Saturday, March 28, 2015

What they're saying: Knable on the HIV outbreak, and a slew of GOP candidate links at Facebook.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'm providing periodic candidate statements of substance, mostly unretouched, as lifted from social media and news reports. Familiar gems such as "yard signs win elections, not people" and "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later" will be omitted. That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, from any and all parties, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.


Several Republican candidates have hoisted Facebook campaign pages during the past few weeks.

Dale Bagshaw for City Council District 3 ... with a much appreciated photo of the candidate shoveling snow from his sidewalk.

Ross Heinz for City Council (4th district) ... "As a candidate, Ross stands for responsible spending, local business, and community initiative." He should have added: "And making my opponent familiar with the Interwebz."

Danita Burks. City Council New Albany District 5 ... it's polls, not poles, and I wouldn't point this out had Mrs. Burks not previously sought a school board seat (and lost).

Larry Belcher for 6th District City Council Seat ... with a slogan: "What matters to New Albany, matters to me and my neighbors."

Nick Vaughn (6th district Republican) provides his platform at his web site, with sub sections on renter/landlord registrations, a better business climate and communications: Nick Vaughn's Vision Outline for New Albany.

As citizens we should always be looking to the long term improvement of our city which is why renter/landlord registration is the first step toward transitioning more renters into homeowners; by putting down roots people have a stake in our shared success.

At-large council candidate and physician Al Knable (R) continues to openly make sense, and to articulate, in writing, for attribution. Taking into consideration the whole of New Albany's stunted political history, this continues to amaze ... and please.

On the regional HIV outbreak:

If you knew your neighbor was cooking meth and you saw his house on fire would you call for help or let it burn?

Most of us would call 911, even if not to save the neighbor then to protect our own property from being next.

As a physician running for public office, I feel compelled to speak out on the subject of the recent HIV outbreak occurring in Indiana.

I'm old enough to have practiced medicine during the initial HIV/AIDS epidemic.

During residency, we had weekly AIDS clinic at IU. Not HIV clinic, AIDS clinic-because we had no effective treatment. Perhaps as a society the anti-viral meds we have today make it easy to forget how horrible this disease was and can be. I can't forget because I witnessed too many suffer horrendously. I saw too many people die. Not just drug users, people from all walks of life, gay and straight alike.

Yes, people too often make choices that put them at risk. But as a physician it is not my job to judge but rather to diagnosis and treat when necessary, prevent when I can.

We have an HIV outbreak in our state. Too close for comfort. Let's contain it before it spreads!

I support targeted, short-term needle exchange programs as an effective way of curtailing such crises. Studies by the AMA and the WHO back this policy up.

We're not all going to agree on the moral reasoning but I think we can find common pragmatic ground. Clean needles are cheap, anti-viral medications to treat HIV are very expensive. The more positive cases of HIV there are in a community, the faster and wider it will spread. The healthier a user is, the more likely they are to seek long term drug cessation programs.

Let's put the fire out first! We can educate people about not playing with matches later.

Weekend reading: "How to get a city cycling."

Thanks to W for the link. In New Albany, we know quite well how NOT to get a city cycling: Let John Rosenbarger design streets on behalf of the DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party.

Following are ways to promote cycling through infrastructure and design, so as to encourage the alteration of habit.

How to get a city cycling, by Katia Moskvitch (BBC)

It all started with dead horses, during 1816 – the “year without a summer”. Temperatures had plummeted around the world, because of the eruption a year earlier of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora. It was among the most violent eruptions on Earth in recorded history, and the fallout of dust and sulphur caused crop failures across Europe. As horses died of starvation, the German inventor Karl von Drais came up with an idea to replace horses: a contraption with two wheels but without pedals. It was the predecessor of today’s bicycle.

Back then, it had a different name: draisine – or velocipede in French. Pedals came in due course, and soon the two-wheeled mode of getting around became popular.

Today, it’s known as the most efficient method of self-powered transportation by far.

What they're saying: Hannegan Roseberry on creativity, streets, SB-101 and demographics.

Damned spell check.
As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'll try to provide periodic unedited candidate statements of approximate substance, as lifted from social media and news reports, and as opposed to familiar gems (although they certainly have their place) like "yard signs win elections, not people" or "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later."

That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.

At-large city council candidate Hannegan Beardsley Roseberry (D) is taking the time to write, so let's take a look. These comments are collected from her Fb campaign page.

On what we want to be as a city:

I enjoyed seeing some New Albany natives tonight - the incredible Houndmouth. It is terrific to see a group from New Albany find such huge success; they are a reminder of everything we should strive to be as a city: eclectic, intelligent, innovative, creative and spunky. New Albany, we need to follow suit and claim our place in the region. Who do we want to be and how are we going to get there? As a city council member, these are the questions I will be pursuing.

On Speck's downtown street network proposals:

Matt Nash made some terrific points in his op-Ed piece in yesterday's Trib about the ongoing fiasco surrounding the street grid. If we are wanting to continue to attract people to live in our city, we have to appeal to their needs for a walkable, engaging environment.

Matt observes: "How often do “wide load” trucks need to actually use these roads? Is there enough traffic like this that we should force the entire city to kowtow to its needs? How do trucks manage to get from place to place in other towns who don’t have wide one-way streets?

You need not look any further than the city of Jeffersonville to see a city that’s downtown has thrived even with narrower two-way streets. They also have a couple of large manufacturers downtown that are able to ship goods without the need for a 40-foot-wide, one-way street. How has material arrived for the downtown bridge project without wide one-way streets?"

On the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

I have written a lot about this debacle on my personal page today, and will now share this here on my campaign page, as well. One of my goals is to help New Albany to claim its place in the region as a leader in culture, commerce, and community. New Albany needs to be a place where people are going to want to live, work, spend their money, and raise their families. Indiana's legislature just made our job this much harder - I stand for a New Albany that is welcoming to all people, and I disagree wholeheartedly with the notion that this is the way our founding fathers intended our governing bodies to be used. New Albany - we've got our work cut out for us if we are to counteract this sort of damning national publicity. We've got to be forward-thinking and welcoming to all - yes ALL - residents. We don't pick and choose our neighbors, but we do pick our elected officials. Make your voice heard and let our legislators know that this is not the Indiana that we want. In New Albany, we can do better than this.

On theater and why millennials matter:

New Albany Civic Theatre - now doesn't that have a nice ring to it? Millennials (ages 18-36) are currently 77 million strong, or 24% of the population, which is roughly the same size as the baby boomer generation. What does this mean? For cities like New Albany, we have to figure out what we're going to do to hang on to and attract these vibrant, creative young people. Studies show that millennials are flocking to more urban, mixed-use communities that are socially conscious and creative. Right now, New Albany is being outpaced by the surrounding communities as far as cultural offerings. As a city, we need to understand that a thriving cultural center results in economic benefit. New Albany is long overdue for a New Albany Civic Theatre, with additional space for art studios/classes/displays. This sort of creative venture is exactly the type of thing New Albany needs.

I'm trying to be dispassionate in these surveys, but Hannegan's doing a great job so far in articulating substance.

Erika makes an investigative funny.

Perhaps the strain of three posts in ten days is getting to New Albany's infamous faux academic.



But her post isn't even about sports.


... Maybe it's time for Chris Morris of the News & Tribune to investigate what is going on here with the recent cutting of Officer Schook's pay and benefits...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pence probably didn't pay these performers union scale.

Who are these people? Pence won't say.

"Why couch everything on religion? Let's just make an 'asshole freedom' law that allows you to ignore laws whenever you want to be a dick." -- Joe Dunman

On the trail of the Phantom of the Ethics Commission.

So, how does one file a complaint with the Ethics Commission?

Well, when the information cannot be found on the city's website, you send notes to both city attorneys, and when they don't reply promptly, you take to Facebook to ask your council representatives (3rd district and all three at-large), and when one of them (Kevin Zurschmiede) helpfully provides at least part of the answer, he routes it through a third party e-mail, after which the council person originally responsible for the idea of an ethics commission concedes its conceptual inadequacy.

This, my friends, is the essence of chronic malfunction hereabouts.

Step 1. File ethics complaint concerning city attorneys who won't answer questions about filing ethics complaints. LOL. Sometimes I look at the tragedy and comedy masks laying there together and I just don't know which one to choose. -- JeffG

Is there an Ethics Commission, or not?

As of 2013, the Ethics Commission apparently existed, because according to the newspaper, it declined to hear a complaint brought by Randy Smith, although it's unclear to me whether this information ever was conveyed to him apart from the newspaper's citation.

Zurschmiede's reply yesterday is much appreciated. It takes the form of an e-mail forwarded to council members by Matt Lorch, dated January 7, 2013. The Ethics Commission appointees are listed by point of origin (vitals omitted), followed by Lorch's explanation of how the ball would be set rolling.

City of New Albany Ethics Commission Appointees

Floyd County Bar Association: Claire Hagedorn, Attorney, LORCH & NAVILLE, LLC

Hope Foundation: Doug Grant, Pastor

NAACP: John Malone, Sr.

Rauch Incorporated: Ron McKulick, CEO - Southern Seven Workforce Initiative

United States Post Office – Postmaster: Stephen Kiger, Executive Director at The Salvation Army Southern Indiana

Further background comes from John Gonder.

Roger: I was the sponsor of the ordinance establishing the Ethics Commission. As one might expect the ordinance passed unanimously. The commission members worked earnestly and diligently to bring forth the ethics rules the commission would follow. This happened during the early days of the Human Rights Commission. While these two commissions are in no way connected, I mention it because I felt that the Ethics Commission was headed in the direction of a feel good empty gesture. Too many ordinances are drafted, enacted, and then ignored. Although I felt, and still feel the aims of an Ethics Commission are worth pursuing, I personally made the call to not pursue it because I've seen too many ordinances address a need, get peoples' hopes up, maybe even win a few votes, but then lay idle in the ordinance book. I didn't want to go down that path on such an important issue. Inappropriate porch furniture is one thing to ignore, but an ordinance aimed at enhancing the central workings of government can't be enacted then ignored, without breeding cynicism. While I am grateful these citizens took up the challenge to make government better by joining the commission, I, rightly or wrongly, didn't want to start another exercise in futility, so I stepped back.

And yet, futility or otherwise, Ordinance G-12-17 (passed 8-16-2012) remains on the books. After yesterday's fact-gathering, we at least have names and contact information.

If the Ethics Commission still exists, shouldn't it be easier for citizens to use it? It really shouldn't matter whether it's Spring Break week or the middle of August.

"Creative placemaking practitioners use artistic interventions to bring new perspectives (beyond just aesthetics) to communities."

Chattanooga Terrain Art Park; from the article below.

"Successful use of creative placemaking requires making the people part of the resilience equation work. To do this, cities have to treat creatives with the same gravity afforded other community development assets and colleagues."

Didn't I just have this conversation with a local artist, standing on the corner, facing Main Street, and lamenting that whenever New Albany's governmental functionaries (read: DemoDisneyDixecratic operatives) get involved with artistic expression, the inevitable results are different versions of the same "Dogs Playing Poker" motif?

That's what happens with agoraphobia. You must control every situation, lest the walls start closing in.

Putting the Arts to Work for City Resilience: Creative Placemaking, by Jason Schupbach (100 Resilient Cities)

I recently attended a major convening of community development and arts professionals where Ben Hecht from Living Cities said, and I’m paraphrasing here, "The science of how to do the technical parts of community development is well understood – how to build water infrastructure, housing units, transportation systems - but we as community development officials have forgotten about the ‘people’ part of the equation. How do we build places where people actually want to live their lives? How do we build strong social ties? The secret lies partly in the arts."

"Michael Moore for President."

Consider it the corrective to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Michael Moore for President, by Michael Moore (The Nation)

... I’d like to announce, in the pages of this historic issue of this magnificent magazine, the formation of a committee that will study the possibility of an exploratory committee to assess the potential of a Michael Moore candidacy for the presidency of the United States in 2016. In other words, I’m not officially declaring my intention to run. I’m just saying, should I decide to throw my ball cap into the ring, this is what I would propose to do if elected.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

ON THE AVENUES: If we're waiving sewer tap-ins, nothing less than gold faucets will do.

ON THE AVENUES: If we're waiving sewer tap-ins, nothing less than gold faucets will do.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

At the March 19 meeting of New Albany’s city council, the legislative body that seldom legislates very much any longer was asked by City Hall to approve a TIF area extension to accommodate infrastructure improvements for the prospective Coyle site housing development, which in recent days has been upgraded from “upscale” to “luxury” in terms of hyperbolic descriptors for the apartment units soon to be built there.

Why the semantic escalation?

Probably the dreaded random adjective generator, although as the primary draws closer, expect frequent comparisons to Mobutu Sese Seko’s Kawale palace in Gbadolite, Congo – or in our local New Albanian dialect, “Versailles of the Bungle.”

As is its habit, the council supinely did exactly as it was told, but not before David Duggins, the city’s Standard TIF Area Statistical Incentivization Specialist (STASIS), who once was quoted to the effect that he couldn’t possibly explain the manifest benefits of Jeff Speck’s downtown street network proposals for fear of being proven mistaken in any way, shape or form even on the most minor of points, let slip that the board of New Albany’s sewer utility was “discussing” further enticements to the Coyle site developers to the tune of waiving 150+ sewer tap-in fees … or (according to the newspaper) $200,000.

Diane Benedetti immediately questioned this, reminding Duggins that in a city where affairs of the sanitary sewer are the surest ever proof of Sigmund Freud’s potty doctrines, ironclad historical precedent precludes granting waivers for any construction. As an example, not so long ago, waivers were denied to IU Southeast for its new dormitories. In short, no one gets a break.

I wasn’t there to see it, but Duggins surely rolled his eyes and muttered “yes, ma’am,” fingers tightly crossed behind this back, because he somehow neglected to inform the assembled council that not only had the sewer board “discussed” the waivers, it had touched all four and approved them, along with “what the hell, why not” waivers for both of Mayor Gahan’s signature parks-in-splendid-isolation, on March 12 -- a full week prior to the council meeting.

Like the child whose hands are smeared with cookie batter, did Duggins think no one would find out, or has City Hall’s level of yo-the-fix-is-in nonchalance now reached the point of default hubris?

The sewer board’s vote was 2-0, with the motion introduced by the city engineer Larry Summers in the absence of the board’s chair, who is none other than Mayor Jeff Gahan himself. Evidently the mayoral hologram was undergoing maintenance in a secluded Disney Store factory outlet, affording the very maximum in plausible deniability – and speaking of Uncle Walt, Summers’ motion came at the request of the Redevelopment Commission, which includes among its members Adam Dickey, the chairman of the Floyd County Democratic Party.

Eeeeewww … damn, it smells like sewer gas around here, doesn’t it?


Council president Pat McLaughlin, who doubles as co-chair (with Dan Coffey) of the Gahan Jockstrap Conveyance Patrol (no acronym), conceded to the News and Tribune’s Daniel Suddeath that yes, there was a mild “concern” over these new and unexplored precedents, but hey -- what can an elected lackey do, apart from popping the top on an ice-cold Bud Light at the Roadhouse?

Also according to Suddeath, City Hall’s legal team as yet is finding it difficult to unravel the impenetrable thicket of the city’s own ordinances.

Summers is expected to be replaced soon after questions arose as to whether he could serve on the Stormwater and Sewer boards as a paid city employee.

Say what?

We already knew that the convenient Summers’ placement on the Stormwater Board was a two-pronged mistake according to previlaing ordinance, which clearly prohibits a paid city employee from serving, and stipulates that it’s a council appointment in the first place, and not a forum for City Hall’s attorney to be enthusiastically brokering the mayor's fondest wishes.

(B) One member appointed by majority vote of the members of the Common Council, provided that the member shall be a registered professional engineer, and further provided that the member shall not otherwise be a paid or unpaid official or employee of the city.

We also knew that when the issue was raised by this blog, city attorney Shane Gibson promptly and honorably fell on his sword and took one for Team Gahan.

The Storm Water Board and the Sewer Board are both set up under the same Indiana authority. The former board member was on both the Sewer and the Storm Water Boards. When he stepped off the boards, I looked at the Sewer Board membership requirements in the City Ordinance. That Sewer ordinance states one member shall be the City engineer. I let our City engineer know this and his duties as required by the Ordinance. I didn't, however, review or the pull the Storm Water board requirements for members and assumed they were the same since the two boards were established under the same Indiana authority. As I mentioned above, this was an error on my part. We will be taking the necessary actions to remedy this matter.

Except that the Indiana state law establishing sewer board guidelines, which apparently dates from 1981, also prohibits a paid employee from serving.

(a) A sanitary board established under this chapter consists of:

(1) the municipal executive; and

(2) two (2) persons appointed by the municipal legislative body, one (1) of whom must be a registered professional engineer.

The legislative body may not appoint any paid or unpaid municipal officer or employee to the board.

Meanwhile, New Albany’s sewer board staffing ordinance, first enacted in the 1990s when the Federal government firmly pointed out to us that a city our size might wish to treat more than a fraction of its wastewater, appears to deliberately obfuscate the state’s intent … and no one has noticed until now?

(2) Two members, appointed by majority vote of the members of the Common Council, provided that one such member shall be the City Engineer or a registered professional engineer, and further provided that such non City Engineer person shall not be a paid or unpaid official or employee of the city.

I’m no legal bagel, but someone out there other than me surely is asking the same question: How many illegal votes actually have been taken the past 30-odd years on all these boards?

And: If Summers wasn’t supposed to be on the Sewer Board, what about the casual Gahan-less vote on March 12 to break with decades of precedent and waive sewer tap-ins?

Was it legal?

Finally, this: At some point, as one oddball screw-up piles atop another, doesn’t a hands-on mayor genuinely believing in his "fundamentally better" agitprop actually call the press, quote Harry Truman, point to his desk, and make the buck stop there?

Maybe the problem for Gahan is all those bucks, roughly $90,000 of the campaign variety at last count. Or, conversely, maybe taking responsibility voids the hologram’s warranty. In three-plus years, has Gahan yet to acknowledge an error?

Now, about those ivory toilet seats …

"It has nothing constructive to say and only leads to more misinformation and fear-mongering."

We'll probably never know why Doug England opted for self-defeating, narcissistic behavior -- apart from this being his perennial default setting -- but in 2011, a visibly wavering England (ostensibly a Democrat) hand-picked his successor, Irv "More GOP than Mitt" Stumler, who swept the area dry of cash and was utterly humiliated in the Democratic primary by Jeff Gahan, who later became a hologram capable of raising even more money than the former Republican.

England then tanked his tepid at-large council bid to Shirley Baird, a defeat so profoundly embittering that Hizzoner moved all the way to Florida, leaving us to cope with the debris: A forever pouting and conniving Stumler, who has plotted for vengeance ever since he swapped parties for personal gain (he has since swapped back).

Stumler's frequent and thinly veiled efforts to usurp power through the auspices of Clean & Green's streetside potting exercises have been rebutted so effortlessly by Gahan that Irv has been reduced to peddling assorted and sordid street grid lies door-to-door.

Irv Stumler peddles humongous whoppers, feels no shame at all, insults entire city.

A candidate for city council is walking the streets, spreading the manure, and saying whatever he thinks is necessary to scare someone into signing his piece of paper. This somehow strikes him as leadership. It strikes most of the rest of us a pretext for hospitalization and the administering of happy drugs.

Matt Nash has noticed, and he gets the gist of Stumler's plaudits-for-Padgett website: "It has nothing constructive to say and only leads to more misinformation and fear-mongering."

Yep, that nails it, but misinformation and fear-mongering are the only cards in the deck Irv has left to play. Take it away, Matt.

NASH: An important two-way conversation (N and T)

 ... Many of the people opposed to Speck’s plan pointed to the East Main Street redevelopment project as a reason to not implement the plan’s recommendations. They cite the median as dangerous and causing too narrow of a lane for vehicles to pass safely.

I don’t necessarily disagree with their point of view, but the Main Street plan has nothing to do with the new plan. Main Street was in process and completed as Mr. Speck was preparing and delivering his plan. The changes of Main Street have nothing to do with his plan.

Opposition to the Speck plan has spawned a website which claims to provide more information. I believe that it has nothing constructive to say and only leads to more misinformation and fear-mongering.

Recently, a picture of a car that wrecked into the Main Street project median was posted. It doesn’t point out that the driver was very drunk at the time of the accident. What’s that have to do with the other streets in New Albany?

Ask the homeowners along Elm and Market streets how often their property has been damaged by drunken drivers or just people driving too fast.

Warren, why did the Bored of Works scrap Speck on State Street?

On Tuesday, New Albany's unelected DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party annex, otherwise known as the Bored of Works, got started gutting Jeff Speck's downtown street network proposals, even as Mayor Jeff Gahan remained ensconced in his Down Low Bunker, endorsing PAC campaign checks from afar and exploring Adam's proposals to monetize the next prayer breakfast.

Specifically ...

The city has decided to scrap a portion of the Speck study that called for the establishment of a bicycle lane on State Street near Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services.

That's all we got from the newspaper, so it's left to our own JeffG to do the impossible as it pertains to local stenography, and ask a follow-up.

Excuse me Warren, would you like to give us an answer for a change -- or would doing so be a burden to the exercise of your rubber-stamp bureaucratic default settings?


A question here is what the Board of Works is proposing as an alternative bicycle corridor in that part of town, or are they just unilaterally declaring, sans any explanation, that bikes don't belong, that they've already determined that people on bikes will be given short shrift? From the Speck report:

"However, beyond removing encouragements to speeding, State Street could and should be transformed in a more instrumental way. It is the only promising north-south corridor for cycling in this part of downtown, as it contains ample roadway to support bike lanes, with little impact on parking capacity. Its 40-foot cross section contains room for two driving lanes, two bike lanes, and a parking lane on one side. The parking would drop away briefly at left-hand turn lanes, but, if properly striped, could provide about as many parking spaces as are currently present in the roadway.

The only impediment to introducing these bike lanes are the small 'bulb-out' curb extensions now present in six locations, three of which would have to be removed. This small construction project would be a small price to pay for the introduction of a robust north-south biking corridor, particularly a pro-health 'active living' corridor linking Floyd Memorial Hospital to the Downtown YMCA Aquatic Center."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just giving the farcical pharmacist a taste of his own bitter medicine.

It will burden my exercise of basic human decency, but I'll be civil ... until he tries to order a Miller Lite.

Unelected Bored of Works gets started gutting Speck as mayor endorses PAC checks from afar.

The first Speck amputation was announced yesterday, as improvements suggested for the State Street corridor were unceremoniously jettisoned sans substantive explanation from Warren Naps for fear he might be awakened during the meeting.

The Bookseller said it best:

"I'm sincerely not trying to be dense, but didn't New Albany just pay the foremost expert on the continent $75,000 for a 'conceptual plan?' Jeff Speck's action program is ready to implement, but, by the design of the mayor and his campaign team, it will be delayed for purely electoral purposes. I hope it backfires."

And this remains as true today as when I wrote it four months ago.

ON THE AVENUES SUNDAY SPECIAL: How many businesses already have died because of City Hall’s street grid procrastination?

... Luckily, a Third Floor insider explained it to me last week in plainer English:

Two way streets? You won't get them from Jeff Gahan. He doesn’t think there’s a problem, and if there is, he thinks it will just go away and solve itself. He’s scared to death – and he’s getting most of his information from Duggins. All the trust is gone.

Strong words … but so far, amply buttressed by observable reality and the administration’s own bizarrely frank admissions.

I'm told that there is a need to compromise and sing kumbaya with those incapable of adding 2 and 2 without arriving at 15. As such, here is my mayoral platform plank as it pertains to Speck's proposals.

Upon assuming the office of mayor, I will immediately act to implement Speck's proposals, with as close to 100% accuracy as possible. My compromise is this: The streets thus reconfigured, all of Mr Padgett's trucks may continue to use the city's grid with no extra charge. Indeed, we're entitled to our own opinions, just not our own facts. Two way streets now.

That gurgling sound you hear somewhere off in the distance?

That's Jeff Gahan's perpetually cowardly sidestep.

New Albany to form conceptual plans for downtown improvements

NEW ALBANY — The city is moving into a conceptual development phase as it determines what course of action to take in response to planner Jeff Speck’s streets proposal ...

... Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration has largely not committed to any of the Speck plan. New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety President Warren Nash announced Tuesday the city will continue to weigh the study and feedback from the public ...

... The city has decided to scrap a portion of the Speck study that called for the establishment of a bicycle lane on State Street near Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services.

Big Four Burgers transforms the ol' South Side.

Big Four Burgers is full steam ahead. Bunches of remodeling photos can be found at Big Four's Fb page, and Kevin Gibson just devoted ink at IL. 

Former site of South Side Inn to reopen as Big Four Burgers in early May, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

... Owner Matt McMahan, who last year also opened Charlie Noble’s Eatery & Draught House in Sellersburg, signed a lease on the property last September and has been working feverishly to reimagine the space as a companion to the original Jeffersonville location of Big Four while also paying tribute to the South Side’s heritage.

As stated recently, a food and dining relaunch by New Albany's non-incentivized entrepreneurs is under way.

 Donum Dei Brewery is open for business off Grant Line Road, just behind the El Nopal. Earlier this week, our favorite Mexican chef gave me a tour of Israel's Delicias de Mexico on Market Street, and it's getting closer. He'll be using the entire ground floor, with a small outdoor area to the rear. The Habana Blues move might start at any time, and until then, it's business as usual. Coqui's Cafe ha started freshening up the old Little Chef space. Finally, Earth Friends Cafe is rounding into full weekly hours and a return to the larger menu at Bank Street Brewhouse.

Once Habana Blues leaves its current site on the ground floor of the former New Albany Inn, there'll be remodeling there by owner Matt Chalfant for a future tenant, and the Coyle site developers from Indianapolis will be using their stockpile of graciously waived sewer tap fees to include restaurant space at the historic auto dealership building on Spring -- unless, of course, Dan Coffey needs spare change and engineers a back alley CCE demolition for kickbacks and giggles.

There'll be sitting politicians seeking to take credit for these positive occurrences. When they do, ask them why they continue to kneecap small business development by refusing to move on walkable streets to tie everything together -- you know, like in parts of the world where crane operators and trucking companies don't call all the shots, and mayors aren't scared of their shadows.

Colokial and Dress and Dwell both will get bigger.

In April, Colokial will relocate to space on Pearl Street adjacent to Copper Moon. As the photo shows, Stephen Beardsley's doing some major remodeling, and the hope is for the move to occur in April. When it does, Dress and Dwell will expand into the former Colokial space on Spring Street. As observed yesterday, True North has opened on Market.

Next step: Two way streets and walkability to tie all of it together. When will that be, Jeffy?

Don't miss the big birthday surprise! The same sensational fashion in a brand new location. Colokial is moving right around the corner from our current location to 219 Pearl Street in celebration of our fourth year in New Albany. Stay tuned for all the latest details of our relocation!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What do you mean, "may" ask the Sewer Board for tap fee waivers? You already rammed it past them a week ago.

At last Thursday's (March 19) city council meeting, there was a discussion about perfect marriages.

Luxury rental housing project in New Albany gets another blessing, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — The city is moving a 154-unit downtown apartment project along at a swift pace after the development garnered a $3.3 million commitment from the state.

The New Albany City Council voted 8-0 Thursday to place the planned apartment project site — the former Coyle auto property along East Spring Street — into a tax-increment financing district.

“This is a big project that could not be done without a perfect marriage between the state, the city and Flaherty Collins,” said David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city.

As part of the deal, Flaherty Collins signed-off on a minimum assessment agreement stating the developer will be responsible for paying the TIF tax ...

... The city is expected to foot some infrastructure improvements near the apartments, which could be under construction by late summer, and the New Albany Sewer Board may be asked to waive tap-in fees. Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Bendetti asked the administration to consider other incentives to waiving the tap-in fees.

It wouldn't be the first "perfect" marriage undermined by loose interpretations of the truth, because it seems that the Sewer Board already had been asked -- in fact, actually had approved the waiver at its meeting of March 12, a full week before the council's gathering, saving the developer somewhere in the neighborhood of $350K. From the board's March 12 minutes ...

I wonder when City Hall was planning on breaking the waiver news to council ... or perhaps they did, and Paddy Mac just torched the memo on sterno, like Mission Impossible.

This comes after the recent revelation that city attorney Gibson forgot the contents of the stormwater ordinance he wrote, and Pat McLaughlin forgot that council appointments are supposed to be made by council -- and is this really the sort of "fix always in" game-playing we need?

Yes, they build lots of nice things with your grandchild's future tax revenues, but where's the transparency?

And as pertains to the sewer board's waiver, where's the truthfulness?

Where's the hologram?

Gibson on Summers on Stormwater: "The simplest answer is that it was an error on my part."

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 82: With Speck hearings concluded, the Bored of Works can return to fluffing the trucking lobby.

Do you think the Bored of Works will cancel its meeting today?

After all, dozens of appointed city employees currently rove the city, taking advantage of the springtime thaw to plant Team Gahan political yard signs, and so perhaps a functionary like Warren Naps might equip his BOW with sack lunches and work gloves, and join in the effort?

By the way, does anyone know how to file a complaint with the Ethics Commission? Strangely, my inquiries seem to be going unanswered. It's like they've all gone fishin', poles or otherwise.

Now, back to New Albany's biggest tourist attraction: Trucking Porn.

Courtesy of MN

What they're saying: Al Knable on possible wetlands expansion; also, Diane Benedetti and David White.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'll try to provide periodic unedited candidate statements of approximate substance, as lifted from social media and news reports, and as opposed to familiar gems (although they certainly have their place) like "yard signs win elections, not people" or "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say much, much later."

That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.

With most Democratic candidates preoccupied with party directives to plant yard signs and sing kumbaya, there nonetheless were bits of wheat amid the chaff.

In the mayoral race, David White (Fb site reference) got cogent with his challenger's centerpiece, a $9 million aquatics center.

(Quoting an N and T story) "Though an exact operating budget per year hasn't been established, city officials have received projected cost estimates to maintain and staff the pool" ...  you've got to be kidding me! How can one agree to such a high dollar project without knowing it's overhead and financial impact on the city? 

5th district incumbent Diane Benedetti now has a campaign site at Facebook, and will be joining builders:

Look for Team Benedetti in the upcoming New Albany-Floyd County Habitat for Humanity Women Build Team, part of National Women Build Week.

You may notice Al Knable's name popping up here frequently, and that's because of all the candidates currently declared for council (he's seeking an at-large seat as a Republican), he's the one who has most often dared expound at length on a variety of topics. It would be an understatement to note how very refreshing this is.

Like this one, at his Fb campaign page. Finally, someone who sees the opportunities afforded by seeming reversals.

I reconnected with my inner-biologist today, toured some of the swamps near NOLA via airboat with my family.

I caught the kids by surprise when I told them during a quiet lull that we have areas similar to this near New Albany (sans alligators of course) and that I believe we can expand upon them to boot! I reminded them of the great resource we have in Loop Island and of the generosity that made that wetland's preservation possible.

The possible expansion? Gallagher Station.

I think the writing is on the wall. With the EPA's last round of regulations, Duke's options are very limited and I believe G.S. will be moth-balled in the near future.

This will create short term hardship as NA will face lost employment and revenue. Long term- great opportunity!

We need to start conversing NOW with state and federal agencies to assure the transition of this facility to protected wetland habitat.

This would allow for Green Belt continuity between Loop Island and G.S. wetlands. What a treasure for naturalists and fishing and hunting enthusiasts!

Clearly this goes beyond the scope of our City Council, but we need to be part of the discussion if we want to guide our future. I've actually already started this discussion with our current and former Governors and hope to continue the conversation as one of NA's elected representatives.

This is a decade's long project! We'll need leaders with foresight and discipline to pull it off. Please help me spread the word!

True North has opened downtown on Market, by Quills.

Michelle is at 137 E. Market, a few yards away from Quills on the ground floor of NA's iconic Fair Store building.

True North on Fb
True North at Square

Monday, March 23, 2015

After all, it's the only rational response to theocratic fascism.

Credit our Rep. Ed Clere for voting no. Surprisingly, so did Steve Stemler, who finally spotted something Democratic in his party affiliation, but it's small consolation, and as K noted on Fb:

"Ed still votes to give tax dollars to religious schools through vouchers."

In 2008, Barack Obama won the state of Indiana. Since that moment, our state's white, Republican, theocratic fascists have maneuvered remorselessly to turn back the clock to antebellum times. More often than not, they've succeeded. But history is cyclical, and death rattles often are preceded by seemingly powerful, last-gasp emissions of bile and intemperance. Then, the hollow structure collapses in on itself.

Today's vote fuels my contempt for them even more, and it just makes me want to fight back harder. Of all the commentaries I read on this topic, John Krull said it best.

Unholy arguments and religious freedom (NUVO)

 ... We need to understand exactly how steep the slope is we’re standing on with this bill. The premise behind it is that our laws will be subordinate to an individual’s conscience. We only have to follow the laws with which we agree. The burden shifts to the state to prove it has a reason for asking us to follow the law.

Once we start rolling down that hill, who knows where we’ll stop. If following the law becomes a matter of personal choice based on one’s religious beliefs, then the idea of law itself is compromised.

Maddeningly true. But I'll live to see the bastards choke on it ... and I will laugh, long and loud.

I call this view, "Market Street One-Way Bowling Alley."

Let's just hope the Tiger Truck behemoths traveling eastbound stay in the right lane, and the cars traveling the wrong direction westbound keep left ... although that might be a problem, come to think of it.

The new Habana Blues is getting closer.

It's getting closer. Leo Lopez says he has parties booked for Derby festival time, so expect the new location to be up and running in early April.

Dear CM Phipps: If Jeff Gahan is your ally, why doesn't he say so?

The assemblage of political yard signs shown above makes perfect sense.

The grouping includes three candidates who openly favor Jeff Speck's downtown street network proposals, of which two-way streets are an essential component, alongside the yellow directional qualifier. It is a sensible and consistent tableau.

Other candidates falling into this category of Speck advocacy are Cliff Staten (6th dist. council), John Gonder (at-large council) and me (mayor).

Greg Phipps, the incumbent 3rd district councilman who is seeking re-election (and my neighbor), has stated numerous times, aloud and with feeling, that he supports Speck and two-way streets, and what's more, is willing to stake his political career and council seat on the strength of this advocacy.

But Greg's collection of yard signs omits potential streets ally Knable (who inconveniently is a Republican), and proudly includes current mayor Jeff Gahan, a fellow "Democrat", who recently connived with his city attorney Shane Gibson and Phipp's own council colleague, the body's ever pliant president Pat McLaughlin, to bypass both council and enabling ordinance by illegally appointing Larry Summers to the Stormwater Board.

In short, the mayor's team lifted a middle finger in the direction of the council's prerogatives.

Not only that, but to this very day, Gahan has prevaricated, obfuscated and utterly refused to take a public position on Speck's sorely needed plan, thus kneecapping with supreme cowardice the very same project that Phipps has committed so much personal time and political capital in espousing.

How to explain this contradiction?

If one genuinely is prepared to leave it all on the field, and stake everything on street grid reform, wouldn't he be actively challenging the anti-intellectual, somnolent DemoDisneyDixiecrat local party hierarchy, and not gleefully touting the most visible elected example of its abject failure?

We're forced to reiterate what we already knew: Slavish allegiance to the steadily disintegrating DemoDisneyDixiecratic mafioso spoils the batch every single time.

It's simple: The machine still controls the city, and that entity which controls the city can implement street grid reform tomorrow, if it likes. But nothing happens, nor likely will. Therefore, the machine does not want street grid reform, in spite of what it infers in the absence of overt, honest and principled possession of the issue.

Logically speaking, it is Phipps's own political "allies" who are quite nastily spiking his Kool-Aid with reactionary, do-nothing bile.

So why on earth continue drinking it?

One of these things just doesn't belong (hint: Steve Zissou).

Theocratic Fascism Restoration Act: "Ignoring Resistance by Corporations, Indiana Set to Pass Religious Discrimination Bill."

Even the state's major corporate business interests, who customarily enjoy having their boots delicately licked by the likes of a fawning Ron Grooms, view this reincarnation of the Nuremberg Laws to be a very bad idea.

Ignoring Resistance by Corporations, Indiana Set to Pass Religious Discrimination Bill (Human Rights Campaign)

However, such is the importance of assuaging the primal fear of white (and mostly Protestant) Indiana right-wingers that Grooms -- who voted just as enthusiastically for this abomination as he voted against marriage equality, at least gaining points for dull-witted consistency in discriminatory intent -- joins with the fraternity of the Pencenuts in rendering Indiana a laughing stock.

An open letter to the Indiana House of Representatives (NUVO)

Ironic, isn't it? Surely the majority of "Christians" backing such legislation belong to churches that enjoy tax exempt status. But they still avail themselves of the nation's infrastructure, don't they?

So do businesses large and small, most of which are subject to taxation (of course, evasion occurs), and while there'll always be differing opinions as to the what a fair rate of taxation truly is, it remains that most of us remain tethered to this grid of infrastructure for daily use: Streets, roads, sidewalks, electricity, sewers, water ... in short, the collective gathering of resources necessary and beneficial to all, subsidized in ways both great and small by and for us all.

I'm a business owner, and my business depends on this collective infrastructure to operate. Unless my business is prepared to opt out from the collective infrastructure, it cannot opt out of the collective social contract that builds and maintains it -- and how does one opt out from the collective infrastructure? As long as a publicly maintained path leads to one's door, it is scarcely possible.

The gist of American history in my reading is to reserve matters of individual conscience, like religious expression, to the individual: Believe as you please and be as you are, so long as it does not hurt others. For a business to argue that it must be free to discriminate on the basis of "religion" (and whatever that is cannot be agreed upon by Christians themselves) mocks this notion of civilization's advancement.

It's absolutely chilling that so many Hoosiers seem to think these rights exist in a vacuum, unconnected with anything at all apart from their own self-identified sectarian preferences, and that there is no ultimate benefit to giving a little (rigid cultural exclusivity) to gain a lot (expanded enrichment in terms of personal finance and spirituality) of multiculturalism.

I also understand that so much of it is fear. The fear isn't rational, but unfortunately, religion rushes in where the human mind fears to tread. That's a scenario for education, not legislation. I'm told that Rep. Ed Clere (R-72) opposes this example of odious lawmaking. That's good.

Will Steve "Seriously, I'm a Democrat, Every Now and Then" Stemler sit this vote out, too?

Conservatives Admit The Truth On Indiana ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill (Think Progress)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One of these things just doesn't belong (hint: Steve Zissou).

Can you tell which thing is not like the others?

Meanwhile, there no longer can be any doubt that New Albany is Kool-Aid's best market. Hereabouts, folks drink it like Kool-Aid.

ON THE AVENUES: Jeff Gahan, the Speck proposals, and City Hall's $75,000 roll of toilet paper. (January 12, 2015)

... Jeff Speck’s Downtown Street Network Proposal arrived last week, so let’s talk about how Jeff Gahan’s hermetic City Hall is going to butcher it ...

... Unfortunately,it's a beautiful blueprint likely to land on the trash pile far faster than our array of inflatable industrial park incentives. That’s because apart from the city engineer, and perhaps John “Machiavelli” Rosenbarger himself in rare and fleeting moments, when he’s on his meds … there isn’t a soul in the inner municipal circle able or willing to understand it. They don’t live it. Words on a page don’t make their hearts sing, but Dixiecrat voters do, and that’s why street reform backers will be sold downriver.

Keith Henderson and the county's chronic poverty.

Let's begin by turning back the partisan political clock, and PJ Moore's letter to the napping newspaper.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2013: Charting the "false narrative" of the Floyd County Commissioners.

... I personally witnessed at least three of the auditor’s fiscal misadventures during 2012 alone — his literal rubber-stamping of prosecutor Keith Henderson’s use of almost $28,000 for his personal legal fees; his botching of the entire county’s 2012 spring allotment from the state Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF); and his faulty advice to the commissioners to donate the county’s entire Humana insurance premium refund of almost $700,000 to county employees instead of returning it to the proper account (which they were inclined to do until several residents raised public objections).

Only in the Henderson matter did a commissioner, Chuck Freiberger, question the auditor’s incorrect advice and seek the return of the misspent funds.

Now the case has made its way to Indianapolis. Which of the probabilities are stronger, that the University of Kentucky will win this year's NCAA basketball tournament, or that Papa Morris already has written the column defending Henderson?

Possible punishment detailed for Floyd County prosecutor, by Jerod Clapp (N and T)

INDIANAPOLIS — Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson could have his law license permanently revoked, following accusations of professional misconduct by an Indiana Supreme Court disciplinary board.

The board claims Henderson was “deceitful,” “dishonest” and “fraudulent” to Floyd County officials who approved nearly $30,000 of county tax dollars in 2011 and 2012 to pay his legal fees following ethics complaints after Henderson agreed to write a book related to the David Camm case during an appeal of Camm’s second trial.

Houndmouth revels in its Nawbany roots: "We’ve always liked the darker side of America."

Click through to view the video. The band ascendent seems in excellent form, and the hoppy ale named in the group's honor was tasting mighty fine on Friday.

Houndmouth: We’ve always liked the darker side of America (Weekly Feed with Kyle Meredith, via Salon)

The alternative country band talk Otis Redding, their newest album and distancing themselves from the folk scene.