Saturday, February 28, 2015

Perhaps moving to Germany really WOULD be the best idea.

How would this read if reversed?

"Nine German habits I lost when I moved to America."

I've been to Europe often during the past three decades, and yet I'm keenly aware that culturally, I'm inexorably American, and probably always will be so.

It was explained to me many years ago that even as the world grows smaller, and all the people walking past on a European sidewalk tend to be dressed alike, as multinational fashion ordains, the Americans still stand out -- by the way we walk. It was offered as a back-handed compliment only.

And so, if we're complete strangers and you don't acknowledge me as we pass on the sidewalk, that's okay.

Nine American habits I lost when I moved to Germany, by Vanessa Van Doren (Matador Network)

6. Frenetic pace / work above all
Moving to Germany meant an inexorable slowing of the pace of my life. Particularly in Saxony, there are strict rules about when stores can remain open. Most businesses are closed in the evenings and all day on Sunday. Additionally, Germans benefit from frequent holidays and typically at least a month of paid vacation.

This gave me some anxiety at first, particularly when I forgot to leave work early enough to get groceries or didn’t have time to go to the bank. Over time, however, I learned to both plan my days and to enjoy the break from chores rather than obsessing over lost time. After a few months, I was occasionally leaving work at 3pm to go watch the football game with friends instead of trying to cram in a few more hours of work. I still got as much done as usual, but I felt much happier and less burned out.


"Why (Some) Downtowns Are Back."

I've had this one in the queue for a while. To briefly summarize, Polèse considers "the modern history of the central city (as) a story of three consecutive waves."

There are lessons about the varieties of economic development occurring (or not) as components of these waves, helping us to define terms when we peel back the layers and return to a central question: What kind of city do we want to be?"

Why (Some) Downtowns Are Back, by Mario Polèse (Urbanophile)

Not so long ago, most urbanists were predicting the demise of downtowns. The data, after all, pointed unambiguously to declining central-city populations and expanding suburban ones in nearly every American metropolitan area between 1950 and 1980. Manhattan lost a quarter of its residents, for example, and Boston nearly a third. The exodus wasn’t confined to the United States. The population of inner London fell by more than a million residents during the same period, and my hometown, Montreal, watched the central borough of Ville-Marie hemorrhage half its population between 1966 and 1991. Businesses were fleeing, the urbanists noted. Central business districts were becoming vestigial organs, legacies of a bygone era before the automobile and the truck liberated us from the tyranny of proximity and brought us the suburban shopping mall.

But downtowns didn’t go the way of the dinosaur. In fact, most of them have begun to grow again. Of the 50 largest central cities in America, all but five saw their populations grow between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, and only two exhibited declines after 2010. For some, the turnaround came in the 1980s; for others, in the 1990s; and for still others, more recently. The title of Alan Ehrenhalt’s recent book, The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City, reflects the nature of this shift—which, again, isn’t limited to the United States. But why are downtowns coming back? And how can we account for the holdouts?

City Hall, Jeff Speck and "The Death of Expertise."

On Wednesday, March 18 at 6:00 p.m., there will be a third "public information session" on Jeff Speck's downtown street network proposal, to be held at the Pepin Mansion at 1003 E. Main Street.

With the dysfunctional grandiosity of John "Pinocchio" Rosenbarger's pet Main Street project boondoggle festering just yards away, the Bored of Works will eschew the irony.

Not only that, it will boil, skewer, braise, sear, poach, roast, fry and stew the irony.

That's because the survival rate of irony in New Albany is even worse than the odds of Kevin Zurschmiede ever grasping the dimensions of human trafficking.

Once again, the public will be invited to air its views on a study few have read. As I noted recently, the meeting will accomplish almost nothing, because no effort will be made to answer questions or educate the public.

ON THE AVENUES: As Admiral Gahan steers his Speck study into the Bermuda Triangle, crewmen Padgett, Stumler and Caesar grimly toss all the rum overboard.

Gahan and his merry minions continue to hint privately that they're altogether for Speck's proposals, while doing everything possible to publicly distances themselves from them. With every passing day, the mayor works to sabotage what he insists he supports.

If that's not bipolarity, I await a better definition of the phenomenon

Meanwhile, at The Federalist, Tom Nichols describes "The Death of Expertise." I link to the essay with no small trepidation, given that it may be viewed as an endorsement of the current regime's operational philosophy.

... The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. Fundamentally, it’s a rejection of science and rationality, which are the foundations of Western civilization itself. Yes, I said “Western civilization”: that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.

This isn’t just about politics, which would be bad enough. No, it’s worse than that: the perverse effect of the death of expertise is that without real experts, everyone is an expert on everything. To take but one horrifying example, we live today in an advanced post-industrial country that is now fighting a resurgence of whooping cough — a scourge nearly eliminated a century ago — merely because otherwise intelligent people have been second-guessing their doctors and refusing to vaccinate their kids after reading stuff written by people who know exactly zip about medicine. (Yes, I mean people like Jenny McCarthy.

Friday, February 27, 2015

We're Only in It for the Money: Gravity Head 2015 has arrived.


This weekend's weather looks to be cold, and that's a wonderful forecast.

Gravity Head 2015 opens at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, February 27 at NABC's Pizzeria & Public House. For the second time, there'll also be a special Sunday observance at Bank Street Brewhouse (see below).

Following are two articles to help make sense of the institution, as well as links to relevant information.

A particularly relevant note for those planning to visit during Gravity Head's month-long run: Plan your evening and arrange transportation at the conclusion of your gravity session, or have a designated driver. We can help you call a taxi … and be aware that both UBER and LYFT serve the Pizzeria & Public House from many metro locations.

First, beer writer Kevin Gibson.
As craft beer popularity rises, New Albanian’s Gravity Head enters 17th year, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

It’s 2015, and so-called “craft beer” has never been more popular, with barrel-aged, big-bodied, high-alcohol brews leading the way.

But rewind 17 years, and we can revisit the humble beginnings of a mini beer festival that happens annually, right under our noses. That celebration of beer is called Gravity Head, and the 2015 version begins Feb. 27.

Here's my take on the local angles of Gravity Head.

The PC: Happy Gravity Head!

Gravity Head is hard to explain, and I’m proud of the obscurity.

In my view, the fundamental difference between Gravity Head and other beer festivals is that from the very start, when we decided to have a second Gravity Head in 2000, we had no idea as to what the “proper” organization of a beer festival entailed. Conventional wisdom utterly eluded us, for which I remain eternally grateful.

The following links contain most, if not all, of what you might need to know.

Gravity Head 2015 starters and lineupdate page … what’s on tap? (as selections change, they'l be listed here)

Link to the Daily Gravity Form (2015 official program, u-print only)

2nd Annual Gravity Head Hangover Hoedown at Bank Street Brewhouse is Sunday, March 1 (a full slate of guest beers, NABC beers, vegan food from VGrits, the Bloody Mary bar and music, wrapped together to benefit the Uplands Peak Sanctuary)

First-ever Oaktimus 22-oz bomber release is at BSB on Sunday, March 1 (available for carry-out at BSB on Sunday)

Reframing language so that we can talk about safe streets.


I'm just trying to imagine a world in which Chris Morris comprehends any of this.

Hunter S. Thompson on sportswriting: "It keeps a man busy and requires no thought at all."


Meanwhile, from the Pacific Northwest comes some very useful information that will never be seen in the local newspaper.

Let’s Talk About Safe Streets (Seattle Greenways)

Language is powerful.

The language we use everyday has the ability to change how people think about the world. Our ideas about reframing the language of traffic violence are starting to take root nationally! ...

... This handy cheat sheet distills the our knowledge of what language resonates and what doesn’t.

Public meetings are often when things can get heated. At these meetings, our leaders have learned that it is critical to talk about hyperlocal issues using your neighborhood’s language, and to focus on people and their needs (quiet street to raise a family, walking to the bus stop, being safe dropping off their kids at school, etc), rather than on modes of transportation.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Media notice: Roger A. Baylor will take a leave of absence from NABC to run for mayor of New Albany.

Media note: Roger A. Baylor will take a leave of absence from NABC to run for mayor of New Albany.

Two months ago, I utilized the bully pulpit afforded me by my weekly blog column to announce that in 2015, I’d be running for mayor of New Albany as an independent.

ON THE AVENUES: To the third floor -- but first, we throw the rascals out.

My rationale isn't overly complicated. I’m running for mayor because a city in transition like New Albany desperately needs progressive ideas like those espoused by people like me, from all walks of life, who routinely have been marginalized or ignored by the same old game, played the same old way, by the same old, tired political suspects.

It’s a big undertaking for any candidate. One must complete various forms and gather the necessary signatures, and then organize a whole campaign from scratch. All along, it has been my intention to begin the campaign in earnest come March 2 ... and we're right on schedule.

Consequently, the first of many transitions on along the path to come begins today. Effective immediately, I’m taking a leave of absence from the New Albanian Brewing Company (NABC), so as to devote my full attention to the campaign for mayor.

Of course, I’ll honor all previous commitments, but from this point the day-to-day is in the capable hands of my business partners, Kate Lewison and Amy Baylor, and our fine staff.

www.newalbanian.com

As many readers may already know, I own 33% of NABC’s two incorporations. When the November election is over and I’ve been elected to the office of mayor, I’ll act immediately to sell my shares to my two business partners, according to the terms of our buy-sell agreement.

Which is to say, I’m all in. I’m very serious about running for mayor -- and winning. Let the fun begin.

Questions? Just ask.

502-468-9710 (mobile)
roger@newalbanian.com

ON THE AVENUES: As Admiral Gahan steers his Speck study into the Bermuda Triangle, crewmen Padgett, Stumler and Caesar grimly toss all the rum overboard.

ON THE AVENUES: As Admiral Gahan steers his Speck study into the Bermuda Triangle, crewmen Padgett, Stumler and Caesar grimly toss all the rum overboard.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.


“(Two-way streets) are being driven by about a handful of people that want to be able to turn right onto Bank Street from Elm Street."
-- Bob Caesar (exact quote, 2013)

It happened last Saturday, during the second of three scheduled public exercises bizarrely dedicated to flaunting City Hall’s all-encompassing political cowardice, and which have been hailed somewhat euphemistically as “forums,” designed to extract input about Jeff Speck’s downtown street network reform proposals, while answering neither a single earnest question, nor clearing even the lowest imaginable bar in terms of overall public education.

City Hall evidently views these meetings as tactical exercises. You can tell by the abundance of white flags.

As the forum neared its end, and the ostensibly presiding Bored of Works began openly contemplating lunch, perennially bloviating civic value extractor Jim Padgett yet again took the podium to argue that because at some undetermined juncture on a far-off future day, a single Padgett truck might experience inconvenience by being forced to wait a few minutes to make a turn, the remainder of the city must be held in a condition of abject bondage, and forced to wait forever.

Why? Obviously, it’s because Padgett’s business interests, and the similar interests of a handful of fellow Ayn Randian trucking fetishists, far outstrip anyone else’s interest in New Albany, anyone else’s investment in New Albany, and anyone else’s plain presence in New Albany. It’s all about Padgett, not you or me.

Hence the extreme irony in Padgett’s narcissism, because if Speck’s street grid reform proposals miraculously are not sloppily aborted by the shameless pusillanimity of a City Hall frightened of its own cowering shadow, the measures are designed precisely to stimulate and speed along a municipal revival that already has been initiated with extensive private investment, and if thus abetted and for once genuinely supported, the revival eventually stands to inflate the value of Padgett’s own sadly misplaced downtown industrial properties, to an extent that his company might simultaneously relocate to a better transit location by an interstate somewhere (anywhere is fine – I hear Myanmar is wicked cheap in springtime), while converting his current acreage filled with machines and trucks into a massive redevelopment payday to benefit actual living people.

But this is New Albany, and increased value for all, as opposed to a few, is something to be feared and loathed, and so City Hall seems committed to a cynical strategy of taking any notion of hope fostered by the Speck study and tossing is like a scrap of rancid meat into the howling scrum, so that after we’ve all mauled each other, Jeff Gahan as Noble Squire can stride onto center stage and take credit for the healing “compromise solution” to a festering mess he has created.

It’s a cute Disney script, all right, but did Gahan ever receive the pressing memo about a revolution of rising expectations in the city’s historic core -- or did ranking minion David Duggins spot it first, lying there atop the toilet tank in the executive washroom, and suddenly realize that he might someday be held to a higher contemporary creative economic development standard than that which suffices to throw wads of endlessly reprintable taxpayer money at the smoldering tire tracks of an already departing Pillsbury?

Is so, then the memo probably got hauled away with the rubble of 922 Culbertson, never to be seen again.

---

Imagine the hilarity if I were to produce a blacksmith to lecture Padgett on the quality of his trucking fleet’s tires, prior to it being revealed that the blacksmith actually is a purveyor of twenty-mule teams.

On Saturday morning, Padgett amusingly played a desperation card from Bob “My Way Is the Interstate Highway Every Day” Caesar’s well-worn deck of antebellum Luddite tricks, referring somewhat vaguely to “research" dating to ancient times (2005), as compiled by the American Dream Coalition, which is a component of the Independence Institute’s Center for the American Dream.

Check out the donor list. It’s like a who’s who of crusted centerfolds in the magazines stashed beneath Kerry Stemler’s yellowed mattress.

The Independence Institute's Center for the American Dream opposes zoning in cities, and argues against Colorado's rail public transit initiative called Fastracks, saying that 'rail transit reduces the livability of every urban area in which it is found.'

The American Dream Coalition is a predictably vapid yawner from a Potemkin think tank, deploying the same cooked data once solemnly cited by a caterwauling Caesar at a forgettable city council meeting, as lifted at the time from something outlandishly called the Thoreau Institute. The tired screeds are aynonymous because there is a common shill to these oligarchy front groups, a fellow named Randal O'Toole.

Randal O'Toole's self-styled 'Thoreau Institute' lies at the core of his ferocious jihad against urban planning, Smart Growth, New Urbanism, public transport, and rail transit (a jihad that he also promotes through spin-offs and front groups such as his American Dream Coalition).

That’s right. This is what passes for scholarship in Nawbony, where men are men and sheep managed higher SAT scores.

Isn’t it fascinating that as City Hall incessantly soft-pedals the culturally transformational aspect of Speck’s study in favor of wonkishly insisting that Larry Summers patiently explain induced demand as part of Gahan's tragic ORBP pass-through rationale, the city’s Neanderthal right-wingers are cutting straight to the chase and instigating culture war as their pre-emptive reply?

The simplest way to debunk O’Toole’s cockamamie one percenter’s fodder is to consider what motivates him and his various, proliferating “research” institutes: Gobs of money from the very same oil, automotive and construction interests who profit the most from the roadway status quo, and who happily fund entities like the American Dream Coalition.

Apparently they’re everywhere.

“Right-wing billionaires, corporations and the Bradley Foundation pay for junk studies that prop up their agenda”

A handy analogy can be seen in the realm of climate science. There are legitimate climate scientists who follow the evidence where it takes them, because they’re being paid to be climate scientists. Then, there are those scientists who are paid to return a verdict against the evidence produced by the legitimate climate scientists.

You know, the ones paid to be political pawns.

In terms of analogy, professional planners like Jeff Speck must be numbered among the former. They are remunerated for their expertise, and run the numbers to see where reality leads them. It’s what Speck did in his study of New Albany.

For-hire polemicists like O’Toole can be classified among the latter. Their wheels are greased to provide “facts” that favor one-way streets and auto-centrism, and obligingly, they manufacture them, so that otherwise intelligent individuals like Padgett, Caesar and Irv Stumler can muster the flimsiest possible backing to declare culture war against modernity.

Impenetrable ironies never cease in New Albany. Stumler slavishly agrees with Padgett, as does Caesar, which is the best indication that ideologically, all three are pure, unadulterated Republicans, and yet as we recall, Stumler ran for mayor as a Democrat four years ago, and in 2015 opposes Caesar as a Republican in the 2nd district council race.

That’s right, you abused, long-suffering residents of the 2nd district: Both of your declared council candidates unalterably oppose street grid reform, which means both of them reject enhanced economic development in the core and renewed quality of life in our neighborhoods. It doesn’t matter which one of them wins; either way, you’ll be faced with governance by old and stodgy white males who look to places like Eritrea Haiti and Mississippi for free-market inspiration.

It looks like throwback time for the 2nd district; all the way back to open sewage ditches, leeches and lynchings in the middle of one-way streets for YOU, unless a principled independent candidate can be found, and quick.

Please try to find one.

---

I almost forgot, but only because he’s so recurringly and incompetently forgettable.

In September of 2013, the News and Tribune’s Chris Morris supposedly helped author an editorial strongly supporting two way streets and street grid reform.

Yesterday he published a column expressing alarm that the hoity-toity book readers might be allowed to steal a march on his preferred milieu of father-figure-icon-worshipping datedness.

NAC promptly polled folks in Iceland, and we couldn’t find anyone there who is surprised at Morris's flip-flop, either, although a woman in Hveragerði questioned whether Morris had actually bothered to read Speck’s Downtown Street Network report.

Silly Icelandics. Of course he didn’t read it. It isn’t about sports, is it?

Put Speck on a baseball card, and maybe then … nah.

---

Recent ON THE AVENUES columns:

ON THE AVENUES: Upscale residency at down-low prices.


ON THE AVENUES: Street “sweeping” epitomizes the degradation of governance in New Albany.


ON THE AVENUES: Got spa? Time for CM Zurschmiede to reel in the years.

What they're saying: At-large council candidates Roseberry and Bell.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'll try to provide periodic unedited candidate statements of approximate substance, as lifted from social media and news reports, and as opposed to familiar gems (although they certainly have their place) like "I enjoyed talking with the bunco club last night" or "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say later."

That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.

Today in the at-large council contest, we find Democrats Hannegan Beardsley Roseberry and Brad Bell. It is Roseberry's first run for office, and Bell's second (he ran for an at-large council seat in 2011).

At her Facebook campaign page, Roseberry contributes this valuable observation about Saturday's Speck street study meeting.

At this morning's meeting about the Speck street study, there were questions about the funding and cost of implementing two-way streets. The city officials did not give any response to that question, but this article from last month states that, "...the city has $1.6 million in Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) funding to get started." This was a quote from Mayor Gahan. The meeting should have shared this information. We need greater transparency from our city leaders, and city officials who aren't afraid to speak their minds and stand up for its citizens.

It would help to know that, wouldn't it?

Also at Facebook, Bell offers economic development strategy, echoing a topic previously discussed at NACImpure thoughts about suburbia" and New Albanian corridors.

What to do with Colonial Manor??

When Kroger moved from Colonial Manor Shopping Center, many many years ago, that section of Charlestown Road has struggled to find it's place in the community. Even though many different stores have tried to fill holes over the years, Colonial Manor now sits nearly vacant again. Two (2) unsuccessful grocery stores have tried to hold down the anchor spot, but have both lasted less than 2 years. Dollar General moved down the road to a much bigger location, and other stores have simply disappeared.

While some area's of New Albany have seen major growth and expansion, some areas have continued the downward spiral. This section of Charlestown Road needs major help. With that being the sole agenda, I propose turning Colonial Manor Shopping Center into a family friendly fun zone. We should seek out an anchor such as GattiLand, Chuck-E-Cheese or a Puzzles Fun Dome type of location so families can have an indoor fun center for all season's right here in New Albany. The outlying stores in Colonial Manor can also be family driven, in order to be a family destination site.

Not only that, but Bell thinks he can do it without tax abatements. Be sure to follow the link and read the entire piece.

See this post for more information on the at-large council race:

NA council: The at-large scrum of nine contestants for three jobs.

He's taking the brakes off his car.

Thanks to R for the submission. I intended to do more with this one, but at times the One Man Polemical Band falls a bit behind ... and it's been that kind of week.

I’m an Anti-Braker, by Robert Moore, Jr. (Encouraging an Informed Polity)

Guys, I wanted to let you know about a personal decision I recently made. I don’t really feel like discussing it, but I want to put my position out there. Please be respectful. This is a really long post, but please read the whole thing.

I’m taking the brakes off my car. This isn’t a rash decision, so please listen up.

A few weeks ago I saw a car accident - two people went through an intersection at the same time. Both slammed on their brakes at the same time and collided. Fortunately no one was seriously injured.

But then it occurred to me - if they had just gone through the intersection, they wouldn’t have collided. The brakes CAUSED the accident!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What they're saying: At-large council candidates Gonder and Knable.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'll try to provide periodic unedited candidate statements of approximate substance, as lifted from social media and news reports, and as opposed to familiar gems (although they certainly have their place) like "I enjoyed talking with the bunco club last night" or "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say later."

That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say at all, and I'll quote all candidates, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.

Today in the at-large council contest, we find Democrat John Gonder and Republican Al Knable, both of whom attended Saturday's forum, being precise about their positions with regard to the Speck Downtown Street Network Proposal.

First, the two-term incumbent Gonder, writing at his blog.
The Sooner the Better

Last Saturday, February 21, I attended a presentation on the Jeff Speck study the City commissioned early last year. This study will ultimately lead to, among other things, two-way streets where now we have one-ways. The long process tries the patience of those anxious to get on with the conversion.

While I believe we should proceed with the conversion, I don't believe two-way streets are a panacea for New Albany. Indeed, some of the more significant recommendations from the Speck analysis directly address other aspects of walkability. But the primary identifier of the Speck study is as the two-way street study.

To address that aspect of the study then, I want to come down four square on the side of converting our one-way streets to two-way traffic ...

And political newcomer Al Knable at his Facebook campaign page.

I was stopped in the locker room this morning and asked about the following quote which will appear in tomorrow's NT.


As I had limited time at the meeting, let me expound:

I believe tolling of the new bridges will have neither as extreme nor as prolonged an effect as predicted by some. There will indeed be some impact upon NA traffic patterns but the sky will not fall. People tend to make driving pattern choices based upon economy of time/distance and money with the former usually given most weight. I think time is a more precious commodity to most compared to saving a few dollars. Gas is relatively cheap now but as it returns to $3-4 per gallon, taking the shortest travel route will win out especially for commercial operators. Hence, the "path of least resistance" regarding time and money.

Having said this, I remain as I have, without waver, IN FAVOR of the proposed implementation of the Speck study. We should begin in the more concentrated downtown residential and small business areas, expanding thereafter as finances allow, maintaining routes for industry that do not threaten the safety, health or quality of life of New Albany's current and future inhabitants and patrons. Those who've invested the time, money and energy to establish homes and businesses downtown deservedly anticipate this project advancing. I support them in their efforts.

Final note: thank you Matt Koesters for accurately conveying the gist of my comments. I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of the Trib tomorrow and read the full article while enjoying the paper's new design!

See this post for more information on the at-large council race:

NA council: The at-large scrum of nine contestants for three jobs.

One week later, the street department is clearing the heck out of certain crosswalks.

Last week.

Sounds overly complicated to me. The City Hall employee who parodies me at Twitter reads what we're saying at NAC. It is relayed to the mayor, who passes it along to Warren & the Bored of Works, which sends a carrier pigeon to the street department, and voila -- a clean crosswalk, only one week later.

It might be simpler if we were City Hall.

Hmm ...





Sidewalk yellow snow and red herring removal.

On Tuesday morning, the agenda for the weekly Bored of Works meeting was as barren as David Duggins's bookshelf, and so the topic soon turned exculpatory.

Specifically, how did we do with the snow incident?

Previously, Duggins had issued all the appropriate self-commendations: Ignis Fatuus: Duggins says "I think we did an excellent job" removing snow.

I'm sure he shoveled most of it himself. Meanwhile, yesterday the newspaperman Daniel Suddeath was right there with the Bored, live tweeting.

Daniel: Per street department, removing snow from sidewalks, by ordinance, is not responsibility of city. Residents, business owners responsible.

Roger: How did that come up?

Daniel: Street commissioner was asked to clarify by Board of Works.

Roger: Did Mickey ask himself?

Daniel: Warren Nash.

My follow-up question remains unanswered, but now that we know Warren Naps is a regular reader of NAC, let's just ask it again:

Does it remain the responsibility of businesses and homeowners to clear the sidewalks when the snow and ice on the sidewalks were placed there by the city itself?


I think the street department works hard to achieve aims limited by upper management, i.e., City Hall. Gathering together the available evidence, here is what we know.

The city's property includes streets and sidewalks, but the city acknowledges a responsibility to clean only some of the streets, and none of the sidewalks. The street commissioner said so himself.

New Albany official: Cleaning sidewalks not our responsibility, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

NEW ALBANY — During most snow events, New Albany follows a four-route course focused on clearing main roads.

When it comes to sidewalks, by city ordinance, the responsibility lies with business owners and residents.

New Albany Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson clarified the city’s charge involving snow and ice removal during Tuesday’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.

I can locate only a few random citations for snow, ice and leaves within the city's ordinances, none of which apply to this instance, so I'll hazard a guess that the section being cited is this one.

§ 150.101 CLEANLINESS OF PREMISES.

(C) Municipal department responsible for administration. Unless specifically stated elsewhere in this chapter, the Building Commissioner shall be responsible for the administration of actions taken under this chapter, including, but not limited to, the issuance of notices to the landowners and other persons, the issuance of certificates of cost to the County Auditor and the administration of the appeals procedure.

(D) Maintaining premises free of debris, trash, litter, garbage, refuse, junk and abandoned vehicles.

(1) The owner of any lot or parcel of real estate within the city shall maintain the premises, including the real estate, or any alley or sidewalk abutting the real estate, free of all debris, trash, rubbish, litter, garbage, refuse, junk and abandoned vehicles, when the material is within view of any public premises, public alley, street, highway or adjacent property, to such an extent that the premises is a hazard to public health, safety and welfare.

(2) The presence of debris, trash, rubbish, litter, garbage, refuse, tires, junk and abandoned vehicles is injurious to the public welfare and is a nuisance.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that even if this is the cited passage, there are no clearly delineated penalties for non-compliance (stop me if you've heard THIS one before), and if there are penalties, we don't ever pursue them.

The issue has been raised in Louisville, too.

Louisville Metro Doesn’t Usually Fine Property Owners For Snow-Covered, Slippery Sidewalks, by Ashley Lopez (WFPL)

"It shall be the duty of all persons and corporations owning or occupying property abutting a public street in Louisville Metro to remove within 24 hours thereafter such snow as may fall on the sidewalks in front of their property. Where the property is unimproved or unoccupied this duty shall devolve on the owner or the agent for the property. Where property is occupied by others than owners thereof, this duty shall devolve on the owner or the tenants and either may be proceeded against for the violation."

Do we have an ordinance, or don't we?

Are there penalties, and if so, are they enforced?

Isn't this the sort of topic that this or any other City Hall might choose to be a bit more clear in presenting for the edification of the public?

Or do we merely muddle through like always, all the while making noises about competence and efficiency that sound curiously like flatulence?

"Why Free-Range Kids Are Healthier."

I have no children, and my childhood was spent in rural woods and fields (I became "citified" later), so there's a chance that any opinion on this subject I offer might be tainted.

Acknowledging this, it would seem axiomatic that vastly enhancing New Albany's walkability, by rendering huge tracts of our historic central neighborhoods and business districts into recreational zones, offers free-range mobility -- if nothing else.

Will the kiddos ever be free to roam again?

Does this article make sense to the parents I know?

I'm genuinely curious.

Why Free-Range Kids Are Healthier, by Erik P. Hoel (The Daily Beast)

Your kid is exactly as likely to be struck by lightning as he or she is to be randomly abducted. So why are we permanently branding parents as neglectful or abusive for letting their kids go to the park by themselves?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ignis Fatuus: Duggins says "I think we did an excellent job" removing snow.


If the city is serious about being walkable, especially downtown, then snow removal cannot be solely concerned with cars on the major streets. Walkability is about connecting people, parking and businesses via places to walk, often to and from side streets. Otherwise, it is meaningless.

Maybe we spent all the maintenance money on the Main Street project.

Yet again, as if we needed another sad reminder, we're shown that the city's economic development director knows nothing about the needs of independent small business. It has been at least five months since Duggins and his aide-de-camp Tonya Fischer promised merchants a "parking is free at night" sign on the parking garage. It still isn't there. For the love of Jeeebus, how long does it take to make a sign?

It's heartening to know that somewhere, cloistered amid his hologram generator, the mayor has confidence in his minions -- blind, but comforting. It'll just make it easier to change regimes.

Frigid economic climate in Southern Indiana? by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)

What role should the government play in supporting businesses when the weather is bad?

David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for New Albany, said the most important thing government can do is to make sure streets are as clear as possible.

“The city of New Albany and the street department worked many hours of overtime to ensure that the roads were clean, but more importantly, safe,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than being able to get to the business. Obviously there’s always room for improvement, but I think we did an excellent job with this once-in-a-year kind of event.”

Cars come first in "Walkable" New Albany.


When the people in charge understand the concept of a walkable city about as well as I speak Urdu, then what are the chances that they'll implement any of it?

Now if you'll excuse me, my cat begs my attention as she performs an aria from La Boheme.

New Albany's new slogan: "Truck Through City" ... Part 78: Bored of Works? So are they.


Look -- there goes a Padgett truck with lights flashing, but without "wide load" markings or an escort vehicle. I suppose we are to surmise that the load isn't wide, but it sure is long; he made a honking big turn coming onto Spring Street, down Padgett's private access road (sometimes referred to as 4th Street, which at last glance was owned by the city).


Sorry. I might make Warren Naps's head explode this early on a Tuesday. Following are some snowy views of those without which (or so we were informed on Saturday) there'd be no tax revenue at all in New Albany.






Taibbi: "Rudy Giuliani is giving me Soviet flashbacks."

How many times have I heard it? "If you don't like it here, leave,"

In fact, I've heard it so often that it occurs to me to spend the remainder of the year turning the idiocy on its head, and pre-empting it:

"No, that's wrong. If YOU don't like me being here, then YOU leave."

Rudy Giuliani, American Soviet, by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone)

Rudy Giuliani is giving me Soviet flashbacks.

With his bizarre foot-in-mouth rants about how Barack Obama doesn't love "America" the way "we" do, Rudy — and other "They hate us!" exceptionalist 'Muricans like Eric Erickson and Steve Forbes — are starting to remind me of the frightened, denial-sick communist die-hards I knew as a student in Russia.

Not to go too far down memory lane, but in 1990, I went to Leningrad to study. The Soviet empire was in its death throes and most people there, particularly the younger ones, knew it.

But some hadn't gotten the memo yet, and those folks, usually nice enough, often older — university administrators, check-room attendants, security guards, parents of some of my classmates, others — were constantly challenging me and other exchange students to East-versus-West debates, usually with the aim of proving that "their" way of life was better.

By the time I left Russia a dozen years and a couple of career changes later, a lot of those people still hadn't gotten the memo. They were deep in denial about the passing of the USSR and spent a lot of time volubly claiming ownership of words like we and our and us in a way that quickly became a running joke in modernizing Russia.

U Nas Lusche — roughly, Ours is Better or It's Better Here — was the unofficial slogan of the pining-for-the-old-days crowd in post-communist Russia.

Monday, February 23, 2015

IL's Stephen George asks: "Has The Courier-Journal lost its way?"

What is journalism now?

IL's Stephen George has written a very frightening glimpse into daily affairs at the once mighty C-J. This one's a must-read, folks.

With more staff cuts and a newsroom reorganization driven by market research, has The Courier-Journal lost its way? by Stephen George (Insider Louisville)

The executive editor and publisher of The Courier-Journal called the news staff of about 40 into a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, ostensibly to talk about the future.

That future, they soon learned, would start with all of them reapplying for their jobs. It’s a particularly dehumanizing part of an ongoing process driven by parent company Gannett and embraced by C-J executives to incorporate more market research and demographic trends into the paper’s reporting.

Journalism -- it's the perfect place for marketing professionals, rather like the best time to smoke cigarettes is while you're pumping gas.

The extraordinary contraction of the newspaper industry during the past decade has prompted round after round of layoffs and shrinking page counts. As ad revenue has declined, newspaper executives at the C-J and up the Gannett chain have scrambled to figure out what’s wrong, devoting increasingly more time and money to market research. Reporters and editors at the C-J have been subjected to various initiatives — driven by marketing professionals and often carrying goofy corporate rhetoric — designed to better connect them with their audience, a goal most media companies strive to achieve.

Uh oh ... it's the "profit motive" thingy again.

The memo is an explicit indicator of the change in approach C-J executives are pushing. Traditionally, reporters have been protected from the market pressures affecting their newspapers. It’s as old as newspapers themselves: Profit motive can corrupt the pursuit of news and investigations that aren’t exactly sexy but remain essential to the public discourse.

Now, reporters at all Gannett publications are being equipped with technology to monitor the performance of their online stories in real time. This might seem like useful information, but the implication has been clear: Write stories that people want to read. Never mind the traditional role of newspapers as keepers of the public trust.

“I don’t think they’re ignoring (the strong journalistic tradition at the C-J),” said one staffer. “I think they’re trying to obliterate it. It’s how can we get the most metric hits.”

It's a depressing and necessary read. I'm fond of reminding the uninformed that they're entitled to their own opinion, not their own facts, but as should be painfully obvious, we've already entered a protracted period of fact elimination. Then what?

Mussolini, Ethiopia and round vs. square houses.

One thing leads to another. First, a passage that caught my attention in an essay about Mussolini's desire to remake Addis Ababa: "The round houses of the Ethiopians were regarded by Italian architects as irrational and unhygienic."

When Fascists Tried to Remake Ethiopia, by Jonathan Coppage (The American Conservative)

When Mussolini’s army invaded and ultimately occupied Ethiopia, the Italian fascists did more than expand Italy’s African empire; in their eyes, they obtained an opportunity to build a capital from scratch.

As Rixt Woudstra details at Failed Architecture,

The idea of Ethiopia as a tabula rasa—a blank slate—was omnipresent in the writings of architects and urban planners occupied with the designs of the colonial capital between 1936 and 1939, who considered the country devoid of any structures of architectural significance. Contrary to the fascination of Libyan whitewashed courtyard house – their simplicity, colours and volumes perfectly in tune with modern taste – the round houses of the Ethiopians were regarded by Italian architects as irrational and unhygienic.

So what's the issue with round houses? Not a lot. Here's an old but good explanation.

Why Our Ancestors Built Round Houses - and Why it Still Makes Sense to Build Round Structures Today, by Rachel Ross (Inhabit)

The oldest forms of indigenous shelter were often round in shape. (Think the Southwest USA Hogan, Mongolian Yurt, North American Teepee and the Greek Tenemos, among others.) Why did our ancestors choose to build round? Because the ovid shape -- eggs, earth, tree trunks, and stones -- is what they saw reflected in the surrounding natural environment. And, as usual, Mother Nature knows best. There is some nifty natural science that makes round buildings more comfortable, more energy-efficient and safer -- especially if you combine the ancient shape with modern materials!

Just remember, "Weather is not climate."

It'll be very again today, so here's a slice of hot and timely science from Mother Jones.


Attention GOP Presidential Candidates: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming

Weather is not climate.
It may seem obvious to you that the existence of extreme winter weather doesn't negate the scientific fact that humans are warming the planet. But that's probably because you aren't a climate change denier who's contemplating a run for the GOP presidential nomination ...

 ... If you're a regular Climate Desk reader, you already know why all this is wrong. You understand the difference between individual weather events and long-term climate trends. You probably even know that according to the National Climate Assessment, winter precipitation is expected to increase in the northeastern United States as a result of climate change. But if you're a Republican who wants to be president, please pay close attention to the following video:


Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Liberal Racism: 25 Things I Learned After I Wrote About ISIS and White Racism."


Yesterday, "What ISIS really wants."

Today ...

Liberal Racism: 25 Things I Learned After I Wrote About ISIS and White Racism at the Daily Kos, by chaunceydevega (Daily Kos)

Racism is not an opinion. It is a fact.

White supremacy is one of the most powerful social forces and ideologies in the United States (and the West). As such, it is reflected in our political discourse, and both intentionally (through active racism) and unintentionally (implicit bias) reproduced by individuals.

Online spaces are a great lens into white supremacy because they are a type of public arena where individuals can drop the mask of social conformity and desirability, revealing their private thoughts and true selves.

Thus, comment sections are transformed into a space where “backstage racism” can be transformed into direct and public acts.

Mueller Community in Austin, Texas: "Planners minimize the supremacy of the automobile and shape the environment around pedestrians."

I'm reminded of Tempelhofer Park in Berlin, where an airport was transformed into a commons. In this instance, it's a community.

(sighs and shrugs) ... Of all the current candidates for office in New Albany's municipal elections, how many (a) would support "smart urban design," and (b) even know what it means?

Perhaps Irv Stumler can ask Jim Padgett for a one-way definition.

With Porches And Parks, A Texas Community Aims For Urban Utopia, by John Burnett (NPR)

In Texas, a state where cars and private property are close to a religion, there is an acclaimed master-planned community that's trying something different.

When Austin's municipal airport closed 16 years ago, it created a planner's dream: 700 acres of prime real estate close to the city core. What emerged from years of public/private/neighborhood collaboration was the Mueller Community — often spoken of as a masterwork of smart urban design.

Mueller is the product of the "new-urbanism" concept: the idea that a built environment can create meaningful community. Planners minimize the supremacy of the automobile and shape the environment around pedestrians.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Adam Dickey targets David White, who ducks. First round of yawns are on me.


In which lawyer and local Democratic establishment apparatchik Nick Stein represents a labor union official in contesting the candidacy of a challenger to the Gahan's Gang That Can't Plan Straight.

Evidently Republicans like White masquerading as DemoDisneyDixiecrats like Gahan pose a mortal threat to the gang's Swiss cheese hegemony.

Meanwhile, the Gahan administration refuses to hold the GOP's Kevin Zurschmiede accountable for the late, lamented Hot Potato Spa. To make sense of all this, it would be useful to know exactly who has been doing the lamentations. Keith Henderson probably knows ... and he ain't saying.

Aren't these penny-ante, small-pond political Olympiads tiresome?

I suggest voting for a principled independent come November. 

Daniel Suddeath, News and Tribune

NEW ALBANY — The three-member Floyd County Election Board unanimously voted to uphold New Albany mayoral candidate David White’s residency during a Friday hearing, thus keeping him eligible for the May city primary.

What they're saying: 6th district council candidates Staten and McCourt.

As the weeks go past in route to May's primary election, I'll try to provide periodic unedited candidate statements of approximate substance, as lifted from social media and news reports, and as opposed to familiar gems (although they certainly have their place) like "I enjoyed talking with the bunco club last night" or "donate to my campaign first, and maybe I'll have something of merit to say later."

That's because it is my aim to determine whether our declared candidates have anything to say, and I'll quote all candidates, whether or not they're in a contested race. Just promising change and new ideas without divulging them won't cut the mustard, aspirants.

Today in the 6th district council contest, we find Democrat Cliff Staten explaining exactly why he's attending this morning's streets forum at the Carnegie Center (as of 8:00 a.m., we assume the meeting is still a go):

This Saturday, Feb 21, there will be another public forum to discuss the Speck Report. It will be at the Carnegie Center starting at 10:30am. This proposed plan to change streets in New Albany will help set the groundwork for the New Albany that our children will inherit. We know that young, college educated individuals (age group of 25 to 34) prefer to live in urban settings, much more so than their parents. This age cohort is the brightest and best educated in the history of the United States and we know that businesses move to where a talented workforce lives... If New Albany is to attract and keep these talented, young people it must create a green, walkable, bicycle friendly, safe, and friendly business environment that promotes sustainable economic growth. I encourage you to read the Speck Report before you come to the public forum.

Thanks, Cliff. That's a better explanation of "quality of life" than the current regime has managed in three+ years.

Over on the Republican side, Nick Vaughn's generally asking for money and Larry Belcher remains unknown, but Noah McCourt left a comment on NAC's February 12 post, "It's a done deal: Pillsbury closing is confirmed."

I would like to thank the community for its involvement in these very real issues confronting our community. I too am very concerned with New Albany's financial situations. Its part of the reason I decided to run for city council.The current mayor and council have adopted a very reactonary approach to spending that has led to development but little control over spending. It takes certain level of honesty to recognize what a present and real issue this truly is . I hear a lot of concern about my age and how much experience can i possibly have. Mayor gahan was a city council member, mayor. Council president McLaughlin is running for his 3rd term. Weve had "expireience "for years and its taking us in a very dangerous direction. I dont pretend that I'm a career politician. Im simply a real person who wants to confront the big issues in.my community. A lot of candidates are really good at the "whats wrongs" but you dont hear a whole lot of "how do we fix its" and i think thats an essential piece is having a plan is actually workable and i have thought long and hard and tried to develop strategies that are more effective then.whats currently on the table. As i said i am very glad to see the community engaged. Now its time to get the city council a little more engaged. I hope to see you at the polls on may 5th

Noah John McCourt

District 6 City Council candidate

It's good to hear from you, Noah. Keep 'em coming.

See this post for more information on the District 6 race: NA council: Lots of names on the primary ballot in District 6 -- and they're mostly Republican.

Must read: "What ISIS Really Wants."

A long and very worthwhile essay, and perhaps the best place to begin understanding what ISIS is about. It's also worth remembering that as we focus on choreographed atrocities, more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the country's four-year civil war.

What ISIS Really Wants, by Graeme Wood (The Atlantic)

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lower speed limits won't solve this. TRAFFIC MUST BE SLOWED BY SAFER STREET DESIGN.

Yet another essay by Marohn that is required reading for all Speck street network opinion dispensers, yay or nay, including the otherwise somnolent Bored of Works and its titular leader, Warren Naps, and every city official whose purposeful neglect of the city's streets puts the lie to their dreary protests of concern for "public safety."

A STATISTICALLY INEVITABLE OUTCOME, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

The light turned signaling it was safe to walk. A four-year-old boy took his mother's hand. Together they stepped out into the crosswalk on their way to a pre-kindergarten class at the Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy in Albany, NY. A garbage truck came around the corner and they were run down. The boy was killed, the mother's life horribly changed forever ...

 ... Let's be clear: this isn't an accident. An accident is defined as, "an event that happens by chance without an apparent cause." While there is certainly an element of chance here -- just as with Russian Roulette -- there is obviously an underlying, preventable cause. This intersection is really dangerous for people outside of a vehicle. Serious injury is statistically inevitable. The design of this space induces high vehicle speeds in a complex environment not conducive to high speeds. There is only superficial protection for pedestrians and bikers. Indeed, the reporter on the scene was able to speak to someone who had seen a similar incident in the recent past.

Linda McClean, who has worked the morning shift at the Subway sandwich shop across Central Avenue from the crash for four years, said the intersection with Quail Street as seen through the store's wall of windows is busy with traffic and can be dangerous to pedestrians. She saw a person get hit in the same intersection last summer.

Let's look at the ways in which this design is deadly for people outside of a vehicle.

Glory to the heroes of outdoor agitprop: Moscow 1987, Jeffersonville 2015.

Driving through Jeffersonville a couple weeks ago, I saw this ...

Photo credit

... and immediately thought of this.

Photo credit

What, no banners for the Hieb Building?

New Albany cheated, again.

Conservative think tank chief oblivious to objectives and successes of Obamacare.

Point, by point, by point.

Guy Who Gets Paid to Say Obamacare Doesn’t Work Can’t Find a Single True Fact to Support His Case, by Jonathan Chait (New York)

Obamacare has increased enrollment in its health care exchanges to more than 11 million, and the conservative response to the law’s demonstrable success at carrying out its goals has been fascinating to behold. Measured by volume, the right-wing backlash has diminished severely, as great roaring waves of furious anger have given way to irregular ripples of discontent. But measured by its content, very little has changed. Conservatives are talking much less than they used to about Obamacare, but they are saying more or less the same things, treating the law as a costly and obvious failure. What’s most striking is how oblivious most of them remain not only to measures of the law’s success, but even to the broad parameters of its objectives.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Insider Louisville: Israel Landin hoping to open Delicias de Mexico in March.


Waistline alert: Kevin Gibson's got the scoop, and it appears that Israel's new place is coming to fruition more quickly than we thought.

Diet, schmiet.

Former La Rosita owner to open in ex-New Albany location as Israel’s Delicias de Mexico Gourmet, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

... And now he’s back, and he’s come full circle. He expects to soft-open as Israel’s Delicias de Mexico Gourmet in early March at 1515 E. Market St. in New Albany, the site of the space where La Rosita first garnered attention from around the area and became a dining destination with its reasonable prices, delicious food and quaint space.

While back in Mexico City, where he grew up and lived until he was a teenager, Landin went to school to learn how to make desserts and pastries, adding yet another weapon to his arsenal of traditional Mexican fare, from tortas to quesadillas to tacos. And he returns with some added humility, quite a bit of experience — the original La Rosita opened in 2005 as a taco stand that was part of a produce store — and the determination to do what he intended to do all along, which is provide good food and service.

ON THE AVENUES: Upscale residency at down-low prices.

ON THE AVENUES: Upscale residency at down-low prices.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.


“I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books."
– Kanye West, seeking a position in the New Albany economic development hierarchy

Previously in this space, we’ve examined the Gahan administration’s recurring vocabulary malfunction.

Who even knew that Dr. Pavlov had an office in the Elsby Building?

Obviously desperate to avoid revisiting uncomfortable days of yore in junior high, when the former Marine Corps drill instructor Mr. Buzzkilljoy required they memorize the precise meaning of words in the English language and regurgitate these definitions on demand, city officials in New Albany now delight in the deployment of banal and indeterminate code phrases suitable only for the approbation of the ever-eager stenographer cadre.

Quality of life, public safety and better access have been the most consistently overused of these meaningless bromides, and we await the inevitable resurrection of classic Orwellian gems of doublethink as local Democratic Party campaign slogans:

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
When You Wish Upon A Star/Makes No Difference Who You Are

Oops – sorry.

That last one obviously serves as the credo of the Redevelopment Commission, and any connection with the DemoDisneyDixiecrats is purely Dickeyensian.

---

Make a wish, blow out the candles, and welcome a new addition to the Gahan team’s tired lexicon.

Upscale.

Exactly what is meant by the word “upscale”? It might depend on one’s socioeconomic vantage point (rats, a penalty is assessed to me for using a seven syllable word within the city limits), but here is the dictionary’s point of view.

up•scale
ˌəpˈskāl/
adjective & adverb

NORTH AMERICAN

adjective: upscale; adverb: upscale

toward or relating to the more expensive or affluent sector of the market.

"Hawaii's upscale boutique hotels"

synonyms: deluxe, posh, ritzy, upper-class, classy, chi-chi; high-end, expensive, high-priced

Upscale is trending because just last week, in a grudgingly reluctant process akin to tapping maple trees and collecting sap, information about the proposed Coyle site development began seeping ever so slowly from City Hall’s propaganda directorate, located deep within the bowels of the Down Low Bunker.

But first, kindly note the irony.

Among other Gahan initiatives, some randomly sensible and others fully befitting the sort of vision generally experienced in the tuneless strumming of a Jimmy Buffett cover band, only the dormant-by-design Speck Downtown Street Network Plan both contextualizes and (perhaps, maybe, possibly) justifies the city’s involvement in the Coyle infill apartment project.

Naturally, while Gahan and his vacuous minions continue to treat the Speck proposals as though they were paper envelopes filled with free-range ricin, the announcement of “upscale” apartments was owned and groomed and feted by them like a Saudi sheik's first-born thoroughbred, proving yet again that they are the very worst civic actors in recent memory.

John Mattingly was positively Shakespearean by comparison ... or maybe it was Sicilian.

---

To reiterate, the major selling point of the Coyle site proposal thus far seems to rest on the undefined shoulders of that magic word.

Upscale.

The usage is intended to animate the extension of the pinky at a right angle from one’s grip of the ice-cold Bud Light longneck, to be wiggled while purring like a socialite:

“Not like those low-income housing credits, honey buns.”

Conceding that detailed plans haven’t yet found their way to NA Confidential, the problem is that early indicators like last week’s project drawings simply don’t speak to “upscale” at all, at least when the accepted meaning of words is respected. In fact, the proposed buildings don’t look appreciably different than ordinary blocks of middle class flats I’ve seen in dozens of European cities and more than a few American ones, too.

Regular reader W was specific.

When I think upscale, I think apartment balconies and patios should be deeper than the windows are wide. Just room enough for an 8" hibachi grill, maybe? The upscale apartment dwellers won't be able to sit in a lawn chair and enjoy the traffic zooming by on such a tiny sliver of concrete. That's quality of life?

Ah, but we’re still waiting on that particular definition, aren’t we?

The stacked, multi-story exterior staircases look deadly as well - "upscale" doesn't include secure elevators? Look at the end of the building, with the lovely, open air staircases.

"Hello, ‘upscale’ apartment tenant, climb the stairs with your bags of groceries that you had to drive somewhere to buy because there are no grocery stores near your ‘upscale’ apartments."

Oh, I know, all of these "upscale" tenants will eat out every night, because the tenants are just "better" - after all, they live in "upscale" apartments.

Walk up, multi-story flats aren't exactly upscale. Do you want people from the street to able to climb the stairs up to your front door and wait for you to come home when you're paying high end, "upscale" rent? What we're being told and what we're seeing doesn't add up.

Regrettably, math class posed its own grave difficulties, especially when all you wanted to do was go outside and play baseball.

The many differences between wishful-star-related thinking and hard reality also were sadly prominent the last time the city struck up a full-Sousa soundtrack and pledged fealty to a private, for-profit construction entity, this being Mainland’s ill-fated Riverview project, circa 2011-12.

Since then, there have been two major themes in what the mayor enjoys tidily euphemizing as “the business of residency” – and no, this phrase hasn’t been defined yet, either.

First, council creatures Bob Caesar and Kevin Zurschmiede would rather see a building collapse of its own neglect and/or grandiosely self-immolate than acquiesce in the consideration of low-income housing tax credits in its refurbishment.

Second, private developers like Matt Chalfant are pursuing living space rehabs without substantive financial incentivization based on a profit vs. loss instinct that looks disturbingly like capitalism.

What of City Hall's "business of residency"? Let’s go to Bluegill for the coda.

The only thing the Gahan/Duggins administration has proven particularly adept at so far is giving away massive amounts of public money to developers and corporations. This is just part and parcel.

If (developers) want to take on the risk and build within the existing rules that locals have to follow, they can build. We shouldn't be subsidizing them, especially given the many, more productive uses for local money. Honestly, we need to get over the whole upscale, raising property values gambit and all the trickle down approaches to it. You know who most cares if property values rise? People planning on taking money from the community and/or borrowing against it to go into more debt. It's just repeating the same cycle.

The only way to stop the concession extraction is to say no to concessions. Unfortunately, our current ED has spent his career doing little except for offering concessions. That's true, though, of the entire Democratic Party hereabouts. It's going to be especially funny if the Gahan administration tries to use a big handout as justification for better streets, making it about the developer rather than residents.

Is it time for an addition to A New Albanist’s Dictionary?*

Upscale
An imported construction project pursued with our own municipal funds, as opposed to state and federal low income housing tax credits, as standing in sharp contrast with the dilapidated condition of surrounding neighborhoods, which have been down so long that it looks like up to them.

Not that they'll ever read one.

---

* Volume One and Volume Two

On trucking safety.


Now that the extractive trucking lobby has its own anonymous apologist, perhaps we can have that long overdue discussion about what "trucking safety" really means for the rest of us.

Bluegill wins serve.

---

It's interesting to hear and read so much sudden concern about trucking safety, particularly regarding oversized loads. The state department of transportation has very clear rules about special permits, restricted hauling hours, the need for escort vehicles, etc., when hauling such loads. It's anecdotal but, in nearly a decade of living and working in Downtown and Midtown New Albany, neither my wife nor I have never seen an escort vehicle and certainly not the state police escort required for extremely large loads. How is that possible if oversized loads are so prevalent for these companies? Are they overstating their case or just ignoring the rules as is? If large loads are happening so frequently, is the City doing anything to enforce those safety rules?

As a corollary, I had a conversation a few days ago with someone who, until very recently, was employed by a New Albany trucking firm. He, too, lamented the Main Street Project, making it very clear that truck traffic had been diverted to other streets, especially oversized loads. He further explained, saying that "all it's going to do is tear up the other streets, because they're not built for that". So, if trucking companies are regularly using and damaging streets not built for their rigors, who pays to repair them? And why are they allowed to use them in the first place?