Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Passing of the sales baton at NABC.

I've posted at the Potable Curmudgeon blog on NABC's sales position change. John Campbell has resigned, and Josh Hill takes over, effective immediately. The change is amicable, and scandal-free. For the details, go there: Passing of the sales baton at NABC.

Laurie Penny in The Guardian: "There is a curious frigidity to our understanding of youth and sexuality."

I've decided to healthblog, too. It's remarkably easy. My first entry, which reminds us that purity is a ball, comes courtesy of The Guardian's on-line service -- not to be confused with the UK's National Health Service, although by mentioning the latter, I'll (hopefully) be blacklisted by the tea fartings.

Our sex lives. Their agenda; Moral posturing paints the young as victims or villains of a sexualised society. We are just getting on with it, by Laurie Penny.

Dr Petra Boynton, a sex educator and academic, says the change in sexual behaviour isn't nearly so dramatic as the media make out. Most young people still don't lose their virginity until they are over 16, she says. "As adults we're very quick to look at young people and say 'Aren't they awful', without looking at the wider issues – like our appalling track record on sex education."

Packed schedule at Destinations Booksellers.

Following is a quick reference listing of events at Destinations Booksellers/Dueling Grounds Cafe, beginning tonight, and continuing through April. I've provided links for political candidates.

Wednesday, 3/31
Shane Gibson @ 7pm

Thursday, 4/1
Chuck Freiberger @ 7pm

Saturday, 4/3
German Language @ 10am
French Language @ 1pm
Author Charles Smith "The Stragglers" - 2pm

Tuesday, 4/6
Ron Grooms @ 7pm

Wednesday, 4/7
Socrates Cafe @ 6:30pm

Thursday, 4/8
Lee Ann Wiseheart @ 6pm

Saturday, 4/10
German class @ 10am

Brett Loyd @ 11am

French class @ 1pm

Urban history/future forum with Dr. Jake Newman (IUS) and Steve Sizemore of Louisville Metro planning @ 2pm
John Bottorff (US House, 9th District) @ 4pm

Tuesday, 4/13
Ed Clere @ 7pm

Thursday, 4/15
Coffee Party USA discussion @ 7pm

Saturday, 4/17
German language @ 10am

Carol Johnson-Smith (US House, 9th District) @ 11am

French class @ 1pm

Author Keven McQueen "The Great Louisville Tornado" booksigning and discussion @ 2pm

Tuesday, 4/20
At large school board candidate meet and greet (thus far, only 4 have accepted of the 8 running)

Wednesday, 4/21
Destinations fiction book club "On the Same Page" meets @ 7pm

Thursday, 4/22
JC Stites of 8664 @ 6:30pm

Friday, 4/23
Author Lisa Duffy to read for childrens story hour and do a book signing.

Saturday, 4/24
German class @ 10am
French class @ 1pm
Dog trainer and author Matthew Duffy for a book signing (outdoor event) @ 2pm

Monday, 4/26
Republican county candidate meet and greet event

Tuesday, 4/27
Mark Seabrook @ 7pm

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fire destroys Bottles Unlimited.

Just yesterday I pedaled past the site of the B & B Bar & Grill and paused to watch the cinderblock construction as a new building rises at the corner of Culbertson and 15th. I'm assuming that the owners are rebuilding. Does anyone know for sure?

Then, word came this morning that Bottles Unlimited has burned, too: Downtown New Albany liquor store destroyed by fire.

Bottles Unlimited went into business in the early 1980's. As with Scoreboard Liquors on Spring, a big part of its business came from Louisvillians at a time when Kentucky's archaic liquor pricing laws remained in effect. Until Bottles arrived, Scoreboard had the off/on ramp monopoly, and the freshly minted package competition highly annoyed Scoreboard's owner (and my boss at the time), the late Jim Creech.

My youthful opinion at the time was that Scoreboard should relinquish the price-driven trade and go upmarket with higher quality selections, tastings and information unavailable elsewhere. It was the strategy subsequently pursued, albeit a decade or more later, by the Bairds at their Old Mill shop on Charlestown Road. But of course it was Jim's money, not mine, and anyway, I always intended to pursue other possibilities -- and on occasion actually did. He stuck with his business plan, and more often than not, got beat at it.

Soon afterward the Kentucky laws changed, and the playing field leveled. Bottles still had the superior first-past-the-post field position, and in 1988, Scoreboard lost its lease and moved uptown, where it sputtered to a halt in the late nineties. Jim died five years ago, and I miss him. Had the timing been different, I still think we could have put our heads together and come up with a way of reinventing the liquor store for a different market.

Amid the steadily improving urban clutter around Elm Street and State at the I-64 ramp, Bottles Unlimited has been a successful, productive, long-term business. Will it rebuild? Catastrophes like this often serve as opportunities, and this one might afford Bottles Unlimited a chance to reinvent itself downtown, and become part of a fresh wave.

Hizzoner strikes back: "(Clere) should be careful about what he says and when he says it."

Love him or hate him, Mayor Doug England has never been prone to meekness when his dander's up. Does England's assessment of the situation with Rep. Ed Clere click, and do his charges against Clere stick? Feel free to discuss.

The full text is here, followed by a letter from the IHSAA's director filled with nonsensical babble about the importance of high school sports amid the prevailing Daniels Education Pogram.

This is the third time in as many months that State Representative Ed Clere has taken it upon himself to announce the conclusion of important negotiations between the City of New Albany and State of Indiana. While I understand that Mr. Clere seeks kudos and political points as he is heads into his campaign to seek re-election to a second term as our State Representative, I think it is inappropriate for him to be the spokesman of City of New Albany business without coordinating with my office.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Frank Rich on the "national existential reordering."

On the same day that my former personal physician merrily foams at the mouth in the Tribune, one of the most insightful of mainstream pundits charts the dimensions of white, tea-bagging America's feverish demons. Perhaps the only question now is whether they'll secede before or after the inevitable, and whether the sensible among us should even give a damn.

The Rage Is Not About Health Care, by Frank Rich (New York Times).

... If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

R.I.P., Don Parsons.

It was only a week ago that I learned of Don Parsons' impending death. He had battled cancer to standstill the first time around, but regrettably, as so often is the case, it roared back at Don with a vengeance, and nothing could be done. Now it has claimed him. He was 56, and even a month ago, he looked at least ten years younger than that.

Don frequented the Public House on Saturday afternoons, especially when the weather was good and he could ride his motorcycle. We talked beer numerous times, and as a homebrewer, Don truly "got it." He was a regular at BBC in St. Matthews, and was referred to there as Dart Don.

Last week, aware that the end was near, he donated his beer bottle collection for use in Leticia Bajuyo's New Albany Bicentennial Public Art project sculpture, which will appear outside the Bank Street Brewhouse in late April.

By virtue of the collection's many shapes and sizes, not all of them can be used. However, my promise to Don is this: A part of you will be present, and as many of your bottles as possible will be in the Bicentennial sculpture, if I have to scrub the damn things myself.

Don was a friend, and a friend to beer. I'll miss him very much, and he'll not be forgotten as long as there's a New Albanian Brewing Company.

I hope he thought to pack some Weyerbacher ...

Former CHDO head John Miller running for Louisville Metro Council.

When last we glimpsed John Miller, he was presiding over the disintegrating remnants of New Albany's CHDO, which is a sad story overall, and one told previously in this space.

Linden Meadows bubbled to the surface again a few days ago: New Albany Sewer Board won't go after Linden Meadows tap fees. About the same time, Bluegill gave a heads-up that Jake at The 'Ville Voice blog had taken notice of John. None of us knew that he is running against Louisville's iconic 9th district Metro Council rep, Tina Ward Pugh.

Spoiler alert: Jake's assessment is not pretty. I'll let TVV speak for itself:

Tina’s Opponent Breaking Campaign Finance Law

As one or the other pop culture wag once mused, it gets "curiouser and curiouser" around these parts. If not for the topical application of Progressive Pints, I'm not sure how we'd make it through the night.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, Louisville Region.

Take a gander at this and consider who we'd be subsidizing and what we'd be encouraging with the Ohio River Bridges Project. Also consider that the NA-FC School Corporation is operating in lockstep to compel bad decision making.

H+T Affordability Index: Louisville, KY--IN: Comparing Housing Costs - % Income to Housing and Transportation Costs - % Income

The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index is an innovative tool that measures the true affordability of housing based on its location.

© Copyright 2003-10 Center for Neighborhood Technology
2125 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 · Tel: (773) 278-4800 · Fax: (773) 278-3840

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Albany the defending champion as Neighborhood Derby 2010 gets under way.

It's Neighborhood Derby time again at Broken Sidewalk: Announcing Round One Of The 2010 Neighborhood Derby.

As you may recall, last year New Albany won it all.: New Albany Crowned BS Neighborhood Derby 2009 Champion.

We won because we played to win: Neighborhood Derby voting winding down ... limited supply of Kessler 1/2 pints remain in play.

Now we're seeded first. As my roomie used to say on his answering machine, "You know what to do, and when to do it."

Mayor England sez: Alternate Plan B to address sewers, their rates and whatnot.

File under "press releases we didn't receive," but the council president's ears and mouth are nearer City Hall's horse than mine. The droppings? Those are on Cappuccino's end.

Mayor's Alternative Sewer Rate Plan, by John Gonder (from his blog, where you can find the complete text).

Here is an e-mail marked for "immediate release".

A rate table alluded to in the test inexplicably didn't move from the original to this format.

The e-mail and the words are the administration's not mine.
Here are the Mayor's meat and potatoes:

Under what has been dubbed “Alternate B”, the use of EDIT and Riverboat funding to subsidize the sewer rates would be scrubbed. But Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to fund the debt service for three projects contained in the Capacity Assurance Plan—Basin 14 Lift Station Upgrade, the Mount Tabor Lift Station Upgrade and the Jacobs Creek/Lewis Branch Interceptor—would be utilized. The amount required to fund debt service to be pledged from TIF would be approximately $240,000 per year. The “Alternate B” plan also slashes $1.0 million from the sanitary sewer annual operating budget.
Look ma: No EDIT!

Now, the question becomes, "Where are the votes?"

Today's Tribune column: "It was a modest start."

This one requires little in the way of introduction. The one thing I neglected to do in today's column was dedicate it: To the memory of the late David Roark, whose boundless wit so enlivened those years.

BAYLOR: It was a modest start

Not so long ago, an old friend observed that my meek and unobtrusive writing style — as displayed over 30 years in letters to the editor, a beer appreciation newsletter, Internet blogs and finally newspaper and magazine columns like this one — can be traced back to baby steps at the Weekly Wad.

Charlie Brooker: "Newspapers are the biggest threat to the nation's mental wellbeing."

The United Kingdom, that is. It's classic Brit-write, with wonderful drug abuse analogies, and a topic often addressed here at NAC.

The most dangerous drug isn't meow meow. It isn't even alcohol ..., by Charlie Brooker (The Guardian).

... In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often "cut" the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out.

A cherished and hallowed way of life.

Two weeks have elapsed since the C-J’s Harold J. Adams broke the "racist remarks" story and NAC smirked here that "them people" has become the current city's council's unofficial motto.

Today, Matt Thacker brings the Tribune belatedly into the game.

NAPD officer reportedly made racist remarks; NAACP calls for review of officer’s arrests

… Dustin White, legal redress for local NAACP chapters, says he would push for an internal investigation by the police department or prosecutor reviewing all of (Jack) Messer’s arrests to see if there are any questionable cases or if his cases reflect any bias.

“They need to decide if that’s the type of police officer they want to have and whether that questions the integrity of the police force,” White said ...

... “I don’t think this whole thing is a question of sensitivity or diversity training,” White said. “It’s a question of whether he thinks everyone should have civil rights according to the constitution.”

Messer is also a New Albany city councilman and is a Democrat. He has said he may switch parties, but White and (Nicole) Yates, both Democrats, reject any suggestion their criticism is politically motivated.
Maybe not, but now it's clear why City Hall mentioned the revival of the Human Rights Commission at a recent council impotency confab. Note also that NAC has supported the revival of the moribund HRC since at least 2005.

As for the dust-up about Messer, it may surprise you to learn that I have a personal opinion.

In all likelihood, the Messer incident is relatively minor in the cosmic scheme of things, and it is highly doubtful that he will ever be confused for David Duke, but: In a city with as dismal a record of human rights consciousness as New Albany, you’re almost certain to get a racist bite anytime your line gets wet, and in that way, it's always political.

It's not so much that the bar here is set too low. It's that its buried and can't be found at all.

As Messer -- whom I continue to appreciate and respect for being right far more often than not during his council tenure -- is learning, it’s one thing to uphold the law of the land as a policeman, and quite another to establish the non-civic credentials currently demanded of Republicans in order to belong to their tea party ... and to make a New Albanian mayoral bid.

In general terms, and in an observation not aimed at Messer himself, the irony is this: In Floyd County, the Democratic Party is so devoid of intellectual content, platform consistency and a record of upholding coherent views on virtually any topic, that it isn’t even necessary for a person to switch parties and join the GOP in order to accommodate an aberrant racial viewpoint.

You're free to disagree. Discussion?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thrivability: A Collaborative Sketch curated by Jean Russell.

Be sure to click the full screen icon next to email at the bottom.

The Pander Bear roots through rental property garbage piles as a city council work session ripens.

In False Hopes, False Solutions, Randy "The New Albanist" Smith describes the retrograde action at last evening's city council work session.

C-J coverage is here, and the Tribune's there.

At the end of the second excerpt, Randy posits the shape of a new Gang of Four. Sadly, this seems to be substantive fact, and there has emerged another grouping of regressive-minded council persons, even without King Larry and Bill Schmidt available for duty.

It has been recurringly obvious that if one's sole goal as council representative is to retain some measure of personal influence as ego wash at the expense of the greater good of the commonweal, all progress must be halted, and all economic development must be sacrificed to short-term subsidies that gather votes while gutting the future.

Steve Price's and Dan Coffey's cynical proposal to drain every last economic development funding source available so as to prevent a sewer rate increase is precisely this. By kneecapping development for generations, the Axis of Banal seeks to avert an influx of interloping, achievement-oriented people who cannot be controlled by their traditional shell games, dolteries, voodoo and nutjobberies. Doing so "sticks it" to those in the city who understand the difference between a legitimate policy statement and an intentional whopper of a lie that originates in deep-seated feelings of social inferiority.

The question isn't whether Price and Coffey believe any of this, or why they do. Those issues are settled and beyond dispute. The real issue, one sure to be debated by New Albanians for years to come, is this:

Why have Jeff Gahan and Pat McLaughlin fallen so readily for it?

Back to Randy:

Tuesday evening, the powers that be (elected and appointed) put on a show where they pretended to solve a critical sewer funding problem. Although no decisions were made, much pandering took place. Of course, Steve Price put on the greatest display of ignorance, but that’s to be expected any time the council gathers in front of the press or the public ...

... The whole evening was an exercise in implausibility, buck-passing, blaming of previous administrations, vituperation from CM Price, and good old pandering most applicable to a “presser.” The PR value on Wednesday ought to be bankable.

Here’s my take on the visible consensus [though I have independent evidence that much of the evening's performance was just for'll have to take my word.]

The consensus is to put city finances
Into voluntary servitude
To benefit ratepayers at
The expense of working taxpayers
To benefit businesses at
The expense of working taxpayers
To benefit fringe property owners at
The expense of working taxpayers
To benefit landlords at
The expense of working taxpayers
To benefit profligate users of water at
The expense of working taxpayers.

Thus cutting off opportunity

Handcuffing all New Albanians in the future.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Open thread: Kat330's explanation of NAMU's "discriminatory rate system."

The following was submitted by kat330 (Kathleen). I've tried as best I can to make it look sensible on the page. Blogger sure doesn't make it easy.


Graphically explaining the issues of discrimination and conservation disincentive within New Albany Municipal Utilities wastewater charges


Wastewater Charge ÷ Units Used = Rate Per Unit

20.16 ............... 4 ............... 5.04

15.12 ............... 3 ............... 5.04

10.08 ............... 2 ............... 5.04

10.08 ............... 1 ............... 10.08 [5.04 + 5.04 surcharge]

Leaving 0-unit usage out of the sample for the moment (since you can't divide or multiply by "0"), it's crystal clear from the above how any "base access" or "minimum use surcharge" -- whatever you dub it -- is currently the burden only of NAMU customers who strain our city's pipes and system the very least. Every billed customer at a usage level of 2 units (plus) pays only in parity with exact usage except for the bottommost tier of zero and 1-unit users. This constitutes a completely regressive and discriminatory billing system, which piles all additional costs onto one group of highly responsible consumers (1-unit) and on vacant properties (0 units).

The argument presented by Skomp at a sewer board Mtg. on 3/11/10, and repeated by others, is (to paraphrase) "NAMU [and/or EMC] requires this extra minimum revenue to help pay for the system." That's precisely why a connection / access fee shared by every customer from the very beginning would have resulted in far more revenues collected, obviously, from the full 17,000 customer base instead of 2-3,000 customers at most. More importantly, this much more common base fee billing system would have been non-discriminatory over all these years and, more importantly, the current dire need of a 36% rate hike would be mostly, if not entirely, nullified. A simple computer algorithm would probably reveal that nothing more than tiny increments in unit rates above a shared access fee would have been needed in 2010 if a fair system had been put into place from the beginning.

Now over on the NA Confidential blog, we observed a number of 3-unit users wrote in their comments how "fair" and perfectly reasonable 15.12 was for their wastewater charges. That's because it is for you! If in this city you use 2, 3, 4, 5 and on up to whatever ceiling of unit usage exists, your costs match up exactly to what you consume and not a penny more. So let's graphically show a switch up on the current NAMU sample above by removing that 5.04 surcharge from the 1-unit users and instead tack it onto you 3-unit users. It would look like this:

Wastewater ÷ Charge Units Used = Rate Per Unit

20.16 .............. 4 ............... 5.04

20.16 .............. 3 ............... 6.72

10.08 .............. 2 ............... 5.04

5.04 ............... 1 ............... 5.04

This new rate chart points up several interesting facts. First off, the surcharge added at the 3-unit level divides out to far less of an overcharge per unit (6.72) than how it currently divides for usage of 1-unit (10.08). Also, since the NAMU customer base contains many more billings of 3 units than it does of 1 unit, the collected 5.04 from each in the above group would be a tremendous boost to revenues over what's currently collected on the backs of 1-unit users. And again, a simple spreadsheet program could pinpoint which usage group is the most prevalent in any given month from among the 17,000 total and randomly stick that 5.04 surcharge onto that most common usage billing. After all, if it is not being considered discriminatory when it's added to the bottom usage tiers, then how could it be considered unfair when tacked onto 3- or 4- or 5-unit users?

Here is what else this "walk in our shoes" surcharge switcheroo can demonstrate. Okay now, all of you "happy what you pay" 3-unit users out there: How happy would you be to pay 20.16 for your 3 units of usage when you know the guy next door uses 4 units and pays exactly the same as you do for wastewater? Do you think he would wash his car more efficiently or wait for full dishwasher and laundry loads in order to conserve down to your 3-unit level when he knows he'll pay exactly the same for 3 as he already does for 4? Unless he’s the greenest of the green and among the most responsible, conscientious citizens the city has, of course not. On the other hand, do you think you might develop more wastrel behaviors since you wouldn't pay any more for consuming that additional unit?

Fact is, citizens, I couldn't find another example on the Internet of a comparably-sized municipal utility with a "minimum use" billing system in 2010 that places extra charges solely on the bottom tiers of the customer base. Duke, Vectren, AT&T and Indiana American Water all use a base fee after which customers pay equitably for their usage on 1 for 1, 2 for 2, 3 for 3, etc., basis. Does an access / connection fee system still burden the lowest consumer of any service? Yes, it does. But at least these other utilities don't charge the customer who uses 1 unit twice as much for that unit as the customer who uses 2 units, which NAMU currently does. Our Indiana American Water bill, et al, is not identical when consuming 0, 1, or 2 units in any given month -- it's progressive in costs -- but our NAMU bill is identical in those three different usage groups.

If you want to see a 21st century wastewater billing system that wisely, progressively and greenly goes several steps beyond even the base fee system we're advocating, then check out this URL for Minnetonka, MN (comparable in size to what New Albany was before further losing population).

And at this URL, you can see what class action sewer suers can accomplish against rate discrimination.

Take and give care, and try always to be fair.

Hatred? It speaks for herself.

Periodically I'm advised that by satirizing those who differ from my point of view, I'm cheapening myself and reducing the chances for everyone to sit down at the same table and be substantive. I see the point. Perhaps there are times when this has been true.

Here's the other side of it, something that shows what we're up against. It may be unwise for me to satirize Vickie Denhart's Freedom of Speech, so today, let's just permit her hate speech to speak for itself.


By One voice

Your political career is over. Kiss your house seat goodbye.

Hussein Odumbo and Botox Pelosi mixed up a big old batch of "Baylor's Brewhouse Kool-aid" and convinced you to drink up and walk the plank.
"You're a bigger dumb ass than we thought."

You said it better than we ever could:

"In the short term, it's going to cost me!"

You got that right! "Bye, Bye...Baron Hill.

Didn't you learn anything over the last 14 month's?

"Once a Muslim, Always A Muslim."

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Sometimes one had to wonder why some of these people are Democrats in the first place."

As we await Healthblogger's impending exodus to Paraguay and occupancy of the late General Stroessner's idyll in Little Nurnberg, here is lucid commentary on last night's health care vote.

Verily: Anything so good and proper that every last Republican voted against it probably should have been even more radical than it was, and if certain quasi-Democrats weren't so cowardly and unprincipled, it would have been. But it's a step in the left direction. The Congressional fallout will be less than expected, and President Obama likely has assured his re-election in 2012. I imagine Travis Hankins will secede from the Union.

Perhaps there is room at Alfredo's. Shall we pack the Courtesy Bus?
Healthcare vote: Barack Obama passes US health reform by narrow margin, by Michael Tomasky (Guardian Daily).

It did not, you may have noticed, come easily. The Democrats pulled it out in the end, but they – especially the Democrats in Congress – behaved abominably throughout this process. Dozens of Democrats – mostly moderates, but a few on the left, too – acted more like members of a small-town city council considering a zoning application than legislators considering one of the most momentous votes in recent American history. And while it's certainly true that a "yea" vote last night will prove to be a risky one for some members, and will cost a few of them their jobs, even that reality is no justification for the preening and fretting we've witnessed in these recent weeks, weeks they could and should have spent promoting the bill.

Sometimes one had to wonder why some of these people are Democrats in the first place.

C-J on microbrewery Sunday carry-out sales.

I don't think the photo makes Matt look bad at all.

Microbrewers in Indiana hail end of ban on takeout sales on Sunday, by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener (Courier-Journal).

The change essentially puts microbreweries in the same category as wineries, treating both more like tourist attractions than alcohol vendors such as liquor stores, bars and other locations that continue to be banned from selling takeout beer, wine or liquor on Sundays.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Candidate Hankins to Indiana: Let's secede from the Union to preserve our right to inadequate health care.

This one's so good it needs to be run in its entirety.

Contemplating Hankins' conservative credentials, as reprised below, reminds me of the many phrases used by "Barney Miller's" Detective Harris to describe the trip to Bellevue hospital.

Candidate Hankins, the Courtesy Bus to the Hotel Silly will be here in just a moment. Wonder if Mike Sodrel's the driver?


Hankins Calls on Indiana and Gov. Daniels to Act

Columbus - Today... Travis Hankins has asked Governor Mitch Daniels and the Indiana state legislature to convene a special session to exclude Indiana from any and all pieces of the Federal legislation potentially passed in Washington concerning healthcare.

Hankins comments, "I am calling on Governor Daniels and the state legislature to do the right and legal thing and preserve our state’s tenth amendment rights. Regardless of whatever else the other states are doing, in Indiana we must have legislation outlawing a federal individual health insurance mandate. I am calling on the state to pass legislation making ObamaCare illegal in Indiana."

Hankins seeks specific and clear legislation passed that makes an individual mandate to purchase health insurance illegal.

Hankins also requests that Attorney General Greg Zoeller take legal action against any potential “health care reform” in order to have it overturned by the courts.

Travis Hankins, as an individual, is also in the process of beginning to prepare legal briefs to petition the courts to overturn any “health care reform” passed in Washington.

Travis Hankins is a real estate investor and conservative activist seeking the GOP nomination in Indiana’s ninth Congressional district.

Yesterday's WHAS-11 news segment on the NA Bicentennial Art preview at Bank Street Brewhouse.

Here's the link to the WHAS-11 story.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ilmatyynyalukseni on täynnä ankeriaita.

Excuse the title. I've been looking for an excuse to use obscure linguistics in a title. Basque was my first choice ...

I can appreciate where you’re coming from. Both of you.

You’ve landed here only recently, and in the course of surveying the landscape, there have been judgments based on first impressions. Some of these will survive scrutiny, others not. That’s the classic, enduring beauty of the learning curve.

I’ve lived here in Floyd County my whole life, and have always had a mailing address within ten or so miles of City-County Building, but because my residency in the city of New Albany only began in 1993, I’m considered an outsider by many (mostly older, mostly bitter) New Albanians. Consequently, I know what it’s like to arrive here and be childishly derided for not being FROM here.

The ones who never accomplished anything will always resent you for your talent, your skill, and most of all, your mobility. If they perceive you being of temporary assistance to them in their goals of universal doltery and egalitarian misery, they’ll lionize you until you think for yourself. Then it will be over, and you’ll feel predictably dirty the next morning.

It’s frustrating, but ultimately, it’s their loss. They can do nothing to improve the planet. You can. The question is: Who wins?

Doers … or delusionals?

My involvement with the eternal morass of New Albanian politics dates back about six years. Before that, I was busy with the original pub and brewery on the north side. When I remarried, we bought a house on Spring Street, and began absorbing contemporary ways of thinking and planning as they pertain to historic urban cores. All I could see was an underutilized, savaged doughnut hole. I had to learn why it had happened, and how best to rectify it.

In the beginning, I looked around and thought I understood the lay of the land. I spoke out accordingly. As I met people who were outside my comfort zone of the Grant Line pub, and who had put much more thought into matters like this than I had, it began to occur to me that my initial snap judgments were utterly and embarrassingly mistaken. Much had been misread on my part, which is understandable given my inexperience.

Too bad I spouted before I grokked, but so it goes. You live, and you learn.

In New Albany, for better or worse, the more one learns, the murkier it gets, and the more affairs become resistant to glib, simple answers of the sort that satisfy the populist in all of us. We want these sort of answers, and badly. It’s easier to believe them and to range outside slef-imposed cultural boxes. Unfortunately, they’re seldom true.

Obfuscation, self-destructiveness and perhaps plain ol’ simple insanity are parts of everyday life here, in a fashion that mimics Faulkner’s fictional Mississippi to the letter, and maybe more so than most suspect. So it is that some times, you get off on the wrong foot and miss things. It’s difficult to see what’s progressive, and what isn’t. Some times, one must shrug and accept the daily torrential abuse for what it is: Fear, and loathing, and on occasion, chemical imbalance.

In the end, it comes down to this: If you’re smart enough to know better, you’re obliged to ...

… know better. To know. That’s the key word. In a city that by and large hates knowledge, hates achievement, and hates itself, knowing is the only conceivable coping mechanism.

The dark side in NA? It’s not the place to be. Trust me. The capable mustn't be divided by pettiness and intemperance, because there are too damned few of us.

Bunches of bottles against the wall.

Leticia Bajuyo visited Bank Street Brewhouse today to provide a preview of her sculpture for the Bicentennial Art Project, and plenty of empty 12-ounce beer bottles were donated by our customers. Very shortly, the bottles will become the sculpture, and Leticia explained how and why in the context of her work to date.

Matt and Jim Patus topped the bottle donation chart, followed by Don Parsons. A number of others joined the fun and brought bottles. The gorgeous spring day contributed to the festive ambience as art, not sewers, was (for once) the topic of the moment in New Albany.

Permit me to thank Leticia, Julie Schweitzer, Karen Gillenwater, my workers Aleen and Shelly, and all the other people in attendance on a day that provided a measure of restorative cultural encouragement.

Posted by Picasa

Mathes Pharmacy's "free sidewalk" -- first in a series.

A thought for Saturday morning coffee.

Reporter, columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman relates one of my favorite Marx Brothers cinematic moments in this excerpt from “The Lexus and the Olive Tree.”

In the Marx Brothers’ classic movie Duck Soup, there is a scene in which Chico and Harpo are talking to the evil, calculating European statesman Trentino, Groucho’s political rival, who has hired Chico and Harpo as spies. When Chico and Harpo come to Trentino’s office to report on the progress of their spying, his secretary walks in with a telegram. Harpo grabs it out of her hands, examines it closely and then rips it to shreds, tosses it on the floor and shakes his head. Stunned and surprised, Trentino turns to Chico with a quizzical look, as if to ask: “Why did he do that?”

And Chico answers: “He gets mad because he can’t read.”

In all likelihood, neither Friedman nor the Marx Brothers ever set foot in New Albany.

So: How can their characterization of life here be so chillingly accurate?

Friday, March 19, 2010

What's the hourly council pay rate for dithering? Come hither and find out.

It must be spring break/NCAA tournament/sock darning time, because the Tribune turned to a "freelance writer living in Louisville" to cover last evening's numbingly predictable exercise in congenital city council futility.

Speaking of webvertising, did you know that when you click through to a Tribune link from NAC, you're providing the newspaper's web ad sales team with valuable ammo to close the deal? If you're thinking of placing such an ad, shouldn't you just run it here, and cut out the Alabama state pension system?

Sssshhh ... we don't want anyone to know that this is "just" a blog. It might compromise our rampant journalistic integrity. So, it's on to the links. First, Mr. Jones:

New Albany City Council postpones vote on sewer rates, by Michael L. Jones (Tribune)

... 5th District Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti was clearly perturbed that the council refused to vote on the ordinance Thursday night. McCartin-Benedetti said other members of the board were offering solutions without specifics and wasting precious time. If the city defaults on its bond debt servicing, the state could put the sewer system in receivership.

“This rate from the state could go away, that’s really what upsets me,” McCartin-Benedetti said. “I don’t want to be responsible for something going into receivership while I’m in office, you don’t know what that can do to us. If we keep talking about this and no one is coming out with figures, I say we should meet every single night, all of us. Every single night until we hammer this out and come to an agreement.”
Evidently, it was so bad that even the customarily upbeat Mrs. Baird regretted two and a half hours that she'll never get back.

ALL TALK AND NO ACTION (Voice of the People blog)

There is not much to report about the city council meeting tonight. The meeting lasted from 7:30 to 10:00 and virtually nothing was accomplished.
I ran into Maury Goldeberg earlier in the day, and he asked for a breaking blog update last evening. Obviously, there was nothing to update, other than a report that Steve Price accused fellow council members of thinking and studying, and vowed to vote against sewer rate increases three times, even though he is allowed only one vote. Consequently, perhaps Price's council tenure is the joke referred to by Maury in his blog entry:

City Council Meeting, March 18, 2010 (New Albany Today blog)

I was not in attendance this evening ... when I learned what transpired at the meeting tonight shook my head and uttered the phrase: "What A Joke"!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Don't ask me why, but ...

If you're near Bank Street Brewhouse circa 4:00 p.m. today (Thursday, March 18), come in and have a beer. I'm buying.

Caveat emptor: You must be present at 4:00 p.m., on the button. You must RSVP below, or else it's Dutch Treat. Don't ask me why, and don't expect for it to happen again. I have my reasons.

Got it?

Speaking of beer, I wrote about the momentous SB 75 legislation in yesterday's LEO: "Free at last, free at last." How something so progressive came from the same place that's so regressive is a mystery, but a welcomed one.

And don't forget this: The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project needs your empty beer bottles at Bank Street Brewhouse on Saturday, March 20.

I'm done writing for today.

City council: Punch lines galore, and not a straight man to be found.

There's a city council meeting tonight, and for those masochists among you, here's the agenda.

I've already informed the "Gang of Pour" that I shan't attend owing to a forgotten but important commitment: I've been asked to make a few comments about liquids (primarily alcoholic) for an IUS class called "Food & Society," as taught by the estimable G. Sam Sloss. Marty Rosen will be on hand, too, to provide a viewpoint from his position as restaurant critic. A tough decision, indeed, to elect to learn more about food and drink rather than listen to Steve Price butcher the syntax.

Rather predictably, Dan Coffey's blog has slipped into moribund mode, so we'll not bother with a link to it. When the wee ones commence to blathering, you'll know to go, look, and vomit profusely.

Randy Smith tweets: "Big issues Thursday in New Albany. I predict no vote at all on sewer rates. But how about $170K for a street sweeper?" Go to his New Albanist's blog for the whole story.

And, as previously posted: "Dear Pat," or, is being joined to Dan Coffey's other hip any way to go through life? Next week, maybe I can do another column called "Dear Jeff," in which I ask: Whatever happened to you?

Today's Tribune column: "Dear Pat."

Here's the purported link to the Tribune's web posting of my column today. Good luck trying to make it work, or figuring out why, yesterday, the name of a recently deceased person was included as part of the opinion columnists' roster.

As I write, the tab is spinning merrily and telling me the Tribune web page that won't even load is, in fact, very busy, and may try to cause problems if I shut it down!

More problems than there already are? That's hard to imagine. Our city council is a paragon of efficiency by comparison.

Anyway ... because the newspaper's web site seldom is functional these days, I'm reprinting my Thursday column right here, in a space that actually works.



By ROGER BAYLOR, Local Columnist

“I can't help but wonder if we've made a mistake in settling down in New Albany. This place is nuts.”

Dear Pat,

The words quoted above are real. I didn’t make them up. They were spoken to me by a friend who wasn’t raised here, like you and I were, you in the city, and me in the county.

Perhaps neither of us is able to see the counter-productive political dysfunction holding sway hereabouts quite as clearly as someone who views our home turf with clear, unprejudiced eyes – the type of person far too many natives persist in dismissing and deriding as an “outsider.”

Pat, we don’t know each other that well, and during the time since you were elected to represent the 4th council district, we’ve had a few heated debates over politics, policy and public affairs. Let’s forget those. The reason why I’m writing you today is because of my friend, who came here from somewhere else because he and his wife believe in our city’s largely untapped potential. In spite of our differences, Pat, it’s always been my view that at some level, you genuinely “get it.”

As such, what are we to tell my friend – tell him, and her, and “them people,” as your caterwauling council colleague Dan Coffey has oft times referred to anyone who is educated, artistic, productive and capable? Are we to follow Coffey’s lead and turn away the new blood – the sort of people that any community needs to build, grow and prosper – or shall we harness, integrate and welcome them to a city that values their presence and benefits from their labors?

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, Pat. It isn’t about newcomers alone. It’s also about those who already live here -- most importantly, about their children. It’s a cliché, but children are the city’s hope and its future. In the past, our best and brightest tended to leave town, because we couldn’t offer the sort of economic, cultural and lifestyle opportunities they regarded as necessary to stay. This needs to change, and in some respects, it has.

Surely we can agree: When it comes to education and educational opportunities, that selfishness, resentment and spite have no conceivable place in the discussion.

And yet, Pat, since you’ve served on the city council, can unbiased, neutral observers reach any other conclusion than this one:

New Albany’s city council, as permitted by its members to be dominated by a regressive, anti-intellectual faction led by Dan Coffey and abetted by Steve Price, has consistently stood against education, and educational attainment, and sustainable economic development flowing as a natural consequence of education?

I’m trying earnestly not to exaggerate the Coffey-led council’s anti-educational bias, which in practice might better be referred to as an aversion to human progress in virtually any quantifiable form, except you and I both know the malignancy is there, and profoundly damaging.

My question to you, Pat: If you know better, and I think you do, then why, at this late juncture, is your name so closely linked politically with theirs?

Consider last week’s tragicomic school closings. If ever there were a time for this pointlessly fractured, hopelessly divided council (and that’s just the eight strong Democratic contingent) to come together, call a special town hall meeting, posture, grandstand, point fingers and squawk, this was it: Neighborhood schools being closed in three downtown council districts, hampering if not outright crippling revitalization prospects and economic development for decades to come.

Predictably, none of it occurred. As a body, the council was silent, and the only way to explain its timidity is outright malice on the part of its movers and shakers. City Hall came out forcefully against the school closings, and almost certainly, that’s why the Coffey-Price “let’s pretend to be Democrats and hope that we all fail” faction refrained from comment.

That they fail as individuals to see any value in progress merely seals the deal on their crass political absenteeism. Either way, it’s another black eye for a city already ill disposed toward insight.

Understood: Times are hard. The business climate is tough, and yet quite a few people, many of them from elsewhere, have invested in downtown New Albany. To cite one example, the new State Street branch of Wick’s Pizza has been its best performing store in metro Louisville. Wick’s is situated in Coffey’s council district, and yet he hasn’t missed an opportunity to speak and act against such development, to bad-mouth entrepreneurs, and to urge future investors to stay away from New Albany.

Pat, is this really leadership?

(No, Roger, it isn’t.)

I know you believe that. I know you’re better than that. I know you have what it takes to lead. But Pat, here’s what bothers me.

Why do you tolerate it, and why do you persist in voting with Coffey and Price?

Sorry, no; you can’t explain it by saying that the issues upon which you’re been marching lockstep with the council’s ward heeling looters -- sewer rate votes, audit envy, public safety and dollar-and-cents issues -- are somehow different in nature from the spiteful, repugnant, self-debilitating attitude toward the city’s future displayed by these same congenital “no” voters. The non-governing principles prefacing book burning and tea parties are exactly the same.

Pat, it’s eloquently simple even though it’s excruciatingly hard.

When the time finally comes for last call – not a quick pint before the trip home from the warm pub on a cold, desperate and anonymous night just like all the rest, but the punching of the big ticket and the cosmic bow prior to that most irrevocable of all curtains falling, how will posterity judge your political legacy?

Was it progressive or regressive?

Was it Dan Coffey’s legacy … or yours?

Roger’s legacy is clear: He was that pain-in-the-rump beer guy. Read more at the NA Confidential blog:

Hitchens on the Pope.

Hitchens is a great favorite of mine.

The Great Catholic Cover-Up: The pope's entire career has the stench of evil about it, by Christopher Hitchens

... Concerning the most recent revelations about the steady complicity of the Vatican in the ongoing—indeed endless—scandal of child rape, a few days later a spokesman for the Holy See made a concession in the guise of a denial. It was clear, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, that an attempt was being made "to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse." He stupidly went on to say that "those efforts have failed."

He was wrong twice ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Am I the only reader having problems with the Tribune's new web site?

I get so many "abort operation" messages while trying to load articles that I'm expecting protesters to assemble outside my house, having mistaken it for a clinic.

It was happening before the changeover. An article would not load at all, but usually I could click refresh a few times and make the page materialize; now that's only occasionally successful.

My habit in such cases is to blame the many ads, bells and whistles that appear on each web page. However, note that I make no claims to expertise when it comes to such matters. I'd merely like to continue linking to the newspaper, but find it annoying that I have to work so hard just to read a damned article.

Anyone else? Universal, or just my laptop?

But first, a number: "Wee ones in the night."

If the transgendered Prof. Erika can steal from the Internet and pass it off as his/her/its own, then so can I, except that the following parody was composed entirely by me to the tune of "Strangers in the Night," and is lovingly dedicated to the little looters -- er, I mean little people -- in all of us. Take it away, Ringo.


Wee ones in the night, exchanging blindfolds
Ducking from the light
What were the chances, they’d be sharing bile
Before the night was through?

Something in their eyes was so revolting,
Something in their smile was so contorting,
Some abcess in their heart,
Told me their claims aren't true.

Wee ones in the night, just bitter people
They were little by birth right
Up to the moment
When they made their first bellow.
Little did we know
Hate was just a sick assay,
A fascist, racist click away and -

Hardly ever right, they’re ever clueless
falling to divulge, they couldn’t mean less
Hiding from the light,
Just wee small troglodytes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bu-bu-bu-Butt Drugs.

Livable Louisville Public Forum is Tuesday, March 30.

(press release ... I'm hoping to attend)

March 12, 2010

Contact: Branden Klayko

Livable Louisville Forum to unite city’s leading urban thinkers

Panel discussion about Louisville’s greatest opportunities and challenges

Louisville, KY – Join experts in the fields of urban planning, architecture, development, transportation, and sustainability as they discuss the interconnected forces that will shape Louisville’s future. The panel discussion and multimedia presentations will be enlightening and thought provoking.

The Forum will be held at the Clifton Center (2117 Payne St.) on Tuesday March 30th from 6 to 7:30 PM, and will be preceded by a reception beginning at 5 PM. There will also be a post-forum gathering at Clifton’s Pizza where attendees can ask for an “L2” drink special.

This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so everyone is encouraged to reserve their seats and learn more at

Moderating the lively discussion will be LEO Weekly’s Editor Sarah Kelley. The esteemed panelists include:

• Gill Holland, Entrepreneur, Developer, and Film Producer
• David Morse, Transportation Advocate
• Steven Sizemore, Urban Planner
• Bill Weyland, Real Estate Developer
• Steve Wiser, AIA, Architect and Historian

The Livable Louisville Forum is presented by Broken Sidewalk and LEO Weekly. The 5 PM Reception is generously sponsored by Heine Brothers Coffee and Bluegrass Brewing Company.

Remember, Keep Louisville Weird!

Open thread: From where do the attacks come?

So, you're a newly thin-skinned Mitch Daniels, blade duller than before, and you're so upset at being personally attacked over education funding and school closings that you go to the media in retaliation.

Where exactly did these vicious attacks originate?

It wasn't the New Albany City Council, or the Floyd County Council, although City Hall made a principled statement urging restraint and rethinking. It wasn't the Tribune. It certainly wasn't One Southern Indiana, which abruptly creamed its exurban jeans jumping in to defend the anti-education axe cuts.

It wasn't the local Democratic Party, because to do so would require having a platform, and of course, most Republicans in these parts want Madrasahs, anyway.

Who dunnit?

Other than a handful of bloggers and a few writers of letters to the newspaper, that is?

Was it a pre-emptive strike against Shane Gibson?

Morning reading from the New Albanist blog.

The Bookseller is in top form these days.

New Albany is How It is By Choice

When 2011 rolls around, we must be ready to replace those who endorse the policies that are designed to destroy our common weal. When 2011 rolls around, we must have rallied a majority who reject both the policies and the inevitable results those policies have created.

Sewer Cinema: Three Days of the Coffey, or Armageddon

... So here we are, 73 hours away from Armageddon. With no alternatives being presented, the council will either pass the rate schedule or vote it down. If they vote it down, the consequences will be severe. Remember you read it here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Two reasons why the outside world laughs at us.

I'm told that my third district uncouncilman is asking where his stimulus is. It's a good question, and just as a hint, the frontal lobes can be ruled out. Randy Smith takes it from there ...

The “Price” We All Pay (The NewAlbanist)

Price’s current wish to deplete every fund – EDIT, Rainy Day, Riverboat, etc. – to subsidize sewer rates is yet another example of saying one thing and voting to accomplish another. He claims to be protecting the residents of New Albany from paying more money to keep the sewer utility sound. But instead of having the users of the utility pay for the costs, he supports the current tax subsidy and wants to increase it dramatically. This actually increases the cost to New Albanians because a large percentage of sewer ratepayers don’t pay any of the taxes that build those funds. Instead of helping his constituents, he votes to take money away from their common government to prop up rates for others.

Amazingly, his supporters agree with him. Despite the fact that it hurts them, they continue to support him and his policies.
... and from Matt Nash's newspaper column last Friday, an accurate assessment of the other half of New Albany's politically dysfunctional annals of banal.

NASH: New Albany councilman is not a leader (Tribune)

No one wants to pay higher rates than are necessary. Everyone should be willing to pay their fair share. I believe that Mr. Coffey held his “Town Hall” meeting for the sole reason of political posturing. Having served the longest of anybody on the New Albany City Council he deserves the lion share of the blame for the problems facing our community.

These are not problems that have just emerged in the last few months but ones that have been festering in our city for a generation. His closed minded approach to problem solving is what has gotten us barely by so far. Being a leader means sometimes doing what is right no matter how unpopular.

It isn't about football, for heaven's sake.

You must read all the way to the bottom, past the clutch of platitudes and homilies, to find the true meaning of this praiseworthy commitment to "inspiration," as accepted without question by the Tribune's reporter:

Chick-fil-A owners desire to inspire; Clarksville restaurant owners to bring in family from “The Blind Side” to share story

Proceeds from the event will go to ROCK: Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana. Haag said the restaurant decided to give the proceeds to the group because it shares a lot of the same themes as the event, which involves family and community.
That's right: Come to hear this wonderful story, and pay toward support of a lobby group that does not accept the separation of church and state, and which would gleefully assist in the establishment of Christian theocracy in America if only the gullible give them enough rope to hang the rest of us in the name of one or another deity.

Where's Tom Paine when we need him most?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

4:30 p.m. opening for Bank Street Brewhouse today as we make afternoon room for the Dubois County Suds Club.

NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse will be opening at 4:30 p.m. today (Saturday, March 13) so that we may host another visiting bus load of beer lovers, this time from the Dubois County Suds Club.

The club’s founder claims that I once dispensed useful advice to him, and although my memory can no longer be trusted and it sounds highly sketchy, we'll relive these memories I've forgotten and have a few beers, too. I'll be conveying growler-borne samples of Gravity Head to them at BSB.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thoughts for the weekend.

From New Trends in Cultural Policy for the Twenty-First Century, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Social Text, No. 59 (Summer, 1999) pp. 5-15.

In truth, the assault on public support of the arts, draped as it was in the cloak of moral piety and family values, was part of a larger, unrelenting movement away from government support of a public sphere. The assault on the arts is part of what many have identified as privatization. For the purpose of this essay, I am defining privatization as the abandonment of public responsibility, an abandonment of the idea that there are places in society where, as the late Christopher Lasch notes, we all meet as equals, where excellence is available to the general population, where merit rather than money or primogeniture gains access. In the arts, privatization has meant being cautious about the new, the risky, the experimental, since they tend not to do well in the marketplace. Privatization assumes that the creative process as opposed to the cultural product can thrive in the marketplace without any special support. As such, privatization sharply deviates from some fundamental national ideals.

In defining an ideal sense of public good, Horace Mann, in his advocacy for mandatory universal public school education, wrote the following in 1846: "all have derived benefits from their ancestors." And, "all are bound, as by an oath, to transmit those benefits, even in an improved condition, to posterity."

Open thread: Last night's Sewer Board hearing and the odds that we'll botch the sewer issue yet again.

It generally constitutes a victory for responsible journalism and all around good taste when neither of the local newspaper accounts includes a quote from the transgendered Professor Erika or Councilman Cappuccino. Both the C-J's and the Tribune's stories are factual and absent the hyperbole of shrieking, sobbing "little" people. Good work, guys.

Daniel Suddeath's coverage in the Tribune:

STINKY SITUATION: Sewer board hears public complaints about proposed rate hike Presentations, testimonies display wastewater revenue is falling far short of expenses

The dozens of overhead slides, hours of testimony and stack of handouts the Sewer Board presented Thursday basically boiled down to one message — wastewater revenue is falling far short of expenses.

These are difficult times, but it is important to remember what has been learned.

That's because you'll be tested in election cycles for years to come.

Here's a key section from Harold J. Adams's C-J coverage of last evening's cynical school corporation exercise in fiscal and ideological blame shifting:
Board members Rebecca Gardenour and LeeAnn Wiseheart tried unsuccessfully to get separate votes on the decisions to eliminate those positions and the decision to close the schools.

In the end, the board voted to approve Hibbard's plan as a package with only Gardenour and Wiseheart in opposition.
Not all the cynicism is flowing from the top down. Some of it bubbles up from below in the form of the tactical manipulation of foregone conclusions. It is important that we remember this later, when the Palinesque blather from Team Wiseheart will paint a rosy picture of courageous "no" votes as she seeks employment further up the political food chain at a place where much of the current problem originated.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tribune reports: School board votes to close four schools.

From the Tribune:

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated school board accepted Superintendent Bruce Hibbard's initial proposal which as to close four area schools.

The schools to be closed are Silver Street, Galena, Children's Academy of New Albany and Pine View elementary schools will be closed.
The Courier-Journal's Harold_Adams tweets: "NA-Floyd school board votes 5-2 to close four elemtary schools. Wiseheart and Gardenour were the dissenters."

SWAT: Sisto, Wheeler, & Tiemann Jazz Trio tonight at Bank Street Brewhouse.

Tonight at NABC Bank Street Brewhouse: SWAT ... The Sisto, Wheeler, & Tiemann Jazz Trio, live from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Doesn't Jack know that "them people" is Coffey's trademark line?

The single most ironic thing about this development is that as soon as the first registered New Albany Democrat in living memory concedes that he isn't really a Democrat after all (how many really are?), the transition to Republican values has occured with such lightning speed. Too bad about that, because Jack Messer, the anti-Price, has been right far more times than he's been wrong during his council tenure.

Remark prompts sensitivity training for New Albany police, by Harold J. Adams (Courier-Journal).

A New Albany police officer’s racial remarks have prompted the chief to schedule sensitivity training for the entire department ...

... Messer said those who make an issue of what he said are politically motivated. He was elected to the city council as a Democrat but has stated his intention to switch to the Republican Party. “Apparently somebody is trying to politically try to ruin me, I guess,” Messer said.

“I am going to run for mayor next year,” he said. “I’m not lining up with the Democratic Party anymore.”

Gonder: Yellow Peril is catching.

Perhaps someday more of the many organizations and individuals I've approached about it will take sustainable land use and transportation policy more seriously as a central part of their missions rather than waiting for self-inflicted crises to occur but, until then, it's encouraging to see City Council President John Gonder join in the call for more equitable transit, particularly as it relates to educational and employment opportunities within our community. - Jeff

Republished in its entirety from his blog:

When the School Corporation sneezes, the City catches cold.

One step the school board could take to ameliorate the funding mess it faces is to downsize or eliminate the large school bus program.

The City faces two problems related to the transportation system currently in place, ie., transporting of students via buses owned and operated by the school corporation:

1. It is a costly service which subsidizes the choice of some parents to live in non-walkable neighborhoods, which causes the well-planned inner city neighborhoods to further deteriorate as essential services such as neighborhood schools are eliminated. This degrades the general quality of life within the older neighborhoods of town, and the entire community suffers.

2. The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) is being forced by a variety of factors to cut service throughout its service area, including New Albany. Because of these cuts the already meager bus system is pushed closer to the brink. The city is deprived of a viable system of public transportation, such a system can benefit the the community at large through greater access for all its citizens, better air quality and a residential pattern. Such a pattern allows the city to operate more efficiently as infrastucture is used to its greatest advantage, rather than having it spread thin in a costly advance toward the the sprawling edges of the community.

If the school corporation would eliminate the school bus program and instead rely on non-corporation-owned buses, it should realize a sizable savings. If TARC were presented with a daily cadre of student bus riders it would go a long way toward building a base of ridership to rationalize a comprehensive general public transportaion system for the entire community. The transportaion system would benefit the community as a whole and the presevation and revitalization of inner city schools would, likewise, benefit the community as a whole. The savings would allow the school corporation to focus its funds on its true mission --educating students, enriching the community, ensuring a sound future for our city-- which is a better use of scarce educational funds.

Today's Tribune column: "Censor me this, Cappuccino."

More from the Open Air Museum's prevailing idiocracy.

BAYLOR: Censor me this, Cappuccino

Now, in order to preserve the sanctity of the information that his sworn enemies at City Hall refused to give him, he was compelled to remove any chance that his Internet readers might offer additional information of their own, which in fact he regarded as misinformation and maybe even disinformation, such was its stark divergence from the information he already didn’t know, and because he didn’t know it, needed to protect.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mayor England: "I am fearful that their closure will have detrimental impact on the children, families and property values."

Thanks to the Bookseller for posting this as a comment, and apologies for being away when it came through the pipeline.


City of New Albany, Indiana

March 10, 2010

Mr. Roger Whaley, President, Board of Directors

Dr. Bruce Hibbard, Superintendent

Board Members
New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation
2801 Grant Line Road
New Albany, Indiana 47150

Re: New Albany Floyd County Schools Restructuring Plan

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am writing to express my official position regarding the proposed Budget Reduction Information/Plan for which the NAFCCSC Board will be asked to approve this coming Thursday, March 11, 2010, to-wit:

I would like to thank Dr. Hibbard for meeting with me on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 to explain the contents of the plan and his pending recommendation. While I do not envy the fiscal predicament that the NAFCCSC finds itself, I understand the difficult choices you must make to manage your fiscal affairs. You have my unqualified empathy, and I encourage you to make decisions that will benefit our community in the long-run.

There are four aspects of the Plan that cause me pause:

1. Being the husband of a retired teacher with 42 years of experience and service, I am concerned about the proposal to move 5 th graders to the middle schools. I will not belabor the specific reasons why, as they were well articulated at your public hearing on Monday, March 8, 2010.

2. The NAFCCSC is a diverse socio-economic community. Like many metropolitan communities, it contains many races and ethnicities. It would be a tragedy to abandon the resources currently allocated by the NAFCCSC to its diversity staff.

3. From the information provided, it is difficult for me or citizens to understand what savings, reserves and rainy day funds would be used to shore up the recommended option. Without this information, it is difficult to understand why no other restructuring alternatives exist—ones that could save a central city school or perhaps two.

4. I am also concerned that the recommended option will close three elementary schools within the City of New Albany. In particular, the Children's Academy and Silver Street are essential facilities to the vitality of the neighborhoods that surround them. I am fearful that their closure will have detrimental impact on the children, families and property values. The fact is many households have made significant investment choices to reside in these "walkable" neighborhoods because of the proximity of the schools that are slated for closure.

With respect to Silver Street School and the Children's Academy, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the City of New Albany is currently in the process of developing a new five-year plan for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. While the City cannot utilize the CDBG Program to fund the operating costs of a neighborhood school, the City could make a financial contribution to implement accessibility improvements (elevator, ADA improvements, et cetera) to Silver Street School and/or similar improvements to the Children's Academy to avoid closure.

Finally, a common refrain heard at the Public Hearing was the rather short period of time allowed for the public to understand and comment on the recommended option or other alternatives. If the Board of Directors is interested in the City's participation through the CDBG Program, I would suggest a discussion with the City Staff before making a final decision.

Thank you for your consideration.

Douglas B. England

cc: The Tribune and Evening News
The Courier Journal

I call this team "Blame the Victim."

A purely hypothetical situation:

Let's say that a school board member and GOP candidate for higher state office advances the notion that there are cuts that can be made that might forestall school closings.

Let's say that these cuts primarily have to do with reducing health insurance benefits to teachers and employees.

What would I say to that?

I'd say that is doesn't surprise me when the same people fighting tooth and nail against universal health care in America regard it as a wonderful idea to cut health care benefits and help "solve" the problem they've done so much to create.

I'd say that if I could find a Bible passage to illustrate this, I would. Oddly, I'd probably be able to find substantiation in Marx, Engels, or both -- but as a capitalist pressed to the wall, there's no time for that.

That's what I'd say. Since the situation is only hypothetical, I don't have to.

NA-FC schools ... the ol' "cut and run"?

With the clock ticking, a Tribune reader offers a relevant timeline.

LETTER: Reader: People of New Albany owed more than a ‘cut and run’ plan, by Norma Condra.

... I note the lightening speed to which this process has been presented to the public. On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the corporation alerted the media they would reveal the details of their Expenditure Reduction Plan on March 4, conduct a public hearing, a.k.a. a formality, on March 8 and vote on the plan on March 11. Interestingly, the deadline to file for school board candidacy for the May primary was Feb. 19. Is the implementation of the plan all sewn up, to include preventing angry parents from running for available school board seats?

Will City Hall be taking a position on the school closing crisis?

Kathy at the gang at Save Silver Street Elementary blog has the best available compendium of information pertaining to the school closing crisis. NAC is doing what it can to play a supporting role in this, so please check SSSE for up-to-date news.

The comment below was posted here at NAC yesterday:

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor told me they were there to listen to the public's - - that this was the public's time to speak, and after listening to everything, he (the Mayor) plans to hold a press conference (today I think). I do not know if they were there for the entire hearing, as it ran from 7 PM-11:30PM.

"Today" was Tuesday. Today's Wednesday, and tomorrow on Thursday evening is the scheduled school board vote.

Will City Hall be taking a position on the school closing issue?

It has before. From the NAC archives, dated June 25 2008: Good news from City Hall: Silver Street supporters, New Albany's mayor join forces.

School budget solutions? Send to ...

(From Kathy Ayers)

I just set-up a gmail account for all community members to deposit their NA-FC school budget solution ideas. While "I don't want my school closed because..." is valid, it is not a solution.

Our School Board members need to know what all the great minds of New Albany and Floyd County can offer to turn this boat around! Please send your ideas, no matter how small or how large or how obscure to:

Open thread: School board school closing vote, procedurally speaking?

Two comments are elevated to the marquee. Apologies for taking the "open thread" route, but I'll be out of Internet earshot until around 1:00 p.m., although iPhone monitoring isn't out of the question.

The topic: The school board's vote tomorrow night, coming exactly one week after the school closing plan was announced, and procedural ramifications therein.


Nccondra has left a new comment on your post "Why us? Because Pogo was right, that's why.":

School board president Roger Whaley told Fox 41 News before the public hearing that it was possible at least one fellow board member would ask to vote separately on parts of the plan, particularly the closing of Galena Elementary School.

Has a decision already been made? “Particularly the closing of Galena Elementary School”? After the hearing was adjourned, board member Rebecca Gardenour asked if the board would vote for the entire recommendation or if items could be voted on separately, and Whaley responded that the board would have to have at least 4 members vote to separately vote on items.

Staged much? I shouldn't be surprised, because this is Floyd County, after all. The meeting hadn't even occurred, yet one board member was already planning to make a motion to vote separately on the closing of Galena. What voting separately on sending 5th graders to middle school? All of us completely understand the pain Galena parents are experiencing, and the frustration that it came so unexpectedly, with a very short time frame to respond.

However, it is downright vile that after over one year of gathering hundreds of signatures on petitions, attendance at three public hearings, a multitude of yard signs, and letters and calls of protest by citizens of New Albany to keep Silver Street open, Silver Street will probably not be afforded this consideration.


The Bookseller has left a new comment on your post "Why us? Because Pogo was right, that's why.":

Nccondra, your points are germane, and I'll vouch for your NAC bona fides (NAC?). You've provided information I did not know previously.

But, just as with the current sewer imbroglio, it's all of a set, and each separate vote has a corresponding consequence. I can't imagine that pandering to a particular school zone would be considered viable or honest.

I'm hard to convince, and no one has yet convinced me that Silver Street's sitch is anything other than a manufactured plan to intentionally gut a neighborhood and county treasure.

"I won't maintain this school. I won't fund this school. I must close this school because correcting my neglect would cost too much."

Even the pretended "reason" is specious. "Too much?" Even with the intentional neglect, the cost is not too much under any analysis.