?”


I’d like a double for two nights at the Vindictive Suites by B. J. Sheraton, please. Check in is at 4? That’s perfect. I have bocce at 6, followed by mocktails on the River Run mezzanine.

Can you call me a cab?

Say what?

That’s okay.

I’ll just beam myself up.

They're in it for the money: Team Gahan and its Plan Commission's cowardly and abject capitulation to the Kelleys and their Summit Springs development atrocity continues tonight.

As we've noted previously, Summit Springs would not be possible without taxpayer subsidies for its infrastructure.

Plan Commission to consider phase two of the Summit Springs Kelley Enrichment cluster muck development atrocity.

That's because it is a development that shouldn't happen in the first place.

The city opposed Summit Springs until Dear Leader reasoned that kickbacks from those entities benefiting from the development's approval far outweighs assurances given to neighbors or environmental consequences.

Consequently, the greed-driven monetization of Summit Springs proceeds apace, and the spoils stand to be divvied like they always are, because at present, in Year Seven of Bubonic Gahanism, there's little justice on tap in New Albany.

But there's lots and lots of money.

In future years, Summit Springs will become symbol of greed and corruption, forever inseparable from Jeff Gahan and those sycophantic fat cats, vendors and contractors feeding him scented grapes while stuffing their pockets as the mayor is fanned with palm fronds, lounging on the royal chaise lounge.

Too bad about Scott Wood. Then again, in a former age when integrity still mattered, he'd have resigned in principle long ago over Gahan's Summit cash flip. Integrity, trees, ethics -- in Clear Cut City, they all form perfect, orderly queues to await the chainsaw's ritualistic hum. 

Phase 2 of Summit Springs appearing before New Albany Plan Commission Tuesday, by Danielle Grady (Best Loved Tom May Columns Dot Com)

NEW ALBANY — Phase two of the 60-acre plus Summit Springs development will go before the New Albany Plan Commission Tuesday night for preliminary approval.

The fix appears to be cemented tightly into place.

A New Albany planning and zoning staff report gives the plan commission assurance that they can favorably recommend the PUDD to the New Albany City Council, which will also be voting on the rezoning.

Of course, the Kelleys -- a local synonym for avarice -- have already helpfully started the necessary process of deforestation. Money can't grow on trees, you know.

The plan commission meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the Assembly Room (Room 331) of the City-County Building at 311 Hauss Square.

Documents show that the Kelleys were sent a cease-and-desist letter in April from the city telling them to stop cutting down trees in the Summit Springs phase two area. In 2016, the city faced the wrath of neighbors when they cut trees from the hills before phase one of the PUDD was approved.

Monday, July 16, 2018

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Flint Michigan Tap Water? “Walt Disney knew what he was doing and I plan on making Lakeville the Walt Disney of beers.”

Conversation starters. Uh huh.

On the topic of buffoonery, excrement and world class douchebaggery, there's this. It may be the first time in my life that I feel sorry for Walt Disney.

Will beer names bring the right kind of attention to new Lakeville brewery?, by Mary Shown (South Bend Tribune)

LAKEVILLE -- Owners of a new brewery opening in Lakeville want their beer to do the talking for itself, but they also don’t mind starting deeper conversations through the names of their craft beers.

With titles including “Flint Michigan Tap Water,” “Black Beer Matters,” “White Guilt” and “Mass Graves,” Jon Duncan and Rodney Chlebek acknowledge the names are likely to create a reaction from people. But, according to Duncan, at least people will be talking about current issues.

“The way I look at it — with the “Flint Michigan Tap Water” — if you’re going to get mad about that beer name, you should focus your anger more toward the people that are letting that happen to Flint,” he said. “If I can bring some attention to that, whether it be negative attention toward me, it still brings attention to that issue ...”

But Ms. Duncan, when will the News and Tribune begin to "speak out" on relevant local issues and "challenge" local leaders?

Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The newspaper manages the first half of the equation, but seldom the second.

Editor, heal thyself.

DUNCAN: The meat matters, by Susan Duncan (Tom May's Soapbox)

Silence is complicity — no matter the realm.

Failing to speak up — about anything — indicates a level of acceptance.

As long as Jeff Gahan keeps spending taxpayer money on this ...

... will the newspaper ever "challenge" the mayor as those demonstrators did Mitch?

People who yelled at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he dined in Louisville last weekend — it happened twice at two different restaurants — had reached the point where they could no longer keep quiet.

People in leadership positions understand, or should realize, they will be challenged. Not everybody is going to agree; unanimous consensus is elusive.

Here's a friendly hint, editor. Follow the rivulets feeding Gahan's Money Machine.

You'll feel like yelling, all right.

Our civility today has been diminished, but not our civic responsibility. We should speak out. And circumstances sometimes demand we speak up at a decibel that reaches yelling.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dear local Democrats: It's been almost four years since you censored me on social media. Can I donate my way back to good graces?

Although on second thought, if I were to pursue elected office in 2019 as a (Social) Democrat, as opposed to a DemoDisneyDixiecrat, it's hard to imagine a better sales pitch than "Vote for the Man Adam Banned."

Still, if the central committee's apparatchiks are reading today, not to mention the imaginary "committee that manages the site," shouldn't there at least be an appeals process, or a sentence reduction procedure -- maybe a cash-stuffed envelope of an appeal for clemency to Big Daddy G?

I'd love to clear my name and get this dialogue back on track. Meanwhile, following is the fourth annual reprint of one of the most-read ON THE AVENUES columns in blog history from December 4, 2014.


ON THE AVENUES: The Adamite Chronicles: Have muzzle, will drivel.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.
― Hannah Arendt

One month ago, the Floyd County Democratic Party suffered an epochal beating in county (midterm) elections. In the aftermath of the electoral carnage, the party’s relatively youthful and web-savvy "reformist" core paused to take stock of future options. Surveying the rapidly shifting political terrain with a collective eye trained on the future, these characteristically near-sighted operatives took a bold and innovative step to reboot the tottering, leaky and spluttering local party machine.

They gazed into the mirror, and blocked me on the Democratic Party’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

On that very day, as the untrammeled heavy truck traffic thundered past my Spring Street residence on a one-way arterial street the very existence of which contradicts the party’s incessant claims to care about topics like revitalization, quality of life, public safety and other nagging reminders of its perennial impotence, I conducted my own survey of the political landscape … threw back my head … and laughed, loud and long.

Surely this bit of childishness represents the acme, the pinnacle -- the very highlight -- of my career as a pestiferous gadfly.

I haven’t stopped laughing since then. At precisely this pivotal moment of inexorably changing mathematics, when the Floyd County Democratic Party might have initiated an honest dialogue with its long-neglected left wing – as inhabited by genuine non-Dixiecratic Democrats and a formerly reliable but rapidly disillusioned cohort of left-leaning fellow travelers – for succor, it has chosen instead to espouse censorship and express its abiding hostility to ideas.

We hardly need Adam Dickey as chairman for that, do we? After all, while Ted Heavrin may be out of office, it isn’t like he’s dead or anything.


Granted, social media is only one aspect of the local political scene, but censoring Facebook and Twitter suggests delicious irony given the party’s recent giddiness over its generational shift. Instead, it’s “meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” though arguably worse. The upper echelons of the party, as seamlessly interwoven with its last, fading bastions of strength in City Hall, now openly offers themselves to the world as New Albany’s native version of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

In the movie, (Robert) De Niro plays Mario Trantino, an Italian bicycle racer that gets involved in a Brooklyn gang war. Kid Sally Palumbo (Jerry Orbach) operates his gang under the auspices of mob boss Baccala (Lionel Stander). Trying to get out from under the boss' thumb means killing Baccala, but Kid Sally's gang proves unequal to the task and backfiring schemes make funerals an everyday occurrence. When Kid Sally's sister (Leigh Taylor-Young) starts dating Mario, who is then in the middle of pulling a scam on Baccala, Kid Sally sees his chance at last.

However, even an inept, cartoonish mafia is by no means the best comparison. Rather, what we have here is a willful failure to communicate, as embraced by functionaries who see their bland bureaucratic banality as a symbol of new age organizational prowess.

Here, reprinted in its excruciatingly mundane entirety, is my correspondence with Adam.

I'm going to ask you a direct question: Is the Floyd County Democratic Party acting to censor me on social media, and if so, what is the reason for it? I will publish the answer or non-answer at the blog no one reads. Thanks.

Roger, thank you for your inquiry. FCDP encourages public activism as part of the Democratic process and strongly supports an individual's first amendment rights to express their political viewpoint.

In regard to the administration of our social media sites, we invite thoughtful, respectful and constructive dialogue on those sites. We strive to manage a positive online space where individuals can feel free to express themselves. Accordingly, when we created the social media sites, we also established a social media policy. For reference, that policy is posted on our Facebook site under "Notes."

FCDP Social Media Policy

Floyd County Democratic Party – Indiana invites thoughtful, respectful and constructive dialogue on our Facebook page. We strive to manage a positive online space where our constituents can feel free to express themselves. We understand that some conversations around articles, blog posts, events, videos, organizational initiatives and other content on this page or linked to this page can create strong opinions which can lead to debates and passionate responses.

For that reason, when comments or posts descend into derogatory remarks, personal attacks, inappropriate content or confusing streams of irrelevant content, we reserve the right to remove comments on our pages and potentially move the conversations offline (either onto e-mail or discussions via phone). We want to see your comments and posts that:

  • Are "on topic" and that respond to the content in our posts
  • Are responses to comments left by other readers
  • Are reasonably brief and to the point
  • Have a positive/constructive tone
  • Are open to being contradicted by other readers
  • Might disagree with the content in the article or post, but never insult the writer of the article or blog post, or other commenters

We will immediately delete, without notice, comments and posts, that:

  • Are unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, or contain racially, ethnically or similarly objectionable content
  • Are personal attacks, including name-calling or celebrations of another person's misfortune
  • Are injurious to the reputations or privacy of the Floyd County Democratic Party’s officers, volunteers, candidates and elected officials
  • Are false statements or unrelated to the Floyd County Democratic Party’s programs and mission
  • Contain advertising or spam
  • Are incomprehensible or do not contribute to reasonable dialogue
  • Are disruptive, including personal conversations better suited for private messaging
  • Violate any of Facebook's Terms of Use and Code of Conduct

Violations of Floyd County Democratic Party – Indiana’s Facebook community rules will cause a commenter to be blocked from making future posts or comments on the Facebook page.

I hope this addresses your concern. Thank you again for your inquiry. Please let me know if you have trouble accessing the social media policy.

Impressive. Can you clarify the human element of the policy, i.e., has it been applied by committee, or is there a sole social media arbiter?

There is a committee that manages the site.

Final question: Can you specify my offense? Thanks.

The decision was reflective on a pattern of violations that covered most of the examples listed under the second set of bullets.


It matters little whether the terms of use comprise cribbed boilerplate, or were written by the “committee” itself, although when I inquired of another party insider, the reply I received speaks volumes:

There isn't a social media committee.

Damn. Mr. Disney really has it in for me, eh?


Following the midterm election, William Greider appraised the Democratic Party as a whole, nationwide.

How the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul, by William Greider (The Nation)

... The tattered authenticity of the party matters more now because both the country and the world face dangers and disorders that demand a fundamental reordering of the global economic system. This requires bold action, at a time when neither party is confronting the threatening situation. The Republicans are a wholly owned subsidiary of the business-finance machine; the Democrats are rented.

What we need is a rump formation of dissenters who will break free of the Democratic Party’s confines and set a new agenda that will build the good society rather than feed bloated wealth, disloyal corporations and absurd foreign wars. This is the politics the country needs: purposeful insurrection inside and outside party bounds, and a willingness to disrupt the regular order. And we need it now, to inject reality into the postelection spin war within the party.

I’ve been a fellow traveler for a very long time, always examining the bill of ballot fare as presented by both local political parties. With a recurring feeling of nausea, I’ve held my nose and voted mostly Democratic. Occasionally I’ve expressed active support for a Democratic aspirant, and almost without exception, the outcome has been disgust, disappointment, self-flagellation and yet another evening of commode hugging.

No more.

I cannot and will not support censors, and you should not, either.

Censorship as practiced by the likes of Chairman Adam plainly reveals a fundamental intolerance, and it intolerance is the local goal, I might as well follow the sage advice of Abraham Lincoln and opt for the unalloyed variety as practiced by the Republicans.

Or, conversely, we all might choose to approach politics in New Albany as principled, progressive independents, because in the end, it isn’t the word “progressive” that sets us apart from this planet’s petty Chairman Adams -- although our local Dixiecratic backsliders most assuredly are not progressive in any remotely coherent sense.

Rather, it’s the word “principled.”

Censors aren’t.

That ugly word again: Plan Commission to consider "luxury" car sales at HyperCars on 13th and Spring.

Better or worse than a neighborhood crematorium?

Oh, dear.

I was surprised to see this one on the Plan Commission agenda.

Public Meeting Item(s):

Docket B-36-18: HyperCars LLC requests a Special Exception to permit luxury auto sales in the C-1b, Local Business district at 1212 E. Spring Street.

It's funny what sort of precedents comes bubbling up from Google searches. This one's from Las Vegas, 18 years ago.

An informal group of citizens on the western reaches of Sahara Avenue is mobilizing to fight another battle against used-car lots in the neighborhood.

Twice the group has defeated proposals and zoning amendments for 10-acre used-car lots along Sahara that would have held hundreds of cars. Now they are fighting a smaller proposal for a seven-car used-car dealership at the corner of Sahara and Belcastro Street.

The would-be dealership, Total Eclipse, is currently a small window-tinting and auto-detailing shop.

More recently over in Jeffersonville, the city council declared a moratorium on gas stations, which are about as car-centric as it gets.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Jeffersonville leaders have put a city-wide hold on new gas stations.

“We don't want to be a city of gas stations,” Councilman Ed Zastawny said.

Council recently enacted a six-month moratorium on new gas station development permits.

“With all the development in Jeffersonville, we found that a bunch of gas stations wanted to come to the same corners," Zastawny said. "And we thought that's a problem."

This next one is from Warren, Michigan in 2015. The counties of Oakland and Macomb are part of Detroit metro, north of the city center -- and Detroit's the veritable Mecca of car-centrism.

Warren Mayor Fouts to veto approval of used car lots, by Norb Franz (Daily Tribune)

Reiterating his concern that Warren will be dubbed “used car lot city,” Mayor James Fouts said Monday he will veto the City Council’s unanimous approval of another used car sales lot and the expansion of a second one ...

... on Eight Mile at Albany Avenue, Majed Marogi purchased vacant parcels and buildings next to his existing Julian Auto Sales and proposed to expand the size of his sales lot by tearing down empty buildings and installing wrought iron fencing.

“It’s going to be such an improvement,” Mallet said.

“It’s exciting to see business come to that area of the city,” Councilwoman Kelly Colegio said.

The wrong type of business, according to Fouts.

“Even if this was going to be a stellar used car lot that everyone is proud of … it’s still a used car lot and sends the wrong message,” he said.

Along East Spring Street amid the acreage comprising the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association (ESNA), a used car lot has been located on the northeast corner of 15th for quite a while.

Just a few months ago, an auto repair business appeared on the southwest corner of 15th and Spring, next to the body shop that's been operating there for decades.

Now the owner of HyperCars, a newly minted auto detailing shop in the former ServPro building on the southwest corner of Spring and 13th, wants to sell "luxury" used cars.

This recurring word, "luxury." But like Mayor Fouts up in Warren said, "it's still a used car lot."

I looked all over New Albany's zoning code and found no reference to "luxury" anything. The C-1b zoning classification refers to a "local" business, and it references the stipulations of C-1a, which seems to be describing small neighborhood retail shops, not car sales, hence the special exception being sought.

I'm the first to admit that the owner of HyperCars has improved the appearance of the building, and you've got to hand it to him for keeping up with current events in New Albany, and grasping City Hall's fetish for "luxury" over all other modifiers, whether applicable to products and services or the human condition itself.

I find it annoying for other, more sadly comprehensive reasons.

When I finally was allowed to attend an ESNA meeting recently and the question of used car sales at HyperCars was raised, the association's Greg Roberts said there'd be none.

Yesterday I asked Greg for a clarification, and he offered this revision: it seems the neighborhood elders have been monitoring the situation, and they knew all along that HyperCars someday would seek to park no more than seven cars at a time on the lot for sale, but no one thought the business actually would pursue an exception this quickly, and learned of it only when the Plan Commission mailing arrived.

That's poor communication on several levels.

The larger irony of yet another used car lot on Spring Street in a residential neighborhood is that when internationally renowned expert Jeff Speck wrote a street grid plan for New Albany, it was significant precisely because it showed how we could begin transforming downtown into a walking, bicycling kind of place.

Then Mayor Jeff Gahan, whose fundamental car-centrism no longer is a topic for debate, blithely stripped Speck's plan of nearly all its usefulness for walking and biking, declared war on street trees, loudly announced victory, and voila -- traffic's barely slowed, the pedestrian crossing signals are a joke worthy of late-night television monologues, almost all of Speck's proposed bicycle infrastructure was deposited on the cutting room floor, and now there's to be an automobile-related business coming to every vacant commercial space on Spring Street.

Combine the purely intentional street grid regression with the Plan Commission's concurrent consideration this week of the peak car-centric Summit Springs Raised Middle Finger, Phase Two ...

Plan Commission to consider phase two of the Summit Springs Kelley Enrichment cluster muck development atrocity.

... and one has no choice except to confirm the wisdom of my high school baseball coach, who turned to us after a botched play and said, "He could fuck up a wet dream."

Yes, indeed. Jeff Gahan's very adept at that.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: "Light Beer? Not Here," and other Public House beer list views from 1998.

Earlier this week, I hesitantly delved into the archives for a look at the (in)famous Public House beer binder.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Recalling "Love on the Beach" and taking note of changing times.

BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: On beer lists, beer-speak, and beer geeksplaining.

The views that follow are from the beer list in early 1998, pre-binder. Note the scribbling in the margins. Like a collection of demos shaped only gradually into a song, they chart the relentless evolution toward the fondly recalled three-ring presentation.

The first real desktop computer we had probably came along in 1996. It cost somewhere around $3,500, possessed all the requisite bells and whistles, and wouldn't be able to power a solitary Facebook memory today without flashing "tilt."

I dimly recall someone loading Microsoft Publisher on the new computer. Probably none of these beer lists would have happened had I been restricted to the embryonic word processing capability we had before the pricey computer purchase.

Looking back, it isn't clear where I found the time to write these surprisingly detailed beer lists, although it's worth noting that until 2001 or 2002, there also was a monthly edition of Walking the Dog (the newsletter of FOSSILS) to write, print, collate, staple, stamp and mail.

Someday I'll rediscover them, too.

The actual number of bottled beers on the list in early 1998 was 150 or so, with perhaps seven draft lines.

At times I wonder what would have happened had we not chosen to pursue brewing on premise, and stuck with the "good beer bar" motif without our own house beers as part of the mix -- and the investment.

Consequently, what strikes me about viewing these 20-year-old beer lists is the relative absence of American craft beer. Of course, we didn't refer to it as "craft" back then.

These microbrews were just beginning to trickle into range, often sporadically. There was a big dip when the brewery bubble burst at the end of the decade, and as we know, it was only a prelude to the current tsunami.

Crazy days, indeed, and I suppose I'm lucky to have survived to tell the tale, although it would be nice to be able to remember a little more of it.

"Why Marx’s Capital Still Matters."

David Harvey's answers at Jacobin are clear and concise. Readers are urged to read the entire interview. It's very rewarding.

Why Marx’s Capital Still Matters
, interview by Daniel Denvir (Jacobin)

David Harvey on why Karl Marx's Capital is still the defining guide to understanding — and overcoming — the horrors of capitalism.

It’s been more than a century and a half since Karl Marx published the first volume of Capital. It’s a massive, intimidating tome — one that many readers might be tempted to skip. Radical scholar David Harvey doesn’t think you should.

Harvey has taught Capital for decades. His popular courses on the book’s three volumes are available for free online and have been watched by millions around the world; they were the basis for his companion books to volumes one and two. Harvey’s latest book, Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason is a shorter companion to all three volumes. In it, he deals with the fundamental irrationality of a capitalist system whose functioning is supposed to be anything but.

Harvey spoke with Daniel Denvir for Jacobin Radio’s podcast The Dig, about the book, capital’s simultaneous creative and destructive forces, climate change, and why Capital is still worth wrestling with.

Here are three excerpts, beginning with "bad infinity."

One reason that it’s important is that we need it to understand this dynamic of constant expansion that drives capitalism — what you call a “bad infinity,” citing Hegel. Explain what this “bad infinity” is.

You get this idea of a “bad infinity” in volume one. The system has to expand because it’s always about profit, about creating what Marx called a “surplus value,” and the surplus value then gets reinvested in the creation of more surplus value. So capital is about constant expansion.

And what that does is this: if you grow at 3 percent a year, forever, then you get to the point where the amount of expansion required is absolutely huge. In Marx’s time, there’s plenty of space in the world to expand into, whereas right now we’re talking about 3 percent compounding rate of growth on everything that’s happening in China and South Asia and Latin America. The problem arises: where are you going to expand into? That’s the bad infinity coming into being.

In volume three, Marx says maybe the only way it can expand is by monetary expansion. Because with money there’s no limit. If we’re talking about using cement or something like that, there’s a physical limit to how much you can produce. But with money, you can just add zeroes to the global money supply.

If you look at what we did after the 2008 crisis, we added zeroes to the money supply by something called “quantitative easing.” That money then flowed back into stock markets, and then asset bubbles, especially in property markets. We’ve now got a strange situation where, in every metropolitan area of the world that I’ve visited, there’s a huge boom in construction and in property asset prices — all of which is being fueled by the fact that money is being created and it doesn’t know where to go, except into speculation and asset values.

Then, the "madness of economic reason."

It’s precisely that issue of credit that led you to borrow a phrase from Jacques Derrida, “the madness of economic reason.” Colloquially, madness and insanity are invoked to stigmatize or pathologize individuals with mental illness. But what Marx shows us, and what your book shows us, is that the system is actually insane.

The best measure of that is to look at what happens in a crisis. Capital produces crises periodically. One of the characteristics of a crisis is that you have surpluses of labor — people unemployed, not knowing how to make a living — at the same time you have surpluses of capital that don’t seem to be able to find a place to go to get an adequate rate of return. You have these two surpluses sitting side by side, in a situation where social need is chronic.

We need to put capital and labor together to actually create things. But you can’t do that, because what you want to create is not profitable, and if it’s not profitable then capital doesn’t do it. It goes on strike. So we end up with surplus capital and surplus labor, side by side. That is the height of irrationality.

We’re taught that the capitalist economic system is highly rational. But it’s not. It actually produces incredible irrationalities.

Finally, the amorality of capital.

You wrote in Jacobin recently that Marx broke with moralist socialists like Proudhon, Fourier, Saint-Simon, and Robert Owen. Who were these socialists, and why and how did Marx part from them?

In the early stages of capitalist development, there were obvious problems of conditions of labor. Reasonable people, including professionals and the bourgeoisie, started to look at this with horror. A sort of moral repugnance against industrialism developed. Many of the early socialists were moralists, in the good sense of that term, and expressed their outrage by saying, we can construct an alternative society, one based on communal wellbeing and social solidarities, and issues of that kind.

Marx looked at the situation and said actually, the problem with capital is not that it’s immoral. The problem with capital is that it’s almost amoral. To try to confront it with moral reason is never going to get very far, because the system is self-generating and self-reproducing. We’ve got to deal with that self-reproduction of the system.

Marx took a much more scientific view of capital and said, now we actually need to replace the whole system. It’s not just a matter of cleaning up the factories — we’ve got to deal with capital.

The financial and tariff barriers embodied by Ohio River toll bridges, and more dull silence from the oligarch fluffers.

If you're surprised by these statistics, let's have coffee. I have bridge futures to sell you.

Ohio River crossings fall after start of bridge tolls, study shows

Traffic has soared by 75 percent on the region’s oldest bridge, the Clark Memorial, since drivers started paying to cross the river.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – New bridges. Billions of dollars spent. Years of construction.

So far: Less traffic across the Ohio River.

Fewer vehicles are crossing between Kentucky and Indiana since tolls were added to bridges between Louisville and Clark County, Ind., according to a preliminary report obtained by WDRB News.

The two state governments have not publicly released the study, a requirement of the Ohio River Bridges Project. But the draft version provides a first look at how drivers are responding to paying $2.05 to $12.30 to cross the river.

The traffic counts indicate that drivers apparently seeking to avoid tolls are flocking to the region’s oldest span – the 1920s-era Clark Memorial Bridge – in greater numbers than previously envisioned.

Unfortunately, the bridge in question is ours. A little more than two years from now, it's going to be closed for a lengthy period.

I-64 Sherman Minton Bridge

The Sherman Minton, which connects Louisville and New Albany, Ind., carried 90,000 vehicles in 2018, a 23 percent climb from 2013. It is the only toll-free interstate bridge in the Louisville area.

Indiana is planning an $80 million upgrade on the Minton in 2021, making structural repairs and doing other work meant to make the 56-year-old bridge safer. The span is expected to close for months.

In June, the Minton was reduced to one lane after a hole in the road surface opened and forced emergency repairs. The Indiana Department of Transportation has yet to fulfill a WDRB News public records request, submitted June 18, for the bridge’s recent inspection records.

In fact, I've nothing bad to say about Deaf Gahan in this regard. Granted, Gahan hasn't said the first word publicly about contingencies and coping mechanisms for 2021, but it probably won't matter because he won't be mayor any longer.


But it's important that someone begin thinking about this, and the Sherman Minton's 2021 repair closure absolutely has to be a campaign issue for mayoral and city council candidates in 2019 -- and since it's going to be equally important for every resident of Floyd County, cooperation between arms of government must be part of the coping equation.

Meanwhile, the oligarchs seem to be choking on the fruit of their megalomania.

The metro area’s chambers of commerce – Greater Louisville Inc. and One Southern Indiana – backed the project and were members of The Bridges Coalition, a collection of business, labor and government groups that lobbied for the work.

Greater Louisville Inc. hasn't reviewed the study or discussed the current traffic patterns with transportation experts, Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, the chamber's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

"That said, we do believe that the construction of the two new bridges and the rebuild of the downtown interchange has provided new opportunities for economic growth and commerce on both sides of the river," she said.

Speaking of pure evasion, 1Si stares at the ceiling. Are any arts or humanities majors available to interpret Dant Chesser's intentional omissions?

Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of One Southern Indiana, noted in an email that the report doesn’t provide any insight into economic growth and declined to comment in detail.

Ah, but the guy from Ogle gets it.

Kent Lanum, President and CEO of the Jeffersonville, Ind.-based Ogle Foundation, also said the study doesn’t explain what is contributing to the reduced traffic, but it raises concerns nonetheless.

“What was once a cultural and historical barrier for our region to kind of get across between Southern Indiana and Kentucky is now more of a financial and tariff barrier,” he said. “And people are acting with their pocketbooks.”