Saturday, October 31, 2015

Just imagine if we had a newspaper in New Albany (1): Politically, it has been all Jeffersonville-centric.

Jeff Gillenwater's Fb summary of the differences in the News and Tribune's political coverage of Jeffersonville and New Albany is  clear and succinct.

He didn't have occasion to mention the piece examining mayoral candidate finance in Jeffersonville (not in New Albany).

In New Albany this political season, we've had two previews apart from debate coverage, one for council and the other for mayor. That's all.

Yes, it's true: New Albany's N and T reporter left his job just as the election season was approaching full boil. However, since the 2011 merger and the main office moving to Jeffersonville, it's a discussion about disparity that we've had more than once.

The newspaper will issue its standard denials, and so it goes. In a broader sense, the News and Tribune faces a future challenge shared by all traditional news outlets in the  area, which need to come to grips with the fact that we started voting two weeks ago. Print and television media released their election previews and information packages just this week. Probably 30% of voters, maybe more, already had voted by the time these appeared.

as for Jeffersonville/Clark County versus New Albany/Floyd, it's out of kilter, and speaking personally, I doubt it ever changes so long as the office is located in Jeffersonville. As usual, I hope I'm wrong.

Take it away, Jeff.

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The difference in the News and Tribune's political coverage of Jeffersonville and New Albany is sometimes pretty amazing. In Jeffersonville, they ran a fact check of mayoral debate claims; not in New Albany, where several Gahan claims would have proven less than truthful.

Now, in Jeffersonville, they're questioning whether a city publication is just publicly funded mayoral campaigning in light disguise. That sort of thing has been happening in New Albany consistently for years now but the paper has asked no such questions. Instead, they run articles like this one.



There's nothing in the record here suggesting that Team Gahan had anything to do with this cabinet company moving to the outskirts of New Albany nor did the business owners mention parks or pools - what Gahan calls "economic development" - as reasoning in support of their decision. The paper, though, runs the release alongside a photo Gahan has been using for campaign purposes, making an association where there is none just before the election. If the paper isn't going to question the mayor - something they have an abysmal record of not doing - perhaps they could at least question themselves a little.

Just imagine if we had a newspaper in New Albany (2): Dissecting PACs in Jeffersonville, not in New Albany.

There are numerous items of interest in the campaign finance reports submitted by Jeff Gahan, Kevin Zurschmiede and me.

Perhaps less so mine. To my knowledge, there are no "entity" donors, only individuals. I raised less than 10% of Zurschmiede's total. Gahan's up on me 45 - 1.

We did what we could with Gahan's report.

(Video) Show Me the Money: Gahan's campaign contributors ... or, how to buy and sell a city.


Just imagine ... better yet, to see how it might have been done, let's turn yet again to Jeffersonville, and something approximating election coverage.

Jeffersonville mayoral candidates using PAC donations ... Moore leads Julius in overall fundraising for top post, by Elizabeth Beilman (News and Tribune)

JEFFERSONVILLE — In addition to their campaign funds, Jeffersonville mayoral candidates Republican Mike Moore and Democrat Dennis Julius have benefited from political action committees this election cycle.

A PAC called Hoosiers for Jeffersonville donated a total of $100,000 to Moore's political committee, named I'm For Mike Moore, this year. The transfer leaves just $593 in the PAC's account.

Contributors to Hoosiers for Jeffersonville are almost exclusively engineers and architects, more than half employed by companies — or companies themselves — that have been contracted by the city under Moore's administration.

Just imagine if we had a newspaper in New Albany (3): Debate fact checking in Jeffersonville -- not New Albany.

Of course, the first advantage enjoyed by voters in Jeffersonville is that neither of their mayoral candidates decided to game the debate process by opting out, as Jeff Gahan did in New Albany -- or participating in a debate organized by one of their own appointees, in one of their own showpiece buildings, with questions provided in advance.

As Edgar Winter once urged, "Come on and take a free ride."

The second plus is linked here. For New Albanians reading the newspaper, it's epochal, breathtaking and offensive, all at once: A reporter uses a phrase like "here are the facts," and it applies to something important, like an election,

Come to think of it, we did experience pre-election investigative reporting in October, 2014.

News and Tribune bombshell: "Fake Facebook accounts linked to State Rep's wife."


Since then ...

Fact or fiction? Weighing the truth in Jeffersonville's mayoral debates ... Weighing the truth in Jeffersonville's mayoral debates, by Elizabeth Beilman (News and Tribune)

JEFFERSONVILLE — Throughout all three debates this election season, Jeffersonville mayoral candidates Mike Moore and Dennis Julius challenged the accuracy of some of each others' statements, asking audience members to look it up for themselves.

Here are the facts.

Just imagine if we had a newspaper in New Albany (4): Mayoral propaganda questioned in Jeffersonville -- not New Albany.

There's a story just like this one waiting to be written, right here in New Albany. City Hall's conventional media touts, social media feeds, billboards ... the vast majority of these featuring the face of the incumbent mayor in an election year.

I've written about Jeff Gahan's bizarre cult of personality.But perhaps more importantly, who's paying -- candidate Gahan or the taxpayers?

And who's peeling back the layers?

Journalism, anyone?

New Albany deserves some every now and then.

Is Jeffersonville newsletter informative or simply a timely political publication? ... Moore: 'Progress' updates on city projects; Commissioner: It's an ad, by Elizabeth Beilman (News and Tribune)

JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commissioner Marty Chalfant says the newsletter the department released last week uses taxpayer dollars to double as campaign material for Mayor Mike Moore.

The newsletter, called Progress, is an eight-page glossy publication with articles and accompanying photographs detailing recent projects that the redevelopment commission has championed — and some that it's had minimal involvement in. One article contains two factual inaccuracies.

"I am not running for public office, nor trying to keep a job," Chalfant wrote in an email to the News and Tribune. "I am a lifelong Republican who is upset that my name is attached to a false political ad without my knowledge or consent, and that redevelopment commission dollars are being used to fund political ads."

WHAS: "The most important topic for (New Albany) is the future."


Click through to the WHAS web site for the video and story. Both are by Chris Williams.

Video link: Candidates describe motivations in New Albany

Story link: New Albany, Ind. mayoral election could come down to wire

The Baylor for Mayor meme, October 31: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.


From October 29, 2015 (at The New Albanist):


WAVE: "The current administration ... has compromised the future by its expenditures."


Click through to WAVE's web site and view the video.

3 candidates vie to be New Albany's next mayor, by Katie Bauer (WAVE)

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Baylor for Mayor meme, October 30: Borrowing isn't the same as investing.


From October 9, 2015:

Campaign Diary, Vol. 8: My answers in the News and Tribune questionnaire.

WDRB: "Three New Albany Mayoral candidates state their case."


Click through to WDRB's web site and view the video.

Three New Albany Mayoral candidates state their case, by Gil Corsey (WDRB)

WLKY: "New Albany mayoral challengers question incumbent's spending."


Someone might mention to Jeff Gahan how easy it is to do "cool things" when you're spending another's money. Click over to WLKY to watch the video.

New Albany mayoral challengers question incumbent's spending, by Mark Vanderhoff (WLKY)

N and T: "ELECTION PREVIEW: Makeup of New Albany City Council on the line."


The News and Tribune's 2015 Voters Guide has all the candidates and their answers to submitted questions. I've already published my own answers here.

Following is the newspaper's overview. Let's focus on just one race, in the 2nd district, where the people living in those neighborhoods have a "choice" between Winkin and Blinkin -- and might as well Nod off.

If you can determine what either of these cossetted old white men are talking about, please let us know.

ELECTION PREVIEW: Makeup of New Albany City Council on the line, by Chris Morris (News and Tribune)

... (Irv Stumler) added he is against switching every one-way street in the downtown area to two-way traffic, as suggested by the Jeff Speck study. He said it is something that should gradually be initiated.

"You have speed limits, just enforce those," Stumler said. "It would cost a lot of money to switch streets to two-way. Maybe if you start out with a few side streets, take it one step at a time."

(Bob) Caesar said he is also against a massive switch.

"As far as flipping every street, absolutely not. I am 100 percent against that," Caesar said. "But I am for making the street grid better and easier to navigate. I am all for that."

N and T: "ELECTION PREVIEW: New Albany mayoral candidates talk safety, quality of life."


The News and Tribune's 2015 Voters Guide has all the candidates and their answers to submitted questions. I've already published my own answers here.

Jerod Clapp previews the mayoraLet's pull just one classic example of King Gahan the Oblivious.

“All of the decisions that are made through board of works, city council… public meetings take place to address various aspects of whatever the action is. As far as I’m concerned, it’s very transparent. I really don’t agree with anyone that’s making those kinds of statements that we’re not transparent. I’d just like them to be specific. We haven’t changed meeting times, those schedules have been around for many years.”

He simply does not grasp transparency, does he?

ELECTION PREVIEW: New Albany mayoral candidates talk safety, quality of life, Jerod Clapp (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — Making the city a better place to work and live are on the agendas of each candidate shooting for the mayor’s office in New Albany, but they each have a different approach to reaching those goals.

Incumbent and Democrat, Jeff Gahan, 52, city councilman and Republican Kevin Zurschmiede, 53, and local businessman and independent, Roger Baylor, 55, all want to improve the city for potential and current residents while growing the prospects for businesses that are already here or eyeing the region.

Infrastructure, code enforcement and other issues — two-way streets included — have all been key talking points for the candidates, but the emphasis and level of priority all have different places for the candidates.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

WATCH IT: Here's the WNAS "Baylor for Mayor" video that was banned on Ellen Court.



That's right, it's the WNAS "Meet the Candidate" video -- you know, the one that Warren & the Jeffettes sought to ban, but now you can see it for yourself, make up your own mind, and count the ways to an alternative in the 2015 mayor's race. 

Yes, it's 18 minutes long. I can't help it if there are things to say more important than the usual biographical twaddle. I think you'll agree that there's more content here than has been witnessed emanating from either major political party candidate. 

Watch it and please share on social media. Thanks. 

FOP: Gahan has apparently made it his goal to make every police officer feel disrespected.

Meanwhile, #sadlackey

Jeff Gahan took office on January 1, 2012. Since that date, can you guess how many times he has met en masse with New Albany's police department?

Zero ... as in not once. Incredible, isn't it?

Readers, click through to The New Albanist to read the complete letter from the Fraternal Order of Police. Take it away, Mr. Smith.

Mr. Gahan’s “Blue” Problem

 ... In order to give broader coverage to their plaint, I’m republishing the text of a newspaper advertisement placed this week by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 99. And yes, I’m doing so because I believe the safety and well-being of this city depend on Jeff Gahan being retired from public office. Indeed, I am continually amused that so many feign outrage that a blog, a Facebook post, or a Tweet might contain an actual wish that the writer’s preferred candidate be elected and that the incumbent be retired. City employees and appointees and the mayor’s family members seem to think that electoral politics requires silence about the issues and deference to their chosen one.

New Albany mayoral election vote tallies, 1971 - 2011.


A year and a half ago, we took a look at some New Albany mayoral election tallies dating back to 1971, with accompanying analysis. I doubt Nate Silver is quivering in his boots, but feel free to click through and reread. The raw numbers are reprinted below.

May 1, 2014: ON THE AVENUES: Three’s company, two. Or four? Maybe more.

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1971: Democratic challenger Warren Nash defeats Republican incumbent Garnett Inman, 9,097 to 6,180.
Total votes: 15,277
Percentage: 60 - 40

1975: Republican challenger Robert Real defeats Nash, 9,264 to 4,763.
Total votes: 14,027
Percentage: 66 - 34

1979: Real defeats Democratic challenger John Stein, 6,637 to 3,801.
Total votes: 10,438
Percentage: 64 -36

1983: Democratic challenger Charles Hunter defeats Real, 6,148 to 5,888.
Total votes: 12,036
Percentage: 51 - 49

1987: Real defeats Hunter, 6,005 to 5,467.
Total votes: 11,472
Percentage: 52 - 48

1991: Democrat Doug England (4,785) defeats Independent Phyllis Garmon (4,154) and Republican Kenny Keilman (2,344).
Total votes: 11,283
Percentage: 42 – 37 - 21

1995: England defeats Real, 6,573 to 5,628.
Total votes: 12,201
Percentage: 54 - 46

1999: Republican challenger Regina Overton defeats England, 5,512 to 4,205.
Total votes: 9,717
Percentage: 57 - 43

2003: Democratic challenger James Garner defeats Overton, 5,971 to 3,893; 196 votes cast for Melanie Hughes (Libertarian).
Total votes: 10,600
Percentage: 59 – 39 – 2

2007: England defeats Randy Hubbard (Republican), 4,017 to 3,741.
Total votes: 7,758
Percentage: 52 - 48

2011: Democrat Jeff Gahan (4,506) defeats Republican Dale “DM” Bagshaw (1,389), Independent Jack Messer (1,024) and Libertarian Thomas Keister (88).
Total votes: 7,007
Percentage: 64 – 20 – 15 – 1

The Baylor for Mayor meme, October 29: The only real Democrat is the Independent.


From September 3, 2015:

ON THE AVENUES: When even Mitt Romney can run to the left of New Albany’s Democrats, it's a very big problem.

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

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

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

In September of 2014, the city of New Albany demolished the historic Haughey’s Tavern building at 922 Culbertson Avenue. There'll be more explanatory links at the conclusion, but for now, here's an overview from the archives.

Oct 2, 2014: ON THE AVENUES: Now on tap at the ghost of Haughey’s Place: The politics of pure spite.

The vacant space subsequently was folded into pre-existing and thoroughly secretive plans for erecting six New Directions houses, which have since been completed, and form one of Jeff Gahan’s re-election platform planks – this being a prime reason the potted events occurred in the first place.

Four of the new houses are in a row across Culbertson from the ghost of Haughey’s, and two occupy the tavern’s decimated footprint.

Let’s try not to forget the central point, one consistently obscured by Team Gahan’s relentless, PAC-financed and self-serving propaganda machine: Haughey’s Tavern might have been saved and rehabilitated into the sort of street corner anchor that these two new houses are utterly incapable of being, now or ever.

After all, Haughey’s did it for more than 125 years, with various occupants surviving floods, tornadoes, ice storms and changing times ... until Gahan's suburban-over-urban logic came along.


There are numerous vacant spaces nearby where houses might yet be built, and in fact, since this disgraceful act unfolded behind closed door last year, the city has yet to present a coherent plan for affordable infill housing – at 922 Culbertson, or anywhere else.

This shameful absence only continues to be accentuated by the shameless non-public process prefacing the unnecessary Haughey’s demolition.

Just as there is much to be learned by any human society’s treatment of its most challenged members, we can derive insight as to the behavioral patterns of the Gahan administration in recalling this story, which is not for the faint of heart.

The narrative that follows is based on several composite sources. Some people directly involved spoke to me about the experience, but given the mayor’s vengeful tendencies, they would not do so for attribution. If anyone mentioned herein objects to my characterization, I'll retract it, though I think it's accurate. Maybe some day we'll have investigative journalism hereabouts.

Conversely, when I filed a formal “freedom of information” request with municipal "corporate attorney" Shane Gibson for e-mails, these were promptly provided … and not a single one of them involved the mayor.

That’s right. Not even one.

Do you believe Jeff Gahan did not send a single e-mail pertaining to this issue during the time period requested?

My guess is that he did, but did not use his official city e-mail account, and instead wrote for attribution via a private e-mail address – one at a server lying conveniently outside the realm of public record requests like the one I made.

If you believe that Gahan did not utter a single electronic communication about the Haughey’s debacle, then I have an Ohio River Bridge for purchase.

On layaway.

---

During the run-up to the demolition, the city of New Albany never openly listed the Haughey’s building in any coherent manner that might have enticed developers to inquire. It was not marketed, and there was no effort to arrive at independent verification of the building’s structural condition.

Nevertheless, local developer Steve Resch examined the building and made an offer. He never believed the “dilapidated” party line espoused by City Hall’s minions (David Brewer and David Duggins prominent among them), and thought the building was salvageable.

Resch apparently thought he had a deal, to include the city and Indiana Landmarks combining resources with him in an amount previously discussed even before his offer was made, as intended to make possible a complete stabilization and exterior repair.

After that, Resch would wait for a tenant, and then finish the interior to spec on his own dime. His estimate of the total cost of rehabilitation was one-half to one-third less than that suggested by the minions – who never once explained their numbers publicly.

No sooner than Resch thought it was done deal, the rug was pulled out from beneath him. The only transparent, clear and publicly apparent instigator at the time was 1st district councilman Dan Coffey – in whose district the address is NOT located – who subbed for the AWOL 3rd district councilman Greg Phipps and constantly insisted to all and sundry that the building must come down.

Why?

Two sources told me that with county elections coming in November, 2014, and with Coffey mounting an ill-fated campaign for commissioner, he’d concocted a campaign financing deal with CCE/Eastridge, a deal that depended on the Haughey’s Tavern demolition to funnel the appropriate percentage toward Coffey’s campaign.

Coffey didn’t even get 40% of the vote – and a building that cannot be replaced subsequently disappeared.

It’s worth noting that during Doug England’s final term, CCE/Eastridge constantly was on the hot seat, prompting numerous neighborhood complaints about its toxic (literally) operations where Silver Street Park eventually was built with TIF bonds after the city bought the property for a princely sum.

Yes, from CCE/Eastridge.

Nowadays CCE/Eastridge is the beneficiary of prime governmental largess, including numerous demolition contracts, many of which emanate from The Redevelopment Commission, upon which both Coffey and Adam Dickey (the Democratic Party chairman and a vocal proponent of serial historic property demolition) are seated.

Coincidence or conflict of interest?

Always.

There was a lonely voice on Redevelopment advocating for sense and sensibility, but as usual, John Gonder was ignored.

One probable reason for CCE/Eastridge’s newfound preferential treatment has less to do with Coffey and more to its ownership of ground by the river needed by the city to complete the 8th-through-18th stretch of the Ohio River Greenway.

That’s right: A project that goes straight through the Redevelopment Commission.

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At some point during the spring or early summer of 2014, local Landmarks head Greg Sekula spotted the down-low demolition order, and called Gahan seeking an intervention.

Evidently Gahan initially indicated he was receptive, then began badgering Sekula into asking instead for a Horseshoe Foundation grant. This Sekula did, but when the Horseshoe meeting took place, Gahan sat impassively, refusing to motion, afterward remarking to Sekula that it didn’t matter.

According to Gahan, the board he so regularly maligns wouldn’t consider it, anyway, so why bother? We can surmise that the deal already was done at this point, but Ceausescu -- oops, Gahan -- wasn’t finished yet.


Following the Horseshoe fiasco, Gahan complained about Sekula to the head office of Landmarks, and in essence, tried to get him disciplined or fired. This did not occur, primarily because Sekula had done nothing untoward apart from trying to do his job, as opposed to appeasing Gahan's ego.

These phone calls jibe with stories told by other informants, who point to Gahan’s fundamental and recurring vindictiveness, and his zeal in this instance to show preservationists like Sekula exactly who’s the boss in this town.

Previously I sent e-mails to New Directions asking when the infill plan we see now was originally minted. The chronology matters, but New Directions never answered these e-mails.

At the time, there were regular rumors to the effect that Habitat for Humanity had a deal in place prior to the Haughey’s demolition, which Habitat dismissed – but the rumors themselves suggest the existence of some sort of pre-arranged outcome, even as the other subplots dropped into place.

No sooner than Haughey's came down than Gahan announced the partnership with New Directions to construct his platform planks.


From top to bottom, the fate of Haughey’s smells of an arrogant absence of due process, even a year later. The suburban niceness of the houses standing there now jars with ironic dissonance as one learns how they came into being, because ends do not justify means, and transparent processes really do matter.

Unfortunately, an arrogant usurpation of due process is the way Gahan rolls. For more, read this five-part series from August of 2014.

Let’s not let an atrocity like this happen again.

"Tear It Down," Sayeth the Councilman, Part 1: The rudderless newspaper squanders another 922 Culbertson opportunity, but an informative chat occurs, anyway.

"Tear It Down," Sayeth the Councilman, Part 2: "Just how has this been a corrupt process?" Hint: Secretive nonsense.

"Tear It Down," Sayeth the Councilman, Part 3: A civilian's due diligence as to 922 Culbertson's possibilities.

"Tear It Down," Sayeth the Councilman, Part 4: "I say do the work for which you're being paid."

"Tear It Down," Sayeth the Councilman, Part 5: The ghost of Orwell enjoys a pint at Haughey's Place.

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Recent columns:

October 28: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: How many businesses already have died because of City Hall’s street grid procrastination?

October 26: ON THE AVENUES EXTRA: Gahan says speeding sucks, but street safety can wait until after he is re-elected.

October 22: ON THE AVENUES: My career as a double naught capitalist.

October 19: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Courtesy bicycle to the Hotel Silly (2010, 2013).

October 15: ON THE AVENUES: To the New Albanians, each and every one.

October 8: ON THE AVENUES: There’s an indie twist to this curmudgeon’s annual Harvest Homecoming column.

October 1: ON THE AVENUES: No more fear, Jeff.

September 24: ON THE AVENUES: Almost two years later, Mr. Gahan has yet to plug in this clock, and so it's time for him to clock out.

September 17: ON THE AVENUES: Dear Neighbor: If you’re tired of the same old story, turn some pages.

September 10: ON THE AVENUES: Lanesville Heritage Weekend comes around again.

September 3: ON THE AVENUES: When even Mitt Romney can run to the left of New Albany’s Democrats, it's a very big problem.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Supporter sez: "Roger Baylor can bring a new, innovative approach to city government."

It just needed to be said.

Okay, okay ... so I do know her. Kate Caufield's hubby Greg earlier penned an endorsement of his own at Fb. Thanks to the both of you, and readers -- please navigate to the News and Tribune site to read the whole letter.

Here's a tease.

Reasons to vote for Roger Baylor for New Albany mayor

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, there is a younger version of me with a shiver running down her spine. Never did she conceive that she would one day venture to write a letter in support of a political candidate.

May the cosmos imperceptibly shift ...

A Rorschach test for New Albany's Main Street boondoggle project (2014).

(Originally published on November 7, 2014)

Because when it comes to our $2+ million Main Street Disprovement, Deforestation and Semi Trailer Non-Diversion Project, it really depends on how you look at it.

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What Jeff Gahan thinks it looks like.


What truckers think it looks like.


What drivers think it looks like.


What bicyclists think it looks like.


What John Rosenbarger thinks it looks like.


What Adam Dickey thinks it looks like.


What the rest of us think it looks like.


ON THE AVENUES: Why not a progressive movement in New Albany? It sure beats a two-party debacle.

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: How many businesses already have died because of City Hall’s street grid procrastination?

ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: How many businesses already have died because of City Hall’s street grid procrastination?

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Speck's downtown street network proposal finally was released early in 2015, only to be shredded one page at a time for use as toilet paper by a captive Board of Works charged by Mayor Jeff Gahan with gutting and delaying it during an election year.

As recently as this week, Gahan was unable to take a substantive public position on a topic (two-way streets) that he is disinterestedly willing to concede addresses public safety, but seeks to defer until long after his presumed political re-enthronement -- never mind all the promises he made four years ago to me and others in downtown business community as to his eagerness to support them with precisely this long overdue and fundamental infrastructure improvement.

It's been a cynical gamble. If Gahan genuinely understands that traffic speeds are excessive, and in densely populated urban areas, that speed surely kills, then every moment of delay in implementing a solution comes with the risk of death and injury.

Concurrently, if he grasps the empirical record of success in other locales of assisting local independent business growth through street grid reform, he's actively abetting daily infrastructure conditions that work against economic development.

The following was published on December 14, 2014. Almost a year has passed.

What has been the opportunity cost of Jeff Gahan's cowardice?

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Oh where oh where, can our Speck study be?
(There’s no hope if Duggins is the addressee)
Speck’s gone to Portsmouth, so we’ve got to be good
So we can see the study before we’re dead

Let's go all the way back, a full 200+ entirely wasted, squandered and lost civic days ago – not to mention the 730 ones ticking past before these – to April 18, 2014, and what should be required reading for owners and employees of each and every independent small business located in downtown New Albany.

Grace Schneider’s article in the Courier-Journal on that day was about Jeff Speck's then-ongoing (and since forever-impending) streets study.

The streets study was supposed to have been finished in September, but now it's almost Christmas, and if the city of New Albany actually possesses a copy of the study, not one of its supposed "proponents" at City Hall is saying a single word about it. “Coy” hardly does the silence justice. “Gag order” comes closer.

I’m holding out for “sheer primal terror.”

In fact, when the topic of Speck’s streets study is publicly raised, the muzzles come out faster than Wyatt Earp’s six-shooter, with those who claim that Speck’s recommendations are their first priority are transformed into inward and outward censors, seeking only to suppress discussion of what they purport to support.

Luckily, a Third Floor insider explained it to me last week in plainer English:

Two way streets? You won't get them from Jeff Gahan. He doesn’t think there’s a problem, and if there is, he thinks it will just go away and solve itself. He’s scared to death – and he’s getting most of his information from Duggins. All the trust is gone.

Strong words … but so far, amply buttressed by observable reality and the administration’s own bizarrely frank admissions. For the benefit of those readers who own and operate businesses downtown, only one brief pull from Schneider’s article is necessary.

Walkability advocate studying New Albany street grid
(Speck) said he expects to recommend removing all one-way streets and converting them to two-way because "the data shows very clearly (one-way streets) hurt businesses."

Granted (and ranted), we’ve known since the Reagan administration that mayoral teams in New Albany simply do not have economic development plans for downtown, although it is striking that in the past, “lifer” luminaries like the since-deposed Carl Malysz would at least offer periodically creative lies to the contrary: “That’s DNA’s job,” or “Mainland Properties should do the trick for a mere $15 million.”

In today’s Down Low New Albany, various functionaries can do little better than make limp excuses, assuming they can be roused to so much as even try. In fact, they seldom do.

The polar Inuit have fewer words to describe "snow" than Mr. Duggins possesses excuses as to why a downtown economic development plan isn’t only implausible on his watch, but impossible.

But please, read Schneider’s paragraph again.

If one-way streets hurt businesses, then removing them helps businesses.

And, by readily logical extension, if helping businesses is a function of economic development – and this seems both reasonable and widely accepted – then simply removing one-way streets and retrofitting them into two-way streets is a function of economic development.

Are you still with me, Mr. Duggins? I know, I know ... books, reading and all that shit.

Two-way streets are economic development tools of the precise sort this administration persistently denies it can manage to conceive.

Two-way streets stand to lift all boats, pro-actively, without the need for selective interpretation and random political awards.

In short, the Gahan administration need only calm and retrofit the city’s streets to rightly lay claim as steward of the only discernible downtown economic development plan in recent memory.

And yet, not only does it obfuscate and delay consideration of Speck's streets study, owing almost surely to the coming election cycle, it also refuses to speak aloud about any of it, seemingly terrified of its own shadow ... or, perhaps, more pathetically, of its own Luddite supporters among locally unreconstructed Dixiecrats.

But there’s even more.

Walkability is a key component of any rational definition of “quality of life,” providing “better access” to all users and enhancing “public safety” in the process.

The ripple effects of any and all measures promoting walkability, as forcefully advocated by Speck (traffic calming, complete streets, two-way traffic and other measures to support increased levels of walking and bicycling) would extend into the neighborhoods nearest the city center. Walkability actively supports other revitalization efforts, not negates them in the fashion of the defeatism inherent in one-way arterial streets.

According to Richard Florida, just last week:

Walkability is no longer just an ideal. The evidence from a growing body of research shows that walkable neighborhoods not only raise housing prices but reduce crime, improve health, spur creativity, and encourage more civic engagement in our communities.

As an aside, kindly note an instance of supreme irony: In their zeal to defend the Main Street Improvement Project beautification boondoggle, some friends among home owners living on the street have taken to contesting my assertion that they’ve been the prime beneficiaries of selective largesse, in the sense that any street changes benefitting walkability, even those botched as thoroughly as John Rosenbarger’s use of state money to butcher theirs, still will have the effect of raising property values. If not, the “improvement” project is more indefensible than we reckoned, correct?

The opportunity cost of Jeff Gahan’s neglect is irrefutable, and the evidence to support my position is overwhelming. 

When cornered periodically into stating a position, Gahan’s team insists it believes the evidence, and intends to implement every last one of Speck’s recommendations – when, and if, the study ever materializes to provide them with requisite political cover.

However, it is precisely this interminable wait for political cover, and damningly, this element of wasted time, that should be at the forefront of each downtown business person’s and surrounding neighborhood resident’s mind, because contrary to the administration’s feeble protests, there most certainly is something it can do in terms of economic development downtown: Remove one-way streets.

At a time when times are tough, can there be any excuse for a doctor waving a prescription before an ill person’s eyes, all the while saying, “I’ve got just what you need to help you feel better, but you can’t have any just yet, and we’d rather not talk about it, so don't ask. Maybe later. Try to stay alive, okay?”

One month ago, David Duggins told me that if City Hall publicly touted the benefits of two-way streets for independent small businesses, the mayor’s team would be blamed for the failure of just one business.

But if City Hall already knows the answer and perpetually procrastinates, then how many businesses has it already caused to die?

Tell us, Mr. Duggins.

How do you defend such abject and purposeful neglect of the “economic development” brief you pretend to carry?

Not to be giggled away like a hung over frat boy over a recuperative Miller Lite longneck, but for attribution?

Not privately, but aloud.

To the very business owners you’re so poorly serving.

---

Recent columns:

October 26: ON THE AVENUES EXTRA: Gahan says speeding sucks, but street safety can wait until after he is re-elected.

October 22: ON THE AVENUES: My career as a double naught capitalist.

October 19: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Courtesy bicycle to the Hotel Silly (2010, 2013).

October 15: ON THE AVENUES: To the New Albanians, each and every one.

October 8: ON THE AVENUES: There’s an indie twist to this curmudgeon’s annual Harvest Homecoming column.

October 1: ON THE AVENUES: No more fear, Jeff.

September 24: ON THE AVENUES: Almost two years later, Mr. Gahan has yet to plug in this clock, and so it's time for him to clock out.

September 17: ON THE AVENUES: Dear Neighbor: If you’re tired of the same old story, turn some pages.

September 10: ON THE AVENUES: Lanesville Heritage Weekend comes around again.

September 3: ON THE AVENUES: When even Mitt Romney can run to the left of New Albany’s Democrats, it's a very big problem.

Name That Boondoggle Episode 3: The Main Street "improvement" project really should be called ...

In one week, our long civic nightmare will be concluded. But look at the havoc they're wreaked.

Team Gahan Boondoggle Name: East Main Street Improvement Project.

Roger's Boondoggle Name: Avenue des Champs-ÉlyGahanshima (pronounced, "those contractors gave my campaign a shitload of  money")

Your Boondoggle Name: ???

Indicate your choice in the comments, either here or at Fb. The winner receives absolutely nothing except plaudits for cleverness amid the Gahanshima (from the Romanian word Ceaușima, explained here).

The Baylor for Mayor meme, October 28: "The city is not the problem, it's the solution."


Jaime Lerner is famous for this quote, which all elected officials in New Albany should consider each morning when popping out of bed:

The city is not the problem, it's the solution.

For more reading: Common sense and the city: Jaime Lerner, Brazil's green revolutionary, at The Guardian.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Large companies grab most incentives aimed at small businesses.


It shouldn't come as a surprise.

How Economic Development Incentives Hurt Small Businesses: States say they want to help independent businesses, but large companies take the majority of the dollars, by Richard Florida (City Lab)

 ... Billions of state and local economic incentive dollars seemingly aimed at small businesses flow instead to a few large, well-established, and well-connected businesses. This is yet another example of how the rapidly growing economic-development incentive game remains a perverse and useless waste of taxpayer money ...

... ultimately, the study found that large companies captured between 80 and 96 percent of these small-business incentives, depending on the state in question.

In simple terms, these large companies have become sophisticated at gaming incentive dollars—including those explicitly aimed elsewhere ...

Zurschmiede swings and misses as Padgett and pals sue the city of New Albany.

Narcissus gazes at his erection.

We've been following this story since the original April tort claim (here ... here ... and here, among others).

Whatever your political persuasion, it should be obvious that the lawsuit's timing has been determined according to the election calendar, and just as non-coincidentally, given Padgett & Pals' healthy monetary support of the GOP in the current voting cycle, Republican mayoral candidate Kevin Zurschmiede has made sure the C-J's reporter got this much in writing.

(Zurschmiede) does not consider turning one-way streets into two-way streets to be a top city priority. He wants to add an additional lane in each direction to Interstate 265 to help deal with traffic on the Sherman Minton bridge when the two metro area Ohio River bridges open and start tolling.

So, in his zeal to appease the trucking paymasters, KZ desperately wants us to know that (a) he does not at all understand induced demand, (b) he thinks it is necessary to rely on the state and feds to redesign an interstate on short notice, and (c) enough of that two-way stuff, 'cuz it makes his brain hurt.

If you're a two-way streets advocate, and in terms of casting a vote for mayor, I'm not guilty of hyperbole in suggesting to you that only one choice exists: Me.

But beyond that, a pinch of salt helps the lawsuit make better sense, because this much is true: When it comes to breathtaking duplicity, Jeff Gahan has exercised supreme arrogance and bad faith with two-way streets proponents and Padgett obstructionists alike, in equal measure.

He has lied to us all.

Boondoggles like the Main Street "improvement" project have poisoned potential resolution by making lawsuits like this inevitable, and Gahan's inept evasiveness ever since has made an ugly situation intolerable.

It's why he cannot be trusted, and it's why he has to go.

Period.

New Albany, others sued over street design, by Chris Morris (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — Eight local manufacturers, service companies and trucking companies have filed suit against the city of New Albany, New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan, the Floyd County Commissioners, Indiana Department of Transportation and other government agencies alleging that a recent redesign of East Main Street has negatively affected their right to safely access the street.

The plaintiffs are: Padgett, Inc., Tiger Truck Lines, J&J Pallet Corporation, Kaiser Wholesale, Inc., E.M. Cummings Veneers, Inc., Maximum Fleet Service, LLC, Mr. “P” Express, Inc. and W-M Lumber & Wood Products, Inc.

According to their counsel, James Gary, these business owners were not consulted prior to the redesign, which has impaired the ability of their vehicles to travel the designated “Heavy Haul” route for New Albany.

The Baylor for Mayor meme, October 27: Placemaking is about people, Jeff.


From June 25, 2015:

Adam cringes: "What If We Reinvented Civic Infrastructure Around Placemaking?"

Monday, October 26, 2015

ON THE AVENUES EXTRA: Gahan says speeding sucks, but street safety can wait until after he is re-elected.

ON THE AVENUES EXTRA: Gahan says speeding sucks, but street safety can wait until after he is re-elected.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

There's a lot to say this week, so why not have more than one column?

In the Courier-Journal, reporter Lexy Gross has profiled the incumbent. Let’s skip his numbingly predictable self-hagiography and move straight to the fun parts.

(Jeff) Gahan sees housing and infrastructure problems that still need to be addressed.

We know all too well how Gahan “sees” these problems: Demolish what you can, toss a few kickback bones to Coffey and otherwise ignore all pertinent ordinance enforcement details, all the while insisting that he’s making “fundamental” changes to benefit demographic groups he can’t even spell, much less define coherently.

But it’s Halloween, and the mayor’s “not finished yet,” so pop open an ice-cold Bud Light -- because there’s even more inanity in store.

One issue residents and his opponents have discussed with fervor is whether or not New Albany's street grid should change to accommodate traffic from the untolled Sherman Minton Bridge, once the Ohio River Project bridges are tolled.

Unable to avoid the topic of two-way streets, as he has done regularly for months on end, Gahan instead sent the Fact-O-Meter straight to “TILT,” though at least gifting us with the precise reason why Shirley Baird and Greg Phipps now have taken to subserviently qualifying any stray utterance involving “two-way streets” with a spanking new, hitherto unknown phrase.

“Where feasible.”

Coincidentally, in the spirit of this glittering Orwellian age, I decided to make their logic my own, and after staring at my ballot, it simply proved not feasible for me to cast a vote for either one.

But I digress.

Not coincidentally, there’s a reason why I’ve used the following graphic as often as possible for the past year and a half.


It’s because we knew all along, didn’t we?

Even when the mayor confided in us – even when he looked us in the eye and said he really understood, and he’d be out their battling for two-way streets – we knew it wasn’t going to happen.

Didn’t we?

As he started applying those “TIF and spend and sprawl” suburban solutions to every urban problem, it became even more obvious.

He really didn’t get it, did he?

At best, he'd hide for years, then half-ass two-way streets, probably just after jetting off to run for State Senate, and we'd be better off not changing the streets at all than doing the job so utterly wrong.

Again.

Something about it reminds me of that poor kid with the coke bottle glasses out in right field, standing there solely because the usual starter missed his ride, and with the final out of the game drifting his way in the form of a lazy fly ball that’s a real can of corn, I’m filled with despair and melancholy, because we know those Hollywood endings never happen in real life.

We know he’s not going to catch the ball, and as the runners circle the bases, it’s going to land thirty feet behind him, destined to roll unmolested all the way to the fence, only to be flattened (the baseball, not the fielder) by a passing Tiger Truck on the one-way street beyond.

But there’s a crucial difference.

We actually feel sorry for the kid.

So, Lexy Gross asked Jeff Gahan about two-way streets, and the mayor responded by making vapid excuses, all  of which have been contradicted by either documented history or his own team ... at his behest.

The city has 75 years of infrastructure supporting one-way streets, (Gahan) said, from signage to curbs and overhead signals. It's one of many issues he hopes to take a closer look at if re-elected.

Safety as slave to re-election? Say it ain't so, Jeff.

Except we already know it is so -- don't we?

Of course, Main Street had existed as a two-way street since the city’s founding, as had all the rest of the streets, but when Gahan altered Main Street after 200 years to “calm traffic and install medians” (more below), he did so in accordance with beautification principles, not contemporary “complete street” design principles – principles that would have cost far less and made sense in terms of an integrated downtown street grid plan.

Apparently it’s proper to alter a street after two centuries so as to plant flowers and carve house numbers, but not acceptable to revert nearby one-way streets to two ways after a mere 50-odd years (not 75, which would place one-way conversions to the year before Pearl Harbor).

As for signage, only recently Team Gahan’s minions were publicly bragging about their awesome program to inventory all the signage in town, and install gleaming new ones, which in an election year was manifested not by swapping the many faded STOP signs, but by immediately changing as many street signs as possible, better to display the cute new city logo which Team Gahan insists is not a logo – no, it’s just branding emblem/marketing device, albeit it one to be affixed to permanent signs, and one that nonetheless has not yet been approved by a single elected official in any process approximating a vote.

I’m not finished yet. Those overhead signals?

John “Conflict of Interest” Rosenbarger has been assuring folks that (a) recent upgrades on traffic lights have rendered them readily adaptable for use on two-way with little added expense, and (b) we have $2 million or so in federal money waiting on an 80/20 grant to facilitate the two-way reconversion.

Hmm, look over yonder.



Jeff Gahan says he must take a closer look at all this, but curiously, there it already is, on the INDOT letting board for 2017. Someone in city government had to put it there, right? It might even be someone who works for Gahan. Wait – you don’t think it has something to do with the federal money Rosenbarger referenced?

What an unexpectedly profound coincidence, but if it's there, why hasn't Gahan mentioned this fact publicly?

To the reporter when asked?

Of course, the sum total of Gahan’s down-low, prevaricating concerns, as outlined to the C-J reporter, have already been exhaustively answered and minutely explained by Jeff Speck, the nation’s reigning expert on such matters, whose company was hired by Jeff Gahan himself, and paid by the City of New Albany.

Speck’s job was to prepare the conceptual blueprint for these same two-way street plans that Gahan – who signed Speck’s check – now professes to require even more time to ponder than the four years having already elapsed since his first (and Jeeebus willing) only term as mayor, and the two terms as council person before that.

Consequently, had Gahan actually read, grasped and embraced the plan he himself commissioned, he’d already know that his “$2.4 million project … launched last year to calm traffic and install medians on Main Street” was too much money spent on beautifying one street prior to paying the nation’s leading expert to explain how it might have been done correctly … and was not.

Concurrently, anyone who has spent any amount of time using our one-way streets while on foot or riding a bike would stare in open-mouthed amazement at this statement of Gahan’s.

(Gahan) said there probably are too many one-way streets in New Albany, and traffic moves too fast through the city. But “it’s a balance between restricting speed … and not slowing down commerce," he said.

Safety? Shrug. It can wait. Let’s translate this into fervid Gahanese.

Yeah, I suppose speed kills and all that, but hey, we can’t slow down commerce, you know – I mean, that’s why the Scribners built those one-way streets in the first place, because how else could we get those steamboats (it’s a really cool anchor on that non-logo) get up and down Spring Street without Padgett cranes, and … it’s a quality of life issue for our truckers. It's a ripple effect. We're where they ought to be.

To reiterate, all of it has been addressed in Speck’s study, this being the same one the mayor himself commissioned, and the one he apparently saw fit to ignore when making comments to the Courier’s new reporter, regarding readers as rubes who wouldn’t know they were being conned.

If Gahan views it as feasible for humongous trucking vessels of “commerce” to have an intrinsic right to pass through densely populated urban areas at high speeds, even when they’re not the entities contributing to his engorged re-election war chest, then he has abdicated his responsibility for public safety, and he might as well take the final logical step and advocate for the construction of toxic waste dumps adjacent to schools – or, as a friend put it, we can build the schools on top of the toxic waste dumps and save even more space.

Sounds Gahan-feasible, so long as the toxic waste dump operators tithe according to prevailing contract versus campaign financing guidelines.

After all, he’s not finished yet.

But ye Gods -- hasn’t the man done enough so far?

---

Recent columns:

October 22: ON THE AVENUES: My career as a double naught capitalist.

October 19: ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Courtesy bicycle to the Hotel Silly (2010, 2013).

October 15: ON THE AVENUES: To the New Albanians, each and every one.

October 8: ON THE AVENUES: There’s an indie twist to this curmudgeon’s annual Harvest Homecoming column.

October 1: ON THE AVENUES: No more fear, Jeff.

September 24: ON THE AVENUES: Almost two years later, Mr. Gahan has yet to plug in this clock, and so it's time for him to clock out.

September 17: ON THE AVENUES: Dear Neighbor: If you’re tired of the same old story, turn some pages.

September 10: ON THE AVENUES: Lanesville Heritage Weekend comes around again.

September 3: ON THE AVENUES: When even Mitt Romney can run to the left of New Albany’s Democrats, it's a very big problem.

Wednesday night ONLY: "Balloonacy: Lost in Inflation," at 110 E.Market.


Several of Steve Resch's buildings-in-progress have served as temporary venues for art. This is the most recent, at the former pawn shop on Market (across from Comfy Cow).

It's Wednesday night only, so plan accordingly.

---

BALLOONACY: Lost in Inflation

Indiana University Southeast's Fine Arts Program is hosting an art installation in downtown New Albany. 'The Pawn Shop', as we endearingly call it, is our chosen venue for our Social Sculpture class, which encourages the act of creating artwork within the community. This collaboration is our way of breathing new life and repurposing this historic building so that we may invite the public to be immersed in an interactive space.

The installation will include over 1000 balloons to fill the space and handmade 16 mm video will be projected on top of the balloons, allowing the viewer to move within the artwork. Joy Luck will provide refreshments.

BALLOONACY: Lost in Inflation will take place on Wednesday, October 28th at 110 Market Street, New Albany, Indiana. This is a ONE NIGHT EVENT open from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

Visit our Facebook page to see other work from our artists.

ARTISTS
Amelia Wise
Michael Kopp
Paul Robey
C.J. Bowyer
Aliccia Kasper
Liz Walker
Angie Howard
Bethany Barton
Cody Presley

Further Info:
Brian Harper, Associate Professor of Fine Art, IU Southeast
Email: harperba@ius.edu

The Baylor for Mayor meme, October 26: Bring back the Potty Police.


From May 27, 2015:

Who knew the Hooters in Clarksville is connected to New Albany sewers?

Name That Boondoggle Episode 2: The water park really should be called ...


Team Gahan Boondoggle Name: River Run Family Water Park.

Roger's Boondoggle Name: Water Breaking Bad Family TIF Park.

Your Boondoggle Name: ???

Indicate your choice in the comments, either here or at Fb. The winner receives absolutely nothing except plaudits for cleverness amid the Gahanshima (from the Romanian word Ceaușima, explained here).

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Meet the Candidate: "Oh, boy -- is this great!"


The Meet the Candidate Show on WNAS-TV is airing at 10:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The mayoral candidates lead it off, with Kevin Zurschmiede first, followed by Jeff Gahan and then The Pirate (me). As noted earlier today, my segment runs a wee bit long.

Can I help it if I have a lot to say?

The WNAS station manager may wish to turn off his cell phone before retiring, as the mayor has a nasty habit of intemperate late-night berating. Thus far, you must tune in to watch, but we're doing what we can to snag a copy.

Remember that "WNAS Radio and TV will again have live Election Night coverage on November 3 at 6:30."

Dickey bolts upright in a cold sweat: "THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO IGNORE HIM!"

Dickey bolts upright in a cold sweat: "THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO IGNORE HIM!"

I'm taking great care to record screenshots, given that every past action suggest there'll be an orgy of deletions later this morning.

The topic to which the chairman of the Board of Public Works and Safety speaks (below), as joined subsequently by the usual sycophants' chorus, is my "Meet the Candidates" segment on WNAS-TV.

My recollection is a suggestion that it be kept to 5 - 8 minutes, but there was no hard and fast rule. I did not rehearse, but read my outline aloud, and it came to about 8 minutes. When finished in the studio, it was remarked that my presentation was a bit lengthy, and if there were any problems, I'd be informed.

I haven't even viewed it yet, but evidently the relevant guidelines were met, seeing as the segment is being aired. I'll get a copy as soon as I can, and share it -- because sharing, not suppressing, is my preferred mode of modernity.

Perhaps it isn't the length of the segment that is of most concern to Team Gahan's resident censors, but the content.

Perhaps they might divert a portion of the incumbent's $180,000 nest egg to purchase mirrors, which are said to assist in the process of self-examination.

However, their record of shamelessness "suggests" this suggestion won't be followed. Are they finished yet? We'll see in nine days.

Take it away, Warren.



The Baylor for Mayor meme, October 25: Truth and circumstances.


From October 12, 2015:

Commentary worth repeating: Gahan's "balanced budget" claims are bogus.

Name That Boondoggle Episode 1: The apartments at the Coyle site really should be called ...


Team Gahan Boondoggle Name: The Breakwater.

Roger's Boondoggle Name: Break Wind Flats ... or The Lofts at Duggins-Down.

Your Boondoggle Name: ???

Indicate your choice in the comments, either here or at Fb. The winner receives absolutely nothing except plaudits for cleverness amid the Gahanshima (from the Romanian word Ceaușima, explained here).