Sunday, December 30, 2007

From NA Shadow Council: A city council blueprint, or just a list?

Barring unexpected breaking news, NAC is taking a quick breather. See you on the 1st.

I find it devilishly hard to keep up with the local news during the period around Christmas and New Year’s. The holiday season is prime time for our business; many hours must be spent at work; and, even if things are running smoothly, there'll always one or the other Progressive Pint to "consider" during the down portion of the daily schedule.

Incoming mayor Doug England was sworn in on Friday, as were the other municipal winner's from the November election. Mayor England has spent recent weeks making pertinent appointments, and here are a few of the media links detailing them.

England names Carl Malysz deputy mayor (Tribune)

(Mickey) Thompson to run New Albany Street Department (Tribune)

(Kay) Garry returning as New Albany controller (Tribune)

England appoints campaign manager (John Wilcox) operations director (Courier-Journal)

Meanwhile, with the Gang of Four council faction obstructionists finally torn asunder, it is time to begin speculation as to the new council’s potential impact and its internal alignments, which will go a long way toward shaping the legislative entity's work. We turn to the NA Shadow Council blog for this conversation starter, which is reprinted here in its entirety.

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A Blueprint? or Just a List?


At least a "rump" segment of the incoming council has pledged to seek the following goal:

To help make New Albany a more productive and progressive city.


The document making this declaration is making the rounds, at least in the progressive community, and is the result of numerous pre-term discussions among the incumbent and newly elected council members. It comes with a list of concerns to be addressed in the next few months and in the next four years. From what I've been told, it's not intended to be exclusive, but the council members want to start the discussion forthwith and are actively seeking public comment and assistance in addressing them.

Without further ado, here it is:

Accountability
City Beautification
Enforcement/Laws
Education/City Off
Image/City
Sewers
Communication
Re-organization/Dept
Traffic Flow
Environment
Public Involvement
Parks
Service
Size of Gov
Industrial
Leadership
Business
Revenue
Constituents
Spring St. Hill
Housing
Streets
Drugs/Crime
Manpower
Budget
Empty Space
Railroad
Teamwork
Dept. Heads
Infrastructure
Downtown
City Hall
Rental Prop

The people (your representatives) who generated this list want YOU to rank these concerns and start the conversation. Do it here, do it there, do it anywhere. Call your council member, post on this or another blog, attend the Jan. 7 organizational meeting of the new council. But DO participate in this. I think it's admirable that the council is already at work on a new vision for New Albany.

Over the coming weeks, we'll give you our thoughts. If you find the "concerns" list a little cryptic or if you never knew these were concerns, we'll try to edify you, "to the best of our ability."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Five albums and five more musical noteworthy listens during 2007.

As originally posted to samizdat, our private chat and literary discussion group.

ALBUMS

Crowded House – Time on Earth
Idiosyncratic eighties pop now yielding to bittersweet middle aged musings on the meaning of life, loss and endurance, owing primarily to the suicide of drummer Paul Hester, with sufficient doses of Neil Finn’s trademark subversive lyricism to inspire thought even if the pop isn’t nearly as bouncy as during the group’s Reagan Era heyday. No ground is broken, but great melodies are proffered, packaged with understated yet suitably intense performances.

The Feeling – Twelve Stops and Home
Youthful and expert Brit borrowers of every trick in the pop music playbook, chock full of hooks and melodies (apply alcohol to create ear worms) and schlock-cocked-eyebrow lyrics about love and loss. That’s enough for me, and yet it should be noted that the results hardly can be classified as bubblegum: “My love is stronger than you think/Much stronger now I’ve had a drink.”

Bruce Springsteen – Magic
At first, the Boss’s latest collection of songs didn’t strike me as overtly political or daring; in fact, in spite of the energetic backing of the E Street Band, the project almost seemed pedestrian, but a half dozen listens revealed a depth that has continued to impress ever since. The song “Magic” provides half the epitaph for the clueless supporting the failed Bush regime, with John Fogerty’s live rendering of “Fortunate Son” supplying the other (see below).

Manic Street Preachers – Send Away the Tigers
Commended by critics as a return to form, although my preferences continue to lie with the dark and elegiac Lifeblood (2004). Spare production accenting a classic power trio, minimal embellishments, with emphasis on short, succinct pop anthems, but bassist/lyricist Nicky Wire still manages to name drop Lee Harvey Oswald in what is ostensibly a love song (“I am just a patsy/the Oswald in Lee Harvey”), guitarist James Dean Bradfield is in fine voice throughout, and Sean Moore finally is permitted to play drums in a manner that would elicit at least a drunken leer of approval from the late Keith Moon.

Radiohead – In Rainbows
It’s fairly obvious that this latest stage in Radiohead’s artistic growth melds the experimentation of post OK Computer with excellent songs. Oddly, not one piece stands out, and yet I hear something different and tasteful each time I listen. A nuanced and rewarding effort.

NOTEWORTHY LISTENS (VARIOUS)

LIVE: John Fogerty in Louisville and Bruce Springsteen in Cologne, Germany
By sheer happenstance, these two performances by rock legends occurred a scant ten days apart in December, and on two different continents. In both cases, it was the first time I’d seen the performer in question live. Elderly pros Fogerty (two hours) and Springsteen (two and a half) provided memorable bang for the buck. Crack musicianship included Kenny Aronoff on drums and Billy Burnette on rhythm guitar (Fogerty’s current traveling band) and the E Street Band’s familiar and stellar lineup (nine people can make big noise, folks). See: This is what will be: The Boss, live in Cologne.

LIVE: Snow Patrol at White River State Park in Indianapolis (August 3)
The band’s Eyes Open album landed in 2006, but I didn’t get around to buying it until 2007. Fortunately there was a live show in Indy, which turned out to be on my birthday. Clever road weary stage banter was some of the best I’ve heard, and the outdoor venue at White River has good acoustics, pristine sound and is highly organized. A wonderful experience all around.

DVD: U2 ZooTV Live from Sydney
The final show of one of the most renowned tours in rock’s modern era is admittedly uneven, having been scripted for a worldwide satellite television broadcast. It doesn’t matter, because my chronological Irish contemporaries have simply never been in as thunderously fine a form as during the show’s seven opening songs, all taken from Achtung Baby, and played with skill and fury that is positively riveting. During the two hours that follow, the usual set list suspects are happily accented by the presence of three seldom performed cuts from Zooropa, including “Stay (Faraway, So Close)”, but unfortunately sans “The Wanderer.”

WEB: Wolfgang’s Vault
On-line repository for four decades of streaming audio concerts, many of which originally were King Biscuit Flour Hour broadcasts back in FM radio days when so little content was available to poor schmucks in places like New Albany. Everyone from Miles Davis to Elvin Bishop, and entirely free of charge.

BOOK: Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie, by Alyn Shipton
While not the most arresting biography I’ve read, Shipton nonetheless has I important and plausible things to say about the position of Gillespie in the development of bebop, and I was inspired to listen again to the recordings that I have for proof of the trumpeter’s genius.

Speaking of jazz geniuses, there was also a memorable time during my recovery from shoulder surgery when I bonded again with Mr. Beiderbecke: Quality time with Bix.

And, finally, a local musical event made a big impression: In the Mood: Saturday at the Speakeasy with the Glenn Miller Orchestra ... and more than a few ghosts.

Carnegie Center's 5th Annual “Form, Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie” exhibit coming in January.


(Press release)

Carnegie Center Presents 5th Annual “Form, Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie” Exhibit ... January 11 – March 1, 2008

Opening Reception Friday, January 11, 2008, 6-8 pm

The Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana is pleased to announce the opening of the 5th annual “Form, Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie” exhibit. This national juried show of contemporary quilt art features works by 42 artists from across the United States. The show was juried by River City Fiber Artists, the group of award-winning local fiber artists Pat DaRif, Kathleen Loomis, Marti Plager, Joanne Weis, Valerie White and Juanita Yeager. Cash awards for Best in Show and Merit will be determined by judge Jane Burch Cochran, a well-known quilt artist residing in Rabbit Hash, KY. “Form, Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie” will be on display January 11 through March 1, 2008.

There will be an opening reception for this exhibit on Friday, January 11 from 6-8 pm. While exploring the galleries visitors can enjoy refreshments, live jazz and a chance to meet many of the artists featured in this show. This event is free and the public is invited to attend. This exhibit is sponsored by the Carnegie Center, Inc.

Judge Jane Burch Cochran has been creating art quilts since 1978 when she started making small bead and fabric collages using painted canvas and her father’s neckties. Jane made her first large quilt in 1985, and since then she has been, in her words, “completely obsessed with making art quilts.” In 2004, she was commissioned by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH to create 7’ x 10’ piece, titled “Crossing to Freedom,” that now hangs at the Group Entrance to the Freedom Center. Her work has been widely exhibited, including an exhibit titled “Contemporary American Quilts” that traveled in England and Ireland, a 2001 retrospective at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, and the exhibit “30 Distinguished Quilt Artists of the World” at the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival in Japan. Jane’s quilts grace a number of collections both near and far, among them Delta Airlines in Atlanta, GA; Cotton Field Company, Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan; and Louisville Gas and Electric Company, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Brown Forman Distillery, all of Louisville, KY. Jane says, “In my art quilts, I try to combine my art training in painting, my love of fabric and the tradition of American quilting. I unconsciously combine the loose, free feeling of abstract painting with the time-consuming and controlled techniques of sewing and beading.” To learn more about Jane and see images of her work, visit http://www.janeburchcochran.com/.

The Carnegie Center for Art and History, a department of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, is a contemporary art gallery and history museum that offers a full schedule of changing exhibitions and other educational programs. The Carnegie Center is also home to two permanent exhibits: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage, an award-winning interactive multimedia exhibit on the Underground Railroad, and Grandpa Makes A Scene: The Yenawine Dioramas, a hand-carved, animated display of life in turn of the century Georgetown, Indiana.

The Carnegie Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am-5:30 pm, and is located at 201 East Spring Street in historic downtown New Albany, Indiana. The Carnegie Center for Art and History is fully accessible. Admission is free. Visit http://www.carnegiecenter.org/ for more information on exhibits, events, and classes.

Friday, December 28, 2007

End of an error (this time we really mean it) for the wannabeens.

The garlic has been dispensed, wooden stakes duly deployed and Van Helsing is jetting back to private practice, so we turn to Lloyd for coverage of yesterday's special city council session at his blog, View from the Highway.

Go there and peruse the whole report: The King is Dead...Long Live the King!!

Well it's officially over! The gang of four is now one and a half; (ooops, make that two!)

The call to order came at precisely 1600 hours with an admonition by his majesty that the meeting be short, sweet, and to the point as he had houseguests coming in from afar.

In unrelated news, the Pants Down Pot Luck Port Drinkers Circle had its annual holiday meeting at the Public House last night, and a good time was had by all 30 tipplers in attendance. Special merit goes to Steve and Laura, whose munchies topped the charts ... and kudos to Floyd County's own Huber Winery & Distillery. Ted's Knobstone compared quite favorably to the Portuguese and Australian ports, and that's high praise indeed.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gang of Four finale today; debarkation at 4; scalpers now paying passers-by to attend.

The C-J’s Dick Kaukas sets the table for today’s special city council meeting.

New election districts up for vote; New Albany issue on today's agenda

Despite a federal judge's concern about population differences, the New Albany City Council will consider taking final action today on an ordinance to redraw its six voting districts.


With the gathering slated for 4:00 p.m., it’s a safe bet that few if any of our regular blog reporters will be making an appearance. Jobs and duties, you know, but that won’t stop us from offering a final tribute to the dispersing Gang of Four. Take it away, World Party ... and for heaven's sake, someone get that gavel back from King Larry.

We're setting sail
To the place on the map from which no one has ever returned
Torn by the promise of the joker and the fool
By the light of the crosses that bur-urn
Torn by the promise of the women and the lace
And the gold and the cotton and pearls
It's the place where they keep all the darkness you meet
You sail away from the light of the world

Listen baby - you will pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow-ow-ow
You will pay tomorrow-ow-ow-ow-wow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow

Save me, save me from tomor-orrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of foo-ools, no no
Oh-oh-oh, save me, save me from tomor-orrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of foo-ools, no no
I want to run and hide
Right now - ri-ight now-ow yeah-eah-eah

Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
They will leave you-ou drifting in the shallows
Drowning in the oceans of history-y-y-y
Travellin' the world, you're in search of no good
But I'm sure you're philosophic like I knew you would
Using all the good people for your gallant slaves
As your little boat struggles through the the warning waves

But you will pay, you will pay tomorrow
You're gonna pay tomorrow-ow-ow
You gonna pay tomorrow-ow-ow-ow-wow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow

Save me-ee, save me from tomor-orrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of foo-ools, no no no no
Oh-oh-oh, save me-ee, save me from tomor-orrow
I don't want to sail with this ship of foo-ools, no no no no

Where's it comin' fro-om or where's it goin' to?
It's just a - it's just a ship of foo-oo-oo-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ools

Yeah, oh Lord

(Lyrics from “Ship of Fools,” 1987)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gonder on IU Southeast, dorms and downtown.

Councilman-elect John Gonder recently surveyed the list of “top stories” in 2007, as proffered by the Tribune, considered the implications of just one, and contributed a thoughtful and integrated commentary complete with future vision.

Careful, John; there’s probably another “Schmidt Plan” in the works tomorrow night to outlaw such feats of cognitive reasoning on the part of public officials.

At any rate, here are a few chosen excerpts. Visit John’s blog for the full text.

Good News From 2007

… From this list, the story I think has the most far-reaching impact on New Albany, and thereby the most important for New Albany is the construction of dorms at IUS. This is such an important development because it signals that Indiana University Southeast is taking a major step beyond the "little brother" relationship to I.U. in Bloomington. It signals that the campus is growing. A growing college will add more degree programs and feed further growth …

… The growing campus will naturally bring more teachers, who are affluent and could be invited into a deeper involvement in community affairs. This development offers great potential for our city … New Albany can capitalize on this opportunity by developing an attractive, functional downtown district which meets many of the commercial needs of the campus residents
.

Meanwhile, over at Troglodyte Central, our municipality’s most ludicrous non-academic – oblivious as always to matters pertaining to education primarily because she only pretends to have one – takes a final spin on the “bash the Garner administration” wheel. Soon, in a dramatic achievement of legerdemain fully worthy of George “1984” Orwell, Erika will have substituted “Doug England” for “James Garner” in all past and future postings, and the traditional imperative of the insane, i.e., the repetition of the same action over and over in the hopes that the outcome will change, can be renewed for 2008 and calendar years to come.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Annual ATC holiday downbuzz.

The Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission poses a question and answers it:

Is it illegal to dispense alcoholic beverages on certain days?

Yes. It is unlawful to dispense alcoholic beverages on Christmas Day and on Primary, General, or Special Election Days while the polls are open. It is also unlawful to dispense alcoholic beverages for carryout on New Year's Day.

Surely ACLU intervention would be sufficient to remove the Christmas Day sales ban. If ever there were an obvious case of religious establishment, this is it. What other reason could there be for specifying Christmas over any other day?

Other than that, I’m having a great holiday.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Liquid stocking stuffers, anyone?

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
A new one just begun

Contrary to popular opinion, the senior editor does celebrate the holiday after a fashion. Christmas Eve is the occasion for the annual "shopping" expedition of Roger and the lads. We'll make appearances at Bluegrass Brewing Company (Shelbyville Road) circa 12:00 noon, followed a bit later by a visit to Cumberland Brews, with a stop at Ear-x-tasy falling conveniently in between.

If you're out and about today, look us up. And don't forget that NABC is closed until Wednesday.

Happy holidaze, folks.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Geography as the study of yokel mouths agaping.

My wife is a social worker.

For the uninitiated, here is a random web definition of her job: “A social worker is a professional trained to talk with people and their families about emotional or physical needs, and to find them support services.”

Upon returning to the office after our recently concluded holiday, D. noted that we’d just come back from a trip to Europe.

Came the immediate reply: “Did you fly or drive?”

No, not from a client ... from a co-worker.

I’m trying to imagine a European with an elementary school education working in a similar position and making a similar comment, but I can’t. It’s simply inconceivable. All of which reminds me of Bill Maher’s comments in his most recent contribution to Rolling Stone magazine, cleverly entitled “Dickheads of the Year”:

#7: The Solid Quarter

That twenty-five percent of America who would not desert George Bush if he ran over Dakota Fanning with his pickup truck on the White House lawn. Is it a coincidence that twenty-five percent is also the number of people who, in an AP poll of predictions for 2007, said they expect Jesus Christ to return this year!? I don't think it is.

Has anyone ever figured out why it is the case that we Americans so often accept insufficient education as a birthright? My guess has always been that we need an inadequately educated populace to be susceptible to sales pitches so that the consumer economy can continue to hum, but maybe there's more to it than that. After all, we elected Dubya -- not twice, but once.

Here's what Maher has to say about the lame duck in chief:

Who will tell this president what everyone but him already knows? The theory of evolution. And the times tables. And where the sun goes at night. And that Iraq is going to be three different countries. And that everyone hates us and we've run our military into the ground and the Taliban is back and we still haven't caught bin Laden and the economy is tanking and we wasted eight years blowing the oil companies while the Earth is melting. We had a pretty nice house when this Cat in the Hat of presidents came in and made the mess of all time. And who's going to clean it all up — Rudy Giuliani?

Readers, just remember that nothing's so bad that it can't be cured with a few Progressive Pints, and have a wonderful holiday ... even those of you who are cursing me at this very moment.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

8664 says: Contact Louisville's Mayor Abramson.

The following comes from Tyler Allen and JC Stites at http://www.8664.org/. The contact information is geared toward Louisville residents; perhaps in January there'll be time to put together a similar list for Hoosiers to let our local officials know what we're thinking.

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Dear friend,

We could really use your help. Mayor Abramson has said the Bridges Project is his top priority, so the question is:

Does Mayor Abramson support building the east end bridge first?

According to the Financial Plan submitted by the Ohio River Bridges Project, the east end bridge is scheduled to be started first and completed in 2013. That's less than six years from now. After decades and decades of delay, the east end bridge will finally be a reality.

To learn more about the sequencing of the bridges, view the ORBP Financial Plan.

Presumably, adopting 8664 at half the cost of the Bridges Project would allow the east end bridge to be completed even sooner, but we'll cover that topic in a future email. The most pressing issue is to get a clear answer from the Mayor. So again:

Does Mayor Abramson support the Ohio River Bridges Project's plan to build the east end bridge first?

Please help us get an answer. Contact the Mayor.

We have made it really easy for you to contact the Mayor and all your elected officials to share your views on 8664. Now is a critical time, so please take a few minutes to contact all your representatives. If you don't know what you want to say, no worries, we've included sample text for you to use. Please Contact your elected officials today!

Thanks for all your support in 2007. We've accomplished a great deal. Almost 12,000 sign ups on the website. Released the 8664 Feasibility Study. The 8664 Forum. Metro Council's ad hoc committee to explore 8664. The momentum continues to build and 2008 promises to be the year 8664 reaches the tipping point. Thanks for your support. To make a small donation to Louisville's future, donate online. We're going to make this happen.

8664 Mission
To advocate for the revitalization of Louisville through the removal of Interstate 64 along the riverfront and the adoption of a transportation plan that will provide long-term benefits to the region's citizens, neighborhoods, environment and economy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

27 pages down and Kokomo rising, but a ticking clock trumps Marie Antoinette any day.

While in Cologne recently, we attended the performance of a nine-piece band, and I must say that the unity of collective purpose on display from the Boss and his musical cohorts is in striking contrast to the fractured discordance typically emanating from the New Albany city council.

But with songs like “Because the Night,” “Candy’s Room” and “Jungleland,” it’s obvious that Bruce Springsteen has far better material.

Not that there weren’t full-throated, arena-sized roars last night. For outgoing at-large councilman Donnie Blevins, it was an evening of indisputably Biblical proportions. Blevins, a credentialed minister, led off what he believed would be his final meeting with a quiet New Testament prayer (a dozen or more references to “heavenly father” blessing any and all present), closed it with an impassioned Old Testament prophet’s tirade (a half dozen angry “bull craps”), and as such, played a small but significant part in the customary display of legislative dysfunction that, in the end, is the only way this council will be remembered.

Specifically, Blevins’ fire and brimstone was directed against fellow councilman Kevin Zurschmiede, who tabled R-07-45, a resolution to provide funding for Haven House, the homeless shelter in Jeffersonville. Haven House has been beset with managerial difficulties in 2007, yet remains the only local organization committed to dealing with a problem that few community members or elected officials seem willing to admit exists.

Zurschmiede explained the withdrawal as being necessitated by a “couple of phone calls” he received earlier in the afternoon. If these calls were indicative of the malice with which some in the community customarily regard Haven House’s director, Barb Anderson, then it’s likely the calls were anonymous; be that as it may, Zurschmiede summarily punted and Blevins immediately pounced on the fumble, first asking that the tabling be reconsidered, and then, much later at meeting’s end, loudly and passionately providing his view of the problem with colleagues who don’t know what it’s like to be “out on the street” at this time of year before storming out of the room, not to return.

Game, set & match: Blevins.

C’mon, Kevin – just a “couple” of calls? You need to do better than that.

A proposal to inaugurate development of the last plot of industrial park land off Grant Line Road was approved in spite of characteristically self-serving sour grapes on the part of Dan Coffey, and this event must have pleased One Southern Indiana’s chieftain Michael Dalby, who was in attendance to see whether the subsequent tithe to 1SI would pass muster, but Jeff Gahan did not introduce the measure, astutely pointing out that “the advocacy of 1SI’s mission needs to be clarified.”

Thanks, councilman; better words were not spoken last evening.

This paved the way for the reintroduction of precisely the same redistricting ordinance that was bounced out of federal court less than a month ago, which last night was passed yet again on the first reading, with second and third readings reserved for a special council meeting to take place next Thursday (for redistricting and other necessary year’s end business).

In essence, it would seem that the council’s attorney has advised it that the previous ordinance’s failure resulted entirely from the improper time frame of its passage, and not from the numerically unbalanced inadequacies of the reconstituted districts, as was clearly enunciated by the judge. As for these numerical inadequacies, council is being told publicly that its attorney has (a) a previously unrevealed magic bullet to make the discrepancies irrelevant, or (b) a certainty that a different and better disposed judge will hear the case when it returns to court in early February.

I suppose we’ll see about that.

Coffey meekly tabled the housing authority ordinance, and the police force was given its sought after raise, as was the city clerk and the mayor. The latter debate became unintentionally hilarious when Coffey, a newfound advocate of providing incentives to elected officials, decided to have it both ways.: “It’s the only way to get qualified people,” Coffey said, referring to the mayor and clerk, before pausing only briefly before back peddling furiously to add that the exact same logic does not apply to the council itself, which most emphatically should not be paid more, perhaps because that might attract “qualified people” who would soon tower over Coffey in quality.

True enough … in the council’s current and mercifully soon to be concluded incarnation, but then again, the “short” view is a Coffeyite birthright.

Finally, as has been the case so many times before, it was the city’s sewer utility that provided the most opportunities for grandstanding, caterwauling and the indiscriminate slinging of bile. Coffey’s measure to reconstitute the sewer board was defeated, with even his conjoined counterpart Steve Price differing with the Wizard. Perhaps the EPA’s recent letter commending New Albany for painstakingly crawling to a point within eyesight of compliance with the infamous consent decree caused some council members to vote on the basis of “if it ain’t broke … ” although as we should have learned by now, nothing is certain when it comes to the way that our effluent travels from commode to river.

Or, in like fashion, from twice monthly council packets to the (purportedly) speaking portion of the meetings. Soon it will be over, and not a moment to soon, and we can then begin an earnest consideration of whether Larry Kochert’s and Bill Schmidt’s combined 52 years of service, lengthy tenures much praised last evening, amount to more or less than the quantity of drum majorettes doing the watusi on the head of a pin.

Here’s the requisite media coverage:

Sewer board changes rejected; New Albany keeps council oversight, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal)

Tribune coverage later today.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tonight's funding request: "1SI wants us to pay them to tell us to do the same things we've already been doing."

(By NAC's Jeff "Bluegill" Gillenwater)

Challenge for the evening:

Since One Southern Indiana (1SI) is claiming credit for helping to create 631 jobs in New Albany and the council's funding resolution is predicated on that job creation as justification, Michael Dalby or whomever else shows up to speak on 1SI's behalf should be readily able to explain how their involvement directly caused the company expansions and job increase or why they wouldn't have happened otherwise.

They can't, and that's a problem.

I've been shuffling through the 1SI list of new jobs and matching them up with Tribune stories about the companies' respective expansions. Over and over again, it's apparent that 1SI had little or nothing to do with the expansions and, when they did have some small influence, it was usually in directing the employers to further tax breaks and grants, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars for already well-established, successful companies to create more mostly low paying jobs.

The wage/profit discrepancy discussed here earlier in the month (see comments here) is a lingering invisible elephant, especially when taxpayers are asked to shell out around $16,000 to create $18,000-a-year jobs and 1SI continues to tout low wages as a draw for outside companies. In fact, low wages, tax abatements and what is described as little local propensity for unionization are recurring themes in 1SI’s pitch to prospective businesses.

Meanwhile, Globe Mechanical's owner cited industry changes to explain increased business and the need for expansion. Hitachi got a new contract with GM to provide hybrid vehicle parts. Conforma Clad, same type of story. L&D Mail Masters was already planning on expanding and creating 20 news jobs. They decided, according to their owner and 1SI board member Diane Fisher, to create an additional 20 to 26 only after getting additional tax breaks and a tax funded grant. (1SI is claiming credit for all 46 projected jobs).

Samtec and Beach Mold and Tool have been in business for decades, steadily growing all the while. Now whenever they expand like they have for the past 30 years, 1SI will take credit.The companies themselves negotiate the deals that make those expansions a possibility and city staff and taxpayers most often handle the real work of facilitating them with planning, zoning, infrastructure improvements, and tax breaks.

In other words, 1SI wants us to pay them to tell us to do the same things we've already been doing.

And, it’s worth noting that when Michael Dalby addressed the board of Develop New Albany in February, he said that 1SI has a strong preference for the redevelopment of the urban core over continued outward growth.

That'd be great if it were true. First, they've named the bridges project, an initiative that nearly everyone I've spoken with (including pro bridges folks) and fifty years of history suggest will encourage outward sprawl, as a top priority.

Second, a glance at their web site shows that the very first words that appear in the sites/building section with regard to available commercial and industrial space in the region are "Southern Indiana has ample greenfield sites ..." The page goes on to talk mostly about suburban and exurban industrial and business parks.

That's not exactly language that reflects Dalby's claimed preference. It reflects the exact opposite. In fact, there is nothing in 1SI's language or actions anywhere thus far that reflects that preference; a further examination of the web site in late November revealed that of the 86 properties that 1SI was currently promoting at the time, only seven of them are located in downtown, urban areas. That's a 12 to 1 ratio in favor of suburban and exurban spaces.

If 1SI were serious about its commitment to the community, they would be facilitating legitimate public discussion about development and how best to approach it rather than trying to pass off bogus numbers as qualification for the status quo and impetus for their own expansion.

So far, they've chosen to rely on the latter while involving themselves in other questionable dealings - a sad testimony on the "vision" they promised as part of their restructuring.

Editor’s note: The preceding thoughts were originally posted in the “comments” section earlier today. I have edited one paragraph and appended words of Bluegill’s that appeared in a comment in November. I hope nothing was lost in translation, but the thoughts involved are important, and I opted for speed in posting them ... RAB.

Just press “flush”: The end of an error for the wannabeens.

Verily, we’re counting down to the final gun … and what a doozy of a two-minute drill it’s shaping up to be.

The beer may actually have to wait until tonight's city council meeting is over, lest we dull our senses to the full extent of the spectacle.

And so, although he can’t be with us tonight, we turn now to the Highwayman for an appropriately irreverent overview of the impending festivities.

----

Batten down the hatches, sound battle stations, load all torpedo tubes and remove all safeties! The boyz in the band have a full plate on their agenda for the final act of King Larry's reign.

Here is a brief sampling of Thursday's offerings (
NAC’s thoughts in red):

R-07-44 *Funding for One Southern Indiana - CM Gahan

See yesterday’s posting: Will the city of New Albany help 1SI pay for the placards at ROCK's next religious rally?

R-07-45 *Funding for Haven House - CM Zurschmeide

Given that management difficulties have plagued Haven House in 2007, this ordinance is an open invitation for demagoguery from the Gang of Four, even if Haven House remains virtually the only Southern Indiana organization willing to acknowledge (and help) New Albany’s homeless.

G-07-18 *Assassination attempt on the New Albany Housing Authority - CM Coffey

G-07-18 *Sewer Board restructuring - CM Coffey


Councilman Cappuccino, whose behavior since the November election has been likened to a feral canine pawing the dump for scraps, needs a new power base, hence his recent nuzzling of New Albany’s FOP. Meanwhile, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and incoming councilman John Gonder thinks Coffey may not be wrong when it comes to the composition of the sewer board.

Z-07-22 * Approval for the latest McCartin greenfield development plan - CM Zurschmeide

You can be sure The Gary is marching in lockstep with ROCK when it comes to the situation of “their” church – and that the locale needn’t be far removed from the beltway.

G-07-19 * Reintroduction of the Schmidt Redistricting Ordinance - CM Price (unless I'm mistaken, there have been no changes made) Go Larry Go!!

Here come da judge, dudes … but please, have it your way.

----

It's Hawaiian shirt night ... and don't forget your stogie for the post-meeting Connor's Place rehash.

Read tonight's council agenda and attached paperwork here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Will the city of New Albany help 1SI pay for the placards at ROCK's next religious rally?

Is it merely a coincidence that One Southern Indiana’s new website seems to have been purged of references to the economic development organization’s board of directors?

I searched the site in vain, unable to find any mention of Kerry Stemler, chairman of 1SI’s board, who earlier this year (see links below) went on record on behalf of 1SI in support of the much publicized anti-obscenity outreach program espoused by Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK).

Unfortunately, as we’ve taken the lead in reminding readers from time to time, ROCK’s aims are not restricted to the elimination of what it defines as pornography. The organization also advances an extremist evangelical Christian agenda that includes among its components an opposition to abortion, same sex marriage and stem cell research, among other divisive topics.

At Thursday’s city council meeting, New Albany’s legislative branch of government returns to the topic of a municipal tithe to ISI, this time in the form of just less than $50,000 to be drawn from EDIT funds. It is an arbitrary number based on the calculation of working New Albanians minus workers existing beneath the poverty level, multiplied by the sum of $3.50, and if I'm not mistaken, is less than what 1SI originally sought.

Naturally, the stated aim of the city’s monetary support of 1SI is to reflect gratitude for 1SI’s role in local job creation, and the dimensions of this partnership in the context of the longer view of economic development is one that I’ll leave to my more astute colleague.

My question is this:

If New Albany’s city council provides funding for ISI, is this to be construed as support of ROCK’s agenda?

After all, until someone at 1SI elects to emerge from the bunker and declare otherwise, it currently is in the position of supporting a ban on gay marriages without being able to explain why such a tenet has anything to do with economic development.

Thus, is seems suitably momentous that today is Day 30 of the Michael Dalby/One Southern Indiana Stonewall Watch, as we continue to await public clarification of the entity’s public embrace of ROCK.

Gee, what happened to all those board members?

NAC’s coverage:

1SI and the revitalization of housing stock?

1SI at the bat: Watch for the hit and run

Next: A dialogue about One Southern Indiana, ROCK and economic development as religious (why?) outreach.

Join the discussion: Is a stonewalling 1SI being disingenuous?

Familiar Tribune guest columnists (ahem) expose 1SI, Councilman Cappuccino.

Nobody listened to Eisenhower, either

Why is One Southern Indiana publicly endorsing a fundamentalist right wing agenda?

R.O.C.K. on, One Southern Indiana ... but first, please answer these inconvenient questions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This is what will be: The Boss, live in Cologne.

As many of you know, our longtime friend Kim Andersen – a Danish national and proud citizen of the universe who currently is a resident of Koln (Cologne), arguably Germany’s premier party town – surprised us with tickets to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band last Thursday evening at the Koln Arena.

It was my first time ever at a Springsteen show, and having been breathlessly told by fans for many years how inspired the Boss’s concerts usually are, I can now nod sagely and echo the immortal words of the late Madeline Kahn in “Blazing Saddles” and say: Ohh! It's twoo! IT'S TWOO …

Springsteen’s new album "Magic" was well represented during the show, and the fact that the songs therein contain more than a few barbs in the general direction of the miserably failed Bush regime was raw meat for the locals in attendance. Note that the Hoosier author agrees with the Europeans and our own native of New Jersey when these lyrics are sung:

The earth it gave away
The sea rose towards the sun
I opened up my heart to you
It got all damaged and undone
My ship Liberty sailed away
On a bloody red horizon
The groundskeeper opened the gates
And let the wild dogs run

Here’s a review of the two and a half hour concert and the set list.

December 13 / Cologne, GER / Koln Arena

A smoking show, both literally and figuratively -- the Koln Arena must be one of the last such venues where lighting up is still permitted, and when the lights came up they revealed quite a cloud overhead. A surprisingly simlar set to the previous night, considering it's just a couple hours' drive. But the enthusiastic Cologne crowd, on their feet all night, set this one apart -- and who can complain about "Because the Night" two nights in a row? "The Promised Land" had that newly added "People Get Ready" gospel coda again, too. "Kitty's Back" was absolutely smoking, particularly Roy's solo -- a killer, jazzy improvisation, which Bruce echoed as he followed it with an extended solo of his own.

The end of "American Land" brought a patented James Brown routine, as Bruce fell over backward, "exhausted," still on the floor as the band went into a bonus "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." Nils and Steven helped him up to sing, and a special guest joined in, too. "Wolfgang, do you believe in Santa Claus?" Bruce cried to Wolfgang Niedecken -- like Joe Grushecky in Pittsburgh, you can pretty much bank on Niedecken joining in when Bruce comes to Deutschland. The German rocker didn't really seem to know the song, rarely stepping to the mic, but all eyes were on Bruce anyway, especially once he put that Santa hat on. How does he manage to make that thing look good? Tilting it at a rakish angle, twirling the pom-pom around like a helicopter... no one wears a Santa hat like Bruce. Hey, the guy's a professional.

Setlist:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Magic
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The River
I'll Work for Your Love
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Badlands

---

Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Well, the litter boxes needed cleaning.

So we had to come back. Do guest hosts get any better than Bluegill? I don't think so.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Apparently, we've been spelling it wrong: It's McMahansion


Friend and fellow blogger Ann Streckfus has been keeping tabs on 1308 East Main Street, a formerly grand home turned shanty under the supervision of a series of unprincipled landlords. Neighbors know its dilapidated shell, overflowing dumpster, and often disruptive tenants all too well.

As detailed on Ann's Diggin' in the Dirt, the current Philistine in question just recently responded to a 1308 report published in March.

The Slummer is not gone, I am the owner of that property and I sold it on contract to a lady that did intend on converting back to single family and the fact that the "historic society" has rather strict rules to follow it is now back into the "slummers" hands! If any of you would like to tackle this project then please call me 502-773-8195 this property is rough but i dont see anyone stepping up to take the money out of there pockets to buy and renovate. When you have 5 units bringing in over 2600 a month what since would it make for me to spend $50k (conservativly!) in the exterior of this building! By the way this slummer is paying for most of this cities school renovations (10 homes x new albany's property taxes= THOUSANDS!) Everyone wants to rant and rave because they own nicer homes around this home but no one wants to fork up!

-Disappointed real estate investor


In asking for comments on the situation, Ann explains, "I don't understand the culture of the landlord who buys property, fails to maintain it, and shows no regard for the impact the condition of his property has on surrounding homes. It doesn't seem to be much of an investment if it isn't maintained."

We couldn't agree more, Ann, and intend to continue our practice of helping to bring public attention to the greed and inconsideration that have come to characterize so many landlords in our neighborhoods.

In NAC tradition, though, we don't allow anonymity. Since the slumlord commented on Diggin' as "REALpro" with a non-functioning profile, we feel it's only fair to level the playing field.

His name is Matt McMahan. He's an independent builder and broker associate with local real estate firm Real Living Right Now. McMahan's web site reveals that he's also the President of the Rental Property Association of Southern Indiana.

According to the site, he's "gained a lot of knowledge in investment property. From flipping and rehabbing properties to renting I've done it all." He further advises to "Build long lasting relationships that focus on the future, not just a short term profit."

We invite readers to comment on McMahan's performance in response to the original post at Diggin' in the Dirt and, most importantly, to the proper city authorities.

If he's legitimately perplexed as to why no one will give him $112,900 for his property, perhaps the city's incoming administration, who campaigned on cracking down on unscrupulous landlords, can help him figure it out.

*photo credit: HistoricNewAlbany.com

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"The market for something to believe in is infinite."

It's not what you make or sell or even making or selling that necessarily provides gravity. It's why you make it and why you sell it and how you communicate about why you make it and why you sell it. Anyone can make or sell something. It's the whys and hows that give the process meaning. Meaning is what people want. They'll show up for it.

Likewise, gravity is a better result than stability. Stability implies having your shoes nailed to the world while it spins. Gravity allows you to hover slightly above it while still carrying weight. You can't stop the world from turning but you can certainly decide where and how to touch it.

Making and explaining those decisions delineates character. Saying someone or something has character (or even is a character) is a declaration of value and appreciation, an admiration of their values. The perception of agreeable values is necessary in creating a sense of value. If you don't express genuine values, you're likely not particularly valuable.

I still struggle to explain it.

Mercifully, Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid.com is smarter and faster than me. He says it better than I do. He said it long before I did, too, and he's been saying it ever since. I'm just now learning that. Like I said, he's smarter and faster than me.


We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.

We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature.

Product benefit doesn't excite us. Belief in humanity and human potential excites us.

Think less about what your product does, and think more about human potential.

What statement about humanity does your product make?


(please read more)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Forecast: Unintentional self-parody with a chance of psychosis

Thanks to R for the submission.

LET'S PLAY NUMBSKULL!

Surely, it isn't true that England would invite alien invaders to suck precious bodily fluids from the residents of New Albany.

Who is supporting Mayor Elect Doug England on this proposal?

Is the purpose of this idea being used to force Project Blue Book to establish a research center on New Albany Riverfront.

When did this idea surface?


We invite readers to invent their own lunatic smears. Please limit yourselves to the four paragraph model provided by Vicki Ann Denschak (Professor Erik[a]).

It's my way or Highway 111...right?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Up for adoption

“Traditionally, art is to create and not to revive.” - Josef Albers

A recent discussion with a friend of bridges, bicycles, eco-friendly housing, and cultural change in New Albany left me with this gem: Whatever we do, it'd better capture the imagination of the pioneers.

A more technical explanation from QuickMBA.com, considering the city of New Albany as product, is below.

Consumers can be grouped according to how quickly they adopt a new product. On the one extreme, some consumers adopt the product as soon as it becomes available. On the other extreme, some consumers are among the last to purchase a new product. As a whole, the new product adoption process can be modeled in the form of a bell-shaped diffusion curve similar to the following:



* Innovators - well-informed risk-takers who are willing to try an unproven product. Innovators represent the first 2.5% to adopt the product.

* Early adopters - based on the positive response of innovators, early adopters then begin to purchase the product. Early adopters tend to be educated opinion leaders and represent about 13.5% of consumers.

* Early majority - careful consumers who tend to avoid risk, the early majority adopts the product once it has been proven by the early adopters. They rely on recommendations from others who have experience with the product. The early majority represents 34% of consumers.

* Late majority - somewhat skeptical consumers who acquire a product only after it has become commonplace. The late majority represents about 34% of consumers.

* Laggards - those who avoid change and may not adopt a new product until traditional alternatives no longer are available. Laggards represent about 16% of consumers.


While locals have made much-- and rightfully so-- of code enforcement, sewers, traffic calming, and downtown decorations, these are all elements that appeal to what in most places would be called the mainstream. It's entirely possible that we could accomplish all those things and end up with a city that's perhaps a bit safer but no more alluring than the most recent exurban development. Careful, homogeneity is catching.

What then, have we done to "capture the imagination", to create the same enticement that compelled thousands of easterners to walk, ride, and float to our shoreline, carve a path, and call the resulting coordinates home? Or, for that matter, to drive across a bridge? With a few noted exceptions, not much I'd say. And until we take up intellectual arms against the idea that white, male, upper middle class bankers and administrators are somehow going to lead a cultural uprising, that answer won't change.

It's well within our collective reach to proclaim this place as different and so far, either through ignorance, fear, or apathy, we've simply decided not to.

I've no idea if anyone's coming with me, but I'm headed for the left hand side of the curve and declaring that New Albany is the mother of invention.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

REWIND: Schlenkerla & the Brauerei Heller Trum upholds traditions in Bamberg.

I've revisited Bamberg (Franconia, Bavaria, Germany) three times since this article was written in early 2004, and the city never ceases to amaze. A tenth brewery has opened, and the other nine are still doing business, but anyone who knows me knows my personal favorite.

---


On April 1, 2003, Matthias Trum assumed control of his family’s business, becoming the sixth male in his family to take the reins since the mid-1800’s.

Stories involving dynastic succession are potentially interesting regardless of the time or place, but when the setting is Bamberg, Germany, a city that is home to nine breweries, and when the Trum family business is one of them – Brauerei Heller Trum, more commonly known as Schlenkerla, a classic brewery and pub enterprise - then special attention is warranted.

Especially if the observer - me - is a beer aficionado hopelessly smitten with the lovely city in general and its fine beer in particular.

Bamberg Redux.
In personal terms, my experience with Bamberg dates to 1991, when I visited the Franconian city for the first time. Even before that, there was unmistakable infatuation. I’d read accounts of the city’s beer culture written by British beer writer Michael Jackson and salivated over his written descriptions of Schlenkerla’s trademark smoked lager.

Long before I tasted it, I knew that Schlenkerla would be an unquestioned, enduring favorite, and my first sip amply confirmed it.

Subsequent encounters with Schlenkerla have not failed to entice and impress, and these half-dozen trips since the first one have confirmed not only that Bamberg is the place to go for smoked lager, an elegant retro-rarity in the world of beer, but furthermore, that the city simply has no serious competition as the finest setting for beer drinking in all of Germany.

The beer is sublime, and available in as many styles and variations as there are taste buds, but the truly priceless aspect of any visit to Bamberg emanates from the opportunity, one unfortunately threatened by the pace of modern life, to comprehensively experience a culture seemingly crafted from only the very best of beer’s numerous virtues.

From the savory and always reasonably priced German cuisine accompanying and complementing my beverage of choice to the city’s many traditional indoor and outdoor drinking and dining venues, Bamberg affords the enhancement of gustatory and olfactory pleasures in a way that larger cities cannot match.

Bamberg’s 70,000 residents enjoy the products of the city’s nine remaining breweries (down from as many as two dozen a century ago), and also have the opportunity to sample the selected wares of more than a few of the 100-plus breweries in a fifty-mile radius. Many of these breweries are located in charming small towns tucked away in wooded hills and pastoral valleys radiating outward from Bamberg.

Bamberg and its outlying Franconian environs are to German beer what the Amazon Basin is to species of flora and fauna: A diverse and unfathomable “zymurgo-system,” and a treasure trove of species, many of which are doomed to extinction owing to the relentless march of consumerism and mass-marketing.

In truth, few of these beers equal the mighty Schlenkerla Marzen, the Trum family’s everyday (that’s right, everyday) beer. It is a full-bodied amber lager, and it would be delicious even if it did not burst upon the palate with an assertively smoky flavor deriving from beechwood kilning in the brewery’s micro-malting – a traditional method itself now largely extinct.

Traditions to uphold.
The very survival and continued prosperity of Bamberg’s beer and brewing culture are best viewed as questions of tradition versus modernity, and all those who are exploring the equation, from brewer to tavern keeper to drinking customer, are answering the question in their own way by the choices they make.

Not least among them is Matthias Trum, who comes down squarely on the side of tradition … most of the time.

Matthias tells the story of his grandmother’s tenure stewarding the family’s lively, well-trodden pub and restaurant, and of her ironclad view of propriety. There was to be no kissing between unmarried men and women customers (her reaction to openly gay couples can be inferred), and men wearing short pants (other than lederhosen) were to be neither acknowledged nor served.

“That part of tradition can be relaxed,” laughed Matthias last July as we savored Marzens and a platter of sausages in the section of the tavern known as God’s Corner, where a statue of Jesus looks out on the usually crowded room.

Other time-tested rules have not changed: The three “C’s” of Coca-Cola, coffee, and chips (French fries) are not available. “You can buy them anywhere in Bamberg,” noted Matthias, “but not when you come to Schlenkerla. Here, we offer a traditional menu.”

In similar fashion, the brewery (located several beautiful hillside blocks away from the tavern), observes old methods whenever possible. Almost no breweries have retained their maltings, but Schlenkerla continues to employ a maltster, who smokes the barley and prepares it for brewing.

Beer destined for the tavern is kegged in wooden barrels, themselves crafted by one of the last remaining coopers in Bavaria. The barrels must be kept in a damp environment to preserve the wood. When they are hoisted onto the counter and tapped, the beer flows straight out by gravity feed, almost like cask ale except that the yeast isn’t still alive.

Two sizes of barrel are filled, because when closing time draws near, the smaller barrel can be tapped so that no beer goes flat and is wasted overnight.

During our tour of the brewery, Matthias led my friends Kim Andersen, Craig Somers, Pavel Borovich and I into lagering cellars beneath the brewery. The cellars are part of a network of underground passageways extending throughout hill-studded Bamberg.

We were offered samples of cool, delicious Urbock, the rich, higher-gravity seasonal variant of smoked lager, and instructed in the uses of the mysterious Spundetapparat.

How Matthias managed to convince us to return to the earth’s surface remains a mystery to me.

Preparing for success.
It can be seen that a proper respect for tradition is the norm in the Schlenkerla pub and brewery, but Matthias prepared for his career with thoroughly modern diligence after assuring his parents at an early age that he fully intended to go into the family business.

The same grandmother who rejected lip contact out of wedlock and shunned the tourist’s Bermudas heartily encouraged the notion that Matthias should first attend university for a degree in business and economics before immersion in beer and brewing.

Afterwards, Matthias studied at the prestigious Weihenstephan brewing institute near Munich and served an apprenticeship at Zum Uerige, the most traditional of Dusseldorf’s Altbier brewpubs. He then worked the family brewery from top to bottom alongside the maltster, brewer and forklift operator.

When German Trum passed the baton to his son Matthias and retired from the business that he had directed for three decades, he did so without qualification, and has not visited the brewery since. It would appear that capable hands run in the family.

Bamberg’s breweries cope.
Contemporary Germany is no different from any other Western consumer society. Its citizens are forever being offered “new and improved” beverages, foods, entertainment options and lifestyle choices.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, beer consumption has been on the decline in Germany for many years, and in Franconia, home to 500 or more breweries as recently as the 1980’s, the number has dropped to just above 300 now.

British beer writer John Conen, a close observer of the Bamberg brewing scene, says that the hemorrhaging has slowed of late, but to return to the analogy of disappearing species in the Amazon, the continued attrition of these small, distinctive breweries bodes ill for the future of German brewing.

I’m not speaking of German brewing in the sense of it functioning on its largest level as a multi-national business enterprise, for there are no shortage of large brewing companies actively pursuing acquisition, consolidation and the transformation of beer into a standardized supermarket commodity in Germany just as in the rest of the world.

Rather, I’m lamenting the inevitable decline of brewing in the artistic and cultural senses, for it is in these milieus that individualistic, highly localized attitudes and methods, once lost, can never be regained.

Bamberg’s nine breweries deal with problems of survival in varying, generally complementary ways.

Kaiserdom, the largest and least interesting to me, seeks to maintain a niche export market and positions itself as up-market “premium” at home. By contrast, Maisel brews the working man’s Pils and Weizen.

In the neighborhood known as Wunderberg, arguably Bamberg’s Brooklyn, Mahr’s and Keesman occupy opposite sides of the street and both make great beer. It is alleged by certain observers that the workers patronize Mahr’s and the bosses visit Keesman, but despite long hours spent at both establishments, I cannot verify it. However, I can attest to the lip-smacking beers that both produce.

Close to the Rhine-Main-Danube canal on Obere-Konigstrasse, Fassla is a brewpub and guesthouse that unashamedly caters to the working man. It I more “real” than Anheuser-Busch ever will be. Directly across the street, Spezial brews the city’s gentler, second-rated smoked lager and operates the finest beer garden (Spezial Keller, located a few kilometers away on Stephansberg hill) in Bamberg, and maybe in all of Germany.

Klosterbrau parlays its old town location, monastic religious connotations and rich textbook dark lagers into a steady trade with tourist and local alike. Greifenklau possesses yet another lovely hilltop garden with a view, and runs a big hotel that is favored by tour groups.

And then, there’s Schlenkerla. The Trum family resides above their pub, so there are no overnight rooms, but even without an outdoor garden for warm weather seating, the pub itself is jewel enough. It oozes history. Half of its current floor plan originally was part of an adjacent monastery, and the location deep in the epicenter of Bamberg’s old town is exemplary. Insofar as tourists can stomach real, unalloyed beer, Schlenkerla draws them, but at the Stammtisch (i.e., reserved table) are clustered regulars who have been drinking in the same spot since long before Matthias’s birth.

Small amounts of Schlenkerla’s beer reach aficionados throughout the world, and there are off-premise accounts in Bamberg and its environs, but by far most of it is consumed at the bustling tavern, lovingly drawn one pint at a time from the real wooden barrel perched atop a venerable metal-topped counter, and consumed alongside smoked ham, horseradish and pungent beer cheese.

Time spent with Matthias Trum convinces me that Schlenkerla will remain a safe house amidst the destructive tsunamis of the warring multinational brewing conglomerates, and for this alone I would go back to Bamberg.

How I manage to convince myself to return to Indiana remains a mystery to me … but somehow, each time, I do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

1SI and the revitalization of housing stock?

Thanks to TF for this link:


D'Aprix Blog: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM NEEDS REPAIR


Note one of his keys to sustainable economic development:


Make sure the housing stock is in good shape. Re-allocate money for "luring" business to help folks fix up their homes. Economic Development people overlook this or see it as someone else's problem. Big mistake.

Anyone heard whether One Southern Indiana might be willing to commit funding to the revitalization of housing stock ... or should we develop a few more green fields, instead?

Monday, December 10, 2007

1SI at the bat: Watch for the hit and run

We at NAC are growing accustomed to silence from CEO Michael Dalby and his 1SI cohorts when it comes to questions seeking clarification about the group's actions, so when public statements are made, it's all the more interesting.

I was intrigued, then, to find the image of a baseball on the 1SI home page last week denoting a 3000 club. It's since been removed but the document to which it linked is provided below.



It seems 1SI is straining its creativity to invoke a baseball metaphor as a means of self-congratulations, announcing that it's responsible for an "epic milestone": "unprecedented job growth" of over 3,000 new jobs.

While it's unexplained and unclear how 1SI is directly responsible for 3,000 new jobs, what is clear is that "unprecedented", according to Oxford American Dictionaries, means never done or known before. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you're getting paid to sell fuzzy math to the public with bad puns involving players banned from their own sport, a review of U.S. Census Bureau job statistics for Clark and Floyd Counties between 1984 and 2004 shows that 3,000 new jobs is akin to a certain Hall of Famer's déjà vu all over again.

According to census information, the two counties, long before the advent of 1SI, topped the 3,000 new jobs mark in 1987 (3,315), 1990 (3,663), 1995 (3,722) and 1998 (4,494). Worth noting is that Census Bureau statistics document growth during periods of 12 months, not 17, as does 1SI's announcement.

1SI's self-reported 12-month figures show 2,190 projected new jobs. I'll assume I don't need to define "projected" for them as well and simply mention that, even if all the projected jobs had already come to fruition, it would mean that 1994 was a better year as well with 2,985 new jobs. Other notable, non-1SI years are 1992 (2,066 new jobs), 1997 (1,914), and 1999 (2,081), all between 87 and 95% of 1SI's projections, which can't actually be counted until they become real jobs. And, even then, they'd be counted in the year of hire, not announcement.

We hope to spend part of the next week or so in consideration of 1SI's business luring practices and what they cost the community. It's important for now, though, to establish that any such discussions need be based on real, documentable numbers rather than promotional numerology, no matter how quaint the presentation. Doing so would be unprecedented.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Try looking at it as an "own goal" and it makes far more sense.

Yawn.

CAN KOCHERT SAVE HIS LEGACY WITH A "HAIL MARY" PASS ON REDISTRICTING?

Catholic League: Children still can’t be trusted to read.

Give the Torquemada Memorial Random Theology Wheel a mighty heave and you’ll almost always land on a space in which one Christian sect or another is denouncing the human capacity to think and reason.

This week, it’s the Catholic League’s turn.

Christian groups slam new Kidman children's movie, by Tangi Quemener.

Christian groups are up in arms here over a new children's film starring Nicole Kidman and based on an award-winning novel by British author Philip Pullman, accusing it of being anti-religious. "The Golden Compass" which opens here Friday is the film version of "The Northern Lights," the first book in Pullman's "Dark Materials" fantasy trilogy aimed at teenage readers.

The author goes on to note that the film version, while stripped of much overt anti-religious sentiment in a bid for broader appeal, “has failed to appease the Catholic League, which gathers some 350,000 members, and which has already been sending out leaflets denouncing the film.”

“The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books," said president William Donohue.

"Unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books," he added.

In some obscure way, it’s reassuring to learn that even in modern times and our bewildering multiplicity of mass media sources of irreligious corruption, the humble book, complete with pages made of paper and nary a microchip in sight, remains a major threat to religious orthodoxy.

Has Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK) taken a position on “The Golden Compass”?

If so, has One Southern Indiana?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Evangelicals Everywhere": Personal piety, politics ... and economic development?

If I were so inclined, there might be a blog posting each day culled from those publications that comprise the regular household reading list.

Generally speaking, I resist the impulse … though not today. Reprinted below are the opening paragraphs from a book review by Alan Wolfe that appeared in the New York Times (November 25, 2007). The highlighted section is my doing. After all, it's about polemics with me, isn't it?

Evangelicals Everywhere, a review of “Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite,” by D. Michael Lindsay.

In August, Washington watchers were titillated by a particularly fascinating insider account of the Bush White House: Matthew Scully, one former speechwriter, accused another, Michael Gerson, of egocentric careerism. It is not usually considered sinful in Washington to advance yourself; that is pretty much what the place is about. But Gerson, an evangelical Christian, had developed a reputation among the Washington press corps just this side of sainthood. One need not accept every word Scully wrote to conclude that Gerson had expended considerable energy on his own deification.

Should we expect evangelicals, because they are so upfront about their faith, to act differently than the less devout? Evangelicals, as D. Michael Lindsay demonstrates with impressive research and inexhaustible energy in “Faith in the Halls of Power,” have made great strides in entering mainstream institutions like academia, government, the media and business. Unless we are interested in religion for reasons of pride — the way young Jewish baseball fans would single out Sandy Koufax, or, in my Philadelphia childhood, Saul Rogovin, for special notice — Lindsay’s subject matter should pique everyone’s curiosity. Evangelicals are best known for their determination to witness their faith to others. This makes others inevitably interested in them.

Lindsay conducted 360 interviews in all, including one with Michael Gerson in 2005. “Christianity is not just a statement about personal piety,” Gerson told him; “it’s a statement about social justice.” It is, I guess, a worthwhile sentiment, not so much for what it says — don’t we all profess to believe in social justice? — but because the person who said it worked for a president singularly intent on cutting taxes to redistribute income to America’s wealthiest. It would be interesting to know how Gerson reconciled his faith with the priorities of his party …

Not to mention the Bush administration’s reactionary social agenda as a whole, encompassing the whole range of positions espoused by evangelical lobby organizations like Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK).

Has anyone heard whether One Southern Indiana will be bringing Gerson to New Albany to speak on social justice, the bridges project and what Jesus would say about 8664?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Didaskaleinophobia strikes again as the glimmer twins play hooky.

Did you know that the term didaskaleinophobia descibes a child's fear of attending school?

School Phobia (Didaskaleinophobia) is a symptom of anxiety disorder in childhood. It is also known as separation anxiety which is an inappropriate fear of leaving their parents, a person or place of trust or home for example.

Most children find going to school exciting and enjoyable although of course nearly all children have times when they don't want to go. This happens commonly at ages where children are faced with tougher school activities or exams or may have fallen out with friends. All of this is a normal part of growing up.

Children who develop school phobia, however, become terrified, trying every avoidance tactic in order to stay away from school.

School phobia can present itself in a number of ways.

frequent stomach aches and other physical complaints
extreme worries about sleeping away from home
trouble sleeping or nightmares
feeling unsafe staying in a room by themselves
clinging behavior
displaying excessive worry and fear about parents or about harm to themselves
having difficulty going to sleep
having nightmares
having exaggerated, unrealistic fears of animals, monster, burglars
fear of being alone in the dark
having severe tantrums when forced to go to school

Meanwhile, yesterday’s Tribune reported that on Wednesday night, next year’s city council was invited to attend class.

New Albany City Wrap: Teacher assembles members of next council

Seven of nine incoming City Council members, and representatives of Mayor-elect Doug England, assembled Wednesday night at the invitation of a middle-school social studies teacher.

The meeting in a Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services conference room was Hazelwood Middle School teacher Ron Hutchens’ preemptive strike for civil discourse in the four-year government term that begins next month.

“If there’s a way we could stimulate better communication, that would be to the community’s benefit,” said the registered Democrat, who mailed invitations weeks ago. “I feel like this may be one of those opportunities.”

Re-elected members Jeff Gahan, Jack Messer and Kevin Zurschmiede attended, as did the newly elected Bob Caesar, John Gonder, Diane McCartin Benedetti and Pat McLaughlin. Returning members Dan Coffey and Steve Price were not present when the meeting began.

The sad toll of didaskaleinophobia; indeed, waste is a terrible thing to mind.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Return of the changing times blog.

I’m pleased to note that Pete at changing times has returned to blogging. His three most recent posts since concluding a six-month hiatus are in-depth examinations of school bullying (he has a teenaged son), his thoughtful take on the lobby group ROCK and its seemingly unimpeachable anti-pornography stance, and pertinent information on what you can do to help clothe the homeless this winter.

Check ‘em out:

Bullying

Why R.O.C.K. is wrong

Catching up!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stunning redistricting vindication: City council “failed to comply” with agreement to settle.

The C-J’s beat reporter provides the facts, followed by a link to the NA Shadow Council blog commentary. The Tribune’s coverage will be added when it is published.

Will the same dysfunctional council cabal that has botched this process from the outset heave one final Hail Mary pass prior to the Gang of Four’s forthcoming dissolution?

Stay tuned. The plaintiffs certainly are.

60-day extension granted on redistricting; Judge: New Albany still out of compliance, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal):

The New Albany City Council made "a good-faith effort" but failed to comply with an agreement to settle a lawsuit seeking to realign the city's voting districts to make their populations more equal, a federal judge said yesterday.

U.S. District Judge John Tinder in New Albany, ruling from the bench, extended the period for council compliance by 60 days. By then, Tinder said, the council should file notice of what it had done to meet the agreement's terms.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in May 2006 demanding that boundaries of the city's six voting districts be redrawn, would then have 15 days to indicate whether they were "satisfied, or the effort fell short," Tinder said.
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7:30 p.m. update: Tribune coverage was limited to a desultory sidebar bearing an extremely misleading headline that isn't archived on line. Shrug. We'll give it a pass.
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For the next six months (seven?), at NA Shadow Council.

News that emerged from 121 East Spring Street late on Tuesday, December 4th, in the YOOL 2007 is most heartening. Congratulations to the citizens and their counsel who finally petitioned for justice to be done. From all reports, that ideal was achieved in the ruling of the presiding judge for the Southern District of Indiana.

Will the defendants in Vogt v. City of New Albany dare to come back in 60 days with the very same boundary-drawing? Is Anna Schmidt that compelling an authority that the legislative body of this city would risk even more expense in trying to defend a patently unlawful apportionment?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

At View From the Highway: "And Behind Door Number Three We Have ... "

City council coverage follows courtesy of Lloyd at View From the Highway. I hope he doesn't mind our republishing the complete report.

Take it away, Highwayman.

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Boys & girls, we've almost done it. This episode is in the books and we have one more to go! Dethrone the King day is December 20th!

There was a stellar standing room only crowd present and suprisingly a majority of the same people where in agreement on three seperate issues. Those being against the latest incarnation of The Gary's kingdom expansion, against CM Coffey's attempted assassination of the New Albany Housing Authority (he tried but failed to paint it as the international hub of the world's cocaine trade and exploitation of our senior citizens), and remarkably to me, supportive of the 3% plus 1 increase in pay for the police department.

Personally, I began to get real nervous when I realized that the room was chock full of lawyers who still had their jackets on & buttoned and their neckties intact.

During comments from the public, several souls, including some of those lawyers, stood to address the NAHA issue armed with both testimony and data to counter Dan's attack.

There were two citizens groups representatives who spoke eloquently about McCartin's half conceived plan for his latest project on Charlestown Road. His first attempt got shot down 9-0 by the Planning Commission. The second one passed that entities muster with a 6-3 vote but the neighborhood still ain't buyin' it.

Then came a lone speaker to defend the police department and received a rousing round of applause from the audience upon completion. Oddly enough, Larry didn't pound a hole in the table with his gavel although I fully expected it.

Then followed comments from city officials in which Mayor Garner warned the Council to think long and hard about reinventing the Sewer Board wheel and Bob Lane rose to defend his staff, his organization, and himself. He came with a convincing array of stats and refutes to Coffey's accusations. He also got applauded when finished.

Mr. Haub rose to give a history lesson on the events from 2005 forward leading up to the stalemate in contract talks between the city and the police union, most of which I had never heard before.

CM Coffey tried his best to ruffle both the Mayor and Mr. Lane on these issues but to no avail. He just wasn't having a good night at this point. Bob's responses to him were reminiscent of Attorney Fifer's comebacks to Dan during the Sewer Rate increase debates. (and dummy me forgot my camera this evening.)

The salary increase ordinances for both police and city officials passed 8-0 on first reading. (CM Schmidt Wasn't present)

The NA Housing Authority amendment failed with 5 nays & 3 yays with Coffey, Price, & Blevins voting in favor on 1st reading. Suprise, suprise!!

McCartin's offering failed 1st reading with 7 nays & 1 yes (Coffey again). That one did surprise me a bit, but I soon got over it. The Council suggested some changes to the plan to be brought back to them for their reconsideration prior to the 2nd & 3rd reading.

Dan asked for the second reading only of the Sewer Board ordinance so further study could be done by other Council members before the Dec. 20 meeting. As usual, Coffey, Kochert, Gahan, Messer, & Zurschmiede banterd back & forth about ancient history for a period of time but eventually the vote was called for and it passed 5-3 with Jack, Kevin, and Larry saying NO!

Although it was long and good beer was not to be had this night, it was entertaining to watch CM Coffey's face glow like Rudolph's nose in a snowstorm!

As I've said, I won't be here for the last torture session of 2007 so I fully expect some one or more of you to pick up the slack.

Oh by the way. Before anyone says it, I'm well aware that using first names can be construed as showing disrespect for the position and I still don't care. If the foo #@its and all that rot.

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While we're on the topic of the city council, here's something you don't see every day, especially in New Albany: An at-large councilman-elect using a blog to interact with readers and constituents - and with comments enabled, for heaven's sake (Steve Price, are you reading?)

Twenty Nine Days and Counting, by John Gonder (Gonder for New Albany At-Large):

At any rate, this is a call to write your letter to Santa Claus. I certainly can't help with the delivery of the perfect gift during this season of giving. What I have in mind is, "what do you want your City Council and Mayor to bring you for Christmas?" Or, "what is the gift that will keep on giving in the new year, and beyond?" There may only be 22 shopping days 'til Christmas, but there are only 29 tabula rasa days left before the new city government commences.

Check it out, and if you have something to say ... tell it to the incoming councilman. He actually reads and usually answers.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Bring out your holy men: Cappuccino on a roll as the council meets tonight.

Tonight and December 20th.

That's it for the current incarnation of the common council of the city of New Albany, and more than anything else, any consideration of attendance must be weighed by the same precepts that would govern a decision on whether or not to sit in the bleachers at the next to last Tampa Bay Rays home game during another 95 loss campaign.

Is it possible to like baseball that much?

Meanwhile, our local beat reporters provide the background for tonight's meeting, first with a strange Gang of Four-splitting proposal to refit the sewer board:

Sewer board is topic of meeting; New Albany ponders appointment process, by Dick Kaukas (Courier-Journal).

After debating the issue last month, tonight the New Albany City Council again scheduled to consider changing how sewer board members are appointed.

Last month, the council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance proposed by Councilman Dan Coffey giving the mayor the authority to appoint a board of three or five members.


This can only mean that Coffey's campaign for mayor in 2011 has started in earnest, but there's more. Over behind Door #2, and with Coffey's fear-mongering on crime remaining front and center in whatever Byzantine plot he's been concocting this week, the random appointment generator is being given another mighty heave. Dare we look?

Public-housing board could expand, by Eric Scott Campbell (News andTribune).

City Councilman Dan Coffey has proposed expanding the New Albany Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners from five to seven members, a matter that could be voted on at Monday night’s meeting.

Looks like the Rays are starting some guy called up from Double A ball so he can make the final notch on his pension. The mascot's batting cleanup. The meeting agenda is here.

Sorry to disappoint yet again, but I’ll be listening to John Fogerty perform new tunes and Creedence songs at the Louisville Palace tonight as a guest of my buddy Jerry, but rest assured that council meeting attendance (finally) will resume on the 20th. After all, I wouldn't want to miss the token faux gold watch awarded to Slippery Larry, the tearful farewells, the Bronx cheer, and other assorted mementoes of the concluding atrocity.