Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 Highlights & Lowlights: Picking and rewarding the River View winners.

"Seriously, what does that man think he's going to find in a dumpster, except garbage?"
-- from the posting, "Beautiful People Alert" (June 19)


During the past year, a month's worth of daily NAC postings (at least 34 in all) were devoted to the proposed River View development project, in which the city of New Albany would provide a group of presumably penniless investors with $12-15-18 million (is there a number, really?) of publicly funded collateral in the form of a parking garage, which in turn is necessary for the group to borrow the money necessary to build expensive for-profit condo units atop it, with the whole ball of "Korbel gurgling" twine to be erected on perhaps the most significant slice of waterfront property left in downtown New Albany.

I tried to show them how much transformative brewing capacity could be purchased for a few measly million tax retention dollars, but it only made the messenger even more toxic.

Speaking for myself, I already feel the tickle of the trickle, because believe it or not, at a public meeting staged to fluff the stuff, one project backer actually referred to this process of TIF-inspired "economic development" as trickle back -- as in gravy, not gravity -- prompting one wag to rename the proposal Reaganomics Platz (later, we mischievously redubbed it Trickle Platz).

Surely the most revealing aspect of the predictable year-long spectacle was the decidedly non-demure eagerness of another penniless entity, Develop New Albany, to rush headlong into a headlock of a deeply political economic development proposal, when previously the organization could not bring itself to take a principled stand on proposals to toll existing transportation infrastructure to enable the ORBP boondoggle, out of a fear of appearing to be political and annoying local elected Mitch Daniels disciples: Mr. Haney, DNA support "trickle back" from River View.

The ensuing stench became even more wonderfully and delightfully odiferous, approaching Louisiana dimensions, as our merry civic connect-the-dots game played itself out through the year. We now see the very same DNA stalwarts who’d been designated to carry City Hall's rapidly dulling spears profiting from federally-provided featherbed monies pouring into the Midtown neighborhood stabilization effort, even as they propel the eager abandonment of DNA's supposedly anti-political stance, thus immersing the organization in rotgut TIF-disbursement politics designed to create a purely for-private-profit condo project standing to benefit yet other DNA stalwarts, while throughout it all, a whole lot more downtown houses than those currently being rehabbed with Federal stabilization monies might be upgraded with the same bucks required to enable upscale condos in a market pitifully unlikely to support them.

So, how do we pick the winners?

With other people’s money, that’s how.

No comments: