Monday, October 12, 2015

Campaign Diary, Chapter 9: Because it's the mayor of NEW ALBANY, not the mayor of HARVEST HOMECOMING.

Harvest Homecoming (Version 2015) has ended, and probably will be remembered for an unfortunate though apparently random gunshot more than this more important fact worth noting: While as yet imperfect, the festival's efforts in recent years to incorporate "here all year" businesses seem to be bearing fruit.

Matters are not ideal, but they're surely better. Good weather always helps. Let's recognize incremental progress and hope the momentum continues. There's always a element of "Kremlin watching" at play here, but Harvest Homecoming as an institution apparently understands there'll be a new variable in coming years, namely a larger and expanding cohort of downtown residents. It will be interesting to see how the festival reacts to these challenges, and evolves into its next phase.

It's the sort of process an activist mayor can help steward, seeing as his or her mandate is to consider the interests of the city as a whole, year-round.

Meanwhile, permit me to recap a weekend conversation. I wrote this on Saturday morning at Facebook.

In so many ways both great and small, Harvest Homecoming is a mass community exercise in selective collective memory. This isn't a pejorative, merely an observation, and having noted such -- so, how was the Swill Walk yesterday?

I was blithely confident that even casual observers would know that by including the words "this isn't a pejorative," my intent would be obvious: Not directed against Harvest Homecoming as an entity, since we all know the institution doesn't sanction the debauchery attached to it, but aimed at wretched beer in general.

As noted later on the same day, I detest bad beer of the sort that immerses and envelops Harvest Homecoming -- not every now and then, but every day. It neatly (and ironically) reverses my campaign staple of "every day, not every now and then."

But reader DL wasn't having any of it.

Why does this man want to be mayor? Does he realize that the Harvest Homecoming does not support or endorse an official beer walk, or "swill walk" as he chooses to refer to it? Does he realize that his consistent disdain for the city's largest and most popular festival only makes him look like an ass? With everything I've read, heard, and now seen for myself, I don't understand why this man wants to be mayor.

I'll answer DL's questions in turn.

He wants to be mayor to run the city more efficiently and introduce modernity to the decision-making process.

He knows Harvest Homecoming does not support the non-family-friendly aspects of the festival, and has spent much time ruminating on the legal framework, both state and local, in which the attendant "swill walk" culture thrives in spite of Harvest Homecoming's misgivings. A municipal open container ordinance, anyone?

He is willing to be perceived as an ass if his advocacy contributes to progress in helping Harvest Homecoming become aware of the "here all year" businesses inconvenienced by its temporary footprint, and is happy to report (see above) that this situation is improving. Kudos to any and all responsible for furthering an atmosphere of reform.

He gently suggests that what you've read, heard and seen probably emanate from sources with bones to pick, but having said this, he wouldn't think of restricting comments or freedom to exchange ideas. In fact, he believes it's important for a mayoral candidate to be completely open and transparent, and is happy to reprint subsequent messages (with DL's explicit permission).

Roger: Sorry, can't reply publicly (on your Fb page) owing to settings, but I will privately when there is time.

Roger: First, you can feel free to comment anywhere on my social media. Unlike Team Gahan, I don't censor. Second, I know quite well that the swill walk isn't HH's idea. I'm in the craft beer business, and it's swill I hate, not HH. Finally, I've been working with HH on worthwhile projects, summarized below. Cheers.

DL: Thanks for your concern over my sharing, however none of this answers my question. Also, I'm aware of how you deal with HH because I have family that is very active with the festival, my mind has been made on that issue. If you can honestly answer why you want to be mayor without attacking the incumbent, or large groups of NA voters, I'd be happy to adjust my settings so you could respond directly on my post.

Roger: When the incumbent runs on his record, it is fair game to critique the record. This I have done, and also added quite a lot of points of my own to it, most recently at the link below. As for my critiques of HH, the fact that the fest has begun to change the nature of its presence downtown in response to "here all year" businesses is proof of the accuracy of these critiques, and also indication that HH can be engaged -- which I've thanked it for. Pragmatism and compromise are good things. No need to change your settings if your mind is made up. I'd merely point out that when I was younger, my mind was made up about many things ... until it was unmade, which happens often when one's mind is open to other points of view. Cheers.

DL: "When the incumbent runs on his record, it is fair game to critique the record." You have a record of nit-picking everything the HH festival does. You offer nothing new from what I've read from what you have provided. It's nothing that the average New Albany voter will care about. You ran a great business and I appreciate and support that business as I consider myself a beer-snob as well, mostly from your beer, by the way. However, you or your supporters have given me any hope of a more positive, friendlier New Albany. Has the Gahan administration done everything I agree with? No. But I know that they absolutely have everyone in this city's best interests at their central focus and from everything you've provided me, I cannot say that about your candidacy. Cheers as well.

Roger: Fair enough, and that's why we have elections; let's just not confuse city government with HH. Both are about politics, but different politics, and over a period of almost 50 years. Politics is about power: Who has it, how it is used, who benefits, and so on. HH's recent reforms, like adjusting booths to provide alignment with year-round businesses downtown, seem to be having good outcomes. Far fewer of the "here all year" businesses are unhappy, as opposed to three years ago. HH has communicated better, and there has been improvement. That's why I said almost nothing this year save for the Fb comment you picked up on -- and that was about bad beer at root, not HH.

Most of us have good intentions. It doesn't mean that what we're doing doesn't have another whole set of options attached to it, and whether it's an election or HH, those who see it differently must have the opportunity to join the process in a pluralistic society. This I've done, and will continue to do. Thanks for chatting and exchanging views. BTW, do you mind if I blog your post and this conversation? I support transparency and openness, even when someone disagrees. I'd use only your initials. Thanks.

DL: I don't mind because I would like to do the same.

Roger: Excellent, and full reciprocity. Thanks.

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