Monday, July 31, 2006

Our Highwayman visits NA's budget hearings.

Thanks to Bluegill's timely reminder, I was able to escape the Orlando tiki resort and even find a few good beers on Saturday.

While I've been draining $6 Heinekens (not progressive at all) by the "lazy river" pool and dreaming of the serenity of Trappist ale, the Highwayman has been sitting through New Albany's budget hearings.

Read Lloy'd report at: NA Budget Hearings for 2007.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Germany defeats the beast; Wal-Mart retreats.

Wal-Mart admits defeat in Germany and sells stores

Andrew Clark
Saturday July 29, 2006
The Guardian

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has made a rare admission of failure by selling its hypermarket chain in Germany at a loss of $1bn (£530m) after failing to convert the country's shoppers and regulators to its low-price, American-style trading.

Wal-Mart said yesterday that it was offloading its 85 German outlets to a local rival, Metro, in a move that calls time on its nine-year struggle to make an impact in the country.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

8664: It’s never too late to start all over again.

Posted by Picasa
What began as a simple plan to have an informative Wednesday lunch at the Bistro New Albany with Tyler “8664” Allen, Louisville’s leading proponent of “taking back the riverfront,” and Randy Smith, New Albany blogger and bookstore owner, turned into a full-tilt information overload.

Our meeting didn’t come to a close until a full hour after the plates had been taken away and the last Croupiers drained.

That’s because under the Farmers Market canopy, Tyler spread out huge banner-sized photographic enlargements of aerial views of Louisville area highways, some showing the changes proposed by the dual (downtown and East End) bridge project, and others how it might be if two miles of waterfront expressway were struck from the map and replaced with a revolutionary idea to put smart growth principles into action.

For an audience of one, Tyler was on his hands and knees, gesturing and pointing, and explaining how his campaign -- quite possibly the grassroots campaign that comes along only once in a generation -- might actually work.

Yea or nay, Tyler’s 8664 campaign should not be regarded as a fluke, or something that has come along too late in the game to matter. It simply isn’t true, and the ideas deserve a hearing. Most of those expressing doubts either haven’t taken the time to consider what the roadway construction implies in a future tense, or are representative of the dismissively stodgy unresponsiveness that led to the monstrous riverfront concrete freeway in the first place – just four decades further along, and intent now upon not properly examining the earlier mistake, and in fact perpetuating it with a billion dollars of impediment to the principles best placed to further Louisville's downtown revitalization.

Rather than offer recaps, permit me instead to provide directions to the official website (and to reprint the FAQ section from it): 8664.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 8664?
8664 is a plan to remove Interstate 64 from Louisville's waterfront. "86" is slang that means to remove or get rid of something. The idea is to realign I-64 onto I-265 in KY and IN after an upriver bridge is completed. This will redirect cross-country traffic (mainly trucks) around the city and improve access to and from downtown. It will also allow us to tear down the waterfront expressway from I-65 to west 15th Street. The 8664 vision should improve downtown and be less expensive than the planned Ohio River Bridges Project.

What is the Ohio River Bridges Project?
The planned Ohio River Bridges Project is a massive $2.5 Billion road-building project that will build two bridges and triple the size of Spaghetti Junction. How will it affect downtown? I-64 across Waterfront Park will get 50% wider and Spaghetti Junction will expand to 23 lanes wide. The result will be more noise, traffic and air pollution. Additionally, the huge expansion in roads will cause "induced traffic" that will fuel eastward sprawl development and reduced investment in downtown.

Why remove the waterfront expressway?
Louisville is here because of the Ohio River. When we built an expressway between the city and the Ohio River, we cut off our connection to our past and our greatest natural resources. Waterfront Park is a good example of the positive impact our waterfront can have on our city, but it's time to take the next step. San Francisco, Portland and Milwaukee have all removed waterfront expressways and seen dramatic increases in urban investment and improved livability. It's time for everyone - on both sides of the river - to come together around an exciting vision for the future of our community.

Where will all the traffic go?
Our regional transportation system will have many years to adapt to the removal of the Waterfront Expressway. When I-64 is realigned onto I-265, it will serve as a bypass for interstate traffic. An "at-grade" or ground-level boulevard - similar to River Road - will provide access to and through downtown from the east and west ends. Removing capacity across our waterfront will also naturally spread traffic over the larger urban street grid. The benefit of this redistribution will be improved vibrancy and economic investment in under-used or under-served areas of downtown. A comprehensive traffic study should be conducted to evaluate the 8664 plan.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dan Quayle walks out of Mellencamp show.

As reported by the Associated Press on Friday, July 21:

Don't expect Dan Quayle to attend another John Mellencamp concert.

The former vice president, miffed about a comment made by Mellencamp about Pres. Bush's administration, walked out of the singer's July 14 show at Harvey's Lake Tahoe Casino in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Mellencamp, unaware that Quayle was in the audience, introduced the song "Walk Tall" by saying, "This next one is for all the poor people who've been ignored by the current administration."

Quayle, who was in town for a celebrity golf tournament, then made his exit, deciding "enough was enough," his spokesman, Craig Whitney, told the Los Angeles Times for Friday's edition. "He wasn't going to sit there and listen to this."

Mellencamp, however, said he had no regrets.

"I still feel there are many people left behind by this administration," he said in a statement to the Times. "Not talking about problems doesn't make them go away. It's kind of telling that he chose to walk out as I was doing a song about tolerance."

If I recall, Dan Quayle can't spell "tolerance."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Albany on "State of Affairs" this morning!

A reminder: This morning at 11:00 a.m. (repeated tonight at 9:00 p.m.):

State of Affairs on WFPL, 89.3 FM

Tuesday, July 25

Founded in July 1813 by the Scribner brothers from New York, New Albany is a town rich in history and tradition. Located in Southern Indiana, only 10 minutes from downtown Louisville, New Albany offers the dual advantages of small town life and easy access to a metropolitan area. During the Civil War, New Albany was a strategic supply center for the Union Armies fighting in the South and a hospital center for the wounded being sent north. It was also a stop on the famous “underground railroad" for slaves escaping from the South. Whether your interests lie in history, festivals or small-town life, New Albany has a little something to offer for everyone. Join us Tuesday, July 25, to find out more about New Albany’s past, present, and future.

Scheduled to be in the studio are historians Gregg Seidl and David Barksdale, and writer Robyn Davis Sekula. Here's more about the program:

State of Affairs ... with Julie Kredens.

Listen to State of Affairs Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. (Monday - Friday shows are repeated at 9 p.m.). You can join the conversation with your questions and comments by calling 502-814-8255 or toll-free at 877-814-8255. Email us your comments or questions prior to or during the show at

Person to person: Neighborhood Forum is Wednesday, August 9; Study Circles discussed.

Much to the chagrin of certain anonymous denizens of the benumbed local trogosphere, specifically those who can’t be bothered with conceptual thinking and the realm of ideas even as they hilariously pretend to be academics trained to think and act in these terms (see:, a spirited dialogue continues to assist in the gradual transformation of New Albany.

It is an earnest discussion that originates in the city’s neighborhoods, and one that focuses on actions and strategies to revitalize these basic building blocks of the urban area. Why talk it out? Because success in any endeavor seldom occurs without a plan, and planning for the future is the object of these community forums, such as the next Neighborhood Forum, which will take place on Wednesday, August 9, at the White House Center.

If you are a city resident, you are cordially invited to participate and to share your vision.

Even you, Erika – is there a neighborhood association where you live? Would you join a study circle? Part of the problem, or part of the solution?

Please come and explain why you believe that dialogue, discussion and the exchange of ideas threaten your vision of “free speech.” We're all ears.

Consultants sought for neighborhood talks; Study Circles would mix residents from different backgrounds, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Several New Albany residents hope a national resident-forum group can help them solve some city problems.

The Study Circles Resource Center, through the local neighborhood development nonprofit New Directions Housing Corporation, is considering sending discussion leaders to the Louisville area this fall at no cost. The consultants would help organize and direct 8- to 12-person forums consisting of people from different demographics, including race, income, neighborhood, religion, and renting versus homeownership.

“The idea is to take someone out of their comfort zone,” said resident Jeff Gillenwater.

And ...

Love Thy Neighbor; Residents say neighborhood associations make a difference, by David Mann (News-Tribune).

Neighborhood organizations — widely popular in the cookie-cutter neighborhoods of suburbia — have found a home in Southern Indiana’s towns and cities. For many, they are organizations residents can use to gain leverage with local councils, attract economic interests and beautify and maintain communities.

Greg Roberts, president of New Albany’s E. Spring Street Neighborhood Association, said similar organization has managed to accomplish many positive ends in its five years of existence.

“We’ve managed to have several allies paved, gotten grants and held clean up days” among other activities, Roberts said. “What we wanted to do was make a sense of community,” he said, as well as give residents a responsibility to the neighborhood.

Monday, July 24, 2006

So much for the so-called “Coffey Plan.”

Readers will recall that the obstructionist 1st district councilman once proposed to completely disengage the city of New Albany from the Scribner Place redevelopment project, entrusting it instead to the YMCA – an entity whose previous record of organizational competence rendered it far more trustworthy in his eyes than those governmental mechanisms of which CM Coffey is intimately part and parcel, but which he congenitally mistrusts and generally finds useful in daily life only as a starting point for flagrant demagoguery.

Consequently, and to put it mildly, it is highly ironic that with New Albany, Floyd County and the Caesar’s Foundation all having made the Scribner Place race in reasonably good condition, it is the previously unimpeachable YMCA itself that now huffs, wheezes and puffs with the finishing line in sight.

Or, is it?

The truth is, none of us really know.

The story broke in the Courier-Journal on Saturday, and was reported by the Tribune on Sunday morning. The two local mainstream media accounts are in general agreement as to the central point: The Y’s eleventh-hour financial snags could result in the project's rebidding, with potentially higher costs, with the unfortunate possibility that all of the intricate and hard-fought financial arrangements in the public sphere might be subject to further vicious rounds of reconsideration – not to mention recrimination, a house specialty of the area's Brambleberry end-time sect.

And so ...

Scribner Place schedule in jeopardy; With YMCA still lacking immediate funding, new construction bids could be required at higher cost, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune):

New Albany’s Scribner Place could become smaller, costlier or both.

... with the Gang of Four News Agency (GFNA) sponsoring this:

Scribner Place hits financing snag; Project might have to be rebid, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links):

Plans for the Scribner Place development in downtown New Albany suffered a potentially serious financial setback yesterday.

Readers are invited to compare and contrast the tone of the two reports. I detect the usual C-J shading toward the sensationalistic, and find the Tribune account more measured, owing perhaps to an extra day’s time to investigate. As an example, Tribune reporter Campbell notes:

Mayor James Garner said all parties plan to meet Monday and see if the finances could come through ahead of schedule. If not, Garner said, the bidders could be asked to voluntarily extend the length of their bids.

This option is not referenced by the C-J’s Hershberg, who instead assesses at-large councilman Jack Messer’s reaction:

Jack Messer, a member of the New Albany City Council, described the problem as "a major, major setback."

If the complex is delayed and must be rebid, Messer said, costs could go up substantially.

He said "it could open the door" to members of the public and council who oppose the $20 million development.

When this latest in a series of melodramatic crises is surmounted, construction actually begins, and the Scribner Place project finally is completed in two years’ time, it will have taken about as long for it to pass from conception to realization as did the Sherman Minton Bridge, and it is likely to have aroused more passions along the way, at least among the minority in the community willing to venture an opinion on the topic -- which is pathetically small, indeed.

Unfortunately –- but not unexpectedly –- much of the discussion recently generated by Scribner Place within the local blogosphere has embraced largely unrelated political and personal aspects of city life rather than pertaining to the merits of the project itself and its position in the context of significant attendant issues such as urban redevelopment and downtown revitalization.

As the current story unfolds over the next few working days, all New Albanians with an interest in the city’s progress will be watching, as well as some for whom regress is the chosen antidote to achievement.

Now, as before, NA Confidential numbers itself among the former. We'll report back later in the week.

See also: Culpable? or We Hardly Knew Ye at NA Confidential, and YMCA,YOU LET NEW ALBANY DOWN at New Albany Today.

Photo credit: Christian Science Monitor.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Albany on "State of Affairs" this Tuesday.

From the public radio news channel's web site:

State of Affairs on WFPL, 89.3 FM

Tuesday, July 25

Founded in July 1813 by the Scribner brothers from New York, New Albany is a town rich in history and tradition. Located in Southern Indiana, only 10 minutes from downtown Louisville, New Albany offers the dual advantages of small town life and easy access to a metropolitan area. During the Civil War, New Albany was a strategic supply center for the Union Armies fighting in the South and a hospital center for the wounded being sent north. It was also a stop on the famous “underground railroad" for slaves escaping from the South. Whether your interests lie in history, festivals or small-town life, New Albany has a little something to offer for everyone. Join us Tuesday, July 25, to find out more about New Albany’s past, present, and future.

Scheduled to be in the studio are historians Gregg Seidl and David Barksdale, and writer Robyn Davis Sekula. Here's more about the program:

State of Affairs ... with Julie Kredens.

Listen to State of Affairs Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. (Monday - Friday shows are repeated at 9 p.m.). You can join the conversation with your questions and comments by calling 502-814-8255 or toll-free at 877-814-8255. Email us your comments or questions prior to or during the show at

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Culpable? or We Hardly Knew Ye

In the hullabaloo surrounding the Scribner Place Redevelopment Project, it's instructive to recall that until about a month ago, the YMCA never seemed to have any urgency or concern about the project happening. The leaders of the YMCA effort have almost continually acted as if the project was a foregone conclusion. Has the "no worries" attitude come back to bite them (and all of us in the bargain)?

Although quotes in the C-J, when offered up through the auspices of the GFNA stenographer, are often unreliable, Y director Joe LaRocca is reported to have offered up this revealing quote:

"Why would it be the end of the world if you put it out for bid again?" A cost factor of from $1.7 (C-J) to $3 (Estopinal Group) million may not be the end of the world, Joe, but it's the end of Scribner Place and the best chance this county has ever had to save its core. I wish you had thought of that sooner. It may not be the end of your world, but it is the end of something.

In case you hadn't heard, the YMCA's Bobby McFerrin approach to their responsibilities has, according to the GFNA, scuttled the Scribner Place project. We know who is directly to blame, but this negligence on the part of the Y is a betrayal from "within." If true, it goes down as the blackest of days for New Albany, and those whose obstructionism brought us to this had better be building their electoral war chests posthaste.

On a personal note, I want to offer up my sense of deepest admiration for those who have fought and fought and fought to make Scribner Place a reality. Your efforts will not be forgotten.

What now happens to those pledges made to build the YMCA? Is the non-profit prepared to refund donations and absolve the pledges, or will they just take their money and pour it into the Jeffersonville Y? Or worse, will they opt for a suburban palace with a parking lot filled with Chevy Subdivisions?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Floyd Democrats to conduct monthly "city sweeps."

Owing to the time-sensitive nature of the subject matter, I’m posting this e-mail from Randy Stumler, Floyd County Democratic Chairman, sans comment. It was forwarded to me earlier today.

This Saturday, July 22, we will be coming to the aid of our city by conducting a city sweep. Recent reports of rubbish collecting in alleys have spurred us on to take action to help keep our city clean and work with the citizens of New Albany. If you have a truck or a trailer that can be used in the cleanup, please meet at White Castle between 9:30 and 10:00 am on Saturday to begin a series of clean up sweeps through New Albany's streets. This will be a once per month event undertaken by concerned Democrats until the problem is alleviated.

Additionally, the Floyd County Democratic Party challenges all concerned groups and citizens to do the same for our fair city. It is time for us to give back to our community and make a difference. Please step up, and clean up by lending a helping hand to your neighbors.

“Just what we do know”: Table talk, family feuds and pot-passers at the city council session.

From the outset of last evening’s city council meeting, it was obvious that a rare (but endearingly shaky) consensus existed to the effect that with budget hearings on tap for next week, there would be no decisions taken on purse string issues.

Such as it was, this consensus owed far less to principle or recently sprouted procedural conviction than to the acceptance of certain gaming prerequisites, which is to say that with several councilmen eagerly eyeing the $3 million bond reserve monies soon to become available to them as an almost providential prelude to the 2007 election season, tactically ordained foreplay rather than substantive work would constitute the bulk of the evening’s activities.

Midway through the proceedings, an unusually animated Councilman Donnie Blevins wryly observed that he really wasn’t “trying to grandstand or anything,” but in fact grandstanding was the meeting’s theme, and why not?

City budgets are grueling work, the current council is light years removed from cohesive, and for perhaps the first and only time in three years of service, Councilman Steve Price was right when he considered the council’s proclivities, noted the presence of the $3 million jail bond “windfall,” and compared the situation to that of a family feuding over an inheritance.

Just as every family – even ones that are functional – have a fable of its own construction, New Albany’s sewer utility saga has long since supplanted tired tales of the westward progress of the Scribner Brothers as the city’s personalized and exceedingly peculiar founding myth, and as with any such epic merging of fact and fiction, much of the joy derives from liberties taken during the telling, whether emanating from the proximity of public officials, inscribed by anonymous “potty police” within the trogosphere, or choreographed for videotaped posterity by future political hopefuls.

Sigmund Freud would have had a transfiguring field day in the city of New Albany, where the mere mention of the word “sewer” causes previously unseen axes to magically appear for prolonged public grinding, testifying to the enduring significance of the “anal stage”:

The anal stage (which Freud says has a lot to do with toilet training) is associated with expelling things, with learning boundaries between inside and outside, and with aggression and anger.

Accordingly, and for strategic reasons that remain purely political, last night’s council meeting was officially designated as “Ms. Valla Ann Bolovschak* Bashes the Evil Blue (EMC) Meanies,” night at the fair, EMC being the company that has operated New Albany’s sewer plant since the tenure of the previous mayoral administration.

The plant was visited yesterday morning by the chanteuse in question, and this gritty foray into the sewage disposal netherworld yielded bountiful allegations as to malfeasance and mismanagement … which, by extension, can be drawn by any toddler with weathered Coffeyite crayon in hand to the present occupant of City Hall.

And so it was that jaded, thrill-seeking council observers were treated to another instructive chapter in the ongoing transformation of Public Communications time into artfully constructed, five-minute political video bytes – coming soon to campaign near you.

On Thursday night, Ms. Bolovschak’s presentation began with the usual bit of interactive theatrics as she passed her neatly ordered resume to each of the council members while instructing them that she remains available to work for free.

Not exactly a subliminal message, is it?

Then, with impish provocateur John Mattingly having made a competent, professional “set” with topical sewer-related questions asked of the council as the preceding speaker, she proceeded to the planned “spike”: As “babysitter” for the sewage treatment plant, EMC is guilty of numerous abuses (outlined by her at length), and the city should “be keeping our money in New Albany” by ditching EMC and making “the profit” ourselves.

It isn’t clear whether Ms. Bolovschak’s offer to work for free was meant to extend to her leading the battalions in the attack on EMC’s Sewer Bastille, personally operating the newly seized sewage treatment plant, or evading the requirements of union pay scale imposed by the Screen Actors Guild (after all, she is a Republican -- and you know how they are about unions).

As Ms. Bolovschak chewed the scenery, quavering in the role of righteous Southern Belle greeting detested Yankee invader with hoop-skirt-shielded-shotgun at the door of Idlewild – a touching presentation of noblesse oblige for the “Gone with the Wind” aficionado – her coterie of “little people” in the sweltering gallery was expressive and vocal in encouragement, and certainly Erika would have waved her academic credentials in the air if such paperwork actually existed in the reality-based world.

Indeed, there exists a charming troglodyte predilection for what observers of human behavior refer to as the “call and response” pattern of communications, which is interpreted as a dialogue of sorts, although not always one taking place between true equals.

Fundamentalist church services provide an excellent illustration of the “call and response” mechanism, wherein the congregation responds to the prompts of the preacher: “Amen” … “right on” … “you tell ‘em” … “you go, girl” … “if you run, I’ll vote for you.”

It reminds me of the ward heeler's favorite hymn: "Every time I/feel the spirit/moving in my heart/I will pander."

Before it came to that, the longest five minutes in local show business were mercifully concluded, and as attending trogs mustered their remaining psychic energy to wax agog, council president Jeff Gahan was able to successfully gavel his way back to the written agenda -- and hope remained that there'd be time for a locally-brewed beer at bNA afterward.

Not unexpectedly, by meeting’s end, the majority of Ms. Bolovschak’s sewage-related accusations had been answered, some in great detail, with city controller Kay Garry (“clearing up fallacies” about the actual number of sewer accounts) and Mayor James Garner (the city really did not pay twice for the same vehicle) taking turns in refuting specific charges while acknowledging that there are inefficiencies in any enterprise, and establishing that when the EMC contract comes up for renewal next year, all such topics will be on the table.

By that time, having as little rooting interest in a true exchange of ideas and information as the typical American has for the theology of the Koran, the majority of Ms. Bolovschak’s call-and-response team had melted away into a stifling, muggy New Albany night, returning home to stuff another pin in the mayor’s voodoo doll, to sup on peanut butter and jelly, and to titter about the precise and gratifying way their gal went at ‘em.

Meanwhile, the occupants of Confidential Corner made it to bNA for those beers.

Councilman Dan Coffey inadvertently provided a coda for the meeting, referencing these and other timeless aspects of the New Albany Syndrome, when he again shunned professional testimony by trained drainage engineers, saying “I’m sure it (the study) was done accordingly, but that’s not necessarily the best way.”

It never is, is it?

See also: "Truths I Learned by the Cement Pond," Vol. 62.


* Henceforth, we’ll seek to refrain from the colloquial “Valla Ann” references, which do no more than reinforce sloganeering, and restrict ourselves instead to the more formal usage, “Ms. Bolovschak.”

"Truths I Learned by the Cement Pond," Vol. 62.

“Don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket!”

3rd district councilman Steve Price, on the approaching $3 million jail bond “windfall.”


"Hindsight is always 20-20 vision."

CM Price again.


"No, that's not ... "

CM Price, shrugging and with palms downturned, to attorney John Kraft, who had suggested that the council might want to ask its legal representative for legal advice pertaining to a point of law.


Here are the first two published accounts of last night's city council meeting:

Post Number 175,City Council meeting-07/20/2006,by Maury K. Goldberg (New Albany Today blog).

New Albany's financial windfall fuels debate; Council disagrees on uses for money, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

We'll be back later Friday morning.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Council to meet tonight; Cappuccino expected to propose West Endia wall, to be constructed from yard waste and "antiques."

Timed perfectly to coincide with the summer season’s first lengthy heat wave, there’ll be a city council meeting tonight.

Bring a lawn chair, sunscreen and spiked lemonade to the third floor conference room. At some point later today, the agenda will be found here.

With budgetary discussions under way and the city set to receive $3 million from the closing of the jail bond, competition for the one-time spoils stands to be intense and unrelenting.

Under the general principle of combining two or more wrongs to make a purported “right” – and to forestall the feared electoral consequences of being responsible for further sewer rate hikes – one body of council opinion advocates using the entire lump sum from the jail bond to “pay back” the sewer utility for money previously leeched from it for years untold in order to support other city services.

Fortunately, this certifiably insane proposal seems to have lost its legs in recent weeks as the inevitability of sewer rate hikes has become increasingly obvious … but with the Gang of Four practicing the voodoo that they do so well, virtually anything is possible.

Sewer board pushes 19% rate hike; Councilman predicts passage, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

To pay for a host of improvements to New Albany’s unreliable sewer system, the utility’s governing board is recommending a 19 percent increase in user fees.

The increase would begin in October, 2006, and be incrementally phased in through 2009.

In other matters pertaining to hot-summer, hot-button issues, City Hall chose Tuesday’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting to speak publicly about trash, garbage, yard waste and their indiscriminate dumping throughout the city limits.

New trash truck proposed; City official: Residents must be responsible for dumping (also written by Tribune reporter Campbell).

Some residents have recently complained of piles of garbage that go untouched for weeks. In a planned statement at the end of Tuesday’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, (city operations director Tony) Toran emphasized the importance of residents’ responsibilities to set the right amount of garbage in the right place.

“People are being irresponsible with the items they’re placing out,” Toran said. “I don’t know how people think they can set out everything but the kitchen sink.”

Those residents — and those who dump garbage in public places anonymously — are being cited for code violations, “but there’s only one of Miss Badger,” Toran said, referring to code enforcement officer Pam Badger.

Toran noted other obvious problems, including “too-small fines for violators, between $25 and $100,” and added: “We need to start dragging some of these people in and making them accountable.”

Absolutely, and yet apparently no specific mention was made of the pestiferous local absentee slumlord population, which remains shielded from scrutiny by New Albany’s landmark Slumlord Protection Program.

The question remains:

In a city that has systematically institutionalized non-compliance over a period of decades, exactly how does one go about re-emphasizing accountability while continuing to lack the legal and enforcement mechanisms to encourage cooperation?

Not to mention the political will, which is as abundant in New Albany any time of the year as snowballs are in Death Valley in July.

It is fitting and proper to recognize the role of individual responsibility, and to provide information so that those among us naturally inclined toward responsibility will know what to do with trash, and when and how to do it.

But the law abiding are precisely that, and they were predominantly law abiding long before this issue arose.

The initiatives and explanations offered by City Hall on Tuesday are appreciated, if for no other reason than providing much needed, publicly stated evidence that local government acknowledges the existence of a problem.

Unfortunately, there remains not a scintilla of proof that New Albany’s governmental hierarchy, both elected and appointed, and both Democrat and Republican, is prepared to examine the fundamental, underlying issues that are most important as downtown New Albany’s neighborhoods struggle for renewal.

Education? Yes. Another garbage truck? Of course.

Sufficient resources and legal staff to collect fees and penalties? Code and ordinance enforcement, and rental property inspections with genuine teeth? The periodic use of one’s political position as bully pulpit to articulate and reinforce these themes? A recognition that passivity can never lead to regeneration?


There's a few million dollars coming this way ... how might the greenbacks be used for maximum benefit to the community?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

She stoops to conquer … but we all love our baby’s money tree.

Over at, otherwise known as the Freedom to Screech blog, activity has been frenetic during the summer's first big heat wave.

For those just tuning in, FOS is the place to read the unreconstructed Luddite tea leaves and to be entertained by the crazed blatherings of the congenitally disaffected.

The surreal founding premise of FOS is that it is the product of a college professor of political science named Erik, who in fact does not exist, which in turn suggests that precious little is to be taken seriously that emanates from a deception as transparently absurd as this one.

This plain lie and the kindergarten chortling that accompanies it might be considered satiric in more capable hands, but the semi-literate among us seldom fathom satire, so in the end, we must continue to regard the Erik/Erika fraud as pathetic rather than creative,and with enough attendant hypocrisy to suit the most virulent of political ambitions – and as we’ve seen countless times, the have-nots are perennial victims of such machinations, dropping to their knees in praise of the savior, but ultimately being useful only as human step stools, if not spittoons.

Of course, without tsunami-scale envy and deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, one would be unlikely to pose as a university professor in the first place, but it’s worth noting that one of the persistent complaints of those in New Albany who are bizarrely comfortable with the sobriquet of “little people” is that the city’s more affluent citizens (a relative concept hereabouts) are insufficiently imbued with the principle of noblesse oblige, or “benevolent, honorable behavior considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank.”

Thus, the faded whizzer(s) behind FOS’s tattered stage curtains finds herself enamored of any such attention from her betters, basking joyfully in the reflection of glamour, wit and genuine achievement, but tragically unable to comprehend the obvious insincerity, and patently unwilling to see how she’s being used as fodder for intrigue and duplicity … but such are the tendencies of the human character, and for once, I genuinely feel sorry for her (or them, as the case may be).

The landing’s going to be a rough one, Erika, but make no mistake: There’ll be a landing.


Not that everything appearing at FOS is useless, though. Sometimes it can be instructive, though not in the way intended by the anonymous academic wannabe.

Helpfully, here’s a recent, candid FOS posting on the topic of rental properties in New Albany. It is signed by Main Street businesswoman Valla Ann Bolovschak, who was asked by NAC to confirm authorship and provide permission to reprint here, but did not respond to my request. Since the piece that follows may well be the best thing that Erika never wrote, I feel it’s worth exposing to a broader readership than that typically trolling the FOS waters in search of conspiracies to deprive the "little people" of things they didn't know existed.

Money Tree Blues

My baby she's got a money tree
My baby she's got a money tree
If she don't shake for you, she'll surely shake for me
A little money tree, it ain't out in the wood
But every time she shake it
Makes me feel so good
My baby she got a money tree
If she don't shake for you, she'll surely shake for me
Well I'm goin' and get my tree
If it don't bear green
I'll be the meanest man
That you have ever seen
I'll cut the money tree down
Dig up the trunk
Cover up the hole
Burn up the stump
My baby she got a money tree
If she don't shake for you, she'll surely shake for you
I love my money tree
I love my money tree
I love my money tree
For my money
I love my money tree
I love my money tree
For my money
I love my money tree
'Cause my money tree is so good to me
My baby she's got a money tree

Oops, wrong button. That wasn't Ms. Bolovschak's essay ... or was it? Alas, the shopworn label on my 78 rpm says it was performed by the Big Tree Trio, so if you want to read the actual screed, go here: "LITTLE MONEY TREE"...

Here's a teaser:

The voters know and they're going to know even more thanks to you, thanks to Freedom of Speech, thanks to those who stand up at the council meetings and thanks be to God.

Wait -- you didn't crib that bit about God from Karl Rove, did you?

Monday, July 17, 2006

C-J says, "Signs of revival in New Albany"; GFNA stunned.

It’s hard to imagine the Gang of Four News Agency approving publication of this piece in the morning Courier-Journal, but we’re happy the stenographer managed to slip the Kochertian’s iron leash:

Signs of revival in New Albany; Downtown coming back, some say, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life for C-J links).

Liz Wilson moved her Liz at Home interior design store from Sellersburg to a historic building on Main Street in New Albany. "I wanted to go back to where my heart is," said Wilson, a New Albany native. "And get in on the bandwagon with the revitalization of downtown." With a popular new restaurant around the corner and new development planned nearby, Wilson is excited about the future.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, the denizens of New Albany's thoroughly retro Luddite Bar & Grill have belatedly taken notice of the notion that there might be such a thing as downtown revitalization, and accordingly, the habitual naysayers there are busily locating convenient targets to blame (mostly anonymously, of course) for their own unwillingness to pay attention all these years.

Verily, there are numerous keys to success in any human endeavor, but the prime motivating factor certainly must be confidence in one's abilities to achieve. Of this, far too many "anti's" hereabouts have little to none. Meanwhile, the revitalization dialogue has been taking place at NA Confidential for more than two years, so apparently the maxim remains valid: You can lead a trog to information -- but you can't make him/her think.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Freedom of Navigation Exercises

For a couple of hundred years, the U.S. Navy has asserted its rights under international treaties to cruise in international waters - currently 12 miles offshore of sovereign nations, although some countries assert a right to much larger swaths of ocean (historic example: Libya, which could not begin to enforce it).

Sunday, an intrepid crew of middle-aged cyclists conducted freedom of navigation exercises, asserting once again the legal right to occupy and use the streets and highways of New Albany.

I'm grateful for the chance to join them for the early stage of the New Albany Bicycle Coalition's Bastille Day Tour de New Albany. Thanks to coordinator Ed Parish who laid out the course with delightful signage.

Rumor has it that yours truly severely overestimated his stamina and was forced to drop out early in the excursion. If the rumor is true, this writer still enjoyed the cruising and expresses his gratitude to the mother hen who dropped back to make sure my mother-in-law's prediction of heat stroke and heart attack did not come true. Six miles ain't bad in 95 degree sunshine with a ground level ozone alert.

My rumored failure (another version of the story has me pushing the pace and putting the laggards to shame) may well be a function of my dereliction in training. In short, I can't pull a hill for diddly. My cycling has been in 2-mile bursts on relatively level ground - maybe an incline or two, but nothing like the post-Beharrel sections of the run. Maybe next year, if I can find the training time.

Thanks for letting me ride along, if only for awhile, and please feel free to repost this at the Coalition blog site (see links at right).

My alleged drop out did, however, lead to an interesting and serendipitous encounter with a distraught family at the scene of a horrific accident that occurred on Saturday about 2:30 p.m. And this has as much to do with the Coalition's goals and freedom of navigation as anything the ride was concerned with.

Teenager Tyler Richardson was struck on Slate Run Road on Saturday, and is now in intensive care with massive abrasions and head injuries, although the word is there will be no permanent brain injury. We riders, in fact, encountered Tyler's siblings while riding, although we did not know why they were assembled on the west side of Slate Run.

Some facts are in dispute, but there is no question that speed and car driver impatience along Slate Run Road are endemic. A witness reports that the strike vehicle did not brake or slow when it encountered Tyler, who was thrown 55 feet and whose bike was propelled 108 feet southward. A blood-soaked swath of grass and tire tracks through a neighborhood yard attest to the fact that the offending vehicle continued on farther than the victim, which lends credence to the witness allegation of excessive speed, if not acceleration, in the presence of bicycular traffic.

My afternoon proved to be far more incident-filled than I can go into here, and while I hope the primary journalistic organ of New Albany will investigate this matter beyond the police report, I want to extend my thanks to the city official who responded to our plea for answers. On a summer Sunday afternoon, your responsiveness was greatly appreciated by all and reflects well on your concern for the people you serve so ably. Thank you.

So, guys and gals who missed me on Le Tour, just know that my afternoon was far more interesting than you might have guessed. Wish you could have been there with me to advocate for the respect for bicyclist rights and bike paths.

And to my mother-in-law, you may have been right that I was filled with hubris in thinking that I could keep up with experienced riders. Heat stroke was incipient at one point, despite hours of pre-ride hydration, but I'm glad I started with the pack and was able to lead them through my neighborhood and beyond before dropping back. In fact, the bear jumped on my back just a few feet from your house. I should have pulled in for a glass of tea. But then, my afternoon would have been far different, wouldn't it?

Articles you may have missed.

NAC closed the week with two insightful discussions about ways to promote unity among those seeking similar goals for New Albany’s future.

Continuing the discussion: What prevents us from "joining hands," and where to go from here?

UPDATED: A discussion: What is preventing us from joining hands?

Thinking along the same lines, the Tribune guest columnist John Alton puts the ball into play:

Alton: Take out the trash in New Albany ... all of it; Use citizens to help police the problem, by John Alton, guest local columnist.

Laws and ordinances that improve a community’s quality of life are ineffective unless they’re enforced. Enforcement is not only the role of the police department. It is most effective when police work in partnership with the community and us — its citizens, local public agencies and the courts.

John writes about neighborhood watch groups, and as if on cue, the Tribune provides an example of such groups in action:

Neighborhood watch leads to two drug arrests; NAPD officer very proud of West Enders, by Jennifer Rigg (News-Tribune).

Calls and tips from residents of the West End Neighborhood Watch Program prompted investigations into two West End homes that resulted in three drug arrest.

The West End program eschews politics, but the latter remains very much with us:

New Albany budget debate starts; Wrangling likely over $3.3 million, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

Coping with a large deficit in the Street Department, finding ways to trim a sewer-rate increase and funding a state-ordered early retirement program would make it difficult enough to write a 2007 budget for New Albany.

At the same time, the City Council must figure out during its budget discussions, which started this week, how to allocate a $3.3 million windfall among the city's numerous financial needs.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Revenge of the elderly drummers.

When the Rolling Stones played at halftime of the most recent Stupor Bowl in February, the most visibly energetic of the three remaining original band members was neither the perpetually strutting Mick Jagger nor an elegantly wasted Keith Richards. Rather, it was drummer Charlie Watts, whose stage presence over the course of four decades might be compared to a vase of flowers – albeit with syncopated wrists always swinging the beat near the petals.

Last fall, the amazing, jazzy Ginger Baker reunited with his Cream band mates for a series of concerts, their first genuine stage performances together since the Nixon presidency.

Somewhere in the world, the great Zak Starkey’s dad Ringo is touring with his All-Starr band, entertaining thousands and confirming for new generations that there was a very musical reason why the Beatles didn’t launch into the stratosphere until Pete Best was given his walking papers.

Then there’s the amazingly youthful Cheap Trick, whose excellent new album, “Rockford,” has been the highlight of my musical summer to date.

Specifically, my happiness derives from a tiny snippet of unadulterated bliss that occurs during “Perfect Stranger,” the first single. There is a break just after the first chorus, leading to the bridge, where drummer Bun E. Carlos plays a brief and sublime Keith Moon-style drum roll, with requisite cymbal crashes, as Rick Nielsen wrings the length of his guitar neck in a pure expression of air axe parody, that seventies show rock shtick with which we’re all too familiar, but far more joyously, with conscious self-knowledge of how delightfully cool it must be for a fifty-something male to get away with such plainly adolescent behavior – and get paid for it.

Bun E. and company – Nielsen, vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Peterson – rock consistently through an album of hook-laden, power pop gems, should-be classics that unfortunately will find no home on radio as currently constituted, and are equally unlikely to be heard emanating from our city’s ubiquitous boom cars, but eloquently confirm Cheap Trick’s oddball status as criminally underrated American icons.

The album’s a veritable clinic of good times and summer party grooves … and so what if most of the listeners turn out to be as old as the band itself? Let’s hope there’s much more to come.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Continuing the discussion: What prevents us from "joining hands," and where to go from here?

Thanks for the discussion during the past few days.

If you missed it, go to the comments section here: UPDATED: A discussion: What is preventing us from joining hands?

A few moments ago, Tabitha posted this comment:

I actually attended a sample study circle last night at New Directions. It was simple and powerful. I think that it would be a useful process for this area as we need to communicate if we truly want to come together to work toward common goals with a collective vision. I believe that we need to look at the larger issues that cause many of our "problems." I agree with what others have mentioned. Garbage is not the core issue. The problem of garbage will be addressed if we work on the larger issues. We need to look at our "problems" as symptoms of larger issues including poverty and urban sprawl. I know that many people know this. I just feel the need to repeat this again after the discussion at New Directions last night.

May we continue the discussion here?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

UPDATED: A discussion: What is preventing us from joining hands?

(Updates are in progress Thursday ... see the comments section, and join in)

There has been a spirited discussion, both on line and off, since NAC’s Tuesday posting on alleyway filth, garbage non-collection, non-partisan political spinelessness, the timeless slumlord protection program, and other enduring components of the New Albany Syndrome.

See: PHOTO UPDATE: Meaningful civic renewal: Invasive, not evasive.

I’m moving the most recent comment here, to this new posting, in the hope that a discussion will ensue.

A Democrat in Floyd County said...

NewAlbanian, How can we get a new "code enforcement officer", a new "para-legal" for Shane's office, and "new" Building Commissioner -- and this stuff is still going on?I noticed they took down that Condemned sign too over on Market.

What gives? We've tried for ten years, to the point where my husband and I were slandered on the front page of the newspaper for trying to clean up one of the worse houses in NA. It's glued to my fridge (from it's old days) because of age. Couldn't get it off if I tried. New Alb Annie isn't kidding when she says there are a bunch of us that started trying to clean this mess up starting ten years ago, and we're still going.

It'd be nice if we could all join hands because we really want the same thing -- clean up New Albany.

It’s a question asked by many at present.

Why are we not joining hands in this most worthwhile of neighborhood crusades?


Golly, Sarge!

Does anyone else think it's strange that Indiana ranks number one, and not on a per capita basis, but number one overall, in the Department of Homeland Security's list of top terrorist targets?

They don't release the list, but we Hoosiers are, apparently living on risky land, with almost 9,000 targets. Read more in this compelling article, and then we invite you to offer your own list of local targets. By the way, Louisville, Ky., did pretty good, too, in rising up the list for the allocation of anti-terrorism funding.

Top Terrorist Targets, by state

Does this include domestic terrorism, too? We know who sabotaged the NA sewer monitoring system. Does that count?

Good news: New owners for the South Side Inn.

Currently it isn't my cup of Joe, but that doesn't mean downtown doesn't need a healthy South Side Inn, especially if the new ownership adds eel pie to the menu.

Hmm, wonder what sort of beer they'll be selling once the license comes through?

Cask-conditioned Miller Lite? But seriously ...

Popular eatery to get new owners; New Albany's South Side Inn was in bankruptcy, by Ben Zion Hershberg (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

Here are excerpts:

The venerable South Side Inn restaurant in downtown New Albany is getting a new owner, and a face lift. Joe Peevor, who is buying the restaurant at 114 E. Main St. with his wife, Angela Hawley, said they have completed negotiations and intend to sign July 19. The South Side is in federal bankruptcy proceedings, which the sale will resolve ...

... He expects to spend perhaps $100,000 installing windows and painting to brighten up the 55-year-old restaurant.

He also expects to get a liquor license because the South Side is in a recently created riverfront economic development district, allowing bar and restaurant owners in the area to get new liquor licenses even if none are available elsewhere in the city.

Peevor said he will reopen the bar area and install television sets for sports fans, as well as offer outside dining and add a few items to the menu.

But he said he doesn't expect to tamper much with the South Side's long tradition of home-style food.

Did he say windows?

Earlier in the week we included a link to a Tribune article ("Cold-beverage warehouse takes hot bath") about facade restoration at Lambert Distributing, also on Main Street:

In the next couple of weeks, workers will scrape away a half-inch of the facade and reinforce it with the same mixture of mortar used 176 years ago. Corrugated metal also will be removed to unblock several windows.

Well, well. Perhaps I'll have to amend my previous gibe entitled "windowless views of Scribner Place." Can Schmitt Furniture be far behind?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PHOTO UPDATE: Meaningful civic renewal: Invasive, not evasive.

(Photos courtesy of Courtney Paris)

On Monday night, WLKY-32 devoted two solid minutes of local television news time to New Albany’s enduring culture of non-compliance with the rule of law, and I’d like to publicly thank our neighbors, who met with the station’s reporter earlier in the day, toured fouled alleyways and covered the major aspects of the New Albany Syndrome.

It’s embarrassing to see these ugly scenes on television, knowing that they’ll only reinforce negative stereotypes that so many earnest citizens are trying so hard to dispel, but it is medicine that we must take if there’s any hope of improvement, and it points unmistakably toward an uncomfortable, recurring reality.

Taken as a whole, and in spite of regular reminders of intense interest from the citizenry, New Albany’s governing class remains willfully impotent and bizarrely detached from community concerns like these. While pointing to such obvious administrative and legislative dysfunctions does not excuse the obligation we all share to take part in the life of our streets and neighborhoods, it is a galling dysfunction nonetheless, and one that reaches across party designations and political philosophies into more than a few utterly vacant craniums.

What will it take for our local governing officials, and perhaps more importantly, their political parties, to make a stand and to take a position on matters of importance at the grassroots level?

But isn’t it these elected time servers who should be most embarrassed by metro viewers guffawing at video images of an unreconstructed cityscape filled with garbage, refuse and litter?

After all, as we’ve noted here time and time again, an honest and comprehensive assessment of New Albany’s post-war municipal history leaves us with precious little good to say about those who’ve been entrusted with leadership, but who at various times have lacked vision, imagination, understanding and courage when it comes to platforms of governance.

How else to explain the de facto slumlord protection program lovingly put into place in New Albany over the decades? Absentee-owned rental properties have been allowed to proliferate without the slightest effort at organization and regulation, and it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to instinctively grasp why unregulated and decrepit absentee rental properties, neighborhood decay and contempt for the rule of law go together like rats, insects -- and uncollected garbage.

To paraphrase: New Albany’s myriad compliance failings are a design issue as much as a law enforcement issue.

The current code enforcement system is a start, albeit one that required too many months to enact, but it’s only a small beginning. Unfortunately, it is designed to be ineffective, and will remain ineffective irrespective of the considerable talents and hard work of the OEO.

The necessary dots simply are not connected, the monies remain uncollected, and we’re still searching for the first elected official who will risk an iota of political capital to do what needs to be done for this or any other system to be effective.


What has prevented New Albany’s governing class as it is presently composed – some members of which have often said the right things and indicated some level of comprehension – from taking meaningful administrative and legislative steps to help alleviate the problems?

What prevents the city council and the mayor, together or apart, from enacting the sweeping reforms that are required for New Albany to become a better place to live and work?


At least, nothing beyond the timidity, mediocrity and unresponsiveness of elected and appointed officials alike, and the self-defeating, fence-sitting political parties that sponsor their candidacies.

What’s the major malfunction?

It's painfully obvious.

Independent reform party, anyone?

Monday, July 10, 2006

WLKY 32 news, tonight (11:00 p.m.)

This isn't much notice, but if you're reading this on Monday night, we're told there will be a segment on this evening's WLKY-32 television news pertaining to a neighborhood walkabout and spotlight on New Albany's trash problem.

Bad description, but I'm in a hurry. More later.

The fruits of New Albany's venerable slumlord protection program.

If it’s something we all agree is a problem, why is it so hard to get fixed?

Piles to go: Garbage in New Albany;Trash in alleys frustrates neighborhood groups, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

“If they don’t do something about absentee landlords, they’ll never get this cleaned up,” said Greg Roberts as he stared at a pile of tires, mattresses and rugs in the New Albany alley between Spring, Market, E. 9th and E. 10th streets.

As Greg correctly perceives, not everyone does agree that our fouled collective urban nest is a problem, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever attempted to fathom the woebegone precepts behind New Albany’s famously self-defeating refusal to enforce its own codes, and to concurrently accept a lowest-common-denominator “slumlord protection program” as the epitome of human aspiration.

A more comfortable habitat for absentee landlords is difficult to imagine … and yet if they’re absent, why is discernable political will on the topic of compliance harder to find than Steve Price’s nickel-and-dime laden, cement pond Eldorado?

On June 24, the Tribune ran an informative piece on neighborhood watch programs:

Not In My Backyard; Residents, police: Neighborhood watch programs can decrease crime, by Jennifer Rigg (News and Tribune).

Potential criminals in New Albany’s Silver Grove neighborhood may be more afraid of Varie Munford than they are of patrolling police officers.

As the coordinator for the Silver Grove Association’s neighborhood watch program, she and several others patrol the neighborhood at least twice a week either on bicycles, in cars or on foot looking for suspicious activity to report to police.

For fifty years, we’ve been intent on avidly pursuing the wrong target demographic, and in any case, shame as a reliable mechanism of self-enforcement has been bred out of the American gene pool for so long that living memories of it are confined to our most elderly citizenry, so we must concede that without active resident participation in the process of patrolling neighborhoods, little is going to be accomplished in the way of clean-up.

Of course, it doesn’t help that some would-be pillars of the community see fit to ignore certain community norms that clash with their preconceived notions, and by doing so, set a less than stellar example for those who’re actually paying attention.

I’m thinking here of the abject refusal of the city council to observe the law requiring periodic redistricting.

But as incurable optimists, we continue to look for the good, as in these two recent Tribune stories:

A legacy, renovated: New Albany's Cardinal Ritter house.

Cold-beverage warehouse takes hot bath.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Another article Steve missed: "Indianapolis fights crime with clean; Officials sprucing up blighted neighborhoods."

Here's an informative Indy Star piece from Monday, July 3, 2006, reprinted in its entirety.

Indianapolis fights crime with clean; Officials sprucing up blighted neighborhoods , by Aparna Balakrishnan (The Indianapolis Star).

INDIANAPOLIS — Nillie Urick's block typifies the general state of the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood: Weeds push through cracks in the sidewalk along disintegrating curbs, while debris litters the backyards of vacant houses.

Last week the neighborhood, on the city's south side, served as the starting point for a summerlong effort to combat the city's rising crime problem.

According to police statistics, the crime rate in Bates-Hendricks is 131.86 incidents per 1,000 residents -- much higher than Marion County's rate of 83.41 incidents per 1,000 residents.
Representatives from Mayor Bart Peterson's office, Indianapolis police officers and crews from several agencies gathered not far from Urick's house last week to kick off the effort.

They picked up 50 tons of trash and used 25 tons of asphalt to fill potholes in alleys and streets. Ten streetlights were repaired, and 55 street signs were fixed or replaced. The city also issued citations to owners of abandoned and poorly maintained lots.

The effort is in keeping with the so-called "broken windows" theory of crime prevention, which holds that certain kinds of crime can be deterred by making relatively small repairs in a neighborhood or area. The concept has had some success in other cities, including New York.

It is also part of a wider anti-crime push, announced last month by Peterson and police officials, that includes increased police patrols in crime-ridden areas.

As of mid-June, homicides in the county had increased more than 43 percent -- to 63 from 44 -- over the same period last year. Burglaries were up more than 25 percent in the first quarter.

Kevin Sifferlen of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services said 20 areas of the city have been targeted for attention.

Though city officials were optimistic that their efforts will blunt crime, residents were skeptical.

"I'd love to see (Bates-Hendricks) cleaned up. But how long would that last? I don't think it'll really help with the crime," said Urick, 47, who has lived in the area for almost five years.
Police officer Stephen Knight disagreed, saying that maintaining areas such as alleys would lessen criminal activity.

"Thieves, criminals, generally use places like alleys to make getaways," he said. "If (the alleys) look like they're being maintained, if the thieves realize they're being watched, they'll move on to another area."

Urick also criticized plans to issue citations to residents who don't maintain their lots.
"We have all these old people here. They just can't jump up and do these things," she said.
Urick said her past efforts to report abandoned houses and drug dealing in the area were ignored by city officials and police.

Tim Martin, deputy chief of the police department's south district, acknowledged that the city's abandoned-housing problem is difficult to manage.

"Certainly one of the problems is that people get into abandoned houses and get into illegal activity," he said. "But there are literally hundreds or thousands of abandoned houses in the city. It's hard to check all of them."

There are more than 8,000 abandoned houses, compared with fewer than 5,000 15 years ago.

Urick said she would continue to feel unsafe in the neighborhood until the problem of abandoned houses was addressed.

"It's crazy around here," she said. "I send my son away every summer because I don't want him here. Maybe (the cleanup) would help to a certain extent, but (the criminals) don't really care."

Others, however, like lifetime Bates-Hendricks resident Nicole Berk, 26, were more hopeful.

"I'm excited about it. You have to have optimism," she said. "Any help is better than nothing."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

UCC What You Get in The Tribune

Regular readers of The Tribune...well, eagle-eyed regular readers of The Tribune, will note that St. Marks United Church of Christ has filed notice that they seek a permit to demolish the bank building at the landmark corner of Spring and Bank streets (SE), with a demolition date no sooner than Aug. 30, 2006.

The public notice informs the public that the Historic Preservation Commission has been served with the allegation that the church has found an appraiser willing to say that "the building (improvements) on the subject real estate is incapable of earning an economic return on the value of the real estate."

The church recently voted to reject a bona fide purchase offer of $250,000 for the subject property four blocks west of my own establishment. Apparently at least one appraiser is willing to say that the vacant land is worth substantially more than a quarter-million dollars.

NA Confidential hopes to provide you with relevant photographic evidence of the notice, which is purportedly posted on the face of the building in question.

For more details, see The Tribune of July 8, July 27, or August 15. The application for a permit has been filed sometime in the last 15 days, according to its words, and our sources tell us the Board of Public Works is the body that will grant or deny the permit application.

As always, we invite discussion of this important public issue by our readers. Real estate professionals are particularly invited to weigh in.

GFNA Gets it Wrong, Again!

You really can't blame the City Council for taking 60 days to respond to the redistricting lawsuit, and you really can't blame their lawyer for seeking to have it dismissed. But basing their response on dicta in the lawsuit is a pretty lame strategy.

The GFNA reporter, of course, fails to tell the readers of The Courier-Journal that the suit explicitly states that the filing is based on unequal representation among the districts according to the 2000 Census, the relevant reference point. It's going to be hard to get around that FACT since it is the opening sentence of that part of the pleading.

According to the newspaper report, Mr. Gahan, council president, still fails to understand the importance of the Constitution of the United States. That casts serious doubt in my mind about whether Gahan is speaking as a representative of his colleagues or as a representative of the people.

In brief, folks, the suit is and always has been based on population. Dicta in the pleadings goes on to discuss registered voters as additional evidence of the inequalities in the districts.

Funny thing is, everyone knows that, but Mr. Hershberg conveniently overlooks what's clearly in black and white. Interesting, too, is the fact that nowhere in the story is there any discussion of a response on the merits. That's because there is no defense for the council having failed in its statutory and Constitutional duty.

Double-Naught tales from New Albany's cement pond.

C’mon – admit it.

The only thing that made the Clampett family members remotely tolerable was the saving grace of their vast oil wealth.

Otherwise, Jed, Granny, Ellie Mae and Jethro were unreconstructed simpletons who had no business living in Beverly Hills -- or virtually anywhere else where civilized people reside.

Moreover, we welcomed them into our living rooms all those years not because we were particularly keen on the idea of ruffians spitting tobacco juice on the furniture and butchering the English language, but because we knew the Clampetts could buy and sell us many times over, and as Americans, money piled that high is virtually the only thing we respect on a consistent basis.

But those people across the street in the fourplex?

Don’t kid yourself. They’re the Beverly Hillbillies, all right, but without the cash.

And it’s nowhere near as funny in real life, but rest assured that within a month or three, they’ll be gone. Such is the reality of the slumlord glorification program installed by postwar New Albany’s leadership cadre in the glaring absence of other ideas pertaining to sustainable development, and as was the case with Communism in Eastern Europe, posterity is likely to determine that the slumlord’s iron grip is far easier to institutionalize than to reform, change or destroy like the metastasizing cancer cell he is.


Last week, yet another disinterested bystander confirmed the most likely source of the weird and cockeyed rumor that was relayed to me by former mayor Doug England in May as we sipped beer by the Ohio River in Madison.

At the time, scuttlebutt had it that the formation of the city’s Riverfront Development Area (and its provision for special three-way alcohol sales permits) actually constituted a grand conspiracy between your humble correspondent and the current mayor, a sinister deal that allegedly would result in my being handed $2 million dollars (from where?) to build and operate a brewery inside the old Shrader Stables (yes, the infamous “green building”) on Main Street – facing Scribner Place, from where I purportedly would lure naïve Yuppie health nuts and ply them with $10 progressive pints.

Yawn. Very, very dumb.

This whopper surely must rank among the most unlikely and artlessly contrived rumors I’ve yet heard in a town filled with unfathomable gossip, on top of it being 100% false from the start, but given the fact that 1st District councilman Dan Coffey not only publicly embraced the story and repeated it to numerous others, but probably invented the tall tale himself, at least there’s a plausible symmetry of malicious fraudulence – Cappuccino’s pants on fire, and all that.


In the wake of Monday’s city council meeting, and as we breathlessly await the Gang of Four’s (no, CM Kochert, doing the right thing one solitary time while chewing the scenery in a scene that would make Olivier proud doesn’t let you of the hook -- quite yet) next last gasp, Hail Mary, dying breath, desperation potshot in the general direction of kneecapping Scribner Place and humiliating all those in favor of it, there arose a brief and predictably toxic spewing of trogaganda on the part of the city’s congenital obstructionists to the effect that Develop New Albany (DNA) has joined the mayor, NA Confidential’s founder, Kojak the bookseller and other dreaded progressives as targets for liquidation, lest the little people be forced, kicking and screaming, to turn their Burma Shave wall calendars to the year 2006.

It’s simply ludicrous, and indicative of the vituperative negativism that so cripples every effort to lift this city from its slumber into a position of achievement and competition in modern – not Cro-Magnon – times.

Certainly DNA is not beyond the reach of honest criticism, and there probably are ways to improve its overall performance, just as there are with my own business or any other undertaking, but by the same token, it’s not like the organization is being endowed with millions of dollars to pursue its mandated goals of revitalizing downtown New Albany. Many good people volunteer their time and make do on a shoestring. They do what they can, when they can. They’re making an effort.

Instead of targeting DNA for the usual round of Luddite bile and envious intemperance, perhaps the ever anonymous attackers might undertake an understanding of what DNA is trying to achieve, and how its tools might be strengthened.

Perhaps they might be of assistance, rather then posing as college professors or acting as sidewalk superintendents of fear mongering.

Instead, we have cornpone Jed and his stack of newspapers, whittling on the porch, while Granny plays with her abacus, Ellie Mae titillates the denizens of Hugh E. Bir’s, and Jethro plots against the prospects of improving his own city council district.

May we change the channel, please? While there’s still time?

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Dynamic Revealed

As you enter the weekend, trying to remember the last time you oiled the chain on the ol' bike, ponder the imponderable with the reading provided below. A little self-examination is a healthy thing.

As the link indicates, this is damned interesting, and perhaps too revealing of the anonyblog mindset and the dynamics that ensue when strangers interact.

“TOUR DE GARDE”: Bistro New Albany/Rich O's Bastille Day French Biere de Garde Dinner and Bike Ride on Sunday, July 16, 2006.

In France, Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14, which falls on a Friday, so we've decided to celebebrate two days later with a bicycle ride through New Albany, a multi-course French meal and the long-awaited French Bieres de Garde tasting -- all at or near the Bistro New Albany.

New Albany's Bastille Day Biere de Garde Dinner and Bike Ride
Sunday, July 16, 2006

At 2:30 p.m., we'll embark on a bicycle ride.
Beginners and intermediate riders should be fine to ride this course, whch is generally level ground: Tour de Garde Ride July 16th, 2006. Park by the Farmers Market or near the Bistro New Albany (corner of Market and Bank), because when we return, it'll be time for relaxation, war stories and a few introductory tipples as we await dinner. Note that in the event of inclement weather, the ride will be cancelled. Naturally, you need not join the bike ride to dine and sample later in the day.

Circa 5:00 p.m., the meal will begin.
Weather permitting, we intend to use the courtyard, but can go indoors if necessary. The French menu will be accompanied by the Bieres de Garde, roughly four ounces per person of each selection listed below. The exact beers to match the various courses will be revealed here before the day of the show, but it should suffice to say that the metropolitan Louisville area has not seen such an assembly of Northern French ales.

Chef Dave Clancy's Menu:

Hors- d ‘ oeuvres
-Canapês au Duxelles (mushroom canapes)
-Oeufs Farcis Garnis (stuffed eggs)
-Boucheés au Chevre (puff pastry with goat cheese)

Soup Course
-Pureé de Cèleri (celery soup)

Salad Course
-Salade de Betterave (beet-root salad)

Entree Course
- Suprême de Vollaille á l’ Arlesienne (breast of chicken with fried eggplant)

Dessert Course
-Tartlettes aux Nuisse (nut tartlette with blue cheese)

Bieres de Garde/Northern French Ales:

Cuvee des Jonquilles (Biere de Garde de L’avesnois)
La Choulette Ambree
La Choulette de Noel
Les Sans Culottes
St. Sylvestre Gavroche
Thiriez Blonde
Thiriez Amber
Thiriez Extra

There'll be additional bottles of most of these ales, priced reasonably, and available for those wishing to sample further. There's no possibility of carry-out sales on Sunday. Remember that although these ales are of moderate alcoholic strength, you are obliged to arrange your evening's transportation accordingly.

The price per person for the Tour de Garde meal and beers is $50, with service not included. Those wishing to partake of a non-alcoholic meal will pay less. For this event to work, we need no fewer than 20 people to reserve spaces, with a limit of 30 at the most.

Reserve soon by e-mailing me: Roger A. Baylor.

See also: Dreaming about Northern French ales? I am.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Charting the depths of George W. Bush's degradation.

We continue to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine at the pub, although I haven’t found the time lately to read it on a consistent basis.

But this recent cover story’s a corker, and worth your time:

The Worst President in History? One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush, by Sean Wilentz.

Here’s the paragraph that will stick with me:

Another president once explained that the judgments of history cannot be defied or dismissed, even by a president. "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history," said Abraham Lincoln. "We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation."

Paging Dan Coffey … meestah C-O-F-F-E-Y … oops, never mind. I forgot -- the CM doesn't read.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More council meeting coverage.

The frothing tripartite Trogosphere has been strangely quiet since Monday’s pivotal city council meeting, but at least two other reality-based local bloggers have considered the events of the evening in detail:

At New Albany Today … “Questions?” and “City Council Meeting of July 3, 2006.”

At View from the Highway … “Chalk One (Make that Two) For the Good Guys.”

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Passing notes during class, and other Monday post-mortems.

“There is only one way to defeat the enemy, and that is to write as well as one can. The best argument is an undeniably good book.”
-- Saul Bellow


As many readers already know, the latest challenge to the Scribner Place project on the part of New Albany’s rogue council faction went down in fully deserved flames on Monday evening.

Our own All4Word provided sterling NAC coverage of the meeting:

He wears a “K” on his chest, but it doesn’t mean “strikeout.”

Randy reported here:

For the record: Voting to kill Scribner Place were CM’s Coffey (District 1), Schmidt (District 2), and Price (District 3). All other members in attendance voted against any notion of killing the project and creating a lasting stain on the name of New Albany.

Note yet again – perhaps for the final time – that three of the four council members representing the city’s historic core of business and residential areas joined together to support CM Bill Schmidt’s cowardly resolution to renege on the city’s commitment to Scribner Place, in effect openly opposing a downtown revitalization effort that would greatly benefit their own districts, and by extension, the entire city.

No matter how many times it happens, such self-defeating behavior persists in defying rational explanation, but in the end, these are the patently unrepresentative and simply tragic depths to which these three overmatched politicians have plummeted in response to inner demons characterized by consistent, spasmodic, and knee-jerk opposition to change, revitalization and reform.

Don’t we deserve better?

At the Tribune, Eric Scott Campbell provided the straight story:

Amount of pledge to Scribner is disputed at Albany council meeting; September meeting minutes under scrutiny as latest funding challenge fails.

New Albany's plan for the Scribner Place downtown aquatic center remained unchanged Monday night after the introduction and defeat of a resolution to remove property tax revenue as an emergency funding option and limit the city’s annual income tax contribution to $137,500.

The reporter Campbell closed his account with a Priceless anecdote.

Resident Randy Smith said he’d file a complaint because someone from the audience passed a note to Price during the meeting. He believed the note should be read aloud into the record.

Gahan brought up the issue at meeting’s end, and Price said, “What do you want me to do, throw it back?” Price declined to read the note aloud.

Verily, Jethro knows full well that it’s catch and release time back at his cement pond, and rest assured that the voters of the Third District would very much like to throw Steve Price back into the electoral has-been reservoir, given his unfathomable and unbroken record of voting against the best interests of his own district … against his own neighbors … against the value of his own properties!

But we’ll be getting to that important task in earnest in just a few months, and until then, here’s idle speculation as to what the note passed Monday night to the purely oppositionist incumbent said:

Play some Skynyrd, Steve!!

Just a dozen eggs, white bread, peanut butter – generic’s fine, dear, you know how those nickels and dimes add up to dollars – N.

Hey Steve -- check out for all the new property management techniques.

Your vocabulary builder for Monday, July 3 is “argumentative.”

If it looks like you’re about to lose the argument, blame the city clerk.

We love. You. You’re a true Americain. Will you autograph my convalescent smock after the meeting? Signed, Professer Erika.

Monday, July 03, 2006

He wears a “K” on his chest, but it doesn’t mean “strikeout.”

It’s a holiday, folks. 230 years ago courageous men took a stand on principle to create this country. They birthed it, but we’re still fighting to keep it alive.

Monday night, long-serving 4th District Council Member Larry Kochert took a courageous stand, but not before an angst-riddled interval. While the attempted murderers of Scribner Place repeatedly called out advice vestigial and parliamentary, Mr. Kochert was in obvious agony.

He could have taken the weasel’s way out with the vote standing at 4 nays, 3 ayes to kill the project. A weasel would have voted aye, establishing a tie vote and thereby defeating the resolution. And Larry could have done that while claiming he was both for and against the Scribner Place/YMCA/Harrah’s Foundation Natatorium redevelopment project.
So whether he voted aye or nay, the matter was settled. Scribner Place is a go for launch. But it was still dramatic.

Shaking in frustration and silently praying that the final bill for the city comes in at $137,500 per annum, Kochert stretched out the voting for what seemed like five full, silent minutes.
For the record: Voting to kill Scribner Place were CM’s Coffey (District 1), Schmidt (District 2), and Price (District 3). All other members in attendance voted against any notion of killing the project and creating a lasting stain on the name of New Albany.


During the “Communications from the Public” portion of the evening, one woman argued forcefully that council resolutions are “council” business and that the public and the press have no right to know what’s in the members packets, even though it is a public record. Mystical knowledge passed down through the generations seemingly informed her complaint, but the fact that NA Confidential got the scoop on the Schmidt resolution did nothing but give the public MORE information, not less. That’s called journalism, in case you were wondering.


Speaking of journalism, Ben Zion Hershberg, part-time reporter for The Courier-Journal (GFNA is his real gig) must have been squirming as council member after council member referred to the outstanding reporting being done by our hometown newspaper over the past several weeks. If I heard “It says in The Tribune” once, I heard it a dozen times.


Of course, not all communications from the public are created equal as those in attendance will attest. As this reporter was ejected from a recent meeting for seeking to rectify a slander, and this after being muzzled by the presiding officer for no reason other than that he didn’t care for how I was saying it, I’m particularly sensitive to the favoritism shown to certain individuals who are allowed to “communicate” with council at their discretion. I’ll be discussing this with Indiana’s Public Access Counselor shortly. Even Larry Kochert thinks I should do so.


The other atrocity on the agenda was the “Terminate Shane Gibson” ordinance, put forward by none other than that champion of the community forum, and friend Brandon’s idea of a man you can work with, Dan Coffey. Short report? The ordinance was basically ridiculed by the president and a majority of the council as being inappropriate, inopportune, and poorly thought-out. Going 0-for-2 for the evening didn’t seem to throw Coffey off his stride, though. He stuck to his playbook despite its proven loserdom. Isn’t that the definition of something???


CM Price must have had a birthday recently, and the wards for whom he serves as pater familias went all out and got him the ever-useful Word A Day Toilet Paper. Tonight’s word? “Argumentative,” which Price whipped out of his holster to flog Jack Messer with. And then Steve sat back triumphantly with a giant beef-stick-eating grin as if he’d invented the word. “You’re just being argumentative.”


It truly was Café Nebulosa on the third floor Monday night. Firing wide, Mr. Coffey questioned city planning and redevelopment officer John Rosenbarger as to whether the YMCA would be able to participate in the “Capital Investment Campaign Fund.” You know, that thingee Dan read about just this month in The Tribune. Rosenbarger was at a loss, since the “CICF” is, in fact, exclusively the fundraising campaign for the Y and has nothing whatsoever to do with the city.


It’s not all kudos this day for Mr. Kochert. He’s either disingenuous or losing memory cells faster than anyone suspected. During the Scribner Murder debate, he claimed, in the immortal words of his 1st District colleague and co-conspirator, “this is the first I’ve heard of it,” referring to the city’s irrevocable commitment to devote as much as $400,000 a year to retire the Scribner Place bonds.

In fact, Kochert was the author of the amendment that put Scribner Place on track last fall, insisting that the $400,000 commitment be reduced by any amount proffered by Floyd County. That was enough to start the process that ends this month with the sale of the bonds, and next month with the groundbreaking


Speaking of breaking new ground, Mayor Garner and the supporters of Scribner Place should plan to have about 1,000 shovels for that ceremony. Special seating (but no shovels) should be arranged for the opponents of the project, who will doubtless insist on claiming credit for its success. Think anyone will pay to have that ceremony taped and then scream conspiracy unless the school system’s educational channel broadcasts it?


Kochert, who often fills out the card table at Gang of Four meetings, may have abdicated his seat to CM Donnie Blevins, but he still has his poodle to keep him company at Mickey D’s. But there may be more trouble in Gangland. Dan Coffey chose Monday night to bring up the crying need for a city impound lot. Lest we forget, marionette Stevie and his gal pals killed the city’s best option to not only replace the old lot but create a revenue stream. Why? NIMBY, of course.


It’s simply amazing what lies get told at council. But what’s more appalling is that no one challenges them. Please, folks, if you haven’t attended a New Albany City Council meeting, you simply must make the time to do so.


Here’s a modest proposal. Since under the law the default management of our unfunded federal stormwater mandate lies with the sewer utility, and since the sewer board abdicated that duty and forced the creation of a separate board to manage compliance and investment, council should allocate salaries to be equally divided between the two boards. I don’t really care how much they get paid so long as the stormwater board is paid in parity with the sewer board.


Best unintentionally funny line of the evening goes to (drumroll, please)…Steve Price, who said “I’m in now way against moving New Albany forward.”

We’re going to have to retire that trophy, Steve. It looks like the other guys weren’t even trying. Love that Porter Waggoner thing you’ve got going on, too. But your companion’s Dolly Parton impression is the worst I’ve ever seen.