During last evening’s City Council meeting, as council members (lamentably minus the absent Mark Seabrook) and a citizen speaker discussed aspects of New Albany’s lean city budget, Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey, could remain silent no longer.
In retrospect, that he had said nothing for half an hour was an ominous sign.
Abruptly at 8:02 p.m., Coffey jauntily announced his contempt for the principles of teamwork, piously intoning that he hadn’t bothered attending Tuesday’s city budget work session because unidentified officials refuse to let him have “all the pieces to the puzzle.”
Not that he wouldn’t find them on his own, mind you, and of course he will manage to do so, against all the odds …
You could almost hear the public toilet keys jangling in Coffey’s pocket.
As is customary, Coffey’s bravura performance satisfied all the requirements of his favored brand of reactionary retro chic: Ward heeler, demagogue, and populist savior of the downtrodden suffering at the hands of the (fill in the blank) conspiracy.
Coffey’s council persona is calculated to baffle and intimidate his less experienced legislative brethren, and to play to the folks in Coffey’s home district, who after all is said and done must remain somehow “oppressed” if the Wizard is to retain a viable political pulse.
However, as was convincingly demonstrated in the recent Democratic leadership contest when his bid for party secretary was crushed, Coffey’s citywide appeal is considerably less universal than the adoration within his fiefdom.
Unfortunately for Coffey, this situation is a serious impediment to the aspirations of a small-time neighborhood politico who craves power not because he is capable of offering the slightest glimpse as to the future direction of the city of New Albany, or can truly grasp the Freudian nature of recurring drainage obsessions, but because he seeks to perpetuate each and every discredited local stereotype by sticking it to the uppity book readers, the snotty degree holders, the pie-in-the-sky progressives, and most importantly, those people from all walks of life who are too preoccupied with their lives to pay sufficient attention to the political theater that is Dan Coffey.
Accordingly, to wreak his preferred style of self-aggrandizing havoc outside the boundaries of the 1st District, Coffey needs strategic allies on the council. And, in the time-honored fashion, such allies need not agree on every individual point just so long as they unite on shared central issues, which in the case of the current City Council is that espoused by the faction inhabited by Coffey, which opposes virtually every activity undertaken by City Hall and the person of Mayor James Garner.
Now, in light of NA Confidential’s earlier harsh words about the Mayor’s performance, it is crucially important to understand that experience invariably enhances perception.
It has become obvious that the council “Gang of Four’s” factional opposition to Mayor Garner is predicated on root principles of anti-progressivism that extend far past the incumbent’s record – good, bad or indifferent.
These principles are regressive and reactive in nature, and they are dedicated to the preservation of a dissolving and failed status quo that lacks vision and vitality, and that offers no means whatsoever of nurture or assistance as we contemplate the task of carrying the city into the coming decades.
Replace the current mayor with John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi or Charlemagne, and the response would be exactly the same.
Yes, the administration of Mayor Garner is flawed, gaffe-ridden and buffeted by fiscal circumstance … and yet possesses a sole and irreplaceable cardinal virtue compared with the Coffey Cabals of our city, in the sense that it harbors at least a willingness to acknowledge the realm of ideas, to consider the demands of the future and to entertain notions of change.
Imperfection in pursuit of progress is better than nothing at all, and nothing at all is precisely what is being offered as the alternative by the “no progress at any price” lobby … and since the absence of progress is, in fact, regress, this brings us to the 3rd council district’s current lack of coherent representation.
This leadership vacuum is proudly occupied by 3rd District councilperson Steve Price, who continues his emergence as Dan Coffey’s most active and fawning sycophant, regularly quoting Coffey during council meetings (“we’ve got to stop the bleeding”) and seemingly unable (or more likely, unwilling) to grasp that Coffey’s vituperative political worldview is designed to bludgeon the very district Price willfully neglects to represent.
(Since Price is so fond of off-the-cuff references to Nazism, NA Confidential will offer its own historical parallel: In the paragraph above, substitute the word “collaborationist” for “sycophant” and see what happens.)
Strong sentiments? Yes, and justified.
“Sometimes it seems that we cram people into too small an area,” said Price last evening in expressing opposition to a controversial plan for patio homes off Kenzig Road.
Undoubtedly true, but Price has yet to be heard applying the same logic to multi-unit apartments crammed into older homes owned by residents of Daytona Beach, a phenomenon sadly common in Price’s own district, but an issue perhaps not worthy of Price’s attention because if might differ with the Coffeyist prerequisite of appeasing slum lords to debase the pretentiousness of the pointy-heads.
The ones in Price’s district, that is.
Last evening, ready to cast his vote on A-05-14 (an additional appropriation) and eager as ever to be seen aligning himself with the voices of regression, Price offered this odd explanation:
“Someone out in the hall told me there might be legal matters, so I have to vote no.”
Out in the hall?
Is this “no” vote more or less bizarre given that Price himself is the one who proposed the ordinance in the first place?
The Tribune’s Amany Ali and the Courier-Journal’s Ben Zion Hershberg both attended last evening’s city council meeting, and offer polar opposite accounts:
Courier-Journal (limited shelf life on C-J links)