Saturday, July 23, 2016

Council frivolity, slice of the second part: "Gahan Cares More About Concrete Than People."



Thanks to Mr. B for these photos.

John Rosenbarger sat at his desk. Outside his door, the clamor of the peasantry could be heard amid the clatter of pitchforks.

He spat, then threw back his last shot of fiery sarsaparilla.

“The grandeur of my physique, the complexity of my worldview, the decency and taste implicit in my carriage, the grace with which I function in the mire of today’s world – all of these at once confuse and astound the buffoons at Mt. Tabor and Klerner Lane."

Rosenbarger gazed at his reflection in the framed portrait of Robert Moses.

"But Jeffie's got my back, bro."

New Albany residents concerned road construction will lead to more flooding; Council passes resolution to support NAFC Schools referendum

NEW ALBANY — Residents in neighborhoods near Silver Slate Creek have concerns that upcoming road construction will make flooding issues much worse.

Nearly 20 New Albany residents turned out at the New Albany City Council meeting Thursday to voice their concerns over a project that will widen Mount Tabor Road. New storm grates would mean drainage would go directly into the creek in the residential area.

Harvey Hamilton, who lives on Creek View Circle just in front of the creek, said he's been there 34 years and only started seeing issues four to five years ago.

“Silver Slate Creek starts right behind our house,” he said. “There's about a six or eight-foot pipe there that dumps where the creek starts. Now we've had five trees that have lost roots and washed across the creek. The cable people and the electric people moved their boxes up on the street.

“We're losing ground and losing trees. We appreciate anything you can do for us.”

For one resident, Team Gahan's congenital secretiveness has made the problem worse.

“It was my knowledge that plans for such projects have to be public, located somewhere within the county building where people who were affected could come and take a look at them and to my knowledge these people have said they've had trouble locating said plans."

6th district councilman Scott Blair, who helped the neighborhood slay the nasty Rosenbarger Roundabout back in '13, assured his constituents that he'd sponsor an openness resolution in council -- though he'll need to consult his Mutable Principles Book to see whether he can vote in favor of his own idea.

(Blair) wants to initiate a public meeting with the project engineers to keep the people updated on any changes that have been made and to refresh anyone's memory on the project that was initiated three years ago.

Bankers; you can't trust 'em, and even North Korea won't take 'em off your hands.

Unsurprisingly, the CoffeyCopperHead did not hesitate to strike: That hi-falootin' wee-fee dunnit.

“I still go back to $600,000 for WiFi for downtown. How far would that go to help this problem and that only goes to benefit very few people.”

Yes, "them people" again.

The summary:

The roundabout was removed from the plan in 2013, and the sidewalks are needed, but not unless the overall intent is narrowing lane widths and slowing traffic. These people rightly fear that road "improvements" will attract further traffic and make their drainage issues even worse. It's hard to argue against this point of view, but Jeff Gahan -- perhaps NA's least communicative mayor ever -- doesn't even try.

Hence the signs, and the pitchforks. If only we'd start using the latter.

Zygmunt Bauman on liquid fear.

We are walking as if on a minefield. We are aware that the field is full of explosives, but we can't tell where there will be an explosion and when. There are no solid structures around us on which we can rely, in which we can invest our hopes and expectations. Even the most powerful governments, very often, cannot deliver on their promise. They don't have enough power to do so.
-- Zygmunt Bauman, philosopher

The answer is negotiating these fears ... and fear seemingly precludes any interest in negotiating.

In other words, welcome to Facebook's towering silos.

Zygmunt Bauman: Behind the world's 'crisis of humanity' (Al Jazeera)

Polish philosopher Zygmunt Bauman frames the upheaval across the globe as symptomatic of the diffusion of fear ...

 ... "Liquid fear," Bauman explains, "means fear flowing on our own court, not staying in one place but diffuse. And the trouble with liquid fear, unlike the concrete specific danger which you know and are familiar with is that you don't know where from it will strike.

Thanks to Professor Vessels for the link.

R.I.P. Bob Youngblood, 1943 - 2016.

For those who didn't know Bob, he was a teacher at Floyd Central for more than 30 years. Speaking personally, he had a tremendous impact on my life.

Bob died yesterday after suffering a brain aneurysm earlier in the week, and to be perfectly honest, it's a bit much for me at the moment.

Words don't often fail me, but this is different. When they return, I'll write more, and also update this space when funeral arrangements are announced.




Council frivolity, slice number one: The council makes mad passionate love to a "referendumn."


Pretty soon the Jeffersonville paper will be reduced to hiring temps to cover New Albany news. Does Bill "Publisher of the Year for Profits" Hanson really believe ten months of neglect doesn't show on a daily basis?

It isn't that this week's revolving replacement reporter fails to note the highlights of the city council meeting on Thursday evening, which I couldn't attend owing to this being my family reunion weekend.

Rather, it is this: The primary reason for having a beat reporter in the first place is to allow the reporter time to contextualize, and to extract the important bits from the bilge.

However, it's all we have, so we'll use what we can. First, the council's embrace of the school corporation's $87 million referendum.

New Albany residents concerned road construction will lead to more flooding; Council passes resolution to support NAFC Schools referendum.

RESOLUTION FOR REFERENDUMN PASSES

The council voted 8-0 in favor of supporting the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools referendum, with Coffey abstaining.

He cited concerns with the city taking schools out of neighborhoods, where parents can be involved, and leaders worrying too much about school buildings over students and teachers.

“Let's get back to the basics,” he said. “Quit worrying about buildings and worry about (teaching the children).”

Other council members spoke on the merits of having nice school facilities — it can be a greater learning environment and bring students back to their hometown to raise families if the amenities are good.

Councilman Greg Phipps also brought up that newer or upgraded facilities can more easily and safely be locked down in an active shooter situation.

(Alternative spelling of "referendum" is the paper's, not mine.)

Passage of the resolution was a foregone conclusion, but the final score is interesting for three reasons:

1. Once again, Scott Blair somehow located a banker's top-secret special exception to oft-stated principle about the disposable meaningless of council resolutions, and voted in favor of this one. That't two in a row, Scott. When exceptions become the rule, they're no longer exceptions.

2. Once again, Dan Coffey repeatedly stated opposition to a measure, only to meekly abstain when the vote came down. We've seen this so many times over the years that it has ceased to be novel, even if it remains grimly fascinating, as though watching as 71-year-old Pete Townshend tries (and fails) to smash his guitar.

3. Did Greg Phipps really say this -- and if so, given his support for gun control, was it a facetious remark, the snark of which eluded the reporter?

I suspect it was. It's all about context, Bill. It genuinely matters to those of us who actually live here, as opposed to Alabama. Can we have our reporter back yet, or are you passing the savings along to yourself?

(In Part Two, Timosoara meets Klerner Lane)

Gahan's Odyssey: A flatbed trailer truck driver circles the world just to Break Wind.

He finally made it. 

Friday morning, I was walking west on Elm Street. Just steps away from Pearl Street, my ears registered the roar of an approaching heavy truck on one-way Elm. Glancing over, I saw a long flatbed trailer loaded with stacks of wood marked "4th Floor."

Having observed the ongoing construction of the Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats, I reasoned the lumber was headed there, thought nothing more, and continued walking.

Now strolling south on one-way Pearl Street, I crossed one-way Spring Street, then went east on one-way Market Street, pausing only briefly to greet the morning denizens of the Art Store. At 3rd Street, I bore left and north, which brought me to one-way Spring, a right turn, and the final eastward segment of my walk, back to the house.

As I crossed 4th Street walking east, my ears registered the roar of an approaching heavy truck, on one-way Spring coming toward me, roughly adjacent to Destinations Booksellers.

That's right: A long flatbed trailer loaded with stacks of wood marked "4th Floor."

From the time I'd seen the truck it at Elm and Pearl, just after the driver came off the interstate, perhaps 8 - 10 minutes had elapsed. Apparently he'd been compelled to travel far to the east on one-way Elm in order to double back on one-way Spring and reach his entry point at the Break Wind staging yard between 4th and 5th.

He would have even if Elm wasn't blocked at 5th.*

If it were a two-way street grid, he might have turned right from Elm onto 4th, then left on Spring, cutting quite a few blocks traveled from his trip.

The point to this digression has nothing to do with this particular truck and its epic journey to reach the first instance in the city's history of sewer tap-in waivers as incentive to a for-profit developer.

Rather, it's to illustrate the sheer wastefulness of our one-way street grid, because every single day -- not every now and then -- drivers must add distance to their journeye owing to one-way streets, when two-way streets would make so many of these journeys more direct, saving both fuel and time.

It's the sort of fact-based thought process you'd imagine resonating in the minds of supposedly rational community pillars, and that it does not do so tells us all we need to know about their crippling prejudices.

It isn't hard for me to imagine their reaction were they to read what I've written here.

You walked all that way? 

Why? 

Don't you have a car? 

Lynchburg, Virginia offers this useful overview of two-way street reconversion. Even a child of five would understand it, so can someone fetch a child of five?

Irv Stumler and Bob Caesar need assistance.



* Sentence reinserted. I think the analogy holds irrespective of the pit at 5th & Elm, but I should have made note of it.

Friday, July 22, 2016

WITHIN CITY LIMITS: Episode X, A Look Ahead to 2019.

WITHIN CITY LIMITS: Episode X, A Look Ahead to 2019.

By Nick Vaughn, Guest Columnist

My past few articles have been about national politics; ironically, outside of our city limits. I thought that it would be fitting that this week, I completely ignore the Republican National Convention, and take a look ahead to the City Election in 2019. I am going to throw out some way-too-early predictions, do some issue analysis, and even possibly make some endorsements.

Who will be running for Mayor?

The showdown for Mayor of New Albany will be a competitive one, I foresee. I will start off by saying that I do not think Jeff Gahan will be running for a third term (because he really shouldn’t be), three 4 year terms is slightly unprecedented, only one Mayor has served more than two consecutive terms.

C. Pralle Erni served from 1948­-1963, enough time to make any follower of Jeffersonian Democracy shiver. (By the way, I found this cool excerpt about Mayor Erni from a book by Gregg Seidl, which you can read here. Beware though, annexation is mentioned!) So, although there is precedent for Gahan to run for a third term, I do not think he will. He will have been much too busy running for State Senate the preceding year.

So who will be running for Mayor? Well, on the Republican side I think there are three obvious candidates who would be formidable in a Mayoral campaign. They are listed in likelihood of winning: Dr. Al Knable, Dave Barksdale, and Dave Aebersold. It should be noted that in the 2015 City Election, Dr. Knable received 3,403 and Mayor Gahan received 3,527. A great showing that I think proves the popularity of Dr. Knable in a citywide election. But don’t count out the Daves either. They received 3,365 (Barksdale) and 3,012 (Aebersold), respectively, enough to easily dispose of their Democrat opponents. Oh, and if you want to reminisce a bit about 2015, you can view the Summary Report here.

Each Republican Councilman has a lot to be excited about with regard to their vote totals and Mayoral aspirations (if they have any). The Democrats, not so much. While they hold a slight majority on the City Council, none of the Council Members really scream “I could win in a race for Mayor!” The obvious choice on the Democratic side based on office rank would be Pat McLaughlin, Council President, but that just makes me giggle.

Greg Phipps, to me, could make a decent run at it, but does he have the name ID outside of his safely Democratic District? And who runs for that seat if he decides to vacate it? It seems to me that each member on the Democratic side would create a domino effect by vacating their seat to run for Mayor. All that being said, the Mayor’s Office is ripe for the taking for Republicans.

What about the City Council?

Obviously, the big question mark is under what party, if any, does Dan Coffey run? In my opinion, I am not sure it really matters which party because I think it will be very hard to find a candidate to run against him ... again. As Dale Bagshaw would say: “That’s almost un-American to have someone run unopposed.” I agree Dale! Regardless, Coffey is a renegade and will be fighting his fights no matter what party.

Like the Mayor’s Office, the other City Council seats are ripe for the taking by Republicans. Last election showed that Republicans can win in the City, and Democrats should be scared. District 6, 5, 3, and 2 are the most likely to flip this time around. Not sure who will be running in those Districts, but I do know the key to winning for the Republicans. The silver bullet that will put each incumbent out of office (at least in those numbered Districts).

It is ... Two-­Way Streets.

For what will be 8 years in 2019, Greg Phipps has said that we will fight for Two­-Way Streets (where feasible); Scott Blair will abstain, I’m sure; and Bob Caesar hasn’t fought for them at all. This is why I think 2019 will be a Republican wave. Those that I named have been inactive on Two-­Way Streets, when some said they would act. Some don’t want them. Some just haven’t cared to mention anything about them.

If the Republican candidates rally around this issue and have a good message on other important issues like a transparent government, curbing poverty, and fiscal responsibility, I think that the 6th, 5th, 3rd, and 2nd Districts will flip Republican. To point out, Two­-Way Streets are something some Republican
candidates have supported in the 2015 election, most notably Dr. Knable, who could lead the party in rallying around a great platform that would prove successful in the fall.

Democrats, be scared. Republicans, be ready and able. New Albany, GET OUT AND VOTE! 2019 is right around the corner!

And as always, I leave you with the quote of the day:

“ ... there will be a giant sucking sound​going south.” (to Greg Fischer’s house ... ) ­ -- Ross Perot

The perfect news story for Trumping the Donald: "Ancient bottom wipers yield evidence of diseases carried along the Silk Road."


Make no mistake: Future archaeologists will have no interest whatever in your e-mail account. Your septic tank? That's another story entirely.

Ancient bottom wipers yield evidence of diseases carried along the Silk Road, by Maev Kennedy (The Guardian)

‘Personal hygiene sticks’ excavated from a 2,000-year-old latrine pit have preserved evidence of the transmission route for infectious diseases.

Well, if Team Gahan can use the pages from Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposal, then I've got my own go-to.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND (2014): "We have our own Big Four Bridge. They’re called Main, Market, Spring and Elm."

ON THE AVENUES: We have our own Big Four Bridge. They’re called Main, Market, Spring and Elm.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

It's family reunion time again, and with it my turn to host the gathering on what will be the hottest weekend of the year. We should consider moving the event to spring or fall, or else transfer it permanently to Baffin Island.

Earlier today, the absentee News and Tribune was harnessing both of its 2-horsepower of electronic media presence to push a pair of radically different pieces by Elizabeth Beilman, one a paean to sprawl (yay), the other a breathless preview of new restaurants (yay), with both united by a single municipal location: Jeffersonville, otherwise known as not as the City by the Bay, but the Burg By River Ridge.

I'm not bitter that Jeffersonville is the feature on days like this. Rather, it's another example of how much the newspaper has missed during its unexplained 10-month hiatus from reporting on all things New Albany.

However, the chain newspaper's characteristically non-contextual coverage dislodged a striking memory from almost exactly two years ago -- to be exact, it was July 17, 2014, when I explained in this very space how New Albany might steal a march on Jeffersonville.

We subsidized an Indianapolis builder instead, and shifted mucho dinero toward the Gahan re-election campaign's already bulging coffers. As Vonnegut presciently wrote, so it goes.

Except that I was right in 2014, and I remain right today. 

Of course, two years later, we do now have our own Big Four ... Burgers. It's fine, but all we've achieved to date would be better if streets worked for progress rather than against it.

---

July 17, 2014

If car ownership is mandatory, [the place is] not urban.
– Donald Baxter

Seeing as you’re entitled to my opinion, here it is.

I believe it serves as evidence of a lack of imagination (at best) and a latent inferiority complex (at the worst) when we focus on the occasional yearly highlight at the expense of everyday possibilities.

Take Harvest Homecoming.

Please, take it.

(rim shot)

Actually, today I have come neither to bury Harvest Homecoming, nor to praise it. Rather, I’d like for you to consider the primary operational conceit of Harvest Homecoming, and by this, I don’t mean the festival’s parade, or its elephant ear-fueled events, or even its Wal-Martesque target demographic.

What I mean is the most, basic, elemental aspect of Harvest Homecoming itself.

It occurs only once each year.

It is designed to be a temporary annual festival, and has been designed and planned accordingly. In short, everyday reality downtown is radically supplanted, and a template of temporary reality superimposed atop it.

This spring, when New Albany city officials began exploring the conceptual threads that led to Boomtown, their thinking was the same. It was to be a special event, perhaps repeated once each year in May, so as to contrast and bookend with Harvest Homecoming’s October hegemony.

Note that by drawing this very contrast, City Hall is implicitly conceding that Harvest Homecoming’s autumnal invasiveness downtown will continue to go unreformed, but that’s a different topic for another time. Simply know that Boomtown differs from Harvest Homecoming in one highly significant way, because while it is a one-off event, it actually showcases downtown rather than buries it.

---

We might take this “special event” notion a step further, and posit that this thinking in terms of one-off festivals and celebrations is a recurring feature of city government, now and in the past. For instance, there’s the Bicentennial Park concert series and the July 3 fireworks.

Develop New Albany organizes special events like the Jingle Walk and the now mercifully defunct Exclusively New Albany. NA First is planning its third annual Indie Fest. Churches have their summer picnics, and so on.

As a restaurant and brewery owner, we sometimes think in a similar way as these groups. There’s Gravity Head each year, and the brew crew spends most weekends during the warm weather months showcasing our wares at annual outdoor celebrations throughout Indiana and Kentucky (and one in Wisconsin). It’s always fun to do something different.

But the trick isn’t in the special events, although they require hard work and expertise to execute correctly. Rather, the objective for a food and drink business is to provide consistency on a daily basis, each and every time the door is unlocked and customers are invited inside. To do so, we try to institute a routine. If the routine is working as it should, you’ll get a clean glass each time you order a beer, even if the contents vary in style.

Throughout the year, customers come to us all the time when we’re not doing anything “special” – but they are. Maybe it’s a date night, someone’s birthday, a promotion or a graduation. They come to celebrate their world, in our place, by drinking our beer and eating our food. We provide a canvas, but our customers do the painting.

It’s what a city does, too. The special event planning only makes sense if the daily routine of infrastructure is maintained for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Admittedly these days utility monopolies do much of it, although City Hall has successfully reabsorbed the sewer department.

The city controls a cemetery and a system of public parks, features of which are usable throughout the year. It also possesses the street grid, which is the biggest single chunk of municipal property, and therein lies my larger point.

Since the Big Four Bridge opened and Jeffersonville became the new regional hottest ticket, I’ve heard many worried comments and witnessed an epidemic of hand-wringing. Can’t New Albany get a bridge, too? Can’t we stage more festivals, more special events, and more one-offs – you know, like Jeffersonville does?

Well, there won’t be a pedestrian bridge for New Albany unless we pry the K & I out of Norfolk Southern’s (preferably) cold, dead hands, and while we’re on the topic, do you know what is the most important facet of the Big Four Bridge?

It isn’t special at all.

---

The Big Four is open every day, and people use it every day. It isn’t open once a year, or once a month. It’s every day. As I write, metro Louisville residents are making the Big Four part of their daily arsenal of lifestyle and recreational choices. That’s all of it in a nutshell. Meanwhile, New Albany has the ideal means to steal a march not just on Jeffersonville, but on the remainder of the metropolitan area, by thinking about what makes the Big Four “special” on a daily basis … just without an actual bridge.

With our streets.

We have a street study coming from the nationally renowned Jeff Speck, who (believe it or not) knows even more about such matters than Bob Caesar, and when Speck’s study is finished, we must embrace walkability and embark upon a progressive, rapid, no-compromises program of traffic calming, complete streets and two-way street conversions.

By doing so, and by staking a claim to being the most walkable and bikeable neighborhood in metro Louisville, we can utilize the street grid we already possess to enhance our quality of life every single day, not just during those exhaustively conjured “special” occasions.

In effect, and to a far greater physical degree, New Albany’s street grid is our Big Four Bridge. The reformatted street grid is the canvas, and its users will do the painting. A walkable and bikeable street grid will be the daily complement to business and residential interests, rather than catering solely to cars and trucks alone, encouraging a broader base for the type of “special” activities the city currently takes upon itself to plan. They’ll happen more often, and more spontaneously, as instigated by businesses and residents.

In short, New Albany can be rendered “special” every single day by design, with the street grid supporting revitalization, not working against it – as our sad, outmoded truck-choked, speeding one-way streets do now.

All we have to fear is fear itself.

And that, my friends, is the biggest problem of all because boy, are we scared.

---

July 14: ON THE AVENUES: Weeds, porch appliances and our civic Gospel of Appearances.

July 7: ON THE AVENUES: You say you want a resolution?

June 30: ON THE AVENUES: Irv Stumler screams, "We don't deserve two-way streets!"

June 23: ON THE AVENUES: There's no business like no business -- and it's none of your business.

June 16: ON THE AVENUES: When the engineer uttered that scandalous word aloud, it was like Christmas in June.

A simple PDF from Lynchburg VA shows how Jeff Gahan might have chosen to educate NA about two-way streets, but didn't. And won't.



I'm not sure I've seen a better succinct presentation of the facts.

Granted, the likes of Irv Stumler would use this sheet as metaphorical toilet paper, but shouldn't Irv stick to his flowers ... and shouldn't Jeff Gahan have spent the past two years disseminating information like this, as a leader, rather than cowering in his campaign finance bunker?

Bicentennial commission financial trail? What's two (yawn) weeks (shrug) after 463 days?

And those pesky dual city seals. 
Tomorrow will mark two weeks elapsed since the anticipated date for learning how Bob Caesar's jigged Bicentennial Enfluffment Commission (BlECh) handled the cash.

Lawyer Daggett's vocabulary homework: Dilatory, unpunctual and "perhaps it's time to ring the Indiana public access counselor."

Hail, Caesar ... and make it 463 days. How much time and how many pencil erasers does this man need to honor a simple request?

418 days later, it's obvious that Bob Caesar doesn't care for you to know how the Bicentennial money was spent.


How very helpful. Obviously, Caesar isn't interested in taxpayers knowing how many of those 5,000 books remain unsold and non-glad-handed, or if the redevelopment commission's loan was paid back. What, didn't those lavishly illustrated tomes written by an outsider-for-hire sell like veritable hotcakes?

But wait, wasn't Irv just robotically touting the spotless civic-mindedness of trucking companies?


A reader writes:

This tractor trailer turned right from Spring up Silver Street. Squashed all of the traffic cones on the way. I especially like the way someone sprayed white paint over the phone number you're supposed to call if you have issues with the driver's behavior!

However, there's a bright side: At least it wasn't a Tiger truck.

Tiger Truck Lines and 13th Street: Isn't it time for the spoiled brat to get a good spanking?


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An assault on impregnable Summit Sprigs? A Break Wind bocce break-in? The Great Cannon Acres Bear Pit heist?


When some suits and the Econ Dev director convene at Quills, can full frontal TIF-fing be very far behind? But give 'em credit; by their standards, it's kinda sorta a public meeting.


After a while, a new top secret diagram was brought in by special ops. From a distance, it looked like an aerial view of a hilltop. Perhaps we're preparing to invade Floyds Knobs and grab some of that cool hospital cash.

Oops, ESNA's done it again ... with this intriguing instance of neighborhood placemaking.


Think of it as a companion piece, conceptual-art-wise.



SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Prissy, and all that came around it.

Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these new words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, like the ones you're sure to hear when asking the city's corporate attorney why the answers to my FOIA request for Bicentennial commission finances, due to be handed over on July 8, still haven't arrived on the 20th?

It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even these very same flippant, bond-engorged municipal corporate attorneys customarily paid to suppress information can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate what they knew and when they knew it, all we have left is plenty of time -- and the opportunity to learn something, if we're so inclined.

Today's seemingly simple word is prissy.

prissy

[pris-ee]

adjective, prissier, prissiest

1. excessively proper; affectedly correct; prim.

Origin of prissy: 1890-1895, Americanism; blend of prim and sissy

Related forms are prissily (adverb) and prissiness (noun). As might be expected, the Urban Dictionary is more pointed, but we'll continue walking through what turns out to be a cultural minefield.

Word Origin and History for prissy: (adj) 1895, probably Southern U.S. dialect, first attested in Joel Chandler Harris, perhaps an alteration of precise (q.v.), or a merger of prim and sissy [OED].

Related: Prissily; prissiness.

["]Then Mrs Blue Hen rumpled up her feathers and got mad with herself, and went to setting. I reckon that's what you call it. I've heard some call it 'setting' and others 'sitting.' Once, when I was courting, I spoke of a sitting hen, but the young lady said I was too prissy for anything."

"What is prissy?" asked Sweetest Susan.

Mr. Rabbit shut his eyes and scratched his ear. Then he shook his head slowly.

"It's nothing but a girl's word," remarked Mrs. Meadows by way of explanation. "It means that somebody's trying hard to show off."

"I reckon that's so," said Mr. Rabbit, opening his eyes. He appeared to be much relieved.

[Joel Chandler Harris, "Mr. Rabbit at Home"]

At the start, I had a specific local personage in mind for "prissy" as used in a humorous topical sentence, but then I realized there is a far more challenging aspect to any examination of a word traceable to popular usage by Joel Chandler Harris.

In other words, his most famous/infamous creation, Uncle Remus.

Uncle Remus is a collection of animal stories, songs, and oral folklore, collected from southern African-Americans. Many of the stories are didactic, much like those of Aesop's Fables and Jean de La Fontaine's stories. Uncle Remus is a kindly old former slave who serves as a storytelling device, passing on the folktales to children gathered around him ...

... The animal stories were conveyed in such a manner that they were not seen as racist by many among the audiences of the time. By the mid-20th century, however, the dialect and the narrator's "old Uncle" stereotype were considered overly demeaning by many African-American people, reflecting what they considered to be racist and patronizing attitudes toward African-Americans. Providing additional controversy is the stories' context, as they are set on a former slave-owning plantation and portrayed in a passive, even docile, manner.

A comprehensive determination of issues pertaining to Harris, Uncle Remus, Br'er Rabbit and Disney's subsequent adaptation (Song of the South) lies far outside my limited objectives in defining a quality of prissiness. However, it goes to show where these paths sometimes inadvertently lead.

As a personal note, my brain processes Uncle Remus differently. Say these words, and a very different song comes to mind, circa 1974.



The song was co-written by Frank Zappa and George Duke, and a broader discussion of it can be found at Google Books.

Two side of precisely the same economic elitism, so let's choose our own path of internet radicalization.


As the right wing pageantry grinds to its oafish conclusion in Cleveland, with the duopoly's brethren preparing for its own spectacle in Philadelphia, let us return to important considerations of why neither political party can be trusted.

Donald Trump and the Revolt of the Proles, by Mike Whitney (CounterPunch)

 ... Economic insecurity. Brexit was about economic insecurity. The Trump phenom is about economic insecurity. The rise of left and right-wing groups across Europe and the US is about economic insecurity. This isn’t about ideology, it’s about reality; the reality of not knowing if you’re ever going to be able to retire or put your kids through school or make your house payment or scrape by until payday. The reality of muddling by in an economy where the prospects for survival look worse with every passing day. That’s the reality that made Trump possible, and that’s what this election is about, economic insecurity.

And:

The world is taking its revenge against elites. When will America's wake up? by Thomas Frank (The Guardian)

It felt so right, this Democratic infatuation with the triumphant young global professional. So right, and for a certain class of successful Americans, so very, very obvious. What you do with winners like these is you celebrate them. Winners need to win. Winners need to have their loan payments deferred, to have venture capital directed their way by a former president. That all these gestures might actually represent self-serving behavior by an insular elite does not appear to have crossed our leaders’ minds in those complacent days of June 2016.

But by the time of Hillary Clinton’s speech the happy, complacent mood was already beginning to crumble.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Better put that ursus Americanus on the TIF One card, before the newspaper hires it to be the NA beat reporter.


295 days and counting.

The July 19 BOW: All Chloe Allen's family has is Keith Henderson's word for it. No wonder they seek more information.

At this morning's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, I asked again about the investigation of the Chloe Allen case.

From roadway bomb craters to pedestrian death investigations: This morning's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting -- with the undermanned newspaper AWOL.


Interestingly, what Police Chief Todd Bailey told me this morning differs from what I was told last week by an investigator in the prosecutor's office. I was told last week that the CART (accident reconstruction) file was closed, and Keith Henderson had determined no charges were merited against the driver.

However, Bailey said that the investigation remains open because state toxicology lab reports have yet to be returned.

This revelation is unlikely to change anything, but I'll stay on it. Might as well; I can't dance.

In my other comments, I relayed the concern of the 3rd district resident about the intersection of Elm and 13th, as explained in this morning's post.

ASK THE BORED: "People go WAY too fast and even turn up the wrong way on Elm. There needs to be a 4-way stop at this intersection before someone gets killed."


My thoughts were noted, and are unlikely to change anything, but (see above).

Other highlights from the BOW of July 19:

His Irvness
Irv Stumler was on hand to support efforts to clean up a hoarder's derelict property on Hausfeldt Lane, an ongoing process that board chairman Nash noted was hung up in court. Stumler encouraged the city to petition the court for permission to send in the backhoes.

Jeff Eastridge
A first-hand account of the Big Dig at 5th & Elm was provided. Amid a repair effort that has resulted in the pumping out of water 24-hours-a-day, five separate open stormwater lines have been found, and two water line leaks repaired.

These stormwater lines had slots cut into them, under the apparent theory that water would travel down into them, but when the lines were full, the water came up instead, loosening sand and dirt, and flushing them back into the line to be carried off.

Pilings have been driven onto bedrock. As soon as the water company finishes cleaning up its mess, the hole can be filled. MAYBE next week.

Upper Spring Street Road Diet 
Wes Christmas said all is going according to schedule, and the target date for completion is late September or the very beginning of October. Once finished, bicyclists will be able to enter this section of Spring from Beharrell, travel to Vincennes, then have absolutely no place to go.

The Jeffersonville Chain Newspaper
It sent a steno this morning. Film at 6. Yawn.

ASK THE BORED: "People go WAY too fast and even turn up the wrong way on Elm. There needs to be a 4-way stop at this intersection before someone gets killed."

Maybe this one from last Thursday?

I just saw an interesting thing on Market Street: the street sweeper with an unmarked car in front of it, an unmarked car behind it, and a traffic division cop car behind that. It was a convoy just for the street sweeper.

That's odd, seeing there are no bike lanes on Market for the street sweepers to shift debris into. Are we militarizing street sweeping? I've heard it's a trend. Or, perhaps aquatic revenues are down, and increased parking citations are necessary to balance the ol' budget -- but can't we just TIF it?


Here's what I did to beat the "blocking street sweeper" citation scam. Why should anyone pay?


This one from Saturday hits (literally) a bit closer to my house.

There was a pretty bad wreck on Elm and 13th this morning. This is not the first time since I've lived around here. It is VERY hard to see around the parked cars if you're crossing over Elm. That being said, there are 4-way stop signs every couple blocks down Elm until you get down this way. People go WAY too fast and even turn up the wrong way on Elm. There needs to be a 4-way stop at this intersection before someone gets killed. Kids (and adults) cross this intersection all the time. So how do we get this done?

I'll bring it up this morning, though in the most general of senses, making Elm Street safer starts here, with this comment by Jeff Speck, from his Downtown Street Network Proposal.

Because one-way streets provide passing lanes and eliminate opposing traffic, they encourage higher-speed driving and create a more highway-like environment for properties along them ... there is no justification for a one-way Elm Street east of State Street, since it contains ample width for two-way traffic, which will provide greater utility and safety than the current condition.

As for the utility of four-way stop signs ... Speck again.

Research now suggests that four-way stop signs, which require motorists to approach each intersection as a negotiation, turn out to be much safer than signals. Unlike at signalized intersections, there is considerable eye-contact among users. Drivers slow down, but never have to wait for more than a few seconds, and pedestrians and bicyclists are generally waved through first.

As with other such observations, the truth of the matter is that the only way to get this/anything done is for the city of New Albany to grasp the reality of the problem, and in the past, the Board of Public Works and Safety has squirmed every which way but loose when it comes to denying the problem of speeding on Elm.

So, let's ask again. The series introduction is reprinted below. From last week:

From roadway bomb craters to pedestrian death investigations: This morning's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting -- with the undermanned newspaper AWOL.


---

New Albany's Board of Public Works and Safety exists because the State of Indiana says so.


IC 36-4-9-5

Board of public works and safety; establishment Sec. 5.

(a) A board of public works and safety is established in each city.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), the legislative body of a second class city may by ordinance establish as separate boards: (1) a board of public works; and (2) a board of public safety; to perform the functions of the board of public works and safety.

As added by Acts 1980, P.L.212, SEC.3.

As for what the board is supposed to do each Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., you can visit the American Legal Publishing site, search "Board of Public Works and Safety," and sift through various powers accorded the board over the decades by dint of ordinance.

Exactly how much power does our Board of Public Works and Safety possess?

If Jeff Gahan were to stray from the protection of his Down Low Bunker and comment, no doubt he would assert that the board has just the power it needs. He handpicked it, and he's perfectly content to see his program implemented by non-elected boards, as opposed to elected officials.

According to Dan Coffey, the answer surely is "too much." At the city council meeting of June 6, Coffey proposed that our council, as a body made up of elected members, should take back authority ceded to non-elected boards.

Agreed.

The Board of Public Works and Safety may be established by state, not city, and it may be appointed by mayor, not council, but the board's powers appear to derive from the legislative body.

I mention all this as prelude to a new feature at NA Confidential: Ask the Bored.

It has long been NA Confidential's position that given the board's accumulated powers -- justified or  otherwise -- and its current function as arbiter of myriad conditions that impact the lives of citizens, for it to hold all its meetings at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday meeting is an affront (note that during the Garner Administration, a fledgling but doomed effort to democratize meeting times was made).

However, NAC can attend many, if not all, meetings. Public speaking time is allowed, and on occasion in the past, we've used it for the precise purpose of making comments, raising issues or asking questions, so that these are included in meeting minutes and become part of the public record. This way, it cannot be claimed later that "no one said anything."

Readers, I know you have questions. Many of you cannot attend these meetings, and so when possible, NAC will ask them for you. Generalized questions probably are best, but give us the brief, and we'll do what we can. Submit them at mayorbaylor@gmail.com ... and ask the bored.

Monday, July 18, 2016

And the plaque engravers and sign makers shall be fruitfully blessed.


Now all we need is a concert series. Anyone play the kazoo -- even better, the comb?

Challenges for independent local businesses include one-way streets and Big Box tax evasion.

Break the chains, build local power.

On the eve of another monthly merchant meeting (Tuesday morning, 8:30 a.m., Cafe 157 at the corner of Main and Bank), here's a look back at a discussion starter from February.

Thursday Must Read Part 1: Upsides and downsides in a national independent business survey.

 ... Public policy challenges, eh?

In New Albany, one virulent 800-lb public policy gorilla is downtown's one-way street grid, which study after study has proven to be harmful to the interests of small, local, independently-owned businesses.

And yet, more than a few business owners in New Albany either don't wish to "rock" the boat, or worse, to take the time to understand the issues involved.

Think about it: If one-way streets hurt businesses like yours, then they do so 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Conversely, reversion to two-way would help your business -- 24 hours a day, every day of the year. You're fighting a battle with one arm tied behind your back -- by the city itself. The fact that the likes of Bob Caesar lobbies against reform should be the clearest possible indication that reform is both correct and necessary.

In addition, coming on the heels of today's previous post ("The dirty little secret of big box development – and it’s really not a secret – is that the buildings are designed to be abandoned"), here's another look at the big-box tail wagging the dog.

For Cities, Big-Box Stores Are Becoming Even More of a Terrible Deal, by Olivia LaVecchia (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

Big-box retailers’ new tactic to slash their taxes is the latest example of why cities are better off saying no to the boxes and cultivating Main Streets instead.

... Marquette has been hit hard by a tactic that the country’s biggest retailers are using to slash their property taxes. Known as the “dark store” method, it exemplifies the systematic way that these chains extract money from local governments. It’s also the latest example of the way that, even as local governments across the country continue to bend over backwards to attract and accommodate big-box development, these stores are consistently a terrible deal for the towns and cities where they locate.

Because ... without principles and a system of values prefacing independent small business ownership, why work so damned hard?

Shouldn't local government be helping, not pushing back?

"The dirty little secret of big box development – and it’s really not a secret – is that the buildings are designed to be abandoned."


It's Big Box Week at Strong Towns, while here in Southern Indiana, it's Big Box Week every week of the year.

Big Box Week, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

... This all serves to illuminate the fact that big box development is extremely risky. We, the taxpayers, put a pipe in the ground in our name and we’ve made an eternal promise that generation after generation is expected to make good on. The big box retailer builds a store and they’ve recouped their capital costs in a decade. They are then free and clear to move on leaving us with a dead site.

Their zealous obligation is to their shareholders. I can respect that, but our obligation to our taxpayers – today’s and tomorrow’s – needs to be equally zealous.

This week we’re going to focus on big box stores. We’re going to look at their relatively low financial productivity combined with their high risk. We will examine sites that have failed and sites that have been reclaimed. We’ll delve a little into what is known as “sprawl retrofit” (their term, not mine) and take some time to look at the good and bad of urban big box stores. I also want to examine state subsidies for big box stores and how state governments have created – for their own financial benefit – a race to the bottom for municipalities.

The myth of the Goblin Ralph Nader: "It’s a lie, and if you start pulling at it, the careful defensive positioning of the Democratic party begins to unravel."


In the 2000 general election, Nader exceeded 5% of the vote in 10 states and the District of Columbia. The average of these 11 percentages is 6.3%, slightly less than I tallied running for mayor of New Albany last year.

I "spoiled" nothing -- and Gore lost because he ran a purely dreadful, "prevent" campaign.

The Nader Myth, by Hal Walker (Medium)

The sore winner writing of the centrist Democrats continues, and in that spirit reliable asshole Jonathan Chait has a piece in New York Magazine retelling once again the liberals’ favorite faerie tale, the story of how the Goblin Ralph Nader brought on the dark times of George W. Bush by leading gullible voters astray. It is a faerie tale in the old sense, meant to caution youngsters to listen to their elders and not wander into the dark woods ...

Because:

... Nader is not hated because he swung an election. Nader is hated for the reason that Sanders is hated: because he offers a vision of politics that is solidly to the left of the Democrats. It’s not a threat to their electability, it’s a threat to a their legitimacy.

The Democrats stand for three things: neoliberal reform in international trade, a gradualist and defensive approach to civil liberties, and not being Republicans. They try not to advertise the first stance because it is wildly unpopular with their progressive base. They try to make the second stance seem more bold than it is, as if waiting to support marriage equality until the polls looked safe (Obama’s “evolving position”) were somehow brave. It is the third position, opposition to Republicans, that they base their appeal to voters on. They’re not the bad guys ...

And in reality:

... The left are a true threat to the boring centrism that has completely failed working America. And so Nader must remain always the bogeyman, the sinister liar who lead the children into the wolf’s den at the dawn of our grim political era. It’s a lie, and if you start pulling at it, the careful defensive positioning of the Democratic party begins to unravel. There is a whole world of political possibility to their left, and they work harder to keep you away from it than they do at anything else.

"Convention history is dotted with dramatic, even farcical, events."

H.L. Mencken at the Republican convention, 1936 (photo credit).

Nope, Bernie Sanders didn't say this:

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

It is lifted from Ted Kennedy's 1980 convention speech.

At times, one simply must accede to the superior wisdom of Google and roll with it. My search for "Republican convention farce" yielded this top result, which is an entertaining survey of noteworthy past conventions held by both of America's political parties, Country AND Western.

The Craziest Convention Moments You’ve Never Heard Of, by Jeff Greenfield (Politico)

Convention history is dotted with dramatic, even farcical, events that have changed the course of politics.

A legion of political journalists is heading to Cleveland this month with a sense of anticipation that’s been absent for decades: at long last, a national convention with the prospect that something unexpected might actually happen ... will we see anything in Cleveland that approaches such genuinely unpredictable and historic levels? If the 2016 GOP convention—with all of the passions surrounding the impending nomination of Donald Trump—winds up being a by-the-numbers infomercial, maybe it’s time to give up on conventions and take a lesson from the Democratic Party in 1872 ...

The dog days of summer, explained.



Why are they called the "dog days" of summer?

First, the present time of sweltering is not to be confused with Suede's classic album, Dog Man Star, although if in fact we are the pigs, it's worth noting that the Chinese constellation called 奎 (Legs; in the European tradition Andromeda/Pisces) might alternatively be viewed as a wild boar rather than a tiger.

Because: The "dog days" phrase goes back to ancient Greece and Rome, and refers to the dog star.

Read all about it here:

Why Do We Call Them the 'Dog Days' of Summer? by Becky Little (National Geographic)

... Originally, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Walkability in the Time of Padgett? But that's not walkable at all, is it?


In this kind of pass-through community, our self-smug pillars work assiduously to prevent walkability from happening, seeking to keep our streets "safe" and "free" for fast-moving, heavy traffic, while navigating their gas-guzzlers around the block for lunch.

It's time to call their bluff, isn't it?

Walking Makes Strides in All Kinds of Communities, by Jay Walljasper (Strong Towns)

Imagine living in one of America’s great walkable communities.

Your day begins with a stroll—saying hi to neighbors, noticing blooming gardens and enticing shop windows, maybe stopping for a treat on your way to work.

Weekends are even better. You step out your door and join the hum of activity on the sidewalk en route to a coffeeshop, park, shopping district, friend’s home, recreation center or house of worship.

More time on your feet provides an opportunity to reflect on your life (you feel more energetic and creative now that you’re not driving all the time) and your community (it feels more alive now that everyone walks more). Even driving is more fun than it used to be with fewer cars clogging the streets.

And the really good news is that you don’t need to move to another town or a more expensive neighborhood to enjoy these pleasures. Any community can become more walkable if people are willing to get off the couch to make a difference.

Apocalypse WOW: Pat McLaughlin thinks toll evaders will stop to shop in New Albany. Jeff Gahan doesn't return calls. Welcome to tolling preparedness, New Albany-style.


Imagine how a local newspaper might be functioning as tolling approaches. Imagine the hard questions a reporter might be asking of local officials. Imagine the dialogue that might be engendered.

Keep imagining, because we have no newspaper in New Albany.

Meanwhile, it still isn't clear what the city of New Albany's official position will be with respect to the issues discussed in Green's piece. We suspect servile silence, but only because it's what we've been conditioned to expect from Jeff Gahan, but note that if the council president's uninformed opinion is any indication, we might be better off with no opinion at all.

SUNDAY EDITION | Old overpasses to get more wear and tear as Kentuckiana drivers avoid bridge tolls, by Marcus Green (WDRB)

... “Talking to a lot of people that I know, they said they’re going to change their route of going to Indiana and coming around the Sherman Minton and ride all the way around to avoid paying a toll,” said Natalie Neil, who lives in the Shawnee/Chickasaw neighborhood in western Louisville.

Neil said she uses the Minton twice a day for trips to New Albany. More traffic on the bridge is troubling, she said, because there’s “a lot of increase already.”

And:

Traffic on those structures in Floyd County is expected to increase by as much as 118 percent in the coming decades. Indiana plans maintenance and repair work on four of the overpasses before 2018, according to the state.

The state also aims to paint and maintain the Sherman Minton Bridge within the next four years, said Will Wingfield, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation. The Minton was closed for about five months in 2011 and 2012 to fix a crack in a load-bearing beam.

This means that very soon, we'll either lose the Sherman Minton for an extended period, and/or see it tolled. But here's the important part (emphasis mine).

Opponents of tolling interstates often cite traffic diversion as a side effect of tolls and rate hikes.

“Tolls are often easily evaded, usually by motorists who are using an alternative route that unfortunately was not built to handle the level and type of traffic experienced due to that toll evasion,” said Stephanie Kane, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates.

After reviewing projections showing increased traffic on the Minton, she said ambulances and other first responders could face delays getting across the river on I-64.

With the Minton remaining toll-free, traffic passing through New Albany is expected to double in the decades to come. Mayor Jeff Gahan did not return a phone message seeking comment, but council president Patrick McLaughlin said “it’s something that’s been constantly on our radar.”

McLaughlin stopped short of agreeing that traffic will rise at the levels predicted by INDOT, but he said any increase could give the city an economic boost.

“When trying to judge human nature,” he said, “no one really knows how that’s going to pan out.”

An oldie but a goody: "The truth got me kicked out of a Mike Pence event today."


This essay from 2014 is a minor classic.

It sufficiently hilarious to observe Pence taking credit for what he opposed, but the funniest moment of all is when the author's relative snatches the protest sign from his hands.

Lemme tell you, pal, I know the feeling.

The truth got me kicked out of a Mike Pence event today, by bradams (Daily Kos)

 ... Today was the official dedication ceremony for the recently-completed but long-overdue Milton (KY) - Madison (IN) Ohio River bridge ...

 ... The dedication ceremony was attended by both Governor Steve Beshear (yeah!) of Kentucky and Governor Mike Pence (boo!) of Indiana. As we all know Mike Pence was the #3 Republican in the House in 2009. He strongly advocated against the stimulus, saying:

“[The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act] won’t work to put Americans back to work. It won’t create jobs. The only thing it will stimulate is more government and more debt. It will probably do more harm than good.”

Irv Stumler aghast at the prospect of "A New Life for Urban Alleys."


Irv Stumler dozed off and dreamed of artists painting alley walls. He woke up in a cold sweat.

How can Padgett's erectiles navigate high-speed, one-way alleys when people are standing there gawking at ART?

A New Life for Urban Alleys, by Eillie Anzilotti (City Lab)

Once blighted and overlooked, these small streets are transforming into community and sustainability hotspots.