I know, I know … just because Steve Price thinks he’s Jesus is no reason to lose my temper. But apparently he does. And I did. Alas, it occurred.
In retrospect, it should have been obvious that a bad moon was rising when the council considered second and third readings of the Summit Springs development on State Street, and for the second week running, the 1st district’s Dan “Wizard of Westside” Coffey was surreptitiously beamed from the chamber by playful space aliens, who placed in his stead a strange conciliatory figure waxing constructive about the virtues of development and a widened tax base.
C’mon, guys – give us our famous ward heeler back. Not really.
Just ten days ago, the council approved a first reading of the Summit Springs zoning change by a resounding 8-1 margin, with 2nd district CM Bill Schmidt alone in opposition. Last night, with councilmen Blevins and Zurschmiede absent, the vote had reached 5-1 (Schmidt one again opposing) when it came council president Larry Kochert’s turn, and he provided sweeping justification for his “slippery” sobriquet by … abstaining.
I laughed aloud, and was immediately affixed with a presidential glare.
When Kochert’s turn came for the third reading, he looked directly at me, sarcastically said “thank you,” and voted against the ordinance, remarking that only then – at the last possible moment, and having first voted in favor of the measure prior to abstaining on the second reading – could he reveal a hitherto unspoken objection, which had to do with jurisdiction for future zoning decisions.
To repeat: 4th district CM Larry Kochert recorded one vote for, one abstention, and one against … and all three stances were taken at various times on the exact same ordinance.
Is it any wonder we laugh?
No, it isn’t, but having done so openly, I feared that the worst was yet to come, and of course come it did, for if there ever were a legislative body that confirms the adage, “the beatings will continue until morale improves,” it’s this one.
My end came as 3rd district CM Steve Price took advantage of the heaven-sent opportunity afforded by his predictable tabling of further discussion of ten new police cars to, yes, prattle on for another five minutes about the very same ten police cars, which of course meant that the discussion would not be about police cars at all, but about specific nuances of CM Price’s stance v.v. take-home police cars.
CM Price’s monochromatic strumming yodel was forcibly rebutted by colleague Bev Crump, which segued into a brief period of accusatory chaos that mercifully ended with fellow councilman Jack Messer asking why the council was persisting in discussing business that had already been tabled in favor of yet another committee.
CM Price responded that he must be given time to respond to his “accusers” on the police force, and when, somewhat remarkably, CM Kochert seemed inclined to agree, the time finally had come for CM Price – previous crusader against “Nazis” in the VFW, defender of “raped” taxpayers, and linguistic mangle artist extraordinaire – to don his rubber mask of Larry Linville's best Frank Burns face and whine loudly that the council might as well bring on “the cross and nails.”
As the room dissolved into embarrassed laughter, I remarked that Price’s performance was his best ever, and this prompted a buffoonish jackal to turn and heckle me. Shrugging, I responded in the only appropriate way under the circumstances: I asked the man, otherwise known as the newly scrubbed and streamlined council candidate Dick Stewart, if he’d come to the meeting to race-bait, or just to masturbate like always -- and that did the trick.
With CM Price now waving his arms and demanding I be removed, CM Kochert actually did the right thing and tossed both Stewart and myself. Rest assured that if there had been a home plate that I could have used my hands to cover in dirt, or a water cooler to heave, it is likely to have happened.
Chief Harl was officious and pleasant, and permitted me to visit the restroom before exiting. My only regret is that Professor Erika didn’t hang around to witness it, although Auntie V's hired camera got all of it on film.
Verily, it has never been my intention to “gonzo blog,” or be part of the story. From the beginning, I’ve felt that it was enough to provide reports that admittedly entertain, but also provide the reader with insight into the city’s council meetings.
But there are times when the breathtaking inanity exhibited by the likes of my 3rd district representative is enough to shatter the firmest of one’s resolve. Last night was just such a night. Sorry ‘bout that, although I’m not promising it won’t happen again.
Why? Because the answer to New Albany’s dilemma simply does not lie in Steve Price’s preferred state of degradation, deprivation and yokeldom, although there’s some solace to be derived from the fact that as he warbles and croons the “we can’t” defeatist line, plenty of people aren’t buying it. They both “can,” and “are,” and there's little that he's yet been able to do about it.
Lacking any constructive notions for how the pie might get bigger, and mired in the tattered depreciation logic of the landlord, our councilman seeks only to wrap his fingers around the piggy bank and keep the hands of others as far away as he can.
Yet ... if one possesses as chief operating wisdom such a naked contempt for progress and success, it stands to reason that he must seek to permit as little as possible to actually occur, lest the doom of cognitive dissonance creep through the bolted doors of his perception.
That's a fine way of protecting one's own limited bailiwick. It does not improve the community, or benefit future generations. In fact, it is nothing more than the expressed public will to fail.
We need to put a stop to it, and a chance is coming ... first in the primary, and then ...
Hail, Toga Party!