Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sorry, George, really

I met our current President's father, the former President Bush, at the White House once when I was a teenager. I asked him about military operations in Central America. He ignored my question and responded by literally patting me on the head, telling me that it was good to see a young person take an interest in politics.

I responded by tellling him that I'd be voting when he came up for reelection and that I didn't really appreciate being patronized. It was right about then that I got a tap on the shoulder from the Secret Service, who informed me that I needed to step back, since I wouldn't be allowed to speak to the President anymore.

With a New Albany Presidential visit scheduled later this week, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to the elder Bush. Had I realized what he was dealing with at home, I could've empathized with his situation and his thinking that, based on his experiences as a father, not taking young people seriously was a totally legitimate thing to do.

It turns out that in at least one case, he was right.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Through the past, into the future

For readers who haven't had a chance to experience it yet, tonight's an excellent evening hours opportunity to check out The Carnegie Center for Art and History's Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: The Men and Women of the Underground Railroad, a permanent exhibit highlighting FLoyd County's involvement in the antislavery movement.

The Floyd County Historical Society is hosting a meeting at the Carnegie featuring the exhibit tonght at 7:00 p.m., with a video presentation and self guided tour.

According to the Carnegie Center's web site, the National Park Service accepted Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage in the "Network to Freedom Program" and the state of Indiana also recognized the educational and cultural tourism value of this program by naming the Carnegie Center as one of three "gateway" communities interpreting the Underground Railroad in seventeen counties in southeast Indiana.

Meeting details, from the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission:

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage
Tonight, Tuesday, February 27
7:00 p.m.
Carnegie Center for Art and History
201 E. Spring St.


Also, a reminder of the Uptown Neighborhood Association's Meet Your Candidates event this Thursday, March 1.

From UNA:

The "Meet Your Candidates" event is an opportunity to personally meet the candidates that have registered to run for public office during the May 2007, City of New Albany, Municipal Primary Election.  All candidates have been invited to participate and we have obtained commitments from a majority of the candidates that are running for Mayor, City Council and City Clerk.  Since City Council candidates represent different districts of the City, we have opened this event up to the public...

Meet Your Candidates
Thursday, March 1
7:00 p.m.
Silver Street United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall
On Silver St. between Spring and Elm
Parking accessible from the alley off Elm

Monday, February 26, 2007

What schools have to do with it

Assuming neighborhood streets are safe enough to accommodate them, any children Mrs. Bluegill and I may have will likely never need tax-supported transportation in order to complete their public education through grade 12. They’ll be able to walk or ride a bicycle. Save possible extra-curricular travel, they’ll require no buses, no bus driver salaries, no insurance, no maintenance, and no fuel.

Even though national trends have for several decades strongly favored costly new suburban and exurban school construction and multiple inner-city schools have been abandoned or threatened locally, we’ve made a conscious decision to live in such a way that saves the school system money that could be spent on teachers, staff, and equipment to further enhance educational opportunities, creates a daily exercise regimen to enhance children’s health during a time of alarming childhood obesity, and saves precious fossil fuels when even politicians with whom I normally disagree are rightfully touting energy independence as a major national security concern.

The same cannot necessarily be said for suburban and exurban dwellers. By choosing to live in outlying areas further from preexisiting schools, they necessitate, at least by local decision-making standards, the need for an extensive school transportation system. Tax dollars are siphoned from other educational concerns to provide it.

It seems a fairly straightforward premise, but what’s intriguing about this situation is that many times over the past few years, when I and others have suggested that government should create a system of incentives or disincentives to encourage living arrangement choices that would save the schools and other taxpayer-supported entities money by reducing costs, we’ve been branded socialists and radicals, mostly by more conservative suburban and exurban residents who insist that the free market, not the government, should dictate such things while actively using our tax dollars to subsidize their chosen lifestyles as part of a government sponsored scheme.

It’s an interesting conflict to say the least and school system decisions certainly influence its resolution, as well as many other development phenomena. The initial school transportation thoughts communicated here are only a small part of a larger equation. In fact, the reverse of the presented scenario is often true, when the schools rather than residents choose to move to previously undeveloped areas, creating sprawl rather than merely serving it.

The National Academy of Public Administration in 2004 published a good introductory article about the role schools play in wise development choices.

Billions For New Schools: How Well Spent?
by Neal Peirce

The article provides a link to a Michigan study on the topic, also published in 2004. The linked PDF seems troublesome, so here’s another link to an HTML version at the Michigan Land Use Institute’s site.

Also referenced is Edge-ucation: the compulsion to build schools in the middle of nowhere from Government Magazine

For even more information, visit the Smart Schools Initiative’s Links Page.

*Graphics Credit: Michigan Land Use Institute

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New Albany Source

Welcome to New Albany Source. This site is loaded with information about your community. All of these sections come complete with an events calendar and a directory of information. We encourage you to take advantage of the New Albany Source message boards to leave reviews of restaurants, and local events. We would also like to read about your experiences with businesses in our review area. If you have any questions about this site, or would like to offer suggestions please do so in our general discussion forum. Tell us what you would like to see and share your photos."

New Albany Source is a homegrown, interactive collection of information about entertainment, food and dining, shopping, and community in our burgeoning urban center. It's free and growing, with proprietors Tabitha and Jim Sprigler (no "N") helping to highlight the there that's here.

There's no reason it shouldn't be overwhelmed with users sharing their experiences in discovering the new New Albany, unless maybe people don't know about it.

But, hey, now you do.

New Albany Source

Saturday, February 24, 2007

One small step, two small spots

The Courier-Journal’s Dick Kaukas reports that current New Albany City Council President Larry Kochert decided not to run for re-election at least partially based on his realization that he doesn’t like “‘the way things are moving.’” While I ‘d amend that statement to something suggesting that he may not be too happy that things are, in fact, moving at all-- as in continuing the trip from the former poll in his garage out into the modern world-- I’ll not quibble with CM Kochert’s self-inflicted exile. That modern world can be wearisome to navigate and I’ll take a spot of free joy when I can get it.

What’s notable, however, is Democratic Chairman Randy Stumler’s wondering, “‘if some fresh faces isn't what the council needs anyway.’” Longtime readers will remember that NAC pointed out one of Stumler’s rare public utterances on the topic last year when, in reference to support for a Dan Coffey resolution to kill Scribner Place funding, he said, “‘It might be time for them to step back and think about why they’re Democrats and what being a Democrat stands for.’”

I’m not sure two published statements in nine months constitute a trend, but it's nonetheless some positive semblance of a raison d’être strikingly lacking in both parties and it's appreciated, particularly in direct comparison to Republican Chairman Hancock's "shredding" gamesmanship.

I can't help thinking, though, had Stumler taken a firmer stance over the past couple of years and made his feelings more clear, he may now be enjoying intensified support from a formidable group of mostly Democratically leaning activists instead of fretting over a potential Republican resurgence whose most impactful campaign tools thus far are the members of his own party currently inhabiting the right side of the council table.

New Albany is slowly getting over itself, rediscovering what it means to be “wonderfully and delightfully us”. As NAC’s senior editor mentioned before heading off to the high times of the Benelux Lowlands, the naysayers are losing and some of us are having fun. It’s free to join and, other than a few bucks for the occasional great local meal, membership dues are paid solely via a shared appreciation of possibilities.

Whether that means anything to either party is up to them. Whether either party means anything to us is up to us, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one who'll take a free spot of joy when I can get one.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Final Primary Candidates: Kochert bids adieu, Erika files for two

"On the final day of city-election filings, the ranks of candidates swelled from 29 to 40, but none of the last-minute registrants was City Council President Larry Kochert."

The rest of Eric Scott Campbell's Tribune report is here, with more coverage promised tomorrow.

A full .pdf candidate list is provided here, courtesy of the Floyd County Clerk’s office.

Hyperlinks below are for candidate websites, when known. We’re happy to accept updates as new websites come into being.

Otherwise, we can't wait for the plagiarized campaign speeches.


(MAY 8, 2007)

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Bill G. Castile
D Doug England
D James E. Garner, Sr
D Larry Scharlow
R Randy D. Hubbard

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Marcey J. Wisman
R Lisa Curry
R Ronny K. Hornung
R Jennifer Mayfield

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Shirley Baird
D Eli Beardsley -Withdrew
D Donnie Blevins
D Vicki Denhart
D John Gonder
D James Hollis
D Jack Messer
R Richard Berryman
R Valla Ann Bolovschak
R Steve Burks
R Kenny Keilman
R Tonye Rutherford
R Kevin W. Zurschmiede

(Precincts New Albany 1, 2, 17, 21, 23)
D Dan J. Coffey
D Theresa Timberlake

(Precincts 16, 18, 19, 19A, 19B, 22, 29)
D Bob Caesar
D Bill Schmidt
R Harry T. Harbison
R Pete Lyons

(Precincts New Albany 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11)
D Maury Goldberg
D Charlie Harshfield
D Steve Price

(Precincts New Albany 12, 13, 20, 24, 25)
D Roger (Smiley) Hefler
D Pat McLaughlin
R David Aebersold

(Precincts New Albany 9, 10, 14, 15, 15A)
D Diane McCartin Benedetti
R Jameson Bledsoe
R Dick Bliss

(Precincts New Albany 26, 27, 27A, 28, 28A, 29A)
D Jeff Gahan
R R. Sam Anderson
R Richard “Dick” Stewart

Meet the Candidates, Face the Nation, and a $100 Bet with the World

As has been mentioned in NAC comments and elsewhere, the Uptown Neighborhood Association is hosting a Meet the Candidates event on Thursday, March 1, to bring local political hopefuls and voters together.

As fellow traveler and Uptown Neighborhood Association President Lloyd “Highwayman” Wimp explains over at View From the Highway:

The Uptown Neighborhood Association is neither endorsing nor sponsoring any particular candidate for any particular office. We are doing this solely to give the public a chance to meet those seeking office personally and for the seekers to hear what is on the voters minds up close.

An opportunity to register to vote will also be offered.

Event details:

Meet the Candidates
Thursday, March 1
7:00 p.m.
Silver Street United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall
Corner of Spring and Silver Streets
Parking accessible from the alley off Elm


In other good news, The Tribune reports that the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana’s rehab and marketing efforts at 1605 East Spring Street have garnered national attention via a full-page spread in This Old House Magazine.

A chat with HLFI Regional Director Greg Sekula on Tuesday revealed that he’d already received inquiries about the property from as far away as Utah. That’s an impressive turnaround for a house that had been condemned a year ago.


Questions of neighborhood perception led to the beginnings of a healthy discussion yesterday, as the good and bad of local appearances were debated. A recent meeting with Danny Flanigan, Home Repair Coordinator at New Directions Housing Corporation, revealed a small but intriguing idea for improving perception known as the $100 rule.

How would perceptions of a given city block change if each house on it, for $100 or less, boasted a new mailbox, new or improved house numbering, a freshly stained or painted front door, and a well maintained, functioning porch light?

Seems like a small ante for a bet that could pay off on considerable odds.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Chores of Perception

Creating neighborhoods of choice- four words that have become synonymous with revitalization.

Choice implies just what it says: the act of determining one alternative more valuable than another. Something isn’t valuable until someone wants it and, in the sense of commodification, is willing to pay for it. To be sure, neighborhoods and their accompanying lifestyles are a commodity just as much as gasoline, candy bars, and toothpaste.

The question for those interested in revitalization, then, is what causes someone to perceive value in a neighborhood?

Some of us have already chosen to invest in New Albany’s urban neighborhoods. What are your perceptions of where you currently live or do business? As you traverse its thoroughfares, what sense of place pervades your experience?

Perhaps more importantly, what does the broader market perceive when encountering urban New Albany in its current condition? Is it revitalizing or declining at first glance? Does it inspire sufficient confidence to justify investment?

If residents and potential residents don’t see the same thing, what can be done about it?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Primary filing deadline nears, Local parties pitch congressional candidates

The only problem is that there’s no congressional race at play in our 2007 elections.

According to the Republicans, there’s an upcoming opportunity to meet President Bush at Silver Creek High School in a couple of days last October. If the Don Rumsfeld Glee Club doesn’t do it for you, the Democrats are offering up a Cotner for Prosecutor chicken fry on the same day.

As we’ve come to expect from the electoral masochists masquerading as political parties in Floyd County, neither has much to say when it comes to relevant issues.

If they were to outline potentially conflicting ideas now, all the disingenuous glad-handing when their sworn, same-party enemies win the primary might just confuse those lifetime, straight ticket voters enough to engender an outbreak of thinking and we all know none of them have the guts to risk their positions in a highly tuned system of political patronage for that.

One highlight, though, is the absence thus far of the names Coffey and Kochert from the list of candidates. While there’s good chance the queens are simply perfecting their drama or taking turns looking for each other’s good side should a photo op materialize, their allowing us a Zen-like moment to consider their absence from the Council, even if shorter than the time it takes the average reader to realize the irony of Kochert declaring a hiring system that grants his family jobs "too political", may well constitute their first act of genuine public service.

It at least beats their most recent slapping session in The Tribune. After avoiding the fire department hiring issue since late 2005 when it was first sent to Council committee, the modernity-defying duo has settled on blaming each other for a two-week delay.

Never one to shy away from taking up the space of a big kid, CM Price has chimed in, too, proving again that the world is round in the process. If one starts from a proactive point and walks in a straight line backwards for three years, it’s impossible not to eventually return to that proactive point, although it’s apparently more difficult to recognize from the backside.

DICK may be catnapping in the afterglow of masturbatory release, but what we’re dealing with here is constipation. The former typically ends in some sort of enjoyable fashion. I’ll just be glad when this crap’s over.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Fabric of Community

Neighbor and fellow New Albany blogger, Ceece, aka Courtney Paris, recently encountered a couple of homeless men taking shelter under a downtown overpass on a cold winter's night. In an act of both bravery and kindness, she returned to the scene after searching her home for any warm garments she could find, introduced herself, and selflessly handed over what may very well have been live saving apparatus in the form of coats, jackets, and blankets.

Even those among us who may have done the same thing-- and there are undoubtedly far too few of us-- would've been tempted to return to our warm beds, satisfied with ourselves for having done a good deed. Happliy, that's not the case this time.

It seems one of the men mentioned a need for headware and Courtney has set her sights on resolving that need, not just for the individuals she met that evening but for a little discussed and unfortunately growing contingent of people for whom New Albany is home, even if it's not the kind defined by a traditional roofline and front door.

The gist of her idea is to start a community knitting group, sharing friendship and fellowship while creating and distributing the cold weather apparel that's so needed in the city. Courtney explained her concept to the members of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association a few days ago and I share her words here:

For the knitting:

As winter has finally hit us here in New Albany, I found myself
searching for ways to give back the community and especially the homeless.

After much prayer and thought, I have begun to learn how to crochet and
have reserved space at my church (Central Christian on Spring St) to
use their fellowship hall as a meeting spot in the hopes of getting with others
who care enough to do something proactive in our community as well.

Here are a few important things to know:

1. This is not a religious group, you don't need to feel as though you
will be preached to, the church is offering me space to do this rent free.

2. You don't have to know how to crochet or knit, there will be people
there to help teach us.

3. If you can't make it, please consider donating yarn or other fleece
like materials.

4. Our goal is to make hats and scarves to donate to the homeless and
other likeminded organizations around the community.

I've admittedly posted this without Courtney's permission but only because it's such a wonderful example of how good neighbors make good neighborhoods. I once heard Courtney explain to the City Council that her young family and others like it are the future of New Albany and I, for one, will sleep just a little easier in my own luckily warm bed knowing that to be true. Right after I buy some yarn.

I'll not post her email address for fear of spam, but readers interested in participating or donating can contact me via the address in my profile and I'll forward your intentions along.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Coming Tuesday: Treet's Bakery & Cafe.

Treet’s Bakery & Cafe, located downtown on Market between Pearl and Bank streets, will be opening for business tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 7:00 a.m. Knowing I'd be leaving town, a few photos were squeezed off late last week. It looks even better now. First, the counter and kitchen area:

Here's the seating area on the east side (facing south, toward the Grand):

Note again the website, where you’ll find a menu: Treet’s Bakery & Cafe. The view from outside has changed considerably since summer, 2006. First is the current "after" view, and then the "before":

Teresa Clancy, whose hubby Dave runs Bistro New Albany across the street (and keeps the Confidential family and many others well fed and watered), is the originator, owner and operator of Treet’s. At this time, I can't tell you exactly what the regular hours will be.

Just check it out, keep looking, reading, and being cognizant of downtown's steadily progressing revitalization.

The naysayers are losing. I'm off for a few days ... Bluegill, have fun.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

More updated candidate filings.

Note that (somewhat) daily .pdf updates are being provided here, courtesy of the Floyd County Clerk’s office.

Hyperlinks below are for candidate websites, when known. We’re happy to accept updates as new websites come into being.

* new since last update


(MAY 8, 2007)
(As of February 16, 2007 @ 4:00 pm)

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
*D Bill G. Castile
*D Doug England
D James E. Garner, Sr
D Larry Scharlow
R Randy D. Hubbard

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Marcey J. Wisman
*R Jennifer Mayfield

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Shirley Baird
*D Eli Beardsley
*D Donnie Blevins
D Jack Messer
R Richard Berryman
*R Steve Burks
R Kenny Keilman
R Kevin W. Zurschmiede

(Precincts New Albany 1, 2, 17, 21, 23)
D Theresa Timberlake

(Precincts 16, 18, 19, 19A, 19B, 22, 29)
D Bill Schmidt
R Harry T. Harbison

(Precincts New Albany 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11)
D Maury Goldberg
D Steve Price

(Precincts New Albany 12, 13, 20, 24, 25)
D Pat McLaughlin
R David Aebersold

(Precincts New Albany 9, 10, 14, 15, 15A)
R Jameson Bledsoe
R Dick Bliss

(Precincts New Albany 26, 27, 27A, 28, 28A, 29A)
R Richard “Dick” Stewart

A bibulous Bible belt?

Thanks to Indiana Beer for this link to proof that theology and zymurgy are not mutually exclusive.

Beer and the Bible, by Tim Townsend (St. Louis Post-Dispatch; 1/27/07)

In a back room at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, about 50 people gathered on a recent Wednesday night to talk rock 'n' roll.

Why are Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain considered by some to be messiahs? When did rock music lose its edge and become another product manufactured and marketed by huge conglomerates such as Viacom?

It was a conversation perfectly suited to the setting. Beer-stained wooden tables and the smell of hops complemented a free-flowing, spirited debate among hip young people in scruffy beards and T-shirts.

In 2007, this is church.

Theology at the Bottleworks is run by a wildly successful congregation of young St. Louisans called The Journey. The Schlafly program is part of the church's outreach ministry. And it works.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Complete details: Extreme Belgian beer dinner at Bistro New Albany, March 5, 2007.

Bistro New Albany and the New Albanian Brewing Company are proud to present “EXTREME BELGIAN,” a six course meal and eight ales that celebrate Belgium's finest cuisine and brewing traditions.

Cheese Course
DeuS Brut des Flandres … Sparkling “Champagne Method” Ale (Buggenhout, Belgium)

Brusselae Kasse Frommage de Bruxelles/Beauvoorde/Herve/Limburger

Panil Barriquee … Flanders-style Oak-Aged Red/Oud Bruin (Torrechiara, Italy)

Mossels Gekookt en Hun Eigen Nat
(Mussels cooked in natural juices)

Soup Course
Urthel Hop-It … Belgian-style American India Pale Ale (Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands)

Karnemilk Soep Met Appelkes
(Buttermilk Soup with Apples)

Salad Course
Ommegang Hennepin … Belgian-style Saison (Cooperstown, New York)

St. Jabob Schelpen Opeen Bedje Van Witloof
(Bay Scallops with Belgian Endive)

Entrée Course
Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek … Belgian Lambic (with cherries) (Beersel, Belgium)

Konyne Rug met Kriek Bier en GedRoogde
(Slow roasted Rabbit with Cherry Beer)

Savooikool op Z’n Vlaams
(Flemish style Savoy Cabbage)

Nieuwe Aardappelen met Peterselle
(Parslied New Potatoes)

Dessert Course
Allagash Musette … Belgian-style Scotch Ale (Portland, Maine)

Tart Flamiche met Chocolat
(Sugar Tart with Chocolate)

Avery “The Reverend” … Belgian-style Quadrupel (Boulder, Colorado)

Trappistes Rochefort 10 … Trappist Ale, brewed by the Abbaye Notre-Dame de St. Remy(Rochefort, Belgium)

What you need to know:
The meal begins at 6: 00 p.m. on Monday, March 5. The Bistro New Albany is located at 148 East Market Street in downtown New Albany. Please place and confirm your reservations with Bistro New Albany at (812) 949-5227.

The price is $65 per person (18% gratuity), and includes 2-oz or 3-oz samples of the featured beers. The Publican (Roger A. Baylor) will introduce the beers, while Chef Dave Clancy holds forth in the kitchen. Many of the beers also will be priced for consumption during the meal, including Urthel Hop-It, which will be the only draft of those being featured. Each diner will receive a complimentary Belgian beer glass as a keepsake.

Special thanks to World Class Beverages, Cavalier Distributing and The Keg Liquors for kind assistance and consideration.

Dante on acid? Or just too much of Ronnie Mac's coffee? You be the judge.

DICK STEWART has left a new comment on your post "How is it possible to vote three ways on one issue...":


Posted by DICK STEWART to NA Confidential at 9:16 AM


Here’s the story to which our crazed horsefly refers.

For those just tuning in, it’s helpful to know that DICK STEWART, a candidate for city council in the 6th district, approaches these and many other pressing local issues from a squarely elemental, black & white (boy, DICK sure does have problems with colors), two-step perspective.

First, everything’s all about Mayor James Garner, and nothing else matters. Second, in those halcyon days of yore when I agreed with DICK STEWART as to the mayor’s performance, DICK STEWART thought I was the best thing since the lumpy mashed potatoes at South Side. DICK praised me. He fawned over me. My, how things have changed.

DICK’s been dogging me ever since I jilted him for a different perspective: It’s not just about the mayor, it’s about the mayor AND the council AND some hopelessly outdated ways of thinking on the part of a select group of the citizenry (DICK STEWART front and center among them) AND congenital failures that need correcting AND a number of other matters that taken as a whole comprise the New Albany Syndrome.

We at NAC have moved so far away from the Garnercentric view of reality, but as you can see from the above comment, Dick’s still in full-kindergarten, mayor-bashing mode, and he’s still resentful, stalking and prodding me because of the way that I rejected his simplistic world for the complex, nuance-driven land of factual adulthood.

So be it. Dick, I’m sorry, but I just had to move on. I’ll always remember those sweet nothings you warbled back in the beginning, when it was new and fresh for both of us. Nothing can take away the candlelit vigils outside the mayor’s home, egging his doorway and toilet-papering his ornamental bushes.

Please, Dick -- please -- just leave me with the memories. Good luck in your bid to thwart the future ... though I doubt you have much chance of winning.

Friday, February 16, 2007

How is it possible to vote three ways on one issue without being a blatant hypocrite?

Some readers are aware that I have an approaching date with a surgeon to repair a thoroughly shredded left rotator cuff.

The injury was not suffered while tossing vicious curveballs, seeing as I throw right handed -- and quite softly, at that.

Perhaps tilting at windmills – peddling good beer where swill is the norm, reading books with real words instead of betting lines and the TV schedule, and expecting literacy and sensibility from local elected officials – has had something to do with it.

I simply never should have started stitching those sow’s ears left-handed. That type of purse trade takes it out of you.

The need for an MRI brought me to the door of Priority Radiology at 6:45 this frigid morning, and quality time spent napping in the plastic big tube while the imaging apparatus whirled provided me ample time for reflection on the events of Thursday night.

Forget CM Steve Price’s recurring Jethro Bodine public performance art. He doesn’t know any better way than lowering the bar to subterranean depths, and in fairness, he probably never thought he’d be in a position where real, thinking people would question his plaintive yelps, which increasingly sound like those that emanate from flea-bitten sheep on yonder moor -- with the difference being that you're inclined to feel sorry for the sheep.

The 6th district’s GOP hopeful? Another curious non-entity, with nothing to offer except the laughably executed caricature of a senior citizen reverting to elementary school playground boorishness – teasing, goading, and intent on nothing so much as attracting the maximum attention with the least effort expended on genuine worthiness.

In other words, a perfect fit for a dysfunctional council currently run by the personification of self-aggrandizing underachievement.

Lost in last evening’s scuffles (though not quite scofflaws) was the classic, patronizing performance of the council’s president, Larry Kochert, who established an all-time council fence-sitting record by simultaneously occupying three positions at once. I mentioned it in the previous post, but it’s worth returning to examine anew.

Here’s the scene:


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 exactly the same ordinance.


Earlier in the evening, 6th district incumbent Jeff Gahan posed a handful of insightful, pithy and entirely unanswered questions pertaining to CM Kochert’s ongoing inability to properly manage agenda items, particularly the firefighter hiring ordinance, which is something that the typically outspoken Fire Chief Ron Toran addressed more succinctly a short time later:

Vote it up, or vote it down … the president is stalling.

To put it mildly, CM Kochert’s brief tenure in the president’s chair has been shaky, the results unconvincing, and the quality of acting somewhat below the dinner theater level.

Word on the street has been that the slippery one has intended this council year to be a glorious exclamation point to a preceding sentence that, in reality, hardly exists in discernable form. He'd scheme and connive, and manage something approximating a time-server’s cherished trifecta: Cornering a mayor he abhors, indefinitely delaying truly pressing neighborhood reforms, and instituting a smoking ban that almost no one believes is as important a use of legislative time as any number of other concerns, and then retiring to openly support a Republican in the 4th district race to replace him.

Whether he runs again or not, again I ask: How is it possible to vote three ways on one issue without being a blatant hypocrite?

For the answer, we look to the longtime ward heeler and “Democratic” powerbroker Larry Kochert … the cynical originator of the “ordinance enforcement costs votes” plan for slumlord empowerment … the go-to mover and shaker who somehow always lacks the right information … the man who used to hold city elections in his own damn garage.

Banana Republic refugee, or future hope for a better New Albany?
You be the judge. The evidence mounts.

Steve Price compares himself to Jesus Christ. A captive city yawns. Somewhere, a dog barks.

Okay, it’s only fitting and proper that I should be the one to divulge the truth to you before you read it in Trogland. Yes, it happened. I was ejected from last night’s city council meeting.

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!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Either "deficit" or "deficiency", leaving “deficient” to describe the 3rd district’s leadership vacuum.

Hey, that’s not your garden variety vacuum … that’s a crater on 15th Street, and what are those city garbage trucks doing parked at the bottom of it? We demand a full investigation … of Auntie V’s behavior at the polling station last November. Was it real, did it really happen, or is Randy Hubbard already launching pre-emptive strikes?

No, wait … it now appears that falsified data is to blame for the subject heading, seeing as we’ve never received the proper information, although in fact it might be explained by the deleterious effects of all that Kool-Aid consumption undertaken behind the bolted doors of the palatial $2 million brewery we’re building with taxpayer money.

That’s right: Radicalism is God’s way of saying that you’re making too much sense.

Of course, one tends to become supremely paranoid when an anonymous troglodyte informs you that your councilman should sue you for libelous and slender. Nah, wouldn’t happen; he’s too busy compiling random lists of city expenditures sans meaningful context or explanation, pretending that it constitutes a revelation, subsequently exploring the parameters of Dewey Heights epistemology (It Is What It Is … Darlings), and finally concluding with this latest in a series of nonsensical gems:

Deficient is the result of lack of fiscal preparation.

Stunning. Like Bob Dylan said, “from the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capital.”


New Albany’s city council reconvenes tonight, and the Tribune examines the current status of firefighter hiring and new police cars in a Wednesday article. The agenda can be viewed here. The smoking ordinance remains on the back burner, so continue smoking 'em if you've got 'em.

We'll be back some time late tonight with all the gory details.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Odds and ends.

Today the Courier-Journal takes note of the Indiana State Senate’s regrettable passing of a gay marriage ban. Commendably, our own Senator Connie Sipes voted against this latest manifestation of the Christian theocracy's unnecessary lapping against our sinning pagan heels, even if she did so for the wrong (i.e., legalistic objections to the bill’s second clause) reasons.

Good for her, anyway.

It’s also reported that Clark County’s state legislators are asking for five more exceptions to the liquor license quota to aid their push for even more mega-chain restaurants along Veterans Parkway. Somehow peeking through the less than elevated “make-work welfare program for developers like ‘The Gary’ and his ilk” tone of the chamber’s proceedings …

"It's not about alcohol," Rick Dickman, Clarksville's director of economic development, said in an interview. "It's about economic development."

… this stray interjection of common sense was offered:

Members of the House Public Policy Committee acknowledged that problem yesterday. Chairman Trent Van Haaften, D-Mount Vernon, said the committee should consider in the future whether the quota system needs an overhaul.

That’ll be the day. The liquor license quota system is another anachronistic Blue Law that never made sense, and it should be dispatched to the crap heap immediately … as soon as our elected officials are finished depriving Indiana’s gay citizens of their human rights. Perhaps we can issue an appeal to Hugo Chavez for a semblance of justice in this matter.

Turning to New Albany politics, but not turning away from the maladjusted savagery it typically engenders, Freedom to Screech’s crusading, fading and masquerading Professor Erika has resumed her cap gun carpet bombardment of Mayor James Garner. Considering the intensity with which Ms. Denhart is again seeking to malign the incumbent, he must still be considered an electoral threat in spite of challenges from Doug England and Larry Scharlow.

Ah, but wait -- it’s a GOP thang, isn’t it?

Think of the Vickster’s semi-literate barbs as adoring foreplay, to be indulged in full body latex (unless you’re the gambling type) as the city holds its collective breath in preparation of the arrival of Felipe Rose, Karl Rove, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phyllis Schlafly, Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby’s lawyer to kick off the “Auntie V for Mayor” gala somewhere deep within the Bicknell Bombastic Bunker, after which the ranking doyenne herself will race Slippery Larry Kochert to be the last one signing the clerk’s primary register.

Speaking of scintillating conspiracies, what better way could there be to liven up a dreary winter’s day than a fresh new round of SOLNA finger-pointing? To paraphrase Sir Elton, “from the end of the Luddite Bar & Grill’s graffiti-encrusted urinal to OUR town,” and all of it resting in the discerning hands of the poor man’s Oliver Stone, who promises photographic evidence of hair-curling malfeasance in sanitation land.

Sounds mafia inspired to me. Any jowly goons spotted lately swooning over Federal Hill Café’s homemade marinara sauce?

Stay tuned.

If only the Tribune’s John “He’s not from here, is he?” Tucker would quit asking questions about radio ads, cut the roof cat coverage, and start paying attention to the howling agony of the city’s writhing obstructionists … why, just think of the full investigation that would be possible … and in an election year, no less.

Updated candidate filings.

Note that (somewhat) daily .pdf updates are being provided here, courtesy of the Floyd County Clerk’s office.

Hyperlinks below are for candidate websites, when known. We’re happy to accept updates as new websites come into being.


(MAY 8, 2007)
(As of February 8, 2007 @ 4:00 pm)

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D James E. Garner, Sr
D Larry Scharlow
R Randy D. Hubbard

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Marcey J. Wisman

(Precincts New Albany 1 through New Albany 29A)
D Shirley Baird
D Jack Messer
R Richard Berryman
R Kenny Keilman
R Kevin W. Zurschmiede

(Precincts New Albany 1, 2, 17, 21, 23)
D Theresa Timberlake

(Precincts 16, 18, 19, 19A, 19B, 22, 29)
D Bill Schmidt
R Harry T. Harbison

(Precincts New Albany 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11)
D Maury Goldberg
D Steve Price

(Precincts New Albany 12, 13, 20, 24, 25)
D Pat McLaughlin
R David Aebersold

(Precincts New Albany 9, 10, 14, 15, 15A)
R Jameson Bledsoe
R Dick Bliss

(Precincts New Albany 26, 27, 27A, 28, 28A, 29A)
R Richard “Dick” Stewart

Monday, February 12, 2007

A marvelous case for “adaptive re-use” (mushy peas division – last orders).

When it comes to sagas like this one, I’ve always been torn.

It is simply indisputable that generations of hungry New Albanians have revered the South Side Inn as a veritable Mecca of the steam table, where heaping mounds of gristle, starch and carbohydrates could be consumed for precious little out of pocket.

At the same time, such “traditional” bills of fare hold slight interest for me, and when they do, I hope for a better grade of comfort food than South Side has offered, at least lately. The last time I ate there some eight or nine years ago, it was colossally underwhelming, with every item I tasted overcooked, bland, fatty, or all three.

In the midst of a long-term slide, the South Side Inn changed hands last July. According to the Tribune:

Court records show Joe Peevor is paying $150,000 to take over the South Side Inn; current owners Mark Troub and Jeannie Burchfield bought the restaurant eight years ago.

At the time, and in jest, I expressed the hope that Peevor, an Englishman, would convert the South Side into a British-style pub, complete with lumpy gravy, eel pie, mystery cutlets, fish and chips, a curry dish or two, and hand-pumped “real ale” to make it all worthwhile.

But seriously, no bad Limey food jokes here; I’ve had some pretty good pub grub in the UK, and perhaps there’d even be hope for that stray haggis. It goes quit well with Brown Ale.

On January 11, the Courier-Journal reported that the South Side had closed, and its status was uncertain.

When the South Side will reopen hasn't been decided, said Joe Peevor, who bought the restaurant in July with partner Angela Hawley.

Peevor, who is from England, said he closed on Dec. 29 because a condition for getting a long-term visa was that the business have an annual cash flow of $50,000 and it isn't generating that much.

Speaking of seafood, something always seemed slightly fishy about a foreign national supposedly doing good business in Florida before abruptly determining that a declining cafeteria in New Albany, Indiana with a rapidly aging core clientele was a better deal.

Now we’re told that yet another restaurant offering a strikingly similar menu will be opening five blocks away from the moribund South Side at 223 W. 5th -- the former Pigasus/Backwoods BBQ location:

Lancaster’s Cafe coming to downtown New Albany; Grandson of Tommy Lancaster leases former Pigasus building on West Fifth, by Eric Scott Campbell (Tribune).

“It’s set up exactly the way I want for what I want to do, cafeteria-style,” (Troy) Lancaster said. “Unless you want fast food, you’re very limited to what you can have in New Albany anymore.

Leaving aside whether Mr. Lancaster has ever noticed the existence of La Rosita’s (Mexican), Federal Hill (Italian) and Bistro New Albany (bistro fare) in downtown New Albany, and the opening later this week of Treet’s, the city’s first downtown bakery in quite a while, it’s naturally good to see a vacant building come back into play.

Whether we need more mashed potatoes and roast beef is another question.

And so, getting back to the South Side Inn, Peevor’s misfortune might very well be another owner’s ultimate gain. With Scribner Place and the YMCA being built only yards away, now would seem an ideal time for an entrepreneur with vision to break with decades of insanely conservative New Albany tradition and offer – gasp – something approximating healthy cuisine where the fried chicken used to drip onto newspapers and the lard-encrusted and sugar-laden pies cooled on window sills.

Dare we hope for a two- or three-way and a few progressive pints? Best hurry, lest either antiques or furniture starts being sold there.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In 2007 and beyond, the slogan should be “New Albany: No more excuses for failure.”

Our friend, Pastor Manzo, isn’t the only one willing to offer a Sunday sermon. My thoughts lean toward the secular, and those following were adapted from a previous posting.

It’s a municipal election year, and unsurprisingly, folks are becoming overtly peckish. Much of the current atmosphere owes to the crushing subliminal toll taken by two-party tribal loyalties, which when compared to otherwise inescapable realities, tend to conjure significant doses of cognitive dissonance.

This city is a mess (must vote straight ticket).
We need to make a change (must vote straight ticket).
Must … try … too weak … letting go (voting
straight ticket).

But politics are only part of the overriding problem, although they’re the most visible manifestation of dysfunction at this precise moment in time. Long neglected mirrors provide a clue as to certain of the other components, and I have long contended that the chief underlying cause for the underachieving malaise traditionally holding New Albany in its non-productive grip is a considerable vein of civic masochism that is perpetrated with almost evangelistic intensity by those mistaking themselves for community leaders.

We have worked for years and failed miserably to bring about lasting change … and we’re not about to see anyone younger, smarter – anyone different – succeed without first being made to suffer equal measures of the frustration and anger that we’ve experienced along the way.

Consequently, many have of us in the blogosphere have felt the sting of this condescending attitude of institutionalized futility when attempting to reason with the Internet demographic – judging this cohort as best we can from the available evidence, and considering the craven anonymity that prefaces its unique brand of inferiority complex-meets-dismissive arrogance.

Again and again, the familiar “we can’t” dirge is repeated – and lest there be any misunderstanding, a sprinkling of intemperate on-line watering holes aren’t the only places to hear it performed around this city. It’s seemingly congenital.

We’re just a rotten little city.
We’ve never accomplished anything.
We’re corrupt and incapable.
We’ve accepted our fate.
We’re going to be even unhappier if you prove us mistaken, you uppity book-reading outsiders.

Of course, it’s a ludicrously counter-intuitive and self-defeating attitude, even if it serves as the only identifiable campaign platform of politicians who range across the gamut of knee-jerk homily (not to mention hominy) ridden “expertise, from Dan Coffey on one side all the way through Steve Price on the same – and much, much less.

But … it remains that if one is ill, does it really matter where the doctor comes from, so long as wellness is the result?

Furthermore, who would propose that his or her children be afflicted with the same disease as the parent?

Or have the parents become so accustomed to predictable pain that the prospect of the illness's absence fills them with a dread of the unexpected so very strong that they opt for the devil they know rather than the cure?

Surely for some, acceptance of the cure implies a level of deference to unfathomable sociological and cultural norms that are such a recurring anathema that continuing loyalty to historic malfunction (vote straight ticket) seems the only choice.

Speaking personally, consider that apart from my time overseas, I’ve lived in Floyd County for all of my 46 years, and within the city limits of New Albany since 1992 … and yet I remain an inexperienced, unknowing, dangerous outsider to some self-designated martyrs of numerology and their customary and comprehensive failure to transform the multi-faceted diversity of human existence into the predictable certitude of a spreadsheet.

Sorry, but it takes more than numbers to accomplish anything in this life. It takes clarity, organization, will, courage, a work ethic, a refusal to quit … it takes heart … it takes all these and many other strictly human qualities to succeed. Numbers cannot explain my relationship with Mrs. Confidential, or the dedication to micro-principle felt by numerous small business owners, or the love of a mother for her child.

Numbers are a tool, and nothing more. Nickels and dimes cannot quantify any of the essential components of a human being … but they can and often are used as expedient roadblocks, handy impediments and cynical weapons to thwart human progress ... wielded by a sect that is noteworthy for little save a profound and puzzling absence of imagination.

Whenever you hear a person say, “we can’t afford it,” ask yourself: Is he or she referring to money, or to will? In fact, most of the time, it’s the latter. There are ways to find money, and there are far fewer of them when the will to understand them is lacking.

But I digress. Again.

Why is it that so many of New Albany’s “long-timers” – the self-appointed arbiters of what is “true” and what isn’t about this city – so joyfully seek to inflict on an entire populated area, and on newcomers who are relatively free of the underachieving contagion of previous failures, exactly the same sort of pain and frustration that they themselves wouldn’t for one instant consider inflicting on their own blessed children and grandchildren?

Or …

Are they content to pass the unjustifiable pain down to the next generation (even their own!) so as to make their own unfulfilling life experiences somehow comprehensible – in the end, are they just incapable of recognizing that with each passing year, the range of opportunities and possibilities changes, negating the conditions of last year, a decade ago or even the previous week, and providing us with the means to break these cycles of municipal dysfunction if only we’d work smarter together to do it?

And, while we’re at it, finally put a halt to the nonsensical excuses for failure offered incessantly as though they were canonical writ:

You’re too young.
You don’t understand the way things work.
It’s always been like that here.
Who do you think you are (outsider; youngster, snooty book reader) trying to understand this when I still don’t after thirty years of trying?
It’s not our fault – the powers that be were against us.

In 2007 and beyond, the slogan should be “New Albany: No more excuses for failure.”

Have experience? Good. Share your wisdom. All of us are listening. Are you listening to us?

Are you hopeful? Even better, because we need you. Get involved.

Feeling spiteful, malicious, and beaten down from fighting the battles of your youth? Sorry about your bad luck. Please trash the negativity, turn the calendar forward to the present, and get on board. We need you, too. You don’t have to drink our Kool-Aid, and we don’t have to drink yours. However, we must promote a genuine choice between the flavors.

Are you content to see this city remain third-rate? Fine … vote straight ticket, and then get the hell out of the way, Brambleberries -- you're not going to like what you see coming, there’s probably no way we can reason with you, and your “solutions” are about as dead and discredited as Victorian-era spiritualism.

Future generations should not have to pay for previous failures -- yours, ours, anyone's. For once, why not be part of a comprehensive solution, and not the vestige of a festering problem?

We’re not waiting. We're acting.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Forthcoming Speakeasy jazz club on the Tribune front page.

It is ironic that after mentioning the Historical Preservation Commission’s intriguing Thursday meeting agenda, and noting that the forthcoming Speakeasy signage was up for consideration (it passed), Mike “Wunderkind” Kopp unexpectedly introduced me to Mr. Tharp as we were sitting at the Bistro New Albany enjoying appetizers and ale.

Career musicians to open Speakeasy in New Albany, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

Next on downtown New Albany’s set list: “Speakeasy,” a little jazz number. East End residents Brad and Lori Tharp have leased a former antique store on State Street between Main and Market streets. By late spring, they plan to open a restaurant and bar and host jazz performances on a near-daily basis.

There’ll probably be an NABC tap or two, and there’s interest in other good beers.

And something about music, too …

Friday, February 09, 2007

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

Given the passions of the election season and noticeable recent increases in site hits and page views, it's time for another brief reminder of our disclosure policy. Thanks to all readers for your support of persnal responsibility in the blogosphere.


Newcomers, please take note.

NA Confidential believes in a higher bar than is customary in the blogosphere, and follows a disclosure policy with respect to reader comments.

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

Second, although pen names are perfectly acceptable, the senior editor (yours truly) must be informed of your identity, and according to your preference, it will be kept confidential.

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

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

Thanks for reading, and please consider becoming a part of the community here, one that is respectful of the prerequisites of civilized discourse, and that seeks to engage visitors in dialogue.

Roger (senior editor)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

“Wonderfully and delightfully us” -- also DNA, 1SI & HPC acronym fest.

The post heading above is my suggestion for a new city slogan.

However, it isn’t my creation. Artist/raconteur/kayaker Dave Thrasher used the phrase to illustrate a colorful story he was spinning at Tuesday’s meet ‘n’ greet, and to me, it fully encapsulates the New Albanian experience, serving both as an insider’s ironically raised eyebrow and to describe the genuinely pleasurable aspects of living here.

I was considering “Anyone but Coffey in 2007” (thanks B.), as it symbolizes the hopes and dreams of most residents who possess the dual attributes of a brain and a pulse, but perhaps that’s a bit too specific.

And anyway, let’s get away from politics for a while.

This afternoon’s schedule includes my third meeting since being invited to serve as a board member of Develop New Albany, and I’m looking forward to our welcoming Michael Dalby, President and CEO of One Southern Indiana (1SI), for a Q & A session -- which is to be differentiated from the S & M group therapy afforded unfortunate citizens by our city’s dysfunctional city council – from which Mr. Dalby bravely is seeking a pledge of funding for pursuit of 1SI’s mission, even though the likes of Coffey refuse to understand it.

Here’s the introduction to the 1SI website as a refresher:

One Southern Indiana is the combined Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce for Floyd and Clark counties on the Indiana side of the Louisville, Kentucky metropolitan area. One Southern Indiana proactively works to grow our regional economy through business attraction, retention and expansion; through encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs; and through providing government and workforce advocacy, business education, networking opportunities and other business services to our investors. We are one vision, one voice for business.

As a small business owner for 15 years and the operator of this civic affairs blog since 2004, my stance is one of overall support for One Southern Indiana, although there remain important questions about 1SI’s acceptance and receptivity to the ideas and trends that motivate me and mine, specifically economic development in the urban core, the proper dimension of the bridges project, aspects of historical revitalization downtown, and the like.

I’ve no reason to believe that Mr. Dalby won’t answer these questions when asked today, and do so comprehensively, and it should be an informative afternoon for all of us.

Later tonight the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission meets, and here are a few encouraging highlights from the group’s agenda:
  • Signage for the new Speak Easy jazz and blues club, which is coming soon to the old antique mall building on State Street (by Firestone).
  • Signage for Treet’s Bakery on Market Street (across from the Grand and Bistro New Albany), which may be open as early as next week.
  • The Schad & Palmer law firm’s new construction at 303/305 E. Main Street, which was “reviewed” here a few weeks ago.
  • Vinyl removal for a home on Market, and the demolition request for 525 E. Market, which as Diggin’ in the Dirt has informed, finally is close to resolution.
As an HPC member has observed, “I think it’s safe to say reports of the death of downtown New Albany have been greatly exaggerated.”

Indeed. It’s been a damned tiring past few days -- and just as stimulating.

Open thread: How do our ward heelers win elections?

Theresa Timberlake was at the meet 'n' greet on Tuesday evening. She has filed (as a Democrat) to run for the 1st district council seat currently occupied by Dan "Wizard of Westside" Coffey, who has yet to file, and was once overheard to remark that he would not run again as a Democrat. Presumably, and if true, this leaves open the intriguing possibility of Coffey joining silver tongued Dick Stewart as insurgent standard bearers of the Unreconstructed Minstrelsy Party (UMP), and campaign in ... yeah, you guessed it.

But I digress. Again.

The question arose: Exactly how is it that a bad actor like Dan Coffey wins elections?

Please contribute your thoughts. Keep it clean, okay?

Thanks again to all attending on Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Scrum dimensions, policy planks and the requisite safety goggles.

Belated thanks to all those who attended last evening's second meet 'n' greet, especially the five candidates, who are to be commended for taking the the time to share their views and listen to ours.

If you’re just tuning in, it’s a city election year in New Albany, and the anticipated scrum is widening as the filing period for May’s primary counts down toward its deadline.

One need possess only the most superficial appreciation for the rules of political gamesmanship to understand that during such times, there is a disorienting, swarming effect as aspirants rush to forge alliances, recruit backing, scratch backs and secure their most vital of currencies, the promise of your vote.

This process would be alternately infuriating and exhilarating even if the political life of the city were rigidly confined by the traditional two-party system, but this year’s computational dimensions have been augmented by at least one phenomenon that did not exist locally in 2003.

And you’re reading one of them.

Recalling CM Larry Kochert’s comment in 2005 that community-based activism usually fades away with time – an observation more in keeping with his own congenital immobility and absence of principle than providing evidence of a sagacious eye surveying the landscape – it remains that the ultimate strength and viability of New Albany’s emerging progressive movement have yet to be proven.

Traditional political practitioners in our community, some even more slippery than the 4th’s resident toadstool dweller, almost certainly regard the notion of an evolving progressive bloc existing outside the hidebound hegemony of Democrats and Republicans to be laughably effete, and a non-starter not to be taken seriously by veterans of the smoke-filled back rooms that politicos like Kochert have tended to prefer in spite of occasional personal regulatory convictions that the air, if not their own jaundiced motives, be magically rendered pollutant-free.

To judge by the events of recent days, at least some denizens of the realm of politics-as-usual aren’t so sure, and one of them declared for mayor yesterday.

Former mayor Doug England unexpectedly phoned last week to confirm his Balboa-esque candidacy and to seek an audience with the senior editor for the purpose of answering questions and discussing the pressing issues of the day. I accepted his previous honor’s invitation and will be meeting with him today, and while this knowledge will alarm some readers, it should not.

On numerous occasions, NAC has issued a principled call for candidates to produce issue-oriented platforms and to be prepared to discuss them. Furthermore, we have reminded local politicians that at least some members of the electorate intend to gauge the abilities of office seekers by their policy content and not church membership, high school graduation date or relationship by marriage to a second cousin’s ex-husband.

Last night, Democratic mayoral candidate Larry Scharlow responded to our challenge by attending the meet ‘n’ greet and chatting with those in attendance. It was a beginning, and he made a good – though of course not final – impression.

Quite simply, we cannot insist on access from some while denying it to others, Doug England included, even if there are those among us who regard his previous city hall tenure as a time that unfortunately came to represent the discredited ward-heeling norms of previous generations of political patronage and underachievement. Yet, like any other candidate, England deserves a chance to offer his policy platform. Let’s see exactly what platform he’s offering, and whether it will remain consistent as it is presented in coming weeks to other targeted audiences of varying demographic stripe ... and, in the end, permit our consciences to be our guide come election day.

The same logic goes for every other candidate, doesn't it? But be aware that if I'm finally offered those long overdue millions in brewery construction money ... I'm holding out for that nice Hour of Power building across from Scribner Place, including the corner car lot for drive-through keg pick-up, as well as a golf cart to get me back and forth.

As a closing note to Mark: Your point is well taken, and “Dutch Treat” it will be.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Can Guido be far behind?

10:00 p.m.: Tribune coverage is here.

We're told that this afternoon, former mayor Doug England will announce his candidacy for (surprise) mayor in 2007, joining incumbent James Garner and challenger Larry Scharlow in what should be an immensely entertaining Democratic primary.

It is not known whether GOP 6th district council hopeful Dick Stewart will stage an impromptu performance of minstrelsy in blackface on the sidewalk outside, if Auntie V will attend disguised as an amok NASA astronaut, or if debit cards will be accepted in lieu of unmarked bills.

England's last race in 1999 ended in defeat at the hands of Regina Overton (R), who was elected mayor by a margin of 57% to 43%. In turn, Overton was defeated by Garner in 2003.


Don't forget: NAC "Meet 'n' Greet" is tonight, and you're invited.

NAC "Meet 'n' Greet" is tonight, and you're invited to attend.

(Go here for brief nocturnal coverage of Monday's council meeting, including a Tuesday morning update)


  • NOTE: Several declared candidates in upcoming municipal elections have tentatively indicated their intention to attend tonight's gathering.

Tonight (Tuesday, February 6, starting at 6:00 p.m.) it's the second gathering of "Confidentiaholics Identified," meeting this time at La Rosita Mexican Grill at 1515 E. Market Street in New Albany, which is a few doors down from the Tommy Lancaster Restaurant near Vincennes Street.

If you haven’t yet been to La Rosita, this is the ideal chance to sample superb, fresh and creative Mexican cuisine, and because I already know that the majority of Confidentiaholics adore Israel Landin's delicious offerings on a regular basis, we're moving the kick-off to 6:00 p.m. to accommodate diners. Of course, you may come at any time, and it isn’t required that you purchase food.

Read Marty Rosen’s C-J review here for a mouthwatering description.

Israel graciously has reserved the upstairs room for us, and as was the case at our previous gathering, the evening is being designed as a very informal meet 'n' greet for readers and friends of the NA Confidential blog, and by sincere extension, the New Albany blogosphere as a whole, but naturally you're not required to have a computer to attend.

I'll be toting selected refreshments.

There'll be no set agenda beyond getting to know one another, widening the circle of faces to names, and chatting about local issues. All citizens are welcome. Tribune forum readers; owners and readers of other local blogs; political hopefuls; innocent bystanders; whatever … and bring a friend or a neighbor if you please.

Looking ahead, tentatively we're hoping to hold the March edition of the gathering at St. Marks United Church of Christ in downtown New Albany, with pot luck, self-catered munchies, and Pastor John Manzo hosting and educating us about the church's community activities.

See you at La Rosita's tonight.

Four hours and fifteen minutes later ...

Don't expect an immediate report on the marathon of election-year indecision otherwise known as Monday night's city council meeting.

Know that for all the hullabaloo, absolutely no progress was made on the firefighter hiring ordinance, discussion of which began about the time that President Shrub declared victory in Iraq, and much to the delight of unreconstructed 6th district Republican council hopeful Dick Stewart, who entertained the capacity crowd by performing minstrelsy in blackface.

Chairman Kochert's landmark anti-smoking legislation, which is intended by its author to salvage an underachieving political career by means of a bold progressive stroke, was unceremoniously tabled for further research. As noted previously, it will be coming back to divide the community numerous times before being enacted and failing for lack of enforcement revenue.

Even the no-brainer unsafe building fund revamp was delayed owing to a general inability to agree on the meaning of "lien" and its application to vacant lots.

However, the initial zoning adjustments required for the Summit Springs development project off State Street were approved, with 1st district CM Dan Coffey -- formerly an intractable foe of any such plan -- leading the charge in favor and demanding that we do a better job of attracting development to the city.


We'll link here Tuesday to coverage in the newspapers, and perhaps be back for more analysis following a night's rest. Don't forget NAC's meet 'n' greet Tuesday night at La Rosita Grill in New Albany ... and so, to bed.


10:10 a.m. Tuesday update

Tribune: Fire department hiring change fails in New Albany City Council; Bill's co-author votes against it, by Eric Scott Campbell.

New Albany Today blog: Too Long For Nothing, by Maury Goldberg.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The more rope he is provided, the bigger Larry’s slippery noose grows.

It’s a city council Monday, and our elected officials will be looking at not one … not two … but three controversial agenda items, each guaranteed to generate heaping portions of bile, to pack the tiny council chambers with concerned citizens, and to provide CM Dan Coffey with his cherished biweekly opportunity to preen and posture while chewing the scenery in a purely McCarthygasmic celebration of spite and envy.

Here’s a brief rundown of the fun on tap this evening.

An Ordinance to Amend Section 32-80 of the Code Of Ordinances: The New Albany Fire Department Candidate Selection Act
(Blevins 1)

When last we visited the council, its newly elected president had somewhat ineptly dithered until the very last moment to change the meeting agenda, excluding G-06-21 from consideration, and compounding his problems by preventing discussion of the matter -- even though a large body of people who had not been informed of the sudden change sat earnestly in attendance.

See: CM Kochert’s petard: Self-hoisting, no waiting.

Tonight CM Kochert returns for an encore, and having given his random procedural wheel yet another mighty heave, a spanking new policy has gurgled forth: Henceforth, if one cares to sit through an entire meeting’s worth of foreplay, which customarily includes ample examples of conjoined councilmen pontification and oppositionist blather, then – and only then – Slippery Larry will permit the staging of “New Albany Idol” with his new “MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATIONS: (public comments on non-agenda items)” design feature.

Seeing as both the NA Confidential and Volunteer Hoosier blogs first raised this notion of an expansion of citizen participation back in spring, 2005 (coincidentally, about the same time as the council began discussing the topic of firefighter hiring), we heartily endorse CM Kochert’s decision, and hope to be reading the telephone book to captive council persons at midnight.

Unfortunately, all of the preceding instances of damage control have been made necessary by executive bumbling that itself bears no direct connection to the firefighter hiring ordinance.

An Ordinance to Prohibiting Smoking in Specified Areas
Crump 1

The president’s ham-fisted pawprints are all over this one, too, even if his elevation to parliamentary kingpin has made it necessary to hand the brief to CW Bev Crump.

Given the smoking ordinance’s current semi-legible condition as a declamatory mishmash, large portions of which have been cribbed and crudely Kochertized from a template at the Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights’ website (including references to a “city manager” and “county administrator”), obviously it is destined for considerable revamping and fine-tuning in committee, and will be returning with zombie-like regularity to foment community unrest well into the coming year.

One thing is clear: If the premises of the anti-smoking bloc are correct, and "there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke," then there should be absolutely no exceptions. If incorrect, there should be no ordinance. Gradualism and exceptions are meaningless; it should be all, or nothing at all.

View the ordinance here as a .pdf file, beginning circa page 27 and extending for at least 15 pages … imagine how long it will take for inveterate non-readers from West Endia to tackle … ask yourself whether a legal definition of a “bar” should correspond with that used by the regulating authorities in Indianapolis … and consider the likelihood of the Floyd County health department authorities being willing and able enforce a city ordinance without city money being allocated for enforcement by a council generally unwilling to enforce ordinances that already exist. Ask Larry Kochert this question: Why this, and why now?

And see: Emperor Kochert’s newly progressive anti-smoking clothes -- and their utterly striking invisibility and CM Kochert's council legacy? One clue: It won't be a smoking ordinance.

Ordinance Amending the Code of Ordinances New Albany, Indiana, Title XV, Chapter 156 (Docket P-12-06: Pat & Pam Kelly – Summit Springs Development)
Crump 1

Discussion of this, the latest in a series of divisive green field development projects, is my not-so-dark-horse choice to prompt a shouting match, either between citizens, council members, or both.

In essence, local zoning authorities use existing sets of criteria to rate such projects, which pass to the council for final approval, and are considered by the council using entirely different sets of criteria (read: political and electoral). The predictable result is a wide divergence of philosophical intent, and a striking absence of contextual continuity from one debate to the next.

With open space at an ever-increasing premium within the city limits of New Albany, but numerous adjacent tracts available for redevelopment and the type of adaptive reuse that we advocate here on a weekly basis, it continues to be frustrating that the square-pegged development logic of the “limitless” exurb so often is forcibly jammed into what are urban holes of decidedly different shape and ideal usage.

Unfortunately, a big part of the problem is the community’s inability – perhaps its unwillingness – to unify for the pursuit and maintenance of common development goals. To reframe our zoning standards according to a futuristic perspective, and to step up enforcement of standards already determined, is to set goals that are consistent with a principled recognition of changing circumstances, and to plan how these bars can be cleared for overall betterment.

As with so many other issues, I’m entirely unsure how we get past the enmity of generations and eliminate the personal animus that tends to improperly provide the backdrop to most of the council’s zoning decisions. It is clear that a working compromise between certain development mentalities structured to transform corn fields into asphalt, and those addressing the city’s pressing need to meet the demands of a far different – not better, not worse, just different – target market for an urban experience downtown, must be achieved … and soon.

Like so many previous proposals that have come before the council for consideration, it is likely that the Summit Springs project will be subject to the spasmodic paradigms of the body’s ward-heeling faction, and that it will be approved or rejected in the lamentable absence of a genuine community debate over developmental standards. Where the coin will drop is anyone’s guess, as it always is with this group.


In a final bow to the surreal, we note the presence on tonight’s agenda of CM Bill Schmidt’s much belated request for funding to restore the viability of the Unsafe Building Fund, New Albany’s dereliction removal arm.

To recap, the UBF has been in deficit (not “deficient,” as some councilman persistently and incorrectly allege) since the current body took office, with CM Schmidt perennially content to permit the non-functional and unfunded entity to be used as a politically-motivated bludgeon against a mayor he despises -- until the bluff finally was called in January by the Building Commission president, who publicly asked for the council to revitalize the UBF.

Now, if the stars align, we’ll be able to demolish a few unsafe structures, although there’ll still be insufficient political will to enforce those building standards that might have prevented dilapidation in the first place -- and, true to form, the Schmidt coup d'geriatrique has done little if anything to redress this particular imbalance.

Will Blair Affordable Homes protest this unprecedented deprivation of its right, as provided by New Albany’s landmark Slumlord Protection Act, to quickly flip properties to aspiring, ahem, rental property managers and unsuspecting non-profits?

We hear that civil rights lawsuit coming. Until then, bring a magazine, knitting or some very strong drugs. It’s going to be a long, cool one.