Tuesday, June 30, 2009

8664: The Urbanophile makes the case.

The Urbanophile is regular reading around the bluegill homestead and for good reason. Even when I don't agree, it's inevitably well researched, well reasoned, and well written. On 8664, the same is true and we agree.

With the help of a site visit, new photography, and borrowed images, the Laconia native puts together a rather comprehensive look at the pending disaster that is the Ohio River Bridges Project and how 8664 is a better and cheaper solution with only a relatively few obstructionists standing in the way of Hoosier interests.

It's time that our local representatives, both publicly elected and privately self-declared, do the same.


Louisville:The Case for 8664, by Aaron M. Renn (The Urbanophile).

Better and cheaper. What's not to love?

Of course, not everybody likes better and cheaper. Highway construction and engineering companies sure don't. And they carry a lot of political weight. But Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was already wealthy before taking office, doesn't need anyone's money, and isn't angling to do anything but serve out his last term as governor and continue pushing for change. He's brought a keen fiscal eye to the Hoosier State, and 8664 would save Hoosiers a bundle by not having to pay for 50% of a downtown bridge plus 100% of the approach work on the Indiana side. With projects like I-69 running over budget, this could be a great place to save money. Plus, the Major Moves funds allocated to the bridges project are not sufficient to pay Indiana's $1.2 billion share of the project, period. And 8664 preserves the East End bridge that Indiana cares about and which is a no-brainer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Open thread: No school closings in 2009-2010.

For the sake of decorum, and because we don't trust the motives of school board members who trust Professor Erika to perform any function beyond emptying the litter box (and her cat's, too), we thought we'd wait until tonight's school board meeting was actually finished to report that there'll be no school closings for the 2009-2010 school year.

There was a list of recommendations presented. That's all we know at present. Your views are welcomed.

Tuesday A.M. update: C-J coverage

Tonight: Brooks to address Resources for Results recommendations.

The NA-FC school board meets this evening, with Dr. Brooks scheduled to make his recommendation regarding the work of the Resources for Results committee. The committee has been released and Dr. Brooks is skipping town for a state job in Indy, but school closures and updated district lines are still on the table.

As usual, information concerning the committee's recent work and recommendations hasn't exactly been forthcoming.

The meeting will be held at the Administration Services Center located at 2813 Grantline Road at 7:00 PM.

Friends of Silver Street Elementary request that all interested attend, wearing their Save Silver Street T-shirts.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Petition?

It occurred to me today that if our downtown streets ran both ways, I could give these simple directions (from Louisville) to the Bank Street Brewhouse:

"Take the I-64 (west) exit ramp onto Elm Street, and turn right on Bank Street."

As it stands, I must say:

"Take the I-64 (west) ramp onto Elm Street, turn right on 3rd Street, turn right on Spring Street, then turn right on Bank Street."

Plainly, one-way streets are bad for business. If every downtown merchant signed a petition of support for two-way streets, what would the argument against it then be? That no one wants it?

Would the petition be best directed to the city council, or to Dave Matthews, in the hope that he might call off the easternmost Elm Street obstructionist militia?

(Or, to Freedom to Screech, so as to abet the delusional perfessor?)

And: Who collects the signatures?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More espresso fueled ruminations.

I rode past the Coyle Dodge property this morning, and it's completely deserted. Just a day or so ago there were still cars and people, and now nothing, which is a bit eerie considering that there has been a car business there my entire life. Now it's the Big Empty.

Locally, the talk's all about the Camm reversal and what happens next. Already, with the next steps as yet unknown, the defeatism is bubbling to the service: There'll be no money for the county until the end of time -- we can't, we shan't, we'll never ... and so on. Whatever. The city should proceed with it even if the county doesn't.

If not, then forget M. Fine. Anyone for Christiania NA on the Coyle property?

At least the sidewalk's done in front of BSB, with the north patio soon to follow. Brewing should begin by the 18th of July, and this time I believe the estimate is attainable. I'll feel much better when beer is actually being brewed downtown.

If only locally, at least the conversation has shifted away from Michael Jackson's death. For me, Frank Sinatra's still the King of Pop, anyway.

At least it might be a bit cooler and less humid tomorrow. Bicycles, beer and books on the horizon. Not bad.

Gotta go.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Strength in unity ... perhaps.

For the searchable record, newspaper coverage of what should be a no-brainer.

Neighborhood groups consider merger, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune).

The East Spring and S. Ellen Jones neighborhood associations discussed joining forces to form one unified group during a meeting Tuesday.

If a decision is made to merge, the association could be called Midtown, though a name to better historically represent the areas could be chosen.
Note that I qualified this by inserting the word "should" in the opening sentence. My household supports the idea, primarily because it stands to terrify the city's Luddites.

The respective groups will vote at their meetings in July.

Get it right, or let him go.

David Camm's murder verdict was overturned today, and there will be a third murder trial.

Read the Indiana Supreme Court opinion.

I find it regrettable that so many opinions about this decision will be proffered within the parameters of what a third trial will cost.

Yes, it will be an awful lot.

Yes, I'd rather spend the money on other things.

Yes, it's frustrating.

But that isn't really the point of justice, is it? Even the most cursory consideration of American history should lead most fair-minded people to concur with this assessment, as written at another local blog:

How many times do we have to convict this guy? The answer is, one time - fairly.

Conversely, if the evidence is valid or admissable, acquit him and be done with it. Either way, do it fairly.

It's always fashionable to bash lawyers and decry the expense of justice in cases like this. There are valid reasons for both these points of view, and I'm not the one to outline the case for how the situation might be improved, although from where I'm sitting, two successive prosecutions have been botched. Where's the rage against the lawyers responsible for the mishandlings, and hence the reversals?

There should be a large element of conscience to all this. Who among us is willing to dispense with the sort of legal safeguards against abuses and errors that were exercised today by the Indiana Supreme Court's ruling? Things like this prove the viability of the legal syystem. At the same time, calculations of justice in the context of Steve Price's nickels and dimes proves just how shallow we can be at times.

Get it right, or let him go.

But feel free to disagree.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today's Tribune column: "Unrecognizable to a Scribner."

BAYLOR: Unrecognizable to a Scribner

Successful coping in New Albany requires which of the following skills?

Open thread: Dan Coffey, CCE, shredded tires and barbecued bologna.

Coffey done with New Albany plan, redevelopment commission; City official at odds with boards over business relocation, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune).

In the past two weeks, New Albany City Council President Dan Coffey resigned from two posts on city boards mainly over the relocation of a tire shredding business.

CCE Inc. could soon be moving to 1706 Ind. 111, if the New Albany Plan Commission approves a zone change for the business, which has been in property negotiations with the city’s redevelopment commission.

There are two separate issues here.

First, the merits and demerits of CCE, both at its Silver Street location and the projected new site on Ind. 111. We're fully accustomed to there being two sides of a story, but when it comes to CCE's environmental record on Silver, the stories are nowhere close to reconcilable.

Second, the circumstances that result in an utterly unqualified political personage like Dan Coffey ever coming to serve on boards or commissions that have to do with planning and redevelopment.

CM Coffey says that it's a result of a conspiracy -- Redevelopment's role in CCE's move, not his deleterious presence on planning and redevelopment. I believe it's a boost for the city that he's removed himself from those entities. Meanwhile, very little of a positive nature has been offered to support CCE as a good neighbor. In the best tradition of New Albany's stopped clock, might Coffey be right, though for the usual wrong reasons?

Any clues?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coke machines and condoms: Let's all vend.

I've been thinking about putting a condom machine in front of my house, with the proceeds not going toward maintaining my slumlord property.

Nice sheet of plywood upstairs for the past three or so years. Was there a window before? Very high standards overall, and caffeine at all hours.

Okay, okay ... I don't own a slumlord property, but I've always been curious as to the standards for matters like this. If it's legal to have a Coke machine in front of my house, then I'm not joking about the condoms.

Truth remains stranger than fact: Team Hammond, Team Screech, Sis 'n' Boots, and much ensuing hilarity.

In the end, the epiphany always finds you.

I can’t pinpoint its arrival in my case, but as an avid reader of history, it long ago became clear to me that a record of human events is inseparable from personal qualities that are fundamentally and eternally irrational. Envy, greed, disappointment, anger, pride, vanity, ego, arrogance … they’re usually the best explanations for decisions and positions that defy logic, whether in the heat of the moment or afterwards, when dispassionate observers seek to fathom motives for occurrences that simply don't make sense.

Apart from neighborhood politics, here's interesting achival reading from the TEAM HAMMOND TAXPAYERS' GROUP (that's right -- all shrieking caps and righteousness).

It's dated Tuesday, February 5, 2008, and is attributed (imagine that -- intellectual honesty) to the Hoosiers for Fair Taxation blog on the same day. There is no longer any sign of it there, if in fact it ever was posted, although HFFT's discussions from the corresponding time period are unintentionally hilarious, with leading Indiana tax activist and crypto-fascist hypocrite Eric Miller having just commenced his bizarre linkage between property taxes and gay marriage, prompting some Libertarians to look around the romper room and wonder if they came through the wrong door.

Because it may already have been deleted once, and to preserve this masterpiece of muddle in the public record, I'm reprinting it in full.

---

TEAM NEW ALBANY: "YOU THINK YOU'VE GOT IT BAD?"

We received this message today from Freedom of Speech Team, our activist friends in New Albany.

Our city is a train wreck about to happen. Our new mayor is our old mayor of 12 years ago. He is a crook and a bigger CROOK now. You cannot imagine what all he has done over the last 30 days- an $11,000 raise for himself. We now have 2 deputy mayors a 118 take home cars. In 16 years we have spend around $60 million dollars on sewers and we now have another $47 million to spend. They have been giving like $32 million dollars in 2007 in tax abatements. They have borrowed $5.3 million from sewer utility to cover our general fund and never paid it back. We have been to the city prosecutor, Indiana atty. general and even the governor and been told is too political.

You think you have it bad in other counties. Listen to this one:

My sister is the assessor for our county. I worked for her for 5 years. During the entire time I worked there she was cutting peoples' property taxes to get re-elected.

Her first deputy works doing income taxes for 3 months out of the year. She not only collects a salary FROM doing taxes but a nice check from City. It took me 2 years to figure out what was going on and then I started making copies of time sheets and everything I could get my hands on. I mean boxes of paper work.

Well to make a long story short, my sister came to my new home (I purchased Sept. 2003 and moved into November 2003) on Martin Luther King day 2004 and handed me my termination papers. And told me she didn't have to give me an excuse to terminating me. So we got a bunch of citizens and current employees together and created Freedom Of Speech, IN 2005. Of course I am the only person who knows who everyone is. People know I'd not tell if someone put a gun to my head. Our cars have been trashed, gasoline poured on my porch. Spray painted "Bitch " on my garage door. On my birthday there was a box on my porch wrapped in a telephone cord with a bullet tied to it. Of course I deny being with Freedom of Speech.

My entire family has turned against me because I promised my dad before he died if she ever fired me to take her down. Well, I have been sitting with all this information, video tapes, time sheets. They also collected comp time and are making a fortune in local government.

I couldn't afford to fight her over being fired. I could not afford an attorney. This entire town is a house of cards. It would be so easy to expose this corruption and all if someone would help. I have even considered going to the FBI. You folks think you have it bad you ought to be living here. We have cops following us everywhere.

They are playing a shell game with our city money. Our state board of accounts audits is down right criminal for 4 years. Employees have been overpaid, our parks department ran up a $10,000 cell bill in one month. State Board of Acccounts tell us they have no power.

We don't have money to fight them. People are scared and won't even attend council meetings. I wish someone had some ideas or answers how we can fight back. We're the little people, working class citizens and have no recourse. We just keep plugging along but what can we do?? I'd be willing to go into protective custody to blow the whistle on these crooked "bastards".....

No one will touch this I swear, I have been trying for 4 years....

BTW, I guarantee this could turn into a movie deal. This is nothing but pure corruption, ghost employment, criminal crap and all we want is help to put all these crooked bastards in jail.....!!!

I have all these documents and no one to help us!!!!!!!! We need more than a Tea Party in our hometown, trust me.

Freedom of Speech Team in New Albany

From Hoosiers for Fair Taxation
Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Will the Real "Economic Development" Please Stand Up?

Friday afternoon I stopped by the Bankstreet Brewhouse for a liquid pick me up prior to going home.

It had been a long week what with truck drivers, freight brokers, and Common Council meetings and I needed to unwind a bit. At least that was the original intent.

But alas, it wasn’t to be.



I had no more sat down & ordered a beer when I happened survey the room to see CM Gahan at the small bar behind me.

Now being one whose Mamma taught me that it was impolite to holler at people across the room I invited him to join me. My BAADDD!

He began the conversation by asking my position on the proposed hiring of more policemen.

I said that I agreed with the plan and he responded that he didn’t think it was either sustainable or necessary.

“The statistics don’t support the need for ten additional officers!” was Jeff’s position.

Huh??? Whose statistics??

About this time John Gonder who had been talking to Roger a short distance away, joined in the conversation.

He agreed with Gahan that the plan was neither necessary nor worth the money at this time.

This as always led into a heated discussion about the use (proper or otherwise) of EDIT funds.

“They are for economic development, not employee salaries!” said Gahan.

“They shouldn’t be used for either new officers or the Sewer Utility!” responded Gonder.

“So John” says I, “are you going to lead the charge to take the $875K of EDIT funds out of the Sewer Utility’s hands?”

No response.

Gahan offered on the one hand that the Sewer Utility was rolling in dough and didn’t need a rate increase.

“OK!” I say,” Then let’s take the EDIT monies away and see! If they can stand alone without being propped up, I’ll shut up about rate increases!”

“But they need those dollars to pay for the ongoing projects!” responds Jeff.

“Time out Jeff!!” I retort “You can’t have it both ways! Either they need the Edit funds to operate or they don’t!”

“Don’t put words in my mouth” says Gahan. “I can think of no better example of economic development than that which has gone on in the Charlestown Road corridor. Those EDIT funds helped to build the infrastructure that made all that possible.”

CM Gonder at some point in this exchange offered that he thought using said funds to forgive a tap in fee on occasion was a good thing but not to construct the entire system while the landowners/developers get off scot free.

By now my beer is getting warm and the conversation is getting even hotter so I turned back to the job at hand and they both finished their business and left.

Reflecting on this exchange over the weekend a few questions came to mind for your consideration.

Is there an election this fall that I didn’t hear about??

What is this elusive animal called Economic Development?? Can anyone me a simple definition of what that term entails?

Can any two people from either the private sector or government agree on that definition?

In the end, who benefits from it?

Lastly, my favorite unanswerable query.

Can someone please explain how providing infrastructure improvements to landowners/developers at subsidized rates makes more economic development sense than does providing safe, clean, crime free neighborhoods for average people to invest and live in?

I gotta go eat pot roast fresh out of the oven but please continue the discussion.


I’m anxious to see the answers!

The ups and downs of "Midtown," tonight.

If you're already interested in this topic, you probably know about it. Just in case, here's notification of tonight's joint neighborhood association meeting:

Meeting Notice:
Joint Meeting of S. Ellen Jones and East Spring Street Neighborhood associations

Purpose:
Discussion (pros and cons) of rebranding the neighborhoods as "Midtown," and the potential merger of the two neighborhood associations

When:
7:00 pm, Tuesday, June 23

Where:
St. John Presbyterian, 13th and Elm Street (use the 13th Street entrance)

Link to an obituary.

Dr. George Tiller, 1941-2009, by Katha Pollitt (The Nation).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Information, please: Jackson's Seafood and Liquidz Bar & Grill.

Above is the remodeled Orchid, now Jackson's Seafood on West Main. The sign on the door suggests it will be open this week. Below are two views of the storefront on East Main, opposite the old Reisz Furniture building, billed as Liquidz. Readers, do you have any information on these new businesses?

Posted by Picasa

Freedom of Speech: The Lost Posting.

Like a particularly virulent form of acid reflux, there’s been much recent discussion in more dilapidated regions of the blogosphere lately as pertains to a very old topic (in more ways than one):

Who is “Professor Erik,” the supposed voice of screeching Luddite freedom in New Albany?

NAC asked V. A. Denschak, sole member of Citizens for Anonybility, to explain the relationship between her and the mysterious reclusive academic who is so often referenced but so seldom seen. Her answer is sung to the tune of “Whiskey Man,” from the 1960’s-era Who’s album “Happy Jack.” Sincere apologies to the late, great John Entwistle, writer of the song.

Erik is my friend, he's with me nearly all the time
He always joins me when I screech, and we get on just fine

Nobody has ever seen him, I'm the only one
Seemingly I must be mad, insanity is fun
If that's the way it's done

Doctors say he's just a figment of my twisted mind
If they can't see my Erik, well they must be going blind

Two men dressed in white collected me two days ago
They said there's only room for one and Erik just can't go

Erik – he will waste away if he's left on his own
I can't even ring him 'cause he isn't on the phone
Hasn't got a home

Life is very gloomy in my little padded cell
It's a shame there wasn't room for my Erik here as well

Erik is my friend, he's with me nearly all the time
He always joins me when I screech, and we get on just fine
Just fine


Join us later this week when we reveal new documents proving conclusively that both Erik and Harvey the Rabbit were cut from the same bolt of "pooka" cloth.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Friedman's Iran: "No illusions about the bullets and barrels they are up against."

Tom Friedman gets it right in today's New York Times. Just demographics, baby ... but there's more chance of it turning out like Tiananmen than the Velvet Revolution. Like Friedman, I'm pulling for the Iranian kids. They'll have to show the world yet again the courage it takes to achieve basic human freedom from religion.

Bullets and Barrels, by Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times).

... But now, having voted with their ballots, Iranians who want a change will have to vote again with their bodies. A regime like Iran’s can only be brought down or changed if enough Iranians vote as they did in 1979 — in the street. That is what the regime fears most, because then it either has to shoot its own people or cede power. That is why it was no accident that the “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei, warned protestors in his Friday speech that “street challenge is not acceptable.” That’s a man who knows how he got his job.

Swimming pools to barbecue, St. Mary's to a methadone clinic, and two phone scams.

The print copy of today's New Albany Tribune has an Alice in Wonderland quality, in that stories beginning on page one are not completed on page four, and stories completed on page four are not located on page one. It appears that Tribune readers got the Jeffersonville Evening News fourth page.

At least today the newspaper was readable, if unsynchronized. For the third time in roughly three weeks yesterday, the newspaper was doused by rainwater, as apparently our most recent carrier hasn't yet been instructed in the use of plastic bags. I merely point this out, knowing how difficult it must be to find carriers these days.

Meanwhile, a reader has strident words for the council in this letter (scroll down). The topic? NA's vetoed smoking ban, and why the council should reintroduce it.

Do we really need to devote another summer to a divisive issue that ranks well below so many others in importance?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One fine morning in the open air museum.

A few minutes ago, I was sitting on my porch smoking a cigar when a shattering noise was heard in the wake of a passing (speeding) car. It proved to be an empty bottle of Miller High Life. I went inside, got the broom and dustpan, and cleaned up the large chunks as best I could, adding other bits of trash that had collected since yesterday, when I mowed and cleaned the perimeter.

I've no special buts of wisdom to offer on this topic. Since time began, responsible citizens have been obliged to tidy up after irresponsible assholes, and so it goes. One accepts it as part of the burden of being human, which includes the cherished right to procreate at will, irrespective of the consequences.

Still, questions do occur to me.

How come an examination of the remains of bottles tossed from passing cars by assholes never reveals a Chimay, Schlenkerla or Thomas Hardy's label?

Is it because they understand the need to decant good beers and refrain from quaffing directly from the bottle, but are unwilling to challenge the open container law by carrying proper glassware in their cars?

Unlikely. I gotta go bike to work, and dodge those SUVs along the way.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some day Dan Coffey will be a distant political memory. Last night, that day began drawing nearer.

It's been a long time coming, but last night Doug England declared open season on the city council president's imagined hegemony.

The Bookseller described the "dramatic mayoral smackdown" in a comment late last evening:

It certainly was planned, it certainly was intended, and it certainly found its mark.

Tonight marked the end of accommodation and the beginning of confrontation. Mr. Coffey will have to spend the next 15 days determining how he wants to respond.

The cold war has become hot, and its about time. While I'm no partisan on this battle, it is about time. And while there may be a third way, it's time to settle where the weight of political power lies - with England or with Coffey.

On the facts of the night, the weight lies with Coffey, who knocked in the three-pointer for the Cops resolution. But England shows he can apply his own mojo.

Let's call this halftime. Coffey 54, England 51.

I disagree only as to the score.

England conceded the police funding issue (i.e., the three-point stripe) to Coffey, but scored freely in the paint while doing so, and exploited the council president's myriad defensive deficiencies.

As an example of what happens when Coffey is pressed full court, consider the words he later snarled, which are sure to infuriate the troglodyte bloc: "I'm not worried about the budget," adding that the money's there -- an interesting concession, to be sure, considering his previous stances. Does he mean it's always been there, with Dan Coffey the chosen entity to identify and allocate it? If so, England's comments showed there are gaping cracks in the Wizard of Westside's assumptions, and Coffey was noticeably weakened (see "subsidies" below).

To be blunt, Coffey hasn't faced full-court pressure in a while. He didn't respond capably to it last night. I've always said that if you press him, he'll commit turnovers. England proved this last night.

Coffey also was put squarely on the defensive when he announced that he'd stepped down from the Planning Commission so that he can heed the demands of his constituents to devote full time to defending them from the terrors of progress, economic development, and "them" people's demand that everyone be forced to drink beer that tastes like beer.

Coffey asked that a council member take his place at Plan-Com, at which point Diane Benedetti reminded Coffey that he also had relinquished his self-appointed spot on Redevelopment.

"But Kevin (Zurschmiede) is taking that," said Coffey.

The mayor, by now seated, chimed, "that's the council's decision, not the president's," and a huffing Coffey sarcastically thanked him for his input, later proclaiming that the question would be resolved "when Stan's (Robison, absent council attorney) is back."

We already know the answer, because in this matter, as in so many other arbitrary renderings since Jeff Gahan enabled Coffey's council "leadership," Coffey is mistaken. As various councils have proven in the past, "the way we've always done it" and the way they're supposed to do it are two different things, and if the council can't enforce it's own ordinances ... well, you know the rest.

However, these are trivial debating points compared with the overall impact of England's tone and aggressiveness, particularly his impassioned defense of economic development and his uncompromising advocacy of stripping EDIT subsidies from the sewers, with similar treatment of other public services.

Like the council before it, this one seems determined to buffer its electoral prospects by squandering economic development monies down the sewer subsidy rathole, and last night, England called its bluff, prompting Coffey to aurally stumble over the history and proper uses of economic development monies -- hypocritically, as always, given that he'd already served notice of removing himself from entities upon which he has had no business serving, for the purpose of retiring to his poverty-stricken district for the sole reason of keeping it poor.

This constitutes leadership?

Since all of this was as much about political positioning as the business at hand, it's worth noting that for Dan Coffey to continue his political "career," it is his absolute imperative to preserve the status quo in Westendia. Redistricting must be avoided, and so must development projects that would alter the delicate balance of exploitable dysfunction. It is the political equivalent of Dean Smith's four-corner freeze. Coffey will drain the occasional trey, but his only reliable defense is keeping the score low and the ball in one place: His hands.

Press him hard, and all that barbecued bologna begins to take its toll on poorly conditioned legs -- and the self-coaching was inferior from the start.

Naturally the mayor is not without future political considerations, and these opening hands were played last evening.

But the next round of elections affecting both he and Coffey remain months away, and based on the results last night (my card shows England up 49-46 at the half), it is abundantly clear that England has more to offer the city than Coffey -- assuming he's willing to continue attacking the basket. If England persists in this vein, he can do more good for New Albany in the next year than Coffey might in twenty, because Coffey cannot do good for the city without harming his own political prospects.

Understand that, and it all makes sense.

By evening's end, Coffey was reduced to verbally attacking a citizen for failing to heed his earlier warnings about proper speaking protocol, and the citizen responded by reminding Coffey that the council president had already freely contradicted his own rules via extended speaking times. It was another pathetic stab at a power trip on Coffey's part, one that serves to remind us that the council president's effectiveness depends on him hogging the ball.

But last night, the ball wasn't in his hands very long, and if you're rooting for the Wizard, it wasn't pretty at all, because the clock has started ticking toward end game.

Bring on the pompon girls. And some beer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Live blogging continues (Part Four) with Coffey in a tailspin, and the gallery giggles.

G-09-13 Ordinance Authorizing the City of New Albany, Indiana to Issue its “Taxable Economic Development Revenue Bonds of 2009 (Kemper Project)” and Approving Other Actions in Respect Thereto
Benedetti 1

No discussion: Unanimous in favor on first reading.

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Z-09-09 Ordinance Amending the Code of ordinances Of New Albany, Indiana, Title XV, Chapter 156 (Docket P-03-09: Sprigler Builders) ... McLaughlin 1

Benedetti begins with feedback from the neighborhood, with respect to drainage. She met with the developer and engineers. Plan has been changed. Coe's Lane a flooding problem. She'll meet with the neighbors on Monday. Scott Woods (Wood) gave her feedback. She's working with the developers to work with the city to change the plan some more. In effect, Benedetti is trying to work with neighbors and developers and make everyone a big, happy family with stormwater drainage.

Fellow behind me says there's an endangered species, a woodpecker, living in that woods. Two of them. Sprigler says, no woods to be cut down. Sprigler says the man has the wrong property.

Conversation ensues about changes. Caesar wants to be extra careful with this and pay attention to what stormwater does. John Kraft, attorney, says that the drainage problem does not emanate from his client's area. An easement is needed from a doctor who won't let them on her property. Benedetti agrees that the doctor won't let "us" visit her. Benedetti's been tromping around the woods and knows. Caesar says: Need to hear from stormwater, obviously.

Coffey rebukes the citizen sitting behind me for speaking out of turn when he was asked to speak earlier but didn't -- but, Coffey will let a council member ask hikm a question, and Coffey will allow it. The citizen asks why he gave the police extra time

SCORE!!!

And Coffey gets annoyed at being shown yet again to be inconsistent. So, Messer, says: I'll ask him, and does. The man then explains what he thinks. Coffey then second guesses him and claims by golly, he gave him the chance, and (egg on face ... again)

Caesar: Who pays for curb cuts?
Kraft: We do.
Laborious discussion ensues. KZ is concerned about drainage, too.
Gonder asks about endangered species implications.
Benedetti says we'll have to do something about stormwater, and then she asks the citizen to address traffic.

He does, and when Coffey fumbles again, we laugh with/at him -- and he glowers.

First reading: Ayes all around except Gonder (serious about endangered species), and most of them qualify "first reading."

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Z-09-08 An Ordinance for the Vacation of an Existing Utility Easement Pursuant to a Petition file by Joseph J. and Marybeth D. Lewis ... McLaughlin 2&3

Ayes all around on 2, price wanders around the room, and a third reading is taken: Ayes all around.

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MISCELLANOUS ITEMS:

Benedetti asks about code books. They're being printed. Marcey Wisman notes the letter from Develop New Albany about the Coyle property.

Police powerpoint to all council members? Being investigated.

Lloyd Wimp allowed to speak about his wayward past as a youth, and how he learned to manipulate New Albany's three nightly police officers, keeping them running all night. What the cops are saying is true.

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TABLED ORDINANCES:

R-09-08 Resolution to Fund a Feasibility Study for the New Albany City Council with Riverboat Funds
Price

G-09-02 Ordinance to Amend City Code Section 51.115 (J) (2) and Section 33.119
Benedetti 1

G-09-13 An Ordinance to Reflect Technical Changes Necessary as a Result of an Agreement With The Town of Georgetown
Zurschmiede 1

Motion to adjourn ... we're out.

Live blogging ongoing, Part Three: Ordinances, resolutions and grandstanding.

INTRODUCTION OF ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS: READING

R-09-13 Resolution Concerning Statement of Benefits for Jones Popcorn Inc. d/b/a Clark’s Snacks by the Common Council of the City of New Albany

Bob Caesar explains what the popcorn market is looking like. This will add jobs to the community. Passes by voice vote.

---

R-09-14 Resolution of the City of New Albany Approving An Amendatory Declaratory Resolution and Amended Plan of the Redevelopment Commission of the City Of New Albany, Indiana, and Approving an Order of The New Albany Area Plan Commission ... Benedetti

Carl Malysz explains the use of the prevailing TIF district's resources to amend the Park East TIF to issue the bond issue to help Kemper buy equipment that will add many jobs. This is one step, then it goes to the redevelopment commission, who makes the final decision. This, and then an ordinance (below)for economic development bonds (1st reading this evening). Several things are being organized in tandem to result in final votes by the council's first July meeting. Banks request this, too. Immediate benefit is 50 jobs, could lead to a larger addition later.

Diane Benedetti says she has talked to the owner, and it's all very good. We have the chance to upend a possible Ohio destination owing to city hall's work. Also, not taking employees from anyone. It's about new hires to fill a Yum Brands contract. It's a loan that will be paid back monthly.

They make refrigerated dough products.

Caesar: Big benefits, little risk.

Gonder: They probably will be high salary jobs. Not minimum wage jobs.

Unanimous in favor.

---

R-09-15 Resolution To Authorize Funding For The Hiring Of 10 New Police Officers

Price introduces and wants a roll call, presumably to enshrine his "no" vote. Benedetti wants information from Chief Crabtree. It's about merit law and union things; Paul Haub says as long as no ranking positions are lost, there'd be more detective moved up sans rank.

KZ unable to attend the workshop. What will this do? Explains where the men will go and be deployed overall.

Call him for details; too many numbers for me.

KZ wants to know exactly which officers he'll see and where when he's out on the street.

Police explain yet again how the plan will work. KZ missed the special meeting, and evidently didn't do any homework since then, unless of course he's on assignment from Dave Matthews.

Paul Haub recaps it again. 15% commits 85% of the crime, and they'll be targeted.

KZ: Will this money address the "minor" problems that my constituents think are major? Don't say "I think," say "it will."

Haub: We need 90 officers, but you can't afford it. So we'll take 75 until annexation. Eloquently speaks to the need NOT to have more VISIBLE officers on the street. Conversely, we need more invisible officers.

Gonder: Take home cars?

Crabtree: Supports them. Saves time.

Benedetti wants to hear stats next year showing that things have improved.

Please come back and see us again, y'all.

Gonder says the presentation last time was scorched earth policy. Cops won't live here because of all the things that are wrong with us, and now dissects statistics. Takes issue with the scaremongering stats: 9,400 crimes per square mile?

Haub: Check out the web site and check the data (didn't hear the web site). Doesn't think it's absurd because of the averaging between rural and urban stats.

Gonder: You put it up to scare us. Gonder says he's not hearing from his constituents about it (Haub is incredulous) but now says that he supports this because he sees where the money is coming from (the sewer subsidies).

Huh? Yes, they need to come out of the sewers, but this isn't on the table tonight.

Messer speaks in favor and explains the problems he sees as a policeman.

Cops now say they leave town because of the crime rate. Haub sees it as fair criticism. We'll die for the city, but we know what happens ... this is regressing fairly quickly. Still no willingness on the part of anyone present to discuss our stance toward the socio-economic conditions that preface crime. None, zilch, nada. t's just grandstanding central.

Pat McLaughlin: Intimidated by cops who don't feel safe. Also intimidated by the financial situation.

Jeff Gahan: We know you need help, but a million dollar appropriation. Needs to take place during the budgetary process. 2009 budget not yet certified. Given that ... 2010 already short. Tough situation to be discussing tonight.

Kevin Zurschmiede: "My concern is moving forward," so what happens next year when we don't have the money ... leaning toward voting for it. Feels strongly that the city needs to feel safer.

McLaughlin: Annexation?

Benedetti: We'll get 'em in 2010.

Caesar: Would Chief Crabtree consider a business plan for the police department?

In short, he's implying that Crabtree doesn;t know what he's doing. How do we pay for that?

Steve Price, having kept his powder safely dry in grandma's cookie jar to bat clean-up, asks Paul to explain yet again what the lessons of New York and Boston are, even though the police have been explaining this for most of the past year.

Haub explains.

Price: Are the funds there? Yes, with a sewer rate hike. Wanna go on record for that? Fine if you do. If the state comes down, they don't care ... I'm just saying, that's fine whatever y'all think, every department ... what if we default?

Not sure where he's going, but no one is.

KZ: Impact-wise, what's the effect, 1-10 scale?

Haub: Clean it up in months, if we have resources. Worked everywhere else in the world, expected to work here. Defends the program, says it includes self-checks and ratings.

KZ understands that if we hired 150 officers, we'd have maximum impact ... but WE'D STILL HAVE UNREGULATED RENTAL PROPERTIES AND AN ABSENCE OF ORDINANCE ENFORCEMENT, KEVIN.

Coffey: #1, always struggling for money, so that's no excuse.
#2, numbers can be adjusted, and I'm not worried about the budget, 'cuz what we're generating as development tonight will pay for it. Says there's plenty of money in EDIT (and more in sewers, but he won't address that).

Vote roll call: Yes: Caesar, Benedetti, Messer, Zurschmiede, Coffey
No: Price, McLaughlin, Gahan, Gonder
Passes 5-4.

Live blogging on the high wire, Part Two: The campaign begins tonight, and Coffey's dazed.

COMMUNICATIONS – MAYOR

Mayor England agrees with part of Paul Haub's coments, but notes that sometimes speeches get made for the purpose of being elected.

England now comes out strongly for taking EDIT funds out of the sewer subsidies, and calls for an end to these subsidies, whether sewer, sanitation or whatnot. $875,000 subsidies that could be used for the police officers. Turns to Paul and says, "I have to pay some streets, too."

"Lotta people showing a lotta love for New Albany."

Begins selling the town, but the biggest thing happening bad is the men don't feel safe, and he supports them. But ... fund it in a reasonable way. Didn't mean to lecture CM Coffey, note the mayor. Keeping sewer bills low is a "shell game."

Coffey explodes: "EDIT tax is to build the jail, not business." Makes excuses for his craven behavior in subsidizing the sewers. Should go back to the people.

England tells Coffey that Coffey "interrupts too much," and spontaneous applause breaks out.

Most impassioned England performance to date.

Supports the police, but fund it right. Now will talk about something positive. Now explains the things that Maury didn't understand.

"This is not bullshit." Explains who the customers are for the food company that will bring jobs here if the council approves. Didn't want the perception to be that there was subterfuge.

I know this is confused, but this is an amazing reversal of form for the mayor.

APPOINTMENTS

Coffey has resigned from the plan commission because his neighborhood wants him to fight development, so he asks for someone to serve. He's also resigned from Redevelopment, but K Zurschmiede already has been appointed but the Mayor notes that that's a council matter, and Dan gets mighty surly. He decides to wait until Stan Robison is back.

Coffey is wrong. The rules say it's a council matter. Where the hell is Bluegill.

APPROVAL OF CF-1 FORMS:

Rolls through them. Back in a few minutes.

Live blogging from Hell, Part One: We are called to order, disorder and self-aggrandizement.

We have a connection, so tonight there'll be live blogging.

THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CIVIL CITY OF NEW ALBANY, INDIANA, WILL HOLD A REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING IN THE THIRD FLOOR ASSEMBLY ROOM OF THE CITY/COUNTY BUILDING ON THURSDAY 18, JUNE 18, 2009 AT 7:30 P.M.

CALL TO ORDER ... PRAYER AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE ... ROLL CALL

Dan Coffey makes sure people know to sign in if they want to speak. All council persons are in attendance tonight.

APPROVAL OR CORRECTION OF THE FOLLOWING MINUTES: New Albany Common Council Regular Meeting Minutes June 1, 2009

Approved.

COMMUNICATIONS – PUBLIC:

1. Paul Haub - FOP Lodge 99, and a police officer. In favor of R-09-15, which would add ten officers and ancillary civilian personnel. Reiterates importance to community. Perspective offered -- two years ago tonight was when Paul was called to the scene of the Denzinger ambush. He spoke to the officer's widow today. Another phone call was from the wife of a fellow officer with whom Paul doesn't usually get along. She thanked him for telling the story and noted that she can live without pay and perks, but not her husband. Emotional rendering. Tying the families and spouses into the issue of safety, which suffers because of the thinness of the ranks. Reiterates the absence of information previously, allowing this to "get out of hand." Police department has been compromised, and crime statistics are grim. Paul says: "It's our failure."

Editor: That's not entirely the case; too many people take the penny-wise, pound foolish Coffey/Price approach to the social conditions that preface this problem.

Notes that if you're not a victim of violent crime, you'll not be getting very much service. Additional manpower will permit the implementation of proven programs. Council actually will be helping prevent crime by this appropriation. Now pits police funding against paving.

He made it almost all the way through before resorting to either/or.

Casts this vote as epochal, and warns the council that to not approve it is to be complicit in the problem. Less than ideal. Not talking long term. The annexation will correct the funding difficulty -- in essence, indicates officials support for annexation, but NOT WITHOUT extra police to provide extra service. Vote against, and "blood is on your hands too."

Get crime rates down, and all will correct itself. Things will be cleaner, the economy will take off, and the middle class will reappear. The cops will take care of the recividists if given the resources to do it. Has nothing to do with the union, but an investment in "all 37,000" people in the town.

Paul's pull quote: "Until these crime rates are under control, this city is going to fail."

Had 10 minutes to speak, this coming after Coffey's reminder last time that the five minute limit would be enforced regularly. Odd. Given what the police are asking, and we have something like $9 million in economic development money disappearing down the sewer rate subsidy rathole ... never mind.

2. Randy Smith - supports the money for police officers. Laments the history of police-council relations. We are, in effect, asking criminals to come here. Thinks that this is a "Katrina moment" for New Albany, and a rare opportunity to do the right thing.

Also a comment about economic development revenue bonds - they should be extended. Unsure of the exact case referred to.

3. Maury Goldeberg - "Tired of handing over the key of the city" to miscreants and criminals. Lists several unresolved criminal cases, rapes and murders. "Don't gamble with our lives," and "take our city back." Denounces child molesters.

On R-09-14: Difficult to tell what's going on, but ... notes that Exhibit A is missing. Unclear. What is the Redevelopment Commission doing? Also, R-09-13 (Jones Popcorn): What are you doing for this company? Begins talking about another ordinance, also noting that the council isn't explaining itself. Comes back to child molesters again, and says that irrespective of what the council is doing on the ordinances that he doesn't know about ...

... sorry, I'm lost. The 3rd district electoral slate in 2011 just became crystal clear to me. Meanwhile, Coffey says that it's okay to contradict himself tonight on comment length because they're passionate issues. These words could come back to haunt him, like most things he says.

4. Officer Higdon (I think): Describes the situation on the ground for the police night shift. "If the funds are there, it's an investment in the city." Could get the city going in the right direction. It would scare you to know what happens at night. Many of his officers are here at the meeting. "Horrible" if it doesn't pass, but no one will quick. Hard pressed to be comfortable if a family member worked at night. "We protect the best we can," but could do better ... "invest in us, and invest in the city."

Coffey asks for people wishing to speak about Coe's Lane project. None volunteer.

COMMUNICATIONS – CITY OFFICIALS:

Marcey Wisman makes clear that some information was received late for the agenda attachments.

Price wants to know if additional appropriations require a public hearing. Apparently for 15, not 14. Stan Robison is not here.

Coffey expresses confusion about resolution vs. ordinance forms of "we will support" something, because resolutions don't need to be advertised. Has to come back in ordinance form. No one understands any of this, least of all Price. Gonder tries to clarify. Resolutions indicate support only.

Back shortly.

Price bleeds conservative red ink, blood and homilies -- and other Tales from the Council, tonight.

On the 16th, Daniel Suddeath previewed tonight's city council meeting: New Albany City Council to weigh new cops request Thursday.

Yesterday, publisher Steve Kozarovich critiqued a comment from 3rd district councilman Steve Price that appeared in Suddeath's piece:


Jeers ... to New Albany City Councilman Steve Price for a lack of self-awareness. In response to the upcoming request for more New Albany police officers to combat the crime epidemic in the city, Price stated, “Right now, I’m in a conservative state of mind because we’re bleeding red ink.”

Actually, Mr. Price, that conservative state of mind is long-term. It was among his campaign pledges to constituents when he was re-elected. I believe he promised to watch out for our nickels and dimes. That’s good because I’ll need to have something to give the criminals.
Put on your grandstanding clothes, folks, because CM Price is going to be working the crowd tonight.

What remains to be debated and has not, either by the newspaper or members of the council, is how year after year of penny-wise, pound-foolish urban decay management has created the ideal ground for dysfunction, whether criminal or otherwise, to flourish hereabouts.

Since such a debate would expose the complicity of so many locals who strive to the status of community pillar, without the commensurate requirement of actually doing something for the community, don't expect it to happen.

In addition to serving as unnecessary sewer subsidies, I suppose that economic development funds now can be diverted to serve as Band-Aids for our collective unwillingness to fund police and fire protection. Just imagine if instead of enabling slumlord enhancement, we'd have used the money to, er, economically develop. We might not need the extra cops. We might have more nickels and dimes for Price to fondle.

Then again, we wouldn't be wonderfully and delightfully New Albanian.

Who's going tonight? The agenda's up, and I'm there.

Why bother? Not sure about that one.

Today's Tribune column: "Adaptive cooperation at 411 E. Spring St.."

Okay - no more reprints at multiple locations. I'll leave that to our state representative.

--

BAYLOR: Adaptive cooperation at 411 E. Spring St.

On June 10, 2009, The Tribune reported that officials from New Albany and Floyd County are in agreement.‘Round here, this would qualify as a front-page banner headline even if their unified stance had to do with nothing more than a place to eat lunch together.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

So much for nuance, but it's over with so very quickly.

I just received an e-mail from the "State of Indiana," i.e., state representative Ed Clere. It asks me to participate in a "Legislative Survey on Gov. Daniels' Proposed Budget."

But first, Gov. Daniels' budgetary positions on education, public safety, job creation and spending cuts are briefly outlined.

Then there is the actual link to the survey. I clicked it. Here's the survey:

1. Do you support or oppose Gov. Daniels' proposed budget?
Support
Oppose

2. Please enter your e-mail address: (optional)

Really. That's it.

At least the mailing didn't come from Indiana House Republicans. Spam folders, anyone?

Register to tour Louisville's Green Building this Friday.


(From Judy Martin at Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana)

---

You're invited to take this opportunity to join us for a tour of
The Green Building, 732 East Market Street, Louisville, set for Friday, June 19. Up to 15 people tour at 11 AM (30 minutes) and up to 15 people tour at 11:30 AM (30 minutes). Your registration is required.

Description from the
Web site:

" . . . the first commercial building in Louisville KY to go for LEED platinum certification (the US Green Building Council's designation of a sustainable building). The 15,000 square foot mixed use facility houses a street facing café called 732 Social from James Beard nominated Ton Brothers, The Green Building Gallery, event spaces, and an indoor-outdoor courtyard at the rear complete with a green wall vertical garden."
You're welcome to invite others who might be interested -- especially city and county officials, building contractors, investors, and other preservationists. Meet us there. Parking is available near the building. Please reserve a space by emailing or calling 812 284 4534. We're looking forward to the tour and to seeing you on June 19.

(Photo credit: Green Building website)

New Albany profiled in today's LEO.

Check it out.

Rinse and repeat: New Albany wants an urban renaissance. Have you heard this story before?, by Cary Stemle.

Discuss if you wish.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Does that make it an "officially sanctioned" GOP guest column?

Just for the record ...

The guest column from our District 72 state representative Ed Clere that appears today in the Tribune is precisely the same one disbursed as his e-mail newsletter, which arrived to me as being sent by "Indiana House Republicans," which I take as the stamp of party officialdom's approval.

One essay is a guest column, and the other -- exactly the same piece -- implies it is an official party communication. Well, which is it? I'm just curious.

It seems to me that if the local Democratic Party chose to pay attention (Hello? Is there a pulse?), they'd be encouraging the newspaper to give them equal time, given that Rep. Clere's column/GOP communique is obviously partisan.

What was that about a pulse? I suppose it is obscured by the clamor of the local "Democrat" party's persistent McCain/Palin wing, which might also explain a recurring platform deficiency.

Just nod if you can hear me, guys.

NA exposure -- coming tomorrow in LEO.

I've received confirmation that Cary Stemle's feature article on New Albany will be appearing in tomorrow's LEO Weekly. Cary spent quite a lot of time working on this piece, and I believe he'll nail it.

If we're lucky, it will prompt a closer look at New Albany on the part of regional readers.

If we're very lucky, we'll know what to do with it when it comes.

First, get the conjoined councilmen out of town. With greeters like them, who needs enemies?

Gonder: "Responsible re-use of the property dictates that the main showroom building be used and preserved as a critical feature of Spring Street."

Picking up where we left off yesterday, John Gonder (city council at large) states the case for smart growth at the Coyle site, and adaptive reuse of its centerpiece.

It's Our Turn

Last week a couple articles appeared in the press about the possible purchase of the Coyle Dodge property for use as City/County headquarters.

At the last regular City Council meeting, (which seems about seven meetings back) a resolution was passed unanimously, favoring the concept of Smart Growth and admonishing the City to hew to that organization's principles in planning. It further suggested that the City's Comprehensive Plan be updated in accordance with Smart Growth principles.

The potential acquisition of the Coyle property is a golden, if sudden, opportunity to put the City's resolve into practice. Smart Growth might not necessarily result in moving City Hall onto the Coyle property. But smart growth, lower case intended, would dictate that the existing Coyle building be used if that property is acquired.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Green Mouse sez: Coyle family and ranking city, county politicos in agreement on adaptive reuse v.v. the historic Coyle building.

Good news from Randy Smith and Ann Baumgartle, as reported in a Destinations Booksellers e-mail update this morning. In fact, this is so hopeful that I may have to devote my column this week to a further exploration of this unprecedented support for adaptive reuse on the part of the four public officials mentioned below.

----

Sometimes a person chooses greatness...and sometimes greatness is thrust upon them.

Last week, the family that owns and operates the Coyle auto dealerships found themselves in one of those moments. As you will know by now, our neighbors at the Coyle Dodge dealership on Spring Street saw their multi-year relationship with Chrysler Motors severed involuntarily.

We're writing you today to ask you to take the time to join us in applauding the recent announcement by Chris Coyle that the company intends to extend the company's legacy by working to transfer the historically significant Coyle Building to public ownership.

We learned from The Tribune that the almost 4-acre site is being considered for a new government center to serve the people of New Albany, and perhaps of Floyd County. That site includes the treasured architectural gem that houses the showroom and offices for the dealership.

Coyle, who speaks for the family, spoke eloquently about how his family has built a legacy of service to New Albany over the past decades. The Coyle building, which many still call "Coyle Chevrolet," has stood as a sterling example of early 20th-century commercial architecture. The Coyles, in turning that building into an auto dealership, and in keeping it up over the years (just last year they refurbished and repainted the architecturally historic exterior), have been shining examples of the preservation ethos and outstanding exemplars of the idea of adaptive reuse.

As business neighbors, Ann and I have always admired the way that building was maintained. When we heard that Chrysler was terminating the dealership, we feared that the Coyle Building, an important part of our streetscape, would be under serious threat.

Speaking for the Coyle companies last week, Chris Coyle said "When it's all said and done, if this goes through it will be our gift for New Albany and the 65 years that we've done business there," as quoted in The Courier-Journal.

The Coyles have shown a keen awareness of the importance of preserving our architectural heritage. They were pioneers in adaptive reuse of buildings. And now they are prepared to hand off (well, sell) their historic building to our elected officials.

We'd like to ask you to call Chris Coyle right now and thank him for preserving this building and tell him how much you appreciate their stewardship.

We're told that the four public officials examining this property are serious about acquiring this historic building. If you will, could you call each of them this week and tell them how appreciative you are that they are willing to take this historic building into public stewardship.

We think it's important. You know we don't use these e-mails for such things very often. We think it would mean a lot to all of these men to hear from you and know that you appreciate their efforts to maintain this piece of New Albany's history.

Here's how to reach these men:

Chris Coyle - call (866)-836-3427 or (877) 876-4815 or use this e-mail
link.

Mayor Douglas B. England - call (812) 948-5333 Monday or
e-mail.

City Council President Dan Coffey - call (812) 949-1262.

Commissioner Steve Bush - call (812)-948-5466 or
e-mail.

County Council President Ted Heavrin - call (812)-944-1311 or
e-mail.

Don't wait. Ann and I would appreciate your joining us in extending our thanks.


Have a great week while we all watch this private-public partnership moment come to fruition. Ain't it great?

Sincerely,

Randy Smith and Ann Baumgartle

Proprietors, Destinations Booksellers

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's over. Back to the diamond.

I thought the Lakers would win, but this series was closer than the final 4-1 count indicates. No more NBA basketball for daddy ... until November?

Time to return to baseball.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photo essay: Bank Street Brewhouse almost ready to brew, and the north patio is getting closer.


Note: The illustration at the top is the ad in next week's LEO Weekly, which you'll want to read because of Cary Stemle's feature article about revitalization in New Albany.

Open thread: Adaptive reuse for dummies.

Let's pretend that you're approached by someone who says, "I've heard of adaptive reuse of older buildings. Can you explain to me why it's better to reuse them than to start all over with a brand new structure?"

I know we've covered this ground before, but I'm looking for a Tribune column idea for next week or perhaps the week after. Readers who are well versed in this notion, please comment ... and remember, we're not talking about specifics, just the general merits of adaptive reuse for the less cognizant among us. Thanks in advance.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Today's Tribune column: "One fine weekend in Copenhagen."

BAYLOR: One fine weekend in Copenhagen

It is convenient geographical shorthand to refer to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland as Scandinavia, but it isn’t entirely accurate to lump all four together as one. While there are cultural commonalities to life in Northern Europe, one sees myriad differences, too. The Finnish language alone is enough to give pause, as it’s just as likely to confuse a Norwegian as an American.

Look at a map, and you’ll see that the mass of Denmark is a big peninsula jutting northward into the Baltic Sea, and yet still attached to “mainland” Europe by a common border with Germany.

Is Denmark a part of Scandinavia? Given its Viking past, is it Norse? Should it be considered primarily Baltic owing to the body of water that surrounds it? Or, is it generically European, with further qualifiers being redundant?

Beats me, but it’s a fine place for a holiday.

----

In 1985, I learned that the Danish capital of Copenhagen (population in 2009: 1.1 million) lies on an island. An overnight train from Brussels suddenly halted somewhere in Germany, jostling me awake, and I was able to watch as the entire train rolled forward on tracks built into the bowels of a sizeable ferry boat. Rail passengers promptly hurried upstairs for nocturnal duty-free shopping (primarily liquor and cigarettes) and a few well placed drinks at the bar as the ferry quickly traversed the waters to Denmark.

The train then pulled back onto land-based tracks, and an hour later I was in Copenhagen searching for the temporary summertime youth hostel located in a converted ice hockey rink. After check-in, a locally brewed beer seemed in order, but the only choices seemed to be Carlsberg and Tuborg.

I chose one of each, sipping them straight from their returnable bottles while seated quayside in the old harbor, where dozens of other people from all walks of life were doing exactly the same thing in a laid-back municipality utterly lacking open container laws. The chilled lagers were accompanied by brilliant red-skinned hot dogs from one of the ubiquitous, mobile street stands.

Only later did I discover the joys of pickled herring, but nonetheless, a love affair had commenced, and slowly I became enamored of this thoughtful, well organized urban civilization. Numerous return trips followed, and then an inexplicable decade passed between tastes of Danish hospitality. That unfortunate hiatus ended last month, and the Baylors enjoyed four marvelous days in clean, friendly and rewarding Copenhagen.

Copenhagen stands on its own merits as a tourist destination, with top-of-the-line museums, architectural treats from past and present, eye-catching shopping, diverse dining, an exploding craft beer scene, leafy parks, the requisite nightlife, and much more, but my enjoyment of the city goes well beyond these, because my three best European friends are Danes.

Two of them currently reside in Copenhagen, although their ports of call change frequently. I met two of them in the USSR in 1987, and the third in Copenhagen later that summer. All three have visited New Albany and survived the inherent culture shock, and we’ve met in numerous European locales for fun, conversation and good beer. All three speak perfect English, and between them, there is added fluency in Russian, German, Spanish, Swedish, and even pidgin Japanese. One’s a high tech corporate operative, another is an art dealer specializing in Soviet-era Russian paintings, and the third a journalist.

Going out on the town with these well-traveled, informed gentlemen is a mind-expanding trip irrespective of continents, and the simple act of being acquainted with them always reminds me that while Denmark remains imbued with a Nordic sensibility, it can be flagrantly cosmopolitan while retaining an almost Bavarian gemutlikeit when it comes to eating, drinking and enjoying life’s rich bounty.

----

I’ve no real intention here of recapping Copenhagen’s tourist sites. You can read about Tivoli, the Little Mermaid, the stunning new opera house and the Stroget shopping street at the library or on line. For me, it’s always been about wandering the streets, sniffing around, and trying to sense the pulse of a place. The most recent journey was no exception.

I found it noteworthy that in Copenhagen, two-way “arterial” streets, traffic calming, bicycle lanes, bikes, sidewalks, pedestrians and public transport (buses, which replaced the trams a quarter century ago) all exist on the very same grid.

While a handful of noisy and misinformed New Albanians insist that such a scenario is unimaginable, inconceivable and threatening, right there it is, working exceptionally well in Copenhagen – and shouldn’t New Albany’s much smaller size make such co-existence more achievable, not less?

Then there’s Freetown Christiania, formerly a military area phased out by the government in the late 1960’s, and subsequently occupied by counter-cultural types, squatters and a goodly number of marijuana dealers in search of a commune. Christiania remains a semi-autonomous neighborhood of around 900 people sans comprehensive ordinance enforcement and consistent taxation, occupying roughly 85 acres of what is becoming prime real estate along the rapidly gentrifying harbor area.

To stroll through Christiania is to see that there actually is order and a healthy dollop of self-government, with children playing, a bicycle assembly shop, gardens, cafes, pubs, theater, and music. Will the thirty-year social experiment continue, or can we expect to see the commune re-absorbed into the fabric of Copenhagen?

I don’t know the answer, although the moribund M. Fine building on Main Street in New Albany is now speaking to me in an entirely different way than ever before.

Freetown New Albania, anyone?

Two upcoming Carnegie Center programs on the theme of "Faces of Faith."

(Submitted by the Carnegie Center for Art & History)

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Please join us for these upcoming programs in conjunction with the exhibit "Faces of Faith: the Search for the Divine," Art Quilts by Penny Sisto:

Thursday, June 11, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Panel Discussion, "Voices of Faith: a Search for Unity"
Please join us for a group discussion about religion that will be moderated by Terry Taylor, Executive Director of Interfaith Paths to Peace. Panelists include Richard Sisto, Sylvia Turks Weinberg, Haleh Karimi and Johnny Alse. Please come early to view Penny Sisto's works in the exhibition; the museum will be open from 5:30-7 pm. Also, from about 5:15-6:45 you can view the DVD program "In God's Name: Wisdom from the World's Great Spiritual Leaders." This National Geographic program features interviews with 12 of the world's religious leaders. Free and open to the public.

Tuesday, June 16, 11:30 am-1 pm

Carnegie Senior Class Series: "The Arterburn Brothers and Slave Ads"
Historian Pen Bogert will share his research into slave ads and the personal lives of the Arterburn brothers who controlled the slave pens on First Street in downtown Louisville. Slave traders in Louisville, like the Arterburns, sold thousands of men, women and children to Southern plantations each year. Free, but pre-registration required (944-7336). Bring a brown bag lunch; drinks are provided.

Ammonia, Indigent Flushers, & Politics

What do all three have in common? They stink!!!

I was present for most of last night's council workshop on Georgetown's sewer rates.

Due to health issues of the past few days I couldn't stay for the entire show but I did hang in long enough to gather that this whole debacle is being drawn out for political gain on all fronts.

As I understand it the core issue is that duly elected Georgetown officials from days gone by entered into an agreement with New Albany' Sewer Board.

(Note Sewer Board ... NOT the City of New Albany nor it's Common Council!)

At the time all the legal minds were in agreement that it was a statutory legal agreement.

Georgetown dictated the terms and although our Sewer Board offered longer time periods, G'town's leadership seemed confident with a four year gig.

Now the time has come & gone. In fact it has been extended numerous times and still no discernable action on Georgetown's part to build their own plant.

Meanwhile even given their best efforts to treat it on their end, G'town's effluent is costing more for us to treat due to it's chemical composition than does our own sh@#.

In addition, that same chemical composition is eating away at our lines, pumps, & infrastructure more so than is normal.

So our Sewer Board after much deliberation elected to call in their marker.

Georgetown's new leaders are now crying FOUL!! And they're pulling out all the stops.

"Our fixed income citizens who are living on $600.00 a month can't afford to flush!"

"It cost us $84 to $100 thousand per month to maitain & operate our ill conceived antiquated system!"

"The Floyd County Government blocked the original plant site and we had to start over!"

And my favorite of all:

"The agreement in place will not stand up in court!" May I see your legal degree please?

So now enter the politicos.

Floyd County in conjunction with citizen lawsuits successfuly blocked the Edwardsville area site because of currying favor to potential future developers for that area.

Now they are trying to rectify that move and curry favor with Georgetown voters by offering to pay for another site on the west side of G'town contingent on the County securing Federal funds.

Said funds are at least a year out, by the way.

Then comes our very own Common Council leadership to weigh in on another community's business.

"We can't just let 'em go broke!"

"We gotta do the right thing!"

Meanwhile our Sewer Board is saying "It's not a fine, it is just what you, via your duly elected officials, agreed to do!"

So if G'town wins and our Council chooses to saddle us and our system with the burden for perpetuity, does this mean I can cry foul and walk away from my legal financial obligations as well??

Who really wins/loses here?

Inquiring minds want to know!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Part Four of semi-live blogging: City council work session, Georgetown and sewage rates.

The senior editor is relaying the Bookseller's live report from the city council chamber and tonight's work session about Georgetown, New Albany and the sewer system that binds.

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Don Lopp, county planner, is designated to speak for the county. This despite the fact that Georgetown has asked the county to butt out of the matter.

Lopp: We've applied for federal money. Minimum 7 months, practically 13 months before they can proceed to purchase properties, which the county has agreed to pay for under the settlement agreement dumping the Edwardsville/O'Brien property that faced such opposition by residents who opposed annexation...and that Judge Cody pretty much supported under the law.

Three western sites have been identified. Stimulus funds answer should come in ????? Site reviews, geology, environmental impact statement PROCESS has been initiated. 7 of 9 of the processes are under way....DNR, etc.

Lopp: County invited River Hills to contribute an income survey to get entitlement (CDBG) monies. Claims that Georgetown is just short of qualifying for CDBG money unless they find more poor people.

Locating plant outside corporate limits is no longer being litigated. Settlement pays for site acquisition.

Lopp still speaking: Riverboat money will pay for site up to $1.4 million. If rural development money is available, perhaps an option to buy $350,000 site for land acquisition.

Caesar: We need unified government. But...is $1.4 million enough to do this? Lopp: That price buys out the O'Brien property AND the site acquisition, plus $1 million already expended by Georgetown (which is built into the current rates to households).

Andrews assures that a revenue bond, supported by rates, will be forthcoming once a site is acquired.

Gonder: What about the bad, low-flow, tiny pipes? Andrews: Over time, we'll have to rip up the whole city and re-pipe it. Cost - $3.5 million just to build the sewer plant.

Messer: How close to making this happen? Andrews/Lopp: Town is holding up the rural development application. The county has done everything necessary to get the River Hills money.

Price: Sounds to me like they can't afford this. Commissioners, have you considered a global problem.

Freiberger: That's why we opposed the O'Brien site. The western side of Georgetown is where you want to put a FLoyd County sewer plant.

Messer: How long until plant is running? Andrews: Best case, three years, and we've already begun.

Coffey defers to sewer board to decide whether an accommodation can be made.

Much discussion of "secret" proposals made by Georgetown, which council, council's counsel, and sewer board president say they've never seen these secret proposals.

Coffey DECLARES 60-day moratorium on imposition of billing to Georgetown. No one seems to object, except Lopp insists that county be included in negotiations.

Stewart: If we can take away the fine of $450,000...

Messer says you've been given a break already.

Gary Brinkworth (sewer board member), explains the so-called "penalty." Georgetown decided to stay on the system. Pay $800,000 to extend, then pay us for the sewer credits we've given up. This is not a fine. It is the cost of sewer credits. Part of the $450,000 is a $100,000 arrearage unpaid, but delayed. So now it's $350,000, instead of $700,000 that would have been paid to set up Georgetown for full capacity.

This is not a penalty. It's the unpaid billing that would have been forgiven if Georgetown got off of New Albany's system.

And that's it. Fairly anticlimactic, yet filled with interesting tidbits of attitude, fact, and long-term political objectives.

I hope I've given you a fair verbatim recap of the evening.

No one spoke for the residents of New Albany. I would invite readers to mine the gems from this.

Unfortunately, this city has no verbatim transcript that is publicly available. No radio, no TV, just the minutes taken by an overburdened transcriber, the city clerk.

As Mr. Suddeath said this week, too bad no one from New Albany was present. Lots of folks from the origin city of NAC's senior editor, but no stories from them.

hnnnnnnnnnnnnh.

Part Three of semi-live blogging: City council work session, Georgetown and sewage rates.

The senior editor is relaying the Bookseller's live report from the city council chamber and tonight's work session about Georgetown, New Albany and the sewer system that binds.

----

Now, at last, the attorney for Georgetown takes the podium and asks for a slowdown, a Q & A process.

Basically, he says its regrettable that there wasn't much cooperation and that we need a global, consultative process where we're not shooting each other up.

Missed opportunities. New Albany Sewer Board was too antagonistic to Georgetown. Can't we all get along? More listening? More cooperation between city and county and let little Georgetown get off the hot plate?

"Our budget is minuscule. WE CAN'T GO TO OUR EDIT rate to subsidize sewer rates."

Editorial: That's the point.

Mr. Gonder: Isn't the per capita income in Georgetown higher than New Albany's? Yes, it is, all concede.

But, says attorney, it's a hardship to the poor people. Something should be done. That would have to be picked up by the other people some way.

Editorial: The obvious conclusion is that NEW ALBANY's people should pick up the slack.


Lawyer calls for "Q and A," while filibustering and making his closing argument.

Still waiting for Qs.

New Albany charges Georgetown, not the households. Georgetown has to pay for everything.

Georgetown says they will pay more, to the extent that they can. At the same time, lawyer is saying Georgetown should be paying less.

Georgetown budget for internal sewer operations is $85,000 a month. Yet, G-town pays $3,000 a month, out of altruism, not contract, for chemicals to treat their effluent. All done "to accommodate New Albany," and oh yeah, to keep our pipes from corroding.

Stan Robison asks why city council is involved, as a legal matter. Buchanan says the council is not being asked to raise a rate, under the statute, but rather to affirm the contractual change of Georgetown from wholesale to retail.

Lawyer Andrews (!): Georgetown doesn't have the money to pay its contractual obligations. Therefore, Georgetown's position is they will sue and allege that the contract is illegal.

Robison says his job is to counsel the council and he does not know why "negotiations" haven't come to the council if this is a council problem.

Editorial: The question arises. Is this a "rate increase" under the statute?

Mr. Coffey says the council sympathizes with Georgetown, but asks Andrews to stick to the legal issue of the rate increase.

Andrews: One county where we all live. We ought to be talking to each other.

Zursch: How can Georgetown afford a plant of their own if they can't afford to pay these fees?

Andrews: I think it's better for Georgetown to work with New Albany (stay on the system), take advantage of the economies of scale of New Albany, and drop the whole idea of an independent sewer system.

Gonder: Is Georgetown out of sewer credits? Andrews: We're almost out. We're committed, long-term, to giving out all our credits once all developments are completed.

Robison: Is it your position that the contract is illegal? Andrews: No, No, No. I apologize for implying that. The rate provisions, by "doubling" them, are unjustifiable.

Robison: Why are we here?

Pat Mac: Why are we doing this when we're in the midst of a lawsuit against our own sewer board?

Robison: It's not really litigation. We're asking for an interpretation of statute.

Buchanan: We're not setting rates (here), we're changing classification of Georgetown, by agreement. That's all.

Price: WHy are your rates so high?

Andrews: We don't pay down the rates with tax money like New Albany. Your ratepayers don't appreciate you enough for keeping those rates low.

INSERT Editorial comments HERE.

When Mr. Price starts talking, you know the meat has been plucked from the bone.

Mr. Andrews: We should build a county site that's most efficient. Spend twice as much money

Mr. D.A. Andrews, attorney at law, is a smooth, obviously intelligent attorney. He also is obviously representing his client aggressively and at the same time trying to set countywide policy.

Little violins come out now as Mr. Andrews talks about how Georgetown must battle through litigation (annexation). He says "maybe" someday it would make financial sense for Georgetown to go off the system, but concedes it doesn't make sense now. Nonetheless, he pleads for city-county cooperation to save the ratepayers of Georgetown.

Ron Carroll, sewer board president, wants to know where is your site?

Andrews says that under federal law we can't even negotiate a purchase agreement until federal money is locked up. G-town is days away from completed appraisal on one site.

Coffey: Mr. Carroll is "very astute businessman." In all fairness, sewer board MUST have benchmarks before conceding on contract.

PatMac: Give us something concrete.

DianeB: Do you want the plant or not?

Andrews: The residents just want lower sewer rates. They can't walk away from investment. They want autonomy. They want to pay their own way. (But they want New Albany to pay for it.)

Carroll: Plant enables growth. Georgetown can't grow without a plant. G-town must make the investment.

Part Two of semi-live blogging: City council work session, Georgetown and sewage rates.

The senior editor is relaying the Bookseller's live report from the city council chamber and tonight's work session about Georgetown, New Albany and the sewer system that binds.

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NA Sewer board has no idea what the G-town sewer capital sinking fund applies to user rates. $6 million? $18 million?

"We are not the reason their rate is rising toward $100."

That was Ed Wilkinson, who recently joined the board for the sewers.

Sulfides and ammonia are very high (I'll resist the diet jokes).

For whatever reason, Georgetown's effluent contains VERY high toxics that must be removed. Why? I dunno.

Mr. Gahan asks: This increase is about $15 per household? Yes, says Mr. Wilkinson.

Ah-hah. Flat system, slow flow, the longer it's in the system, the more decay, the more toxic chemistry. That explains it. Not the ingestion of unusual substances, but the "long pipe" decomposition.

I'm trying not to inject my opinions here, but just report undisputed facts.

In NA, there are multiple pumping stations. The Georgetown system, primarily, is gravity-fed. The slowness adds to the decomposition and corrosion. Nonetheless, it all flows downhill.

NOW

The county commission defers to the Georgetown town council member, Mr. Stewart.

G-town rates are "set" by Umbaugh, as an independent accounting firm.

Base rate is $27.65
plus $9 unit rate, based on 5,000 gallons of effluent per month.

OK, I'm already lost. Georgetown, we're told, has an old, rundown system. Operating their system is costly. $89,000 plus per month to operate. Added to that is the New Albany charge for actually treating the system.

So, 90,000 dollars divided by 1,200 people = $10 a month, plus, per ratepayer/householder.

$1.5 retirement bond on old sewer system...
plus bond anticipation notes on future system

Arrgh!

I'm sorry, my mind is much more lineal than I thought. Maybe the council can understand this...I can't. It's too disjointed and all over the map for me to follow.

Mr. Stewart says fair rate is significantly cheaper than even what we pay in N.A. He says it should be $1.09 per unit.

LAWSUIT THREAT. That's the first one tonight. Stewart threatens lawsuit that will hold off any payment for years.

190,000 gallons a day sent from Georgetown. Of 8 million gallons per day for the whole system.

Stewart: We treat our sewage not because we're required to by contract, but because we're nice guys. New Albany asked us to do it, and we did it. We don't have to do so, no matter how corrosive it is.

I'm honestly lost. I'm trying to "live-e-mail" this thing, but I'm hearing gobbledygook.

"Horrible" penalties, horrible rates. Assertion by Stewart that these rates are illegal. If we signed it (old town council), it was illegal. YOU CAN'T ENFORCE IT.

This parrots the legal position of the town's lawyer, who clearly intends to challenge it as "illegal" to treat Georgetown as a retail account.

Sorry...the last ten minutes have been a blur. I checked my e-mail, read the NA Confidential blog comments.

Now, Mr. Price is up for his first at-bat.

"It's steel, politics." Six days before the election, Georgetown agreed to this contract.

Per Stewart: Original contract: $1.9 million a year for 500,000 gallons a day flow.

Georgetown then realized they could do it themselves for less money and asked out of the 25-year contract.

To do so, they were required to pay $800,000 to New Albany, which they did, to unwind a 25-year commitment. In addition, penalties and rate increases would be applied if Georgetown didn't get "off" the system.

Georgetown now says the county should pay to move the plant to the west of town instead of building it at G-town's "Edwardsville" site.

The Edwardsville site is dead, died, and gone. The annexation won't happen. This is me, Randy, saying this. That dog won't hunt.

The west o' town site is the only site. As we listen, there is no plant designed or being built.

Stewart: Give us more time!

Mr. Stewart, as before, is begging, threatening, and poor-mouthing. Claims if anyone sues Georgetown, they have a four-year get-out-of-free card in the contract.

Diane B: DO you actually have a site?
Stewart: No. We have three sites we've talked about that we might offer on, as of May, 2009.

OMG moment!

Stewart: Georgetown doesn't have $350,000 to buy a piece of land. Unless the county pays for it, we can't buy land to build a sewer plant.

Mr. Z: What assurances can you give New Albany?
Stewart: Everything legally possible?

Mr. Z is taking the G-town attorney to the woodshed right now.