Thursday, December 03, 2015

ON THE AVENUES: Who (or what) is New Albany's "Person of the Year" for 2015?

ON THE AVENUES: Who (or what) is New Albany's "Person of the Year" for 2015?

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

It's hard to believe, but 2015 marks NA Confidential's fifth "Person of the Year" selection.

Once again this year, there'll be a formal vote at our Facebook page, but first, we need nominees. Here's the template.

Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) is an annual issue of the United States news magazine Time that features and profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse ... has done the most to influence the events of the year."

In 2011, the notion of selecting New Albany's "Person of the Year" was first thrown out for discussion. Some folks scoffed, asking if it wouldn't be easier to select "Underachiever of the Year." Perhaps so, although the sheer number of applicants would threaten to overwhelm our dedicated staff of one.

As a reliable harbinger of things to come, a compelling list of 2011 nominees was compiled and promptly ignored.

Doug England … for making change possible by rallying so many people against institutional top-down nepotism.

DNA’s/Dudgeon’s “Come to City” slogan … for rallying so many people against institutional top down nepotism.

The River View Project … for rallying so many – well, you know the drill by now.

Steve Resch … for doing redevelopment right.

Professor Erika … for spending so much time in Italy that she managed to lose an election to Dan Coffey.

The 2011 winner was the Sherman Minton Bridge. Although admittedly an inanimate object, lots of persons were affected by its temporary closure. Even more significantly, the bridge's structural illness exposed numerous fault lines of conceptual illness afflicting self-assigned local movers and shakers.

At least the bridge made a full recovery. The conceptual plague proceeds unabated.

We renewed the conversation in 2012, and another strong list of contenders came together. Among them were these:

Mike Ladd … the Urban Enterprise Association director had to be sacrificed so that the outside world could see clearly, definitively and conclusively, the depths to which the outgoing England administration had plunged. Let's all join together in saying, "Never again."

Develop New Albany … not since Spain patiently awaited Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s passing has the future of an entity been so conclusively tied to a change in discredited leadership. Can an invisible organization win a prize? Can it win a Prozac? Regime change now, please.

Bob Caesar … seldom has a local political figure become so reliably consistent in occupying the entirely mistaken side of any given issue, especially when it comes to anything pertaining to the general concept of "urban". CM CeeSaw's Bulova Watch Time? It's round about 1938, give or take a Roosevelt administration.

River View Project … it seems to have died in 2012. Maybe now something good can happen, although we might wish to dispose of the corpse.

Rent Boy Park, a.k.a. Somnolent Estates, a.k.a Caesar’s Folly; also known only by its enabling commission (the Coup d'Geriatrique) as Bicentennial Park. A truly monumental waste of time and money when so many other projects go wanting, and as such, utterly and ironically indicative of the city's first two hundred years.

The choice was Bill Allen, whose stunning decision to paint one portion of his dilapidated Main Street properties was meant to obscure the plain fact that a quarter-century had passed since he did anything whatever to improve them, perfectly symbolizing the enduring Potemkin village mentality prevailing in New Albany. Three years later, the rubble is marginally more attractive, but it's still a ruin -- and a city that claims to be obsessed by public safety ... that's right ...

It does absolutely nothing.

In 2013, there was a tie:

Houndmouth ... Four youthful musicians possessing consummate skill and a collectively precocious sense of irony, such that their city benefits immensely from the band's mere existence without ever really grasping why this might be the case. Long may they wave.

And …

Quality of Life ... Or our seldom-urban priorities here in the city. As we've come to grasp throughout the year 2013, "quality of life" as a pretext for spending money invariably reflects a mayor or council person's subconscious suburban mores first and foremost, because these leanings are safely white and mostly understood, whereas urban living suggests racial diversity, social chaos and rampant book reading. In addition, "quality of life" always applies far more to the area just around an elected official's home, and might be subtitled “automotive only”; far less importance is accorded those areas located even a short walk away. Because, of course, none of them ever walk or bike, do they?

Other nominees included holdovers Mayor Gahan, the Democratic Party, Bob Caesar and the Horseshoe Foundation, as well as the Main Street Disprovement Project and Dr. Tom "Fuck Off, You Filthy Degraded Peasant" Harris.

Most recently, there were nominees aplenty in 2014, including New Albany's one-way street grid, our $19-million gold-plated parks upgrade, Jeff Speck, John Rosenberger's Main Street Deforestation Project, the Floyd County Republican Party and monster trucks running amok.

The three finalists for 2014, based on reader responses:

Heroic Non-Incentivized Downtown Developers ... Chalfant, Resch, Carters, among others. They're rehabbing buildings, and the city's industrial-park-centric economic development team has nothing to do with it.

Jeff Gahan … during three years on the job, municipal government's daily operations bear the mayor's stamp: Inward, paranoid and hermetic. Agoraphobia never had it this good, but his hologram is the hardest working computer-generated image in show business.

Our local Democratic Party … but logically speaking, can non-corporeal bodies capture corporeal awards? Quick, someone find a theologian, a ham-fisted censor, Connie Sipes or even Walt Disney. Meanwhile, let your mind's eye conjure an ongoing implosion.

There were creative write-ins, but after all ballots were scrubbed clean of hanging chads, the winners were our Heroic Non-Incentivized Downtown Developers.

Following are five thoughts as we assemble a starter list for 2015.

  • The 75%, or those registered voter declining to participate in the 2015 election
  • New Albany Street Piano
  • Jeff Gahan. After all, he did win re-election
  • Street Grid for the Semis: Padgett's ongoing lawsuit rebellion
  • State Representative Ed Clere, as slapped on the wrist for disobedience by the GOP

Give me some feedback, and I'll arrange a poll at Facebook.


Recent columns:

November 26: ON THE AVENUES: Faux thanks and reveries (The 2015 Remix).

November 19: ON THE AVENUES: Beer, farthings and that little-known third category.

November 12: ON THE AVENUES: The mayor’s race was about suburban-think versus urban-think. The wrong-think won.

November 5ON THE AVENUES: Confusion, exile, ignobility and resistance.

October 29: ON THE AVENUES: A year later, the backroom politics of pure spite at Haughey’s Tavern still reek.

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