Thursday, August 31, 2006

REMINDER: Important Neighborhood Information Session Tonight

DO YOU KNOW ...

• About changes in the Sanitation Department?
• What trash you are responsible for disposing of properly?
• That you could be fined for putting out large items in the alleys?
• That the city DOES NOT pick up large items?
• About the city codes and ordinances?
• What landlords are responsible for?
• About the Neighborhood Block Watch Program?
• About the NEW tip line for illegal activities

At 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, get the answers to these questions and more at an educational meeting hosted by ...
East Spring Street Neighborhood Association
S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association
Uptown Neighborhood Association
West End Residents

The meeting will be held at:
The Calumet Club(1614 East Spring Street)

Guest speakers:
Pam Badger, Code Enforcement Officer for the City of New Albany
Todd Bailey, Crime Prevention Officer and Neighborhood Block Watch Program Coordinator


All New Albany city residents are invited to attend.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

UPDATED: Opportunity rings door bell, City locks door

Opportunity Cost:
1. The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.

Investopedia

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New Albany’s City Council last night voted to increase the sewer rate 8%. Your cost, however, will be much greater. In terms of pure dollars, the average sewer bill will increase around 81 cents per year for three years, roughly totaling $2.50 when fully realized. Economic development moneys pledged to the sewer utility, however, will cost each user $4.20 per month. In other words, the average user is out $6.70 a month.

Readers will note that NAC has pointed out that a full 19% rate increase as originally proposed would’ve cost the average user a little over $6.00 per month with no EDIT expenditure. With a much smaller suggested EDIT pledge of $275,000 for five years, users would have spent about $7.15 per month total.

For the amount of EDIT money pledged to save citizens less than half a dollar a month, the city could have totally paid off its portion of the Scribner Place project, turned Market, Spring, and Elm back to two-way streets, and fully funded a code enforcement regime for a number of years. Alternatively, we could have purchased and rehabbed several downtown buildings, provided low interest small business loans and other financial incentives, or built a technology infrastructure downtown to better facilitate the service based businesses that dominate today’s economy.

Instead, meeting attendees were treated to a prewritten statement by CM Bill Schmidt detailing his plan of spending even more EDIT funds on sewers to the tune of $25 million. His reasoning was that, since we were already spending a large sum of EDIT funds on the jail each year, we wouldn’t miss it. Coffey continued his doublespeak assault on the past, insisting at one point that certain parking lots that were supposed to be repaired after sewer work were not, even though he went on to critique the methodology used to repair them. And yes, Price again returned to the home finance paradigm, insisting that one shouldn’t borrow money to pay off one’s debts while conveniently failing to mention the consequences of not generating the funds to pay one’s debts at all, as he has continually advocated.

These uneducated, unprofessional and unimaginative men are simply grasping at whatever straws they find convenient owing to their inability to articulate even a partial vision of what New Albany could and should be. For years, Coffey has stated that things will never get better until we attract a factory to town. While mountains of economic evidence suggest that manufacturing jobs are probably not the wisest of investments these days, suffice it to say that in almost seven years on the Council, Coffey has yet to make suggestion one as to how to attract that mythical factory.

For all the blather that our city government has put forth in the past few years, not a single elected official has produced even an inkling of an economic development plan. Most have simply rehashed our failures and voted to subsidize them with the very tax dollars meant to correct them. We are a welfare state with no commonweal and a citizenry who, thus far, lacks sufficient interest in pursuing one.

If you have a different vision, please share it. We’ve got about 45 cents each a month to pay for it.

Courier-Journal coverage from Matt Batcheldor:
New Albany sewer bills to rise 8%

Tribune coverage from Eric Scott Campbell
New Albany's sewer rate rises

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What to do when the City Council wastes all your EDIT money

Think about how much money you have in your retirement fund. Then think about how much of that money is invested in locally owned businesses. Now ask yourself why. Then ask your financial advisor why.

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For those of you with an aversion to thinking, there’s a special City Council meeting tonight to figure out how best to squander millions dollars so a few low-skilled workers can keep their part-time jobs.

It’s at 6:00 p.m. in the third floor assembly room of the City-County building.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Meet The New Boss...

By all accounts, Randy Stumler is a nice guy—a father, a teacher, a concerned neighbor willing to help. I even yelled at him once and he didn’t slug me or anything. I guess that’s what makes the following all the more confusing.

When Stumler took over as Floyd County Democratic Party Chairman a year ago, people put their faith in him as a change agent, ready and willing to guide the local party out of its self-inflicted malaise and into forward motion. Though I’ve never dedicated myself to any particular party nor met the man personally, I, too, had hopes that his ascension to the party chair was symbolic of an attitudinal shift and a fresh approach to local politics.

Since that time, Stumler and other party leaders have, unfortunately, done little to publicly define what local Democrats hope to accomplish or by what mechanisms they may choose to pursue those goals. As Roger alluded in his recent No, wait -- not on the carpet!, the near total unwillingness of party officials to communicate even the most basic explanation of party intent or standard is baffling. Besides leaving discerning citizens to believe that declaring oneself a Floyd County Democrat is essentially meaningless, it gives the impression that Stumler isn’t so much marching towards progress as he is relying on the same preconceived, shopworn notions of personal popularity and blind party loyalty that created the need for new leadership in the first place.

When I broached that topic with Stumler, he explained to me that it was not the job of political parties to advocate for specific public interests. Admittedly, that’s about the time my frustration got the better of me and I raised my voice. According to his view, policy stances are the sole purview of individual candidates and the party’s job is to help them get elected, regardless of how conflicting those stances may be.

It’s instructive then for voters to review the campaign literature of those individual candidates to get any sense of what the party represents. Since Stumler is currently a candidate for County Commissioner, I recommend that readers take the time to thoroughly review the materials at RandyStumler.com. One quickly notices that two months out from the general election, the links to “Goals” and “Commissioners: Why they are important” aren’t links at all. There’s nothing there. There is, however, a link to a printable brochure. In it, Stumler highlights his commitment to the recent county subdivision control ordinance and I commend him for it.

There’s also a photo showing Stumler near a dumpster at the New Albany Street Department with a caption that reads “Randy Started Community Clean Up Days”. Readers can certainly interpret that visual information any way they choose, but suffice it to say that most would probably agree there’s an implication of concern for cleaning up the city and an attempt to illicit praise—and votes-- for that concern.

When one reviews the recent history of the clean up effort in New Albany, however, the picture reveals more than what the image and caption immediately suggest. For years, city residents have implored members of Stumler’s party to address the cleanliness issue. They’ve repeatedly spoken at Democratically controlled City Council and Board of Public Works meetings, met with the Democratic Mayor and City Attorney, called, emailed, written blog posts and Letters to the Editor and appeared on television begging for help with what is ultimately a simple matter requiring only that city government make a legitimate attempt to enforce its own laws. And they’ve largely been ignored.

Ignored so much, in fact, that the relationship between the Floyd County Democratic Party and downtown residents has deteriorated to the point that a large number of citizens have completely given up not only on the party’s ability to effectively deal with the problem but on the hope that they will even introduce the topic for serious public discussion.

All efforts to address code enforcement and cleanliness issues have been and continue to be resident lead. Despite the pleas of those residents and Stumler’s brochure promise to listen, the Democratic Party has still not taken a stance on enforcement issues and a majority of the Democratic officeholders currently under Stumler’s direction have hindered more than helped the situation. For Stumler, after a few hours and a photo opportunity, to in anyway imply in election propaganda that he’s somehow leading an effort to clean up New Albany is nothing short of the horse manure to which Roger so aptly referred. It’s an insult to the people who actually have spent years leading those efforts and is disingenuous to a degree sufficient enough to warrant questions of integrity.

A reliable source has reported that at least one of the Democrats involved in a recent weekend clean up mentioned that the party should get some good publicity as a result. I’d much rather choose to believe that the majority, even with their misguided allegiances and lack of willingness to deal with enforcement problems in an official capacity, are motivated to help clean up by something other than callous electioneering. The attempt of their leader to snare quick and largely undeserved credit, though, has made that choice more difficult.

If Stumler really wants to solicit votes based on an ordinance enforcement and clean up stance, he should probably take one. If he wants voters to believe that he’s a strong leader, he should probably show us his ability to unite his party around that stance. Oddly, that’s what most people seem to think political leadership is about.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The fondest troglodyte wish of all, but only for a while.

It’s time again for a pilgrimage to the Old Country.

Except that this time, as on three previous occasions, they're panniers I’ve packed, along with a bicycle. Somehow the beauty of European beercycling managed to elude me for more than two decades – through years of pleasure and pain, cloudiness and periodic lucidity – but now that it’s all mercifully clear, I’ll seldom opt for any other mode of travel n Europe.

Beyond their vague origins in Germany and Central Europe, little is known about the lives of my ancestors, and to be truthful, I’ve not devoted time to researching the specifics. For me, it’s always been enough to know that most of them came from Germany in that country’s far-flung, geographic sense.

We’re built from peasant stock, going back too many generations. Like so many others, coming to America was a prescient choice that made ample sense at the time, and perhaps it still does. At one time I’d have loved to be an expatriate and return to the scene, but while pondering the whys and wherefores of the situation, strange things happened.

I evolved into some skewed semblance of adulthood, passed through many of the stages therein, and lost sight of the bumpkin abroad. There’s general acceptance now. I live where I live, and I am who I am. So be it. It’s a good life, in the end. Somehow I’m seldom taken seriously when venturing into sincerity, but heartfelt thanks go out to anyone and everyone who are a part of this work in progress.

It’s my final morning in NA prior to three-weeks of beercycling with the lads, beginning in Bamberg, Germany, home of the world's greatest Rauchbier, then continuing through the Pilsner brewing heartland of the Czech Republic to Vienna – where lager brewing was refined 150 years ago by Anton Dreher.

Consequently, the Publican’s Choice today is precisely that: Lager. Not the swill peddled by multi-nationals, but the essence of Central Europe as displayed by Pilsners, Oktoberfests, Bocks and steins of frothing beerhall helles.

Yes, I’m a hophead, and an aficionado of strong ale … and yet lager has its place, even with me. Appreciate it when done correctly, and know that the forthcoming dalliance into the category created by my ancestors, and accompanied by pork served in more ways than you could ever imagine, will not cause me to forget IPA and Imperial Stout.

In other words, I’ll be back. See you then. In the meantime, colleagues All4Word, Bluegill and perhaps even Gordy "Highwayman" Gant will be writing

See also:
How we operate: Beercycling in Central Europe, 2006.

(Photo credit ... Bob Reed must have been taking the picture, but it was Tim Eads's camera. We were in Poperinge for the final leg of our 2004 Tour de Trappiste -- in route to Westvletern -- and were being filmed by a Belgian television crew.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

No, wait -- not on the carpet!


It’s ironic that New Albany’s 3rd District uncouncilman Steve Price would receive a blushing e-love letter from his self-professed, fanatically Democratic constituents, but it isn’t exactly unexpected.

Given the fever pitch of local political personality conflicts presumably dating back to the Eisenhower administration and our city’s general lack of interest in intellectual pursuits of the sort that generally lead toward enrichment and away from misery and poverty, human rationality is bound to be the first casualty of the Coup d’Geriatrique’s hate-infused war against modernity.

I'd personally like to thank my Councilman, Steve Price, for understanding what is going on with the financials and the sewers. Keep your stand, Steve. Our family supports you 120%. Thank you.

Since his accidental ascension to the council in the election of 2003, CM Price’s genetic blinders have grown steadily and pervasively closer together, with a resulting narrowed range of vision similar to that of blind bats in Kentucky famous cavern systems.

But of course without the sonar necessary to avoid mid-air collisions.

The undisguised gist of CM Price’s public position on all fiscal matters has been far more in keeping with that of the GOP’s uber-warlord Grover Norquist than anything emanating from the political organization to which he claims tenuous and vacuous membership.

Both Norquist and CM Price are intent to forcibly starve government of resources to the point that it can be “drowned in the bathtub” – in CM Price’s case, one of the bathing receptacles located in one his rental properties.

In general terms, the councilman enjoys a good reputation as rental property manager. He is said to be hands-on to the point of a hovering, nitpicking nanny, and certainly such meticulousness is preferable to the exploitative alternative that we must sadly regard as the norm in the absence of meaningful regulation and enforcement.

Why, then, is CM Price intent on his city being run in the fashion of the worst absentee slumlord – its value steadily degraded through lack of investment, starved, reduced, and subjected to degradation through terminal neglect?

It is no exaggeration to suggest that an unbiased review of the past three years of city council activity (“action” would be too strenuous a word given the circumstances) yields evidence of a regressive voting bloc that we’ve referred to here as the Gang of Four.

CM Price has allied with fellow councilmen Coffey, Schmidt and Kochert to forge a remarkable record of votes that reflect a pathological distaste for the city’s proper investment in itself, a blatant disregard for the proven tenets of economic development, and a barely disguised mistrust for the educated and the capable who plan, not grandstand.

Significantly, during the Gang of Four’s boisterous and often embarrassingly obstructionist tenure, these allied councilmen have snarled early and often at what they dislike and abhor, but have yet to produce the slightest evidence of a coherent policy alternative.

None. Zip. Nada.

All the preceding at least helps to explain the surreal nature of today’s second Democratic Party street and alley clean-up.

A bloc of councilmen registered as Democrats, but advocating the position of Norquist’s cut ‘n’ gut Republican jihad, consistently behave in such a legislative fashion as to keep the city down where it is sufficiently small and fractured to ensure the bloc’s continued influence.

Another group of Democrats, many of whom possess the brains to see a higher road and a better way, are forced to trail behind the malicious Gang of Four, scrubbing the streets and removing the evidence just like the people with bags and brooms walking behind the braying asses in our annual parade.

Why they haven’t grown tired of picking up after their untidy brethren is anyone’s guess. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Paper Tiger?

The New Albany Historic Preservation Commission voted this evening to permit the demolition of the early 1900s building acquired by St. Mark's UCC, which presently occupies the southeast corner of East Spring and Bank streets.

As reported to NAC, voting to permit the demolition were chairman Ted Fulmore, Vicky Nugent, the Cedar Bough rep (Randy???), and Maury Goldberg. Opposing the motion were Brandon Smith, Mark Sanders, and Bill Transue. Members Scharlow and Barksdale did not register votes.

We open the thread for discussion, if not speculation, as to how the commission came to this judgment. Reports say that Mr. Smith made an impassioned and logical defense of the ordinance, but was unable to persuade a majority.

Comments at this point by members would be welcomed, especially now that there is no pending vote before the commission with regard to the St. Mark's intent.

I believe it is safe to say that the editors of NAC are disappointed, and for now, we leave further commentary to our readers.

Boner and Jethro: Sewer – heal thyself!

There was a predictably contentious public hearing last evening on the topic of various plans to continue gently nudging New Albany’s sewer utility into the 21st century.

NAC’s senior editor was busy packing (sorry, it isn’t a one-way ticket) and could not attend the latest in a series of entertaining mob rule spectacles, but judging from the testimony of Gordy Gant, our intrepid volunteer mole – who admittedly departed the skull session early in an effort to avoid “further brain damage” – the hearing offered more of the same old Luddite song and dance in a minor (league) key:

(According to numerous attendees) this administration is a group of hapless bumbling, irresponsible idiots, the mayor is just short of being an outright thief & liar, and the sewer board, minus the two unpaid volunteer councilmen who are unlucky enough to have to sit on it, are single handedly responsible for the financial woes of New Albany dating back at least to the last ice age.

As if that weren’t bad enough, all of the lawyers, accountants, engineers, bond writers, and financial Phd’s on the planet are not as up to date and well versed in such matters as is our own illustrious gang of 4 & ½.

(Dan) Coffey was so impressed with the fact that the boys from Umbaugh had whittled the original 19% increase down to just over 7% in less than two weeks, that he reckoned if we give ‘um two more weeks they can get it down to 0%.

Perhaps the esteemed (and with CM Steve Price, thoroughly conjoined) master of pettifoggery also believes that if we wait long enough, the sewers will dramatically cure themselves, just like in that old Superman flick when the Man of Steel flew backward and made time move in reverse. The Wizard of Westside is nothing if not operatic in his grandstand flailings … and pathetically consistent in his big picture failings.

Meanwhile, the C-J’s new man reports from the sewer rate hearing:

Residents object to sewer rate hike; New Albany studies proposed increases, by Matt Batcheldor (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

Those of us who live in New Albany’s 3rd Council District, which under the guidance of pathological oppositionist and Dave Ramsey disciple CM Price increasingly has come to resemble one of the chaotic pocket “ – stans” in the former Soviet Union (without the colorful prayer rugs or redemptive oil wealth), look forward to our scentless leader’s bi-monthly council proclamations on creeping Nazism at the American Legion, digressions into hot-bed issues, and breathtakingly errant analogies pertaining to violent sexual assault.

According to the C-J, last evening, further proof of CM Price’s prescient financial acumen oozed to the surface.

"I'm not going to vote for anything," council member Steve Price said. "I don't borrow to pay debts."

But financial adviser Douglas Baldessari said that using economic-development money would cause the city to exceed its state debt limit and would require a timely scheme to restructure the payments to get around the requirement.

Here’s another quote guaranteed to arouse the righteous indignation of the taxpayers, this time from one of the uncouncilman’s most prominent constituents:

"It is all waste and mismanagement," said Valla Ann Bolovschak, innkeeper at the Admiral Bicknell Inn on Main Street. "This administration is costing the taxpayers millions of dollars."

But unlike her council representative, the non-blogging Ms. Bolovschak has released a detailed sewer relief plan, which can be read in its entirety at Professor Erika’s romper room blog. It’s called “The Admiral Bicknell-Meets-Illiterate Non-College Professor Sewer Relief Plan.”

Indeed, these are wretched and degrading times for those locals who stubbornly persist in touting the future tense. New Albany’s political landscape remains littered with the bloated carcasses of past political battles, and although we certainly have an ordinance requiring the bodies to be properly buried, you can bet it isn’t being enforced.

After all, in the immortal words of Councilman Larry “Limbo” Kochert – and unfailingly seconded in absentia by a Democratic party apparatus without visible rudders, a coherent platform or the discipline to keep party members in line – you just keep losing votes that way.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mile marker: Post #1,000.

Gee, have we really written this much?

Do the funky Kochert: Sewer rates all about how the “voters are going to feel about it.”

With former hostage (and hostage negotiator) Terry Waite coming to town soon, it occurred to me that it might be time to extend the olive branch and parley with the folks across the aisle.

Recently at the spitwa … uh, well, at one of the “other” blogs, one of their lynchpins provocatively wrote:

“It sounds to me like someone who has pointed out the problems that Roger has with HIS ego, and THAT is perhaps the greatest reason we as common citizens could never come together and work in tandem.”

Having not previously realized that my ego is an impediment to anything – with the possible exception of permitting Budweiser sales at my pub – it’s humbling to suddenly be told that community unity is impossible because of me.

In fact, I’m positively chastened, and to make amends, I’ve advanced a ceasefire proposal through the good offices of a local double-naught spy.

Essentially, I have promised to spare the attendees at the next neighborhood forum meeting (August 31, Calumet Club) the blunt force of my ego … if the Lauras, Shirleys and Erikas of New Albany do attend and commence riding tandem in the manner customarily rendered inert by my presence.

Good deal, huh?

The fact that I’ll be in Europe at the time should not intrude on the warm fuzzies sure to be generated by this sincere and unprecedented offer. After all, I’m not the sort to talk just to hear the sound of my own voice.

But 1st district councilman Dan Coffey surely does hear numerous voices, prime among them fellow conjoined 3rd District councilman Steve Price whispering to ask him whether it’s okay to vote "no" again, and of course both of the Siamese Councilmen will be there in the Gang of Four's playpen on Wednesday night during the public hearing on sewer rates.

New Albany sewer-hike plans in single digits; Raises between 7% and 9.3% to be the talk of Wednesday’s public hearing, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

The reporter Campbell is becoming a sly master at extending his interview subjects sufficient rope to candidly reveal their own entanglements, as 4th District councilman Larry Kochert’s comments amusingly indicate.

The mayor said he considered the proposals to be responsible alternatives to the 19 percent plan, but cautioned that “we’ve got to be careful that we don’t turn the utility into a tax-based system” with economic-development tax revenue replacing user-fee revenue.

Kochert is skeptical of that line of reasoning. He said several of the utility’s needed projects can be funded with development revenue specifically from their areas of New Albany, which he considers a solid option.

Since most residents pay sewer fees and economic development taxes, Kochert was asked if it made a difference where the money came from.

“I guess that comes down to how you feel the voters are going to feel about it,” Kochert replied. “The constituency out here is saying, no more (rate) raises.”

Not exactly, Larry.

NA Confidential has consistently advocated reality-based sewer rate decisions in accordance with a sentiment expressed by Mayor Garner in the same Tribune article:

“Over the years, it’s been, ‘What’s the minimum amount needed?’ We’ve got to quit looking like that and start looking to the future.”

Of course, we’re just an ego-driven blog, with no need to patronize voters and grandstand publicly for the sake of ineffectual careers in politics.

Larry's in limbo ... and I’m laughing all the way to the mirror. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Do you know? Important neighborhood information for all New Albany residents.

DO YOU KNOW ...

• About changes in the Sanitation Department?
• What trash you are responsible for disposing of properly?
• That you could be fined for putting out large items in the alleys?
• That the city DOES NOT pick up large items?
• About the city codes and ordinances?
• What landlords are responsible for?
• About the Neighborhood Block Watch Program?
• About the NEW tip line for illegal activities

At 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, get the answers to these questions and more at an educational meeting hosted by ...
East Spring Street Neighborhood Association
S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association
Uptown Neighborhood Association
West End Residents

The meeting will be held at:
The Calumet Club(1614 East Spring Street)

Guest speakers:
Pam Badger, Code Enforcement Officer for the City of New Albany
Todd Bailey, Crime Prevention Officer and Neighborhood Block Watch Program Coordinator

Monday, August 21, 2006

In which Michael Dalby's 8664 refutation is itself dismantled.

Early last week, One Southern Indiana President and CEO Michael Dalby made his first major local policy statement in the Evening News & Tribune – and it was a bona fide head-scratcher that read more like a press release from Rep. Mike "Hot Wheels" Sodrel than a chamber of commerce leader's position on an important topic.

One SI head refutes effort to alter bridges; Dalby calls 8664.org plan ‘an afterthought’, by Larry Thomas (News-Tribune).

A grassroots call to make major changes to the Ohio River Bridges project has come too late and would have little benefit to people living north of the Ohio River, according to One Southern Indiana President and CEO Michael Dalby.

Members of Louisville-based
8664.org propose eliminating a two-mile stretch of I-64 along Louisville’s riverfront, thus abolishing the tangled Web of asphalt known as “Spaghetti Junction” …

… "What they’re asking for would take us back to square one,” Dalby said. “We don’t advocate that. This isn’t just a political issue. It’s not just an issue of finances. It’s an engineering issue.”

Dalby said any major change to the Ohio River Bridges would likely delay what he called “a key element in the future economy of this region” …


I asked my NA Confidential colleague Jeff "Bluegill" Gillenwater to help me understand why Dalby's newspaper statements about 8664 were so troubling, and as I've come to learn since first meeting Jeff two years ago, not only could he explain the issues to me in clear and concise fashion, but he'd already done so in a letter to the Tribune and Evening News.

It was published as a guest column on Friday. Here's a reprint.

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I would like to thank The Tribune and Evening News for bringing the public’s attention to the rather stunning lack of vision recently expressed by One Southern Indiana President and CEO Michael Dalby. With regard to the 8664 initiative, Mr. Dalby stated that the 8664 plan to correct rather than augment the 50-year-old I-64 mistake that separates Louisville and the region from one of its most extraordinary resources was “not of benefit to anyone in Clark and
Floyd Counties. It seems to be of much greater benefit to the Louisville riverfront”.

Anyone with an even superficial understanding of our region knows that the economies, cultures and histories of Jefferson and Clark and Floyd Counties are inextricably linked. Our markets share labor and other resources. Cultural and recreational attractions are enjoyed and supported by residents and visitors of both sides of the river. Mr. Dalby’s suggestion that there’s no real Indiana consequence to the way in which we physically connect to each other is extremely shortsighted.

Thousands of Clark and Floyd countians cross the river each day for both business and pleasure. If the number of traffic decision points is reduced from the current 24 to 8, as proposed by the 8664 plan, it will be Hoosiers who enjoy a simplified and safer downtown interstate system on a daily basis. If the 8664 plan spurs an economic revival in downtown Louisville as it has in other major cities where waterfront expressways were removed, it will be Hoosiers competing for those jobs. If downtown Louisville and its waterfront become a more popular destination owing to the removal of an ill-advised concrete monstrosity, it makes it that much easier to market the historic downtowns of Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany, where revitalization efforts are already making headway, as nearby centers for residential and commercial redevelopment, particularly when the Greenway project further connects our respective riverfronts with walking and biking trails.

A review of recent economic development literature, of which a person in Mr. Dalby’s position should be keenly aware, reveals that access to talented labor pools increasingly outweighs more traditionally considered factors such as natural resources or even tax abatements when businesses decide where to locate.

That same literature also shows that well-educated knowledge based workers tend to choose where to live based on the lifestyle amenities offered by various cities and regions, including recreation and entertainment opportunities, proximity to cultural and educational institutions and transportation situations with a strong preference for urban dwelling. Does it make economic sense then to spend billions of dollars making our urban neighborhoods and public spaces on both sides of the river less inviting to that business-attracting labor force?

By supporting the 8664 plan, Southern Indiana would not only be making the more developmentally sound choice, but saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. As 8664 co-founder J.C. Stites recently pointed out in this publication, the money saved by not building an additional downtown bridge and accompanying connections would build TARC’s proposed Transportation Tomorrow light rail system three times.

While the current T2 plan is focused on Louisville, most Southern Indiana residents (and perhaps Mr. Dalby) would probably be surprised to learn that there was a study done in the late Sixties, very near the time of waterfront I-64 construction, showing how Clark and Floyd Counties could be connected with Louisville via light rail using largely pre-existing tracks. While both that idea and that infrastructure lay mostly dormant, our communities are about to waste huge sums of available transportation funds to recreate the mistakes of that time period, apparently with Mr. Dalby’s support.

As he’s new to the area and his current position, it would be unfair not to recognize that Mr. Dalby must be under substantial pressure to please remnants of the old guard left over from previous iterations of One SI. 8664 presents Mr. Dalby with an opportunity to prove himself beyond those bounds and to show that the notion of change that created his position will not be wasted.

If he continues to ignore that opportunity, though, and simply continues the repetition of defeatist refrains with which we’ve all become too familiar, the real “key element in the future economy of this region”, namely our ability to attract and retain those with the intellectual capital to create positive change in Southern Indiana and Louisville, will be the “afterthought” to which he refers.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Terry Waite on terrorism … Sept. 17, at the Ogle Center, Indiana University Southeast.

Thanks to Tim McDonald, President and Founder of The Institute for Global Studies, for keeping us posted on this event. Contact him for further details.

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TERRY WAITE SPEAKS ON THE ROOT CAUSES OF TERRORISM

As special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he successfully negotiated the release hostages in Iran and Libya. In 1987 while negotiating the release of hostages in Beirut, Terry Waite himself was taken hostage and held for 1,763 days, Waite was chained to a wall, often left in darkness, beaten and subjected to mock executions. Waite retuned home from Beirut harboring no resentment toward his captors, no regret or self-pity about his experiences. He now devotes most of his time to humanitarian efforts around the world.

Sponsored by The Institute for Global Studies, Mr. Waite will be speaking of the “Root Causes of International Terrorism.” Waite says “The international war on terror is largely a war on symptoms; you need to go to the root of the problem. Why do young women in Palestine strap explosives on themselves for a cause? They have no hope…you must deal with their lack of hope.” Educators, journalists, clergy, students and anyone following both the events in the middle-east, will want to hear the thoughts of this compassionate humanitarian.

Mr. Waite is the founder and President of Y Care International, the international development agency of the YMCA movement in the UK and Ireland. Waite set up Y Care International because he “believes in the crucial role that youth has to play in shaping the future of the world.”
The Institute for Global Studies was founded to bring discussion of global issues to our region and to encourage students and educators to become engaged in the discussion. Terry Waite is the first in what we hope will be a series of speakers on a variety of global issues over the next year.

Mr. Waite’s speech on Sept. 17th will be both informative and enlightening and will leave those in attendance with more to think about. Mr. Waite will hold a 20 minute press conference either immediately preceding or following his speech. This detail is yet to be determined.

7:00 p.m., September 17, 2006 Stem Recital Hall, The Ogle Center at Indiana Universtiy Southeast.

Tickets are $15 for students, $25 for adults. For $65, you can attend a meet and greet with Mr. Waite (inclusive of ticket).

(Photo credit: The Institute for Global Studies)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Scripture-spouting bigots convene to support nutzoid congressional candidate.

Last Monday, NAC held its figurative nose and offered this story from Dayton, Tennessee:

Tennessee congressional hopeful goes nutzoid; credits Jesus, Davy Crockett for inspiring her loathsome bigotry.

Helen forwards this "ugly" update: Griffin’s arrest attracts protesters: for and against.

Dunlap residents Jerry Layne and Billy Joe Stockwell drove to the Rhea County Courthouse on Monday to show their support for local Christian activist June Griffin and to express their disdain for illegal Mexican immigrants.

Griffin was arrested last week and arraigned on charges of civil rights intimidation, telephone harassment, theft and vandalism at a downtown Hispanic grocery store.


Of course, it’s not just Dayton, Tennessee. The “street evangelist” holding the sign in the photo could reside anywhere in the United States … and regardless of locale, be just as entirely mistaken.

Apparently Bible-based bigotry is something that never goes out of fashion. Thanks to Helen for sharing. The discussion thus engendered is valuable, indeed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

UPDATED: City Council Thursday: Will the 51st time be the charm, Mr. Price?

The 3rd District’s accidental councilman, Steve “one chord and a cloud of dust” Price remained uncharacteristically quiet for most of last night’s city council meeting, but when the moment finally arrived for our otherwise admirably businesslike elected officials to lapse into their twice-monthly outburst of venomous acrimony – as always, fueled by 1st District councilman Dan Coffey’s intemperate malignancy – CM Price could no longer resist the temptation to join the sewer rate scrum.

He did so by falling back on another of his numbingly repetitious, oft-repeated mantras about the city’s sewer board: It “dropped the ball.”

Sewer Board member and lone council Republican Mark Seabrook replied to CM Price with the quote of the night, perhaps of the year: “I’ll answer your question for the 50th time,” by which we can reasonably infer that the first 49 responses fell on CM Price’s intentionally deaf ears, and in turn, allows us to instinctively grasp a smidgen of the bizarre and unresponsive grandeur that is my council district’s dross to bear.

I’ll leave the burden of the reporting to the local media, except to note that no substantive action was taken on the issue of sewer rate hikes beyond the suggestion that the $3.3 million pot of jail bond gold sought by the council as a means of reducing the amount of the inevitable increase might actually resemble certain deities in the sense that it can’t even be proven to exist.

With the notable exception of at-large councilman Jack Messer, who correctly noted that the council seems to be intent on restricting its choices to either prolonging the city’s sewer agonies or putting a band-aid on them – courses of action that “will affect the rest of our life as a city,” the city council continues to exhibit the unmistakable signs of paralysis as well as a stunning lack of consensus, but not without a continuing eagerness to point fingers and endlessly debate the personalities and decisions of yesteryear even as decision deadlines loom with imminent finality.

As my colleague Bluegill observed afterwards, there were numerous references to last year, to 2002, and even to 1992 … but none to 2007 and beyond.

There’ll be a required public hearing next Wednesday (August 23) for consideration of the phased-in sewer rate increase of 19%, as approved by the council on August 7 solely as a means of buying time and enough fiscal band-aids from other sources to forestall the only reasonable conclusion: A phased-in sewer rate increase of 19%, which I support.

Unfortunately, the forecast calls for increased grandstanding and a desperate and sad depletion of fiscal resources that will do absolutely nothing other than to delay further rate increases down the road – to be paid by the children and grandchildren that the Coup d’Geriatrique incessantly claims to be defending by perpetuating their own hoary feuds and mistaking these back alley cat fights for future vision.

Perhaps that’s always the way it will be in New Albany.

Must be something in the water.

----

The Gang of Four's stenographer has been shifted to Clarksville, so meet the C-J's new New Albany beat reporter: New Albany delays sewer rate increase; Public hearing set for Wednesday, by Matt Batcheldor (short shelf life for Courier-Journal links).

At the New Albany Today blog: Disingenuous.

Reporter Campbell's New Albany Tribune coverage: New Albany Sewer-rate proposal treads water.

(more media and blog links will be inserted here as they become available)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

UPDATED: Jethro on the hustings: "You and I see things through a different view."

Earlier in the week, we happily referred you to 3rd District councilman Steve Price’s most recent meandering paean to his obstinate pursuit of nickels and dimes, an essay produced in cooperation with the Masked Erikas, and one that amply illustrates the accidental councilman’s unparalleled ability to sloppily string together entirely unrelated clauses, and to emerge with a shiny new conspiracy theory custom-made for New Albany’s crusty cadre of politically motivated obstructionists.

If you’re in the mood for the “spin” cycle, note that the flailing councilman has wasted no time in consulting the Coup d’Geriatrique’s reality fabrication bureau, contributing a crayon-stained press release that can be read here: A LETTER FROM COUNCILMAN STEVE PRICE.

Presumably having been introduced by an unidentified literate bystander to the concept of “that there word book thing” (the dictionary) -- but not by conjoined councilman Dan Coffey, the unfortunate victim of a devastating allergy to books and reading -- CM Price’s letter also defends his tastelessly choreographed cry of “rape” at the August 7 council meeting on the grounds of fully intentional metaphor.

Uh huh.

Fortunately, Maury at New Albany Today provides an eloquent response to this latest ex post facto obfuscation on the part of CM Price:

I find the whole affair to be sad and distasteful. Mr. Price should have known to use another word or phrase to express opposition. The whole episode detracts from what Mr. Price intended to say. The utterance reflects badly upon Mr. Price. He has only himself to blame. What more can I say? You only have to look at Mr. Price.

In the end, however, we, the Third District, are being screwed (I mean raped) and Mr. Price still does not get it.

How very true.

I asked Bob Dylan for his opinion:

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,
Blowing down the backroads headin' south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.


Yesterday, in spite of the dire predictions of the masked denizens of the spitwad blogyard, CM Price’s letter was duly published in the Tribune.

Unfortunately, it made no more sense the second time than the first, but given the councilman’s proclivity for chanting the same tired mantra over and over again in the forlorn hope that wishing will make it so, we’re probably doomed to hearing the letter read into the public record at tonight’s city council meeting, which convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the 3rd floor conference room of the City-County Building.

But there’s always hope for Thursday night council meetings, because the Bistro New Albany is open for dinner on Thursdays, and bNA serves refreshing progressive pints that help soothe the symptoms of the “Blight from Dewey Heights” – although the condition will not be fully cured until the spring of 2007.

Late note: Alas, hope is fleeting; here's tonight's agenda. Expect the grandstanding to come fast and furious ... and hope Dave stays open late.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Map it, Mr. Gregory: New Albany's problematic properties.

This story certainly doesn’t begin in July, but it was late in the month when Jim Sprigler, a fellow member of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, followed up on a previous conversation by sending me this link to photos of a deteriorating house on his block.

Not coincidentally, Jim and his wife Tabitha are the originators of the
Clean Up New Albany forum … and for the rest of the story, I’ll turn it over to Jim.

----

You may or may not have noticed that www.cleanupnewalbany.com has a newly redesigned homepage. If you haven't, I highly suggest you check it out.

If you know me, you know I'm a fan of not re-inventing the wheel. If somebody has done something that works, why not get their permission to use it or build off of it?

This is how this map came about.

From my time at the Neighborhood Forums, the appearance of a number of properties around town comes up frequently. Something that always gets mentioned along with them is how the
Tribune used to run an “Eyesore of
the Week.”

Also, I just got back from a meeting of a number of neighborhood associations in the Kentuckiana area hosted by New Directions. This same issue was brought up there, so it's an issue all neighborhoods in the area seem to share.

What the Louisville neighborhood associations have done, in cooperation with
New Directions, is put together a 2006 Neighborhoods Assessment Report. This report was put together with the help of representatives of each neighborhood association. It includes close to 50 properties, with a list of concerns as well as recommendations. It also includes photos of each property and if it was included in the report for the years prior.

So, this map is a combination of all of those ideas. Just as with the
New Directions report, I want this to be a resident driven project. If you know of a property that should be on here, post it on the site or e-mail me and I'll get it on the map. Make sure to note your concern with the property and recommendations on how to correct the concerns. If you notice a property on the map that you think has been cleaned up or listed in error, let me know.

Now, the next question you probably have is where did I get the list of the 22 properties currently on the map?

There's a property on my street that has been abandoned for quite some time. A couple of weeks ago, a packet was stapled to the front door, where it remains to this day. That packet is a list of 22 properties, including the one to which the packet was stapled, that were purchased to fix up and turn into rental property, but the fixing never occurred.

You can download the packet from this link by clicking here:

http://www.cleanupnewalbany.com/forum/uploads/James/2006-08-14_233852_packet.pdf

The map is already looking pretty full, and all this from properties owned by one individual! I'd almost be afraid as to what it would look like if we indeed had an accurate listing. So, email or post a reply to the following thread and let me know what properties to add (don't forget to list the concerns and recommendations):

http://www.cleanupnewalbany.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=127&PN=1&FID=5&PR=3

Let me know what you think of the map, be it good or bad. I'm looking for feedback.

Regards,

Jim Sprigler …
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What do you call what’s being done to the citizens of New Albany? We call it being "Priced."

The adversary she found herself forced to fight was not worth matching or beating; it was not a superior ability which she would have found honour in challenging; it was ineptitude - a grey spread of cotton that seemed soft and shapeless, that could offer no resistance to anything or anybody, yet managed to be a barrier in her way. She stood, disarmed, before the riddle of what made this possible, she could find no answer.

... Ayn Rand (from “Atlas Shrugged”)

----

John Tucker took stock of the “grey spread of cotton” in Sunday’s Tribune, and not unexpectedly, found it draping two of the chairs on the east side of the council’s chamber:

TUCKER: New Albany council leading the disarray, by John Tucker, publisher of the New Albany Tribune.

More to the point of this column — (Steve) Price, (Dan) Coffey and the rest of the council oversee the city and its operations. They indirectly oversee the city employees. Who wants to work for a boss who continually accuses workers of ineptitude and cheating fellow citizens like these councilmen do? How do we expect to keep or obtain quality city workers when they behave in such an insensitive manner? The answer is you can’t. Good people want to work with good people. The recent actions and statements of these two councilmen are going to drive away good city employees. With budget shortfalls and expensive projects on the horizon, we simply can’t afford that.

The Tribune continues to lap the Courier-Journal when it comes to coverage of local governmental and political news, and although such dominance might be expected considering the newspaper’s concentrated coverage area, it remains that its potential for excellence was largely untapped until the current management team came aboard.

If you’re in the mood for the “spin” cycle, note that the flailing councilman has wasted no time in consulting the Coup d’Geriatrique’s reality fabrication bureau, contributing a crayon-stained press release that can be read here: A LETTER FROM COUNCILMAN STEVE PRICE.

Am I being petty, am I picking on the nickels and dimes. The answer to that question is an opinion of itself.

Powerful, simply powerful.

You can hear the adulatory applause of the besotted mock professor, and feel the sting of the abacus. “Them pergessives’re screwin’ us,” bloviates Jethro, “so we’ll just screw ‘em right back.”

The Luddite Bar & Grill erupts into pandemonium, the linoleum buckles, the tallow drips to the beat of the jukejoint jumping to "Free Bird," and our absentee slumlords sleep soundly knowing that their 3rd District entrenchments are safe so long as their champion is at the helm.

Meanwhile ... even before CM Price fell flat on his face during his ineptly choreographed “rape” moment at the last council meeting, the residents of the 3rd District endured nearly three years of embarrassment, but fortunately, the time for ending this reign of error draws near.

We can only hope that further damage can be limited in scope, and that perhaps – just maybe – the Floyd County Democratic Party can be persuaded that with public officials like Steve Price, you don’t need Republicans in order to be beaten.

The pain can be self-inflicted.

Does the party support CM Price's cries of "rape"? A ritualistic public censure most definitely is in order.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tennessee congressional hopeful goes nutzoid; credits Jesus, Davy Crockett for inspiring her loathsome bigotry.

This is NOT a Weekly World News reprint. It only seems that way.

Helen, our friendly neighbor down the street, formerly lived in Dayton, Tennessee. She divulged this fact to me earlier this summer after I’d mentioned the Scopes Monkey Trial in “H.L. Mencken on William Jennings Bryan ...

We laughed and had a mock argument over which town, Dayton or New Albany, consistently displays more hostility toward rationality and common sense, with me citing as examples various local Luddites and their clueless council Jethros, and imagining that Dayton's in far better shape than NA.

As it turns out, maybe -- maybe not.

Last week, Helen forwarded the following from Rhea County Online. Keep in mind that June Griffin is (or was) a candidate for Congress. Helen provided the photos, which are from a Dayton celebration earlier in the year.

Geez, even Mike Sodrel’s looking good by comparison.



June Griffin, of Dayton, a staunch defender of the Bill of Rights and Ten Commandments, was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a capias warrant for civil rights intimidation, telephone harassment, theft and vandalism.

Griffin was released on $5,000 bond Tuesday afternoon. She is scheduled for arraignment in Rhea County Circuit Court on Friday.

On July 20, Griffin walked into the Hispanic grocery at the corner of Market Street and Main Street in downtown Dayton. She yelled at the clerk and tore down a large Mexican flag hanging in the store, the store’s owner, Gilberto Mejia, told Dayton Police Officer Justin Jackson, according to Jackson’s report. She left the store with the flag, and pushed and kicked the door on her way out, reportedly damaging a hinge.

Griffin then called Mejia on his cell phone and left a message in which she told him to “learn to speak English or get out.” She also told him that hanging the Mexican flag inside America was wrong, according to Jackson’s report.

Jackson went to Griffin’s home in Dayton and had her write out a statement about the incident. She also returned Mejia’s flag, to which she had attached a business card. She had written on the card, “Speak English or leave!” and “Remember the Alamo!” Jackson reported.


More on the story, from the Chattanooga website nooga.com:

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 --- June Griffin, 67, well-known political activist in the Chattanooga and East Tennessee area, was booked yesterday at the Rhea County jail on charges of theft, vandalism and violation of civil rights. Operators of a Mexican restaurant in Dayton told police she stole their Mexican flag off a door at the eatery recently. She posted bonded and was released from jail the same day.

Here is what Ms. Griffin had to say about the incident:

"After the Rhea County Commission meeting the 18th of July, I was traveling toward home from the meeting and passed the latest innovation to the city of Dayton - a Mexican grocery store. Plastered with Spanish, it irked me to see that there was such a monstrosity right in the heart of our little town.

"I went into the store and a young man sat there and could speak no American at all. I looked around and saw a small Mexican flag stuck to the back door. Seeing this effrontery, I tore it off the door and left. Of all the nerve! It was not stolen; it was an act of war! I have no respect for this kind of force.

"The next day or two I saw they had put up another, LARGER one in the front window. I went to a lot of trouble calling the property assessor's office to see who owned this building, which was formerly Roger's Drug Store. I was finally given the name of a Mexican and calling this number, heard one which I assumed was a Mexican speaking Spanish answer the machine and leaving some unintelligible message. I then said in so many English words that I didn't appreciate their having a Mexican flag in downtown Dayton and asked them to remove it.

"A day or two later, I had a call from the City Police Officer who asked me if I was the one who removed the flag. I said yes. He then said words which I value more than much silver - he said, "I knew you would tell me the truth." Where in this vain and wicked age can you find people whose word is their bond and the police officer would say, 'I knew you would tell me the truth.' It was a special blessing.

At any rate, days went by until today, August 8, 206, I received a call from Chief of Police Chris Sneed who told me there was an arrest warrant waiting for me at the jail and I needed to come down and sign some papers. The papers included booking me for theft, vandalism and violation of civil rights (!). After I was fingerprinted, I was allowed to bond on a $5,00 bond and put down $512.0 to save me from jail.

The hearing is today. It is an honor to suffer for your country's sake, even if it is in a Culture War and an insidious invasion by people who think we are helpless little pigs who have no defender. They are wrong. I have a Great Defender. His Name is Jesus Christ the Righteous, the One Who was with Daniel in the lion's den, and the One Who stood by Charles Finney and a thousand hosts of preachers and Christians who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake.

If there is anyone out there who knows how to reach the Mexican Consulate, would you be so kind as to send this to him for me.

TO THE MEXICAN CONSULATE:

Of all the nerve, your people come into our town, speak Spanish, put up their alien flags and expect us to take it laying down.

If all the officials are cowards, if all the businessmen are lawless capitalists, and all the people helpless under cowardly, unpatriotic leadership, I will do what I can as one individual to show my displeasure and love of my country.

You can be sure the inactivity on the part of veterans and patriots is no sign of love for your effrontery or that their hearts are not grieved and broken. They just wait for the Lord to execute His Wrath as He did in avenging the death of Davy Crockett
."
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

From Norquist to Torquemada to Brambleberry: Pathologies of tax "reform."

Grover Norquist, who famously seeks to reduce government to a size that can be conveniently drowned in William Howard Taft’s supersized bathtub, and who once compared the morality of the estate tax to that of the Holocaust, founded the Americans for Tax Reform organization during the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

If the sum of words written about ATR since that time were calculated in dollars, it probably would be equivalent to several times Bill Gates’s elongated fortune, but it seems to me that the organization’s own oft-repeated credo should suffice to tell us most of what we need to know about it.

“ATR opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle.”

Speaking personally, I interpret this as the fervent desire to take a blue pencil to the Constitution, substituting “I the individual” for “we the people.”

And I find it unacceptable in a civil society. In fact, I oppose ATR as a matter of principle.

----

Turning to the dictionary …

pa·thol·o·gyn. pl. pa·thol·o·gies

1. The scientific study of the nature of disease and its causes, processes, development, and consequences. Also called pathobiology.

2. The anatomic or functional manifestations of a disease: the pathology of cancer.

3. A departure or deviation from a normal condition: “Neighborhoods plagued by a self-perpetuating pathology of joblessness, welfare dependency, crime” (Time).

----

What, then, is the pathology of tax reform?

What is it that leads to the single-minded obsession, to the snarling condescension, and to the anti-communal narcissism so obviously inherent in the genre?

Finding an answer is important to me, because I’ve decided that I’m a taxpayer advocate, too, and furthermore, I’m no longer willing to permit my “anti-everything” crusading brethren to define the terms of taxpayer advocacy without a struggle.

Of course none of us actively seeks to pay more tax than we feel is justified, but apparently we differ significantly with regard to the tipping point that compels us to paint our faces, converge on Boston harbor to dump tea into the drink, and vote for Norquist-sanctioned candidates.

Moreover, I believe that taxation is not something that can be defined in the numerological sense – in dry, neutral, technocratic terms, although economists undoubtedly try their best.

Rather, it’s an intrinsically political issue with implications pertaining to power and financial decision-making that are pursued not in a detached laboratory, but in the real world of human society. One’s views on taxation undoubtedly bear a close relationship to one’s views on politics, society and even religion.

Although I’ve no intention of contesting that Norquist and his ATR claim allegiance from people across the political spectrum, it remains the case that the hardest core of the movement’s hardcore support comes from self-identified conservatives … and if one stalks the dark corridors of the right wing with a consistently stated aim of starving a “beast” into submission, it logically follows that this beastly straw man targeted in the anti-tax crosshairs stands somewhere to the left.

After all, if the beast is not an “enemy,” then why bother starving it in the first place?

Moreover, most people don’t propose to kill their own – only the “others.”

----

I believe that the existence of people living and working together in the evolving construct of human society is a state of being implicit in the art and practice of politics, which itself is necessary to negotiate matters of power, and insofar as we are human beings voluntarily living in communities with one another and deriving benefits from shared expenditures, I’m an unrepentant advocate of taxation as the necessary underpinning of a truly civil and functional society.

By writing these words in a public forum, I fully expect to be lashed by those local Torquemadas, particularly those of the Brambleberry “those who cannot do, prevent others from doing, too” persuasion, whose viewpoints with respect to strictly local taxes and fees mirrors the rabidity of Grover Norquist’s.

So be it. I simply don’t believe that our local government as presently constituted is a beast begging for euthanizing. Imperfect, perhaps, and as such reflecting the imperfections of its inhabitants and of the citizenry as a whole … but not a beast.

In fact, I believe it should be even more pervasive, and that we should pay our share to make it so.

----

Since you’ve asked, permit me to add that from my point of view, when Norquist’s hopping mad adherents speak specifically of taxation-related issues, I believe they’re actually speaking of just one component, albeit it vital, that ultimately is tied to the many planks of the conservative movement’s overall rightward march in America.

That zealous mission was elegantly summarized by the inimitable William Greider in a 2003 article in The Nation entitled “Rolling Back the 20th Century.”

Here are excerpts.

The movement's grand ambition--one can no longer say grandiose--is to roll back the twentieth century, quite literally. That is, defenestrate the federal government and reduce its scale and powers to a level well below what it was before the New Deal's centralization. With that accomplished, movement conservatives envision a restored society in which the prevailing values and power relationships resemble the America that existed around 1900, when William McKinley was President. Governing authority and resources are dispersed from Washington, returned to local levels and also to individuals and private institutions, most notably corporations and religious organizations. The primacy of private property rights is re-established over the shared public priorities expressed in government regulation. Above all, private wealth--both enterprises and individuals with higher incomes--are permanently insulated from the progressive claims of the graduated income tax.

These broad objectives may sound reactionary and destructive (in historical terms they are), but hard-right conservatives see themselves as liberating reformers, not destroyers, who are rescuing old American virtues of self-reliance and individual autonomy from the clutches of collective action and "statist" left-wingers. They do not expect any of these far-reaching goals to be fulfilled during Bush's tenure, but they do assume that history is on their side and that the next wave will come along soon (not an unreasonable expectation, given their great gains during the past thirty years). Right-wingers--who once seemed frothy and fratricidal--now understand that three steps forward, two steps back still adds up to forward progress. It's a long march, they say.


We all know the planks of the platform, as enumerated by Greider.

Gradually phase out the pension-fund retirement system as we know it.

Eliminate federal taxation of private capital, as the essential predicate for dismantling the progressive income tax.

Withdraw the federal government from a direct role in housing, healthcare, assistance to the poor and many other long-established social priorities.

Withdraw the federal government from a direct role in housing, healthcare, assistance to the poor and many other long-established social priorities.

Restore churches, families and private education to a more influential role in the nation's cultural life by giving them a significant new base of income--public money.

Strengthen the hand of business enterprise against burdensome regulatory obligations, especially environmental protection, by introducing voluntary goals and "market-driven" solutions.

Smash organized labor.


----

If this Federal beast is to be drowned, then there is no alternative to supporting a higher degree of decision making at local levels, but it should be obvious that starving the Federal “beast” translates directly and inescapably into starving ourselves, which in turn suggests that to some degree, we’ll have to pay more to maintain our standard of living, our infrastructure, and some semblance of a civil society, right here at home.

Speaking personally, I’d like to see this trend of beast eradication extended to my having the option to withhold federal tax revenue from wars that I believe to be unjust, illegal, or figments of George W. Bush’s restive imagination, but that improbability aside, how do we propose to pave and stripe the streets, keep the alleys clean, remunerate the police and fire departments, and perform the tasks that we take for granted as necessary components of local self-rule, when we simultaneously insist on voting for politicians who’ve consumed copious quantities of Norquist’s fascist Kool-Aid, and refuse to pay what it takes for local services when the same politician obeys his handler and denies us funding?

What are we supposed to do, beg funds from the local mega-church according to the principle of faith-based reverse Caesar – which I could have sworn was either a salad dressing or a pro wrestling hold?

----

Me?

I’m willing to pay my share to save my neighborhood and to ensure New Albany has a future. That’s more than can be said for the many “whatever it is, we’re against it” grandparents hereabouts, who continue to insist that Norquist’s starvation diet provides the perfect platform for the future interests of their grandchildren, something that is counterintuitive at best and purely insane at worst -- hence our bizarre and so characteristically New Albanian phenomenon of the Coup d’Geriatrique, an ongoing cabal conducted by so-called Democrats. It is directed not against Republicans, but deploys the Norquist playbook to savage the capable of all political and religious persuasions.

My 3rd District councilman – who insists against all prevailing evidence that he’s a Democrat, but whose right-wing pathologies are never hidden from view – is the prime example of this reaction against modernity even if he’s two decades younger than most other participants. Steve Price joyfully espouses the ATR party line, shrieking like a goosed banshee that errant nickels, misspent dimes and the perpetual tightening of belts will magically produce the revenue necessary to offset those monies being lost each time we gleefully vote for a pledged Norquistian, and incessantly associating the majority of governmental expenditures with frivolity and those aspects of human life with which he disagrees, misunderstands, detests and wishes to eradicate.

----

Progress, not regress. Progressive, not regressive. Forward, not backward.

That’s all I have to say on the matter, although there’s a chance that some of you will disagree.

Hit it ...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Don't forget Brew at the (Louisville) Zoo, on August 26.

The New Albanian Brewing Company's brew crew of Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson represented us today in Madison, Wisconsin at the annual Great Taste of the Midwest, the premier craft beer showcase in our region.

Next up on the summer festival calendar is Brew at the Zoo, Louisville's best annual craft beer celebration, at the Louisville Zoo on Saturday, August 26, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Oasis Festival Tent and Field.

Here is the preview, as provided by the Zoo.

Delicious food tastings from area restaurants, live music by Blues Incorporated and Thumper and the Plaid Rabbits, an amazing array of local and regional microbrews, silent auction of animal art from the Zoo’s own resident artists, zany ZooOlympic games and more!

Special ticket required.

Proceeds of this fundraiser benefit the Louisville Zoo. For ticket prices, a list of participating restaurants and breweries and to purchase Tickets Online, click
here!

Tickets include admission to the Zoo, live music and ZooOlympics entertainment, official Brew at the Zoo tasting glass and program, brew and food samplings from local breweries and restaurants.

Tickets also available for sale at Louisville Zoo Box Office during
regular hours or at BBC Beer Company, 636 E. Main Street, Louisville (through August 25).

Enjoy the finest brews from Bell’s Brewery, BBC Beer Company, Bluegrass Brewing Company, Broad Ripple Brewery, Browning’s Brewery, Cumberland Brews, Hofbrauhaus Newport, Lexington Brewing Company, The New Albanian Brewing Company, and Upland Brewing Company.

Tastings by BBC on 4th Street, Beef O’Brady’s, Bill’s Famous Cheese Spread, Bluegrass Brewing Company, Browning’s Brewery, Buckhead Mountain Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Chardeau’s Classic Catering, Coca-Cola, Coolbaker’s, Come Back Inn, Great Harvest Bread Company, Hard Rock CafĂ©, Irish Rover, Java Brewing Company, Jockamo’s Pizza Pub, Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, Monkey Wrench, O’Connell’s Irish Pub, The Oakroom at the Seelbach, Snappy Tomato Pizza, Sodexho, Texas Roadhouse, Whole Foods Market, Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Yang Kee Noodle and Za’s Pizza Pub.

Additional support by River City Decorative Concrete.
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Friday, August 11, 2006

The HPC, St. Marks and a demolition permit. What's up?

Rumor has it that last evening’s monthly meeting of New Albany’s Historical Preservation Commission was, shall we say, contentious with respect to the topic of St. Marks United Church of Christ's ongoing bid to construct a vacant lot on its Bank & Spring corner.




We’re told that city officials are not speaking with a unified voice on the matter, and that our longtime friend Krafty John has been engaged to defend the interests of the church.

(By the way, John, do you still have that silent auction item for redemption? Just a friendly reminder).

Anyone with the scuttlebutt?

Let us know.

Read the current St. Marks church newsletter here. The lead story by Rev. John Manzo addresses the church's plans.

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Previously at NA Confidential:

06/21/2006: St. Marks mulls the future of its property at the SE corner of Spring and Bank.

06/25/2006: UPDATED: By request ... views of St. Marks, the corner property and environs.

07/08/2006: UCC What You Get in The Tribune

Lewis Building sold, to be renovated.

There was excellent news in the Tuesday edition of the Tribune.


Couple buys old New Albany building for mixed use; Husband and wife to live on upper floors of Market Street relic, lease ground-level to ‘something within the arts’, by Eric Scott Campbell (News-Tribune).

Sprucing up the Lewis Furniture & Appliance building will be no easy task, but when you’ve renovated a log cabin, perhaps you’ve got the correct mindset to get it done.

Matt and Jessica Bergman paid $138,000 on Monday for the vacant three-story structure at 135 E. Market St, Matt Bergman said …

… “We wanted something we could save and that had a lot of history, and we’re really interested in downtown-type living,” Bergman said. “Compared to downtown Louisville, New Albany has a smaller, hometown feel … I hope we can be an instrumental part in bringing young people back downtown.”

The Bergmans plan to renovate the upper floors and reside there, while renting the storefront for arts-related use, and they’ll be hosting a “before” open house on August 27.

We wish them the best of luck in their restorative endeavor. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Books (and dogma) polluting the minds of our grandchildren?

When I was very young, our household library included a Vatican-approved volume about the lives of various saints, and it was one of the books that helped me learn how to read.

Perhaps as appropriate for the historical eras during which they lived, the lives of these Saints were rather short and unfailingly violent. Each of the chapters ended with graphic descriptions of how the subject was martyred, and many drawings provided ample visual reinforcement.

We weren’t a religious family, to be sure, but I can recall no qualms about letting me peruse this book. After all, it was approved by the Church.

I can’t remember having nightmares, although I occasionally was scared. I recall thinking that saintliness sure did involve a great deal of pain, suffering and death ... and that I'd rather be a cowboy, instead.

Here’s a story from yesterday’s Tribune:

Greater Clark keeps scary book; Grandmother tried to get book series pulled from school libraries, by Joseph Lord (News-Tribune).

This summer (Beth) Dorsey launched a campaign to ban the “Scary Stories” series from Greater Clark elementary schools, but her effort was killed after school leaders decided to keep the books …

… Dorsey said her two granddaughters had read books from the series and since had suffered from fear and nightmares, and other students had similar reactions.

Her 6-year-old granddaughter, Tiffany Svoboda, has been “imprisoned by fear” after reading one of the books from Utica Elementary’s library …

… She said the books also go against Christian values she is teaching her grandchildren.

“This is against everything we believe,” Dorsey said.


If censorship is a Christian value, then I hope I’m not alone in feeling somewhat “imprisoned” by it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Neighborhood Forum tonight.

Tonight's topic: Non-partisan strategies for grassroots efforts at cleaning up New Albany.

Every single person living in this city is invited to this forum, which again will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the White House Center on Pearl Street in downtown New Albany).

6-6-6 … and the world according to Chairman Coffey.

“I wasn’t aware it was in the hole.”
CM Bill Schmidt, who apparently refrains from reading the Tribune, which reported the demolition fund's shortfall a full two days before the last council meeting.

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With the obvious assistance of the Coup d’Geriatrique’s bureau of advanced abacus greasing and determined data compilation, 1st District councilman Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey came into Monday night’s Sewer Wars city council meeting loaded for the proverbial bear, with a nifty selection of new and trendy stock phrases intended to supplement his time-tested selection of ward heeler’s bromides – of which our favorite sleight-of-hand remains:

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it.”

It’s true that CM Coffey waited nearly three hours to say it, but by doing so, he preserved a streak of implausible deniability (by rote) that began nearly six and a half years ago, proving yet again that like a computer-generated Tinkerbell, relevant information continues to daintily elude the councilman’s grasp as the ants march off with Alice’s (and Anna’s) picnic basket.

As a public service, we offer Part One of the August, 2006 edition of NAC’s “Coffey Quotes” (as always, subtitled, “why us, Lord?”)

On accounting principles gleaned from Bazooka Joe U.:
“I’m not going to say I’m a CPA, but numbers don’t lie.”

On Sun Tzu’s masterpiece, “The Art of War”:
“We need to start being pro-active instead of reactive.”

On watching the needles on his LEGO-brand sewer board polygraph:
“They’re telling the truth in one respect, but not another.”

On the difference between overseeing and overlooking, especially when it comes to doggie doo-doo down at Joe Kraft park:
“We don’t have the oversight you think we have.”

On his fabled but criminally ignored history of struggling against the duplexes of unscrupulous developers:
“It’s hard.”

On that best-selling book by Richard Alabama … Mississippi … some damned place down there:
“You have to have smart growth.”

On the critical reaction abroad to his council record of stewardship:
“I’ve been checking with other cities.”

On numerology and the Long March:
“Evidently it’s hard to get a grip on the numbers.”

On the subtleties of semantics (a Socratic dialogue):
D. Coffey: “Sewer credits were promised.”
G. Fifer: I didn’t promise them.
D. Coffey: “Well, they were inferred, then.”


On economics, the Laffer Curve and ensuing laughter:
“You don’t have to raise rates just because inflation goes up.”

But for the prize-winning quotes of the night, CM Coffey must take a back seat to CM Steve “One Song, Loudly Sung” Price, whose trivialization of rape already has been noted in these pages, but who cemented his iron grip on inanity by lamenting:

“I haven’t been invited to no pizza party.”

Later, CM Price asked of two consultants, the city attorney and presumably the world at large:

“How much will you get paid?”

Relevant? Certainly not, but when it comes to CM Price’s insurgency against the attributes of the modern world …

“It’s another hot-bed issue.” Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Objects in Rearview Mirror May Appear Larger (because they actually are)

At the very beginning of the Council’s sewer discussion last evening, it was clearly explained that passing the rate increase on first reading only would send a message to the State Revolving Fund that the city is serious about working with them on their offer to refinance our bond at a reduced interest rate, saving us millions. The SRF has a board meeting this evening and New Albany is on the agenda.

Having passed the first reading, the Council could then schedule the legally required public hearing and any other meetings or information sessions necessary to discuss a rate increase, leaving the remainder of the month to make a final decision before the SRF refinancing deadline. It was also pointed out that, with two more rate increase readings remaining, no one can force the Council to do anything they wouldn’t vote to do. Two hours later, after some of the most asinine Coffey/Price/Schmidt commentary I’ve ever heard--and yes I mean even in relation to other Council meetings, they decided to do just that.

Unfortunately, the major issue at hand wasn’t discussed in those two hours. It’s the issue I brought up yesterday in the comments section of NAC. It’s the issue I mentioned to the Mayor, City Controller Garry, one of the financial consultants and anyone else that would listen to me at the meeting last night. It’s the issue the financial consultants alluded to when they presented a chart showing that inserting over $5 million of EDIT funds into the sewer coffers would only reduce the average monthly sewer bill by a little over a dollar as the concept zoomed over CM's heads. What issue is that? The issue is which plan to pay the sewer bond is the least expensive for citizens.

That’s right. Despite all the grandstanding about saving the poor citizens money, not a single person actually asked which payment strategy cost the least per person. The big picture take is that the Council often doesn’t get good information because they don’t ask good questions. The reality of the situation is much simpler than that.

Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds are just that—taxes paid by those who live and work in New Albany to be used for economic development. While the Council seems to assume that it’s somehow free money, it’s real dollars coming from the same pockets that pay sewer bills. The Council has repeatedly called for calculations showing how much the sewer rate increase could be reduced per monthly bill if certain amounts of EDIT funds were applied to the situation. What they’ve failed to ask is how much, per person, the EDIT expenditure would cost.

So…I asked.

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The average monthly sewer bill is currently $31.15

The proposed sewer rate increase is 19%, to be phased in over three years.

When the rate increase is fully realized in year three, the average sewer bill increase will be $5.92 monthly, $71.04 per year.

As explained by the financial consultants, the rate increase would be reduced by one percentage point for every $1.5 million of EDIT funds applied.

It’s difficult to determine exactly how many people pay into the EDIT fund at a given time. As of the 2000 census, there were 29,263 citizens over the age of 16 in New Albany. The best-case scenario would be to assume that every one of them is employed and sharing the EDIT burden. That’s clearly not the case since the same 2000 census showed only a little over 18,000 people were employed. I used the larger number, though, to ensure calculations were conservative.

The true cost of a sewer increase to citizens includes not only the percentage increase that appears on the monthly sewer bill but the initial, upfront cost of any EDIT expenditure applied to the bond payments as well.

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With no EDIT expenditure, the cost per citizen is $71.04 per year as mentioned above. If we apply $1.5 million in EDIT, the rate increase is reduced to 18%. That would result in an average monthly increase of $5.61 on each bill. That amount is $0.31 less than if we apply no EDIT. Each citizen would save $3.72 per year. However, the cost of the EDIT investment must be included. $1.5 million in EDIT, divided by the 29,263 possible taxpayers, amounts to $51.26 dollars per person. In short, each person would spend $51.26 up front to save $3.72 per year. It would take 13.8 years to realize enough in annual sewer bill savings to break even, let alone to justify the initial EDIT investment as a savings tool. Even that only remains true if the sewer rate doesn’t increase at all for the entire 13.8-year period. Given the realities of our economy, that’s not a realistic assumption. If the sewer rate is increased even one percent during that time, the break even point will take even longer to reach.

Below is a chart showing how the application of various amounts of EDIT funds would affect the situation. You’ll see the amount of EDIT pledged, the resulting sewer rate increase, the average increase per bill, the amount of monthly and yearly savings generated, the cost of the EDIT investment per person, and the number of years necessary to recoup the EDIT cost before any real savings would actually occur. It’s not pretty.






Unfortunately, for many households, the situation would be even worse. Those households with dual incomes and a single sewer connection would effectively see their EDIT investment double while their savings amount would remain the same. The chart below shows the doubled EDIT cost and the doubled amount of time necessary to justify that cost.





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It’s clear that when the Council members say “I don’t want to be responsible for a sewer rate increase”, what they're actually saying is that “I haven’t thought this through well enough to realize that, in my zeal to keep voters from associating my name with a rate increase, I haven’t realized that I’m actually advocating that citizens pay much more than necessary for the same result”.

I may decide to donate to someone’s political campaign in the future, but I hope to do so voluntarily. Ask better questions, Council, before being saved is worse than the alternative.