Thursday, July 16, 2015

City council rubber stamp boilerplate orgy begins at 7:00 p.m. tonight.

We've all been here before.

It's just boilerplate for the city to pay someone to make a profitable investment, right?

"Because subsidizing wealthy, out of town developers is the only thing our economic development director knows how to do with our tax money."


I'm so old, I can remember when Dan Coffey routinely objected to "boilerplate" giveaways like this one. He'd preen, posture, brandish quarts of lighter fluid and threaten to flick his Bic right there in the council chamber unless we put a stop to it.

Drinking the lighter fluid would have made more sense.

Now, engorged by the capital projects largesse that oozes from the Gahan administration's pores like last night's garlic-laced clam sauce, Dan Coffey is the most enthusiastic advocate in town for subsidizing the wealthy, even as local developers work on their own dimes.

Tonight's council meeting has been choreographed in advance, as most of Jeff Gahan's expenditures have been. I'll attend in the proper spirit, aware that nothing of genuine substance will occur. Rather, as with judges at a gymnastics competition, council members will be graded on how well they read their pre-assigned scripts.

Shams and travesties, all. As usual, NAC's co-editor drives the nails with authority.

Jeff Gillenwater: If the New Albany City Council approves the mayor's request for $4.9 million to subsidize the apartment complex on Spring Street, the public will be paying for more than 50% of that project. When profits occur, the public will be entitled to 0% of them. If anyone thinks that's a good investment deal, please contact me. I have several more projects to pitch to you in which you put up more than half the money and I keep all the profits.

JG: Almost as funny is Councilman Blair's suggestion that the luxury apartments are like the YMCA. Except that the public investment in the non-profit YMCA was much smaller, the Redevelopment Commission and some council members demanded that the Y guarantee full public access - that no one in the city would ever be turned away for inability to pay - before they would agree to invest at all, and, because it's a lease deal, if the Y ever fails, the City still owns the property and could re-lease or sell it to recoup costs.

Roger A. Baylor: Whaddya say, Scott Blair? Apples and oranges? Seriously, I'd just once like to hear Scott or Shirley Baird or any council member submit to a substantive chat about topics like this.

JG: The usual silence. We're a day out from a decision about a major public expenditure and, despite their obvious connectivity v.v. communications technologies, I've not seen any public discussion or shared reasoning concerning the merits or lack thereof of this project.

In New Albany, public discussions take place in backrooms and side corridors, with the occasional elected official on hand to break the sheer monotony of political appointees bored with decision-making on the down-low.

The Flaherty Collins apartment development at the Coyle site isn't the first such instance, and it may not be the worst. It's just the latest in a long line of chicanery-ridden money transfers dismissed as "boilerplate" by the leader of the band.

Sorry, but economic development by ATM withdrawal offends me.

I may or may not be elected mayor, but I can promise this: If I am, we'll do everything possible to put a stop to the backroom fixes and rampant palm-greasing.

Don't forget: Council meetings start at 7:00 p.m. these days. 

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