Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What We Owe You

We are too seldom in remembrance that the vast majority of our readers simply do not care about the petty squabbles that distract us from our true purposes.

The editorial board of NA Confidential is made up of a troika that is, without being boastful, able to hold more than one idea, more than one goal in mind at any given time. That is why you, faithful readers, often find yourself mystified at the seemingly byzantine asides and private jokes we are wont to indulge in.

Herewith is our pledge: We will either explain the jibes and darts we employ in our main posts, or we will give up the indulgence. That does not proscribe their use within the subsidiary comments, as that venue is designed for give and take, thrust and parry, challenge and answer. But when it comes to our main postings, we will either make it clear by reference to prior columns, or we will let you in on the joke.

For make no mistake about it, while we are serious in our endeavors, we also like to have fun with the blog. Face it, part of the reason you read these offerings is to be entertained while being informed.

On reflection, the more "in" the jokes are, the more poorly we serve you. Opinionated we will continue to be. Less than charitable to those whose words and actions we deplore we will continue to be.

But as for you, gentle readers, we make this pledge - we will respect the fact that you make an effort to seek us out. Know that we appreciate it more than you can know.

A venerable passage in the Bible reminds us that as iron sharpens iron, so too do men who hold each other to account. Nothing in my faith, education, and upbringing lead me to think that "men" means anything other than "humans." So male or female by birth, join in. We will respect you by applying the same standards to your contributions as we do to each other.

And if you choose to be a "read-only" participant, you are equally welcome and appreciated.


In that vein, we propose to revisit the promise of the Linden Meadows project, stalled these many months by a concerted attempt to make it emblematic of "rights." This conspiracy, made up of parties who share little but a desire to prevent the progression of anyone but themselves and an animus for anyone who is not "one of them," whatever that may be, has stumbled in retreat, but has managed to cost the CHDO project more than $100,000 in delays, interest costs, and legal fees.

Replacing that money means the earnest and hopeful buyers of these historic homes will pay even more than necessary. The city itself suffers from the debilitating image it presents when busybodies claim the mantle of "property rights" to prosecute their mission of persecution of those less fortunate.

Make no mistake. The land on which the former Cottom Avenue houses now sit is NOT under a cloud of title. Neither the city, the state, or CHDO wrongfully took this land from anyone. Do not be distracted by hypotheticals about deed restrictions from the first half of the 20th Century, either.

There are no property rights being threatened. There are no deed restrictions in play. Any rights that may have existed at some time (and even that is a frivolous claim worthy of being sanctioned by the courts) were lawfully extinguished by one simple expedient: greenback dollars.

Despite anything you may have heard to the contrary, all heirs and assigns who may have held reversionary rights have been lawfully and justly relieved of those rights by 1) a judicial ruling that such rights are against the public interest, and 2) most importantly, because they surrendered those phantom rights in exchange for cash.

The local news media has been deficient in making this clear, contributing to a miasma of delay and obfuscation that serves personal interests, not public interests. The Linden Meadows opponents stand today rebuked and rebuffed, if not disgraced. Although this writer is no lawyer, it is a pretty standard precedent that judicial appeals are not the place to challenge findings of fact.

And the fact is, as found by the judge, the suit to stop the CHDO redevelopment project was groundless and without merit.

Although we have addressed this issue before, and drawn fire for our predictions of the fate of the lawsuit, we will, among the three of us, attempt to now explain how the CHDO initiative offers New Albany a figuratively boundless opportunity to revitalize our urban core.

And we'll leave you with this thought: We are mystified as to why anyone would hesitate to endorse this project and do everything in their power to help it along. For all those "anyones" who continue to remain silent, we entreat you to illuminate us. Your comment link awaits!

Toss in Schonbrunn, and you've got a deal.

When I see this ...

... I think of this.

From a relic of New Albany's past to the most intriguing building in Vienna (a city filled with noteworthy architecture), it's the difference between the Austrian capital's Hundertwasser Haus and our Hundred (and One) reasons not.

But, joyfully, there's a trace of the trademark Habsburg mustard yellow in the newest building to go up in the Shiloh Place condo development on 6th Street as it crosses the levee to the waterfront.

Hmm ... what's up with the house at 1003 East Main Street?

The Ordinance Enforcement Officer needs to check out 1003 E. Main Street.

Last year the owners found the time to eliminate several nice trees in the front yard, but has the grass there been cut yet this summer? It's approaching baling proportions.

The outbuilding in back is starting to look pretty bad, too. As it presently stands (actually, as its door leans), the historic structure is an "open" invitation to mischief.

Although perhaps it's an extreme example -- there are no conceivable connections, are there? -- here's a view of a far better maintained house on Main Street, one mere blocks away from the disappointing vista pictured above.

Indeed -- it's good to be the leader.

Monday, May 29, 2006

It was a good Memorial Day -- for paint sales.

A new coat is being applied to one of the contiguous buildings that make up the old Fair Store (on Market Street, by Little Chef; across from the Grand and Bistro New Albany).

Over on Main Street, the building that recently was the Abe’s Rental annex (north side of the street, opposite the 1940’s-era art/deco filling station) also is being painted and renovated.

Unfortunately, it looks like two (or more) ghost ads are about to disappear.

As I was taking these pictures, a woman leaned out of a pickup truck that had just been boarded by the painters (they appeared to be off to lunch), and said an office was going to occupy the building.

Yep -- the old man had the right word for it.

A few of my pals make it a point to keep me informed of the declining value of my reputation in certain, shall we say, “dangerous” neighborhoods in the local blogosphere.

The list of untruths dispensed by masked character assassins inhabiting these dark, dank and cranky streets -- people whose sense of ironic detachment is somewhat warped -- is long and studded with palpable malice.

Remarkably, the cheap shots and envious bile occasionally emanate from a human being with a name, not a cartoon character hiding behind an alias.

Of all the strange things that have transpired since embarking upon NA Confidential in 2004, none have remained as surreal and baffling to me as this tendency for “mad as hell” people to prefer the pusillanimousness of anonymity to the undoubted integrity that comes with putting one’s name to his or her beliefs and standing tall.

Apparently I made the mistake of assuming that people like these had a real-life daddy who taught them the proper way to exercise their cherished “freedom of speech.”

Fortunately, I had just such a parent, and he actually did teach me.

My dad and I were cut from different bolts, and there weren’t too many things about which we agreed. He was easy prey to the siren’s call of populism, especially of the knee-jerk sort we see in the present debate over immigration – and it made him twice as angry when he ultimately had to admit to being mistaken about George Wallace, Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot.

And yet, when the facts indicated that it was unavoidable, he could admit to being wrong.

Our relationship was often tense, contentious and confused – for both of us. By the time I finally was in a position to make amends, he was gone, and the opportunity had passed me by. I kick myself in the butt for it every day, and I live with it.

But make no mistake: I respected my father. I respected the way he played the hand he was dealt in life and succeeded, the way he went off to the Pacific in World War II, and the way he tried to conduct his affairs.

He said what he thought, and he was up front about it. In my father’s world, the only reasons why you would wear a mask were because you had something to hide … or because you were about to commit an armed robbery.

Either way, it disgusted him.

It’s Memorial Day, and that’s when I think about my father, his life, and his lessons.

He taught me some very valuable lessons, and these help me to maintain a sense of equilibrium during times when scofflaws, simpletons and slumlords seem to rule the streets, while others lurking through the back alleys of the local blogosphere offer no solutions to the problems facing us, but instead proudly fall back on institutionalized cowardice, doltish anti-intellectualism and the politics of the culture war.

Yes, I’m thinking of one offender in particular.

The most prominent of these charlatans is the semi-literate academic wannabe at “Freedom of Speech,” who masquerades as a university professor while cluelessly reprinting reams of disjointed numbers and non-contextual musings passed along to her by a councilman’s helpful spouse, all the while assaulting the character of known entities who are without the luxury (or the need) for masks.

The shameful play-acting alone is a fundamental breach of professional ethics for genuine college professors, but what propels the “free speech” sham into the realm of the truly ludicrous is that for all her incessant blathering about free speech, the blog’s hooded proprietor does not permit comments from readers.

Here’s a recent observation from “Erik”:

NA CONFIDENTIAL & ROGER BAYLOR LIES AGAIN! Mr. Baylor how about telling the truth for once in your life!

Here’s yet another expression of the truth, dearest Erika:

If my father were still around to observe the phenomenon of coward hiding behind a fake diploma and attacking people who are known and above board, the word he’d use to describe the situation (and the blogger) is indelicate, but appropriate.


Good call, dad. I heartily concur.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's only money but...

Amidst arguments of waste and want, I thought it might be informative to compare New Albany’s financial situation with those of other, similarly populated Indiana cities with particular regard for labor expenditures. Why labor? Because it’s commonly understood that if you want something done in a professional environment, you have to pay for someone to do it. And, currently in New Albany, things aren’t being done. Revenues and fines that could be collected aren’t. Codes that should be enforced aren’t. The list goes on.

Let me first say that I’m not a statistician. This isn’t a comprehensive report but a legitimate attempt at a quick snapshot to spur conversation about community expectations and values. I did not adjust for specific anomalies that may or may not be present owing to my ignorance of them. I chose comparative cities based solely on their populations’ proximity to New Albany’s 36,973 using 2003 data from the Internet. Those populations range from 43,083 to 30,609. Besides New Albany, cities included are: Carmel, Columbus, East Chicago, Greenwood, Lawrence, Marion, Michigan City, Portage, and Richmond.

Basically, I used Internet data, most from 2004 but some from 2002, to compare how much the various cities spend on employees. Below are the results, showing the mean and median for each category and how New Albany compares.

Notes: New Albany’s figures, from March 2004, include 33 sanitation employees at $74,446 per month. Granger and Merrillville, with populations of ~31,000 and 30,990 respectively, were not included because of a lack of reliable data.

City Population – Indiana
City Data – Indiana’s Bigger Cities

A quick refresher on mean and median calculations is available from Robert Niles here.

If one does some quick math, there’s an indication that several cities of our approximate size spend much more money for many more employees to complete tasks and provide services. Using the median scores, New Albany is “down” 48 full-time employees, 12 part-time employees, and $210, 990 in monthly payroll ($2,531,880 per year).

I’ll leave it to readers to determine what that means.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

REWIND: "Windowless Views of Scribner Place."

It’s a holiday weekend, so you might as well become acclimated to reruns.

Original content will return soon … and until then, I’m trying to be somewhat topical in selecting topics for the "rewind" function, as in the case of today’s front-page Tribune story on Schmitt Furniture (written by Chris Morris).

Schmitt is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, and the company deserves every conceivable plaudit for sticking to the “Furniture Corner of State and Main” throughout often difficult times for New Albany’s once vibrant downtown business district.

In Morris’s article, the Schmitt family is credited for yielding properties to make way for Scribner Place, and current company president Louis Schmitt is quoted as saying, “Let the renaissance begin.”

We are in perfect, lockstep, 100% agreement with Mr. Schmitt's sentiment, and once Scribner Place is attracting people to downtown, it’s going to be wonderful to see Schmitt Furniture leading the way forward by restoring the building’s formidable, signature façade.

Think of "Hair" and the Fifth Dimension: "Let the sun shine ... in ... "

Nudge, nudge … hint, hint.

In complete seriousness, NAC says:

In the coming years, you’ll be able to measure the progress of this renaissance by the number of windows that (re)appear on downtown buildings.

From Schmitt Furniture’s web site, here’s a tiny view of what the building may have looked like at one time. They sure look like windows to us, and if any of the local historians have any further information or photos, please pass it along for publication.

Previously at NAC:

Thursday, August 4, 2005: Views of the windowless Reisz building, and Schmitt's latest competitors.

Thursday, August 4, 2005: And now we return to "Windowless Views of Scribner Place."

Friday, May 26, 2006

REWIND: Councilman Cappuccino fights for the right to be small, laments plague of book learning that has descended on the city.

In yesterday's Courier-Journal, it was reported that Scribner Place's funding (was) discussed earlier this week by the Redevelopment Authority:

On Tuesday, the New Albany Redevelopment Authority held a public hearing required by the federal government before the city can issue bonds to help finance the complex.

City officials also said they expect Scribner Place construction to begin in late July or early August.

Here's an excerpt from the NAC archive, dated Oct. 12, 2005.


On Tuesday, procedural reasons delayed New Albany’s Redevelopment Commission from voting on the issuance of bonds as part of the city’s commitment to Scribner Place, but it isn’t expected to delay the commencement of the project, clean-up for which is beginning soon.

At the Redevelopment Commission meeting, Mark Sanders of the dynamic East Spring Street Neighborhood Association joined groundbreaking local businessman Carl Holliday in supporting Scribner Place.

At the same time, a city resident, evidently confusing economic development and revitalization with the huge portions of Honey Baked Scrapple available during the recently concluded Harvest Homecoming, accused the city of “biting off more than we can chew.”

Of course, for some of our city's veteran obstructionists, attempting to turn the pages of the calendar forward to 1975 is biting off more than they can chew.

Councilman Dan Cappuccino, he of the postage-stamp sized principality of West Endia, immediately joined the aforementioned citizen in condemning the Scribner Place project and everyone it stands for, noting that many of the impoverished residents of his own fiefdom – people he has failed to enrich in any measurable way during decades of grating self-aggrandizement on the political stage – wouldn’t be able to afford membership in a YMCA, and for this reason, the remainder of the city should immediately be pulled down to the councilman’s level.

Councilman Cappuccino then proposed a voter referendum on whether snooty educated people who insist on accomplishing better things should be allowed to ruin the barbecued bologna for the rest of us.

Meanwhile, unaware that the Redevelopment Commission and the City Council aren’t the same body, and unable to attend owing to a prior commitment to “Play Some Skynyrd” for the annual Slumlord Benevolent Society ball at Hugh E. Bir’s, 3rd district Uncouncilman Steve Price courageously voted “no.”

When asked what he was voting against, UCM Price said it doesn’t matter, and launched into a rousing rendition of “That Smell.”

The odor is familiar.


By the way, is UCM Price the treasurer of S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association, or isn't he?

Really, it's a yes or no question -- right, Erika?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A periodic reminder: NA Confidential's policy on reader comments is explained.

We're pleased to note that new readers are constantly finding us.

Please take note that NA Confidential follows a policy with respect to your comments.

First, you must be registered with blogger.com according to the procedures specified. This is required not as a means of directing traffic to blogger.com, but to reduce the instances of flaming and anonymous attacks.

Second, although pen names are perfectly acceptable, I must know your identity (and, of course, will keep it confidential).

To reiterate, I insist upon this solely to lessen the frequency of malicious anonymity, which plagues certain other blogs hereabouts.

You may e-mail me at the address given within my profile and explain who you are. Failure to comply means that your comments may be deleted.

Thanks for reading, and please consider becoming a part of the community here, one that is respectful of the prerequisites of civilized discourse.

Note: Yesterday's comments and today's by T Hickerson and Dave-O are allowed to stand, but I must insist on compliance with the house rules with respect to future comments.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

REWIND: Paint and public art as progressive ideals -- why not in New Albany?

I was riding my bike up Market Street on Tuesday evening when Dave Thrasher hailed me from the open door of his Art Store, and we chatted for a few minutes about a few of many of his outstanding ideas for incorporating art into the revitalization of downtown New Albany.

Back in December, 2005, a similar conversation with Dave led to this article.


In the interest of reconciliation and progress, it is understood that we can’t have what we want most of all: Fully staged show trials in which previous generations of New Albany civic “leadership” would be compelled to listen to the recitation of their aesthetic crimes against the municipality and be sentenced to penance.

We’re speaking primarily of the era of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, when classic components of New Albany’s architectural legacy, i.e., the post office and the courthouse, were blithely sacrificed for barren parking lots, formulaic banks festooned with Formica, and sterile socialist-inspired structures that continue to blight the cityscape long after the perpetrators have retired to Florida to escape the eyesores of their making.

However, all is not lost. In other parts of the outside world, creative thinkers rush in where fear-mongering troglodytes fear to tread.

We believe that when it comes to correcting the deficiencies of modern architecture, simple solutions like paint and art are capable of transforming this smudgy river town into a brighter, warmer place.

Consider the monumental task faced by those European countries breaking with Communism, where most cities are ringed with gray blocks of flats erected cheaply and rapidly in the post-war era, many similar in appearance (but varying in size) to this one in Greifswald, located on the Baltic coast in the former GDR:

At the risk of oversimplifying the complexities involved with the process of privatizing state-owned apartment blocks, improving the amenities within, and revitalizing neighborhoods outside, it would seem that the most common solution to the simple problem of gray murk has been a coat of paint:

Consider the looming bulk of our Riverview Tower retirement home, a building that would not be out of place in Bucharest or Tirana:

And try to visualize the impact of color, as in this hastily sketched revision:

Local residents Dave and Bonnie Thrasher have been leading proponents of public art as a valued pillar of revitalization, and we’ll leave the details to them and so many others who’ve studied the utility of art in this context.

At the same time, while walking to the library yesterday morning, it struck NA Confidential quite forcefully that wall murals and similarly styled artistic renderings are a marvelous way to humanize the windowless walls of public buildings, as in this view from Mexico:

A prominent example of a contemporary structure with a wasted, blank gray wall is the City-County Building:

Here’s how it might appear if used as the canvas for a mural:

Granted, the scene above is a North Korean anti-imperialist propaganda poster, but you get the drift. I’m seeing an historical scene from New Albany’s past, one that might be realized by a local artist and financed by private fund-raising efforts.

Consider public art a viable plank in the progressive platform … and there’s absolutely no reason why a five-year plan to achieve such a goal cannot be commenced right now.

Addendum: Read about Jeffersonville's flood wall art in an Evening News article by John Gilkey.

Sect leader denounces Scribner Place, contemplates self-immolation at job site.

But matches cost money ...

According to today’s Courier-Journal, incremental progress toward Scribner Place construction continues to be made

Scribner Place timetable discussed; Hearing addresses contingency funds, by Ben Zion Hershberg.

Here are excerpts:

Construction on the Scribner Place development in New Albany will begin in late July or early August, city officials said yesterday.

The comments by John Rosenbarger, the director of the city's redevelopment commission, and City Attorney Shane Gibson followed a federally required public hearing yesterday before $12 million to $13 million in bonds can be issued for the development …

… Dave Huckleberry, one of four people who spoke at yesterday's hearing, isn't among those excited about the development.

"A lot of questions were asked that were never answered" about the costs of Scribner Place, he said at the hearing.

He also said he believes the complex "is not going to be equitable" because some people won't be able to afford to use the YMCA.

Wait ... "equitable"?

Thass one-a them $10 p-p-pergessive words, ain’t it?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stimulating Reading

I thought about using "Food for Thought," but in the current climate even I'm not that trite. But perhaps that's just my own self-created problem.

Waiting in reserve is a draft posting for Wednesday, but in the interim, I invite you to extrapolate the local blogosphere to what's being discussed here by Eric Boehlert, the author Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush.


A dozen disheveled Luddite Bar & Grill patrons can't be wrong.

One fine evening in the folk festival's craft (only $3!) beer tent.

As many readers already know, I spent the weekend in Madison working NABC’s table in the libations tent at the first annual Ohio River Valley Folk Festival – and it was a well-organized, first-class event.

At one point during the afternoon on Friday, I looked up from the beer tickets changing hands and was surprised to see Doug England standing there.

Talk about coincidences; it turns out that the former New Albany mayor (a sponsor of the festival’s music stage) and his wife were spending the weekend in the same bed & breakfast as Mr. And Mrs. Confidential.

I’m quite happy that the Englands seemed to enjoy their NABC beers, and the ensuing discussion about various factors that inhibit downtown business growth was much appreciated, especially Doug’s information about the church and the green building.

Indeed, church and state separation is a good thing. After all, it’s the law.

Obviously, the support of a prominent New Albanian for what we’re currently doing in the city is vital, and it’s always good to run into fellow townspeople while on the road.

Perhaps a few of the sharp marketing ideas that drew the Englands and the Confidentials to Madison for the weekend might be implemented right here in New Albany -- of course, just so long as we're properly respectful of our own city's elders and their tried and true traditions.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rich O's Public House cracks the Top 20 in Beer Advocate rankings.

Last week was American Craft Beer Week, and although I knew about it, the days passed by without acknowledgment.

Perhaps this is because every working day is “craft beer day” for me, and the official observances seem almost redundant, although it is understood that the broad idea is to use American Craft Beer Week as a pretext to educate the consumer and to celebrate the diversity of grassroots American beer culture.

At any rate, the popular web site Beer Advocate released a list in conjunction with American Craft Beer Week:

The Top 50 Places to Have a Beer in America

Here are the top ranked Places to Have a Pint in America based on BeerFly reviews by site users.

Rich O’s Public House not only made the list, but we are pegged at #19, and that’s a high honor, indeed.

# 17 = Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA)
# 18 = Monk's Cafe (Philadelphia, PA)
# 19 = Rich O's Public House (New Albany, IN)
# 20 = Southampton Publick House (Southampton, NY)
# 21 = Hopleaf Bar (Chicago, IL)

When we began our good beer program in 1992, the emphasis was on imported beers, but as the years have passed, the balance has shifted in favor of American microbrews. Naturally, this reflects the growth of the segment, which in turn indicates a greater willingness on the part of Americans to step outside of the Bud and try new things.

To me, the greatest manifestation of craft beer’s increased acceptance is the fact that we now brew our own beers – right here in New Albany.

Our beers are embraced for their own merits -- right here in New Albany.

They’re enjoyed – right here in New Albany -- by a broad cross-section of local beer drinkers, both at our own establishment and at an off-premise venue like the new Bistro New Albany.

At our level, it’s truly "brewing with a human face," and it’s fun to be in a position where art and commerce flow together in such a tuneful manner.

Kindly permit me to offer heartfelt thanks to all my friends and patrons for your support of our business, but more importantly, for your recognition that local businesses are important and worthy of support.

Rest assured, I try to return the favor whenever possible.

Citizen radar guns and other things that we couldn't possibly do.

This headline reminds us that there are cities and towns in America that are capable of conceiving creative solutions to nagging problems without using poverty and ignorance as excuses not to try and achieve results.

Residents aim radar guns at Carmel streets; Police-backed effort lets residents flag speedy scofflaws in residential areas, By Dan McFeely (The Indianapolis Star).

Speeding cars are the No. 1 complaint made to police in Carmel, home to subdivisions where moms push strollers, dads walk dogs and kids play on streets.

It's a problem that extends far beyond Carmel, though.

Across the nation, communities from Pasadena, Calif., to Scottsdale, Ariz., suburban Atlanta to Appleton, Wis., have turned to citizen patrols to crack down on speeders.

It would be far more entertaining to aim handy army surplus bazookas at New Albany’s many boom cars.

Noise Free America is dedicated to fighting noise pollution, especially from boom cars, car alarms, leaf blowers, and motorcycles. Noise Free America has an extensive legislative agenda to reduce noise, as well as an Action Plan.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

News-Tribune publisher: “New Albany Council is giving city bad reputation.”

Apologies for yesterday’s absence, but my brewing company was one of two beer vendors for the first ever Ohio River Valley Folk Festival in Madison, Indiana. I spent the past two days working the riverside beverage tent while Mrs. Confidential strolled through the historic downtown, amassing notes and making comparisons.

It is assumed that most readers have visited Madison, but if not, you are advised to do so. It is a place less than an hour away from New Albany, and one where against all odds – owing to a combination of fortuitous geographical factors, out-of-the-box thinking and plain hard work – wonderful things are happening.

Meanwhile, back in New Albany, the local newspaper just took a mighty swing at a combative topic and sent it for a ride.

TUCKER: New Albany Council is giving city bad reputation; Voting down Bridgewater development is another mistake, by John Tucker, publisher of The Evening News & The Tribune.

After hearing that the council turned away a quality development that could have spurred on economic growth, I am now certain of their strategy – “Let’s wait right here. I’m sure money is going to fall from the sky at any moment and then we can grow.”

… the council once again validated their reputation of stagnation and dysfunction and sent a clear statement to the people of New Albany that if you want more of the same for New Albany while the rest of the area grows, wait right here with them.

Mr. Tucker quite possibly underestimates the staggering weight of “stagnation and dysfunction” that the current council brings to the table. I suggest use of the word “malevolence” as indicative of the condition gripping the right (i.e., wrong) side of the seating arrangement, where the Gang of Four sits in judgment of the city’s future – announcing that we’re in a terrible state, but not so terrible that we’d do anything about it.

Right on, John Tucker.

At long last, New Albany's newspaper is getting it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

An effront to civilized peoples everywhere? Nah, just another performance by the Siamese Councilmen.

Third District Councilman Steve Price is shown here displaying shocking satellite photos that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that upwardly mobile pockets of his own council district, especially those located within the boundaries of the S. Ellen Jones and East Spring Street neighborhood associations, harbor subversive cells of uppity New Urbanites intent on bringing fancy-dancy culture to New Albany.

Along with fellow conjoined councilman Dan Coffey (seen here illustrating the maximum height of our aspirations), CM Price led the charge at last night’s council meeting to strip $10,000 from the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) One-Year Action Plan – money that would have gone toward enrolling people from all the city’s council districts in a program called NeighborWorks – and to place it instead in the moribund dilapidated housing fund, where it might pay for one structure to be removed.

And what is NeighborWorks, which the city’s redevelopment director referred to as the "best purchase" of the entire CDBG program?

NeighborWorks America is a national nonprofit organization that works to revitalize communities through affordable housing opportunities, training, and technical assistance.

The noted political philosopher Jesus once offered a parable to the effect that it’s better to learn how to fish than it is to be given a fish.

NeighborWorks teaches people to revitalize, and the very notion is so frightening to the Siamese Councilmen (and in fairness, to all but two of the council as a whole) that now the money will go toward tearing down a house, and, naturally, there will still be no plan for what goes in its place once the decrepit structure is gone ... which is what NeighborWorks teaches people how to do.

After all, simple folks don’t really need education. They need for you to give them a fish, because that fish buys you a vote.

Right, Larry?

Perhaps Community Housing’s signature Linden Meadows project could leverage the money for in-fill housing where the demolished house once stood – but wait, the Siamese Councilmen and their affiliates have done their level best to thwart Linden Meadows, too.

And all this in spite of expert testimonySCRRAATTCHH … no, that won’t work either, because neither CM Price nor CM Coffey has ever been willing to acknowledge any useful information that comes to them from a person who has made the mistake of gaining expertise through academic or vocational study and the subsequent application of this information in the reality-based world, almost as though plain facts were foul medicines, Limburger cheese or that nasty smell you notice when something has died.

Accordingly, something probably did die last night: Bridgewater Village, a condominium development proposed for a site off Daisy Lane.

Once again, a large contingent of residents turned out to protest the project, and by their doing so, finally we grasp the one issue that unites everyone in the city of New Albany: Daisy Lane, and how it has been ignored, neglected, overused and, quite simply, is so grotesquely wrong in every conceivable way that as community-wide penance, all development in the city must come to a screeching halt, right now, until something is done.

But, something can’t be done because (altogether now) there isn’t any money … although there certainly is money to be derived from development … but shouldn’t those condos be built downtown, where forty years of ineptitude has produced land with no value, even as the earnest homeowners of the Daisy Lane area worked hard to increase the property values in their neighborhood … which makes it the natural location of the proposed condos … except the road is inadequate … and we have no money to fix it … and on, and on, and on it goes, and when the near universal abdication of responsibility on the part of virtually every person in town stops, no one knows.

Now, if you’ve been reading NA Confidential for any length of time, you know how the founder of this blog feels about the populist, ward-heeling and anti-intellectual tendencies regularly emanating from the proudly underachieving right side of the council table, but I’ll tell you this: Last night’s Bridgewater Village proposal was a damned hard call for all nine of the council members to make, including the ones who regularly grandstand and assume poses when such matters arise.

And, collectively, in response to the challenge, what happened?

The council bailed.


Turned tail and ran.

Sorry, but it's true. It's also sad. Faced with a tough decision of the sort that demands wisdom, leadership and a touch of guts – faced with something that they were effusive in praising to the developers in attendance – New Albany’s elected city council abjectly surrendered, effectively serving notice that for the year and a half left in their terms of office, absolutely nothing of a positive nature is going to be allowed to happen in this city – especially if the gleefully obstructionist Gang of Four (councilmen Coffey, Price, Bill Schmidt and Larry Kochert) has any say in the matter.

Call it pure, incendiary, spiteful, solution-free political caterwauling if you will -- or as I prefer, just call it by its proper name: Capitulation.

The stress always has been visible on all fronts, but now it's going bonkers.

We’ve come to a point where CM Price, lacking even the most rudimentary revitalization program of his own, expresses open contempt for neighborhood associations that are the sole entities seeking to add some semblance of value to his own council district, and CM Coffey dismisses with a sneer the testimony of anyone who comes before the council to speak, if that unlucky person does not reside alongside CM Coffey himself or better yet, in the approximate vicinity of whatever plan is being discussed at the time.

The curious thing about this unrelenting madness is that the Siamese Councilman and their generally anonymous sycophants are waging their vindictive vendettas against the modern world in such a way as to defecate in their own nests.

You say Scribner Place is certain to draw investment into the 1st District?

CM Coffey’s against it.

Neighborhood associations working against rampant inertia to revamp streets, homes and opportunities?

CM Price is against that, too.

It has ceased to be about politics. It’s now about pathology. Their way, or the highway ... but when it comes to their way, there's no there, there -- just ever escalating venom.

Just when so many people busting their buns on the ground and at the grassroots are joining to offer hope that New Albany can emerge from the corrosive miasmas of neglect and ignorance – efforts that are beginning at long last to bear fruit – the Gang of Four wants to put a stop to it, to strangle regeneration before it flies out of their control, or at the very least to apply the same leaden fist of uncreative, chortling neglect that’s brought us to the juncture they so often decry and use as an excuse for accomplishing nothing.

What explains this self-destructive oddity? What kind of person acts in opposition to forces that increase value for all?

Last night, CM Mark Seabrook summarized the immediate future thusly:

The heavy lifting just got harder for all* of us.


*Apologies to the official voice of righteous doom.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

No politics -- just good news in New Albany.

Yesterday’s good news that another downtown building has found a buyer is the latest in a series of positive developments for the city of New Albany as a whole.

The following three news items spotlight varying manifestations of progress toward preserving what we have and building a better community for the future.

Bid to save old Ritter home gets boost; Monsignor in St. Louis helping raise money, by Ben Zion Hershberg (The Courier-Journal; short shelf life for link).

Purdue plants seeds for crop of tech jobs; New Albany center to hold office space, classrooms by fall 2007, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Parks Department gets Sports Center, by Chris Morris (News-Tribune).

At last evening’s “Preservation Conversation,” an attendee was overheard to say that the local elected officials most in need of the information presented at such gatherings are rarely in attendance.

Ain’t it true.

The “we can’t” crowd of congenital underachievers subsequently misses out on reality-based accounts of people and places that “can do,” as has been the case in Indianapolis with Fall Creek Place:

Fall Creek Place Homeownership Zone
Fall Creek Place

234 Pearl Street sold, to be occupied.

We're told that the sale of 234 Pearl Street is final, and that it will be the site of an office (business undisclosed). Interior work has started, and although the exterior will be painted and the clock/temperature function restored, there will be no further work on the building's facade.

The tacky Budweiser stickers from the ill-fated opium 'n' swill den known as Von's Place are gone. Let's hope that the Jim's Gun Room sign follows suit. While I have a several fond memories of the late firearm dealer Jim Looney, it's better for downtown to move past something that hasn't been open since the early 1990's. Good luck to the new owner.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Preservation Month: Conversation tonight, downtown walking tour on Saturday.

Don't forget tonight's "Preservation Conversation: Filling Holes in New Albany’s Downtown Historic Fabric," from 7:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m. at Destinations Booksellers, 604 E. Spring Street, New Albany.

Also, this release was forwarded to us by Develop New Albany.


Downtown Walking Tour

History, Availability, Possibility

Designed for interested buyers, realtors and historians, an in-depth tour of Downtown New Albany Buildings will be held Saturday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event is part of the DaVinci Downtown Festival, which will involve several Downtown streets being closed for a cycling race, food and craft booths and children’s activities.

The festival and tour are sponsored by Develop New Albany.

The outing begins at Louisville Stained Glass (the old M.T. Dearing Building) at the corner of Market and Pearl streets. The group will also visit the Old New Albany Antique Mall and the New Albany Inn court yard, among other sites.

Tour leaders include David Barksdale, Floyd County Historian; Realtors Nancy Stein of Semonin Realtors and Mike Kopp of J.W. Lopp Real Estate; Ted Fulmore, New Albany Historic Preservation Commission; Laura Renwick, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana; Paul Wheatley, New Albany Economic Development Director; Mike Ladd and Nick Cortolillo, New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone.

The event is free and open to the public.

DaVinci Downtown kicks off with a 5 K running race at 8:30 a.m., followed by cycling races through 4:30 p.m. Booths will be open throughout the day, including food. The New Albany Police will feature a children’s identification program and the Carnegie Center for Art and History will have kids art activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services Health Express will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon for blood sugar and blood pressure tests.

For more information, call Develop New Albany at 941-0018.

Full Wednesday Tribune story: "20 sue over council districts."

20 sue over council districts; Violations of federal and state representation laws cited, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Twenty residents sued the city and the City Council Tuesday afternoon, claiming population imbalance in council districts and calling for a special commission to investigate.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by attorney Stephen Beardsley, cites data from the 2000 census and 2002 voter registration that shows District 2 has considerably more residents and voters than the other five districts. It calls the council’s failure to redistrict accordingly — “through inertia, lack of will, or the distraction of political infighting” — a breach of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment and of state statute.

Overheard in a downtown alley.

Pssst … hey, buddy, you need good seats for the city council meeting Thursday night? I got two, front row, Gang of Four side – what’s that? Nah, these ain’t no obstructed view seats. That lady’s camera has to be in back now.

Whaddya mean, no good? It’s the best show in town, pal, and worth every penny. It's just like Springer, okay?

Huh? How’s that again? You mean they don’t charge admission? But Erik said he got ‘em straight from the Wizard of Westside, and I had to pay him … wait, I mean pay her … forget it.

That’s all right. Never mind. See ya in the funny papers, eh?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

WITH THRILLING ERIKA UPDATE: Tribune reports: Redistricting lawsuit filed today.

JUST IN: Residents file suit against New Albany, Council, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Twenty residents sued New Albany and the City Council Tuesday afternoon, claiming population imbalance in council districts and calling for a special commission to investigate.

To echo the words of our colleague Bluegill, there’s ample time for the council to grandstand over take-home police cars, but not time for it to address a state-mandated redistricting that is three years overdue.

Why is it that when some folks here in town – people who otherwise are willing and eager to worship raw numbers and the mystical discipline of numerology on an hourly basis – are shown statistics that clearly illustrate a disparity in population between various of New Albany’s city council electoral districts, and when the same people are confronted with the word “redistricting” as an equally obvious (and lawfully mandated) means of properly redressing the undisputable imbalance in numbers, their hurried response isn’t to agree or disagree with the evidence in such a manner that might lead to a healthy debate, but rather to launch into an immediate defense of Councilman Bill Schmidt, whose 2nd District just happens to be “home to 42 percent more people than Dan Coffey’s District 1, the second-most-populous district.”

For instance, take the 4th District’s ward-heeling council warhorse, CM Larry Kochert.

Please take him.

CM Kochert mimicked these responses in remarks last week to the Tribune: “I do recognize that Mr. Schmidt’s district is out of proportion. But Bill is 100 percent retired, and I think he responds to everybody that calls him … I don’t think there’s been any slighting of representation.”

Using this same Kochertian logic – his “spin the patronage wheel” rule of law and local politics – Bill Clinton might have remained in office forever. After all, he was doing a fine job, and like so many other inconvenient statutory limitations, enforcement of the two-term limit obviously ended up costing the Democrats voters when Bill was forced to go away and make room for the man who will be judged by posterity as the worst ever American president.

Speaking of laws, CM Schmidt’s name, employment status and length of tenure unsurprisingly do not appear carved in the stone of state legal passages relevant to this topic, as the Tribune’s Campbell recently reported:

A section of state law governs district apportionment for legislative councils in cities the size of New Albany.

The districts shall “contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population.” Redistricting, which is the council’s own responsibility, is also mandated every 10 years, two years after each federal census. In addition, “this division may be made at any other time.”

Though the council redistricted in 1992, it failed to do so in 2002.

Might this be because the core principles of fair and equal representation are contingent neither on the identity of the person currently occupying a specific office, nor on his or her performance of duties?

“I do recognize that Mr. Schmidt’s district is out of proportion,” concedes CM Kochert from the vantage point of three years of contemplation.

According to the law, this is the central point. It’s the only relevant point.

All the rest is smoke, mirrors, and pure politics.


Wednesday morning update:

My, my … semi-literate hacks unsuccessfully masquerading as college professors sure all touchy nowadays:


Strange how we keep jangling unbalanced nerves around town.

Note that the politically transgendered Erik/Erika – whose commitment to freedom of speech is so strong that he/she does not allow comments or responses of any sort -- cannot refute either of NAC’s two basic premises in this case: Indiana law stipulates districts with a semblance of equal population, and the council has failed to redistrict for three years.

Instead, Erik/Erika merely rejigs his/her existing reams of venom, spite and vituperation into a fresh, new round of anonymous slander -- and expects the reading public to buy the biggest "lie" of all: That the slime emanates from the pen of a genuine, educated academic.

My dear Erik/Erika, if CM Schmidt truly supported redistricting before, and if he admits that the districts are unbalanced – and if his commitment to law is as you and other continue to insist – then why has he failed to take the lead in this issue for the past three years? What has stopped him from standing tall and urging his fellow council members to do the right thing?

Or is this somehow “different” according to Little People Law?

Note yet again that NAC's founder has yet to suggest that CM Schmidt fails his constituents when it comes to service.

What I have suggested, and what I will continue to suggest for so long as it is merited by the evidence, is that during the past three years, CM Schmidt has failed to support the wider interests of the city at large by combining with the others on the right/wrong side of the table in anti-progressive obstructionism.

Erik/Erika’s latest attack serves only to support NAC’s thesis by ignoring the central point of the redistricting issue and erecting another convenient straw man for intemperate lashing.

A real college professor?

No, she just plays one on her blog.

Legal Ruling is Setback for Taxpayer Activists

It's hardly a bulletin, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday will put a damper on lawsuits by residents of states and muncipalities who seek to overturn project-specific tax breaks for economic development. Without ruling on the merits of the case, the court did find that mere status as a taxpayer does not constitute standing to challenge economic incentives granted by governments.

Read the article here: Court sides with Ohio on tax breaks.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The coming week: Carnegie Center in the C-J; Preservation Month activities; and DaVinci Downtown.

Here is great exposure for some hard-working people in downtown New Albany:

Carnegie Center on a hot streak; New Albany museum still has way to go to achieve success, by Dale Moss (The Courier-Journal; short shelf life for C-J links).

The Carnegie Center for Art & History matters. After 35 years, changes of ownership and name, and an annual visitation stuck at about 10,000, the center in downtown New Albany is easily on its hottest streak

… It recently opened its most ambitious permanent exhibit, all about the Underground Railroad in our area.

It is called Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage, and it is a haunting and compelling story. It is a show as much as a display, sounds and sights like those of displays in big-city museums.


Last week’s opening Preservation Week workshop was held at the Carnegie Center, as will the third and fourth editions on May 23 and May 30.

However, this week the venue moves to Rich O’s Public House owing to its handy proximity to Porter Paints, the evening’s presenter:

Progressive Pizza and Preservation: Paint Your Historic House Beautiful.

Tuesday, May 16th; 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Rich O’s Public House, 3312 Plaza Drive, New Albany.

See “Preservation Workshop #2 On Deck!” at Ted Fulmore’s Our History in New Albany blog.

On Wednesday, it’s the second Preservation Conversation of the month.

Preservation Conversation: Filling Holes in New Albany’s Downtown Historic Fabric.

Wednesday, May 17th, 7:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m., at Destinations Booksellers, 604 E. Spring Street, New Albany.

See Ted’s “Preservation Conversation and Destination” for more details.


Looking to the weekend, don’t forget DaVinci Downtown next Saturday, May 20. For a map and schedule, click here. The Farmers Market will be running at the corner of Bank and Market, and Bistro New Albany will be open for business during DaVinci Downtown, along with Federal Hill Café and other downtown businesses. Hope for good weather, and hang out for the events.

(Photo credit: Carnegie Center's web site)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

"Bulldog" Coyle, Ace Reporter

Thanks to correspondent G. Coyle, who unearthed this 2004 study made for the City of Tacoma, Wash. The link was provided earlier in a comment posting, but we've decided to post the executive summary in its entirety.


Cost- Benefit Analysis of the Tacoma Police Department’s assigned vehicle program

Mercury Associates, Inc. was selected by the City of Tacoma to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the Police Department’s Assigned Vehicle Program. The project involved initial data gathering including interviews with city and department staff, a survey of police officers, focus group sessions with and a survey of members of various Neighborhood Councils, and development of a quantitative model of the costs and benefits associated with the program. Three central questions were investigated as part of this project: 1) Should vehicles be assigned to officers or should officers share vehicles from a pool? 2) If vehicles are assigned, should officers be allowed to drive them home? 3) If officers take their vehicles home, what criterion should be used for setting the policy on how the city subsidizes commuting costs?

Mercury Associates is the largest fleet management consulting firm in the country and has assisted 200 public and private-sector organizations optimize their fleet management organizations and practices. Clients served in the past by members of our firm include all ten of the largest cities in the country; 28 states, Federal agencies including NASA and the U.S. Army; both public and investor owned utilities, and several prominent Fortune 500 companies. Our project team included Randy Owen, Mercury’s Senior Vice-President, who served as the Project Manager for this engagement; Dr. Donald Lauria of the University of North Carolina who conducted the economic analysis and authored the technical report for the project; and Dave Robertson, a Senior Associate with Mercury Associates and a former Fleet Manager for the City of Houston Police Department.

Interviews, Surveys, and Information Gathering Efforts

We began this project by providing the city with a detailed written data and information request. Response to our request was excellent both by the Police Department and the City’s Fleet Services Section. Our initial meetings and interviews included a broad spectrum of stakeholders including members of City Council, members of Neighborhood Councils, police command staff, police rank and file employees, and Fleet Services staff.

Our work plan included the design of two comprehensive surveys. The first survey was targeted at police officers so that we could develop a thorough understanding of how assigned vehicles are used. The survey was designed to be completed by officers on their in-car computers by connecting to Mercury Associates’ data center over the Internet. The survey, which was kept anonymous in order to encourage honest responses, was distributed electronically to 263 officers and we received responses from 251. This very high response rate produced strong confidence in the statistical validity of survey results. The most significant information and results from the survey are summarized below:

· Twenty-percent of officers reside within city limits, fifty-percent live within 10 miles of city limits, thirty-percent live more than 10 miles away, and ten-percent live more than 20 miles from the city.

· The average one-way distance between respondents’ homes and the city limits is 9.4 miles. The median distance is 7 miles.

· Twenty-four percent of respondents park their assigned police vehicle in their home garage, fifty three-percent park in their driveway, and fourteen percent park on the street.

· When respondents used pool vehicles (before adoption of the current assigned vehicle program) it took an average of 28 minutes to check a vehicle out and load gear and equipment.

· When respondents used pool vehicles they were unavailable an average of 5.6 days per month for a variety of reasons. Changing a car required an average of 25 minutes.

· Eighty-two percent of respondents reported that the condition of their assigned vehicle is much better than pool cars.

· In the past 2 months each respondent made an average of 6 contacts (e.g. assisted in an arrest) outside of normal work hours on their way to and from work/home; the average time spent on these contacts was 36 minutes; forty percent of the contacts were outside the City of Tacoma.

· Ninety-four percent of respondents said they were more productive with an assigned vehicle vs. a pool program.

We also conducted two focus group sessions and a survey of members of Neighborhood Councils. The survey, which members helped design, was sent to 80 individuals and 40 responded. The number and rate of responses provides a respectable level of confidence in the results. The most significant information and results from the survey are summarized below:

· Fifty-three percent of respondents said that Tacoma’s police services were good but needed some improvement and forty-seven percent indicated that services are poor and require much improvement. No respondents said that services were excellent and did not require any improvement.

· Thirty percent of respondents indicated that their knowledge of the assigned vehicle program was good and the rest indicated that it was fair.

· Respondents indicated that the top benefit of the assigned vehicle program was that it allowed officers to respond quickly to emergencies. The benefit that was cited second most often was that the program helped to deter crime.

· Fifty-eight percent of respondents favor assigning vehicles to officers, twenty-six percent were indifferent on this question, and only sixteen percent favored use of pool vehicles.

· Eighty-four percent of respondents favor allowing police officers to take their assigned vehicles home. Fifty percent of these respondents believe that the take-home policy should limit this benefit to officers who live within a certain distance of the city such as 10 miles.

Demands for and Supply of Police Services

In this area of the project we were asked to assess how well Tacoma allocates its police resources, especially personnel and vehicles. Our approach to this question was to examine the average response time to calls for service for each of Tacoma’s police sectors and districts.

The Police Department has organized the city into four sectors, each of which is divided into four districts. The four sectors in Tacoma each have four patrol vehicles on the street at any given time. Sector 1 and Sector 4 also have an additional car due to their large geographical size and configuration. Therefore, Tacoma typically has 18 police vehicles patrolling its streets.

The average response time for the city as a whole during the period that we reviewed (May and June of 2004) was just under 10 minutes. The variation in average response times between districts was relatively small, ranging from a low of 8.5 minutes to a high of 13 minutes. These findings suggest that the way department deploys its manpower and vehicles results in a high and consistent level of service and that no district in Tacoma seems to be under served.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

The main focus of our project for the city was an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of the assigned vehicle program. Our approach to this part of the project followed standard cost-benefit analysis methods, which are well documented in economic literature.

The primary conclusions of our analysis are:

It is far better for the city to assign vehicles to officers than to have them share vehicles from a pool. The equivalent annual savings from our net present value calculation is $1.5 million per year for assigned vs. pool vehicles. The principal reason for the savings is increased officer productivity as a result of not having to check out a pool vehicle and transfer equipment in and out of them each day.

The city is also better off allowing officers to commute in patrol cars and park them at home rather than parking them in a city lot or garage. The annual economic costs of officers taking vehicles home are about $800 per year per vehicle less than the alternative of parking them in a city garage. The difference for the entire fleet of take-home vehicles is about $200,000 per year. Unlike the benefits of assigning a vehicle to each officer, which accrue entirely to the city, only some of the take-home benefits accrue to Tacoma, the rest accrue to the police officers themselves. The fact that the benefits of taking vehicles home are shared jointly by the city and the officers does not reduce the real economic benefits that result from the take-home program. The main reason for this cost difference is that the commuting cost of patrol vehicles is less than the cost of building and operating additional parking places in the city.

The current policy of allowing officers to take police vehicles home provides additional benefits due to officers responding to emerging calls while driving to and from work, responding to calls more quickly, providing citizens with an increased sense of safety by having cars parked in neighborhoods, and better care of police vehicles provided by officers at their homes.

The assigned vehicle program may be producing an unwelcome incentive for police officers to live outside of the city, since there is no charge for commuting and no limit on commuting miles. The city needs to examine and decide how to handle “excess” commuting. Our analysis shows that the break even point for the city to subsidize officers commuting in their vehicles is between 7 and 14 miles one-way based strictly on the financial costs of commuting vs. the financial costs of providing in-city parking.

Our main recommendations related to this project are as follows:

1. The city should continue its policy of assigning vehicles to officers rather than using pool cars.

2. Officers should be allowed to take vehicles home.

3. The city should examine its policy on subsidizing commuting. This policy should not, however, focus entirely on financial issues and should recognize that officers provide services while commuting to and from work that benefit society as a whole.

4. While no evidence of abuse was found, the city needs to be sensitive to perceptions that officers could be unreasonably using police vehicles for personal reasons. Procedures to enforce appropriate policies need to be routinely examined to ensure that they are working.

5. The analysis of how the Police department allocates its personnel and vehicles to meet the demands for police services revealed no particular problems or disparities among districts. Nevertheless, because demands are always shifting, the department needs to exert constant vigilance and scrutiny of its polices and practices to ensure that the citizens of Tacoma are well served.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekend tips: City clean-up; Breweriana sale; and Bistro New Albany's Mother's Day meal.

Let's put this back on the marquee.


The forthcoming weekend is crowded with interesting activities, so here are the three that I’m shamelessly touting.

New Albany City Clean-Up

Breweriana Sale at Rich O's

Special Mother's Day menu at Bistro New Albany



It's New Albany’s City Wide Clean-Up, 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. If you can catch ‘em – they sure are slippery -- feel free to flip a few slumlords into those handy dumpsters scattered around town. Also, remember to tune in to NAC’s coverage of the next city council meeting, when CM Coffey almost surely will praise fellow Siamese Councilman Steve Price for (a) helping out during the clean-up even though he isn’t on the city’s sanitation payroll, (b) diligently refusing to visit the teeming streets of Calcutta, otherwise known as Louisville’s Frankfort Avenue corridor, and (c) knowing how to play only one political tune, but playing it very loudly – and very often.


Meanwhile, my entire day will be taken up with the annual breweriana & beer collectibles sale, this year taking place on a new day, but still running from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The breweriana sale -- antique bottles, signs, mirrors, glassware, trays, clocks, lamps, books, and much more -- takes place in the Prost special events room at Rich O’s Public House, and is sponsored by the FOSSILS homebrewing and beer appreciation club.

For more information: I'm goin' in ... time to prepare for the breweriana sale at Rich O's this Saturday, May 13.


Bistro New Albany will have special Sunday hours for a marvelous Mother’s Day feast. Go to “Preview of Mother's Day at Bistro New Albany” for a look at Sunday’s multi-course, fixed-price menu, to be served in two seatings (11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) – and kindly note bNA’s current hours, which are subject to alteration as the Daves learn more about business patterns downtown.

11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

(Includes bar food menu until June 1st, when the much anticipated evening fine-dining menu will be inaugurated)
5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday
5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Closed:Monday and Tuesday evenings, and Sunday (except for special events like the Mother’s Day meal).

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Price is Wrong: 3rd District CM whistling a shortsighted tune – again.

Musically adept readers will immediately recognize the unmistakable twang of the same tired old song wafting down from Dewey Heights, across the rooftops of the city’s third council district, and coming to rest like a trite and mangy tick on the exposed leg of New Albany’s revitalization effort.

The tune is called, “I’ll Nickel and Dime You to Death, Uppity P-Pergessives,” and it is being performed ad nauseam by the district’s own Uncouncilman, whose bizarre glee at relentlessly expounding positions diametrically opposed to the interests of his constituents is matched only by a propensity to spout shopworn homilies in reference to grandma’s soiled piggy bank:

Council to review take-home vehicles; Cars may be kept within New Albany, by Ben Zion Hershberg (The Courier-Journal).

Some New Albany City Council members want to develop a policy for take-home cars that would include restricting their use to employees who live within city limits.

"A lot of the public is really complaining about it," Councilman Steve Price said, referring to the use of take-home cars by about 70 city employees, most of them in the police department.

Now really, does the public really complain about police protection?

Or, does the forever populist Uncouncilman cannily twist the take-home car message into the form best suited to receive the desired response?

Either way, the pertinent issue – public safety – is lost amid jingoistic clamor as to which policeman lives where, as though residency pertains to the performance of dangerous civic duty.

Of course, CM Price retains the services of the velvet-fogged-up Gang of Four to croon gently lilting back-up harmonies when he dismisses his own council district’s earnest efforts to move forward by drawling the chorus from the only political ditty he has ever bothered to learn:

“We can’t. We’re not. And I won’t.”

For background, see these earlier NA Confidential entries:

Running out of (t)issues? Increasingly crazed "little people" turn to cop bashing for thrills.

We return to Sunday's NA police take-home car and gasoline discussion.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It’s a wonderful time not to be a Republican -- right, Erik/Erika?

First, consider the plight of the illegitimate President G. W. Shrub, middling along at a 31% approval rating, and the governor of Kentucky, Ernie Fletcher, who was indicted today.

Then there’s the long overdue downfall of Indiana State Senator Robert Garton, the long-serving Soviet-style apparatchik, who was defeated in the recent primary election by – get this – a fundamentalist Christian who has gone on record to advocate public flogging as a Biblically acceptable method of dealing with miscreants.

Whoa. Winner Greg Walker of Columbus goes on to say that in spite of God’s approval for such methods, he hasn’t had to strike his own children because they’ve been properly respectful.

Over at Freedom of Speech, the gender-confused imposter has congratulated precinct committee winners of both parties, including one Edward Stoess.

Way to be right on top of things, Erik/Erika. Not much gets past you. Now try crunching the numbers on that one and see what it tells you about having a lot to learn.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

All I Know...

...is what I read in the papers.

Seems Ol' Mitch is up to his old tricks, deregulating by fiat. The C-J reports that Daniels is eliminating the requirement that drivers in Floyd and Clark counties have their emission control systems tested before licensing their vehicles in this story (temporary link).

That's right, let's declare the air clean and move on to the bright future of no taxes on investment income, urban sprawl, and oil-dependency. Can't think of a better time to be wasting gas than 2006, when gasoline prices move inexorably skyward.

A study in contrasts (and journalistic ethics) is presented in today's alternating coverage of the Scribner Place bid opening.

Using actual quotes from the Wayne Estopinal, Eric Scott Campbell reports in The Tribune that the sum of the bids for the downtown redevelopment project came in under budget, and that the managing architect advises going to contract swiftly. Ben Zion Hershberg, on the other hand, stresses that with bids coming in $200,000 under budget, the contingency amount put in to accommodate unexpectedly higher bids is bad news. Dan Coffey, CM of the vanishing 1st District (which stands to gain the most from the redevelopment) is sought out by the Gang of Four's official stenographer to piss all over Scribner Place yet again.

Now, like my great Uncle Will, all I know is what I read in the papers. But somebody is reporting the news here, and somebody is pushing an agenda.

Mr. C tells us what will happen. Scribner Place bonds will be sold this summer and construction will commence forthwith. Mr. H reminds us of what might have happened, without mentioning that his patrons are the ones responsible for delaying the project months beyond any reasonable deadline, and arguably pushing costs higher than expected.

The Tribune is fast becoming the most reliable source for local government news, and Mr. Campbell shows that age (and a cozy relationship with the subjects you cover) is not necessarily a virtue when it comes to reporting.

Weekend tips: City clean-up; Breweriana sale; and Bistro New Albany's Mother's Day meal.

The forthcoming weekend is crowded with interesting activities, so here are the three that I’m shamelessly touting.

New Albany City Clean-Up

Breweriana Sale at Rich O's

Special Mother's Day menu at Bistro New Albany



It's New Albany’s City Wide Clean-Up, 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. If you can catch ‘em – they sure are slippery -- feel free to flip a few slumlords into those handy dumpsters scattered around town. Also, remember to tune in to NAC’s coverage of the next city council meeting, when CM Coffey almost surely will praise fellow Siamese Councilman Steve Price for (a) helping out during the clean-up even though he isn’t on the city’s sanitation payroll, (b) diligently refusing to visit the teeming streets of Calcutta, otherwise known as Louisville’s Frankfort Avenue corridor, and (c) knowing how to play only one political tune, but playing it very loudly – and very often.


Meanwhile, my entire day will be taken up with the annual breweriana & beer collectibles sale, this year taking place on a new day, but still running from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The breweriana sale -- antique bottles, signs, mirrors, glassware, trays, clocks, lamps, books, and much more -- takes place in the Prost special events room at Rich O’s Public House, and is sponsored by the FOSSILS homebrewing and beer appreciation club.

For more information: I'm goin' in ... time to prepare for the breweriana sale at Rich O's this Saturday, May 13.


Bistro New Albany will have special Sunday hours for a marvelous Mother’s Day feast. Go to “Preview of Mother's Day at Bistro New Albany” for a look at Sunday’s multi-course, fixed-price menu, to be served in two seatings (11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) – and kindly note bNA’s current hours, which are subject to alteration as the Daves learn more about business patterns downtown.

11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

(Includes bar food menu until June 1st, when the much anticipated evening fine-dining menu will be inaugurated)
5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday
5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Closed:Monday and Tuesday evenings, and Sunday (except for special events like the Mother’s Day meal).

Broadcast public meetings? Why not INSIGHT?

Like Yogi Berra probably never said, it’s déjà vu all over again.

School trustees restrict broadcasts of meetings, by Joseph Lord (News-Tribune).

Here are excerpts:

New Albany residents won’t get to watch, from their living rooms, elected body meetings on WNAS-TV under a policy approved Monday by school trustees …

… The 6-1 decision — with Rebecca Gardenour voting against — followed vocal opposition from residents leading up to the vote …

… A group of residents argued that broadcasting recordings of public meetings serves an educational purpose, pointing to previous showing of City Council meetings. One speaker argued that media outlets “whitewash” meetings in their coverage.Anna Schmidt, wife of city councilman Bill Schmidt, questioned calling meetings “politics.”“I call it government,” she said …

… Trustee Neal Smith said he didn’t think the school board’s mission was to broadcast public meetings.

“I think someone ought to be on Insight to get a public access channel,” he said, referring to the cable television company.

Right on, Mr. Smith.

Curiously, the council’s Gang of Four News Agency already has a public access channel, popularly known as Freedom to Screech, supplied with information by (shall we say) people “close" to the council, and “manned” by transgendered ghost blogger Erik/Erika.

(To assist those just tuning in, “transgendered ghost blogger Erik/Erika” is our way of describing the author of the Screech blog, which arose from the primordial troglodyte ooze a few months ago and claims to be written by a university professor – a transparently fictitious and adolescent claim that is a laughing stock among educated people hereabouts – at least among those lacking vendettas.)

Back to the point. NA Confidential first considered the education vs. public access question in February of 2005, in “City Council, community access and videotape.

Our toss-up was this:

Given the organizational basis of the various entities involved, are there compelling reasons for the school corporation to agree to broadcast the videotaped city council meetings?

Our answer:

Now, it would appear that according to an ordinance authored by a previous City Council, New Albany has chosen the educational access option, and in this case, the option is exercised by WNAS, which is licensed through the school corporation and not directly through the city of New Albany.

On the surface, none of this would seem to have anything to do with the City Council or its meetings, videotaped or otherwise.

In a comment, Jeff “Bluegill” Gillenwater nailed the essence of the issue:

Again, this is a clear case of the public subsidizing a private communications company and receiving very little in return. We should focus on the part of the acts that state local governments can require franchisees to provide “access equipment, facilities, services, and support in a franchise”.

Should NAHS be required to broadcast government meetings? No. But Insight should be required to not only broadcast the meetings but to provide the equipment necessary to tape them - not an unreasonable request given the millions of dollars of land use our various levels of government provide them each year.

On the occasion of INSIGHT’s ongoing broadband fiasco, it’s just a marvelous time to revisit a renegotiation of its city-mandated license to print money.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I knew it was going to be one of those days ...

... when I saw the Siamese Councilmen conferring by the Main Street entrance to the elder half's itinerant antique store. The last time I was that frightened, Sammy Terry was screening "The Amazing Colossal Man."

So, the thieving poltroons at INSIGHT "gee, we didn't realize that pulling out that brick would make the whole building fall down" BROADBUNGLE conspired to keep me off line the entire day (and two and a half out of the last seven at the business portal).

Can't wait for those credits against my next cable bill.

Here's the story. Take it with a grain or two of salt.

More later -- after I've had a calming libation.

Monday, May 08, 2006

At a Glance...

Thanks to reader Brandon W. Smith for the link to the official precinct/city council district maps at http://www.floydcounty.in.gov/pdfs/Cityprecinctmap.pdf. If you have a current version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can zoom in, take a snapshot (resolution suffers), print sections, etc.

Above is an overview in another format:

City Wide Clean-Up: Saturday, May 13, 2006.

(E-press release)

The City of New Albany announces plans for the City Wide Clean-Up.

The clean-up will occur Saturday, May 13, 2006 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

The citizens of New Albany are asked for their input on the following:

*Volunteers for clean-up day
*Individuals and Groups are welcome
*Churches, Schools & Businesses

Areas of the city you feel need to be cleaned up.

*City streets & alleys
*Highways, roads, and parks
*Other public areas

If you have questions or items to be picked up call:

(812) 948-5332

Dumpsters will be located throughout New Albany for trash drop off. (No toxic material, tires, or appliances.) Toxic materials and tires will be accepted at the 4-H Fairgrounds .

The drop locations are as follows:·

Farmer Market (Bank & Market)
· Slate Run School
· 4-H Fairgrounds
· 900 Blk of Indiana Ave.
· Hwy111 & Corydon Pike
· Lewis at West Street
· 13th & Spring St.
· S. Ellen Jones School
· Fairmont School
· Brown Starks Building
· Valley View Ct.
· Market & Jay St.
· Community Park
· Green Valley School


Sunday, May 07, 2006

So My Google Alert Says...

Long-time readers will not have been surprised at what they have read in The Tribune on Sunday, but others may have questions. Do not expect a lot of commentary/opinion to appear from this writer about a pending effort to seek a judicial order compelling a reapportionment of New Albany City Council districts.

However, there is factual information that can be shared, and I’ll do so with this posting and, possibly, future postings.

To alleviate any concerns that this action is related to any current electoral contest, we’ll analyze a recent county-wide general election to lay out some revealing numbers that may enlighten.

This writer is but a bit player in this drama, but you should know that planning for this has been going on for over a year. A broad spectrum of individuals across this community share our concerns over the representational imbalance in city council districts. I was almost as surprised as any of you to see my name in the second paragraph below a banner Tribune headline in Sunday’s editions.

When the City Council sits down to level out the districts, as the state statute requires them to do, they will use Census data from the year 2000, even though estimated data from 2005 is available.

We’ll use actual voting data from an off-year county November election that ought to be somewhat useful.

Make no mistake about it, politics will be a component in the redistricting, and partisan advantage will war with personal advantage if the court orders the redistricting. SO…

In 2002, NA’s First District voted 65.7 percent Democratic. District 2 voted 62.3 Democratic. Remember, this was a county election, but one where Baron Hill faced off with Mike Sodrel (Hill won), and roughly one year after Sept. 11, 2001.

So what? Every city district voted Democratic that year. But remember, partisan advantage will surely be part of the redistricting, and the Democrats hold all the cards this year, with 8 of the 9 votes on council.

But why might those numbers be significant?

Taking this one race’s data, you’d expect (in equalized districts) to see 1,802 voters turning out in each city district, for a total of 10,814 city voters

Here are the actual numbers:

1 (now represented by Dan Coffey (D)) – 1130
2 (now represented by Bill Schmidt (D)) – 3086
3 (now represented by Steve Price (D)) – 1156
4 (now represented by Larry Kochert (D)) – 1641
5 (now represented by Bev Crump (D))– 1701
6 (now represented by Jeff Gahan (D))- 2100

Obviously, population and voting turnout aren’t exactly comparable, but who is to say that turnout isn’t suppressed by unequal representation?

How imbalanced is the actual vote from this snapshot election data?

1 is 37.3% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
2 is 71.2% voters GREATER than the norm of 1,802
3 is 35.9% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
4 is 9.0% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
5 is 5.6% voters fewer than the norm of 1,802
6 is 16.5% voters GREATER than the norm of 1,802

Can anyone doubt that CC District 2 is under-represented, and that 1 and 3 are over-represented?

The underlying claim for EQUAL representation is basic and constitutional. Equal protection under the law is, in 2006, considered an automatic right, and regardless of the constitutional interpretation, redistricting is an Indiana statutory requirement.

Soon, this will become a political question. I’ve little doubt that the council will do the right thing. Horse-trading will commence, and drama is certain. And I know that my colleagues at NA Confidential will keep you posted on the news as it develops, and that they will express opinions thereon. But this writer is retiring from the field forthwith until the pending litigation is settled. NA Confidential will keep you up to date, but All4Word is out of the journalism game on this one. MLOS, until the post-mortem.