Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Gravity Head to you, too.

The traditional Friday evening opening of Gravity Head can be taxing to the constitution, especially for those entrusted with the task of quality control. Gravity may indeed be the law, but sometimes those laws bend and even break.

In retrospect, perhaps my worst decision was to honor the past by proceeding to White Castle immediately following my exit. There's really no need to set the alarm the morning after partaking of the fare at WC Lounge.

Don't worry: Diana drove me to snacks, and it was refreshing to see the extent of the curb service all day yesterday as patrons were dropped off to enjoy Gravity Head without their cars. I'm also happy that Matt's taxi service yielded money for the Special Olympics and Polar Bear plunge. In spite of everything, there are times when one genuinely enjoys witnessing people actually getting it.

Thanks to Ed "Homeroaster" Needham for the morning coffee, which propelled the subsequent preparation. Somewhere between fifteen and twenty people turned up for caffeine and doughnuts. Today begins with coffee at home, and easing into another appreciation of gravity's hold. Just don't expect a late evening from the Publican, who readily concedes that he's no longer a young man prone to gonzo.

Of course, as new waves come on tap, scientific assessments will have to be made. It's a difficult job ... (you know the rest).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thank you Mitch -- may I have another?

The Tribune's Daniel Suddeath makes a nice effort at extracting information from INDOT, which apparently learned its public relations skills from Novosti.

No date set for Grant Line Road project in New Albany

The city is responsible for acquiring properties for the detour route around the construction. The detour will likely be from University Woods Drive to Plaza Drive to Unruh Court to McDonald Lane, if property can be purchased for an access road connecting Plaza and Unruh.
All of us doing business along the Grant Line eagerly await something (anything) from the state that might prove useful for us in planning how we're going to operate during the two years it takes to surmount a railroad that should be nationalized in the first place.

I'm waiting for someone from the city to tell me how my customers are going to get from the acreage where most of them park, which is across Plaza Drive (built to carry a fraction of the traffic it will have to bear as detour), to my building without being flattened.

It's a mess now, and the road's not yet being used as a detour to put drivers right back where they were before: Waiting at the same railroad track that crosses McDonald Lane.

Vent over.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Enjoy Gravity Head and help Matt Nash jump into the river for Special Olympics.

Gravity Head begins tomorrow. Have a good time, and let someone else do the driving ... like Matt, whose girlfriend Amy forwarded the following.

---

Don’t drive into the river … help Matt Nash jump into the river.

Support Special Olympics & polar bear plunge 2009.

Matt Nash will be providing rides home on opening night of gravity head 2009 between 8pm and ?, with donations going to the Special Olympics.

Matt Nash is a native of New Albany and Amy Weatherford’s boyfriend. This will be his third year of participating in the polar bear plunge.

The car has room for up to 4 people … (3 fit snug in back) but no one in the trunk, hehehe.

Coffee with a touch of bile, please.

Today’s irony-free recapitulation (in itself an ironic assertion, no?) begins with my column in today’s Tribune, which addresses a topic familiar to blog readers: Anonymity, and the many reasons why responsible adults should refrain from practicing it.

Consequently, it is mere coincidence that an interesting item pertaining to rental property ownership recently bobbed to the surface on the newspaper’s on-line forum, but because the posting’s target is a known political entity and the accuser remains pseudonymous, the potential usefulness, not to mention impact, is muted.

Too bad about that; it’s like being on the receiving end of the perfect lob pass and hearing the ref’s whistle blow before the ball can be rammed through the hoop, but since the Tribune forums are a matter of public record, there’s nothing to stop you from reading an otherwise entertaining thread.

Who would have guessed that the rental property owner standing squarely in "Warpig’s" crosshairs once made an infamous public utterance referencing his contempt for regulatory regimes? Was it an untidy Freudian slip, or universal description of prospects for the city as a whole? You be the judge.

And yet ...

The preceding must be regarded as little more than the click track echoing though the drummer’s ears, because the lead guitarist is letting go with majestic power chords of disingenuousness. To hear/read them, scroll through today’s Tribune letters to the editor to this one: “Let’s clean up the city.”

Our group, Interested Citizens, previously began as a way for investment property owners to protect their rights, especially concerning property taxes. We have seen the problems that our neighborhood associations face and always try to help them and invite them to our meetings.

So it is that the realtor and staggeringly prolific rental property owner Pat Harrison apparently believes that by way of a good, coordinated scrubbing, New Albany can return to All-American City status, a term that she conveniently fails to define, but one that was bestowed during a time more than forty years ago when the troubled neighborhoods of today could still boast predominant single-family home ownership, itself a reliable key to avoiding the sort of problems that have become commonplace ever since ... which, in turn, led to all those marvelous rental property investment opportunities.

It would seem that Ms. Harrison, whose financial interest as a rental property owner of her chosen style very much depends on the status quo, believes that carefully bathing the patient precludes the need to diagnose and repair the infection that required hospitalization in the first place. Imagine the doctrine of "Potemkin Village" as cure for what ails us.

Then again, what else could she say?

For starters, how about “Gestapo”?

Here are two other links from 2008. Taken together, they should tidily serve to show you what we're up against: Flagrant mediocrity, which in this degraded open air museum is worshipped far more readily than the Gods on Sunday.

Or maybe it's a religious ritual?

Bring your butterfly nets: Council's rental registration & code enforcement committee meets Wednesday night; Price votes "no".

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Updates from my world: NABC Bank Street Brewhouse and Gravity Head 2009.

You don't have to remind me that the big sign on the wall of the Bank Street Brewhouse says "February, 2009." Tell it to the weatherman, because we lost a week of work because of the ice storm. However, there's quite a lot happening at 415 Bank Street.

The kitchen floor went down today, and most of the equipment needed for cooking will be in place on Thursday. The final step of the retail alcohol licensing process occurs next Tuesday when the Indiana ATC performs a final inspection. Of course, there are other inspections to come before we can begin.


The bar is almost finished. The front of the house should be ready to pour beer and serve food by the middle of the first week of March. Serving and cooking staffs are in place. We'll begin with a soft, slow opening and phase things in as we go. More information will be coming on hours and offerings.


We learned today that fabrication of the hot side of the brewery (mash & brew kettle) is underway at DME. Word from Prince Edward Island is that if matters proceed as expected, the brewing equipment should arrive before the end of April, which keeps us on track for brewing to commence in late May or early June. Regulatory issues await there, too, but we've brought in the cavalry to assist in it: An Indianapolis legal specialist who assists Brewers of Indiana Guild members navigate the paperwork.

Until then, all NABC beer being poured at two locations must come from the current undersized brewhouse. When the four-times-larger brewhouse downtown comes on line, distribution to Louisville and the region can finally begin. By summer, there'll be a brewery and a winery a block from each other in downtown New Albany, and people from other places will be coming here to experience them.

Maybe we can pave a street or two by then, if that's not asking too much.


Apart from the daily efforts to bring the Bank Street Brewhouse to fruition, there's this little annual beer festival we do out at the original Grant Line location: Gravity Head 2009. The 11th edition begins this Friday, February 27, and the slogan this year is "The Liver Olympics."

Here is the revised and updated list of 18 starting drafts: Starting lineup.

Here is the link to the Gravity Form official program. It includes the revised schedule of events and descriptions of all the beers that will be appearing over the next four to six weeks. Copies will be available on Friday at NABC, but you can print yours now if you wish.

Don't forget Thursday evening's “Liver Olympics Limbering Up with Sierra Nevada” draft promotion, and if you're willing, Friday morning's pajama party: "Gravity Head Tailgate Breakfast", which starts at 7:00 a.m. Both are described below.

---

Thursday, February 26: The Night Before Gravity Head: “Liver Olympics Limbering Up with Sierra Nevada.”
Sierra Nevada’s representative in Indiana, Steve Thiel, will be in town to preside over a Sierra Nevada bottle tasting at Keg Liquors (617 E. Lewis & Clark Parkway, Clarksville) from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Check out the Keg’s tasting first, and then come to the Public House for a Gravity Head draft preview and bonus (the beers will be on tap and available throughout the day):

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine … year-old 2008 release

Sierra Nevada Double Debockel … limited seasonal availability

Sierra Nevada Chico IPA … Indiana’s only keg from the second batch of an “accidental” ale that has seldom been spotted outside the state of California. 7.2% abv

Friday, February 27: “Gravity Tailgate Breakfast”
In 2008, a hardy band of early-rising regulars convened at 5:00 a.m. for a gravity breakfast with Terry Meiners of WHAS television in Louisville. In 2009, we’re tweaking the concept by starting slightly later in the morning, 7:00 a.m., when it’s actually legal to drink beer in Hoosierland. There’ll be doughnuts and Ed Needham's delicious homeroasted coffee. I had intended to make herring salad, but just can't find the time. Founders Breakfast Stout will be be available, too, but I'll refrain until later in the day.

Regular business hours begin at 11:00 a.m. in the pizzeria and 1:00 p.m. at the Public House.

G.O.P. chairman goes nutzoid over columnist's consideration of Abraham Lincoln.

It’s simply unavoidable: You’ll have to do some reading for this to make sense.

First: HARBESON: Looking at Lincoln’s legacy ... "I’m used to seeing lots of references about Abraham Lincoln in February, but the volume has certainly been pumped up this year since we are celebrating his 200th birthday ... "

Second: MATTHEWS: Read your history, Ms. Harbeson ... "How utterly disgusting that we should even dignify so selfish an opinion as Debbie Harbeson’s piece concerning Lincoln’s legacy."

Before wading in, know that I’m casual acquaintances with both columnists.

Debbie’s column was published first. In it, she approaches the legacy of Abraham Lincoln by asking a few general questions about individual freedom vs. the collective’s coercive impulses. Of course, we know that her columns usually offer considerations from a libertarian perspective. Furthermore, apart from labels, we should be able to see that examinations of this sort are the ideal mechanism for debating prevailing orthodoxy – and that’s never a bad thing.

When it comes to the life and legacy of Lincoln, my readings have been sporadic, but I recognize that the non-critical acceptance of mythology is hardly the best place to embark upon a journey of balanced understanding, whether it pertains to the lessons of Father Abraham or those of any other historical figure.

In fact, upon rereading Debbie’s piece, I’m still struck by its mildness. She isn’t attempting a comprehensive study, just extracting a few talking points by tweaking the popular perception of Lincoln as a (formerly) living God. Somewhere Howard Zinn is saying, “yes, but what about (this and that and this) … ?”

By contrast, Dave’s wild-eyed response is profoundly disproportionate, and amid his arm-waving and histrionics, he seems to have completey failed to see the real point of Debbie’s ruminations. In effect, the GOP chairman erects a straw man roughly the size of a GI Joe doll, fires a howitzer of ad hominem assumptions at it from point-blank range … and not unexpectedly, misses the target entirely.

Worst of all, Dave expends precious little effort in answering Debbie’s questions about Lincoln, beyond implying that whatever civil liberties Honest Abe trampled by suspending habeas corpus proved to be a cost worth incurring to prevent Southerners from exercising their preference to own slaves.

This is muddled, to say the least. Historians have consistently pointed to Lincoln’s constantly evolving positions on slavery. Do we teach school children that until relatively late in the Civil War, Lincoln still favored sending all of “them” back to Africa? No, we don’t, but it’s factual, isn’t it?

As for the notion of states’ rights, I’m as northern as they come in temperament, but it’s difficult for anyone to plausibly contest that in the context of Lincoln’s age, the seceding states had a better understanding of the country’s conceptual foundation than the Union’s own supporters, as might be paraphrased: “As we seceded from the British, now we secede from the Union.”

As I seem to recall the historian James McPherson writing some years ago, the real revolution was being waged by Lincoln, who by espousing the principle of keeping the country together at whatever cost was reinterpreting the nation’s founding in a completely new and different way. Seen in this light, the South’s secession was a pre-emptive counter revolution. Lincoln changed the rules of the game, and we might be able to muster a good debate on this topic.

But Dave’s too busy vigorously defaming what he imagines as Debbie’s character (and political views) to consider such matters for honest discussion. He decries the decadent American impulse to topple heroes and equates it with liberalism, although he offers no proof, and mistakes Debbie for a liberal without explaining what that might mean, preferring instead to let it serve as a term meant to inspire primal fear.

Hint to Dave: Debbie’s a libertarian. Arguably, there are more libertarians in conservative ranks than liberal, which is a discussion for another day. I’m the liberal 'round here.

You may begin the neo-Pavlovian salivating now.

At any rate, it’s all downhill from there, and I find it discouraging that the chief of the local Republican Party can’t muster a better argument than Dave does. Instead, Dave sprays conservative clich├ęs in all directions, evidently in a calculated act of grandstanding, rather as though he sees Debbie’s presumed (and highly inaccurate) un-Americanism as a wonderful pretext to toss raw meat to the faithful. It may be good primeval politics, but it’s very poor argumentation.

Now, for my responses:

Does Dave really want us to believe that military service is a prerequisite for properly understanding the American dream?

Does he really think that taking an intellectually honest, critical look at our nation’s history somehow constitutes disloyalty to the concept?

Does he really want us to come away from all this with a view of the Republican Party as the entity that vigorously opposes free speech insofar as free speech implies a judicious look at cause and effect, and dare I say, a scientific approach to history?

Shall we be mindless drones deferring to the views of former soldiers?

If so, isn’t that a bit closer to fascistic ways of thinking than the American Dream?

Dave, you can do better – at least I hope so.

Your response to Debbie’s is about personal anger first and foremost, followed by rank politicking. Debbie’s message was this: “Lincoln … think about it.” Your response was this: “Lincoln … let’s not start thinking or anything subversive like that … just have faith in the myth, and damn the liberals.

That’s scary.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Clere: Graphing "secondhand smoke" by means of "secondhand taxation."

Rep. Ed Clere's weekly columns in the Tribune have been quite interesting, as in today's explanation of his position on statewide smoking legislation.

CLERE: Let’s clear the air

Warning: This column will leave some readers fuming. On Thursday, I voted for a statewide smoking ban.

The bill passed the House of Representatives 70-26 and now goes to the Senate for its consideration. If it passes the Senate and the governor signs it, the bill will become law.

“Ban” is misleading. Perhaps “selective prohibition” would be a better
description of what we passed. In its current form, Indiana’s law would be one of the weakest in the country.

Weak ... and Clere concedes that it does little to protect the workers most in need. But follow the link (the money?) and read the reasons why he voted "yea," anyway.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Up where they actually respect you for it?

Hats off to the Hoosier Beer Geek for this link to the Indianapolis Business Journal:

Broad Ripple natives starting Broad Ripple businesses.

“We knew by being from Broad Ripple we were going to be embraced by the community because we were born and raised there,” he added.

C-J question & answer with Rep. Ed Clere.

Is he talking about the Indiana legislature or New Albany's city council?

Clere's first session isn't easy; GOP freshman works 'below the radar', by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener (Courier-Journal).

... Clere doesn't view the issue as a Republican or Democratic dispute. He thinks it's an institutional problem or maybe a leadership issue.

"We're at a point in the session where we're about to send our bills over to the Senate," Clere said. "… And I look back at all the good bills, all the good ideas that never even got a hearing -- both Republican and Democrat. We've just wasted a lot of time."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's That Definiton of Insanity Again?

The following began as a comment to the latest post on "The Voice of The People" blogsite. By the time I completed it I was so worked up that I elected to bore our NAC readers with this content once again.

Every time I grow weak and stoop to attempt at responding to "Anonymous" I get frustrated, but then I remind myself that maybe, just maybe someone of like mind may by happenstance read it and catch on.

And so it goes!


I don't know where the idea came from that anyone is advocating homeowners get a free pass while rental owners get hung by their thumbs on the courthouse lawn.

That is not the case. This has all been said before in various public meetings, forums, blogs and newspaper articles, but apparently some still don't understand.

Therefore I'm gonna take yet another stab at it.

First of all to the ownership question.

There are a variety of programs available for indigent homeowners to get help with repairs involving health and safety issues. Yet it befuddles me how few take advantage of them. Perhaps we as neighbors need to offer them our help in this area.

As far as identifying ownership of these properties, CM Steve Price is right. Most of the time, but not always, one can indeed ascertain the current owner of an owner-occupied home by simply going to the tax assessor’s office and entering the address into the public access computer.

Remember, I said most of the time.

On occasion, if the home has been sold recently (and recently can be as much as 18 months), the new information may not yet be in that database.

In those instances one must start tracking at the recorders office. Even then it won't show up if for some reason the property transfer has not been recorded. So then it's off to the races.

With respect to rental property Mr. Price is in error. The chain of ownership transfers can stretch across family, state lines and international borders, ad infinitum. What is on the local records may be, and often is, out of date information.

Although they are few in number, the most egregious offenders control the majority of the worst properties.

They have made an art form out of transferring (on paper) ownership to a cousin, ex-wife, future brother in-law, etc. for the sole purpose of creating an untraceable paper trail to confuse and frustrate.

The purpose of rental registration is to enable the enforcing entity to go directly to a locally available responsible party to alleviate the issue at hand, be they code enforcement officers, building commissioner, city attorney, or tax collector.

Everyone assumes that just because a tax bill gets sent to a post office box on Cancun, the responsible party will pick it up and overnight a check. That would be an erroneous assumption!

Yes, liens can be placed on the tax bill and property seized, but neither is happening. At least not where we can see it.

Just like Pam Badger can cite repeat offenders, the city attorney can prosecute them, or the building inspector can enter any home, owned or rented if he has probable cause ... but that isn't happening, either.

So please quit buying the crap that the professional slumlords and their anonymous cowardly supporters are feeding you because I know you are smarter than that! Besides, it doesn't become you.

Instead, get out your digital cameras, take pictures of the offending property, hand it in person to the building commissioner and if nothing happens, do it again, and again.

Then if nothing happens, send them to the Tribune or this blog!

By now it should be obvious to all that promises are just words, and words more often than not fall on deaf ears.

So it is up to us to keep the pressure on and the issues in front of their faces.

If we can't or won't stand up, get involved, attend public meetings and quit hiding behind “anonymous” then we need to just shut the hell up!

Damn!

I feel better now!

Tribune Sunday shout-out to Kopp, DNA.

Southern Indiana Realtor now president of Develop New Albany; Kopp hits the ground running, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

Mike Kopp’s eyes grow wider and his words come out a little faster when he talks about the potential for downtown.

Chosen as president of Develop New Albany in January, Kopp’s passion for seeing the city’s core bloom is hard to hide.

“My soul interest is building a better downtown,” Kopp said.
Damned spell check … it doesn’t tell you when you’ve correctly rendered the incorrect word, but the transposition has me thinking: A better downtown may not be my “sole” interest, but certainly better beer is a “soul” interest, and combining the two seems like a reasonable career move for me.

I’m also a member of develop New Albany’s board, and the organization has made substantive progress during the past two and a half years. As with the city itself, there’s plenty of room for improvement, and much yet to be done; however, permit my observation that DNA’s board is filled with hard-working, civic-minded people who believe in progress and are giving it their all. Without that, there’s little point to any of it.

What every reader needs to understand is that this community’s singular, signature failure remains an almost genetic unwillingness to organize for strength and to cooperate across boundaries, which sometimes are tribal or political, but more often are purely imaginary, and infuriatingly subject to injections of malice and mistrust at the proverbial drop of a hat.

It’s senseless … and somehow enduring.

Meanwhile, the anonymous troglodytes prattle on about the city being broke, as though this constitutes a unique excuse to vegetate, and yet our primary deficiencies as an urban aggregation must be reckoned in inexplicable absences of willpower and imagination, not strictly in dollars.

Organizations like DNA, the UEZ and the city’s own development offices aren’t perfect. But they’re trying. Efforts are underway to place all these mechanisms at one table for the purpose of cracking skulls and curing the dysfunctions of finger-pointing and sniping, so that we might get on with the business of accomplishing something while the window of opportunity remains ajar. I for one applaud these efforts, and hope perhaps they might serve as inspiration for the city’s neighborhoods to do the same.

I’m optimistic.

If not, we wouldn’t be making the investment in downtown. You see, we've been able to round up the money, and still the prime component is the willingness to plan and the desire to succeed. Without the fire in your belly, the money's destined to purchase failure -- and failure's just not an option.

Art and design updates.

Courtesy of Karen Gillenwater, Carnegie Center curator:


Joel Katz
"Designing for Understanding"
Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009
Reception: 6:00 p.m.
Lecture: 7:00 p.m.
Cressman Center for Visual Art
Free and open to the public

Joel Katz — designer, photographer, and teacher — is widely known for his information design and wayfinding systems. Major wayfinding projects include Center City Philadelphia; Central City Portland, Oregon; Downtown Omaha, Nebraska; and schematic design for the MIT Master Plan, which won an Honor Award from the SEGD.

He has taught at Yale, Rhode Island School of Design, University of the Arts, Philadelphia University, and the Moore College of Art & Design. Currently, he teaches "Issues in Information Design" at Philadelphia University, "Designing for Understanding" at the University of the Arts.

Joel Katz Design
Joel Katz Photography

For more information, call 502.852.3605 or 502.852-4483.

Sponsored By:
University of Louisville Hite Art Institute
Louisville Graphic Design Association

The LGDA is a non-profit organization of individuals representing all facets of design including graphic designers, web and motion designers, photographers, copy-writers, art directors and fine artists in all types of media from print to broadcast to digital. Established in 1988 by a handful of designers, the group is a standalone association unaffiliated with any national organization, although it interacts with other cities' design groups. The LGDA exists to enhance the quality of graphic design in its home community of Louisville, Kentucky. On a larger scale, the group strives to educated the general public and the business community about the pervasive role that design plays in our everyday lives.

---

Also appearing nearby ... note the New Albany alley wood.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

C-J previews approaching micobrew-paired beer dinner at the Windsor.

From Steve Coomes in today's Courier-Journal, (somewhat) final notice of Monday evening's beer dinner at the Windsor. Thanks to Isaac for the mention.

----

Windsor Restaurant hosting microbrew-paired dinner

Windsor Restaurant & Garden (148 E. Market St.) in New Albany, Ind., will host a microbrew-paired dinner led by one of the area's best-known hop heads, Roger Baylor, co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. and Rich O's Public House. The event is 6:30 on Monday night, Feb. 23.

Windsor manager Isaac Fox said chef Justin McMillen's meal will combine foods and brews from Kentucky and Indiana for a truly homegrown event. Cost is $55, and reservations are required.

"Roger's great at giving all the background of the beers and talking about the pairings," said Fox. "You can tell he loves doing these and that he knows what he's talking about."

On the menu for the evening: a pistachio and goat cheese salad paired with Brugge White; coq au bier (Cornish hen braised in Barley Island's Flat Top Wheat) paired with Barley Island Dirty Helen; braised short ribs with porcini and thyme reduction paired with Oaken Barrel Snake Pit Porter; a variety of local cheeses paired with Brugge Triple and New Albanian Hoptimus; and espresso creme brulee paired with Bluegrass Brewing Co. Jefferson Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout filtered through Hob Knob Espresso Beans.

For more information, call (812) 944-9688.

Link: "Ending the Hidden Agenda Behind Tax Cuts."

Many thinks to J for forwarding this link.

Considering how well Brewer's sound thesis complements my current book of choice, Benjamin R. Barber's Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole, I may actually have to consider becoming a militant.

Ending the Hidden Agenda Behind Tax Cuts, by Joe Brewer (truthout/Perspective).

The way that taxation is viewed by the public has a lot to do with the way politicians frame the debate.

Something as simple as a metaphor can mean the difference between shared prosperity and widespread suffering.

It's time to tell the truth about tax cuts. This phrase dominates political discourse and is coughed out every time a conservative public figure opens his mouth. It is treated like the basis of sound reasoning, yet no one points out what should be obvious - that "tax relief" and "tax cuts" are just code words for destroying the capacity of government to serve the public.

Tuesday, February 24: "Citizens Participation Plan Public Information Meeting - FY2009 CDBG Program & One-Year Action Plan."



There is also a Word.doc that provides far greater detail: "CITY of NEW ALBANY: Community Development Block Grant Program ... FY2009 ONE-YEAR ACTION PLAN." I'm in possession of it and am happy to forward to anyone who wants to read it.

Friday, February 27: "Merchants' Mixer" for downtown merchants.

Since the party falls on the same day as my Gravity Head kickoff, I won't be able to attend, but if you're doing business downtown, please note this announcement from Curtis Peters:

On Friday, Feb. 27, at 5:30, we will have a "Merchants' Mixer" for downtown New Albany merchants. We will meet in the back room at Preston's. Please bring an appetizer or side dish to share. Beverages and burgers will be provided. There will be informal time and group discussion time to deal with thoughts on signage, Harvest Homecoming, merchant cooperation, Downtown Saturdays, new businesses, etc.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Romeo, Romeo,-------?

Could it be classic Milton Berle stand up comedy?

Or perhaps a Shakespearean drama play?

Or maybe even a 21st Century intervention to save a lost soul?

No, unfortunately it was just another biweekly episode of the New Albany Common Council. But be not dismayed for it contained elements of all the above.

Shortly after 6:40 PM the comedy began as Deputy Mayor Carl Malysz became the latest member in good standing of the coveted and ever growing Ejaculattee Club for daring to enter the sacred chambers during an Executive Session of the Common Council.

It took CM President Coffey less than 15 seconds to inform Mr. Malysz of his evil ways and sent him packing. The crowd in the hall (Mark & I) went wild and Cassidy reluctantly caught the evening’s refreshment bill as he lost the pool.

The truly positive report of the night was given by Ohio River Greenway Project Coordinator Shaunna Graf during the 7PM workshop.

Among other things she stated that Clarksville has laid the much of the groundwork and has the funds in hand to complete the connection across Silver Creek to the Floyd County line via the old Penn Central Bridge thru Loop Island.

She all but promised that connection will be completed by lat 2011 if not sooner which would result in one being able to go from the river front all the way to Jeff Boat either on foot or bicycle.

She warned however that the trail on the New Albany would probably still be au-natural as there remained work to be done with various State & Federal Agencies as well as additional funding to hook our end said bridge with our riverfront. But the trail would be passable at least for the hearty travels among us.

Hooray!!

When asked about progress with the K & I opening up, both she and Scott Wood reported that their Louisville counterpart was leading the charge and that it was still a high priority on Mayor Abramson’s to get done list.

Scott said that he understood a letter of intent had been sent to the railroad referencing conversations that Louisville was having with various Federal Agencies on the matter.

It seems that the railroads response was that if anyone set foot on said bridge they would either be arrested by the rail police or summarily shot if not both. There was no indication of which order the aforementioned would happen however.

My immediate read-neck reaction in these times of terrorists and homeland security issues was that railroad police or not, if any fool had the intestinal fortitude to take a shot at a federal official, I wish him the best of luck!

So on to the meat of the meeting!

The first person to take the podium during Communications from the Public was (surprise-surprise) the Operations Director of ROCK.

Mr. Wickens was out of town on another matter and I speculated that perhaps he was sharing dinner & entertainment with an ACLU member in an attempt to find a way to combine their influence.

At any rate she reiterated the negative affects on communities of such establishments, complemented the Council for its bravado in addressing this subject matter, and reassured all that ROCK had our backs covered as we move forward.

She was followed by one of the operators of the cabaret in question. He warned the Council they were on a very slippery slope with the legalities of this measure and implored them not to set the city up for a long expensive legal battle by passing the proposal. He continued that all of his employees were set to file individual suits against the City on 1st amendment grounds if nesessary.

I must apologize for not catching the names of either of the speakers mentioned.

As for Communications from City Officials & the Mayor, Doug England was absent and Carl apparently took his cue from the earlier incident chose to remain silent for the evening.

There followed a bit of confusion about some pending appointments and after a flurry of activity at the head table that issue got put off to a later day.

R-09-02 which addressed a tax abatement for Specialty Earth Sciences, LLC received a 7-0 affirmative vote with little ado. Oh,I forgot to mention that CM Zurschmeide was also absent last evening.

R-09-03 was tabled by CM Gahan for the time being. It concerned ordinance codification issues that he and his committee had not completed their research on and he requested more time to do so.

R-09-04 was an Additional Appropriation resolution authorizing the parks department to use insurance monies already in hand for repairs of storm damage to city park amenities. It also passed 7-0.

Ms Benedetti then chose to table A-09-01 which would have required the Sewer Board & Storm water Board to move their meeting times to evenings as opposed to the current 10AM time slot. The ordinance had been prompted by a public outcry from her constituents as they could not get to the daytime meetings and thus felt left out of the process.

However, CM Benedetti apparently had a change of heart and pulled it from the agenda. She stated that at this point she was unsure whether or not it would be reintroduced at a later date.

CM President Coffey stated that even so, she and the Council as a whole was to be commended for hearing the voices of the people. (A disclaimer-that’s a paraphrase)

Then it got interesting. CM Gahan introduced A-09-01. That would be controversial salary amendment ordinance for the Sewer billing personnel.

The 2nd reading vote was called for without preamble and was voted down.

The 3rd reading was about to proceed when Jeff Gahan interrupted to ask if any discussion of the matter was allowable. CM Coffey answered in the affirmative and CM Gahan proceeded to say that his understanding was these raises had already been approved and put in effect by the Administration without Council approval.

Someone asked how many people received raises and we were informed that three did. Mrs. Dickey got $3K, Ms.Walsh $7K, and Mr. Thompson of the street department received $8K annually.

This sparked a flurry of activity around the table. When asked from whence the monies came the response by Sewer Board President Ron Carrol was the funds came out of Storm Water coiffures.

When asked if these raises were retro to January of this year, Ron said yes!

CM Price almost immediately offered that the Storm Water Utility obviously has an excess of funds at its disposal and proposed that maybe a rate cut for that utility was in order!

Council Attorney Robison then said that when the discussion had originally come up as to whether or not the Sewer Utility could act independently of council approval he had asked for time to research the subject.

He did so and submitted to the administration a letter stating that in his legal opinion the matter did in fact have to be voted in by said council. He was then informed that it was a done deal and the retro checks were being processed.

He requested permission from the council to sit down with City Attorney Gibson to discuss it at length. He was granted it.

CM President Coffey stated that although there had been much said about working together, this was yet another example of some acting independently regardless, and the council was going to have to look further into the matter.

We then moved on to the real hot-button issue of the night which was the Adult Cabaret ordinance. It passed 2nd reading 7-0 but the third reading was postponed to give the Council’s Committee time to try to work out an agreement with the Cabaret owners that would be palatable to all parties.

And along those lines, CM Coffey had earlier encouraged Planning & Zoning Director Scott Wood to move with haste to define a Zoning designation for adult entertainment facilities. He stated he would be glad to buy could not finalize such until the Council acted upon the Ordinance before it.

That ending the official business of the evening, John Mattingly rose to implore the Council not to proceed to the point of this thing going to court. He said he had no desire to get involved in a costly legal battle and would hate for the city to do so as well.

However, he continued, “I and my partners have spent a significant amount of money on this project and we are not willing to just walk away from it.”

He was followed by an encore appearance by the ROCK representative wherein she once again complimented the Council for their due diligence and reassured all in the room that her organization was there to help in any way it can.

With that the meeting was adjourned and a glance at the clock read 8:10PM. My, that went quick!

Our very own Mark Cassidy approached the Rock rep and asked her if offering to help the city included raising funds to pay legal costs. She very carefully answered that in the past her organization had indeed assisted other municipalities find such and could possibly be happy to do so here as well if needed.

Mark was very clear that she refrained from stating exactly what that “assistance” entailed!

Me, I beat feet for Studios to find both bartenders standing at the end of the bar awaiting my arrival. One had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in hand and the other, holding a room temperature glass!

And you scofflaws say New Albany has nothing to offer!!

YAAWWWNNNNN!!!!

Short night followed by a hard sleep! Not to worry though.

A report of last eveing's activities within the hallowed halls is forthcoming as soon as I get the cobwebs out of my head!

Open thread (if any): Last evening's city council meeting.

If you attended, please use the comments section to give us a report.

C-J on the Bank Street Brewhouse.

The media work begins:

Bank Street Brewhouse to open in New Albany, by Grace Schneider (Courier-Journal).

We're doing employment interviews today, and the prep work continues at the site. Over at the Louisville Restaurants Forum, the thread's still active:

Hypothetical bill of fare.

As always, thanks for your support. The day draws nearer.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Attention, usual suspects.

Upon seeing the condition my condition is in, I've decided to stay home tonight and avoid sneezing/coughing on my friends (my enemies are another matter).

If you're armed with laptop, remember that the library's wi-fi signal was available somewhere in the ether during the last city council conclave.

Otherwise, do we have a correspondent tonight? Yo, Highwayman?

Sorry, but I need to get well for Gravity Head.

Benumbed copperheads, "I Wanna ROCK" and Joel Grey: Just another council Thursday.

As I eagerly await the arrival of the insurance adjuster, tonight’s city council meeting agenda is here.

Rest assured that we’ll be watching the head gavel to see if the effects of last meeting’s massive sedative dosage have yet worn off.

Also, ROCK has promised to turn out its Legion of the One Trick Pony to sit quietly past mundane considerations that range past its limited objectives and await the very last agenda item, New Albany’s new adult cabaret ordinance.

Tonight, instead of the Pledge of Allegiance, why not break out in precautionary song:

No use permitting

some prophet of doom
To wipe every smile away
Come hear the music play
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret!

The adult cabaret ordinance will be quickly approved, the “soldiers” will hastily decamp to return to their exurban homes for ritualistic soilings of the Constitution, and the rest of us can sit around the white-hot campfire in anticipation of the lawsuits to follow.

Go get ‘em, Guido.

There will be a higher level of controversy preceding, as the question of salary hikes for city employees returns after an earlier tabling and a legal cabal:

New Albany City Council attorney: Salary increases must come from council, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune).

On a more cheerful note, my new municipal sewer bill arrived yesterday.

Looking ahead to March, I’m told that after some months of white water rafting amid the flotsam and jetsam of the credit collapse, the king of exurbia is returning with a zoning-approved proposal for dramatic, transformational economic revitalization (either the “threeconomy” or the “meconomy,” although I can’t recall which one) at precisely the same hallowed battle site where he was soundly spanked throughout the year of our ROCK, 2008.

That’s right: It seems that “The Gary” wants to build a Wendy’s on Charlestown Road, and after all, it’s not just fast food, it’s Wendy’s, and we can expect the neighborhood activists to be back for another thrilling round as the developer’s sister again fails to refrain from voting.

Can’t we have a progressive ordinance that restricts “The Gary” to the area past the beltway?

See you tonight.

A bit of nostalgia is good for the soul.

The problem with putting together a viable set list is that I've no idea how long this particular concert will last, but what I do know is that you have to play a slow song every now and then. Hence, today's Tribune column:

BAYLOR: Scoreboard daze of old

Maybe next week my trendy new photo will be ready?

Louisville's revolutionary conclusion: "Vacant buildings cost taxpayers by reducing the value of properties nearby."

The following article from the Courier-Journal has been making the rounds by e-mail. Those members of ROCK who embrace the concept of "property values" in the argument against free speech might glance at a few of the statistics below.

Meanwhile, have you ever wondered why matters like this elude the platforms of local political parties?

That's easy. They fear platforms the way that vampires fear daylight.

---

Louisville targets owners of blighted buildings; Owners may be hit with triple tax bills, by Dan Klepal

The Louisville Metro Department of Housing referred 2,400 dilapidated homes and vacant lots in Jefferson County to the property valuation administrator's

office -- starting a process that could result in owners having to pay triple their normal property tax bills.

The referrals were made under a law intended to make it more expensive for people to neglect derelict buildings or unkempt lawns.

PVA officials say the reason for the law is simple: Vacant buildings cost taxpayers by reducing the value of properties nearby. They also cause more fire runs, according to a study by the nonprofit National Vacant Properties Campaign.

Under department rules, a building or property is considered blighted if it's been unoccupied at least one year, is unsanitary, not properly boarded, vermin-infested, unfit for human habitation or been tax-delinquent three years.

"It's a good program because it really helps neighborhoods, and the city's tax roll," said Tony Lindauer, Jefferson County property valuation administrator. "This gives the owners the incentive to get off the stick."

The department referred about the same number of properties in 2007. But Lindauer suspended the program last year because he did not think there was enough research on the properties to ensure they met the blight definition. There also was no appeals process for people whose property was wrongly cited, he said.

This year Louisville Metro Housing Director Bob French said the city is checking water and electric records for each building referral to ensure they've been unoccupied for a year. He also established an appeal process, which the city's Vacant Property Review Commission will handle.

"This program means it is not inexpensive for (owners) to do nothing with their properties," he said.

Property owners will get letters stating their properties are blighted, and their tax bills will be tripled. The letters go out March 1; the appeal deadline is May 31.

French said blighted buildings have a dramatic impact on their surroundings. Consider the findings of the National Vacant Properties Campaign, which used government grants to study the cost of vacant buildings and lots:

• Houses within 150 feet of a vacant or abandoned property experienced an average net loss of $7,627 in value.

• Blocks with unsecured buildings had 3.2 times as many calls to police, 1.8 times as many thefts and twice the number of reported violent crimes as blocks with no vacant buildings.

• More than 12,000 fires erupt in vacant buildings each year, resulting in $73 million in property damage.


French said property owners who get letters can also call the department if they think their properties were cited in error.

The list of properties is still in draft form -- and French would not release it. However, he did review the list and reported that none of the targeted properties are owned by Louisville metro government.

"Blight affects the property of the guy next door," he said. "For the owners of these properties, this should get their attention."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Par for the course: ROCKin' hypocrisy.

Perhaps it isn't surprising that the Interfaith Community Council's board of directors has decided to publicly endorse the work of Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK). My only quibble with the letter below, which appeared in today's Tribune, comes in this reference:

"Its advocacy and manner of approach on behalf of the entire region is to be commended."

Echoing my as yet unanswered question about the identity of the culture that ROCK seeks to reclaim, might I ask: "On behalf of what?"

So far, in spite of periodic allegations to the contrary, ROCK has limited itself to stroking a prurient interest in public policy matters pertaining to sex and sex alone.

Fair enough, but what about all the other ways in which ROCK might prove some meaningful mettle?

For me, when ROCK's "soldiers" finally begin attending those apparently boring neighborhood meetings, the ones where community activists talk about things like nasty living standards in decrepit rental properties, and at long last ROCK decides to take part in the discussion of what we as a community intend to do about it, then I'll finally believe ROCK is really interested in improving the lives of children and families, and not just grandstanding about pornography, an issue that affects far fewer lives (and has less direct effect on property values) than living standards, public health and other related societal dysfunctions.

Until then, ROCK's interest in hawking license plates boasting "In God We Trust" tells us far more about where its "advocacy" is headed.

Think: Theocracy.

As an atheist, it seems to me that an all-knowing deity should be as interested in matters like rental property squalor as she is in pole dancing and the virtues of license plate advertising.

Maybe her words aren't being accurately interpreted.

---

Interfaith supports ROCK

Interfaith Community Council Inc. would like to show its support for the work of ROCK, or Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana. Its advocacy and manner of approach on behalf of the entire region is to be commended. Following discussion, our executive directors passed the following resolution:

“Resolved: That the executive committee of the Board of Directors of Interfaith Community Council affirms the work of ROCK in Southern Indiana and beyond.”

— Christine Harbeson, Executive Director, and Vern Eswine, Board of Directors President-elect, Interfaith Community Council Inc.

Maybe it’s beating a dead horse ... but ...

House Bill 1213, otherwise known as the statewide Indiana smoking ban, has been approved in a form that no longer pretends to make any coherent claim to protecting the health of captive workers. Rather, as with our local (and since vetoed) version, the horse trading for exemptions has yielded the usual hypocrisy. Casinos and taverns are excused, the health fascists vow to toughen the standards in the Senate, and I am struggling to suppress a contemptuous yawn.

Perhaps some of the bailout money can trickle down to those of us who'll have to spend money to reconfigure our businesses.

Just for the record, with no opinion implied (just weariness), our District 72’s Ed Clere voted with the 70-26 majority. He had referenced his poll results on a smoking question in a Tribune column yesterday, but did not indicate how he would vote.

Bank Street Brewhouse thread at the Louisville Restaurants Forum.

Tuesday was a long day on the road as NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse team rented a van and took a field trip to Indianapolis. We visited Brugge Brasserie and Broad Ripple Brewpub, both in Broad Ripple, and MacNiven’s, a Scottish-styled pub on the rapidly regenerating Massachusetts Avenue corridor.

Later, on the way back home, there was a stop at the Columbus Bar/Power House Brewing Co., located downtown opposite a big building site that eventually will become a hotel and plaza.

Earlier in the day, I served up a topic on the Louisville Restaurants Forum. It’s a preview of sorts, and if you weren’t following the thread, take a glance.

Your opinion about a hypothetical bill of fare?

It frankly amazes me that the presence of something like Diet Coke might make or break a person's decision to dine in a particular establishment.

Your opinions are appreciated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Presidential power? Let's look at the law.

It's become customary for newly elected City Council Presidents to appoint whomever he or she chooses to all commissions and groups on which the Council is entitled to a seat.

New Albany's laws, however, seem to point to a different procedure.

First, the presidential duties are outlined:

§ 30.16 PRESIDENT.

(A) The President shall preside at all meetings, preserve order, decorum and decide all questions of order subject to appeal to the Common Council. He shall appoint all standing committees and all special committees that may be ordered by the Council. All standing committees shall be appointed at the commencement of each year of the term of Council and shall serve only during the term of the President appointing same. He shall fill all existing vacancies that may thereafter occur in any of such committees.

(B) He shall sign all ordinances, orders and resolutions passed by the Council before their presentation to the Mayor, as well as the journal of proceedings.

(C) He shall vote on all issues, his name being called last.

('71 Code, §30.05) (Ord. 4600, passed 3-4-57)




The standing committees referenced are listed in § 30.50:

§ 30.50 STANDING COMMITTEES.

There shall be ten standing committees in the Common Council, appointed by the President, which shall consist of three members each, except the Committee on Budget and Finance which shall consist of all the members of the Council; provided that the President shall appoint a chairperson of each committee from its members:

(A) Budget and Finance.
(B) Rules.
(C) Public Utilities and Transportation.
(D) Police Department.
(E) Fire Department.
(F) Public Safety and Traffic.
(G) Public Works.
(H) Public Health and Welfare.
(I) Schools and Library.
(J) Development and Annexation.

('71 Code, §30.25) (Ord. 4600, passed 3-4-57)




Other commission and group seats are covered under § 30.20:

§ 30.20 ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF COMMISSIONS AT FIRST MEETING EACH YEAR.

The Common Councilmember of the City Plan Commission and of any other special body to which the Council shall be entitled to name a member or members, shall be elected by the Council at its first meeting in January of each year, to serve until the end of the current calendar year.

('71 Code, §30.20) (Ord. 4600, passed 3-4-57)



I don't remember any elections. Have the laws changed and not been recorded? Are current appointments valid? What am I missing?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Looking Back to Move Forward

One of the little discussed but much agreed upon issues put forth at the neighborhood forum last week was the idea that we need to identify where we’re going in order to get there.

My father was a carpenter by trade with little more than an eighth grade education. Yet he possessed an uncanny ability to look out over a vacant lot and see the finished home sitting there, complete with paint and landscaping, before driving the first nail. He had the vision in his head and then set forth to make it a reality.

Conversely we in New Albany do not have such a vision, at least not in any broad sense, to work toward. There are multitudes of individual concepts both public and private that float to the top on occasion but rarely do they get much farther than the door jamb of the room in which they are voiced.

So even though I realize that from many fronts I’m going to get the same old tired retorts of, “The city is broke!”, “We’re in a recession!”, “We can’t!” or “The sky is falling!”, I’m going to throw the question out once again in hopes of beginning an expansive, broad based, and far reaching conversation.

One that will hopefully look far beyond two-way streets, potholes, signage, and low manpower issues.

One that will explore such questions as what assets or attributes do we have (or need to develop) to entice individuals & businesses to call New Albany home?

What role do we play or want to play in the Metro area?

What’s missing from our downtown and core neighborhoods that would make living here more attractive and enjoyable?

I, for one, choose to look backwards in a sense to find those solutions. I, like many of you, grew up with the “Ward & Beaver ©” syndrome deeply embedded into my psyche. Likewise I, like most of you, arrived at the horrific conclusion that for the most part, it was bunk!

However, it was not all bad as I remember. In Scottsburg where I grew up the local 5¢ and 10¢ was also the fabric shop and the bookstore where we got our textbooks & supplies for the new school year. Oh! And it had the best 1¢ candy selection in two counties!

There was the grocery store complete with a fresh meat butcher shop, the drug store with a soda fountain, the hardware store so well stocked that if they didn’t have it you couldn’t possibly ever need it, and all this rounded out by the bank that not only knew your name when you walked in but was willing to talk to you!

All of this was in the downtown core by the way.

During that same time prior to Interstate highways coming thru, we used to come to and thru New Albany to shop and get to Louisville and points south. (See, the more some things change, the more they remain the same!)

Doing so for me was a treat because Woolworth’s had a bigger soda fountain than did Hancock's and Jerry’s had shrimp & oysters which were unheard of in Scottsburg. The store fronts had more elaborate signage and bigger plate glass windows as well!

Nostalgia? Of course, but the point being there was an atmosphere that embodied both small town comfort and safety, combined somewhat with big city bustle and availability. Those memories in large part are why I chose to live here for many years and to ultimately buy a home here.

Can we go back to that point in time? Of course not but I believe we can look at what worked about that era and rework some it to fit into the 21st century.

I think a soda fountain for the younger set could exist alongside a WIFI ready coffee shop for their elders. I can see a seamstress shop next to an art gallery. I have no problem envisioning apartment and lofts over ground floor retail establishments that cater to young single adults in conjunction with core neighborhood single family housing for all ages and income levels.

And speaking of neighborhoods, what’s to stop a small corner grocery stocked with staples along with community gardens for fresh veggies and small parks where neighbors can gather to visit while they watch their kids play?

The above may sound way too hokey for many but I’m convinced that for just as many it may be just what the doctor ordered. Yet another primary reason for me choosing the core of New Albany was that every need (read need as opposed to want) could be met within walking distance if all else went to hell in a hand basket. In our current economic environment that is a biggy.

So now that I’ve bared my soul along these lines, it’s your turn. What kind of atmosphere do you ultimately want you and your children to live in?

What kinds of retail, service business, and entertainment would entice you to invest in a community?

What do we have or can create that the rest of the Metro Louisville area doesn’t have, or wants and needs more of? How do we fit in that big picture?

In my view these are the questions that must be answered in order to form a vision. Once we can see the end result in our collective minds eye, then we can begin the process of getting there. Back to my Dad again!

And in the end, the results will not be exactly what we envisioned but it doesn’t really matter. The three things that matter are that we ask the questions,
form the vision, and AGREE COLLECTIVELY to work towards those goals.

So have at it! Let your imaginations run! Let’s begin this conversation in earnest!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Downtown on Sunday?

Here's a view of the YMCA at around 2:00 p.m. today.


There also were cars in the parking lot just out of view to the right. While resting for perhaps ten minutes before resuming my ride, perhaps a half-dozen people left the gym and another half-dozen arrived.

Seems like potential customers to me, but almost nothing is open downtown on Sunday.

The Bank Street Brewhouse team discussed this again last week, and once things are up and running, we're going to take a shot at Sunday hours of 12 noon though 7:00 p.m. (or maybe 8:00 p.m.) We're still thinking adult refreshments and a very simple food menu.

This seems to me the ultimate in chicken/egg arguments. Most businesses aren't open because no one's downtown on Sunday, but no one's downtown on Sunday because most businesses aren't open. The Y is open, so this would seem to indicate that people will come downtown on Sunday if there's a reason. Granted, there quite a few children at the Y on weekends, and children aren't a brewery's target demographic. Still, it seems like something worth chancing.

Fulmore rebuts Coffey; Coffey head butts quivering mound of barbecued bologna.

Ted Fulmore is both patient and tactful, as in this letter to the editor of the Tribune (Feb. 15, 2009):


S. Ellen Jones neighborhood making strides

I am president of the S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association. On Wednesday, I was pleased to read the article, “New Albany making play for housing rehab money,” by Daniel Suddeath and learning the New Albany Redevelopment Commission had approved funding for grant-writing proposals. I have been discussing this potential grant opportunity with city officials since early December.

The bewildering part of the article was a statement made by Dan Coffey, a member of the city council and redevelopment commission. He stated “Redevelopment has spent a lot of money in the S. Ellen Jones neighborhood and it’s progressively gotten worse.”

This is a curiously vague statement. I’m not sure how much money “a lot” is, nor am I sure what has gotten “progressively worse.” I do know the redevelopment commission spends money in many neighborhoods and that many of those neighborhoods, including SEJ, face complex challenges ...

Follow the link for the complete text.

Of course, Ted steers the right course: Answer allegations with hard facts, and permit the hard facts to rebut the councilman's self-aggrandizing foolishness.

If Coffey had any genuine interest in improving the city, he would not resort to granstanding insinuations that serve little purpose beyond reinforcing "us in the west end" against "them people on the east side" stereotypes. He also would not be sitting as a member of the redevelopment commission, but that's an entirely different lamentation. The residents of Coffeystan will come to understand in time that their primary obstacle to a better quality of life is their own Wizard.

I received the following e-mail, also from Ted, this morning. It is a valuable glimpse at what his neighborhood association is seeking to do, and actually is achieving, despite the foot-dragging recalcitrance of Coffey and his east side acolyte, Steve "Transfer Station Panacea" Price, who in the past served the S. Ellen Jones association (more specifically, his own rental property self-interest) by day, while simultaneously demeaning most of the neighborhood's goals twice monthly in the council chamber.

----

S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association Meeting Notice
Tuesday - February 17th - 6:30 p.m.
S. Ellen Jones Elementary School, 600 East 11th Street, in the cafeteria

Agenda topics to include (but not limited to):

1. Graffiti action planning - largely a problem we can address, by swift removal. Request removal assistance or report an instance by completing the web form at
http://www.sellenjones.org/.

2. Neighborhood Stabilization Program - grant application status and next steps.

3. Review of current projects:
Select this link to view known 2009 Projects

If you have additional agenda topics to include, please forward to me.

GUEST SPEAKER(s): Not Confirmed - City Officials to discuss Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

February 19: "Obama Presidency" panel discussion at the Carnegie Center.

From Karen Gillenwater, curator at the Carnegie Center for Art & History, soon to be known as that place across from the brewery (just kidding), comes this notice of an event that Professor Erika probably won't be attending (no kidding):

----

On Thursday, February 19th, as a part of our African-American History Month programs, the Carnegie Center for Art & History will present a panel discussion about the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

“The Obama Presidency: What it Means to You. What it Means to Our Country.”

February 19, 2009, 7:00 – 8:30 pm

An esteemed panel will discuss the election of Barack Obama as President and what his election means to them personally and our country. The panelists are all local individuals who have unique perspectives on this topic. They will include: Dr. Samantha M. Earley, Associate Professor of English at Indiana University Southeast; Dr. J. Blaine Hudson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville; Suzanne Post, Director Emerita of the Metropolian Housing Coalition; and Nicole Yates, President of the New Albany NAACP Chapter.


Dr. Curtis Peters, Emeritis Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University Southeast, will moderate the discussion.

This program will be presented at the Carnegie Center for Art & History, located at 201 East Spring Street in New Albany, Indiana. It is free and open to the

public. For more information, please see our website or call (812) 944-7336.

We hope you can join us for this important event and please share the invitation to anyone you think would be interested!

Thank you,

Karen

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Feb. 23: "Local Brews and Local Foods - Beer Dinner at the Windsor" in New Albany.

The Windsor, which occupies the space formerly housing the late, lamented Bistro New Albany, has been quietly collecting kudos. The crew at the Windsor is doing great work, with a couple of savvy young chefs, including Justin McMillen, who made the news recently when he topped other, more experienced and renowned area chefs in the "shrimp 'n' grits throwdown" sponsored by Louisville Hot Bytes.

Of course, Isaac Fox (NA's consummate restaurant survivor?) is manning the bar and building a unique classic/contemporary cocktail program with top shelf liquors. There are also ten quality draft handles. Here's a preview of the Windsor's inaugural beer dinner, courtesy of Tisha "World Class Beverages" Dean. The senior editor will be serving as emcee. Click on the image above for details about the courses and beer pairings.

---

Local Brews and Local Foods - Beer Dinner at the Windsor

A combined effort with The Windsor, World Class Beverages & New Albanian Brewing, featuring locally grown foods and brewed beers.


Monday, February 23, 2009
6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
The Windsor
148 E Market Street
New Albany, IN

Price: $55 per person, service not included

Featuring 5 courses and 8 beer pairings, with an aperitif and "parting glass" beers. Reservations are required, so please call 812-944-9688 for more information.

Post-Valentine "Fruit & Chocolate Beer Dinner" at Come Back Inn this Monday, February 16.

Please accept my apologies for not passing this notice along earlier, but take note that there’ll be a “Fruit & Chocolate Beer Dinner” at the Come Back Inn (415 Spring Street, Jeffersonville) on Monday, February 16.

The evening is being sponsored by Come Back Inn and World Class Beverages, and begins at 6:30 p.m. The price is $70 per person, service non compris.

Yes, the price point is high, although my personal plug is this: The last Belgian beer-themed dinner that Chris Smith and the gang put on was one of the better such events I’ve ever attended, anywhere.

I don’t have a complete listing of the courses and beers, though here’s the preview provided by Tish Dean of WCB:

Monday, February 16th will be a treat, featuring six courses and seven beer pairings. Each of the beers paired with the courses are either fruit based, such as a Belgian Lambic, or the Charles Wells Banana Bread Beer paired with Bananas Foster for dessert. We're also pulling out some stops with Rogue's Chocolate Stout and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Neither you nor your date will be disappointed with this late Valentine treat. Reservations required: Call 812-285-1777.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Idle speculation.

Reading over the predictable clusters of trognonymous commentary at VOP from masked people who never bother attending things like neighborhood forums, it occurred to me that one of the ways we'll be able to discern progress is when (and if) known entities converse, with one side refraining from attacking the mayor, and the other agreeing not to expose laggard council persons like Jethro & the Copperhead (sounds like a Dylan song, doesn't it?)

Instead, all the glib "we the people" rhetoric actually would be taken seriously, some semblance of unity would be displayed, and the conversation would be about what real people actualy intend to do on a grassroots level to build a better community apart from hurling brickbats.

Yeah, I know. Unrealistic, but a boy can dream. I'd write more if there wasn't so much to do, and so little time to do it.

Eating out.

Over at the Tribune's "New Albany Forum" the owner of Ninny's reveals that she's closing the restaurant at the end of the month. I must confess to having never eaten there.

The restaurant business is volatile. You may recall that when we were making the rounds of banks in the midst of last fall's bottoming (out), the standard greeting was "no start-ups funded -- especially restaurants." It took a while to find an institution of higher lending that would actually read the business plan to learn that our primary motivation was brewing beer for distribution. When it became apparent that Main Source would be the partner for us, I cried. Literally.

Yesterday I spent an hour and a half at the Bank Street construction site with Grace Schneider, the Courier-Journal's reporter who now provides at least some of the coverage for Floyd County since Dick Kaukas opted for the newspaper's broom and dustpan retirement plan. We chatted at length about the brewhouse project, and then I moved in the direction of the Farmers Market with a mind toward a bison wrap and Andy's and Joy's portable kitchen.

Before sinking my teeth into the succulence, there came the opportunity to step inside the space that Toast on Market will someday occupy. Currently it is undergoing renovation, and is coming along nicely, even if there's no firm date for the eatery's arrival.

My point, if any, is that entrepreneurs of any variety bizarrely enjoy spinning the wheel of fate and cash, but the house always has the best odds. For me, the best way to jig the process is to be relentlessly contrarian, and to offer a product like no one else's.

The same should hold true for downtown as a whole. If we can hold things together downtown for a year or so, I see good things coming from the effort.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Open thread: Neighborhood forum of February 11, 2009.

Newspapers are different from blogs for a number of reasons, among them the nasty reality of the deadline. Accordingly, my hunch from the beginning was that last evening's neighborhood forum would be little different from previous meetings, and so I wrote my Tribune column last weekend with a larger picture in mind.

BAYLOR: Stand united, fall divided

While listening to the proceedings, I found myself thinking about the gaping chasm between the ability to think, which prefaces every achievement in human history on planet Earth, and the default sensory mechanism whereby a rubber mallet striking the knee causes the lower leg to stand at attention.

So much has been discussed in this and other venues. Co-editor Bluegill has observed on numerous occasions that neighborhood revitalization must proceed with desired outcomes in mind. Earlier in the week, reader Brandon Smith offered much the same outline, suggesting that support be rallied for certain desired outcomes irrespective of ideology on the part of those advocating for it.

My column today argues that without the messy work of grassroots organization in neighborhoods throughout the city, and a shared sense of purpose, little of substance will be accomplished in reaching these desired outcomes. As was the case last night, concerned residents are capable of articulating matters that are symptoms of the problem, but for so long as we settle for temporary solutions, we'll all be back at the same place in another year saying the same thing again, and hoping that somehow in the end, there will be a difference.

Isn't that the clinical definition of insanity?

Look, I'm not trying to be difficult here, and I'm not criticizing anyone except those deserving of it, like our perennially clueless 3rd district councilman Steve Price, who can sit through two hours of earnest discussion about neighborhood revitalization and conclude that if we only had a licensed garbage transfer station, all would be well. This is a staggering feat of willful non-comprehension, but give him his due: He does have a desired outcome in mind, albeit one where a dumpster would be positioned for him to accept a decrepit patio chair when the people next door complain about it.

Yes, that's all the vision mustered by the typical houseplant, although it does qualify as vision. It should serve to illustrate the virulence of the obstructionism that we're up against, and it should suggest very strongly that the time to plan, to organize and to raise money is now.

That's enough of my tilting. If you were there, please post a comment and give readers your impressions.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thank you sir ... may we have another?

Life in New Albany typically has the aura of being trapped in an Ayn Rand novel, as during any public pronouncement by the 3rd district uncouncilman, when you can imagine Dagny Taggart rolling here eyes and urging John Galt to move faster, please.

To make it even worse, today has the feeling of everyone hunkered down, waiting for the beatings to resume, and I guess that's understandable. After uncounted years of being terrified at the first snowflake's fall, now the Louisville area can fear wind just as much as wintry mixes.

The area didn't receive much in the way of coherent warnings about last September's hurricane lashings, and we were slammed. The weather fraternity actually called the January ice storm well enough, and we were slammed again.

Me? While not a gambler by habit, I'm going for the law (the maw?) of averages this time. Dire conditions are predicted, and I say we'll dodge the worst of it.

But if the wind gets really bad today, don't hold me to a higher standard than the forecasters. All I know for sure is that during a dastardly economic downturn, it's be good to hold stock in one of those generator companies .. and I'm keeping phone and computer charged just in case.

Again looking back to 2006 ... and where are we now?

On Tuesday, a neighborhood forum from 2006 was referenced with a link to Ted's notes. Back in July 25, 2006, we previewed the same forum here:

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

Much to the chagrin of certain anonymous denizens of the benumbed local trogosphere, specifically those who can’t be bothered with conceptual thinking and the realm of ideas even as they hilariously pretend to be academics trained to think and act in these terms (see:
TheNuttyProfessor.edu), a spirited dialogue continues to assist in the gradual transformation of New Albany.
Another posting loosely related to forums from the same period (9/2/06), this time courtesy of Bluegill, who illustrates how some local grandstanders have sought to intervene in neighborhood activism for their own aggrandizement:

I'll take city attorneys for $150K, Alex.

Dan Coffey wants to hire a full-time city attorney. For those of us in attendance at the neighborhood forum during which he berated citizens for considering that very same measure as a potential aid to code enforcement, Coffey’s suggestion of following through with the full-time attorney idea should seem surprising. But it’s not. We know Dan Coffey.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

8664 update ... ORBP by the numbers, and more.

Verbatim, from our friends at 8664.

----

Dear Supporter,

Thank you for all your support and communication over the past few weeks.
We've received a lot of encouraging emails and calls about how it feels like the tides are turning. We also want to thank you for your financial contributions. We received close to $2,000 as a result of our last email. You can help us promote a better vision for Louisville by
donating online today. Thank you again.

ORBP, by the numbers
The Ohio River Bridges Project and our alternative can be complicated, so sometimes it's helpful to break things down by the numbers. For example, most people are surprised when they learn that an average of 32,000 trucks drive through Spaghetti Junction every day. Take a minute to view
ORBP, by the numbers.

New Videos
Conspicuously missing from the Build the Bridges Coalition's recently released videos is a drive through the proposed 23-lane Spaghetti Junction. Regardless, you might want to view their "New Downtown Bridge Fly-over"
video to see how they attempt to conceal the elephant in the room.

The Mayor's "Community Conversations"
He probably doesn't want to hear from you, but if you want to tell the Mayor to build the East End Bridge or not widen I-64 through Cherokee Park, here's his 2009
Schedule. His next "Conversation" is Monday the 16th.

Thanks for your continued support.

Peace,

Tyler Allen and JC Stites

Mission
To advocate for the revitalization of Louisville through the adoption of a transportation plan that will provide long-term benefits to the region's citizens, neighborhoods, environment and economy.
Donate
Take Action

Neighborhoods: Organize or fail.

Spinning off yesterday's conversation, Ted passed along this link to notes he took at a neighborhood forum in 2006, with relevant ideas still hanging:

Meeting Agenda - Tuesday 8/15 - Forum Meeting Notes

My Thursday newspaper column has been dispatched. Yesterday's points are well taken, and I'm in agreement when it comes to these ultimate goals and strategies necessary to get from here to there. My personal obsession is the ground game, i.e., what must be done to assemble the components of a politically viable, broader based movement. Specifically, it's promoting a superstructure of unity much like the council mentioned by Chris. Without collective action, there will be continued stalemate.

Note that nowhere in this am I proposing that existing neighborhood associations endorse candidates or do anything to suggest picking favorites. Furthermore, we know that neither political party is going to take a stand (we'd be pleased as punch if one or the other did). I'm suggesting that if we're organized and disciplined, the political choices won't need to be said aloud. It will be obvious who's in, and who's out.

The current example of ROCK should be sufficient illustration as to how a local lobby group can lawfully punch above its weight. Note that while ROCK's root cause is sex, its tagline pertains to preserving property value through ordinance enforcement.

Sound familiar?

The neighborhoods must do many things to succeed, but they cannot succeed separately. They must be able to wield sufficient power to make the ward heelers take notice. Whether Wednesday's forum will be any different from previous ones is yet to be determined, and yet, how many of these are we prepared to attend before we begin to learn from the past?

Discuss if you wish. I must go and be a capitalist for a while.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Open thread: Issues for the neighborhood forum.

In anticipation of the neighborhood forum this Wednesday evening, I'm writing a Tribune column to be published on Thursday. In an effort to assuage damaged psyches, I promise not to mention Europe a single time. Rather, the topic will be the single most important requirement to achieve success in revitalizing the city's neighborhoods, and it occurs to me that this might make a good open thread to greet the week.

As proffered by the forum's organizers, here's a list of agenda items.

  • Current experiences and problems in the city and neighborhood
  • Ideas for improving “quality of life”
  • City and neighborhood safety
  • Code enforcement
  • Proactive neighborhood involvement
  • Vision for the city and neighborhoods
  • Street concerns

Which of these is most important? What are the preconditions for success? Why has there been so little forward movement over the past five years ... or has there been forward movement?

And: Who owns the decrepit bench pictured above? It's on the city's sidewalk. Anyone know?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

"Compared to New Albany -- as always -- Jeffersonville is luckily situated ... "

Bayernfan caught it first. In today's C-J, columnist Dale Moss profiles downtown Jeffersonville's revitalization efforts. Here's the tease:

Effort to revitalize downtown Jeffersonville on track; Jeffersonville effort coming on strong.

Jeffersonville merchants met not long ago and stragglers could not find a seat.

Such crowds are an encouraging sign.

Hundreds of us will pay Thursday to taste chili and beer on behalf of further downtown improvement.

Jeffersonville is turning a corner, returning its downtown to a top priority. Shopkeepers, city leaders and booster groups are increasingly in step, pleased with progress but not satisfied with it.

More is scheduled and is believed at last to be possible -- amenities as simple as dinner theater and as grand as a convention center.

"We'll not ever get to the point where downtown's revitalized -- that's it," said Jay Ellis, director of the not-for-profit Jeffersonville Main Street Inc.